Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It Has Been A Good Year

The time lapse since the last post is an indication of how busy the garden has kept me. For many meals everything is from the garden. One recent example is a mixture of roasted potatoes, leeks and peppers, all growing very well this year, together with a serving of green beans. That meal might be topped off with a slice of raspberry pie. In fact, raspberries seem to be so easy to grow that my wife wonders why everyone doesn't have them. Although I cut our raspberry bed in half this year (but I planted a new half that will begin to produce next year) we have been picking very close to a quart a day.

Blueberries, peppers, potatoes, kale and garlic were particularly productive this year. Even the bean plants, although they were ravaged early in the year by groundhogs (three have been removed but there is one still sighted in the neighborhood) and trimmed the rest of the year by a deer (although I have never seen it, its tracks are quite visible about once a week), have produced a number of meals.

I tried a number of new things - arugula (neither of us eat it), red Russian kale (great and it just keeps producing), patty pan summer squash (great, but succumbed to borers almost overnight), trombocino squash (not as tasty as advertised), red malabar spinach (great promise but I didn't realize it needed to climb), and lemon cucumber (so-so).

Yesterday and today, since we are going on a camping trip for most of next week, we have been cutting and freezing most of the greens - collards, kale, and zen - but leaving the plants to grow more. I also pulled out all of the Swiss chard and pak choi and froze that. I also pulled out the arugula to add to the compost pile.

Now there are empty spaces appearing in the garden. Some space will go to garlic in October and I am growing more kale (just planted the seed a week ago) and hope that it will grow big enough before the cold weather stops it. In the meantime I am planting a variety of cover crops. Clover germinates very quickly and I am planting rye and oats in other places. The rye grew very well last year but it either germinates more slowly than I thought or last year's seed is not viable this year.

This has not been a good year for tomatoes. In addition to the virus that turns leaves brown from the bottom of the plant - which I have had for several years - the plants simply did not grow vigorously and I don't know whether my plants had the problem that has been reported fairly widely this year, but a lot of the tomato fruits developed what look like big sores. The sores have a hard crust but begin to rot underneath. Most of my plants have been pulled out. Even the ones that I planted where tomatoes (or other vegetables) have not been grown for 25 years developed the virus that turns the leaves brown.

But every year there are successes and failures and usually far more of the former than the latter.