Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall - Garden wrap-up

I have to say that my fears of running out of storage space for all the veg were a trifle overstated.  We did okay, but in the end, we're not being crowded out of the house by food.  Here's a run-down:
  • Corn: I think we got two meals of corn-on-the-cob, and one meal's worth of frozen kernels out of it.  Planted (the successful crop, that is) just too late to work properly.  It tasted good, though, and since we have the fenced-in area built, I'll probably do it again.
  • Pumpkins: got two small ones - maybe 6" in diameter each.  From the weight, I think they'd be good for cooking, but my daughter has dibs on them for jack-o-lanterns.
  • Canteloupe: another victim of the late start, I think.  We had two melons start; both of them made it to about 2" in diameter before they just sort of collapsed on themselves.
  • Cucumbers: got 3-4, total.  They've done better in the past, so next year I'll do them again, but put something in place for them to climb.
  • Peas: 1 meal, maybe, at most?  Need to start these WAY earlier in the year.  They were still fruiting in August, though.
  • Potatoes: a fabulous surprise.  Planting two sprouted potatoes and sort of ignoring them resulted in a harvest around 5-6 pounds.  We're still eating them - and maybe this is a side-effect of growing up in the suburban 20th century, but I'm pleased and a little surprised to find that they taste just like the ones you buy in the store.
  • Onions: these did pretty well - in fact, I'm wondering if we'll actually eat them all before next spring.  The ones that I've harvested so far (based on the stalks wilting and going brown) didn't get all that big, but they're bigger than when we started.  I even tried braiding them, and while the result wasn't aesthetically pleasing, it seems to be holding.  Some of them have not yet wilted, so I'm leaving them in the ground for now.
  • Carrots: boy, do we have carrots!  They were very happy, and even without thinning, grew fat and prolifically.  Most of them are still in the ground and will stay that way over winter - supposedly they do just fine that way.
  • Garlic: I think it's doing okay - it's still in the ground, and the foliage is still mostly green.  Again, assuming that what's in the ground represents heads of garlic, we'll have plenty.  I may try braiding it as well.
  • Peppers: nearly a complete wash.  We planted 2 plants; one with a pepper on it, the other without.  The one pepper got marginally larger, so we picked it.  That was the crop.
  • Dried beans: I had high hopes for these.  The plants were lush and the pods plentiful.  But when they came into the kitchen and we removed the beans, we got less than 1/2 cup of each type.  Unless the world experiences a huge dried bean shortage and our only other option for protein is to resort to cannibalism, I probably won't bother again.
  • Lettuce: way too much to eat; most of it bolted when we were on the cruise.  We just don't eat enough salad to do more than a single square of lettuce, I think.
  • Spinach: same deal.  I may try it again next year, since we started too late this year, with the idea of freezing it.
  • Green beans: the true green beans did okay, but yield was underwhelming.
  • Purple beans: star of the garden.  I pulled the plants up yesterday after a frost hit, and still got 2-3 meals' worth.  Next year, I'll put more plants in earlier, but these are keepers.  And they taste good, too.
  • Tomatoes: we had an awful time keeping the water right in the barrels, so our Romas kept getting blossom-end rot.  Nonetheless, we've been eating them fairly steadily for the last month, and I've got 3 packages frozen.
  • Grapes: the squirrels got most of the white grapes, before they really got sweet.  I picked some and brought them in the house; made raisins out of some and ate the others.  The raisins were pretty good - if I try them again, though, I think I'll get an electric food dryer.  The Concords were very prolific, to say the least.  Even with the squirrels, I got a couple of gallons worth of juice out of them.  Made half into jelly and froze the rest.  Unfortunately, the jelly did not jel.  The rescue pectin did not make it jel.  I used to be really good at making grape jelly, but it is just not working for me these days.  Now, I'm looking for recipes where I can substitute what's basically grape "molasses".  Because it keeps falling off the toast and making a huge mess.
Next year, I think we'll alter the crop mix, plant some things earlier, cut way back on others (even the purple beans, a bit).  But I'll do potatoes again, for sure, and we'll get the watering adjusted for the tomatoes.  I approached the whole raised-bed square foot gardening thing this year as a bit of an experiment, and I'd say it was, on the whole, very successful.