Monday, October 03, 2011

2011 Vegetable Garden Review

Onions, Garlic, Strawberries, Mustard Greens, Peas, Oregano, and Chives
Lancelot Leek and Cascadia Peas
At my father's community garden last fall I planted kale, garlic, onions and some assorted greens for growing though winter. The kale grew fabulously, we were able to freeze enough to get us through next spring, with more still to harvest. The onions and garlic didn't do so well, they all got rust, the onions bolted and flowered, and the garlic heads, while edible, were tiny (a huge pain to peel for cooking). In early spring we planted leeks for the first time, thankfully planting them away from the garlic and onions; they were worthwhile to grow, we used them though the summer for soups and sautes. The peas got off to a slow start, but they did very well in our agonizingly long cool spring; I did over-plant though...16 feet worth of row at the community garden and another 6 feet at home! We gave away a lot of peas to my fathers neighbors.

My father spent the spring and summer in and out of the hospital and nursing facilities; when he made his first hospital trip, the man of the house and I, had to make a tough we keep the community plot and drive all the way across town to tend it several times a week? Knowing that last year my father wasn't able to make it to the garden to water as often as it really needed it, we seriously considered giving up on it. But, in the end we decided that we had spent 4 years getting the garden just perfect, and we didn't want to miss out on all of the produce that garden gives us. We planted things that we thought could go without water for several days, and things that didn't loose quality if not picked daily (no beans, no cucumbers!). Thanks in part to the cool weather, the summer crops did great. We harvested a lot of tomatillos, RIPE tomatoes, and we expect to pick ripe watermelons in the next week or so. Keeping the plot going through he summer was worth the drive across town.
Beans and JB Watermelon growing on a trellis at home.
Our home garden did great. The tomatoes did well, ripening just behind those in the community garden, as did the eggplants. We grew Romano beans and bush cucumbers, both prolific and healthy. The melons planted at home are a little smaller than those in the community garden, but we expect them to ripen soon. We also planted potatoes for the first time, they were a success.

Here is my list of the best growers/tasters this year:

Earl Faux
Tomatoes: Earls Faux (deep pink beefsteak, very meaty), Sioux (the first to ripen! Nice tangy taste), and Crnkovic Yugoslavian (Nice flavor, very prolific, and produced the biggest fruit of the year...1 3/4 pounds)
Mellon: JB Watermelon, haven't tasted it yet, but it has lots of good-sized fruit.
Eggplant: Millionaire (very prolific, not bitter even when large) Fairy Tale (small lavender, very pretty and delicious).
Kale: Lacinato/Dinosaur/Tuscan Kale I just can't get enough of this green!

Now the last hard gardening task of the season will be to break the news to my Father that we won't have the big community plot next year. The garden has been a good pull to get him out of his apartment, so we will rent him a small 4 x 6 foot raised bed to plant and hope he will be well enough in the spring to make the walk there to tend it.

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