Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lesons Learned: The 2010 Gardening Year In Review

Pea Seedlings
I'm always learning and evolving as a gardener, and it seems like the garden improves every year as my knowledge expands. 2009 was such a great year in my garden; I had high hopes for 2010! Well, as they say "Don't count your chickens before they hatch!"

Community Garden Plot at McCoy Park:
The year started off pretty well, it was a wet spring, but we completed all of the soil prep  in the fall, so we didn't need to wait for dry weather to plant. Most of the winter crops survived, the lacinato kale did especially well,  and the garlic and onions survived the winter wet. I started peas in cell pack in late January, and planted them out in late February; they did great!

March 5, 2010
The weather never really warmed up...but in anticipation of summer like weather, I pulled out the kale to make room for tomatoes in late June. If I knew what the summer was going to be like, I would have left the kale in and not planted tomatoes!

May 16, 2010
By mid-September we still hadn't picked a ripe tomato, not even a cherry tomato. We picked a few eggplant, the beans were vining, but not flowering. The cucumbers were producing, but they were bitter. The only thing doing well was the tomatillos.
August 28, 2010

At the end of September we began to get tomatoes! But it wasn't long before it became clear that we had a problem: LATE BLIGHT! I have never had trouble with tomato diseases; I'm pretty good about rotating crops, and keeping things clean; but the cool wet summer didn't give our tomato's a chance. We harvested enough to can about a dozen pints of crushed tomatoes, and roasted some in the oven for freezing; but I ended up having to toss most of the fruit as it rotted before ripening.
October 20, 2010
Home Garden
Our home vegetable beds are used year round; I cover them with plastic in the winter so we can grow lettuce and herbs despite the cold. One problem with our intensive gardening has been a build up of gray- mold; so we decided to start fresh with new soil in our raised beds. We moved all of the old soil out into a shrub bed where we wanted to amend the soil before planting olive trees.

When it came time to buy new soil, I was busy and honestly a little lazy. Instead of buying the soil mix with the organic compost as I had originally planed, I bought soil from a place close to home. And when faced with the option of buying organic compost and regular top soil and mixing them together my self - verses buying a pre-mixed scoop of a soil blend with regular (not organic) compost, I whimped out and chose the mix. I knew better...I had a knot in my gut after buying it...but I filled the beds with it anyway.

The veggies in the raised beds failed to thrive. At first I blamed it on the weather; but then it became clear: The compost in the mix was contaminated with clopyralid, a broad leaf herbicide for lawns. Our entire home vegetable garden was a failure. (I will put up a post with more info next month)

Distorted Bean Foliage
We did get a decent harvest of blueberries, they weren't as sweet as I'd like them, but we have a lot in the freezer to add to cereal and to make pies with. The new olive trees grew well; however we had a hard freeze just before thanksgiving that hit them hard...we will just have to wait to see what spring 2011 brings.

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