Garden in Memorial Day weekend; Gordon cleaned out entire garden on October 14, 2018.
This was the first year at our new home in the Finger Lakes. We decided to do a 24 X 24 vegetable garden in spring/summer, then a cold frame in fall 2018. (Update: We did not do a cold frame due to lack of time and unpredictable weather. Plus, the area in which we planned a cold frame turned out to be very wet. We determined it was a low spot that did not drain well.)
Weather in General: June hot. Very hot through July with “average” dry. August / September, hot and wet. By end of September, temperatures averaged out, but still very wet. Rainy in first half of October. On October 20, 2018, ground still very wet, unable to mow for well over a week now.
Gordon noted as he unearthed last of potatoes this October that for as wet as it had been for months, compost in which potatoes were planted in was not “too wet.” It wasn’t muddy.
Cost ~$1,274.00 + $34.71 (cold frame) = $1,308.71
- $55 worth of seed from Hudson Valley Seed Co. (in January) – most seeds from this company, but not all
- Composter, post driver, and manure fork, safety glasses: $232
- Created 3-bin fenced in composter: ~$75
- Additional grow lights: $100
- Peat trays and heat maps: $75
- Rain barrel: $70 (but was unable to use, need a pump to get the water out)
- Purchased $295 worth of mushroom compost (6 yards, used about 5 yards)
- Tarp $10
- Hose, shovels, measuring tape: ~$75 (in May)
- Garden hoses, sprinklers, connectors, etc: ~$85 (in June)
- Another $32 for more hose
- Also, Gordon purchased stakes and fencing for around garden at: ~$170
- We decided to forego the additional hardware cloth to go around edge of garden due to cost
Some of the pricier items, like the stakes and fencing, grow lights, hoses and shovels, etc. are one-time purchases (for the most part). Compost is likely to be the consistently pricier purchase every year until we can generate enough on our own.
Cold Frames (planned to build in fall for spinach / lettuce greens):
- Picked up 14 house windows for free off of Craig’s List
- 2 X 2 X 8 Square piece of wood, furring strip ~$2.20
- 2 X 6 X 10 – wood, font of the frame ~$6.70
- 6 hinges: $5.91
- 3/8s inch thick, 4 X 8 sheet of plywood: ~$17.43
- Did not till garden – decided on lasagna method of gardening
- Covered entire garden with grass clippings
- Then laid out four ~19-foot long rows of compost, about 3 feet wide rows
- Planted directly in the compost – laid out four 6-inch deep rows of compost
Planted / Grew Spring and Summer 2018:
- Amish Paste Tomatoes (indeterminate)
- Black Beauty Zucchini (excellent taste and producer!)
- Danvers Carrots (direct sow yielded little produce)
- Di Ciccio Broccoli (frail, then grew but produced nothing – bugs got leaves)
- Double Yield Cucumber (prolific)
- Early Dawn Onion – (good, but direct sow yielded none)
- Golden Bantam Sweet Corn (heirloom, organic)
- Ideal Market Green Bean (invasive)
- Potatoes – blue (meh), red (awesome, especially when picked early), white (Kennebec)
- Purple Podded Peas (did not do well next to Ideal Bean)
- Ruby Queen Beet – (awesome, produced early)
- Rutgers Tomatoes (indeterminate)
- Sugar Snap Peas (crowded out by Ideal Bean)
Direct sowed marigolds at various row edges, but nothing came up.
Started some seedlings inside: broccoli (late start), Brussels sprouts (started late, did not hold up to transplanting in garden), cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Direct sow: beans, beets, carrots, corn, garlic cloves (in cold frame section in fall 2018), onions (some), peas, and potato spuds.
Planted on Memorial Day – way too hot. Lost some zucchini plants. It was 90 degree weather. Never should plant in this type of direct sun and heat. All seedlings were stressed.
Did not water enough in the beginning and plants were frail. After we started watering in the morning and at night, they thrived. Ran hoses to garden with a oscillating sprinkler. Could only use one sprinkler due to low water pressure.
Haven’t needed to water after July ended. A lot of wet, rainy weather.
Mice had a field day with our blue potatoes underground and possibly other plants/veggies on ground or close to the ground (like tomatoes). Saw a sizable gardener snake in the garden, but still had mice.
Rabbits might have been an issue with tops of carrots and beets.
There were hundreds of crickets in the garden, especially in spring and early summer, but we don’t believe they affected the plants.
Harvest / Poundage:
- Beets: 9 pounds
- Carrots: 4 pounds
- Corn: 6-8 ears (only three stalks came up)
- Cucumbers: 59 pounds, averaging 15 pounds per plant
- Ideal Market Beans: 4 pounds
- Onions: 5 pounds
- Peas (sweet and purple podded): 3/4 of a pound
- Potatoes (red, white, and blue together): 39 pounds, averaging 3 pounds per plant
- Tomatoes (both canning and eating): 118.75 pounds, averaging 5 pounds per plant
- Zucchini: 62 pounds, averaging 30 pounds per plant
“Total” poundage of food consumed or put up: 305.5 pounds of food.
Amount of Food Put-Up:
- Beets, sour, 1 pint (but did not eat, questioned if spoiled)
- Pickles, sour, 2 and 3/4 gallons
- Beets, sliced and cubed, 4 small bags
- Carrots, sliced, 3 small bags
- Ideal Market Beans, 10 frozen bags (small)
- Tomato Pasta Sauce,
- Tomatoes, Diced, 2 (~18oz) containers
- Tomatoes, Whole, 6 gallon bags
- Zucchini, cubed (for soup), 12 small bags
- Tomatoes, cold-packed, diced: 8 pints
- Tomato Pasta Sauce, 10 pints (estimate)
- Pickles, Bread and Butter, 10 pints
- Pickle Relish, dill, 5.5 half-pints
- Pickle Relish, sweet, 7.5 half-pints
- Pickles, sweet, cubed, 5 quarts
- Tomato Chutney, green, 3.5 half-pints
- Tomato Jam, green, nine 4-oz jars + 1.5 half-pints
- Tomato Juice, 2 pints
- Tomatoes, diced, 12 pints
- Zucchini Chutney: 9.5 half-pints
Plus, we shared beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini with friends and family.
- Location of garden is great. Plenty of sun.
- Water, water, water if planting directly into compost.
- Indeterminate tomato plants need to be strictly pruned and guided/staked. They grew out of control and we lost a significant amount of tomatoes that we could not get to in order to pick. The plants also tore down the wooden A frame built in order to try and stake/guide them. Also collapsed the frail wire “fencing” we put around them.
- Consider bush tomatoes for 2019.
- Tomatoes ripened in September primarily. Plan on canning every weekend in September and into October.
- Cucumbers need their own row and need to be guided up stakes/ rack to get to them more easily.
- Ideal Market Beans need their own space. Crowd out other plants and tore down corn stalks.
- Two zucchini plants should be enough. Need ample space.
- Keep enough compost / soil to heap around growing potato plants.
- Consider using 12 inches of compost in carrots garden bed so plenty of room to grow long.
- Start more seedlings in house versus direct sow, example: corn.
And there you have it!
This year was our grand experiment! Did we do everything right? No. Could we have done things better? Absolutely. Did we love what we started?
With all of our hearts.
We are already talking about next year – the things we will do differently, the plants we will add to our list, the additional space we will need.
We’re learning. Together. 🙂