The main thing about gardening is the main thing in life and that is just that you try. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. But....you always learn something, and I love that. So here's sort of how it went this year on the Short suburban homestead.
1) The chickens! By far the most fun and entertaining thing I have ever "grown" in the garden. I would have done this years ago if I had known how much fun they would be and I wouldn't have been so worried if I had known how easy it would be. I'm still waiting for the first egg but I love that little extra bit of self sufficiency represented by my hens. They haven't provided breakfast yet but they have contributed to the garden by eating bugs and weeds. When I clean out the coop all the shavings go right to the compost heap where all that nitrogen gets put to work "cooking" the compost.
2) The spring lettuce and first planting of summer mix did well. Later in summer when I was so busy I just didn't have time to keep up the successive sowing needed to keep fresh lettuce handy.
3) Arugula did great! One of my favorites.
4) Garlic. Amazing. I actually just planted the cloves from a bulb I bought in the produce section at Walmart last winter.
5) Best year for strawberries in a long time.
6) Black rasberries did great this year after 4 or 5 yrs. of producing only a few berries.
7) Blueberries, which usually only produce during the month of July are still at it. We have picked baskets and baskets.
8) Trionfo Violetto beans. They always look beautiful and we had a nice supply. They are finishing up now.
9) Herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. :) chives, garlic chives, oregano, variegated oregano, cilantro, St. John's wort, spiderwort, mint, chocolate mint, basil, lemon balm, lemon thyme, Annie hall thyme, wooly thyme. Honestly, you have to be a really bad gardener to kill herbs. It is the thing I recommend everyone start with.
10) Pumpkins. After the Corn Maize ended last year Jared brought home some of the leftover pumpkins and hay bales. I used the hay bales as the walls to my winter compost/ grow heap which I placed right in the garden. In spring I tore up the bales and used them to mulch the garden paths and planted the pumpkin seedlings in a more convenient spot. Then I transferred the remaining unfinished compost the the back compost heap. I did get one big orange pumpkin although not the beautiful green and white ones I was hoping for. This was a fun project and I will probably do it again.
1) Tomatoes! I don't even know what happened here. Out of the 6 plants I started with I got about 3 tomatoes. Some of them I lost in the big storm in June, but the others just didn't produce very well.
2) Blackberries. First year, planted 3. One was mature enough to yield and the birds ate every single one even though I had covered them with netting. Smart birds.
3) Pears. Amazing crop the tree was hanging low with fruit. The squirrels ate every one. I would see them sometimes struggling to get a giant pear, almost as big as they were, up the tree. Even though I was so mad I couldn't help but laugh.
4) Apples. I really think the apple tree is too close to the house. We don't ever get many. The best thing I ever get from that tree are the trimmed branches in spring. I cut them, bundle them, tie them with twine and let them sit to dry out over the summer. Great fire starters in the fall and smell wonderful. I sometimes also use them as wattling to hide ugly fences or to create make shift trellises.
5) Emperor Runner beans. This surprised me. Not one bean. Not one! Beautiful vine and gorgeous
flowers right outside my kitchen window. It did attract hummingbirds every day for me to watch while cooking though, so it's hard to call it a failure. Bees also loved it. I'd plant it again.
At least the successes outnumber the failures! And none of it is really failing if I'm outside with my dogs and chickens turning a steaming pile of compost on a cool morning or picking something for dinner. So it's almost that time of year to "put the garden to bed". It will continue to produce a few things here and there through mid October and some of the herbs will be available all winter. The next part of the gardening year is one of my favorites. Hauling in huge armfuls of firewood and building a big fire. Sitting next to it with stacks of beautiful garden books,The Farmer's Almanac, and in January....the seed catalogs. I'm already planning a new project for next year, an apiary. I started studying bees last year and will continue that through the winter and hopefully it will go as well as the chickens have. Lots more research to do on them, but for me that is just as enjoyable as the project. If you want to be a lifelong learner then plant a garden.
" I am an old man but a young gardener." ~ Thomas Jefferson