Relatively successful despite climate/weather issues.

denninmi(8a)September 3, 2012

Labor day wrap up here. I put in a lot less than normal, I have two big areas roughly a 70 x 70 and a 70 x 30 that I didn't plant at all this year, because I saw this big drought coming back in May/June and knew I couldn't keep up.

I concentrated on one main area, my 110 x 100 ish (edges are kind of fluid, grass keeps growing in, then I fix that every few years) area.

Overall, despite the extreme weather, things did pretty well. I was able to irrigate this, and I don't know if it was applications of things to keep deer away or just luck, but almost no animal problems of major significance.

Best tomato crop in probably 5 years. Coming in a little late, some may be heat delay due to the 100s in July. But no animals eating the plants, plus adequate moisture from irrigation, plus actually the hot dry keeping diseases at bay, and they are really nice this year. Corn stalked out at 4-5 feet for the most part, I thought it would be a disaster but made very nice ears. I lost a lot of onions early to rot and cold, but the ones that survived made nice onions. Brassicas, beans, summer squash, eggplant and peppers all good. I didn't do any root crops or get any winter squash planted in the irrigated area. I have about 30 packages of frozen squash from last year in the freezer, so no big deal, less work for me actually.

Turned out better than I would have predicted if you had asked me to predict around the 4th of July.

The only real flop that I regret, none of my potatoes were in the irrigated area,and between drought and early heat, they were pretty pathetic. But you know, no one in this household is starving, so I guess I'll survive the trauma


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I can't complain about this year, despite the drought. I have a small enough area - 64x24 - that I can keep it watered.

Spring crops, with the early warm start, were fantastic.

Summer crops mixed. Best tomatoes ever and excellent bell peppers - both still producing well. Green bush beans producing prolifically all through the season. Fingerling potatoes died back early making a disappointingly small crop, but the red potatoes I grow for robbing are still green and setting nice tubers. The russets look promising, but I'm not touching them for another month.

Cucurbits were the problem. Although the cuc beetles weren't as bad as the last few years, powdery and downy mildew both hit hard. Cucumbers suffered the worst. I got a good number of melons before the mildew totally killed the vines, though the charentais were disappointingly unsweet. Zuke leaves are mildewed but the fruits still keep coming. I was lucky to have no SVB damage.

Just to be contrary, the butternut squash came down with downy mildew instead of powdery. Luckily, the vines managed to set enough fruits before the disease hit, and it looks like the oldest ones will manage to mature for fall.

Overall, it's been a surprisingly good year.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:20PM
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It is always the same. If it is good for melons, it is bad for green crops. Just south of Dennis, we had excellent toms, and the best eggplants, garlic and peppers ever. But some spring crops (onions, lettuce) suffered for the cold and the lack of water, and poor germination was accompanied by thirsty birds pulling thousands of seedlings. The chard and pole beans were the poorest in at least 7 years, but purslane (a weed) replaced several of those missed meals. We always get something, so long as one's garden is balanced.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 3:23PM
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Glad things weren't so bad as you thought earlier, Dennis.

I second Glib's point, if you keep good diversity going there will always be some good harvests no matter the weather.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:13PM
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This year was definately one of many challenges and surprises for me. Firstly, I had a wondeful year for tomatoes, peppers, and corn. Despite a raging attack by cucumber beetles and squash bugs in early summer, I got a plentiful crop of cukes. I got a good 1st round of zucchini before losing it to SVB, but I am now getting my 2nd round, and although late, zucchini bread is in the very near future. I won the very unusual round 2 with SVB as well, saving any remaining summer squash I had besides zucchini. Canteloupes, a first try for me, turned out great; in fact I just harvested the first few ripe ones today, and they are delicious. All spring veggies did good, thanks to my rolling the dice and planting out a month early, letting them grow before the heat and drought set it. Fall veggies are in, and looking good so far.

Now, on to the bad parts. Green beans were a failure, the corn struggled a bit with the heat and drought, but provided a great meal this weekend. As I said, cuke beeltes were outrageous, and 2 rounds of SVB was quite discouraging. Bell peppers provided very little, probably due to planting a cooler climate variety, and having such a long and hot summer.

So, all in all, some things were good, others not so good. But, one thing the drought did was cause me to water a lot, so I got to thinking about how much of a pain it was to drag hoses around all summer. So, I got motivated and installed permanent underground water lines to my garden, as well as to my shed, where my compost piles are. I look forward to the convenience to having a hose bibb at those locations next year. I also ran power to the garden, to plug in my new electric cultivator, rather than running 100 feet of cord. So, I;d say it was a good year for me and my garden, and I look forward to next year's as well.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:49PM
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Oh, yeah, I should add. I had 3 or 4 old packets of okra seed, most was packed for 2009. I planted it back in May in the greenhouse just to use it up. Since okra never does much here, I said this would be it.

I tucked it randomly into large barrel mixed planters here and there with mainly flowers.

Most awesome okra ever, 4-5-6 feet tall, very productive.

All it needs is a summer like it would have in Texas to be happy.

Overall, though, if I had to vote, I'd say I'd rather have our typical cool Canadian air mass intrusions that keep our 90s usually to 10 days or less. I can always buy frozen okra :-)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:19PM
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