19 September 2010

Vegetable Garden

Our vegetable garden did rather better than expected this year. It's been a late, cool summer (which seems to have vaporized already) and I didn't figure we'd get much so I've been pleasantly surprised.

I have a hard time estimating how much we've harvested in pounds since it's trickled in little by little. I have about six quarts of pickles in the fridge (bread and butter, sweet and dill), a good bushel of kale blanched and frozen with more on the way, eleven half-pints of pickled beets (chiogga and bull's blood varieties) and approximately three pounds of beets in the freezer.

I'm still waiting on the tomatoes to ripen - pears and beefsteaks. Those won't be more than a few pounds at most (and I'm keeping my recipe for green tomato relish handy.) I have two softball-sized pumpkins I'm babying along (about halfway ripe) as well as two good sized acorn squash that I'm watching closely.

Our pole beans struggled all summer looking yellow and leggy. Now they are a nice dark green and lush. We've picked about half a pound of those with lots more tiny pods on the vines.

I need to work up the nerve and dig up the Potato Experiment.

I read somewhere that you can plant potatoes and then keep raising and filling the container with soil as the plants grow up. I had some Yukon Golds sitting around that were too old to eat so I built a small box and planted them. I started with two layers of boards, then added two more over the course of about two months. The plants have all died back and it's time to dig. It's been raining like crazy the past week so I hope I haven't waited too long.

The crop I'm most hopeful about is the parsnips. Those have done well all summer - at least the plants looked great. They are a very long-season crop - about six months. I can see the shoulders of the parsnips peeking up and they look like they are getting to a good size. They taste better after a frost so I'm going to let them go for a while longer.

I planted a handful other vegetables - cilantro, parsley, dill, a few different kinds of peppers and Valencia and Walla Walla onions. The cilantro grew great but we left it too long and now it's coriander (tasty but we just don't use that much.) Like the pole beans, the parsley lagged behind but is healthy and productive now. I think it wasn't really hot and dry enough weather for the bell peppers but we did get about six cayennes. The onions didn't do didley this year. They barely grew vertically and the bulbs are still size of pearl onions! These were probably too crowded. I bought a flat, one of those undivided trays) rather than individual starts and I don't think I separated them enough.

I had about six carrot plants that I started inside and transplanted. My friend Alix told me that carrots do not like to be transplanted and get pretty twisty and mangled.

Her theory may be correct....

So not a bad garden this year after all. We have about a month left before any serious risk of frost so we aren't done yet.

What were your gardening experiences this year?


  1. Nice job! Sounds like a pretty successful year given the non-summer you had. And a carrot in any other shape really does taste as sweet...

  2. Oh, and we had a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes this year. I grew "Sun Sugar" along with our traditional "Sweet 100" for the first time this year. "Sun Sugar" is fabulous; I will definitely grow it again next year. Other than that, we have 3 huge basil plants waiting to turn into pesto if I can find reasonably-priced pine nuts ($34/lb ain't happening!), and probably at least 10 pounds each of carrots (Chantenay red core) and beets (Detroit dark red and cylindra) in the ground. We ate our first beets of the year this week. I plan to pickle most of the beets and keep the carrots through the winter in cold storage.

  3. I can hear that third carrot from the left saying "I didn't WANT to be transplanted. I TOLD you I didn't WANT to be transplanted!" That carrot is such a whiner and he's got the total pout position down pat!

  4. I think the twisty carrots are pretty neat looking. *When* did you become such an authority on vegetable gardening? You know way more than Dad taught us as kids! :)

  5. @Alix - I have quite a bit of work to do on the carrot cultivation. They were pretty woody and bitter. I'm thinking there are some varieties that are better suited to our part of the world.

    @Kat - And peeling them was adventure, let me tell you.

    @Trella - I'm not an expert by any means but I've gardened off and on over the years and tried a few different techniques. Funnily enough, some of Dad's stuff still works the best!

    Thanks for reading y'all!

  6. Ha, Dad's stuff most often works best! Those carrots just made me laugh. I loved Kat's comments!
    How do you cook the parsnips? I don't believe I've ever eaten one.

  7. Hey...haven't heard from you in so long! I hope everything is going well on the homestead.


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