10 degrees and it looks like it.
I’ve been meaning to come up with a summary of what worked and didn’t work in 2012 but just haven’t gotten around to it. The weather last year can be summed up in one word – extreme. From the 80 degree days in March that stimulated a lot of trees to leaf out early, only to have the foliage killed by a later frost, the 90 degree days starting in late May, to the 100 degree heat and drought of July it was a year to break the record books.
Usually I like to make a winners and losers list of different vegetable varieties, but given the extreme weather there’s just no way to make any judgement on the relative merits of different varieties. For example I tried a new cucumber called Picolino that produced the best flavored cucumbers. It was no match for the 100 degree temps though and met its end in the heat. I’ll try it again this year. The lone Diva cucumber plant on the same trellis thrived in the heat and produced over 20 pounds of cucumbers.
Still I got almost 180 pounds of produce from 250 square feet of beds. The garden produced over 20 pounds of beans and would have made more if not for an early frost. Storage onions (14 lbs) and potatoes (26 lbs) did well. Okra consistently produced through the heat wave. Squash were plagued by bacterial wilt and other diseases. I got three butternuts and 10 lbs of summer squash. Tomato yields were way down, only 16 lbs from two plants, a Black Krim and Supersonic and peppers and eggplant did not do as well as the year before. I got more carrots than in years past, probably because I planted more often. The broccoli was exceptional last spring, but yields of other brassicaes were down, a consequence of some traveling and neglect last spring.
This year it’s time to step up my game and get more production from the garden. I plan to expand the growing space with self-watering containers to grow okra, pole beans, summer squash, and celery. I’ll put the SWC’s on the strip of grass occupied by the mobile greenhouse in the first picture. That area gets full sun. I considered building a raised bed in that space but I think that the nearby tree – a hop hornbeam, or ironwood, tree – would probably send its roots into the bed and pull off nutrients. Removing the tree is out of the question, it’s my favorite tree.
This is a stackable potato box modeled after the Henley Box as an experiment. The box has openings in the side so some of the potato shoots can be directed outside the box when a new row of boards are added and soil is added inside. That way some shoots can develop foliage and produce energy while the inside shoots that are covered, or hilled, can develop more tubers as the soil builds up. That’s the thinking anyway. I built this one as a triangle. The back side does not have holes in it and will face north.
I will plant sweet potatoes out on the “no man’s land” – an area that slopes toward the pond where the topsoil was removed when the pond was built – where very little grows. The modules used for the compost bin are mostly rotten and need replacing. I’ll set the partly rotted modules out there, fill them with topsoil and plant the slips in the boxes. The vines will have plenty of room to roam.
There’s also a terraced bed in that area that was built last year with some stakes and long 2 x 4’s. It will probably be planted in winter squash.
Things are about to get going in earnest. Upcoming posts will cover self-watering containers, new lights and a rack for starting seeds, THE PLAN, compost, the mobile greenhouse, and whatever else comes to mind. Cheers!