Friday, December 28, 2012

2012: In summary:
In gardening you are really at the mercy of mother nature.  You do your best to make everything nice, and you just try to make the most of what you're dealt.
The winter was hellamild, the spring was wet, the summer typical, and since July we've barely seen a drop of rain.  Now it's almost 2013 and I don't think it's gotten below 30 yet as you'll see in my Dec 21st sunflower picture.

You can always tell when a bird has been sharing your tomatoes, what does a butterfly bite look like?

The crops:
  • Garlic, onions, and leeks did fine
  • Peas were astounding.  wasted too many in the fridge waiting to get eaten.
  • harvested a few carrots as usual, let plenty more go to seed as usual for my pleasure.
  • Beets weren't as productive as last year.  still made about 8 jars of pickled beets.
  • Spinach was typical.  Froze several batches and had lots of spring salads.
  • Planted more spinach and less lettuce, but the lettuce was good for plenty of salads.


  • The tomatoes were as bountiful as ever.  Lauren mentioned last night that we should diversify a little more in the summer and maybe not plant as many tomatoes.  Good time for me to practice selective hearing.  I love growing tons of tomatoes.
  • The peppers were a complete failure.  I think it got a little too dry even for them.  Last year we were drying, pickling, and eating the mess out of them.  This year we had a few to add to recipes for flavor.
  • The squash were great.  When they were getting crazy in June it was hot and wet and they were everywhere.  I froze a couple batches of squash soup and froze a couple of squash casseroles. I haven't tried the soup yet, but i needed to not add the crackers to the top of the casserole before freezing because they got really mushy.
  • The okra handled the lack of rain fine.  As usual, the dozen or so plants we had were plenty to keep us eating as much as we wanted in the fall.
  • Beans- not too shabby.  the purple violetta green bean are still my favorite.  the huge speckled limas did well this fall in the pit despite the dry conditions.  I harvested them a few times and found plenty of stragglers when I pulled down the vines in November when we finally got a light freeze.

 The tropicals on the porch stayed nice with regular watering and plenty of hot days.  The moonvine wasn't nearly as big or as productive as usual.  Some years there would be 40 or so blooms/night.  this year we were lucky to get 15.

Summer time on the grill. The corn and ribs didn't come from the garden but the pot of tasty beans, tomatoes, and onions were a nice, homegrown compliment. 

  • The sweet potatoes were as domineering as ever in the pit this fall.  I knew better than to try to plant anything else out there that might get swamped by their vines.  The dry fall made a big difference in the 2012 harvest compared to 2011.  This year there were still lots of sweet potatoes, but they were all small. On the bright side I think they may have a little better flavor this year.  Still it's sad to use 8 or 9 potatoes to make a casserole for thanksgiving when 1 monster tater made almost 3 casseroles itself last year.

 Looking into the pit in early November.

 A November tomato holding on.

 The seat beside the bay tree on the porch is favorite spot of mine for imbibing a cool drink.

 Holden and I enjoyed the November weather when we got topless and dug sweet potatoes in the pit.
 So Lauren and I went walking with the dogs on Forestview's cross country track one weekend and I started eating these wild pears.  I thought they were tasty so I went back the following week and picked a bunch to mix with the sweet potatoes for a thanksgiving treat.  As best as I can tell this tree is called a Callery pear, some hybrid of a Bradford pear that is pretty invasive around here.  Lauren said "I hope you don't poison your whole family" so I made sure to eat plenty of them before thanksgiving as a little assurance to my family's perpetuation on this earth.
 Fall/winter cont.-

  • Cabbage- this was the first time I was successful with cabbage, and I use the word successful loosely.  I grew a few little, not dense heads out in the garden.  They make for nice single serving slaw portions.  It was tasty slaw; not bland like what you would get in the store, but not overpowering either.
  • Broccoli-  The first time I've had any luck with this brassica too.  I only had 1 successful plant in the garden and Lauren ate it's little head while we were walking around out there a couple of weeks ago.  It has a couple of little heads growing in some leaf axils that I hope will get a little bigger.  There is one in my bed at school that has a pretty big head going on.  Hopefully I can get to it before some scavenger harvests it. 
  • I planted 3 cauliflower plants in the garden and they all made big 'ol heads.  One I overcooked in the oven and it tasted nasty, 1 we chopped up and took to a panther's game with some other veggies and ranch dip, and 1 is still sitting out there turning yellower as I type.  The one we took the the panther's tailgate was a little yellow and uneven but very tasty.  I think the other folks there were a little scared of it's appearance so I got as much as I wanted.

  •  Collards-  What a shame.  New year's is next week and we won't be able to harvest our collards.  A couple of rows just dried up and died with their little leaves turning brown.  The little bed just to the right of the garden entrance and the front row of the left side of the garden were looking good early but all of the leaves got what looked like some kind of white powdery mildew going on and they are worthless now.  We harvested the outer leaves off of the plants a few times earlier in the season and had some tasty collards but now when we need them the most they look awful.

 This is a picture of a sunflower in the bed outside of my classroom the day before Christmas break.  December 21st and a sunflower is blooming. The okra beside the school is gone, but the less tender sunflowers are still going.  Global warming?  I think yes.
A picture I took yesterday when I was checking out the sprouting garlic.  I love that the garlic and leeks are green in the middle of the winter like harbingers of the spring to come.