Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2010 spring garden highlights

We scaled back a bit in the area of cultivation we normally managed in 2010 due to some logistics issues, but overall we produced everything we needed.  The tomato effort saw over 200 quarts of canned tomato products from only 47 plants.  Dede was working toward world-record status and finally had to be sedated briefly to stop.  It's a weekly treat to have freshly canned tomatoes.  Salsa and sauces every week.

We've planted as many as 150 tomato plants in past years, but this year we changed the pattern completely.  We used our standard cage and planted with the cages touching and plenty of compost and mulch.  We started using compost tea this year and the results were remarkable. 

Everything in the gardens did very well with the compost tea, except for the tomatillos.  They were severely impacted to the point they nearly died and production was delayed.

It's interesting all the nightshade-related plants did well with compost tea;  tomatoes, ground cherries, and tobacco, but the plant that seeds itself each year, and grows like a weed did not do well with it.

Our rhubarb bed is maturing and this 2nd year we began to harvest occasionally.   Early in the spring we traveled north to Holmes County to buy organically grown potatoes from an Amish family who had over-planted and was selling the overstock.  They had the rhubarb bed to emulate and gave us a good bundle to enjoy. 

We planted a larger group of sweet potatoes this year and they produced about 10 gallons from several short rows.  We start them from shoots grown from a potato from last year and plant them out as we get enough for another row.

We added 70 asparagus plants due to a mix-up in communication.  I ordered 30 plants and Dede brought home another 40 before they arrived.  Lot's of asparagus! 

The black raspberries were this year, but the blackberries were plentiful as were our strawberries.  The thornless blackberry bush is maturing now and we had a small and regular crop.

We're still working on the grapes, and added 4 more plants.

The pear tree blossoms were frosted out.  I think we had 3-4 pears.  The apples were marginal, but I ate several every day.

No butternuts to speak of, but we were given 10 gallons of black walnuts, and they are lasting through the winter.

The cucumbers, squash and melons were a bust, no germination, however we had an abundant crop of potimarron, long island cheese and small blanc acorn squash from volunteers.  Since I use a scythe most of the season to mow, it's always good to see what comes up on it's own each year.  We cultivate everything that looks good.

Dede processed enough chestnuts for our use, and the weevils remain a problem.

Our final 2 guinea's have disappeared, unfortunately.  A roving beagle has become a problem that will have to be dealt with soon.

We tried an OMRI potting soil from Whole Foods that germinated plants but stopped growing and everything had to be re-potted or restarted.  Disappointing.

We see more and more frogs and toads each year despite having several Roundup Ready, conventional farms nearby.  Comforting to a small degree.  The small pond must help, along with an organic growing environment.  I have to be watchful when hand picking the fall potatoes, as the toads hibernate in the hills.  The revelations of the extent that Monsanto dominates our agricultural environment has been a real wakeup since moving to the country.  It's been an education on what 'farming' today actually entails and what it's effects are on the soil, water, air and the way we ignore the fundamental truths of how our environment actually works.

The greenhouse is still a work in progress.  We converted 12 feet of the old mink house and hope to expand it again in 2011.  It's working well for the spring plant starts.

Early salad beds:

This years modest garlic planting emerges:

The pear and apple tree are now pruned down to their final sizes after 3 years of successive cut-backs:

Cabbage plants in a new bed created by overwintered leaf compost, with rye beds in the background.  We'll get rye grain and straw from the rye beds.

When free range chickens lay free range eggs, they sometimes go unnoticed...

Onions, collards and more rye:

I suspect there may have been some allelopathic effects from the rye so close to the onions.

A better way to split wood this year.  The constant use of the maul is starting to tear me up.  This has much less physical impact.  I use the maul and heavy steel wedges on stubborn pieces, and this new system does the rest. 

We began incorporating local Amish horsepower this year:

Dede in the black raspberries:

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