Saturday, October 6, 2012

The fall and winter update, 2012

The garden was wildly successful this year, in my opinion. Although not everything grew as well as expected, this was the very first year (with little to no preparation, I might add) at our new home. The expectation for this year was pretty low, because of a variety of factors including lack of money to put into the whole thing.

The regular raised beds worked wonderfully well. The "corn field" didn't create as full cobs as I'd hoped, but that was more because of how late I planted it. Had I put the corn seed in the ground a month earlier, when it was supposed to go in, we'd have been swimming in corn. As it was, we've had a few decent ears and quite a few baby corn, and lots of pretty stalks for decorating with.

The tire raised beds worked fantastically. I want more of these for next year, no question at all. They take a lot of dirt to fill, but we got most of it for free from our dump (which has a huge compost pile that farmers use for manure and rotted vegetables and such). I can't praise the tire gardens enough. For root crops they were perfect, because the soil inside was not compacted and had been largely picked through to remove major rocks and sticks. This left the soil in perfect condition to host carrots and beets. My only "real" issue was that the soil was so rich that the tomatoes I planted in there were bushy with almost no fruit!

The girl child's square foot garden wasn't as successful as the other gardens. The squash, watermelon and peas didn't do as well. I think part of the problem is that it didn't have enough compost in it. Next year it will be built one more level higher, with additional soil, which should make a difference. Being so low to the ground, I think it was inviting critters to come have salad and squash. Still, her tomatoes did take off, and are still producing!

The potato towers came down a while ago, and were only mildly successful. If I were to try them again, I would have to put a soaker hose inside the tower, either in the center or spiraling up the middle. I think the major problem was that the tower dried out incredibly quickly, and that stunted the potato growth. We also got some stink bugs and potato bugs, which didn't help matters. Of course, had the plants been strong and healthy to begin with, we'd have had less issues!

We still have to put in the asparagus and strawberry beds, as well as the fruit trees and bushes we want. I have to plant some ground cherries, as well, because we really enjoy eating them. I hope to build the shade beds before the snow comes, but we'll see what happens. There's so much going on, I'm not sure I can manage it.

That's the winter update, folks. As always, don't be afraid to ask questions. There will be more coming up on canning, dehydrating, long term storage, emergency first aid, and dozens of other hot topics, so keep checking back!

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