Tag Archives: Summer Garden

2012 Summer Garden Notes

It’s about DAMN time.

I'll give you one guess as to what we'll be eating this week.

The garden this year has been…well, nothing to write home about. This is my 3rd year actively gardening and I can honestly say I have no idea what I am doing any more now than I did three years ago. That said, I have experienced three completely different summer yields, so I will just count that as experience and tell myself that true green thumbs don’t have all the answers, they have just seen many things in their years. Um…sure that sounds good.

It’s not like we went about it willy nilly this year. We had a plan:
photo

We knew what we wanted to grow and we stuck to it religiously. We decided early on that we were going to grow our tomatoes from seed this year instead of depending on Elizabeth to sprinkle her tomato fairy dust over our yard like she did last year. It seemed feasible, so we bought some seeds and planted them:
Day 17: green - late bloomers. Not sure about my tomato seedlings this year. #marchphotoaday #daylate

Somewhere along the line, they just…didn’t make it. They died a pretty spectacular death actually, ALL SEVENTY TWO OF THEM, despite many attempts at resuscitation. Elizabeth had been nice enough to offer us some seedlings again, but it was during one of the more promising phases of resuscitation so I declined. When it was clear that none of them were going to make it, I made a panicked run down to the hardware store and just bought up some random tomatoes.

photo

I had been looking forward to some fun heirloom varieties again, but Home Depot Romas were going to have to do.

And for a while this was fine. Things seemed to be alive. Nothing was OBVIOUSLY dying, but I just didn’t have a great feeling about the whole thing, despite doing a lot of soil testing and fertilizing and general tending. Finally at the end of June some things started to pop up, and I felt a glimmer of hope.

But then the squash started growing and being tough and bumpy on the outside and dry on the inside. It didn’t matter if we picked it early or late, it was gross and kind of inedible. Then the cucumber plants just died. Like, with no production at all really. Womp Womp.

The zucchini went through a phase where it was super prolific, but after producing about 24 squash it’s just sort of gone kaput.

And then, nothing happened. Sure there were green tomatoes lurking in cages but literally for weeks, there was NOTHING. One little yellow watermelon out of the blue that was amazing, but then back to NOTHING.

Holy crap I grew a watermelon!

At the end of July the overall yield beyond what I’ve listed had been two tomatoes. They were delicious tomatoes, but still only two measly tomatoes:
FINALLY! Something delicious comes out of the garden!
And the irony of all ironies is that they came from a resurrected tomato plant that survived from last year because it was one of Elizabeth’s Original Seedlings from 2011. I mean FOR REAL?

I was starting to feel like the entire garden situation had been a waste this year. And then today, I just thought I saw a little bit of red out there in the garden beds and I came back inside with all this:

Despite the fact that we will be eating tomatoes until our mouths are raw this week (gladly, though!) my faith in gardening has been completely restored. This may be the only good thing to come out of the last week over 100+ degree temperatures.

I forgive you now, Mother Nature. But you are on notice.


2011 Summer Garden Notes

I have spent many hours over the last couple of days digging up my garden beds to get ready for fall. I can’t believe I’m trying it again either, but what the hell!?! This has meant lots of time to reflect on things I did well this summer and the things I did not so well.

My summer garden was, in some ways, so much more successful than I anticipated. It started as an experiment and there were lots of challenges, but in the end it was totally worth it. I wish I had kept a spreadsheet of all the produce harvested (Nerd Alert!) so I could give you the stats, but alas you will have to settle for these unofficial notes. I want to have something to look back on next year to help guide me.

Crookneck Squash Bonanza

What Worked

*Soil TestingI mentioned this back in May when I started getting everything ready and honestly, I think it was 100% the reason we had overflowing amounts of everything. Well that, and we planted A LOT. I hardly fertilized but I think because I started with soil that had all the correct amounts of pertinent things, it helped my otherwise novice skills.
Soil Testing...will it make a difference?

*Elizabeth’s Tomatoes
– I bought 4 tomato plants from Lowe’s and planted 12 little seedlings that Elizabeth gave me. The Lowe’s tomato plants? Were garbage. Only one produced regularly and the rest were just limp, lifeless and hardly had any fruit. Despite all that, we still produced over 220lbs of Tomatoes (OHMYGOD, I KNOW!) I stopped counting mid-August mostly because I forgot, and because at that point I started giving them away to people on the streets. Next year I will seed myself and put in the freakin’ effort. Totally worth it.

Thanks Elizabeth!
Eat me!

*Spaghetti Squash + Zucchini – These were amazing and awesome to have around all summer. No maintenance. I planted 2 spaghetti squash plants and 2 zucchini plants. I would definitely plant again. Maybe even MORE zucchini?

*Garrett’s Irrigation System – Despite the fact that we fought like crazy over this (also over staking tomatoes) — Gardening: Good for the Tummy, Bad for the Relationship? — having an irrigation system hooked up to timers that automatically watered was paramount to maintaining a garden this size. Everything would have died otherwise, I’m sure of it. Worth the time, money, effort and bickering.

What Didn’t Work

*Lemon Cucumbers – I actually enjoyed these in June and a bit in July but then they started getting REALLY seedy. Didn’t love that. Might just plant regular or burpless cucumbers next year. Oooh, or pickling cucumbers. Yes, those!

*Bell Peppers – After all damn summer, I got ONE pepper. One. And it wasn’t even very big. I think I’m either doing it wrong or they are a pain in the ass to grow. Either way, not worth it. Won’t plant again. Or mayby I’ll do jalapenos or something small??
Miniature Green Pepper

Seriously?????

*Crook Neck Squash (maybe) – This was delicious at the beginning of summer. Towards the end they started getting super bumpy and dry on the inside. I don’t know what causes this. Then they would grow and look normal on the vine, only to be discovered completely HOLLOW when I would pick them. Weird. I love squash, but I will pick a new kind next year and probably seed it myself.

Herbs — dude, this was another pain in the ass. I planted Dill, Lemon Thyme, Basil and Rosemary. The dill died, I never used the lemon thyme and then IT died, the rosemary just become a fort for spider webs, and the basil, while that did well, I forgot to pinch off the flowers so it ultimately stopped growing Herbs are drama. May or may not attempt again next year.

Miscellaneous Notes

*Just Wear Gloves– Yes you will probably only be out there for a minute but just do it, ok.

*See Also: Sunscreen.– Nuff said.

*Cage your freaking tomatoes.
– Don’t be a dummy again next year.

*Keep a Spreadsheet – acknowledge your nerdiness. Delegate to Garrett, the spreadsheet nerd of the house.

*Pick tomatoes more often – also can them. You will miss fresh tomatoes this winter. FIGURE IT OUT.

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All in all this was a totally fun experiment and I can’t wait to track fall progress!

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