September 10, 2008
dried beans: We conducted the ceremonial harvesting of the dried beans yesterday – above are speckled bays, below black turtle beans. These just dried right on the plant, and it seemed time to pick them before the moldy rains set in permanently. I had visions of making spicy chilis and steaming stews all winter long with the harvest. I probably had about 6 plants of each type. My total yield? 2/3 cup. Yup. Enough for one batch of soup.
Part of the problem was that i was under the false impression that these would be enormous, twining, pole-type vines, which is why I planted them at the base of trellises along the fence. They never did get any higher than about 12″.
Note to self: research first (it didn’t say anything about height on the seed package).
Next year: plant scads of them in the flower beds towards the front.
beans: I planted purple, yellow wax and green beans of varying types. I tried a “two sisters” approach, growing them among the miscellaneous squash vines along the fence. This worked well to start with, but the beans were thwarted by the giant squash leaves that formed in August. If I had just let the squash sprawl, all would have been well, but I was training it upwards in an effort to save some space and the beans got crowded out. Also, picking beans isn’t much fun when prickly squash stems are right in your face. Bean yield was okay, but I will try stand-alone teepees next year, away from the squashes. Or else let the squash spread out at ground level.
peas: I tried a variety of peas – the tall ones (Alderman) did the best – Oregon Trail and Karina did okay. I did two plantings in spring, but could have crammed in at least another round – maybe a fourth if it had been in a shady spot. Still not sure if it’s best to plant among the old plants or start a new round. Will add wood ash to the soil over the winter.
beets: Had some beets (enough to pickle a few jars), but find that a lot start flowering before they get to be of edible size. Must be doing something wrong here…
melons: Threw some seeds in when planting squash – nothing happened. Summer wasn’t very sunny and hot, but perhaps should have been more nurturing. Will start indoors next year.
artichokes: These are a two-year project, and the ones I planted this year came along very well – one plant even has two buds on it! The foliage is so pretty (saw-toothed leaves and all), that I would plant more of these in prominent flowerbeds (after the house is reno’ed). Then I need to figure out how to cook them…
lettuce, spinach, swiss chard: All of these went on like gangbusters – especially in the spring, when we were desperate for green things. Just got tired of picking and washing, and that was before the invasion of the (ugh) slugs. Must be more ruthless!
potatoes: Just starting to harvest these. Should have planted earlier. Russian Blue are incredibly purple! They look amazing.
fruit trees: planted three frankenfruit trees – none of them died (success!), and the plum flowered (success!), so we’re in wait and see mode. The pear tree formed a lot of strange-looking red bumps on the leaves, but nothing seemed to happen after that, so I’m not sure if it’s an infestation or a leaf disease. This tree will probably have to be transplanted over the winter due to construction.
and finally (drum roll please) – the big successes of the year!
strawberry patch: the 5’x10′ raised bed strawberry patch was filled with 80 plants and did smashingly well. Lots of berries, the kids loved it, low-maintenance. I will mulch well this fall and hope they all survive the winter.
cauliflower and broccoli: apart from the romanesco (which declined an invite), the graffiti cauliflower and the broccoli grew very well and were much appreciated. Will grow more and try to stagger plantings slightly next year.
herb garden: location is key! i relocated this to just outside of the back door (off the kitchen), and as a result used tons more fresh herbs in cooking than ever before. Apart from the aforementioned basil disaster, all of the transplants (lemon balm, chives, thyme, oregano) did very well, and the dill, sage, mints and chamomiles grew like gangbusters. The fennel showed up unannounced, but I really liked the gigantic nature of the plant, and the bees/wasps didn’t complain either. Next year: grow basil in pots, plant three times as much dill, add more rosemary and a bay leaf tree, and be more diligent about harvesting (especially the chamomile) while it’s in season instead of just admiring the pretty flowers.
I feel the need to start sketching out next year’s plot…