Although some of the quantities harvested weren't as good as last year, or weren't as plentiful as I would have hoped for, the harvest of other things far surpassed my expectations, so overall I can say I am pretty pleased with our 2011 garden!
Lets see how things tallied up, shall we? I don't have accurate counts from last year although I do remember approximate numbers and have included some of them for comparison...
3 baggies of Corn
This was really disappointing. We planted half as much corn as last year, and it just didn't do as well. I think I need to go back to the variety I grew the year before, because it did much better. Also I need to grow twice as much next year!
2 cups of Popping Corn
We got a fair number of harvestable heads of popping corn, but since we don't really eat pop corn I'm now wondering why I thought growing it would be so cool. Hmmm... mama fail there. At least at work we have a popcorn popper so I can donate the kernels to my coworkers!
4 Gallon bags of Tomatoes
(plus lots of cherry tomatoes eaten throughout the season - mostly by Little M!) This was encouraging. Last year we had more plants, but they weren't caged or supported at all so it was a disaster trying to harvest them. This year, with 4 cages, it was much better. The two extras that I planted without cages were still a disaster, but at least they only sprawled onto the potatoes! I think in the future I'll try to pick an earlier ripening variety so that we get more from each plant. Most of the tomatoes ripened on the sunporch, very few were ripe before the first frost. I also really need to get around to getting these canned!
I think in order to get more usable & profitable space in the garden, I need to postpone my quest for a ripe watermelon from my very own garden... Sad, but likely true! :)
1/4 cup of Dry Beans
This was fairly disappointing - even less than the dismal 1/2 cup I harvested last year! I tried a different variety, and I think that was a mistake. I likely need to try again next year and try picking a shorter growing season bean.
5 baggies worth of Green Beans
We had several meals worth, and froze several more, but just didn't have the production that we had last year. And last year's 10-15 baggies frozen didn't make it until spring, so I need to improve here!
LOTS of Peas
We had SO many peas this year! the sugarsnap peas kept producing almost until frost, which was amazing. We had weird weather - a much cooler summer than normal, and although it affected most of my plants negatively, it sure was great for the peas. Little M loved the peas, and we had so many sugarsnaps initially that I was giving bowl after bowl away at work! I need to figure out something to do with them other than eat them fresh. Frozen and used in stirfries? Hmmm... the normal peas were great too, although I let them get a bit past early on and that slowed most of them right down. We had one delicious meal of them with some friends, but other than that I didn't shell and cook them. Next summer I really need to get my act together better and blanch and freeze them so that we can eat them throughout the winter. Frozen peas get used in lots of dishes here, and being able to use our own would be great!
4+ cups of Raspberries
We ate most of the raspberries straight off the vine. I do however have a tub saved in the freezer for a smoothy in the depths of winter (don't tell my husband where they are though!). I think next summer we will have more, and hopefully I will be able to put up more.
4+ cups of Strawberries
We ate WAY more than this. This is just what I have saved in the freezer to make jam with (any day now!). Next summer I will try to save more, but they are just so delicious its hard to put them in a bowl let alone the freezer!
We dug up maybe 10 russets and about 15 fingerlings, but I didn't weigh them. This was our first success with potatoes, and we were pretty thrilled. We still really need a good storage spot for them, but next year we plan to grow more! (if we can find the space). I want to grow some Yukon Gold potatoes next year - they are my favorite!
3 cups of chopped Peppers
We grew several different varieties of peppers, and typical me, I didn't really let any of them ripen enough before eating them, freezing them, or using them on pizza's. I like green peppers, but my husband likes sweeter peppers, so next year I really need to be more patient and let them ripen more on the plants!
1 (sad) Zuchini
Need more than just one plant. Also need to place them in a better spot! (huh, guess sticking them in the shade of the overgrown raspberries didn't work!)
Picked a poor spot for these guys too. wimpy plant, zero mature cuc's!
5 Butternut SquashThis includes several small ones that likely aren't fully ripened/hardened. Last year we had around 7 butternut, and I recall them all being riper than these seem to be.
7 Hubbard Squash
This also includes a small one that likely really won't have much edible portion inside. There is one huge one, but overall we got much less squash than last year, where I think we had upwards of 15.
Two large & one small. Last year we had 6, but 3 were small and from my husband's wildlife garden, that he didn't have pumpkins in this year. So about the same. Since we just use these for carving at Halloween, 3 was fine :)
20-ish small onions
I was very disappointed with our onion harvest. A lot of the onions just weren't ready to be picked by the late fall - they were still growing leaves and had very little root bulb developed as all their energy was in their leaves. I tried to harvest and dry these as best I could, but I'm not sure whether they sucked because of poor soil conditions or tending, or if it was just a poor year for onions here!
The carrots didn't do as well as last year, due to poor germination and then overgrown weeds! Lesson learned - I really need to way overseed and then thin if necessary!! (oh, and be better about staying on top of the weeds!!)
These were sort of planted on a whim, none of my family is into beets, but my MIL is, and had these seeds leftover from the previous year. I offered to plant them and give them to her, but didn't bother checking germination, just threw them into the ground alongside radish seeds and hoped for the best. Well, lesson learned! Likely we won't grow beets again for a couple years.
These were rather spicy for us, so next time I need to pick a milder variety, or do something different in growing them. I did let them go to seed though, and so could use those seeds next year if I decide not to buy new ones. I think if I found a different way to eat them, or pick them earlier, or water them more, they might be less spicy? I'm not that familiar with growing radishes; its been awhile, so I'm not sure.
Before next spring I'll have to figure out where we will have the manure pile - right now we have a black plastic compost bin by the house, but no formal compost bins by the garden or coop... I've been dreaming of a three bin system near the garden or coop, but haven't even gotten around to sketching it out or figuring out the board lengths needed, let alone starting to save up for the lumber or deciding on a location... Hopefully by next spring we'll have the location and design down and will just need to purchase lumber and build it!
This past spring I had really hoped to be working on a garden addition by this fall or next spring, but I'm thinking that is likely still at least a year off. I've really been wanting raised beds closer to the house, orchard, and coop, but we just haven't prioritized saving for the building materials. Oh the things we are sacrificing to try to get this house paid off ;)
As far as the garden composition, obviously it will have to change next summer to include more corn, more beans, more tomatoes, and less.... hmmm.... well I'll have to work on that one a bit more over the winter months, because it does seem like I would like to have more to harvest of pretty much everything we harvested this year! I would really love to be growing enough to can and freeze so that we would have food from the garden kept until the next summer. We were nearly there with corn last year but not much else, but this year I think we are a bit further away from that goal on things like corn, because of how many different things we grew even though we had more variety in what we have preserved.
Ah... now the planning for next year's garden can begin :)