2018 garden overview

2018 garden overview

Fall is here and the gardening season has come to an end. Every year, I look forward to the garden. The excitement of selecting what we will grow, planting those seeds and nurturing the plants to the best of our ability. Wondering just what kind of a year it will be. Will it be overly wet, dry, warm or cool? All of those factors play a roll in the garden. However, the thing I look forward to the most is the harvest. Now that all the hard work is over, I thought it would be fun to take a moment and look back on this year’s garden. What grew, what didn’t, and an overall 2018 garden overview. Whether you are a beginner gardener or one with plenty of years of experience under their belt, it’s always nice to take a moment to acknowledge all of the work that went into your garden.

Planting

Generally speaking, I plant the garden during mid-June. This year was no different for some of the plants. I did get the onions, potatoes, beans, peas, and tomatoes planted on time. The zucchini, herbs, and peppers weren’t far behind that. The radishes went in next, though they are a quick crop so planting late isn’t an issue. Then came the brussel sprouts. However, the carrots were planted quite late – in the last week of June. I almost skipped planting them, since waiting so long was really pushing the limits on their growing time. We have an average of 100 frost-free days and carrots take 110 to mature, sometimes longer based upon the weather.

The garden in May before plating.
The garden in May before plating.
The garden in June after plating. Not much to see here!
The garden in June after plating. Not much to see here!

Mid-Season Maintenance

The first weeks after planting can be a bit dull in the garden. Few things will have sprouted and thus there is very little that can be done. The major issue is weeds. They grow quickly and can hog the nutrients and sunlight that your seeds and seedlings need. Thus, this is the main responsibility of the gardener. Keeping up with the weeds will make your life easier, but it’s a lot of work – admittedly I didn’t do the best job keeping up with the weeds this year.

The garden in July. Finally seeing some grow.
The garden in July. Finally seeing some growth.

As the plants grow and become better established, the list of work grows. Weeding is still a task that should be done regularly. With plants like peas, cucumbers and other vining crops, taking the time to properly support them is crucial. For the peas, I go simple, using bamboo stakes, I string twine along the rows, leaving about two inches between each line of twine. This allows the plants to reach out and grab hold of the twine, supporting themselves as they grow. This process may need to be repeated if the peas grow quite tall. This year, I only had to do it one, as the plants only grew just above knee height.

The garden in August. Things are looking lush but still a bit behind.
The garden in August. Things are looking lush but still a bit behind.

Outside of these few things, I tend to basically ignore the garden. I don’t mean I completely forget about it, but I just like to let it run its course. Sometimes the best way to be successful is gardening is to just let it do what it wants to. If I saw a plant that looked diseased, then I would pull it to prevent that from spreading. Otherwise, I simply enjoyed seeing the plants grow. Of course, this led to an explosion of weeds that I never really caught up with, but hey it happens.

The garden in September. Some things have been harvested already, but others still need more time.
The garden in September. Some things have been harvested already, but others still need more time.

The experiment

Small Brussel sprouts forming on the plant.
Small Brussel sprouts forming on the plant.

Each year, I like to try to grow something new. The variety of plants that I grow in my garden each year is small, but those are the plants that I know grow well for us. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. Thus, each year I commit a small section of the garden to trying something new. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to try this year. Then my husband and I spotted some very pathetic looking brussel sprout seedlings at the grocery store. It was clear that they hadn’t been watered in a while, and there was a very good chance they would die due to the neglect, but at $0.10 for 4 plants, we couldn’t go wrong. Even if it was a complete failure, we knew it wouldn’t break the bank.

Through a lot of watering, fresh soil, and large pots to grow in, the plants recovered and did quite well. In fact, they even started to produce small Brussel sprouts by late August. At that point, we had our 10 cents worth. Even if the sprouts didn’t grow too large, we knew this was a plant that could grow up here. Though in the end, they didn’t produce much, just a handful of sprouts which were no bigger than the tip of my finger, my husband was happy – after all, he is the only one who eats Brussel sprouts.

As far as experiments go, we are calling this one a huge success. Not only did the plants make a comeback from near-death, but they provided us with a single potion of sprouts. It means that they will be added to next years garden. Surely, with stronger seedlings and a nice growing season, they will produce more readily for us.

The failures

The tomato plant that got taken out by an unknown disease.
The tomato plant that got taken out by an unknown disease.

Not everything went well with the garden this year. The tomato got the worst of it. I had picked out a large healthy looking plant in June, but by mid-July, it was suffering. Though I still don’t know what killed it in the end, my guess was some kind of disease. The leaves went from lush and green to brown and dying within a couple of days. I tried to keep it at bay but snapping off any branches that showed signs of illness, but it was not to be. By the end of July, the plant was on its last legs. I did manage to get a couple of tomatoes, which were still green at the time before I pulled the plant. Unfortunately, most of the tomatoes were also affected by the disease.

Can’t forget about the spaghetti squash, zucchini, and peppers. I planted two zucchini plants and four spaghetti squash, and they quickly died off. The pepper lived, but over the course of the entire growing season never got any bigger. This will be the final year that I try to grow peppers, as I have never successfully seen them grow at all.

The chives also were a loss this year. This one really surprised me. The chive plant was here when we moved in 12 years ago, and judging by the size then it was several years old. One the years it has been split several times and has always thrived. This year, however, it proved me wrong. Much like the tomato plant, it went from healthy to barely clinging to life in a short time. I trimmed it back to just above the soil and hoped for the best. For the longest time it just sat there, bordering on death, but finally at the end of the season is started to perk up again. So, while we weren’t able to harvest any chives, I think it will survive the winter and hopefully, provide us with plenty of chives next year.

This is all part of gardening. Some years things go well, and other years they don’t.

The forgotten crops

There were actually a number of things I never got around to planting this year. Lettuce and spinach were the two main ones. Every year I have grown large containers of lettuce and spinach, yet for some reason, I never planted them this year. I also didn’t plant cucumbers or broccoli. Cucumbers have been hit or miss for us, so that wasn’t a huge loss. However, I’m kicking myself for not planting any broccoli, as it always does quite well in our cooler summer weather.

The harvest

The true wonder of each gardening season is the harvest. By this point, we gardener have put many hours of blood, sweat, and tears into tending the plants and now it is time to see how much that work has paid off. Since every plant has a different growing schedule, the harvest can be staggered over a few weeks to a month or more.

The first thing to be harvested was the radishes. I grow these for my husband, as he is the only one who likes them. As usual, they did really well. In fact, some of them were so large that people at work though they were small apples. Normally when they get that big, they can get woody, but he said they were perfect. A single row of radishes kept him going for most of August.

The first pickings of radishes.
The first pickings of radishes.

In the final few days of August, I pulled all of the potatoes. The plants had died back completely and it was time to dig them up. Although I didn’t get an official weight on them, I would guess it was somewhere between 10 and 15 pounds worth.

It wasn’t until mid-September that anything else became harvestable. This is when the beans really took off. I picked beans every few days and once I had a decent amount, I got busy canning them. The beans were certainly the stars of the garden, producing enough to can 21 pints. Not too shabby for an odd growing season. We also snacked on a few handfuls of beans, but honestly, we try to limit snacking, that way we have lots of homegrown beans during the winter.

A good chunk of the beans that were harvested.
A good chunk of the beans that were harvested.

After another lull in things, the end of the garden season had arrived in early October. After a frost on October 1, everything quickly died off. But that wasn’t the end of the harvest. Amid cold temperatures and freezing rain, we harvested the carrots and parsley. We ended up with 17 pounds of carrots, some of which were grated and frozen, others were canned, but the vast majority went into a bin in the fridge for snacking. The parsley was hung in bunches in the basement to dry.

Grated carrots for the freezer.
Grated carrots for the freezer.

Just when I thought the harvest was over and it was time to pull all of the dead plants, I discovered that the onions, which I thought were a lost cause, were still good. They were all fairly small, and due to the wet conditions we had over the last few weeks, I doubted they would dry and store well. So I put my husband to work cleaning and chopping them. In the end, we got a large Ziploc bag full of diced onions to use in various recipes. We also got a handful of Brussel sprouts as I was pulling the plants. They were very small, but at least they produced something.

The onions before they were diced for the freezer.
The onions before they were diced for the freezer.
A handful of teeny tiny Brussel sprouts.
A handful of teeny tiny Brussel sprouts.

Thoughts on the garden

Overall, this was a bit of an odd growing season. The temperatures were pretty average, being mostly cool with a number of warmer days mixed in. The strange thing was the rain. We would often go two weeks without a drop of rain, and then there would be a torrential downpour for one day, and then another week or two of no precipitation. This meant that I had to water the garden more than in previous years. One nice thing about those heavy rainfalls was that our rain barrels were always full. This meant that we didn’t have to rely solely on using the hose to water. We could use the rainwater intermittently to give the garden that boost. Let’s face it, rainwater is always better than tap water.

Needless to say, this strange weather affected the garden quite a bit. Things were behind for quite some time – even taking into account a slightly late planting. For a while, I did wonder if we would even have much to harvest. But as luck would have it, the last month of the season everything seemed to get their second wind and really started to grow and produce.

Though some things failed and others flourished, all in all, this was another successful garden. Now that it is over with, I can make some notes in my garden journal and work on improving things for next year.

28 Comments

  1. As someone with the blackest of thumbs, I have to say I’m so envious of your garden! Even your failures are bigger successes than I’ve had with growing anything.

    1. Author

      Even black thumbs can be turned green! I’ll be sharing all kinds of gardening tips in the future to help you with that.

  2. Wow! What a great garden. We attempted to grow tomatoes and peppers this year and got a few but Wisconsin summers are strange. Haha!

    1. Author

      Well, at least you tried. And hey, a couple peppers and tomatoes for your effort is better than nothing.

  3. Your garden seems like it did awesome this year! Certainly better than mine because I completely neglected to even plant one this year (whoops) Hopefully next year I can get back to it again!

    1. Author

      It definitely surprised me given how strange of a growing season it was. You need to remember to plant one next year!

  4. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a garden, so it was fun to read about your season. Loved the tiny little brussel sprouts, and the end of season harvest was beautiful!

    1. Author

      Thanks, I’m glad I could share all about it. Hubby says the tiny Brussel sprouts were actually quite tasty.

  5. I love your Garden! We have to use beds, our ground is pure clay in my part AZ, Tnak yu for sharing!!

    1. Author

      Thank you! Ah yeah, I can see why you would need raised beds. We have a lot of sand up here, so we need to build up the soil to make it work well.

  6. I love your garden. This is one thing I would love to have because I love the taste of freshly picked veggies.

    1. Author

      Thank you! Anyone can have a garden! Freshly picked veggies are my favorite part of gardening.

  7. I love it! Thanks for sharing! I didn’t even garden this year. 🙁

    1. Author

      Oh man, I can’t imagine not having a garden, even for just a year.

  8. Love the brussel sprouts!!! I could eat them every day. And they are such funny looking plants, well to me at least. Btw, super envious of your lovely garden, I grew up with a huge garden and love having fresh healthy veggies. One day…

    1. Author

      Brussel sprout plants are pretty amusing looking, especially once they get fairly large. We had a big garden growing up as well, but it took about 10 years for me to get the garden the size that it is. Started with two raised bed and slowly added to it each year. I hope you are able to have a big garden soon!

  9. This is why when people ask me where to start, I tell them to first find a garden blogger who is in their area, because length of season / temperature fluctuates wildly and has such an impact on how things grow. I’ve never had success with Brussels so I’m super impressed with that tiny handful! I’m also a mostly-ignore-it kind of gardener. Works surprisingly well 😉

    1. Author

      Yes, that’s something to take into consideration. I see all these amazing garden guides, but most of them are geared towards the warmer climates and that just doesn’t work for me. Thanks, hubby was very happy with our tiny Brussel sprout haul. Haha, that’s great that the ignore it method of gardening works for you.

  10. This is such a cute post! I love your garden and am completely jealous! Such a shame about the tomatoes, me and my Mum tried to grow them one year and only managed to salvage a few little ones!

    All of your veg looks totally delicious though, invite me round for tea? x

    1. Author

      Thanks. It’s taken me a few years to get it to this stage but I’m quite happy with it. I find tomatoes can be finicky, one yeah they do amazing and the next they struggle. I would totally love to have you over for some tea and fresh veggies!

  11. I love your garden, I don’t have a veg patch anymore so I live to see yours. I’m amazed at how much produce you can grow in such a short growing season.

    1. Author

      Thanks. It’s taken quite a bit of time for us to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and even then we have had years where the garden has failed. I hope you are able to have a veggie patch again.

  12. Wow your garden is inspirational it must be so lovely to have your own produce to enjoy cooking with. The sprouts will be perfect for Christmas! Your post makes me dream of the day when I have a veg patch of my own…

    1. Author

      Thanks. It’s definitely great to be able to cook with things that I grew. The flavor is so much better than store-bought produce. I’m sure you will have an amazing veggie patch at some point.

  13. I have never get luck with brussels sprouts or cauliflower, my kids and I love to plant beans too, the purple or yellow ones are pretty. You have nice looking radishes too!

    1. Author

      My luck with cauliflower is very low. The plants grow really well and get huge, but I’m lucky if any head forms at all. Beans are great and definitely super easy to grow.

  14. This looks like a lot of work but so rewarding! Those radishes look incredible! So big and colourful! Thanks for sharing your tips 🙂

    1. Author

      It certainly is a lot of work, especially during planting and harvest, but absolutely worth it. The radishes were crazy this year, but hubby didn’t mind one bit.

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