Saturday, January 21, 2012

2011 Garden Review

Seed catalogs continue to arrive in the mail box, reminding me that I have not taken the time to review last year's garden and make plans for the coming planting season.

Despite a wet spring, late garden, and dry summer, the Lord did bless us with an abundant harvest in 2011. Our worse challenge was the critters who wished to share our crop. Next year we need to be much more vigilant in pest control.

Our worse pest was ground hogs. I might have to give in and learn to shoot a gun. The varmints never show up when Ed is around but will walk within a few feet of me. Apparently they know I'm harmless.

Rabbits were another pest. They were almost tame and  hard to run off. They acted like they owned the place.

But the biggest change I need to make for next year is simply to plant more. I have been planting nearly the same amount the past few years but between our growing family and dry seasons, the harvest has not been enough. This year, we were blessed to receive green beans, potatoes, and tomatoes from family and friends, otherwise I would not have had nearly enough.

One of the best successes this year was the peas. I never have a good crop of peas. We love peas and it is discouraging to have a slim harvest of our favorite vegetable. This year we planted our peas in a new garden plot that was formerly pasture. We planted a far greater quantity of seeds than usual and chose two new (to us) varieties (Bolero and Encore both from Stokes).

I'm not sure what to give the credit. Was it the soil, the variety, our cool wet spring, or just that fact that we planted a huge amount? All I know is that we picked buckets of peas! (Thankfully a neighbor has a pea sheller and shells a bushel of peas for only $1.00.) I plan to mimic as closely as possible what we did last year and hope for the same success.

The new garden plots that we began in our pasture did well for certain crops and poor for others. The soil there is stony and drains well. It was perfect for our peas as our other garden lies low and was far too wet to plant in early spring. By the time the hot dry weather hit, the peas were over. Onions and potatoes also did well in those plots.

But the plots are too far from the house for any kind of pest control. The lettuce and beets had no chance. The squash were harassed and only one pumpkin escaped without at least one set of toothmarks. About half of the corn was pulled down and eaten. Next year we plan to keep the plants the varmints enjoy closer to the house where we can watch them easier and possibly protect better.

I appreciated Quinn's thoughts on trusting God for our harvest and focusing on doing what we do well, before adding new projects. After an overwhelming year in various fronts last year, my goals are to keep my garden plans simple and focus on growing those things that we know we can grow well.

Am I crazy to be thinking about gardening already? Please tell me that I'm not the only one! To be honest, one part of me wants to enjoy the winter's sabbatical. But then I get excited about making next year's garden better, pull a gardening book off the shelf, and start sketching garden plans.

Maybe I do have some farmer genetics passed down to me.


  1. Oh my're not the only one thinking of gardening!
    I've got two seed catalogs on the patio table that I've read through many times as I look at the yard, deciding where I want to put things.
    Yesterday, I bought a seed starter kit at Walmart, so I'll be getting busy with that this afternoon.
    I'm a firm believer in God providing a good harvest, but I also know it's hard work, and if we thank him every day for our harvests before they come in...that's where our faith should be. I wasn't able to plant last year, but I know this will be a great garden this year!

  2. I think the reason they send out seed catalogs early is because the thought of warm weather makes people go garden crazy and plan to buy a lot. So it's pretty normal to be planning it now.

  3. Our peas also did wonderful last year! I think it was a combination of getting them in really early and a cool wet spring.

  4. It's the time to be thinking about gardening!I love all these catalogs coming. Do you have a dog? Just one of them trotting around our place keeps a lot of critters away. We found an older, less active dog at the shelter that was right for us and our little children- NO puppies annoying me or them!
    I like your great pea crop. So they say, peas like lime- high calcium lime. You can get some from my Dad in Hanover!

  5. Oh my, you are NOT the only gardener who gets itching to garden during our long winter break! I've started to draw out new plans for bed layouts, making lists and more lists of seed choices, and cleaning out my seed starting shelves for their workout in a month or so. =)

  6. My dad always said he planted his best gardens in January and February. I think all of us start thinking of planting about this time of year. Enjoy your day and God bless.

  7. It's never too early to start thinking about the garden!

  8. After 5 long years of saving, my husband and I finally were able to purchase a tiller and a pressure canner. We are both getting very antsy to have the garden we have been talking about. We have been studying seed catalogs and pricing jars. We can't wait to get started.

  9. I'm in England, and today my husband and I have been at our allotment, working on the land.I've done a lot of weeding and pruning, he dug over part of the rotational quarter where our potatoes will be planted and weeded that as he went. Once the digging is finished we will add organic chicken manure to improve the soil. Growing your own food is hard work, takes lots of time and effort in the preparation, and the right weather conditions to get a good crop.People who don't grow their own think that it's easy - we have seen many people come and go at the allotments as they just don't realise the commitment it takes.

  10. Gina,

    I too had a LOT of trouble from the garden predators. In my case the worst were digger ground squirrels and bunnies.

    I bought some kill traps, baited the varmints for a few days, then set the traps. Mostly problem solved.


  11. That bowl of tomatoes has me longing for summer....

  12. My seed catalogs, and my knitting, help me survive the dark days of winter :)

    Get a beagle or a Rat Terrier. They are the BEST at keeping the ground hogs and rabbits away from the garden.

  13. You're definitely not the only one! My seeds arrived in the mail, as did my new worm compost. I'm so eager to get going that I created a new blog to chronicle the year in gardening!

  14. Several of you mentioned our need of a dog. You are probably correct that it would help our pest problem. I have to admit that I'm not a dog person, but maybe it is an option worth pursuing.

    Wendy's comment on peas needing lime was interesting. I am rather certain that we limed our garden plot before we planted the peas. Maybe that was part of our success.

    I love hearing about all your garden plans!

  15. Currently we are thinking about giving our garden a rest this year. We have a lot going on with fostering our two littlest ones, but I admit I HATE the idea of having no garden. Maybe just a small one.......:)


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