Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gardening in 2011

A winter with deep snow transitioned into a cold, late spring, and what followed was a challenging summer. 

We got the garden planted around May long weekend, normal for this area.  I moved the half-barrel planters in the greenhouse from the side to the center so I'd be able to control the weeds a bit better.  We added about 6 inches of composted manure and soil to the greenhouse, it took forever to dry out this spring and had quite a bit of water standing in it for a while.  I had some qualified help spreading and leveling!

Half of the greenhouse received the additional soil and got planted on June 8th, and I planted my flower pots and left them in the greenhouse because it was so cold so they could get a head start before putting them out.  The closer half took until the end of June before I could get in there again to add fill due to the rain.

And I found a robin's egg laying on the ground in the garden, and I found out it was fresh when I accidentally broke it showing it to my husband.

Then came the rains.  It was the wettest year in about 13-ish years.  Every time it was almost dry enough to get onto the garden, it would rain again.  The fungi had a field day.  This is my boot beside a huge puffball mushroom.

The rivers overflowed their banks.  The creek behind our house was a raging river.  The river in this picture runs about 1/4 mile from our house and is usually a slow-moving stagnant body of water.  Not this summer!  The boards sticking up out of the water in this picture are normally about 20 feet above the water line. 

I was able to get onto the garden once during the rainy time to pull some weeds from around my drowning plants and my husband mounted the trencher behind the rototiller and trenched around the garden and hilled the surviving potatoes, just in time for it to begin raining again.  My garden was a pathetic sight.

This was after several days of no rain, water standing in the trenches between the sad potato rows.

The Haskap berries appreciated the moisture, and bore fruit in July.  We have 4 bushes now but didn't harvest enough berries to do anything with, just a few for munching on.  They're more tart than I thought they should be, very unique flavor, I can't wait to try them in a dessert!

By the middle of July, the plants were finally getting established, and some of the vines starting to bloom.  The zucchini, of course, was bearing fruit by that time already. 

The garden, however, was still so saturated that the soil was nearly suspended.  This is my boot print when I tried to step into the garden to grab some lettuce.

So I put a board down so I could use some lettuce, it was on the drier end of the garden, thankfully.  The spinach planted next to it was decimated first by flea beetles in the cold spring, then by drowning. 

We finally got some sunny but not hot weather toward the end of July, but it was enough to get the greenhouse warmed up during the days.  The plants finally started to grow, and the insects finally started to pollinate flowers.

The strawberry plants loved the moisture, but I had to watch for slugs a lot.  One moist evening, I found dozens of slugs on the plants and my husband and I mechanically removed them and fed them to the chickens!  After that, our slug damage was greatly reduced, and we could enjoy ripe, hole-less fruit!

A week into August and at last, some hope that a harvest was possible!

Pumpkins - last year I harvested fully ripe pumpkins of the same variety on August 1st!



I planted my cruciferous plants (cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage) outside rather late during the break in the rains, so it took until the middle of August for them to begin to form.

Despite losing some peas to drowning, the crop was quite plentiful, with my daughter helping my pick pleas.

Banana peppers

Red peppers

Jalepeno peppers

Pumpkins at the end of August, fast growing!

A lonely Acorn squash, it was just not hot enough for them this year.

Harvesting tomatoes a week into October, we hadn't eaten any ripe ones at that point, they ripened in the basement and we had tomatoes until Christmas!

Despite the challenging growing season, we still had an abundant harvest from most of the garden.  The benefit of not being able to get onto the garden during the wet season was I didn't have to add weeding to my 'to do' list!  I rarely watered this year, and only in the greenhouse.  The hoses didn't get pulled out at all by the garden, only the strawberries and newly planted shrubs got water this year, it was great!
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