This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he always thought the garden was his. Even though I do all the work, he always stood by me. I'm located near Boston (in USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot and a backyard vegetable garden. I use sustainable organic methods and try to grow all of my family's vegetables.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 garden review

What a year!

Almost no tomatoes, but great crops of many other vegetables. We had more rain and cloudy cool weather than I've ever seen. The year gave me, and most other gardeners, a crash course in fugal diseases - especially Late Blight.

- 60 lbs of Waltham Butternut squash! From a single bed. Amazing.
- A visit from the Boston Globe to photograph my pumpkins. And an article published with my Pumpkin Bread recipe!
- 8 new raised beds my husband made in my community plot! And big new bed at home.
- Another good year for beets. I LOVED the list of beet recipes that readers sent in!
- A surprise in my community plot - an exquisite pink rose.
- A good year for cucumbers, after two failed years, and Fine Gardening will publish photos of my North Carolina Pickling cukes soon.
- A fun Seed Swap and Harvest Celebration at our community garden. The rain was to be expected this year. Maybe this will become an Annual event?

- Well, the first worst has to be the Late Blight and the endless rain and clouds.
- Mushy blighted tomatoes.
- Mushy blighted peppers, eggplants and potatoes.
- Slugs on the lettuce, fava beans, etc.

Here's the run-down of some individual crops:

Asparagus: I planted a new bed this spring. In the coming year, I'm not supposed to cut any. It needs to establish itself. :(

Beans: I forgot to plant beans on time and had no early summer beans. Late ones came in well. Favas weren't good this year. I don't like sharing the pods with slugs. I look forward to growing crimson-flowered favas from Dan.

Beets: I added manure to my beet bed last year and ended up with a few problems (hairy and mishapen roots, woody and pale Chiogga's). This year I have marked out the beet, carrot, radish bed and will not add anything to the soil. I won't even need to turn it. The big White Detroit beets were very nice in borsht. My son even liked these. I'll grow the same varieties again next year: Lutz, Chiogga and White Detroit.

Great! It liked the dreary weather. The spring planting continued producing nice shoots until late fall.

Cabbage: Another crop that enjoyed the rains. I get big beautiful heads of savoy, red and green cabbage. But I grew much more than I could eat.

Carrots: Carrots all summer and 14 lbs of storage carrots in the fall! Pretty good. I don't think we could ever have too many carrots. I think I will grow only the long carrots this year as the little round ones are hard to prepare.

Chinese Greens: Delicious! We loved grilled baby Bok Choy, and stir-fried big Bok Choy. I will try Chinese Broccoli (also called Chinese Kale) too next year.

Lettuce: I harvested lettuce until Dec 3 this year! As usual, though, I forgot to succession plant in late spring, when the garden is at it busiest, and ended up with a couple months of no lettuce mid-summer. I'll try again to avoid this hole next year (I never have...). I will also plant mixes of lots of different varieties next year. Mixes worked out well. (I liked the Valentine mix Botanical Interests sent me for trial.)

Popcorn: A super crop! A lot of fun. I'll plant again next year and see what I can do to avoid the corn ear worms.

Tomatoes: So the consensus is that Late Blight only survives the cold New England winter in live plant material. Nevertheless, after having a heavily hit community plot, I will be moving all my Late Blight susceptible crops to the garden next to my house this year. This includes all tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers. And then I'll just hope, wish and pray for better weather. I have a nice collection of seeds for 16 different tomato varieties. I'll grow one or two plants of each. I don't have a single favorite and nothing is prettier than a big bowl full of tomatoes of all different shapes, sizes and colors.

Potatoes: I probably harvested a total of 60 lbs of spuds. Five varieties. I ended up with a 40 lb fall harvest that is still keeping well in my basement now. Next year I'll reduce my order to three (at most four) varieties. I planted too close this year. Russets were my favorite. I'd like to grow a blue variety too next year.

Pumpkins and Winter Squash: The Jarrahdale I grew this year were really nice. Good tasting, thick orange flesh and an interesting green color. I'll grow these again and skip the Big Rock. As my son questioned, why grow pumpkins just to sit on the doorstep? An odd "tradition". I'll just do edibles next year. And it was a fantastic year for the Butternut squash. I grew 60 lbs of this. I'll grow this variety again, but less. Ideas: Long Island Cheese, Cinderella ‘Rouge Vif d’Etampes’, Jarrahdale, Waltham butternut.



Blogger LoveMeKnot Creations said...

thank you for the review. I've learned a lot from your blog this year and have gotten a lot of ideas for my new/first big garden in 2010. I'll be attempting chinese broccoli/kale, some asian greens, Cinderella pumpkin as well!

Did you have any specific varieties of popcorn or lettuce that really stood out?

December 31, 2009 2:07 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I'll go through all my varieties probably this weekend as I decide which to grow again and what new ones to order.

December 31, 2009 2:32 PM

Blogger Rachel said...

I've done my own garden in review on my blog

January 04, 2010 4:36 PM

Blogger Clare said...

Thanks great summary that gives info in perspective. Wisdom is gained in small doses and in context. So even though I am in the southern hemisphere its great to learn a realistic view.

January 19, 2010 6:37 AM


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