By the end of the first week in November, we were starting to take the last real harvests of the 2015 season. Kale, collards, Fox Cherry tomatoes, Hot Portugal peppers, a few late-planted bush beans, and a few stray Shishitos were in the mix.
Our first frost was November 25th, but it was only for one night; temperatures rebounded back up into warmer territory immediately and the next frost was not until mid-December. Many of the largest, ripest tomatoes and peppers we set aside for seed saving day. I was ready to throw in the towel on our Brandywines, but Continue reading 2015 Veggies – November & December
In order to track our progress each year, I try to quantify the harvest as best I can. I keep a written journal of most of the important activities and progress in the garden, and the journal includes a penciled-in log of any harvests that happen during each week of the season. When I have the chance, I copy that handwritten data into a little spreadsheet I made which handles some of the calculations I’m interested in and updates the totals automatically for me. This spreadsheet is designed specifically for small gardens, not farms, and possibly not even for very large gardens. It’s targeted for situations where you harvest small amounts and can keep track of harvested items as single units (for most things) or small bunches (for herbs), rather than as large bulk amounts such as bushels.
The concept behind this spreadsheet is that once you add in some typical values at the start of the season for the weight of a given variety when harvested (like the average weight of one cherry tomato), the spreadsheet does all the rest of the calculations as you add to your counts each week. It does its math based on counts, so that you don’t have to keep weighing each time you harvest, just tally how many single items you harvested that week.
In early October, we were starting to see the first signs of possible fruiting coming in from our recently planted bush beans. First time growing them, and a spot didn’t open up until late in the season, so we weren’t sure if anything would come of this experiment. Lovely pink flowers.
To our surprise, our Brandywine tomatoes made a late flush of rather giant fruit. As the daylight hours and temperatures were dwindling, we weren’t sure if these would ever ripen. About ten of them were taunting our tastebuds (and my harvest spreadsheet) from the vine early in the month. Temperatures started leveling off and even warming up, but nothing would reverse the hours of sunshine hitting them. I pruned the lower leaves and any diseased leaves as well, and made sure no new flowers were developing. I also cut back dramatically on any water they were receiving. These things stress the plant into putting its last remaining energy into ripening. One recommendation even was to jiggle the roots… sure, why not—who am I not to jiggle the roots?
Come September, the garden’s many flowers were tall and blooming all over the place. Beans were cascading in waves over the eastern fence and our many tomatoes were fat. Continue reading 2015 Veggies – September
By the middle of August, we were getting regular harvests of a wide variety of veggies. Although we got a few Green Zebras in the mix (one shown here), the plant had been diseased for a few weeks and we were losing the battle. Its fruit were few and small. Cucumbers were coming in great and we were careful this year not to let any grow too large to pickle in a pint jar. This was one of our goals for the year—to keep harvesting regularly and not let any fruit get overly large, so as to encourage our plants to produce new fruit. Also in this day’s harvest was a lone asparagus spear—many of his buddies’ first-year roots had not survived the harsh winter.
By early July, the Shishito peppers were looking happy and healthy. The irrigation system was doing its job well, without too much fuss or tweaking. You can see one of our drip lines in the background of this photo.
We read up about pollinating corn. We saw the male flowers maturing on the tops of the stalks. With our small setup, we decided to hand-pollinate to ensure the corn cobs would fill out a full set of kernels. You only have a few days in which to do this, and a couple of hours each morning within those days. We placed some aluminum foil around the stalks, under the male flowers, in hopes of collecting some early morning pollen. Continue reading 2015 Corn Pollination
We decided to try corn again this year. I had tried it in 2013 and found that it didn’t produce much at all. This year we did a little more research and gave them a little more room to spread out in the rear beds. Although we sometimes sowed two or three kernels per spot, sometimes we got one, sometimes two, sometimes none at all. I doubted we really had the nutrients to support them, but was interested in giving them another chance. By this time, we had run our irrigation lines as well, as visible here.
Once we had our transplants and direct-sown seeds in the ground, we could shift our attention from indoors to the garden itself. The bare soil was starting to look a little brighter by the end of May. Here, a beet enjoys its own spot. Note the clover in the background… that’s remnants of the cover crop which have reappeared and would soon spread to all areas of the beds.