garden lessons

i suppose we're at the halfway mark with the garden and it seemed like time for some assessment.

we had a month-long strawberry harvest. i learned from it that i am a horrible judge of when the strawberries are finishing, as i kept thinking, "this must be the last time i'll pick this many berries" and then the next time, i'd pick two buckets instead of just one. we ate strawberries every evening and in many different ways and i put up a dozen jars of strawberry marmalade (several quite large) and had a big jar of strawberry porridge (jordbær grød) in the fridge that lasted for a week's worth of desserts. and we never bought a single strawberry from the grocery store. so i think we can safely say that the strawberries were a success. the next step with the strawberries is to do a thorough weeding and then prepare to take the little fledgling strawberries for new beds next spring. this we do by digging in a little plastic pot below the runners, settling their roots into some good potting soil and encouraging them to take root. in the spring, we dig up the little pots and move them to a new bed.

as for other things, we haven't yet begun to havest in earnest. our weather has been rainy and a bit cool, so some of the expected lush growth hasn't yet happened. nearly every day, tho', i can add tuscan kale to my dishes, as it's thriving in our cool, rainy weather. we will soon have more broad beans and runner beans and borlotti beans than we know what to do with (i'm already planning on canning them various ways). and the raised bed of brassicas is looking good and the cabbages finally appear to be forming heads of cabbage - we were a bit worried for awhile that they were just going to keep making leaves. i've been harvesting small stalks of broccoli for stir frys for a couple of weeks.

moving our rhubarb didn't seem to hold it back and all of the plants have come back and are producing in earnest. you can get some ideas as to what i've done with it here. we now have three rows of asparagus going - the row you can see on the left was asparagus we bought in pots last autumn - it should be ready to begin harvesting in two more years (one lesson from gardening is patience). there are two additional rows of asparagus i started from seed back in march. i didn't read the instructions on the packet, which made it sound quite difficult, but just planted them in little pots. every single of one of them came up and despite their tiny stature, they are all thriving very well, even after i planted them out.  so the lesson in that - don't be scared away by difficult-sounding planting processes, just jump in and try it.  it will likely be 5 years before we can begin to harvest from those, but i'm hoping the wait is worth it.

we had a number of things that just didn't come up. primarily beets and spinach and kohlrabi and parsnips. our carrots are extremely patchy. what's frustrating is that we don't really know what lesson to take from the experience. was the soil too cold when we planted? did birds eat the seeds? did we not plant deep enough? too deep? not enough fertilizer? not enough water? too much? is our soil too sandy?  i would love to learn from the experience, but feel that i don't know what the lesson is. i find that a bit frustrating.

our artichokes, which are a perennial, are doing very well. they took off like mad after husband put a load of horse poo around them. you have to be careful doing that, as it can burn them, but the artichokes seemed to love it! as to the eggplants in the greenhouse - we can see that their roots have reached down to the layer of horse poo and have taken off like mad.

our sweetcorn is pretty patchy as well, as you can see in this photo, but it just hasn't been warm enough for corn. we do think part of it is that one brand of seeds - Albertine's Have - were duds, as i think that all of the seeds which didn't do what we expected were that brand. in all, i think the garden should be farther ahead and more lush than it is and i'm not sure how to ensure that next year. we're talking about more raised beds for the more delicate items as one measure. more pre-planting indoors and in the greenhouse to prepare for planting out. we will work more horse poo into the soil this autumn - actually, that yellow-ish patch to the right (i just mowed down the tall weeds) will be next year's garden and we're soon going to be plowing in some manure in the coming weeks to prepare for that. another thing we're going to do is more continuous planting. planting new rounds of salads and radishes and things and daring to replant what didn't come up. we definitely haven't done enough of that this year.

what lessons is your garden teaching you? and if you have any ideas as to what lessons i should be learning from our garden failures, i'm all ears!!


rayfamily said...

It sounds like you are well on your way, especially for year one and how much infrastructure you have had to do! My guess the cool weather is the biggest culprit. We had that beginning with may & June so cool, then it warmed up & everything took off. Especially if you had some warm, then got cool again (I recall you posting about beautiful warm weather early on for a couple of weeks). Some plants may have started, then went into a holding pattern. Weather or dud seeds may have caused your spottiness. We didn't think we'd have any sugar snap peas this year, then finally when we had sun, what came up flourished.

One tip (if you didn't do it) plant closeer together (thicker) and then thin if you have too much. You can compost the thinning , or eat them (radish & beet greens are very tasty)

Brenda Pruitt said...

I couldn't find your email address. I just wanted you to know that you’ve been featured on my weekly Welcome Wagon Friday post. Hope you’re liking our little community, and making friends along the way. You should be receiving neighborly visits shortly. Welcome to the blogosphere!

Palmer said...
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Jenny Woolf said...

I'll have to get our strawberries sorted next year. They're fine until the slugs get them. The problem is getting straw to the garden, it's not very accessible from the road.

Anneli/Bockfilz said...

I think you're doing very well for this first year - and for the weather conditions, there isn't much you can do, is it?

If your seeds were not hybrides, next year's plants, grown from your own seeds, will be tougher and more likely to grow well on your ground than this year's harvest!