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2014 Gardening Update - What Worked, What Didn't Work, and What Needs to Change or Be Done

A picture from last year. For some reason, I didn't take any this year!

This year's garden gave me a lot of hope that I could actually grow produce and plants could thrive! That being said, there is a lot that needs to be done to the garden and I have already started some of that.

I grew onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, beets, peas, cucumbers, acorn squash, lettuce, spinach, yellow squash, zucchini, and potatoes. I also have rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries already established. I started blueberries this year and they survived the summer (Yeah!).

The bell peppers did not grow well due to wet and cool summer conditions. The carrots didn't do a dang thing. I had a 10-12 carrots grow, but weren't near the size they should have been. The onions actually grew which is a first for me. They were small, but totally edible. Beets and spinach did not grow at all. The tomatoes could have done better, but I was happy just to get a few. I haven't had any luck until this year having tomatoes produce so yeah for me!

Everything else did very, very well. I was very pleased. One of the methods I tried this year was companion gardening and I highly recommend it. I had a lot of success with vegetables that I never had before. I also understood why my gardens in the past have not done well.

Cutting down the tree on the edge of the garden made a huge difference. My rhubarb was suffering the most and have now bounced back beautifully. It also gave half of my garden some beneficial sunlight in an area that is somewhat limited.

I am so done with using 5 gallon buckets to help expand my garden. Done. I think the buckets get too warm. Plants will grow, but not produce or produce well. I don't know what I will use them for now. I might bring them up by the house and see if I can grow food for the chickens in cooler, shadier areas. We shall see.

This year, it was very apparent that my garden is lacking nutrients. I am already remedying this by adding the bedding and manure from the chicken coop to the garden. I will continue to do this until January/February so the manure has time to mellow. In the Spring, we will till it in.

I am still trying to come up with the best weed management system. I read that straw is great, then I read it isn't. I have used wood mulch in the past without a lot of good coming from that. My tomatoes certainly did not like wood mulch. I would like to use weed blocking fabric, but I need something to hold it down.

I will need to have a fence around the garden next year. At least a temporary fence until everything gets established and not mowed over by the chickens. I have plenty of time to research what I want for that.

I want more perennial vegetables. I am definitely looking into walking onions and groundnuts for next year. I would like to try asparagus again. The crowns rotted in the ground this year due to wet weather.

I definitely plan to plant all the same vegetables that I did last year. I might skip the lettuce, but the spinach is definitely still on the list. I would also like to plant pumpkins and possibly watermelon. I will concentrate more of storage and canning vegetables than eat right now vegetables. I would like to can more of what we produce.

I would also like to plant some fruit trees next year. We had an apple tree split in threes this fall so I want to replace that one and plant two more trees. I would also like to try two pear trees.

Winter will provide me plenty of time to read up and get some more ideas! In my stash to read is:
Abundantly Wild: Collecting and Cooking Wild Edibles in the Upper Midwest
How to Grow More Vegetables
Homegrown and Handmade 
The New Self-Sufficient Gardener

I can't wait!

Thanks for reading!

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