Sunday, August 9, 2009
Garden Successes & Failures
Before I forget, I want to jot down the successes and failures of this year's garden so far:
Oriental Peas: Liesl started seeds indoors in those soil "plugs", then planted them out after Memorial Day. They did very well! Harvested daily for couple of weeks in July. Ripped out plants at beginning of August to make more room (and give sunshine) to Hubbard squashes and sunflowers.
Tomatoes: doing well in their (the bigger-the better) containers. The first ripe ones will hopefully be ready to eat soon -- they're the grape-sized fruit of the variety "Tumbler". I bought these at the Mile 5.3 Greenhouse, originally because I asked for a variety that I could grow in hanging pots. I won't get these again, however -- fruit too small, growth too messy for growing as standing porch plants.
The other variety I got were Beefsteak tomatoes, and they're looking great -- nice and tall plants that need a cage. Fruit are nice & big, but still green right now. Last year I had good success with a heritage variety I can't remember -- certainly open to experimenting with more varieties.
Is it economical to grow your own tomatoes? Probably not especially, unless you get fairly small (and therefore cheaper) starter plants-- the good-sized hardened-off plants they sell at the Farmer's Market for $20 each just don't produce $20 worth of fruit, in my experience! BUT, to an Alaskan gardener, growing your own tomatoes is a challenge you can't resist...
Potatoes: definite success, and very economical. LOVED planting, caring for and digging them up. So far, I've only harvested a few, but they're prolific and taste GREAT.
Carrots: Always a good one for Alaska -- sweet from the midnight sun!
Spinach: I do love to grow and eat it, but it does often bolt before I get much of a harvest out of the planting. I seeded a second crop in July -- and we'll see if that pans out. Economically ok as the seeds don't cost much.
Lettuce: this year I did not grow any from seed, but used starter plants, and more successful than previous years where I ended up with them bolting before getting any decent lettuce. Definitely worth the cost of the starter plants.
Bok Choy: grown from starter plants, great success!
Beets: grown from seed directly into the garden, and the first seeding (end of May) is doing great, but the later ones are barely growing -- go figure! Next year, try starting indoors.
Celery: grown from starter plants, doing great!
Leeks: grown from starter plants, doing great!
Zuccini: grown from starter plants, but disappointing harvest. It's a weather thing -- they need more sunshine and warmth than Alaska can offer. Next year, plant in a greenhouse/frame or not at all!
Kale: grown from starter plants, doing great! Continuous harvest of outer leaves for 2 months now...
Swiss Chard: same as kale, but since I planted them in containers on the porch, they did not produce as well as if I'd planted them in the raised beds.
Kohlrabi: grown from starter plants. Did well, but they do take up alot of real estate for something only 2 of us eat. Maybe plant these more densely.
Brussel Sprouts: grown from starter plants. They haven't even produced any "Martian Heads" yet -- so the verdict is still out.
Turnips: direct-seeded in garden. Nothing much yet.
Cilantro: direct-seeded in garden in late May, doing great!
Dill: same as cilantro.
Parsley: grown from starter plants, doing great! plant more next year.
Chives: mine overwinters, so keep growing it...
Mint: overwinters, keep from letting it take over the garden by keeping it contained!
Strawberries: this sweet but pale variety came with the house, and been growing and spreading in my garden (and the wilder hillside) for the last 10 years. Keep the runners under control, divide plants that get too big or old, and keep on giving it more real estate -- they are delicious!
Weeds (thanks for the idea, Patty P.): doing well, esp. the chickweed! Also got horsetails, grasses, yarrow, dandelion, plantain, and a few other things I can't i.d. But since I did a decent job of staying on top of the weeding, it's not been too much of a problem. For example, I grew many crops closer than the recommended spacing -- so there was little room for weeds once my potatoes, etc, filled in... Next year, do more mulching, if only I can find good sources of mulch other than my very weedy lawn...