Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 18: End of Year Report

Year 1 - Winter Day 3

It's gotten cold here in Boston!  Icy rain and snow have signaled the start of a North East winter and the end of the year of planting.  It's a great time to reflect on my first year of living the Harvest Life.  It's time to reflect on how well I did and grade my success so I can improve it for next year!

So lets review Year 1 of My Harvest Life and take a look at how I did with each thing planted!

To re-read all the posts feel free to start at Episode 1: Spring Planting

First Planting

Garlic (F)

None of my garlic grew!  I think for most of the season it was overshadowed by the cucumbers, but I got no good garlic!

Improvements:  I'll get it more room and more sun and plant it earlier so it can soak up all the heat.

Red Onions (F)

Also did not get any good red onions.  Similar to the garlic they were overshadowed for most of the season.

Improvements:  Start the seeds really early indoors then transplant them, I started them a bit late and from seeds out doors and they just didn't get going fast enough.

Green Onions (D+)

I got a couple green onions, but they were skimpy. Still I was able to eat them in a meal, so that was cool.  D+ for actually being able to use some.

Improvements:  Same as Red Onions and Garlic.

Lemon Cucumber (B-)

Oh the behemoth of the season.  The lemon cucumbers were quite a ride!  My most fruitful plant but also the saddest, the cucumbers grew incredibly, and produced a bunch early on but then succumbed to mildew and struggled to survive.  I got the most out of these plants, but have much to improve next year.  I will definitely try again with these!

Improvements:  First, I'm only going to grow 3 plants instead of 6.  They were MASSIVE plants and took over the whole garden almost.  In addition I need to be more careful with my watering, and also I'll build a trellis for them to climb up and not be so crowded.  In addition they weren't tasty when they got too ripe, so I need to pick them earlier to keep the seeds small and the flesh mild.  Overall I'm very excited to attempt these plants again and hopefully we'll have an A+ next year with a very bountiful harvest!

Tomatoes (C-)

The tomatoes were almost a great success!  Instead they were throttled in a storm and I only got a few useful tomatoes.  There were some, but it was not the great success it could have been.  The plants grew vigorously early on, but since I planted them later, it started cooling down before I got a bunch of ripe tomatoes.

Improvements:  First... I'm going to tie off the main stalks to the stakes.  The biggest problem was the wind that thrashed them and bent them over.  Hopefully tying them off this year will help them withstand any bad storms.  Second I need to make sure they don't get too much water.  Some of the later tomatoes started splitting because they grew too fast.  I'm going to shoot for smaller tomatoes and try to clip the plants to help more grow.

Carrots (C+)

The carrot plants did alright.  The main problem was that the ground was too rocky and they couldnt get far enough down to grow large.  However, I did get some nice (small) tasty carrots out of it and it was decent for what I had planted.

Improvements:  Till the ground a bit more, and pull out rocks and loosen the dirt where the carrots will grow.  Perhaps I might move carrots to a raised bin separately so they can grow in a small raised garden.

Basil (B-)

The basil did alright, it grew quickly and I was able to harvest a lot of it.  The basil in the basement is still growing and has been for a while now.  The basement herb garden is nearing it's end of life, but has provided a bunch of herbs to dry so far.

Improvements:  Give it more space probably, the plants did fairly well, but I could be better at watering and harvesting them to keep them growing longer.  Also snip the flowers to keep them producing leaves.

Beans (A-)

The beans were a great success!  I got a bunch of green beans out of the bushes and ate them many times fresh and cooked.  I will definitely do them again, but I think I will try Pole Beans and build a structure for them to get more out of the plants.  The bush beans produced a lot at the start and then started to wane after a few weeks.  But still, there were a lot of them and they were delicious.

Improvements: Next year I'll experiment with Pole Beans and with a structure to have them grow on.  We'll see how that goes!

Spinach (B-)

I got quite a bit of spinach out of the Noble Giant Spinach plants that grew.  They got progressively smaller leaves as I harvested them, but they produced multiple times per plant which was fun.  I think I will stagger the plantings a bit next year and harvest them one at a time for meals.

Improvements:  Water more, learn how to harvest them in a way that lets them continue to grow large leaves and not branch off too much.  Also I need to sprout them indoors.  Only a couple of the plants grew so if I start them off indoors they'll have a better chance of surviving and I should get more plants out of them.

Sweet Potatoes (F)

Uh yeah... I tried to grow sweet potatoes like potatoes but that's not how it works so... if I try them again I will learn how to sprout them properly.

Improvements:  Don't just chop them up and stick them in the ground... yeah that doesn't work.

Potatoes (B-)

The potatoes, however, did fairly well!  There are a few improvements but overall I got a bunch of decent potatoes out of it and made some tasty meals.  I still have a few potatoes to use before they go bad.

Improvements:  Use actual potato starters (not just store-bought potatoes), and get the ground tilled a bit more and remove rocks to give the potatoes room to grow.  Some of the potatoes had black rot in the center so I should be able to keep them a bit healthier.

Late Planting

I also tried planting some Kale and Winter Spinach but neither of those did well.  The Kale gets an F because none of it grew (was squashed by the tomato plants and eaten by something) and the Winter Spinach gets a D because it wasn't planted early enough and I only got some small amount from the harvest.  I'll try to coordinate a late planting this next year but it'll take a bit more organization.

Overall, it's been a great learning experience and I've learned a ton and... *DING* I've leveled up from the experience!  😂  This next year I'll go into it as a level 2 gardener!  I'll have to get to planning soon for all the wonderful things I want to grow in the spring and add some new additions.

I'd love to try:  Lettuce, Watermelon, Strawberries, Broccoli and Jalapeno peppers this next year so I'll have to find room for everything!  There might need to be a 2nd garden area for the fruits.  We'll see it's a little ambitious, I'll admit.

Well that's all, it's a sad time that I can't work out in the yard and work on a garden, but the winter makes for a wonderful time of tasty food and drink, reading and relaxing.

- Level 2 Gardener: Jace -

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