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Garden Review

December 31, 2011

January King cabbage

Redbor kale

Brassicas are the mainstay in our garden and really if you think about it in our diets as well.  Good thing, they grow well here in all seasons in our climate.  The freezer is stuffed with summer brassicas like cauliflower and broccoli, and we eat hardy kales and cabbages from the garden in the winter.  But we try to vary our diet beyond cole crops.


The best skill for a gardener to possess is patience.  We had the coldest spring in 50 some years this year, which made it hard to get a good start on the garden.  I skipped some warm weather crops in ’10, and rightfully so, planting corn and beans would have been a waste of my seed.  This year though, despite the cool beginning, warm weather crops did well.  Sweet corn ripened, beans dried, winter squash and pumpkins were abundant,  and cukes were bountiful.


In the greenhouse we had greens, tomatoes and peppers galore.


Storage crops did well too.



I had some surprises too in the garden.  I pretty much stick to the same varieties year after year.  Kind of an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude.  But varieties get dropped, or companies don’t carry them anymore for various reasons, and sometimes I even try to get out of my rut.  I truly love shell peas, but I really dislike shelling enough for winter.  So I tried a sugar snap pea called Sugar Sprint, aackk, horrible germination, so bad I even mentioned it in a post.  But, lo and behold – the plants that did germinate were very tasty and prolific, so I saved seed, with the hopes that a little acclimation might help with the germination next year.

The other surprise was Flavorburst F1 yellow bell pepper, new to me this year.  Wow, PRODUCTIVE, and delicious.  But, they don’t keep for a darn.  I usually keep peppers on the porch until late December, and freeze what’s left.  Luckily the box of yellow bells was on the bottom.  They rotted, while Ace, Red Ruffled, Gourmet and Numex kept like a charm.  Note to self – freeze those puppies right away.


In the fruit department, small fruits were the saviors.


Our spring was so wet, tree fruit pollination was spotty, just a box of apples, no pears and while our prune trees had a heavy fruit set the fruit never did fully ripen and finally rotted on the trees when the fall rains came.


But, I can’t really complain.  Our cupboard is full, we’re still harvesting roots and greens and life is good.  And I’m putting in my final seed order this weekend!

How about you?

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Angie permalink
    December 31, 2011 2:53 am

    That flower (I’d say sunflower, but life is always full of surprises) in the last picture is gorgeous! Could you please humor me and share what kind it is? Thank you!

    • December 31, 2011 8:05 am

      Angie, it’s a sunflower and it’s Moulin Rouge, that’s a dark one, they vary from milk chocolate color to dark. Gorgeous!!

  2. quinn permalink
    December 31, 2011 3:51 am

    Even though I just had breakfast, your beautiful pictures are making me hungry!
    What is the fruit under the blueberries? And is that a black sunflower??!

    • December 31, 2011 8:03 am

      Quinn, I had a hard time selecting photos – too many and it was making me hungry too. But it did make me warm seeing all that dry dirt and summer veggies and thinking back. Sigh.

      Hardy Kiwi, and Moulin Rouge sunflower 🙂

  3. December 31, 2011 7:52 am

    Tomatoes got a late start and really didn’t produce well. Deer ate the chard. Broccoli and cabbage were good producers. My Rattlesnake beans did not germinate well and were not nearly as productive this year — not sure why, but I think I’ll bite the bullet and get some new seed, grow both my seed and the new stuff together and see if it was a freak year or if the seed has run out. Apples and pears and blackberries by the hundreds (more like gazillions in the case of the berries). The small fry threatened to mutiny if served more pears, so the jars are set away until they’ve had a break. Damson plums did fair, enough for a few batches of jam and plum butter. What we did have was a great meat year: 745 pounds of two-year old grass fed Angus cow, two deer, three hogs, assorted wild birds. No lamb — cougar problems — maybe next year.

    • December 31, 2011 8:02 am

      Bee, I forgot I tried some Aztec half-runners this year and they did poorly too in the cool and wet while my other types of beans that I have saved seed from did well. So like the new peas, I saved the seed from the survivors and will try again. Gosh I hear you on the blackberries, we could never touch that supply! Even the bears and birds get sick of them 🙂 Darn you Luther Burbank!

      Sounds yummy all of it!

  4. December 31, 2011 8:24 am

    We did have corn and beans in 2010 after an unseemly struggle, but no winter squashes or pumpkins. It was our most difficult year of the last 35 (!!). 2011 looked like it would be the same, and yet we are swimming in squashes, though the corn and beans were so-so. One never knows. I’m still using pictures from 2009 when trying to sucker people into planting something …

    • December 31, 2011 1:54 pm

      Risa, same here, 2008 and 2009 were good years. I have given away so many winter squash people run when they see me coming, as if I have zucchini under my arm or something! We’re eating well, but in June I would never have thought it possible after last year.

  5. jenny permalink
    December 31, 2011 2:31 pm

    We are at the bottom of the “funnel” of the Willamette Valley at about 775 ft. alt.

    We only put in a small garden this year because of the late start. Our corn didn’t mature, no tomatoes ever set, poor germination on beets (maybe it was old seed), kale did okay but not enough, no pears, 8 (eight) apples, 18 plums (from 2 trees), only 4 gallons of blackberries before they started to mold, deer and dog ate the strawberries, rhubarb still too young…. akkkk! not a great year.

    However, green beans did pretty well and the dry beans (can’t remember which variety but it was some heirloom) produced well on the ones that did germinate so we are saving those for a bigger try next year.

    However, we had a fair amount of success at our first attempts at raising meat bird. We got 25 cornish x to start and ended with 16. We only lost 2 at the chick stage; the rest died after 4 weeks. Those stupid birds ate themselves to death, ruptured their crop! We got about 85 pounds out of them- that’s lots of dinner and bone broth and dog food!

    What I learned this year is that my husband needs a partner in the garden. He just doesn’t keep a close enough eye on things, you know, the “detail” stuff. I am also determined to get some of our stuff under hoops or something to prolong our season. Money is a big issue but we’re handy around here so I bet we can cobble something together that will work. I also learned that I need to start my seed indoors to get a jump on things.

    We are working on a new 20’x40′ area for root crops and tomatoes (hoops for those I think). It gets more sun and seems to be better soil. Besides that, we have been layering the hen house debris there for 6 months to improve the soil further.

  6. December 31, 2011 2:36 pm

    My mom liked your photos (as did I)! My dad thought it was just normal stuff, but he grew up doing vegetable garden farming. He thought Jane just looked like a cow, but my mom agreed that she looked cute and healthy.

    I love your kale!!

  7. December 31, 2011 4:40 pm

    Our garden is now covered with a foot of snow but I’m still processing some seed for sale in the seed store from late things like the rare Hopi Black Squash. The squash are always the last things to ripen from the garden, but they do eventually get there.

    Great pictures! Looks like you had a very productive garden this year!

  8. December 31, 2011 6:37 pm

    Looks like an amazing year…….hope 2012 is even better! Happy New Year!!!

  9. Ellen Peavey permalink
    January 1, 2012 6:45 am

    Really liked the pictures of the garden. I hope to get a hoop house soon would really help with the tomato’s and peppers. Our garden was plagued by deer and too many insects, will have a fence this year. I’m already planning for this spring going through the seed catalogs going to try different things this year. Got some Golden Mengal seeds and Jack Bean’s and Walking Stick Kale.

  10. January 1, 2012 7:28 am

    Did you get your Sugar Sprints from Territorial? Mine also had horrible germination rates – 10%, at best!

    • January 1, 2012 8:14 am

      Emily, I got mine from Johnny’s and was surprised at the germination rate – maybe 30%. But I was also surprised at how productive they were. I’ll give them another try, my seed and some new purchased, they were delicious and sooooo easy to blanch and freeze. The way our weather is, I have peas in the summer and I don’t have time to shell peas and put up hay, so as much as I like shelled peas in the freezer, they just aren’t in the cards for me except for fresh. 😦

  11. January 2, 2012 8:52 am

    Reblogged this on Attendance Please and commented:
    ahh. always stellar photos…thanks!

  12. January 2, 2012 7:53 pm

    I lost all my starts this year as it got hot in ATL very, very quickly. I waited to start them even though my gut told me differently because we had an exceptionally early spring (beginning of Feb!) and the weather people who have lived here longer and are smarter than me, said that we had the possibility of a late cold snap, which would have killed the peach and berry crops here. Well, it didn’t happen. And this winter has been mild so far, with tonight the first real cold we’ve had. (It was 80F two days before Christmas- tonight’s low will be 20F).

    Pardon the rambling…

    So, I plan to start my seeds indoors the first week of Feb. This year, I have a 25×50 garden area that has been fallow (full of weeds is more like it) for the last 4 years. (We bought a house in Nov.). I think I will predominately plant tomatoes as I want to can sauce this year. I’ll try my hand at a few other things, but not try peas until fall, or any other cool weather crop. I don’t want to lose it all again.

  13. January 3, 2012 1:13 am

    Just loving that greenhouse shot…keep thinking of putting a small one in my backyard…but then realise that would probably only get damaged from the various things that come over the fence from my neighbours kids and visitors….

  14. January 3, 2012 8:36 am

    Are dogs a storage crop too? 🙂

    We had an odd year in my little garden, but from seeing posts from more experienced gardeners, perhaps they’re all odd years. Mediocre for beans and tomatoes despite weather that should have been great for them, but more eggplant than we could keep up with.

  15. January 3, 2012 11:23 am

    I have veggie envy! Well done on your gorgeous harvest 🙂

  16. January 3, 2012 1:33 pm

    Hi Nita, happy new year! I nominated you on my “tag your it” post, no pressure for you to return it, I just wanted to tell people about your blog because I really enjoy it. http://eight-acres.blogspot.com/2012/01/tag-im-it-seven-links.html, cheers, Liz

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