Monday, September 07, 2009

Food Garden Results Summary - 2009

As you may recall I planted three raised vegetable beds this year. I always crowd my beds, but I stretched the limits this year seeing where I could gain a bit more space. This is an updated report on my findings. All amounts were based on the needs/usage of a family of three.
  • 4ft of curled vates kale More than enough and then some. There was enough for us, our neighbor and the food shelf. It is still producing strong too! Will grow in some shade but prefers full sun. Allow for it to spread at least 12" across.
  • 8ft Bloomsdale spinach Plenty unless you do a lot of freezing/canning. This was direct seeded and was producing within a month. Seed was collected and it was torn out sometime in mid August. I planted some of the seed at that time and it is almost producing secondary leaves. OK to crowd with itself, doesn't make a great understory/interplant plant.
  • 10ft mixed lettuce This was maybe too much unless you eat salads EVERY DAY. I did bring some to the food shelf. I like the mixed lettuce. If one kind does not do well, you always have others and it makes your salads much more interesting. Worked great to plant this under the broccoli along the edge of the bed where it would still receive light but also receive cool shading from the broccoli.
  • 8 Packman broccoli This was a good variety and amount. I had enough for all our uses and some left over for the food shelf and the neighbor. I planted this early (late April) with no cover. They grew well even when spaced only 10" apart - I might try 8" next year. I would also insert a corral around the row when young as they get tall and flop over sometime in August -- or I could just try cutting back hard when I harvest to keep them short.
  • 11 mixed pepper plants These were fussy! Only interplant with very short plants. They do not like competition for light, and they need lots of it! I had 4 jalepeno plants and although this pepper did the best of all that I planted, this was not enough for salsa.
  • 4 Early Girl tomatoes & 11 mixed tomatoes I really like Early Girl tomatoes; they are my favorite that I have grown so far - excellent flavor, size, and consistency for both fresh eating and sauces; and they can be started a lot earlier than all other tomatoes that I have grown (I started them in early May with a row cover). I made the mistake this year of getting indeterminate plants, oops! But these four plants out-produced all my other tomato plants combined! Although, part of the reason that the other tomatoes didn't do as well was because I grew peas on their cages and the peas did better than expected, ultimately completely covering the tomatoes! I might get the indeterminate again and trellis them.
  • 2 spaghetti squash I had interplanted/understoried these in the middle of the tomato corral. This actually worked fairly well as the vine was very long and easily found its way out of the corral and wound around it. I only have one squash fruit - which actually is better than the none that I have gotten in previous years.
  • 2 zucchini This has always been sufficient... except this year. They had silver leaf and only produced three squash so far.
  • 57 garlic Need more garlic!!! This only produced a quart of garlic bulbs for me. I tried interplanting some with the broccoli -- no deal. The broccoli choked them out. The garlic I harvested were planted in a patch all by themselves.
  • 34 Maxibel filet beans This was more than enough, they started producing in June and have produced fairly heavily until a few weeks ago. I ripped out a few of the plants to allow room for my peppers. This sparked another wave of bean production in the remaining bean plants. I LOVE the flavor of them, but I do not like their fuzzy texture. I need to find a great tasting smooth green bean. I tried to interplant spinach and rutabaga, but the beans quickly choked them out.
  • 16 rutabaga I got these from over-crowded seedling in my neighbors garden some time in early July. I interplanted and underplanted them throughout the garden. They work out great for growing along the edge of the bed, but do not survive in shady spots. I have one mature rutabaga right now. My others are suffering from not enough watering. I do not know how well they will store, so I don't know if this is a sufficient amount.
  • 100+ sweet peas Can you ever have enough sweet peas? I think that I did reach that perfect amount this year. I grow enough for me and my neighbor (family of 3+), since she can't seem to grow them. I only use them fresh. If I were to start freezing I would have to grow about twice as many. I found that sprouting the seeds before planting made a huge difference in survivability and proper spacing. I usually grow these on my tomato cages/corrals without any problems, but this year the peas went nuts and overtook most of my tomato plants!
  • 50-75 large leaf sweet basil More basil please!! It takes so much just to make a little pesto that I almost need to grow a whole bed of basil to fully meet my basil demand. I thought I didn't like basil until I tried this variety. I can use this in many of the same ways that I use spinach -- it's just spicier. I always harvest the top half and let the plant regrow, but I'm thinking what I might want to do in the future is harvest just the big leaves and leave all the side buds; they might regrow faster. OK for interplanting as long as they get enough light.
  • 3 yellow straight-neck summer squash I actually loved this squash. Why haven't I grown it before? It turns out my squash-hating husband loves it too. This number of plants was sufficient unless I find more ways of using and storing.
  • 8sqft of volunteer American Flag leek They don't like to be crowded by other plants. These start well for me and even overwinter, but I have yet to get a usuable leek from my patch. What's the secret?
  • 6 turnips They are still tiny as the turnips that I thought I planted earlier were actually something else - salad mustard?? I started these plants from seed late July. I might get some turnips out of them. I've interplanted them with the brussell sprout plants I picked up in late July from Menards for 6/50cents. That's working out very well as the sprouts get tall and leave plenty of room for the turnips to spread out underneath.
  • 1 Triple Treat pumpkin Not enough. Luckily I was able to take over my friends' unused garden and plant 7 more of these :) I tried these on a trellis. They get a little too heavy for that and are probably better off grown ground level. Fantastic pumpkin for pies and seeds (the seeds lack the woody shell), and are great small Halloween pumpkins. Although you can carve these, I want to use the meat, so I just paint them.
  • 2 Table Queen acorn squash This will end up being plenty. They were great producers and grow well on the trellis.
  • 2 buttercup This one is producing better than last year. I am growing it on the trellis and it is taking that well. I haven't tried this squash yet as I didn't get any of the plants to fruit last year, so I don't know if I want more of this one.
  • 2 Waltham butternut The year before this was plenty, but this year they aren't producing as well. I think it is because it is very cool. I am trying them on the trellis for the first time and they are taking that well. I don't think that this affected the production.
  • 6 edamame This will not be enough. They have yet to produce any beans. That could be because the rabbits kept eating them down to nothing all spring until I put a fence around the plants. These plants are tough! I interplanted a few beets with them and this worked out well.
  • 16ft Detroit Red beets I though that this was going to be too many, but now I am finding I wish I had more. If I was just using them for fresh eating it would be plenty, but I want to can some pickled beets and am falling short of what I'd like to have. They are easy to grow and the seeds last FOREVER. They are great for interplanting and underplanting as their leaves don't get very tall and they tolerate shade very well.
  • 16ftblack-eyed peas This is the first year that I have grown them. My son loves them so I thought I would give them a try. They have beautiful flowers and unique fruits - they hold the bean pods horizontally above the leaves. Ants love these plants! I think the plants give the ants a nectar in return for them protecting the plants from pests as I see the ants eating a clear goo from the base of the pod stems and the plants are not bothered by any pests. If these turn out to be worth growing for beans, this will not be enough; otherwise it is a good amount for just some interest in the garden. They don't seem to mind the encroaching squash either. They get too bushy for inter or underplantings other plants with them.
  • 10 sweet yellow onions Not enough, because I really have none. The onions did not mind being transplanted once, but when I had to transplant them again to get them out from under the over-growing squash leaves, they gave up. Not successful for underplantings, but might work well in a loose interplanting - need lots of sun.
  • 6 shallots These were re-freshers (I had bought them from the grocery store but didn't use them before they got too shriveled to use, so I threw them in the garden to re-beef - I do that with my spring onions too). I might try to grow them for real next year. They are growing well even in their shady spot.
  • tons of volunteer lamb's quarter which not only are an edible weed, but are high in nutrients and are darn tasty! I started to pull these out of the garden around the time that the lettuce was on its way out to make way for the other plants growing bigger.


Blogger Wendy said...

wow, that's a great harvest!!! How big are those raised beds?? Seems I get a lot of fungal stuff going on in my garden. I'll need to read up on square foot gardening or something.

9/09/2009 5:07 PM  
Blogger donna said...

I'm dizzy from reading the list of what's all in your garden.....and I also feel like a lazy slug.....and now you've made me hungry. I have one tomato plant, does that count as having a vegetable garden? Did I say I'm also impressed by what you have growing in your garden?

9/10/2009 9:23 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Wendy, each bed is 4'x16'. I did get tomato blight and silver leaf - but I think that they had more to do with the weather and not rotating crops than the crowding.

9/10/2009 9:34 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Donna, a tomato is close enough. And thanks, I have been experimenting with what I refer to as "square inch gardening" (utilizing every square inch of the garden) for years. Raised beds make a huge difference in workability.

9/10/2009 10:04 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Hey, that's an ambitious vegetable garden. I like the picture of the Black-eyed bean. I am confused though by the reference to it as a pea or a bean. Which is it?

9/16/2009 9:14 PM  
Blogger Catalina said...

That was fun to read!
I like to see what other gardeners are trying out in their gardens.

9/17/2009 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Envious of that much room! I think we're going to expand this fall for next year, though.

RE Basil - I think it's still better to pinch off the tops to use. The smaller leaves are supposed to be more flavorful, and also if you don't pinch off the top, you won't stop it from flowering (which also saps flavor).

9/18/2009 8:36 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

John, it is actually a bean. I am not sure why it is named a pea. Purhaps it is the non-starchy texture more similar to a pea than a bean?

Catalina, thanks! I did this post mostly for myself to remember what my results were. It is a bonus that others got something from it too :)

Jennahsgarden, good to know. I do always pinch off the flower parts when I harvest, but I didn't know that about the smaller leaves.

9/20/2009 8:38 AM  

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