Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Good Garden Season

Early September. The first few days of the month are starting out hot and steamy, after a relatively cooler August. This seems like a good time to take stock of the 2014 summer garden season.

Our root crops did well. The potato harvest was good. I planted 5 pounds of red Norlands from Fedco in Maine. Early on I hand-culled a healthy population of adult and larval cucumber beetles. But potato beetles never arrived. By early August the plants had faded so I dug up the hills on August 2nd, unearthing 36 pounds of spuds.
I planted yellow and red onions from seedlings. Although I did not keep track of quantities planted or harvested, here are the results.
My first attempt at growing shallots was okay. I started with one pound of shallot sets from Fedco and ended up with maybe double that quantity. Some grew large, some stayed small. They seem easy to grow, although the Fedco catalog says "tend to them with diligence." Not sure what that means.
Our garlic harvest, which we grow at my parent's place, was stellar once again: 500 bulbs harvested on July 28th.
Every year my tomato plants succumb to early blight. The lower leaves start to yellow early. I trim off some, but eventually too many turn yellow that I would end up with a naked plant if I clipped them all off. And I am still searching for the best paste tomato to grow. I tried San marzanos and monica this year; the latter were dry and short-lived. The best of the bunch were the super sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. They were sweet and productive and still going strong, along with good, but not as productive, sun golds.
Bell peppers are doing well, except for the slugs that chew holes in some, and the red ones are not turning red. Eggplants are slow, but maybe too shaded. No other problems to speak of, except the usual crop of Japanese beetles throughout the summer and deer early on.

Surprisingly, despite the cool, wet spring, the young peach was super productive. We forced ourselves to thin the fruits heavily in mid-summer so that each peach was not touching its neighbor. This allows the remaining peaches to grow bigger and to limit the spread of the brown rot fungus. We must have thinned more than 500 peaches and still we harvested hundreds. We made a delicious (I think) peach-blueberry crisp and just this weekend, with the last of the peaches, a peach galette (from a Melissa Clark/NYT recipe). It was yummy. Recipes available on request.
The garden is still humming along, although beans are over, sadly. Too many zucchini still and cukes have faded. This fall I must not forget to plant spinach that will overwinter and be ready for spring harvest. Meanwhile, the old peach is starting to ripen, so more peach galette on the menu.


  1. It's always a treat to read your garden report Ellen. I think your garden was much more successful than ours. Perhaps the wonderful cool summer was better for some crops than others.

    I had to laugh at your comment about eggplants and shade. When we first moved here, and had a lot of sun, we had some 6 foot tall eggplants, full of fruit. But this year I didn't even plant eggplant because I've learned that without generous amounts of sun they just don't produce. Since our yard has gotten shadier there is no longer enough sun to grow them. A great loss for us.

    I suspect that our tomatoes too got early blight. Normally they don't. But the cool wet summer may explain why so many turned tan/yellow and produced little fruit.

    Our kale looks great though and we had plenty of lettuce until it all bolted mid-June. I guess in a sense it's just another typical year in the garden, with surprising successes and surprising failures.

    I and Jerene both envy you your peaches!! If only we had room for fruit trees.

  2. I agree, it is fun to compare gardening notes, especially since we are in slightly different plant zones. Wish I could send some peaches through the blog. Maybe you can still squeeze a peach into your yard. The robust peach crop might have jaded my optimistic view of the rest of the garden. As I think about it holistically, it was probably mediocre, but steady.