2015 Garden Recap ?>

2015 Garden Recap

You’ve heard it countless times already but I’m going to say it again: it was hot in Portland this summer! Not only did I hear it from the farmers at work, but I also experienced it right in our own backyard garden.

Overall, it was a pretty good year for our garden despite the heat. We tried growing a few new crops (green beans, cabbage and delicata squash), avoided a few others (zucchini, carrots & snap peas) and tried some different techniques (dry farming, companion planting) and in the end are happy with what we harvested. Our tomatoes, tomatillos, green beans and raspberries did especially well. A few other things, like the delicata squash and cabbage were not as lucky.

So without further adieu, here is our 2015 Garden Recap!

IMG_4775Sungold tomatoes
Number of plants: 3
Cost: $6
Seed or start? Start
Yield: High. The hot weather really jump-started these plants and I had a hard time keeping up with them and have no idea how many we got! We ended up giving away lots of them and dehydrating and freezing them. At times, I just threw them whole in plastic bags, just so they wouldn’t go bad!
Notes: Stopped watering them halfway through August to try “dry farming” technique I read about. Seemed to be successful – they were sweeter. I also got lazy and stopped trimming them as much and that was a big mistake. I harvested them through October but the plant had grown so much that I had to climb up inside them to harvest them. Then I got lazy and didn’t bother, and the rain started and I lost lots of them. Bummer.
Verdict: I will definitely grow them again next year but will be more diligent about trimming the plants.

IMG_4959
we turned what little yield we had into sauce!

Brandywine tomatoes
Number of plants: 2
Cost: $4
Seed or start: Start
Yield: Low.
Notes: I think we harvested four tomatoes before the rain started and ruined them. The flavor wasn’t as good as they have been, which was disappointing. It might have had something to do with the fact that they got off to a very slow start and did the majority of their growing in Sept/Oct. So, we turned them into sauce!
Verdict: I think it’s time to take these off our crop list. I would rather buy them at market than have them take up so much space in our garden for such a low yield.

IMG_5199
this is the only photo I took of our lemon boy plants (turned jungle)

Lemon boy tomatoes
Number of plants: 3
Cost: $6
Seed or start: Start
Yield: High
Notes: I am very happy with how these plants produced this year! Thankfully they ripened in fairly small batches so I didn’t feel overwhelmed by them. They made great tomato jam and sauce! Was picking them well into October, until the rains hit and ruined everything on the vine.
Verdict: Will definitely grow next year

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a little family of tomatoes!

San Marzano tomatoes
Number of plants: 2
Cost: $3
Seed or start: Start
Yield: Moderate.
Notes: I planted this variety hoping I could can them, but they didn’t ripen in large enough quantities, so I ended up making sauce in small batches as they ripened. We’ve already eaten a lot of the sauce so I wish we had planted more, and that the rain in October hadn’t ruined what was still on the plant. My favorite part was how some of them grew an extra part to them and they looked like little peg people. SO CUTE.
Verdict: Will definitely grow these again next year, but will plant more (maybe 4 instead of 2)

IMG_5167
they’re the pale orange ones

Persimmon tomatoes
Number of plants: 1
Cost: $3
Seed or start: Start
Yield: Low
Notes: I bought this at the recommendation of a farmer at market. They were small and the flavor was great! I ate a lot of them on their own actually. It was hard to tell when they were ripe though, so I accidentally left a few on the plant too long and they rotted. Oops.
Verdict: I think I would grow them again.

IMG_4760Tomatillos
Number of plants: 2
Cost: $6
Seed or start: Start
Yield: Off the charts
Notes: The key to a successful tomatillo crop is apparently multiple plants. You may remember that I harvested a total of 3 (yes, three) tomatillos last year. Well this year, I must have harvested 30 POUNDS. They were delicious and ripened in about six pound increments, perfect for small batches of tomatillo salsa verde. We put up about 25 half pints of the salsa and it was GOOD.
Verdict: I will absolutely grow them again. Salsa for everyone!

Herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, parsley)
Number of plants: 2 each of basil and cilantro, 1 each of mint & parsley
Cost: $6
Seed or start: Start
Yield: Varied. Basil and cilantro struggled, parsley and mint thrived
Notes: The heat really killed my basil and cilantro this year, but my parsley and mint thrived. I love having fresh herbs all summer, no matter the quantity.
Verdict: I want to grow each of these again next year but will also try a few other varieties – oregano, thyme and probably rosemary.

IMG_4628Green beans
Number of plants: 6
Cost: $4
Seed or start: Seed
Yield: High
Notes: I love green beans! They grew really fast and were really tasty raw and lightly steamed. We didn’t give them enough room in the bed so they spilled over the edge a bit. I canned and froze a few batches that we didn’t have time to eat fresh.
Verdict: I will definitely grow these again, especially because I still have a whole packet of seeds!

 

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pretty on the outside, ugly on the inside

Cabbage
Number of plants: 1
Cost: Free
Seed or start: seed
Yield: Low
Notes: This was an interesting experiment. Only one of the seeds I planted survived to adulthood and the one that did was ruined by caterpillars. It looked good when I harvested it but the inside was completely ruined. I had high hopes of making sauerkraut from my very own cabbage but alas, it did not work out.
Verdict: I will continue to buy cabbage. Not worth the space or dealing with the caterpillars.

IMG_4448Kale
Number of plants: 3
Cost: Free
Seed or start: Start
Yield: Medium
Notes: A friend gave us a few leftover starts so we decided to give it a try despite the fact that the kale we grew in 2014 got eaten by bugs. We were more successful this year, as we planted them with other veggies and near marigolds, which naturally deter them. We had to check the leaves every day for new eggs but that seemed to help us get ahead of the problem until the last part of the season when we got busy and forgot.
Verdict: I would rather try growing lacinato (dino) kale next year, as the curly stuff isn’t my favorite and the aphids gather in the curly parts, making it hard to get rid of them.

2015_Beets_IMG_4568Beets
Number of plants: too many to count
Cost: $4
Seed or start: Seed
Yield: High
Notes: This year we grew multiple varieties and they were gorgeous (they are actually pictured in the header of my blog!). We had some problems with pests but it only affected the greens, so the actual beets were untouched.
Verdict: I would grow an entire bed of beets if I didn’t want to grow so many other things. Will definitely grow these again next year.

IMG_4821Lemon cucumbers
Number of plants: 1
Cost: $3
Seed or start: Start
Yield: High
Notes: We gave the plant 2/3 of a bed this year, which was definitely a good idea. It still spilled over onto the gravel but more space also seemed to delay the onset of powdery mildew, which affected our plant last year. The kids in our neighborhood loved them.
Verdict: Will definitely grow them again next year.

IMG_4669Leeks
Number of plants: 80+
Cost: $4
Seed or start: Seed
Yield: High
Notes: I am so proud of our leeks this year! It was the first time I have grown them, and with the help of some farmers at the market, we have a successful crop! The key to growing leeks is to dig a trench and plant them at the bottom. As they grow, you fill in the dirt around them. This makes the leek grow more white part, which is what you eat. Something did start munching on the green tops (slugs, I think) but almost all of them survived and we are still harvesting them as of December!
Verdict: I will definitely grow these again next year.

IMG_5190Delicata squash
Number of plants: 4
Cost: $4
Seed or start: Seed
Yield: Low
Notes: Well, it was a good attempt. We got four squash from four plants. It would have been five but I lost one to a rat or squirrel that decided to snack on it. I think I planted them too close together, and I also planted too many flowers in the bed. I read that delicata squash blooms need lots of pollination so I planted a variety of bee-attracting flowers in the bed. But, I accidentally dumped the entire package in the bed, and I apparently waited too long because while the greenery was huge, the flowers took forever to bloom and started after the squash blossoms opened. I also watered the squash too much so a ton of the little squash shriveled and fell off before they could be pollinated. At least that is the theory one of the farmers at the market had. Because I planted them too close together and watered too much, powdery mildew wreaked havoc on them and by the end of the season, they looked so sad and shriveled up.
Verdict: I’ll try again next year, but if that doesn’t work out then I’m giving up.

Strawberries
Number of plants: 3
Cost: Free
Seed or start: start
Yield: Low
Notes: I’m not sure what variety they are – we got them from some friends and my parents. This was the first year we planted strawberries so we only harvested a dozen or so small ones. But toward the end of the summer they put out a lot of runners so we’re hoping our yield will be much higher next year!
Verdict: I can’t wait to have strawberries in our garden too!

IMG_4359Raspberries
Number of plants: Too many to count!
Cost: Free
Seed or start: Start, second year
Yield: Off the charts
Notes: This is the second year we’ve had the raspberries in a raised bed and wow did they grow! One of our neighbors asked us what the hell we were growing because they could see them over the fence! We harvested gallons and gallons of them – so many we were able to freeze them and will be eating them through the winter.
Verdict: Can’t wait to harvest even more next year!

IMG_4686Blueberries
Number of plants: 2
Cost: Free
Seed or start: start, second year
Yield: Moderate
Notes: This year’s berries were a lot more sweet than last year – perhaps it was the heat? Whatever it was, we were very happy with the flavor of them and harvested enough to eat fresh and freeze too.
Verdict: Looking forward to (hopefully) harvest even more next year!

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