Friday, March 16, 2012

2011 Garden Journal

  Last year I posted about the importance of keeping a garden journal to remind yourself of what you planted, how much it produced, what you did well vs. what you did wrong, etc.
I should have posted this at the end of the season, but here is my complete journal for 2011.
I was in the middle of moving into a new home so I planted / transplanted everything into the garden during the first week of June.
I didn't lose any plants due to frost damage.


Tomatoes:
I planted 10 slicing tomato plants, 1 pear tomato plant, and 1 cherry tomato plant.
The pear and cherry tomato plant were a good amount for our family of 4, but we could have gotten by with just one plant.
With the tomatoes I was able to can 24 pints of pizza/pasta sauce, 24 half-pints of chili sauce, and 24 quarts of stewed tomatoes, plus plenty for eating.

Winter Squash:
I planted 1 hill of spaghetti squash and 1 hill of butternut squash, each with 2 plants per hill.  I used 3 tomato cages per hill to wrap the vines around.  The downside to this was that some of the cages started indenting the squash and they had to be moved periodically so it wouldn't prohibit growth.  I lost one squash trying to move it and it snapped the vine.
I had about 4 large squash from each, with a few smaller ones that didn't fully have time to mature before the frost came.  Next year I will cut the vines to prohibit the smaller ones from forming, so the energy can stay in the early set squash.

Summer Squash:
I planted 2 hills of zucchini squash, and 1 hill of summer squash, each with 2 plants per hill.  One of the summer squash plants got some sort of disease and ended up dying off early.
We had as much as we could want, and I ended up freezing a lot of it, both shredded and cubed.  We've used it throughout the winter, and still have about half of what I froze in February.  If I had the freezer space, I would continue to plant this much, but I think next year I will keep it to 2 hills with 2 plants in each.

Sweet Peppers:
I planted 4 orange bell pepper plants and 4 red bell pepper plants.  Some were color, but I also continually picked some while still green so I could keep the plants producing.  I used some of the peppers for chili sauce, and had plenty to eat.  I also was able to freeze a lot.
I could plant more, only to allow myself more red and yellow peppers and less green.

Hot Peppers:
I planted 4 jalapeno plants, and it was WAY to much.  I planted them for canning, and was able to get 1 dozen half-pints in the first picking.  I had a plethora of them and was racking my brain trying to come up with ways to use them.  1 plant is definitely sufficient from now on, especially since I was able to can so many.

 Beans:
I planted Blue Lake Bush Beans and LOVED them.  I much preferred these bush beans to to the pole beans I planted last year.
I cant remember how many plants I had, probably 10-15.  They didn't all come up at once, so there were some planted a week to two weeks after the initial plant date.
We had plenty of beans to eat fresh, but I didn't freeze any.  I did have 2-3 batches that went bad before we could eat them, so I could have either planted less or frozen/canned some.

Onions:
I bought too many onions for the space I had.  One row used about 1 bunch of onions from Cooks.  I planted yellow onions and they turned out great.  Some I used for chili sauce, but the ones that were allowed to grow until the end of the season were about the size of a softball.  I used the last onion in February, so to last me longer throughout the winter I could plant more.

Cucumbers:
I planted small pickling cucumbers, rather than the average ones, and I didn't like them as much.
We definitely had too many, next year I will plant 2 hills with 2 plants in each, rather than 3 hills with 2-3 plants each.

Carrots:
The carrots that were planted in June did great, and I had a huge yield.  I did have a bit of trouble getting them out of the ground without breaking them.
The biggest issue was that I dug them too early.  I should have left them in the ground until they were allowed to handle some frost.  Most of them ended up getting soft and or moldy before we could eat them as opposed to last years crop that lasted months in the fridge.

Herbs:
I had planters of basil, sage and cilantro.  The basil did well, but the other two died from heat.  I need to move them from in front of the shed to a shadier area next year.

Raspberries:
The raspberries running along the shed had a great yield at the beginning of the season.

Those next to the garden didn't have hardly any berries at the beginning.  They looked overgrown, so I cut out all of the dead branches and trimmed them down significantly.  They put out new shoots and produced great well into fall.  I'm not sure if it was the work that I did, or just because they are a different variety than the others.

During the winter after the leaves had fallen off, I cut all of the branches that produced berries off, trimmed them all down to the hardiest, and cut the tops to about 4-6 ft.  Interested to see what that does for next season.

Fertilizer:
I fertilized the entire garden just before planting with a mixture of:
3 parts 16-16-8 with 1 part ironite.

I didn't do any additional fertilizing throughout the year.

 Watering:
We purchased hoses/driplines with emitters spaced to evenly distribute water.  For the tomato rows and zucchini I ran the hoses down both sides. For the smaller rows I ran a single hose down the middle.
 
The tomato rows were watered on average about 2-3 times per month, letting them soak for 1-2 hours each time depending on how hot it was and how much rain.

The other rows were watered every week (give or take a few days), for about 1-1.5 hours, depending on heat and rain.

Overall, watering was sufficient.

Mistakes:
I didn't take full advantage of my space.  Rather than doing 12-18" rows for the beans, peppers, onions and carrots I will make all of my rows 36".  That way I cut down on walkway space between rows.

 Plant location.  My neighbors sprinkling system effected the garden by over-watering due to runoff.  The cherry and pear tomatoes got the major brunt of things.  Next year I will plant carrots/onions along the fence line since they require more watering.

I tried to plant additional carrots and some parsnips in the first part of July since I had some extra space.  I didn't have any success in them coming up, probably because it was too hot.

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