Looking back at last summers garden, there are a few things I would have done differently and will remember for this coming garden season. Not having enough mild summer greens early enough in the season haunts me still. I was too preoccupied getting a head start on more exciting vegetables like tomatoes and squash, that I somehow missed the early salad green boat. Having crisp and tender greens when all that is really ready is greens is essential. I planted way to much bitter greens and hardy greens such as endive, escarole, swiss chard, radiccio, tatsoi and other mustard greens, arugula, as well as too much spinach. I do succession plant greens, probably three times over the course of the summer. This past summer I got too early of a start on the final planting. So by late September, early October, my late hardy greens were flowering and too bitter to
Everything else seems minor after dropping the ball on early salad greens. This was my first summer eating beets and carrots by the end of June. We enjoyed carrots so much all summer that by the end of September there were not a lot left. Carrots and beets have got to be our favorite winter vegetables. So, this summer I'm going to sow beets and carrots in early May, and then again in early June. The early harvest for summer eating, the late sowing for winter storage.
We love peas. I planted thirty feet of peas and between snacking on them and eating peas fresh for dinner, none made it into the freezer. I'd like to grow enough to have some frozen. I can't imagine ever having too many peas.
There are some things I plant because they do well, but we don't eat them, like turnips, rutabagas, radishes and to an extent, bitter greens. I love that they thrive in our cool climate. Radishes are the jewels of the garden, red, pink, purple and black. Once washed they glisten and shine. And yet, once they are in the fridge I avoid them. I like them occasionally when they are young and tender. We braise them a couple times a summer with butter, onions and greens. For the most part, I plant way too many of them. So, unless I plan on shredding them for the goats, which I never get around to the shredding part, way less radishes, turnips and rutabagas.
We had a moose eat several cabbage heads, a goat eat several cauliflower plants. So I think fencing might actually take priority this year.
Leeks, onions and shallots took up a lot of room this year. As much as I adore leeks and shallots, I may resist the urge the order them this year. I planted three sets of Copra storage onion, and they didn't get bigger than golf balls before they stopped growing and stood at a standstill for a couple months before I pulled them. Looking for a different storage onion this year.
Some vegetables we had just the right amount of for once, enough for eating our hearts out plus enough for preserving or winter storage. I planted to four by six raised beds of green beans and planted provider and bountiful along with just a few others for variety. I also sowed them earlier than usual and covered them with plastic while they germinated, they were up before June 1st. I planted ten pounds of potatoes and still have quite a bit. I mostly planted Yukon Gods and German Butter Balls, both great all purpose potatoes. We don't eat a lot of potatoes. I planted about two dozen heads of broccoli, including Romanesco, and that was about perfect. We mostly just eat it fresh all summer, although I freeze a small amount for soups. I planted at least six different types and the main advantage was that I started them all at the same time, but had a staggered harvest from June to September.
I didn't realize till the end of summer that I hadn't grown enough thyme, basil and oregano. After harvesting and drying the last of the basil and oregano I had less than a pint of each. Not sure how that happened.
Those are my main thoughts as far as what to plant more or less of. We had a nice early start on just about everything but squash. I'd like to build a couple more covered beds, hot frames or cold frames for squash and cucumbers. You might recognize some of these photos from this past summer. I couldn't help pulling them up again as I dream of summer days to come.
Lunch in the garden
I can almost see the warmth hanging in the air. The night I took these last to shots was right around solstice. It was one of the balmiest nights of the summer, low eighties. Just perfect. Avery took a bath in the garden, after trying to catch a chicken. We looked for raspberries. I can't remember if there were a few ripe by then or not.
As far as looking forward, I am eager to pick our first ripe strawberry. This fall Becca and I dug up and transplanted established Toklat perennial strawberries from a friend's garden. We planted a three foot by maybe twelve foot row. Eventually I'd like to have a strawberry plot four times this size. I also planted a row of Boyne raspberry canes, which didn't look like much going into fall, but I have high hopes that we'll at least get a few ripe berries this summer, in addition to our wild raspberries that already grow all over the property.
What changes are you going to make to your garden this summer? What are you most looking forward too?