Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Remembering the 2013 Garden

Obviously I have not taken the time to write about the 2013 garden.  Because a few people do read this blog (thank you), I will put in some updates in case they are helpful to anyone.  We learn new things each year as we try various new methods and experience new weather conditions.  Overall, the garden did pretty well, with a few setbacks I will explain in individual posts.  Please see the posts:Garden ReflectionsDeep Mulching, Squash, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Ducks and Cottonwood, Juglone and Tomatoes.  And stay tuned...in the near future I may add some more recipe creations.


December 10, 2013
To start off, this is the garden today.  The past week has not reached over 15F or so until this morning. Now it is a whopping 42 degrees outside.  A few days ago it was -18 in the morning.  This is the coldest I have ever experienced since coming to Colorado in 2008.

Our unheated GREENHOUSE may have suffered from this cold spell, and reached as low as 20F a few of these nights.  The largest lettuces and kale don't look so good, but hopefully the younger ones haven't died and will come back and grow nicely.  I have been covering the bins inside the greenhouse with frostcloth overnight, which I think helped, but there's only so much you can do!  I don't think this will prevent me from following the same plan in the future.  We just do what we can, and if the weather causes a problem, we'll live with what we get.

(The old-fashioned way!)

The WEATHER during the growing season was, I think, a bit cooler than usual in June-July, then pretty hot in August and September.  We had our last snow on May 1 (8"), which kept me from planting my early things a bit, but since I hadn't planned on planting things until later in May, that didn't cause too much of a problem.  (Our "last frost date" is around May 15, but I've begun holding off until after that for many vegetables.)  We had lots more rain than normal throughout the summer, concluding with over 12" of rain here in September, which was mild, compared to many local areas which suffered from extensive flooding.  Our hearts go out to those who lost homes, crops and livestock.


I like to keep notes on everything I do and record what happens, and this year I found Microsoft ONE NOTE to be very helpful.  In it, I was able to keep easily accessible sections and pages for each plant group, the ducks, the weather, soil amendments, pest control, etc. I also am still using the garden planner at GrowVeg.com to plan my garden spaces.  I find it a handy and fun tool.  In case you missed my March post, the plan for the 2013 Main Garden is HERE, and the 2013 Corn Patch is HERE.


I've been getting most of my seeds from Botanical Interests and High Mowing Seeds, Peaceful Valley/Grow Organic, and a few from Sand Hill Preservation.  Although I would like to support the small business, Sand Hill, I must be honest that I probably won't be ordering from them again.  It's been fun to try many of their unique heirloom varieties, but the seed germination rates from these just aren't as good as I get from other seed companies.  I wasted a lot of time and energy trying to get their seeds to grow.  Next year I plan to check out Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for more of the unusual varieties I'd like to try.


SEASON HIGHLIGHTS 

This year I tried several varieties or plants I haven't grown before: squash, beans, eggplant (won't do again), fava beans (will do again), a couple of new tomatoes.  My biggest headache was the sowbugs!  Most of my squash died.  Many of my beans didn't make it.  I had very few strawberries and not as many raspberries & blackberries--we may not have pruned them correctly.  We did get our first harvest of delicious grapes--some green seedless and some red seedless.  After recovering from some damage, hopefully next year our purple grapes will produce.  Our corn was very good this year--I returned to planting some of the organic sweet hybrid varieties (Sugarbaby, Brocade, Sugar Pearl), rather than the heirlooms I did last year, which were ok, but not as sweet and crisp as the hybrids.  

The biggest new thing we did was the deep mulching with wood chips, which is detailed in a separate post.  This was overall a positive change.


PLANNING FOR 2014

It's time to begin!  I'm receiving catalogs and emails from some of my favorite seed companies offering sale prices and free shipping if I order early, so it's time to start planning.  

One big change is that I plan to put all my tomato plants out in our NW area previously used as the 3-Sisters Corn Patch.  I'm running out of rotation beds in the main garden area for tomatoes, peppers & potatoes, so I'll try the tomatoes in a whole new area, and put the corn in the main garden.


We will continue deep mulching, combining manure & compost with the wood chips and watering less frequently.


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