So, here I am. Talking about last year's garden. I'm an exciting person.
Every year I draw up a garden plan, figuring what we're going to plant and where we're going to put it. I even color it. And every year it ends up being completely different from what I plan. It's a good thing I spend all that time planning so we know exactly what not to do. Of course, that doesn't stop me from drawing up garden plans year after year. It works for us.
Last year I read this great book "A Quarter Acre Farm: How I kept the patio, lost the lawn and fed my family for a year" by Spring Warren. I got lots of great ideas from this book and for some insane reason I decided to weigh everything we got from our garden. At least, almost everything. Towards the end I slacked a little. Our scale can only weight about 3-4 lbs worth of produce at a time. The weighing thing got old fast. But don't be surprised if I do it again next year.
I decided to grow all Roma tomatoes since I had heard that they were the best for canning. I had planned on planting 8 Roma tomato plants. But because I am me, I ended up with 4 Roma tomato plants and 4 Celebrity Hybrid plants. Oops. We planted our garden (most of it) on May 28. We got our first tomato (Celebrity) on August 15. It was 18 ounces. One tomato, 18 ounces. It was huge!
Celebrity Tomatoes- 58 lbs. 11 oz.
Roma Tomatoes- 30 lbs. 8 oz.
From these tomatoes I canned 32 quarts of tomatoes (for spaghetti, etc.) and 12 pints of tomato soup.
Obviously, the Roma plants didn't produce nearly as well with growing just over half of the amount of Celebrity tomatoes and I couldn't really see much of a difference as far as canning the tomatoes went. I think this year I'll stick with the Celebrity tomatoes for all of my tomato plants. Let's just hope I can keep up!
We always plant one grape tomato plant that is referred to as our Tiny Tomato plant. My girls eat these like candy! But we learned after one year that planting more than one Tiny Tomato plant is not a good idea for us. Even with just one, we were giving away lots and lots of tiny tomatoes. We even went on a "Tomato Tour" one day taking tomatoes to quite a few friends in our neighborhood. Hopefully they appreciated it.
Grape Tomatoes: 16 lbs. 12 oz.
We planted 4 pickling cucumber plants this year and it was our most successful year with them so far. I've found that if I plant less then 4 plants, I don't have enough at one time to do pickles. But then I end up with lots of pickles. So I'm thinking next year I might trade with one of my garden friends because a family only needs so many jars of pickles!
Pickling Cucumbers: 37 lbs. 1 oz.
Pickles: 35 pints of bread & butter, dill and sweet dill pickles. See what I mean?!
Our green pepper plants did surprisingly well this year. We actually got some! We had enough for jelly, salads, stuffed peppers, lots of good stuff.
Green Peppers: 6 lbs.
I was able to make 24 half pints of pepper jelly. That's a lot. So if you need some, I'm your girl!
And then there was the corn that I hadn't planned on planting at all until I read a book called Soil Mates. It was a pretty easy book that talked about companion planting to prevent bug issues and to increase the health of your plants. In all honesty, I haven't had as many bug issues before as I did this year after trying to do companion planting, but that could totally be a fluke. Either way, we really enjoyed the fresh corn. I don't think I weighed the last couple of harvests but I know we got at least 10 lbs 14 oz. and were able to freeze 4 bags of corn from it. Although it's a little chewy so I'm thinking they may have stayed on the stalk too long or my kitchen table waiting to be frozen for too long. We'll see how it goes this year....
After planting pole beans for the last three years, we have come to the conclusion that pole beans just don't flourish in our garden. They grow well and have beautiful leaves and cover our garden wall, but they just don't produce all that well. This year we only got 3 lbs. 4 oz. of green beans. It's better than nothing, but I think we're going to give bush beans a try this year.
As for squash....this was a learning year for us. We planted a yellow squash plant in an empty area before thinking it through. Despite the lovely shade from the corn, our yellow squash was still able to produce 6 lbs. 7 oz. for our squashy enjoyment. Our zucchini squash didn't do so well either. I know, it grows like a weed. But not for us. I just didn't realize how shady it was going to be. Like I said...it was a learning year for us. Actually, every year is a learning year when it comes to gardening. And other things.
Although my attempts at growing dill didn't get very far, I did grow basil and just loved it. We had a super yummy margherita pizza with the ingredients mostly from our back yard! I also made up several batches of pesto and froze that. The only problem there is that pine nuts are so ridiculously expensive! $18+ per pound! But I'm growing basil again this year and I'm even thinking of expanding to some other herbs. And! I attempted to grow some garlic as well! I planted it at the wrong time, but it did really well until it got too hot. I've read you can either plant it in February/March and harvest in June or you can plant in September and harvest the following May. I didn't get around to it in September so we'll see if I can get it planted in the next month or two.
I haven't made our official garden plan for this year but I'm thinking of trying a few new things like potatoes, onions and artichokes. I'm really (pathetically?) excited! So, winter can end any time now. No really. I'm done with you winter. You couldn't be bothered to snow for Christmas so I have no use for you now!
So.....anyone else got any garden goodness to share? I love hearing about what other people do in their gardens. Remember....I'm the hippie garden nerd. And if you come to my house in the summer, I will probably insist that you come see my garden. Consider if fair warning.
This is before it got really crazy and unruly. Hard to imagine a Chaos' garden being unruly. I know!