Updated: Nov 9, 2021
A couple of days ago, after our first real frost, I cut down the Brussels sprout plants. They were the final crop standing in the garden, ending another garden season. It's always bittersweet: the satisfaction of growing your own food versus the passing of time. It reminds me of the lyrics to the Guess Who song "No Time": "Seasons change and so do I."
This year it was especially true. It was the first year of our expanded garden and I feel I learned so much about the whole process. I'm excited because it was the first time I kept a garden journal, something I can return to in early spring when I'm ready to start thinking about next year.
I would give this year's harvest a solid B -- not the best, there were a few setbacks and mistakes made -- but overall a good year and a great one for learning.
About a year ago, after last harvest, we expanded our smaller raised bed garden into a twice-the-size ground-level one and spread the soil from the raised beds evenly over the new space. (Read about about this HERE.) My first mistake of the season came even before it started! I should have added more soil because beneath our thin layer of beautiful soil was clay and rock. Plants really had to work to spread their roots.
Still, the garden had successes. Cukes, both salad and pickling, produced in numbers. Tomatillos, broccoli, leeks, Brussels sprouts, beets, lettuce, and bok choy did well. The leeks and beets were small as were the sprouts. Among the failures were pole beans, snap peas, okra, Jack B. Little pumpkins and watermelon, which all died on the vine. Tomatoes did OK: the sungold cherry tomatoes were abundant all year, while my variety of vine tomatoes were sporadic. And my cannabis plants had a pretty good year. More on this in another post.
In late August, the large plot was filled with thriving veggies and it was pretty exciting.
There were two other factors which influenced the garden's growth, one was my fault, the other was Mother Nature's. The first I blame on my excitement for having an expanded space. I started planting too soon. I bought plants when they were first available, around mid-April even though the last frost date was May 13. In my defense, spring was amazingly warm and local farmers interviewed on the radio were saying we were two weeks ahead of schedule (which was true... the asparagus season in the Valley was amazing!). They didn't tell me to plant... but they didn't tell me NOT to! Anyway, cold weather did come back, killing some of the plants (especially the tomatoes) and I feel really stunting some others.
We also had some very extreme weather (thanks Climate Change!). A 4-day heat wave with no rain in late June, followed by 3 straight days of solid rain and temps in the 60s. In late August, there was a threat of a hurricane coming through the Valley. While we didn't get the wind that was expected, it was another deluge with many local farmers losing crops to rot. My garden survived pretty well but again, plant growth took a hit.
In the end, I'm pretty satisfied with my first season in this bigger plot. After everything was harvested (except for the Brussels, I sprinkled down some cover crop seeds and within a week, little green seedlings popped out of the ground. The cover crop (photo above) will die as it gets colder and become nutrition for next season's soil.
In a couple of months, we'll be right back at it -- planning next year's crop and waiting for the season to change again.