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Archive for October, 2018

September: Harvest

1. September, 2017
Planted: A Year of Gardening
The series starts here

Through all of August 2017 we got less than 3 inches of rain.

The food garden was suffering. I went through all the water in the rain barrels, and had to start dragging the hose around from the other side of the house (there’s no spigot on the farm side, unfortunately). I got plenty of harvest, but not what there would have been in a better rain year.

Many years ago, on this blog and my old family recipe one Mahlzeit, I decided to see if I could grow enough food to preserve for a full cycle, really about 9 months from final harvest to first fruits. This was the main thing that expanded the garden as I learned how much and what to plant to make this happen.

It’s easier now with just me using the produce. When the family was together, I never made it past January, but now I routinely get through the year by preserving produce from 18 tomato plants, 3 eggplants, 100 beans, 10 potato plants, 10-15 corn stalks, plus four square feet each of carrots, onions, and beets. I can or freeze the tomatoes, roast then freeze the eggplants, blanch then freeze the corn and beans. My housemate remarked that everything I eat is “processed” but then, everything I eat is homegrown, so I’m not sure how it’s better to buy tomatoes from Chile in midwinter because they’re “fresh.” Plus, once you cook them into sauce, you’ve processed it anyway. Not sure it counts as processed if it’s not full of salt and preservatives.

In the first year of the new garden I ended up with 20 half pints of tomato sauce; close to my goal of 25 that I know will get me through the year. I lost the pumpkin vines to squash vine borers and inconsistent water. It’s tough to water this many raised beds by hand. You just can’t keep up; they dry out too quickly. Same with the second bean planting, my shelling beans that I dry for soups and chili. The plants died down earlier than in past years so that I didn’t get as much harvest from them as I should. I chose not to plant a third round, because if it doesn’t rain, they just wouldn’t sprout. A lot of the ornamental plants in the Botanic died too, as well as both cherry trees (planted from bare root stock just before the drought hit).

I always tell novice gardeners not to worry about stuff like this; after all, there are grocery stores. You won’t starve if the garden doesn’t produce. And there’s always the gardeners’ (and the Cubs fan) mantra:

Just wait ‘til next year.

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