Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fall Wrap Up

There are many, many things left to do before we are ready for the winter, at least in the garden. Still, most of the important things are finished and have learned a lot about growing vegetables and fruits and the weird things my city wild life will wreck without eating.

The pallet lettuce garden I attempted was an abject failure. There are many reasons for it, but part of it was the design. The design I originally hijacked was not lined with garden paper at all. Instead, it was loaded with the soil and seeded and then it just laid there for a month while the roots grew strong enough to keep the soil in. My goal was not a well established patch of cutting greens though, at least not this year, so I tried creating "boxes" to plant in. There are flaws, such as the sun getting to the bottom ones and too much drainage sapping the nutrients from the topmost seedlings. Next year is a do over, because I am stubborn that way.

Next year I am going to try heirlooms so that I can harvest good seed for the next season. This year I planted Red Lightning, Super Sauce and Tie Dye as well as a variety of cocktail tomatoes. The cocktail tomatoes did poorly in their hanging containers. The Super Sauce seem to need a lot more nutrients to avoid blossom end rot than other tomatoes. Once the soil was appropriate for them I was rewarded with humongous plum tomatoes.
On the left is a regular plum tomato from the farm stand and on the left is one of the Super Sauce. I have harvested a few that were even bigger.

There were not enough to provide for our winters canned tomato needs though, so next year I go heirloom and try growing them up on a single vine like they do at the big farms. Seems to work for them. The Red Lightnings were lovely, but I am the only one in my family that likes raw, off the vine, tomatoes, so next year I will plant just two regular tomatoes with the plums. I am bound and determined to find a good spot for the cocktail tomatoes though, I will prevail!
I have harvested four good pumpkins, one very deformed, but perfectly good for food. Another of them was breached before I got to it and had grown into my lovely neighbors yard. I was going to give it to her, but I saw it rotting and got it back to keep the critters out of her yard. I have several small spaghetti (Tivoli) squash, but the vine borers stopped production too early. The heriloom Lakotas didn't do well at all. Of the six vines I got one very small squash and another that never ripened fully. Next year there will be butternut, they handle the vine borers like champs. In the curbit family, my zucchini did terribly. Out of the 8 plants and I don't know how many seeds, I got exactly one teeny zucchini. I am not entirely sure why, but I think it may be that they didn't like sharing space with the cabbages (which did quite well btw). My cucumbers actually did well after a couple of false starts. Unfortunately my fermented dill pickles were not very good. Note: pickle crisp, or better yet, organic grape leaves). 

As mentioned, the cabbage did well. I made sauerkraut which was really good, but the brine stayed way too salty and after a couple of months I rinsed it to see if I could save it, but without the brine it rapidly went south in the fridge. I am on the right track though, and there are a couple of baby heads out there right now that may give me another opportunity. In the same bed, the broccoli was a wash. There were three plants, but they matured at greatly different rates. While waiting for enough broccoli for a meal, the first heads to erupt bolted. Next year I will play in a container with them and not waste precious raised bed space.
Savoy cabbage from the garden
The corn was lovely! Next year I need fish meal and there is an enzyme that you soak beans seeds in before planting a field with them the first time, I am going to do that and use the few beans that made it from the Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans. Must plant many more beans next year to haul in a good crop to use more than as seeds for the spring.
The Swiss Chard is doing excellently in the container I planted the seeds in before I went in for the surgery. There are also some beets and carrots going, so maybe something will come of that before the weather turns too much.

As many who read here know, I have been pretty sick. Pain is constant, so I have to ration where my energy goes. This is why my blog hasn't been updated as much as I would like. It is either blog it or do it, but I can't often do both. What I do have is a lot of pictures ready for some instructionals, and a plan. Soon there will be a basic canning guide here. I plan to explain the science (at least the science that I know, things change all the time) and basic techniques and places to go for more information or support. 

Now, to convince my husband that moving the beds is the best idea ever, because I am not supposed to lift heavy things. Way more irritating than relaxing, let me tell you.

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