Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vegetable Garden Recap

It's the end of harvest, so it's time for a recap of things I liked and things I didn't like about our garden this year.

Things I liked:
  • The tomato plants were very productive
  • The jalapeño plants were insane!
  • We got a good crop of peppers, too
  • I love, love, love our onions
Things I didn't like:
  • The broccoli was pointless. I think we got one head harvested before all of them bolted. And then became infested by cabbage worms
  • Way too much kale
  • Way too much chard
  • The beans had issues with beetles
  • I think I'd like a different eggplant variety next year
  • Losing all the acorn squash to worms
  • Cabbage worms suck
Overall, I'm not sure I'll plant anything that could be affected by cabbage worms next year. Even using an insecticidal soap they were too difficult to keep up with. I was able to keep the bean beetle under control with the soap, so that was fine.

Next year I want to plant more onions. They did SO well this year and they're so incredibly tasty. Much better than the ones at the store.

I think we had the right amount of tomato plants this year. We had a few end up with end blossom rot but, overall, the crop was just about perfect. I think next year we could do with 1 fewer jalapeño plants. We also only need ONE summer squash plant - two was overkill. Likewise, we went way overboard with the kale - 1 plant would be enough. Same with the chard - 1 plant is plenty.

I'm debating about planting the lettuce and spinach in pots next year and keeping them closer to the house. We didn't seem to eat as much of them as we could have. We also definitely don't need as much as we planted. Two of each, staggered in planting times, would more than suffice.

On the flip side, apparently tomatillo plants are sterile and you need TWO in order to get a crop. Whoops. Research FAIL.

As far as the companion planting attempt went it seems to have succeeded, save for the Brassica bed. In doing a bit more reading, it seems there we didn't have enough aromatic plants to keep the cabbage worm at bay... and once one was infested, they all fell victim. Research FAIL again.

Items I would like to add next year:
  • garlic
  • shallots
  • carrots
Overall we had a good year. Obviously improvements could be made and I have a bit of research to do about better pest control and non-vegetable companion plants (I hear marigolds are good). I'm going to spend the weekend harvesting the rest of the kale and collars and placing them in a heavy salt bath to see if I can't get any remaining worms off them (ew ew ew ew), harvest the remaining squash, beans, peppers and tomatoes and then prep them all for storage. We're going on vacation in a week, so the rest of the garden has to come down by then. Then we have to till in the compost and re-cover the beds for winter.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Really Cool Stuff!

The Autumn Blaze is BLAZING!


Also, we have a new "pet"


I've decided to name him Herman.


Also, I turned the compost pile and look at all this great, rich compost!


Unfortunately, this isn't cool. We're now infested with Asian Lady Beetles. Makes me want to napalm the back yard.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall Clean Up Part 3 - Garden bed

So today I began the sad process of dismantling the garden bed. I removed the plants who had finished up - namely the broccoli, the stump of the tomatillo plant, one of the summer squash plants (the other one is still producing!).

I also potted the jalapeño plants because they still have quite a bit of peppers on them that still need some growing time. Plus, my brother mentioned smoking them and turning them into chipotles, which I think would be quite possibly the coolest thing ever. So the jalapeños are coming inside the house at night and going out on the deck in the morning.

I've been reading a book called "Wisconsin Garden Guide" by Jerry Minnich. It's very much a Wisconsin-specific version of the Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. The first chapter is all about soil, the second about composting and mulching. Both of them talk about how to build up proper soil and compost so that the plants roots dig down deep to anchor the plant and allow it to pull valuable nutrition in times of drought. Judging by the length of root on the plants I pulled up (that weren't dead but were done producing, like the broccoli), our soil rocks the house.

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