Saturday, October 26, 2013

Vegetable Garden Review 2013

The weather's good and cold and all the plants have withered.


Must mean it's time to do my yearly review of the veggie plot.

Let's start with the bad things and end on a high note, shall we?

The biggest tragedy by far this year was the perennial plants.

My strawberries had to be dug up
Asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries were all a bust.   A complete and total bust.  I did not collect one single asparagus spear this year.  That's because sheep sorrel took over.  This invasive plant has to be removed out of the veggie garden on an almost daily basis.  There's no escaping it as it's everywhere on our property and it spreads like wildfire.  The majority of the annual vegetable beds get dug out at least once or twice a year which helps combat the problem but I can't do this with perennials.  I simply don't have the time to weed them consistently and the result is all these plants have been choked out.  You can see in the above photo, on the left there's more weeds than strawberries.  I had to completely dig out the entire bed and start over.

I am working on a plan though.  I have begun, in a very small way, to eradicate the grass and weeds in the paths of the veggie garden.


I started laying down layers of newspaper and cardboard in the spring.  (I knew those flyers were good for something!)  I followed that with a 3 inch thick layer of sawdust.  Then straw.  The hope is that I end up killing the weeds underneath so they stop sneaking into the veggie beds.  The small sections I was able to complete did well so I hope to continue with this next year.

The next tragedy feels minor in comparison.  I discovered that spinach seed doesn't last very long.  3 years in fact.  I should have known that, but now I won't forget.  I planted my spinach and waited, and waited, and waited. Thank goodness I was paying attention and got myself to a store to buy fresh seed. Unfortunately the weather was getting a bit warm by that point and I didn't have great germination.  So a less than stellar crop of spinach but now I know better.

Another problem with germination was beans.  I was in a hurry and just couldn't wait for the weather to warm up.  So into the ground they went and it rained and rained.  My poor beans rotted.  

Dragon's Tongue on the left and Purple Peacock on the right
I did manage to get a couple plants to come up but it was a pretty lean year for beans.

Thankfully, the tragedies aren't life or death.  Every year has surprises, and some of them are good.  What we lacked in beans we more than made up for in peas.


I had very good germination rates this year, followed by tons of blooms and bees, which resulted in LOADS of peas.  I think I spent most of my summer picking peas.  Every second day starting in June straight through August I picked peas.  August?  yes, August.  The plants had almost stopped producing in July but then we had a spell of rain.  And the vines grew, and bloomed some more, and then there I was in August still picking peas.  Good thing I like peas.  They're an awful lot of work.

Another great surprise was onions.


You know, the fact that I was actually able to grow some.  For 3 years I have been trying to grow onions with no luck.  They rotted, they withered, they refused to grow larger than a marble.  Through a combination of starting seed early, improving my soil, and not burying the plants too deeply I was finally able to produce some proper onions.  Every time I visited the garden this year I did a happy dance around the onions.  I grew those!!

As noted in my previous post I finally managed to grow pumpkins this year too.

My pumpkin patch
Whatever issues I was having last year are gone.  Good thing we have some space.  There's a manure pile under those vines somewhere.  Our weedy meadow was no match for these plants.


Aren't they the most beautiful pumpkins you've every seen?!  BIG big thanks to Brenda @ Gardeningbren for gifting me with the seed for these Long Island Cheese pumpkins.  The whole neighbourhood is enjoying the proceeds of this crop.

That's a wrap for 2013.  This was our fourth year gardening here on the Corner and it was the best yet. For those of you dying to know what happened to the tomatoes.... you'll have to wait.  I grew approximately 25 plants this year so they get their own post.

just another beautiful day in the garden
till then....

41 comments:

  1. From the sounds of everything you had a good gardening year. Can't wait to hear about your tomatoes. You planted so much more of everything than I did. It gives me inspiration for next year.

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    1. Lisa, my goal this year was to try and plant a little of everything. We're getting a better idea of how much of each thing we can use, what stores well, etc. So I tried adding more variety in less quantities.

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  2. So pleased to read you had such great luck with the Long Island Cheese pumpkin seeds. Your photo in another post with them piled in the wagon was beautiful!

    I always enjoy your Triumphs and tragedy posts. ;-)

    Beans were a bust here too..but I just kept planting and finally, whatever was eating them stopped so we had a great harvest in the end!! However your pea crop is enviable I must say.

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    1. Brenda, I keep meaning to write you. These pumpkins are just wonderful. So pretty to look at and the meat is super thick. You get a lot of food out of these. I've had to go looking for pumpkin recipes to use them up. Am keeping seeds as well so if you need any just holler. You've got me hooked on beans too, I was a bit disappointed there were so few this year.

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  3. Like you said - the setbacks are not life or death. And you learned things from them! Also, at least you grew some onions :)

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    1. Keith, the onions made up for everything :) After so many years of failures with onions this was a huge success for me.

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  4. Gardening is just a series of trials, errors and triumphs. I was just admiring the ornament from you that I won last year. From now on it will remind me to keep planting with high hopes.

    Your pumpkins look like great eating.

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    1. Oh, almost forgot. Mama, who gardened in zone 7, always planted her beans on Good Friday without fail.

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    2. Thanks Jean! so glad you hear you still have that ornament :) These pumpkins are perfect for eating. Not too much water and really thick. I've only baked with them so far but I'm planning on attempting some pumpkin soup soon.

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  5. I hope you'll share some pumpkin recipes! I have no idea what to expect in my gardening adventures yet but I have read about using newspaper, cardboard etc for killing weeds in a book about permaculture. It's supposed to be very effective and using other permaculture strategies is supposed to extend your growing season which would be pretty hand in PEI.

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    1. My pumpkin repertoire is pretty small right now but I do have a good pumpkin bread recipe. Guess I will need to learn more. It's amazing how the season can be extended, I'm learning more and more, even here in PEI! We still have lettuce going among other things at the end of October.

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  6. Marguerite,
    Seems like you had a very good and successful growing season.
    Gotta love having lots of onions. Mine are all inside in the basement and doing just fine. Next year I'm going to try growing leaks.
    Those pumpkins look fantastic. I call them Cinderella pumpkins and must try growing them next year also. So nice that you received the seeds from a blogger friend and she can see the end result.
    Can't wait to see/read the post about the tomatoes.
    I gave away so many tomatoes/carrots/beans/cukes etc. to the Clinton View Lodge which has a great cold storage area.
    Do you have a good Tomato Soup recipe to share?

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    1. If you're interested I can send you some seed for the pumpkins. They would look awful pretty on your doorstep. and if you send me an email at canoecorner AT hotmail and I'll return it with my favourite tomato soup recipes.

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  7. I'm loving that frost tinged leaf photo above...

    Yes veggies, hmmm win some lose lots. LOL.

    Jen

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    1. Definitely feels like that some days!

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  8. Hi Marguerite.
    How can every season be soooo different and produce such varied winners and losers ?? I have given up trying to analyse why, and just roll withthe good and the bad. You have had loads if successes, especially jealous of all those lovely peas ... I usually get about 2 mouthfuls which are nommed before they ever get to the kitchen !

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    1. That was my pea harvest last year Jane! Barely a few mouthfuls. Amazing how different conditions produce such varied crops each year. I have no idea how farmers do this on a large scale

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  9. Definite progress! Magnificent pumpkins, and how wonderful to have a problem picking peas becasue there were so many. Such a shame about the perennial veg, but it sounds as if you have a good plan for them. Bet year 5 is a triumph!

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    1. Fingers crossed my plan works, I'm getting awful tired of digging out that rotten sorrel all the time.

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  10. Those are some big pumpkins! Wow! It's always interesting to see how the vegetable garden can change from one year to the next. Most of the time, it's weather problems, and we can't change that! However, I didn't know about spinach seed, so thanks for that lesson.

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    1. Big and heavy! I was pretty surprised when I tried to pick them up. These pumpkins are very thick on the inside.

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  11. My beans were a big disappointment and we broke up. I just had to end it. I'd love to grow peas but it's just too warm here and those pumpkins are amazing! Next year will be the best yet. :)

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    1. I feel the same way about the asparagus. They just don't treat me the way I want to be treated. Good for you knowing when to call it quits ;-)

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  12. I know the frustration of dealing with weeds, only here it is mostly some weedy grasses that invade the vegetable garden no matter what I try. I think the raised beds with the layers of paper and straw should do the trick for you. Isn't it funny how every year is different in the veggie garden and across different areas? My peas were a bust, but the green beans did great. I admire you for shelling all those peas all summer long! Your pumpkins are a great success, too; I know from experience that the vines will grow anywhere, but having the fruit mature with such beautiful results is not so easy--congratulations!

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    1. Thanks Rose! The sheep sorrel is a type of grass .. I think. When I put them in I thought the raised beds would solve the weed issue but no such luck unfortunately. The roots just crawl underneath and then up through the beds. Keep trying I guess.

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  13. Wow, your pumpkins look amazing! Every summer has something new to throw at us and even if something doesn’t do so well, other things will thrive, that’s certainly been true in my garden this year. Congratulations on your harvest and fingers crossed for asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries next year!

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    1. Thanks Helene, I've pretty much given up on the asparagus. Tempted to rip the plants out and just grow an annual crop instead. But I'll keep plugging away with the newspaper and see what happens.

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  14. Those pumpkins are very impressive, Marguerite! Ours were pathetic -- so I guess the secret is the manure pile? I think my strawberries are suffering a similar fate with weeds crowding them out. I haven't decided what to do yet, but you seem to be on the right track. You had a great harvest of onions, etc. Well done. P. x

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    1. I can't say for sure but I'm willing to bet the manure pile had something to do with it :)

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  15. You had some big successes. I have had the same problem with onions, they never get big. I usually try sets. Maybe I am planting them too deep.

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    1. Carolyn, I've tried both sets and seeds and had no luck with either. But someone suggested that I was burying the plants too deeply and that seemed to make a difference. I was surprised at how the onions literally just sat on top of the soil when they got big.

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  16. You just introduced me to a new pumpkin! I'd love to give those a try. Bummer about the asparagus but I think you had a good year. If your weather was as volatile as ours, a great year! :)

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    1. Kate, would be glad to send you some seeds if you're interested! I think I have your card here somewhere...

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  17. Wow, your pumpkins look amazing!
    Greetings, RW & SK

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    1. Thanks! they really are very pretty. I've been quite pleased with them.

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  18. beautifull garden, marguerite .. maybe not tragedies, but more lessons on the learning curve .. every year is different .. i think the happy dance is the best we can give a garden .. after soil and water, that is ..

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    1. thank you Jane :) my happy dance is pretty charming, I think the garden approves.

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  19. Sorry to hear about the weed problem. Your pumpkin patch looks
    marvelous. Isn't it funny how things seem to take turns growing well.

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  20. Nice to read your year end assessment of the garden. Some years are certainly better than others. I think your paper barrier will help with those pesky weeds.

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  21. I think overall it looks like a good year. If everything went swimmingly and we never had to overcome gardening challenges, it would get pretty boring. You are clearly a more patient gardener than I am - I would lose the will to shell peas after a week. I would love to see the happy dance - then again, if my onions turned out like yours, I might try a happy dance myself... perhaps I should find a choreographer.

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  22. Oh, ugh. So sorry you're grappling with Sheep Sorrel. Invasive doesn't even begin to describe how thuggish that plant is! I'm still trying to stop the spread in the orchard. I don't think I truly despise a weed as much as that!

    I love years when we get bumper crops of peas, except for shelling them. I now plant half shelling peas, and half snap peas, so at least the snap pea processing goes a little more quickly. But I do love fresh shelled pod peas, so they are worth a little extra effort.

    Your onions look great! They seem to be hit and miss here too. Some years great, other years I wonder why I bothered!

    Your Long Island Cheese pumpkins look fabulous. Our big loss this year was 50% of our winter squash to voles and gophers. I could spit, and sadly, not a single Long Island Cheese was spared...nor were my Green Hubbards from Monticello. Oh well, the great thing about gardening is there's always next year!

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