As I mentioned in the other post, we’d starve this winter if we didn’t have a grocery store. Good grief. Between the poor weather this year and the MICE, the harvest was not good. Not good at all.
Here’s the summary, details further down the page:
- Ruby Queen Beets – did not do as well as they had in prior years, less of a yield
- Wax beans, Gold Rush Yellow Wax Bean – first time growing, did okay
- Di Ciccio Broccoli – got eaten as seedlings
- Brussels Sprouts – got eaten as seedlings
- Carrots, Scarlet Nantes Carrot – deer food, tiny roots
- Celery, Tall Utah – a few sprouted, then stopped growing
- Chives – never came up
- Corn, Top Hat – some grew, deer got ’em
- Double Yield Cucumber – sprouted, eaten by something, died
- Straight 8 Cucumbers – bought two plants, both tried but were also eaten
- American Flag Leeks – one came up
- Clear Dawn Onions – some came up, did not cure well, trying to salvage some in fridge produce bin
- Peas, Green Arrow Shell Peas – a couple of PODS
- Peas, Sugar Snap Peas – same as above
- Peppers, Bridge to Paris – a few, had to pick while green because something kept eating them, they don’t “redden” well, chopped up green and froze
- Peppers, Joe’s Long Cayenne – one plant, no real peppers
- Peppers, Tam Jalapeno – all sprouts died
- Peppers, Boldog Hungarian Paprika Spice – got a few peppers off of them, but plants were overshadowed and died
- Peppers, Sweet Pimento Pepper – failed
- Potatoes, Elba White, Keuka Gold, Dark Red Norland, Yukon Gem – MICE
- Radishes, Rudolph – a few sprouted, harvested
- Squash, Blue Hubbard – looked good at first, lost to disease (possibly)
- Squash, Butternut – did okay
- Squash, Honeynut – did okay
- Tomatoes, Eating, Rutgers – a few made it, but fruit mostly stayed green on vine
- Tomatoes, Amish Paste – a few made it, but mostly stayed green (volunteer plants helped)
- Tomatoes – Firminio’s Plum, we don’t like this variety so much, but when the other ones were failing, we had a couple of seedlings to transplant into the garden where others died off, got a few, not many
- Tomatoes, Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato – did okay
- Tomatoes, for drying: Principe Borghese Sun Dried Tomato – sprouts died
- Turnips, Golden Globe – harvested TWO turnips
- Black Beauty Zucchini – this did well, we planted (direct sow) about 5 to 6 to get a fairly decent harvest (not all plants made it)
It seemed like we just could not catch a break. First, the seeds we started inside had a poor germination rate. Many that did sprout were ultimately frail seedlings. (The tomatoes in particular.) Then, I swear the LED grow lights I used “stunted” the growth of many seedlings. Now, I have no proof of that, mind you. It’s just my observation. But it’s enough to make me skip using LED grow lights again in the future.
The spring was cold and the snow was still showing up in May. In fact, it started to HAIL while we were planting in the garden on May 31st. We got things covered, but that should give you an idea of the kind of weather we were experiencing as we transferred those delicate seedlings into the garden.
Then we slammed into the 90s in early June. It was wicked hot all summer long.
The deer pretty much gobbled up the carrots and corn – what little grew. The onions (direct sow) had a poor germination rate and I think ONE leek came up. ARGH. We harvested TWO Golden Globe Turnips. TWO. The tomato plants that survived (thank goodness for volunteers) took forever to produce fruit on the vine, which pretty much stayed green into September. (By the way, we did practice some judicious tomato plant pruning and I can see how in a better year that would have produced HUGE fruit.) We did have some success reddening tomatoes in the greenhouse we put on the back porch.
Then there were the potatoes. We planted four varieties: Yukon Gem, Keuka Gold (developed right here in the Finger Lakes), Elba Whites, and Dark Norland Reds. The bushes looked fantastic. This crop would redeem the garden, we thought. On harvest day, we started to dig. Potato after potato pulled from the ground was half-eaten. And then, as I dug through the soil, I dug into a nest of MICE. They scattered. Mr. Gordon killed one with the pitchfork, but the rest took off. Basically they were living in potato-food-heaven. They ruined more than half of our crop. It was disheartening.
Ironically with all the garden loss and drama, our beloved Black Beauty Zucchini produced a nice amount this year. Squash bugs were few. (We have a slight theory that because we direct sowed the zucchini and the plants came up late, the squash bugs had found a different home this year.) Something nailed our Blue Hubbard Squash, which was a disappointment, but the Honeynut and Butternut Squashes did okay. We harvested some big Butternuts. See the photos in the collage further up the page.
Because of the smaller harvest, we didn’t keep the best record of weighing the produce as we brought it in. Mr. Gordon did better than I did. We think we harvested about half the amount of tomatoes compared to last year. We didn’t can them yet. They were washed and frozen whole. We’ll make sauce in February.
We froze Black Beauty Zucchini, Bridge to Paris Peppers, and Ruby Queen Beets. We’ll get to enjoy some of the garden over winter, but as you can imagine, far less than we hoped to have.
We’re scaling back in 2021. New: we will plant our fruit trees as discussed in older blog posts. The sheep manure that we put down this spring/summer will be further decomposed in 2021, so hopefully those areas will be ready for apple, pear, apricot, and peach trees. Hopefully we’ll have great success. (Forever an optimist, that’s me.)
Part of the scaling back includes returning to just one garden: the lower garden. We will not be planting an upper garden. This means less variety will be planted, but I think it’s necessary in the short term. Mr. Gordon will finally install his drip-waterer at that time.
We also skipped planting garlic and shallots to over-winter. Although, we did get a fairly nice first harvest in 2020 of garlic and shallots we planted in fall 2019. Still, scaling back growing areas means that we have to make decisions on what we are going to grow.
Hopefully the sort-of indoor/outdoor greenhouse on the back porch will enable us to grow stronger sprouts in spring for transplanting into the garden. That was definitely a part of the issue this year, but as you read above, frail seedlings were only the beginning.
I suppose garden success will ebb and flow like most things in life. We admit to being slightly discouraged this year, but I know when the seed catalogues start to arrive, I’ll feel motivated to begin again.
How did your garden grow in 2020?
Did you have better luck? Drop us an update in a comment below!
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Blog Drop Series
This post is part of my December 2020 blog drop series (that is, four posts published at once.) You might also like:
Tracy, as usual i read all the stories. I totally enjoy hearing all about what’s going on at your “homestead”. You are definitely enjoying a busy and interesting life though it entails a lot of work. And that is what life is about I guess. Keeping busy but also choosing to love what we are doing. Thanks for the update. I love you. Mom
Definitely a lot of work, Mom! I wonder what Grandpa would think of our garden? 🙂 I’m sure he’d give lots of advice!
You’ve got the largest butternut squash I’ve seen this year. For some reason, a lot of folks had smaller fruit. All in all, it looks like a rough gardening year there. Have you considered using row covers for insect control? Another option for growing is microgreens. They can be grown right in your kitchen and there is no worry about pest issues. They grow quickly too.
Our garden had to be relocated to another spot on the property, so my spring, summer garden was removed due to possible contamination. I did manage to plant a fall garden and I have to say that I am thrilled with being able to harvest lettuce, chard, kale, tat soi and spinach right now. I am using row covers for the first time and it has been a Godsend.
Don’t be discouraged! We gardeners are a hearty bunch and we will persevere! Blessings…
Hi Daisy! The butternut squash – I know! Isn’t that huge? LOL. And then compared to the little honeynut squash, they look even bigger. At least with all of our gardening woes, the squash is a happy outcome.
So, we used row covers over the tomatoes and something got in there and still nailed the seedlings. We’re not positive that it was cutworms, but something was biting off the tomatoes. Plus, I am convinced that not enough water was getting through the row cover. Very frustrating. I made my husband take it off and put up deer netting to keep out the robins. (Another seedling pest.)
I’m so sorry to learn that you might have had some garden contamination and had to move it? Ugh! That’s not good. Hopefully the 2021 year will allow you to keep your garden where you want it to be. Your fall garden sounds wonderful! We put up a greenhouse on our back porch. Hopefully we’ll be able to do greens over winter. 😀
I don’t know a lot about microgreens. We actually don’t get a lot of sun in the front of the house where we would put them. I would like to grow sprouts, however.
Thank you so much for coming by! I will need to get over to your blogsite, too!
It wasn’t a great garden year for me either. I think it was because of the location (on top of the old tennis court asphalt). I knew it would be an experimental year and I was right. The garden beds just weren’t deep enough. When I pulled the plants out their roots were growing sideways! But that’s okay. This year’s garden will be much better. I’m excited.
I also like the way you are keeping track here on the blog. I think I just do a ‘hit or miss’ post about most things homesteading. I’m going to try to do a weekly homestead update post this year to use as my record keeping system.
Anyway, here’s to better production in 2021!
Hi Kristin! It sounds like we do the same: a blend of planning and executing and also just trying things out as you go along. I suppose that’s the best of both words!
I wondered how it was going to go on the tennis court for you. We ran into a similar situation in our city home with gardening in boxes and putting it on wheels. It’s a long story… But yeah, it’s so hard to garden “on a surface.” I wonder, however, if you can use that old tennis court to your advantage with housing a building for animals? That way nothing could “dig under” and get in? Might be something you already considered and discarded, but it’s actually something I’ve thought about since you explained on your blog about having the old court.
I definitely get the “hit or miss” with homesteading. I think Mr. Gordon and I got spoiled with a first year garden that was successful. Okay, must run! So awesome to see you check in here! <3