Well, the harvest continues. The forecast hard frost did come last night, but we did manage to get most stuff out in time. We picked 2 wheelbarrow loads of winter squash, now curing on the livingroom floor, 5 two-gallon buckets of tomatoes in various stages of ripeness, now ripening in buckets on the kitchen table, about a million bean plants, now hanging to dry in the barn, and a bunch of half-cobs of corn – not quite mature, but big enough to think about trying to do something with, that are currently in the fridge. The everbearing strawberries decided to give one last big push, and our crabapple tree had lots of little apples within easy reach, so I whipped up a batch of crabapple-strawberry jam in there, too. Next, we’ll dig the root veggies, though probably not for a couple of weeks yet, as the weather is supposed to turn warm again for awhile. Meanwhile, I found a lady selling local apples – some looked like the ones we got off our tree in Alberta, even – so I plan to get some to make applesauce. We’re also still waiting for the pears to go on sale, as they were a big hit last year – there is still some canning to be done.
Over the course of the gardening season, I kept a running list of what worked and what did not. While I expect I will still have a few things to add as we bring in the rest of the root veggies, I thought I would share what I’ve learned so far:
Start the seeds in larger (4′) pots, so they don’t get so rootbound. Watch about starting squash early – they grow quick.
Need to stay on top of recording plant varieties (what went where), especially with vines (melons, cukes, squash), peppers, and tomatoes, where we plant fewer things of more varieties, and might like to know, for instance, which peppers are sweet, and which hot. We did pretty good on the recording for the row crops. Maybe a bigger garden map would help, or sectioned map. A looselseaf page is not nearly big enough.
Rows need to be well-spaced to allow weeding and picking comfortably without crushing nearby plants.
Need to plan better so that the longest season crops (corn, squash, melons, parsnips, mangels) are planted first, rather than the beans and beets, which can wait.
Best to plant the salad type early crops (radishes, spinach, lettuce, etc) up close to the house, where we will remember them. Planting tomatoes and peppers early near the house was a good idea – we could cover them for frosts and get an earlier harvest.
Stake the effing tomatoes early.
Need to plant rows of herbs in the garden itself – especially basil, parsley, dill, and oregano, as we could use a lot more than our couple of plants will yield.
Trellis the peas and consider planting pole beans, just for ease of picking.
Could have planted some rows (maybe 2 or 3) close together, then a large space for walking / weeding – this would work well with onions, carrots, beets, spinach, maybe turnips.
Beets really, REALLY need to be kept clear of weeds, including mangel beets. Beans, peas, potatoes, onions, corn, sunflowers, and squash do not seem to be so bothered, but weeds really seem to rapidly choke out the beets.
Beets don’t like frost. Pull them before the first hard frost.
There you have it…more to follow, I am sure!