Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bumper crops and bummers



This year marks my fourth as a vegetable grower, and among the many lessons I have learned as I fumbled and bumbled my way from seed to supper, the one that is staring me in the face right now is that I can never predict which crops will do well and which will struggle.

There are so many factors that go into a crop's success. How did I prepare the beds? Did I plant the seeds at the right time? What grew in the beds before? What's growing next door? What has the weather been like? How regularly have I fertilized and watered? What have the various bug populations been doing?

The failures are a disappointment. My tomato crop this year is a bust: the plants are reasonably healthy and I've taken care of them pretty well, but the yield is going to be pretty close to pathetic, compared with previous years. And my two squash beds, the vigorous one and the wimpy one, are going to result in no more than ten winter squash, half of them on the small side. That's pretty pathetic, too, for almost 100 square feet of growing space.

Fortunately there are successes, too. 2012 will go down as a bumper crop for all things allium at Mucky Boots. Every single clove of garlic that Kim planted produced a new head, most of them a really good size. The red and yellow onions germinated on schedule, bulbed beautifully, and are now drying on the front porch. The green onions were thick and juicy and we ate them all up. The shallots grown from Paula's seeds are stars - big and rosy and tasty.



And blueberries - oh, blueberries! We're in the middle of a bumper crop, and I don't think there's anything I'd rather have bumper. (I know "bumper"isn't a verb, but it feels right, and in any case it's my blog.) Blueberries and yogurt for breakfast. Blueberries and cream for dessert. Blueberries by the handful every time I pass a bush. Bags of blueberries for the freezer. The flip side of the success/failure coin is we lost a handful of plants to the heat and drought when we were on our road trip. Rats...

Another success: I grew melons. Or, I should say, I am growing melons. There's still a lot that could grow wrong. But this is the first time, among three attempts, that I have actually reached the melon stage. Four plants, four melons. I am no more surprised than if I had grown four bananas.


Here's a success and a bummer all in one: kale. This was my year to make friends with kale, and thanks to your recipes and encouragement I think I can safely say kale has found a permanent home in my garden. That's the success part. Here's the bummer part.


This is what my kale plants look like now, after I found them infested with tiny powdery white eggs this morning. Yuck. But the next generation is already on its way in a bed far-removed from this disgusting mess.

What will go down on your gardening success/disappointment list this year?

8 comments:

Doc said...

It was just the opposite here at Menagerie Manor, bumper crop of tomatoes, corn and squash but my usual bumper crop of garlic went the other direction …..weakest looking crop of garlic ever.

backyardfeast said...

Congrats on your alliums, Miriam! Mine have done well, but I lost more than half the cloves in the winter to the chicken marauders...

Don't give up on the tomatoes just yet, either. It has been a terrible year for us all, but if the sunny weather continues, they might just ripen after all.

As for me, my brassicas have been the bust this year, though I think I'm the only one! Luckily, cucumbers, chard and carrots, fennel and lettuce, blackberries and raspberries and (fingers crossed) potatoes have all done well. The biggest bummer, though, is that my HUGE rutabagas, that I was happily going to eat all winter, has been infested with the nastiest of diseases: clubroot, which stays in the soil for 10-15 YEARS and means no cole crops (brassicas and mustards) in that bed ever again! OMG! still reeling...

backyardfeast said...

Oh, and I killed all our blueberries. :( Working on where to try again with those. Treasure yours!!
Toni

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

We lost a blueberry bush to harlequin beetles... nasty little monsters!
Otherwise, it's been a good year, here. Apples, tomatoes, spinach, and cucumbers have been grand. If we can successfully save sunflowers seeds, I will be a happy farmer. When I think of disappointments, I have to admit... I sow what I reap. In other words, I think I could do more, if I wanted to get more. Let's not give up, right?

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

Yay, Blueberries! I can think of nothing better to have way too much of.

I think I've harvested a metric ton (only partially over exaggerating)of purple podded pole beans, snow peas and green pole beans.

My biggest bummer were these heirloom scarlet runner beans that started out hale and hearty and then just...died. I don't know why. Boo.

Kris said...

Cabbage for me this year was a bust. I just can't seem to grow it here. I bought 4 flats of the stuff too. Very disappointing to say the least. I did get a few small heads but not enough to shout about. So no more for me. And I love kraut.

And tomatoes. I planted 220 plants. Those things have a mind of their own. And they need a LOT of room to sprawl, which I don't have.

Also corn. Not enough yield for the space they take up.

Other than that, all else was great! Looks like your garlic did good. That's something I have always wanted to try but always forget it needs to be planted in September. Maybe this year?

Paula said...

Kris must be much closer to either of the poles because in Oregon, garlic doesn't go in until November.

The only thing we're being inundated with is boysenberries. Not even the zucchini is putting out much.

It certainly has been a strange and disappointing year.

Paula said...

PS- your shallots look GREAT! I'm so pleased they performed for you.

Let me know if you want more seed- I still have a lot left. 'Course, it's last year's seed though...

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