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?