Friday, October 3, 2014

Garden Variety

This is one of those days when you have no doubt that winter is on its way.  I'm showing 52 degrees right now.  It will be down in the 30s by dawn tomorrow -- we hope the upper 30s.  There are still blooms and green tomatoes on my vines.

No fall garden this year, but I do have maybe enough apples left to do one more canner.  I have 25 or 30 quarts in the pantry along with a lot of green beans and tomatoes.  It was a tough year, partly because of the weather, but also because my wife was sick so much of the time.  She has had a struggle.  A lot of things I just didn't bother to plant.  I had beds that I didn't cultivate except to clear out the weeds.

Oddly enough, one thing that did do well was watermelon.  I planted a few hills, and, since I planted them without the boss's supervision, for once, they were properly spaced.  I didn't have any monsters, but they were moderate in size with excellent sweetness and flavor.  Last year I planted two heirloom varieties, Mountain Hoosier and something like Garrisonian.  Probably the seeds I saved were a cross, but they did well.  This isn't the Bootheel.  I'm never going to raise any prize ones up here.  It's still fun. 

The strawberries are making a strong come back.  The blackberries look good. My nectarine tree got snapped off in a windstorm.  I finally took the stump out last week.  I'm looking around for a replacement (or two) for it -- peach or nectarine, I'm not too particular.

I have one surviving English walnut.  So, last fall, I dug a black walnut sprout out of the woods -- that was fun -- to plant next to the English one.  I was astounded that it lived but it did.  The English walnut is about three feet tall while the black walnut is about half that.  If the grandkids keep this place, maybe a generation yet unborn will have some English walnuts to go with their hickory nuts.  I'm kind of managing for hickories.

With the fruit trees, grapes, blackberries and strawberries, I normally get a pretty good return of calories for energy expended.  Beans do all right, too, because they are easy to raise.  Melons and squash are nutrient-rich and sustainable.

You have to grow tomatoes, but I haven't had any luck growing them from seed.  I did try to harvest some carrot seed this year.  We'll see how that works. 

If I were trying to live exclusively on what I can raise, I'd need to add some chickens -- which my wife vehemently opposes, a milk cow or two, and hogs.  I like bacon and sausage, but I'm not big on ham and other pork products, and I don't like messing with hogs.  However, you can't beat them for efficient conversion of garden scraps, leftovers, acorns, and whatever else into quality meat.  


  1. Sounds like you did pretty darn well given the circumstances. My permaculture garden did OK. The Japanese beetles hit the fruit trees hard and they never really bounced back. Everything lived though -one Asian pear got hit hard by a deer so its survival is iffy.

    My garden efforts got bumped by more important projects but I did raise tomatoes which were hit hard by mold, a jalepeno pepper (you only need one), and cilantro for making fresh salsa.

    And then there is the potato-sack experiment. Almost ready to harvest.

    Maybe more next year.

  2. Don't tempt us, Brendan. Winter is usually reasonable here, but last winter was just nasty a lot of days. Springtime in NZ sounds pretty nice.

    I hate Japanese beetles. The last two years I've put out grub-killer around April and May. It seems to be thinning them a little.

    A few years back, I grew a couple of habaneros -- yep, one is enough.

    I'm anxious to hear the outcome on the 'taters.