Tuesday, January 08, 2008

2007 Vegetable Garden Review

2007 Vegetable Garden, Late Summer

Our vegetable garden exceeded our expectations; we are learning how to time the crops to maximize the small space in our raised beds. We got a huge amount of tomatoes, we dried them and stuck them in the freezer; the Ancho/Poblano peppers were fantastic, we roasted and froze them, and we got multiple harvest of lettuce and other greens...the turnips and mustard spinach did the best of all of the leafy vegetables.

We were surprised by sweet purple grapes growing over the neighbors fence onto our garden shed, they made excellent jelly. They took no effort on our part, no water no pruning, no pest control; they just grew. Grapes can be poisonous to dogs so we made sure the vines were out of the Min Pins reach.

We were a little disappointed by the blueberry crop; we lost a lot of the fruit to the birds. We will need to take the time to net them next year.

Our lemon crop was the best yet. We have picked over 20 Meyer lemons and a few of the Variegated Eureka Lemons. The lemons were fertilized twice this spring and summer, I think this really helped them. We are going to give the Eureka Lemon one more year, if it doesn't produce more fruit it will be given away or composted; that will allow us to put our energy and space into something new...maybe a Lime.

Our winter veggies have been a mixed bag...we put the plastic cover on one bed without realizing it was infested with cabbage worms and cut worms. The cover of plastic hid the worms from birds and other predators and also from my eyes. We had to toss everything in that bed. The other beds are doing well, we have harvested Mustard Spinach and Polar Ice Lettuce. Silver Bell Sweet Turnips, Red Sails Lettuce, and Green Delight Baby Bok Choy are waiting for a slight warm up in the weather, then they will mature quickly. The Fennel and green onions are just sitting there; I hope they will grow once spring arrives.

I like growing herbs in the garden so we can snip some off when needed. This was the first year I have grown Cilantro. In the spring I was given a packet of Big Leaf Cilantro seeds, I planted them at the base of the pepper plants; they did very well, I let a few of them flower and go to seed so now we have coriander in our spice rack waiting for a special recipe! The Cilantro was so quick to grow so i decided to plant some in pots for the fall, it has done very well and doesn't seem to mind the cold (I did bring it into the garage with the lemons on the coldest nights). It is so nice to have the fresh cilantro; I plan to start parsley seeds as soon as the weather warms up; I hope it is as easy as the cilantro. I look forward to never finding spoiled bunches of store bought cilantro and parsley in the vegetable drawer of the fridge again!

Swiss Chard is one of the Man of the House's and my favorite leafy vegetables, and fresh from the garden is much better than the stuff at the grocery store (are we the only ones that buy it?). However, it is slow growing and is a little big for our small beds, so we have decided not to grow it again. I found some great Swiss Chard at the farmers market this fall, I bought several bunches and tried freezing it. It froze very well, and is very quick to prepare from the freezer (already washed, trimmed, blanched, and portioned). The dogs won't miss the chard in the garden, it is the only vegetable we have found that they don't like!

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