A Look Back at Summer in the Kitchen Garden

It’s been a long and productive summer in the garden, and despite my plans to keep up on writing, I never seemed to find the time. Now, as half the garden is harvested, and I’ve given in to some of the weeds, there’s time for a short look back…

Things started off cool, and slow this year… potatoes and onions went in early, but it was end of May before we did most of our plantings for summer. We tried several different varieties of seeds last year, so this year we could focus on the varieties that grew the best in our soil. It made seed shopping easier.. but, we did have a few surprises with germination, which can probably be attributed to the damp cool conditions we had. Some green beans, beets and carrots had to be re-sown, but once they took root (and summer decided to warm up) they all produced really well.

I flip flopped the arrangement of the garden this year, to rotate crops to different spots – and to make room for more tomato plants.  Even without a green house, the garden is up on the hill, and gets sun all day long, so after seeing how well they did last year, we decided to up our #s so we can pack away alot of sauce, salsa and tomato jam for winter.

Row of tomatoes by the fence, onions in the front left, and the start of green beans behind them. In the far back, you can see the asparagus jungle, all ferned out.

 

One challenge we have with the garden is watering, since its so far up on the hill.  We have 250+ feet of hose just to get up there, so winding int through the garden was a bit difficult last year.  In the photo below you can see posts we put up every few feet, with a slot to rest a hose in.  This allowed us to bring the hose up and over the fence, and rest it on this posts, to water the right side of the garden, without crushing the plants on the left.  Might tweak the spacing, or add some more next year…. but all in all.. wayyyy easier than last year.

 

Two rows of hilled potatoes on the far left. On the right, a tipi trellis for the cucumbers.

 

Our garden is over 100 ft long, so one of the keys to managing it (and keeping up on eating and preserving) has been succession planting. There’s only so many beds you can prep, and so many seeds you can plant in a weekend.  Last year, we did two plantings of a number of things, and even broke it down to three for things like green beans this year since there were still times where it was just too much product all at once.

 

Giant haul of green beans from the plants on the right, and younger plants starting off on the left.

 

Part way through the summer, I mulched the walk ways in the south half of the garden with straw in an attempt to keep the weeds down. This kept the weeds at bay for a little bit but not as long as I’d hoped. In retrospect, a layer of newspaper or cardboard underneath would have worked better.

 

Next year, I think we’ll attempt a more broccoli… and possibly both a spring and a fall crop. This is only the second year I’ve attempted it, and am impressed with how easy it is. The plants are big, and take up some space… but, because of their size, it was way less effort to deal with weeds around them, in comparison tiny little carrots plants. It also blanches and freezers well – which is also key to our plans to try to pack away as much garden food to last the winter as possible.

 

 

 

While I can’t grow a bell pepper to save my life, hot peppers seem to be agreeable to growing for us. This year we plucked off the first set of blossoms, and ended up with bumper crops of jalapenos and cherry hots — and more importantly… just in time for our annual salsa making weekend 🙂

 

75% of our tomato plants are heirloom varieties, ranging from orange, to red, to green to yellow.

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