Saturday, October 26, 2013

Next year will be even better!

This was an excellent gardening year. We harvested a little over 600 pounds of fruits and vegetables. For the five years we have kept records this year was only exceeded by 2010 when we recorded 626 pounds.

A large factor was the grape harvest. Notwithstanding my concerns that my lack of pruning knowledge left far too many bunches for the plant to bring to maturity we harvested 70 pounds of processed Concord grapes from the two vines. That represents a lot of grapes to process. Processing involves picking each grape and squeezing out the pulp and seeds and depositing the skins in a separate pot.
My hope next year to prune more effectively and end up with fewer bunches of grapes that bear more and larger grapes. A smaller harvest, in terms of pounds, would be okay. The 70 pounds is the processed weight of the grapes. From one measurement 90 ounces of grape bunches resulted in 74 ounces of processed grapes. That would mean I picked about 85 pounds of grapes.

We harvested more blackberries (20 lbs), blueberries (24 lbs), cherries (16 lbs in our first year of picking), currants (10 lbs), garlic (15 lbs), kale (41 lbs with more to come), pears (43 lbs - and this weight is after preparing the pears), and peppers (33 lbs) than in any of the prior four years.

I have not grown potatoes for the past two years and this year's summer squash harvest was 36 lbs (compared to 45, 60, 109 lbs the prior three years). I only grew three plants this year. I had thought that they were not infected by squash vine borers although when I removed one of the plants it did have them in its stem.

Next year, in addition to pruning the grapes properly, there are some other changes to make. I want to grow ground cherries in a contained space. They grow taller when they are not allowed to spread out. I plan to grow them in an area surrounded by three foot fencing. Not sure how I will harvest the ground cherries but I think it should be easy enough to reach over the fencing.
I also want to space out my peppers even further than I did this year, and, put the red peppers on the outside. They also need to be grown in a sunnier location in the garden. I purchased some longer posts to tie them to since the wooden ones I used were too short.
I want to try to grow cucumbers on an inclined trellis so that they hang down for easier picking. Also I plan to start the cucumbers inside and then spray them regularly with kaolin clay (I have a lifetime supply) to prevent the cucumber beetles from infecting them with wilt. I only sprayed once or twice this year and the result was that some plants seemed unaffected (or uninfected) while others wilted.
Basil needs to be planted in its own area (as opposed to under the tomatoes as I did this year). Tomatoes were poorly attended to this year. I did not remove the suckers and tie up the main stem as frequently as I did in the past. Although we had 91 lbs of tomatoes (compared to 94 lbs last year) the quality (and size) was not as good even though I grew twice as many plants. Some were experiments in the straw bale (see earlier post) and some others were overcome by the flowers growing in the adjacent garden - there was no path separating them.

We will be planting a new pear tree next week and expect that the harvest from what drops out of the backyard pear tree will be significantly less next year since that tree seems to be dying.

I'm not planning to grow anything new next year. We had no soybeans this year (the old seed didn't germinate) and not very many fava beans (4 pounds). I will plant both next year and try to stake the fava beans and also see if they produce a second crop (see earlier post).