my best and worst crops of 2008
Watermelon: I planted seeds I saved from a beautiful CSA melon. It looked like a nice Sugar Baby. My plants were wimpy scrawny vines and two melons were pretty but only grew to about 2 inches diameter. I posted some embarrassing watermelon photos. Maybe I shouldn't have saved the seeds, maybe my soil wasn't rich enough, maybe I transplanted out to early ....
Peas: I planted my peas nice and early (March 18th). The early spring weather was perfect for them. They sprouted well and looked like very happy pea plants. Then the rain started and the weather turned hot. My peas produced almost nothing. I planted a fall crop of snap and green peas on August 27 and this was too late. The plants did well, bloomed and then froze. My purple-podded Capucijner soup peas bloomed pretty, and I good a harvest twice the size of the previous year (not great because I planted 5-times more seeds) and then these rotted instead of drying. I'm hoping a few will be OK in the spring for planting.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes were a real shame this year. So much energy and hope goes into a tomato crop. I usually buy plants but this year planted 11 varieties from seed. A mix of heirlooms and hybrids. I babied the young plants and they were so very happy and cute. They grew up very well. But then the rains came. I hate to think about this part so I'll just say things didn't go well for the tomatoes (Septoria leaf spot fungus defoliated them very fast and I had very few tomatoes).
Soybeans: This is a short story. Some critter (chipmunks?) dug up and ate all my soybean seeds. I planted once, they ate them. I planted again, they ate them again. I planted and covered rows with fabric. When I removed the row cover to let the sprouts grow, they dug up the young plants and ate them. (Next year I'll plant them in my side yard where this doesn't happen.)
Parsnips: They just never sprouted. I got lots of weeds, no parsnips. But then, I still don't know what a parsnip seedling looks like. Next year I'll seed them in pots so I can find out. Parsnips take several weeks to sprout and I probably didn't keep them moist enough during this time. Boy, would I LOVE to have some homegrown sweet parsnips to eat right about now. Maybe next year.
Favabeans: Were great! I'll do the same next year with this crop. They grew well, no pests, very pretty plants and blossoms, and highly productive. I learned how to cook these as the season went on and by the end was making yummy dishes with peeled and cooked favas. Its a bit of work to prepare these, but they are delicious and a good of vegetable protein.
Potatoes: Awesome! Next year I'll plant more of the larger varieties, some later maturing ones and maybe twice as many. I planted mostly fingerlings this year and harvested a big box full in late August. I had an early scare with flea beetles, but then I added lots of companion marigolds and they did great. There's nothing like getting your hands dirty planting and harvesting beautiful new potatoes!
Summer squash: I grew five varieties. All were super. I had big piles of squashes. And we were able to eat almost all of them, especially in a delicious squash casserole with potatoes and yummy zucchini bread. My summer squash favorite was a yellow patty pan called "Sunburst" and a yellow long neck called "Zephyr". They were pretty in a companion planting with red nasturtiums. I think I'll grow these again and experiment with three other varieties next year.
Beets: I LOVE beets. I grew Chiogga, a pinkish stripped variety that was SO SWEET. I'll grow this again. I also grew an old variety called Lutz - a big dark red beet. This had excellent greens and looked beautiful. Not very sweet. I may experiment with another big red type to find a sweeter one, though Lutz was really very nice. The beets did well sowed in pots and transplanted as seedlings. I would have picked beets as my crop of the year, except that I made a major mistake with them. I pulled at least 10 pounds of big beautiful Lutz beets and tried to store them in the basement like potatoes. I was sad to find out this doesn't work. Beets need to be kept in higher humidity - in the refrigerator. They all dried out and rotted within a few weeks :(
Radish: (see above post)