December 26, 2010

Garden Analysis for 2010

Christmas snow

Our Christmas snow turned out to be about 2 inches. It started around sunset, continued on through the night, and still falls gently today. This morning not a creature was stirring, nor wanted to venture out in the snow, but everybody wanted to be fed!

Snow makes the garden look decidedly tucked in for it's long winter's nap....

Snow covered garden

... so this may be a good time to publish this post, which I've been working on for awhile. These are my thoughts on what my garden taught me this year, and what I'd like to do differently next year.

Garden notes on things I want to 
remember, research, repeat, or resolve

Things that did well this year:

Amaranth, Giant Golden (or is it Golden Giant?) - did well in dry conditions.

Beets, Red Detroit - very happy with these, both for greens and roots

Black turtle beans - produced well even during our dry spell with little watering

  • DiCiccio though slow to start producing
  • Waltham 29 - poor germination but larger heads than DiCiccio. Will save seed & try these again

Bush beansState 1/2 Runner - ditto to what I wrote about the black turtle beans. Originally a substitute for a drying bean I ordered. Very prolific. These supplied most of my beans for canning this year. Dried seeds can be used as soup beans.

Calendula (pot marigold) - slow to get going but showy. I collected lots of seeds to plant and harvest a bunch next year.

Carrots, Scarlet Nantes - theses are the first carrots I've grown that have attained a decent size in our clay soils. Very sweet eating too.

Herbs, oragano, thyme, rosemary, sage, sweet basil, dill, yarrow, echinacea - all did very well though 1st year echinacea is just leaves. Apparently though, I have 2 different kinds of thyme plants. I noticed a distinct difference in smell.

Lettuce, Parris Cos Romaine - mine never do make a true Romaine head. Need to stagger plantings better.

Marigolds - long lasting and prolific! I've been reading though, that some varieties are better against nematodes than others (when planted as a cover crop), so I may try another variety next year.

Melons - ate our fill & had plenty to give away
  • Cantaloupe, Hale's Best
  • Watermelon, Small Sugar

Okra, Clemson Spineless - the only problem was aphids and ants toward the very end. Discovered the goats love the whole plant.

Potatoes, Red Pontiac - did well. My problems was planting too early. I need to plant a few in the spring for summer potatoes, but the bulk around July for winter storage

Radishes, Cherry Belle, Pink Beauty, & China Rose - The China Rose are supposed to be good winter keepers but I planted too late for much size. Need to stagger plantings for these as well.

Swiss Chard, Fordhook Giant - it took a break when it got hot, then came back. Survived several frosts.

Turnips, Purple Top White Globe - produced beautifully

Winter SquashButtercup - got a goodly amount for storage. Have seen them bigger in the grocery store though

Things that had problems (and what I believe them to be):

Cabbage plants - Dutch Flat and Savoy
  • had to purchase because I was too late to plant my own seed
  • growth seemed really slow, heads small. More compost?
  • cabbage moths
  • fall plants did much better than spring

Cucumbers, National Pickling
  • Mosaic virus
  • - need to research treatment

Horseradish -
  • Planted with the potatoes as an insect repellent companion
  • Spread outside of its pots 
  • This is a problem because it is a hybrid variety
  • Needs its own bed
  • Probably need to find an heirloom or OP variety

  • spindly, died quickly, no flowers - they don't grow well in this part of the south. Ah well. Just thought I'd give them a try anyway. I loved growing them when I lived in Arkansas.

  • sets grew well, but some bulbs developed soft spots on one side. I haven't been able to identify the problem yet though
  • seeds never germinated

Pole Beans, Kentucky Wonder
  • The problem was that I used the popcorn as poles. Japanese Hulless just doesn't grow tall enough
  • Not as prolific as the bush beans, but I do like not having to bend over to pick them.

Parsnips, Harris Model
  • didn't sprout as in nothing grew
  • probably planted too late 

Popcorn, Japanese Hulless
  • corn earworm
  • one success however, was no cross pollination with my sweet corn

PumpkinsSmall Sugar
  • poor germination
  • poor production, only got 2
  • I believe lack of water was part of the problem

Rutagabas, Purple Top
  • didn't germinate, nothing grew
  • probably planted to late

Strawberries - both June and everbearing
  • overrun with a creeping, spreading "wire" grass, even with landscape cloth & mulch

Summer Squash, Yellow Prolific Straightneck
  • bacterial wilt
  • squash bugs 

Sweet Corn, Stowell's Evergreen
  • poor germination
  • hence poor pollination
  • corn earworm

Sweet potatoesPorto Rico Bush
  • grew well even in dry conditions
  • Black rot (a fungal disease) noted on tubers during curing

Tomatoes (both my Romas & Rutgers)
  • Blossom end rot - resolved with Enz-Rot calcium spray
  • Anthracnose - initially I thought they succumbed to blight, but when the plants recovered and started producing again, I figured I was wrong. Finally identified anthracnose from this site
  • Fusarium or verticullium wilt? 

  • Powdery mildew
  • Anthracnose? - noted dark spots on fruit 
  • planted for fall crop but they didn't get enough heat

Thoughts on those things
  • Most of my problems were diseases rather than pests. Seems though, that pests are easier to control than diseases. Or at least, organic pest control products are more effective than organic disease control products. I haven't had success even when used prophylactically. 
  • What saved my tomato preservation was the number of plants. If these had been healthy, I would have had too many tomatoes. As it was, I got barely enough, and actually I would have liked more.
  • Bush beans vs pole beans (???) I like the productivity of bush beans, but like the ease of picking pole beans. Opinions?

Things I'd like to do differently next year
  • Finishing mulching before I start canning in June!
  • Plant potatoes for a fall crop
  • Try some new stuff:
    • asparagus
    • Egyptian walking onions
    • and/or potato onions
    • ramps
    • and more
  • Try different varieties of:
    • lettuce - needs to be a Romaine type, or else I need to learn to grow Iceberg too, for DH (his favorite)
    • sweet potatoes - or maybe just certified disease free slips, or both
    • amaranth - golden giant is too giant, though produces excellently
    • sunflowers - want to switch to black oil for feed
    • Swiss chard - just to compare 
    • potatoes - in addition to Red Pontiac, which we like
    • Horseradish - try to find an heirloom or at least OP variety
    • marigolds - used a grocery store seed pack but will switch to a French dwarf variety (Tagetes patula) which are reputed to be the best for nematode control
  • Do more mixed companion beds à la Sally Jean Cunningham's Great Garden Companions
  • Grow a patch of field corn, with pole beans and pumpkins
  • Get my cabbage seeds started early enough and plant enough for a big batch of sauerkraut!
  • Grow more:
    • cucumbers
    • pumpkins
    • varieties of winter squashes
    • turnips and beets
    • sweet potatoes. Maybe try an additional variety too. I've gotten such good recipe ideas from you all that I want more next year.
  • Watermelons grow don't ripen well once the weather turns cooler. Pull vines earlier.
  • Expand herb gardens (these will be raised beds)
  • Cold frames next spring, row covers next winter
  • Semi-permanent irrigation for the tomatoes. I plan to put down a soaker hose when I put in my plants and leave it there. It will be covered with mulch, but will be in place for more consistent watering. I think that was part of my tomato problem.
  • Get some Tattler canning lids

So much to do! The other thing I'm learning is to take both successes and failures all in stride. Our time, money, and energy have to be divided amongst many things. Not only the garden, but upgrading the house, but also in simply establishing our homestead in general. There are lots of one time jobs (like fencing and remodeling) which take resources from other projects. I'm learning to be patient and simply chip away at it as we go along.

Garden Analysis for 2010 © December 2010 by Leigh at


Tami said...

"Thank You" so much for this comprehensive review. Since we are in the same zone (7), I've been dying to pick your brain with what has worked for you and what hasn't.

I'm also wanting to journal my thoughts about this years garden, but as this is the first year, I expect I'll have had more failures than succeses. But a girl has to start somewhere right?

Chris Affolter said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog this year immensely.

I saved a ton of egyptian walking onion top-sets this year, and have a couple of antique marigold varieties. If you'd like some seeds I have plenty to share and would be delighted to mail you some if you're interested.

The Mom said...

Great post. I find it so nice to be able to go back and looked at what worked and what didn't. It seems like overall you had a fabulous year. Next year will always be perfect!

chook said...

awesome list. i wonder if i can grow okra in oregon. i was surprised to find tomatillos did so well, given our cool and wet summer.

Mama Pea said...

You are sure one good record keeper! I make some notes but not as organized or extensive as you. I always think I'll remember (ha!) from year to year, but of course I don't.

I don't know if it should hold true since our zones are so different (we're 3, sometimes 4) but I get a much higher yield from pole beans as opposed to bush beans. The bush seem to come all at once where the pole come more slowly spread out over a much longer period. And there is that thing about not having to harvest the pole beans by crawling along on all fours!

Nina said...

It sounds like you've got a good hand on things for next year. It should make it easier and more productive for you. I'm not planting any bush beans this year but will have pole beans only. Harvesting is so much easier and I think the harvests were comparable. We were so enamoured with the taste of the Scarlet Runner Beans we planted that they'll be on our planting list for sure!

Leigh said...

Tami, so much of it is just trial and error. One thing that helped my choices was a Henry Field's seed catalogue. Not that I ordered much from them, but they do highlight varieties that do well in the south. Very helpful I thought.

Chris thanks! I would love some! Maybe I have something you'd like in trade. All my saved seeds are listed here. There's only a few I didn't get very many of.

Heather, this was the biggest garden we ever planted and in spite of the problems, I'd have to agree that it was a success. Every year I hope to learn a little more and grow a better garden.

Chook, if I lived in Oregon I would certainly give it a try. It's common in the south, but I'm not sure why it never caught on elsewhere. It requires about 55 - 65 days to mature, and then produces until frost kills it. Very prolific. There are many varieties, but I've only ever grown Clemson spineless because it's less prickly!

Mama Pea, I have garden notes scattered everywhere, so if I don't put it online, I lose them all! The only thing I should have included was the amount planted and the amount I preserved. That's very useful information to me as well. I actually started a separate post for that, but my notes on that are currently misplaced, so that will have to wait!

I really prefer pole beans too, but my bush did so much better than the poles. I wouldn't have had much to can otherwise. Next summer we hope to plant a larger patch of field corn, so I plan to plant lots of pole beans with it. We'll see what happens!

Nina, hmm, scarlet runner, eh? I've been eyeing pole beans in the seed catalogues. I have Kentucky Wonder seeds saved, but want to experiment some next summer. I appreciate the recommendation!

Woolly Bits said...

Leigh, I am amazed at your record keeping (I am like mama pea, I think I remember, but of course after a few months I don't...). I assume your pole beans are the same as our runner beans? I love them, though I usually have to climb onto a chair to pick a lot of them:)) there is a rather old variety I grow from germany: called firebeans. they need less heat to produce well and I could grow a decent crop against the south wall of the house... I think our climates are too different to compare directly, e.g. melons, tomatoes and cucumbers are a no-go outside... but given the fact that you had to do so many things together your garden was quite productive!
I hope you can manage all you have planned for the coming year - have a healthy and productive 2011 to come:))

Angie said...

I really enjoyed this post especially since have a foot of snow on the ground (Wisconsin). Have you considered a raised bed for bush beans? Our soil is so rocky, I've resorted to beds about 24 inches high. The bush beans I planted, um, two years ago (!) were easier to harvest at that height.

Mr. H. said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the different plants you grew this year. We have come to the conclusion that Detroit beets do the very best for us too...and we grow quite a few varieties. Anyway, if you get a hold of me in the spring I will happily send you some of our horse radish roots to try. We have been growing them for about 15 years but I have never tried saving seed off them so I do not know if they are open pollinated or not.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic record keeping! And such a prolific garden. May the garden gods smile on your garden in 2011!

Anonymous said...

Leigh, I hope you and your family had a Wonderful Christmas celebration.

Happy New Year from Southern California. No snow here but a lot of flooding and record breaking rain! :-(

God Bless You, ~Ron :-)

Grace said...

Leigh, what a great post! I took notes. Thank you!


Laura said...

Walking onions - run screaming... You'll have them everywhere, at least that's what I've seen here in Oregon. They can be extremely invasive.

Bush Bean thoughts - plant them in containers, like half barrels? I've had better luck with pole beans (less powdery mildew) - but haven't really kept track of my production, since I haven't had the chance to really get back into gardening.

This coming year I'm going to put in raised beds - just have to decide where to put them...

Benita said...

Wow! What an education! You site gets more fascinating every week. You are so very organized, too, which is a huge plus.

So, what do you have in store for working on the house this winter now that you have a break from the garden?

Leigh said...

Bettina, I'm the same way, I think I'll remember but I never do. I started making notes awhile back, and kept the post in draft, adding to it as the summer progressed. I'm glad I did though because this is really useful for me.

It's interesting that our climates are so different. I learn things from you that keep my gardening and homesteading world interesting.

Angie, that's a good idea. Not only for bush beans, but other low growing crops as well. I actually don't have raised beds, but we're planning to make some for my herb garden. I'll have to experiment with a few annuals as well.

Mr. H, 15 years is a good recommendation for anything. I don't know much about horseradish, but would appreciate trying whatever variety that works well for you.

Evelyn, thanks! Hopefully this will help me have an even better garden next year. :)

Ron, thank you! A Happy New Year to you too!

Grace, I'm delighted to be helpful!

Laura, I've heard that about the onions. Also about a number of other things. I'm planning to put them in a raised bed, but who knows if that will contain them!

The bush beans were actually a substitute sent by the company I ordered them from. Since I already had a good amount of KY Wonder bean seeds, I was hoping for a shell bean. I probably plant too many for containers though.

Benita, thanks! Dan and I are working on a goal list for next year. I'll have that post up on Jan. 1st. :)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post Leigh! So much great information and so organized now for you and other's. Happy New Years!

The Apple Pie Gal said...

See, this is why I started a blog. Believe it or not, it was to keep me on track. I too have all sorts of notes about what did well and didn't. But you just gave me a nice swift kick to finally get around to putting it all together. I have kept a journal forever. I think the hardenst part is wanting to forgoe one thing or the other then giving in only to discover it was a good thing I didn't throw in the towel. That is why our garden get's bigger every year. Hmmm...maybe I should try this/that. I know you get that ;o)

Awesome job on your post. Very good info and I am sure you will revisit it alot!

Joseph and Emma said...

Wow, what a garden you have going! What size is it? We're planning on many of the fruits/veggies that you've already got, so I'd be really interested to see how you have it arranged.

Thanks for the great post!

City Roots, Country Life

Leigh said...

Pam, this is about as organized as it gets for me. :) Really though, that's what my blog is for, sharing and record keeping.

APG, I believe it! Like you, my blog helps keep me on track. It makes me feel accountable to do what I say I'm going to do as well as be handy for record keeping and journaling our progress. I'd absolutely love to read your garden analysis, so I hope you get it posted soon.

Joseph, the garden started out as an 80 x 60 foot plot. When we tilled in this fall though, we remeasured and it seems to have shrunk. Or rather the borders have encroached upon it. Still, it was adequate. Yes, a map of what I grew would have been an excellent addition. I was less diligent in keeping track of that however, than in these notes. Still, it's a goal to work toward next year.

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