Gardening season, even extended one, has about come to an end around here. We have had a couple hard freezes already. All left in the ground is about 6 square feet of assorted salad greens, and our 2015 garlic crop which I planted a couple of weeks ago (see video).
All our beds are now covered for the winter, as pretty soon it will be way too cold to be enjoyable digging through our beds, or the ground will feel just like rock. In fact, as I write I am watching the news tracking the Noreaster that is about to lash us later this evening. We are in the far South East corner of New York State, and near the ocean, but trust me, we do get a fair amount of snow around here…So no matter how much we may want to continue gardening, we must stop and concentrate on enjoying what winter brings ahead, and at the same time dedicate some time to planning our future garden.
This year I was quite happy with our tiny farm. We not only had a great and long lasting season, but I kept busy experimenting with different plants and growing methods, and implementing interesting ideas. In the end we were able to harvest a fair amount of vegetables from most of the beds and pots. We reached a final production of 230 lbs of food, most of it got consumed fresh at home, but we were also lucky to have extra to share with some friends and neighbors. However, not everything grew as I had expected. Some plants did not make it or failed to amaze me with their production because I was not prepared to provide them optimal growing conditions, some others because I had false expectations. Below is my 2014 lessons learned and keeping it real list.
1) Beets, can’t grow them!! I better forget growing them.
2) Root air pruning containers are great to grow many plants, but not if too small. Never use pots less than 5 gal capacity.
3) Do not buy seed on impulse because the photo on the pack looks great. This is specially true with funky colored or odd shaped varieties of regular fruits and veggies, like multicolor bell peppers, super skinny eggplants, rainbow cauliflower, etc. I must stick to the basics, they usually grow better.
3) Location, location location… I should have known that, I am a Realtor…. plan where plants are to be grown, who is next to who? avoid competition, interference, inhibition…
4) Did we need so many Swiss chard plants? what was I thinking?
5) I do like hot peppers, but my esophagus is not lined in asbestos…next year tone it down a notch, will you?
6) Never stop composting, it’s the name of the game!
7) Neem oil does a lot of good. Spray, spray, spray, even when you can’t see any bugs.
I wish all a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a great gardening season to all of you in the tropics and Southern hemisphere.