One of the biggest tips I can share with my new gardeners is to clear your garden at the end of the season. It is easy when the weather is bleak, cold and rainy here in the Pacific Northwest to forget about your garden beds, but it is a necessary evil to clear your beds of weeds so they don't have a chance to spread roots and seeds over the winter months.
After the weeds are cleared this is the time of year to make a list...and that is not a list of who is naughty or nice. Ah! What I'm referring to is making a list of your yearly garden successes and opportunities for next year. No, this is not the time to make yourself look like the Gardener of the Year, instead, these lists will help you prioritize and make progress towards that award next year. Well, at least we can all hope. (Ahem...)
For example, here are my lists this year:
- Small Green Bean Harvest North Side; Clear more strawberries, crowded out beans
- Small pumpkin harvest; Establish a stronger gate so chickens don't eat sprouts.
- Corn = EPIC Fail; Even though I used a Pacific Northwest I got one stalk and two ears of corn...seriously. After years of trying to produce corn here, this Iowa girl is vowing to not to plant next year.
- Blueberries continue to have a low harvest; research new varieties and possible organic solutions. We currently have two plants and for our family's needs I believe we need at least six.
- 1st harvest of radishes were amazing. 2nd and 3rd planting of radishes were tough possibly due to the lack of rain, possibly water them to increase production and taste.
- Lack any fruit trees on our property. Tore down three overgrown privacy trees and 1 rhododendron bush to re purpose an area on our property for fruit trees. We planted two semi-dwarf apple trees last weekend. I need to rethink other areas of our property to increase our fruit and vegetable yield. Though we'd love to live on a farm, the housing market does not make that a smart financial decision to leave our home. The Little Blue Bungalow will continue to be home for many years to come so we need to maximize what property we do have.
- Harvested 42 Delicata Squash and 1 Butternut Squash. I thought I planted 4 plant starts of Delicata Squash and 4 plant starts of Butternut Squash. I think I need to make sure I label my seed starts better as clearly there was an error somewhere.
Yearly Garden Successes:
- Impressive Tomato Harvest; harvested over 170 lbs of tomatoes. I will continue to have 5 plants as the weather was unseasonable making the tomato harvest truly EPIC. If the weather is normal next year, we'll need the 5 plants to sustain our family's needs.
- Red Potatoes had impressive 60 lb harvest, however we only planted one variety. Will try a Yukon Gold Variety next year in addition to the red potatoes.
- Organic Beets and Organic Carrots placed 1st at Evergreen State Fair. Organic Beets took best Division in the Organic category. (Ironic that I don't even eat beets...but hey, apparently they are impressive.)
- Sold enough tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, eggs, and squash to pay for a Great Wolf Adventure for our family this October. We just begun to sell some of our chicken poop (or "goodness" as I like to refer to it) as well so that is another avenue for our little chicken operation.
- Soil improved greatly in the main garden behind the garden. Attribute that to great compost and a winter cover crop that we tilled in the soil in early March. (I will talk about cover crops in my next edition.)
- Shared produce including, potatoes, carrots, raspberries, beets and eggs for the Garden City Grange Display at Evergreen State Fair which took 2nd place for presentation. Super proud garden moment!
- Great raspberry and strawberry harvest. Attribute the strawberry success to chickens aerating and forging in the strawberries each October to February. Planning on extending raspberry bed from off shoots in the spring and re-home or sell the remaining starts.
- Re-homed a couple roses to the Little Blue Bungalow. The rose bushes are all well-established and produced amazing flowers. In addition, I re-homed several of my plant starts to friends this spring including hostas, blue flag, sedum, and daisies,to name a few.
Feel free to glean from my successes and "opportunities", but it important for you to write your own. Sometimes you might not have an answer to why something didn't work, but if you write it down you then can ask a gardening friend, master gardener, or someone like me who loves to share their passion of gardening.
Stay tuned for my next edition of Gardening 101 where I'll share how to plant a winter cover crop. Happy gardening...
From inside the Little Blue Bungalow,