It was DEFINITELY a year of change for the backyard, which meant that vegetable growing took a bit of a back burner.
The ornamentals and trees and have all done great this year- we’re really pleased with what we’ve accomplished out there. We still have areas that need work, but the main sections are done.
The only issue with May being the real season we did the plantings in was that it misses the window for vegetable planting ’round these parts. But there was nothing to be done for it- the entire yard was under construction.
The only real spot for planting, before the brick patio was finalized, was the 4′ small bed at the back of the yard I grew tomatoes in in 2019. So I broke a cardinal rule of vegetable planting and put the tomatoes in the same spot two years in a row since I had nowhere else to put them. My pretty severe struggles with spider mites all year is probably a result of this.
But like, it’s not like I didn’t harvest any tomatoes or anything. The Sungold cherries were as spectacular as last year. But the big determinate tomatoes were a bust. Now don’t get me wrong, they produced like champs, but the idiot chickens ate almost every single one on the vine before I could harvest them. I LOVE cherry tomatoes, but there is NOTHING better than harvesting a big tomato, so I’m going to have to figure something out on that front for next year.
The black cherry tomatoes are stricken from the list- I’ll never grow them again. Watery and fairly tasteless, they also produced in the center of the vines, so harvesting was a real pain. Also much more susceptible to spider mites than all others I grew.
The Rodeo tomatoes were winners (aside from being eaten by chickens) so I will continue to buy past and current varieties released by the San Antonio Rodeo.
Here’s the other thing though- I was sick during tomato planting season (remember that? It was back in March when I was was sure it wasn’t Covid and now I’m pretty damn sure it was.) So while there TECHNICALLY were other areas I could have put tomatoes, I did not have the health/energy to dig a new bed in March when the tomatoes had to go in. I lived to tomato another day is the real lesson from this year.
The wheat that my husband brought back from Mount Vernon was threshed from a single wheat stalk, planted in October of 2019, and then grew all through winter and the spring of 2020. I honestly was getting worried as harvest should have been around April, but was actually much after that.
We (FINALLY.) got to harvest the wheat in the summer, threshed it, and replanted all of it in November. I thought it hadn’t come up yet but just realized yesterday that the chickens were eating the sprouts so I’ve now fenced it off with wire. Fingers crossed it will be enough.
Toscano kale is an absolute knockout, every year. This year I am having to put it in a pot due to the damn chickens (I’m seeing a trend here).
I didn’t get any harvest off of the key lime tree and have SEVERELY pruned it back to make it easier to bring in and out through the winter. The Meyer’s lemon looks terrible- I think it might have a virus so may be tossed if it doesn’t get it’s act together. But the calamondin has been a stellar little plant, looks great, and has 2 ripe fruit right now… from where its sitting on my dresser across the room from me as I type as it has been getting cold at night now that we’re into December.
Pumpkin- lost to squash borers
Zucchini: lost to squash borers
Butternut squash: not stopped by the squash borers it did get.
Sooo… I’m definitely going to try zucchini again. And man, the harvest was awesome on the butternut squash but I’m really not interested in growing it again next year. It’s a bit of a space eater, and we just didn’t enjoy it much. It was great for sharing with friends and family though… sigh. We’ll see. I DO want to try growing acorn squash though.
The heirloom red okra is also struck entirely off the list: it was tough, tasteless, and looked like dog penises.
The sesame experiment was a real success- plants were pretty, did well both in the ground and in pots, and were quite drought tolerant. Harvest was really difficult though without a large percentage of them falling on the ground, so there HAS to be a better way. I still have seeds of the white sesame, but I REALLY want to grow the black sesame seeds next year as that’s what we like putting on top of homemade bread.
Herbs have all been a success this year. Standouts have been the various basils and oreganos. Also doing well: thyme and rosemary. The chickens (seriously these things are more destructive than I even realized!) destroy both the garlic chives and comfrey.
FRUIT AND NUTS:
The peach had flowers but didn’t produce any fruit- to was either all dropped due to not getting enough water or they were stolen by birds or squirrels. It was also not quite mature enough yet for a fruit harvest, and may be too early next year… but SOON.
The pomogrante tree is beautiful but not mature enough to produce fruit yet.
The blackberry did well in a large pot but after the one harvest it sure took up a lot of room.
The pecan trees all produced well and didn’t get many web worms this year (YAY!) but the squirrels took just about all of them. AND dropped the broken shells on the deck to really rub it in. We need to develop a taste for hasenpfeffer, stat.
The 2021 plan:
Kale is already in for the winter harvest. For next year I have plans for zucchini, perhaps a different variety of squash, separate patches of cherry tomatoes and larger tomatoes, maybe give some green okra a shot to pickle, and black sesame plants- at least a 4′ plot of them. I also really miss fresh chives, so a pot of those is in the cards for spring.
Having realized the issues they caused for such a wide range of crops, priority for next year will be a way to adequately protect the garden from the chickens. Their eggs are, so far, justifying what a pain in the butt they are. As is the fact that I just like seeing them wandering around. Plus, my nephew refers to our house as “Aunt Lauren’s farm” because of the chickens, so they’re worth keeping just for that, honestly.
This recap list is more extensive than I thought honestly, and I love that- my ascetic is definitely an ornamental but edible garden and I finally feel like we have the space to live it.
Here’s looking forward to spring!
6 thoughts on “A Garden Year in Review: The Veggies”
Ohmigosh, Lauren, the patio and walkways you guys built are stunning, what a gorgeous back yard you have now! Enjoyed the tales of trials and tribulations, but hey, here I’d always thought that black sesame seeds were just deeply toasted white sesame seeds. It does seem as if the chickens are the evil genies of the whole operation. Nice work on the hardscape and the gardens. Val C.
Appreciate it! Yes, I also thought the black sesame seeds were dark toasted white sesame seeds… but they’re totally different varieties. From what I can tell visually the plants are the same aside from the seed color and the flower color on the plants is purple instead of white. Some research might be in order as to which variety came first!
Your new patio looks gorgeous! Do the chickens love to go there, too? I like chickens, but I like my plants better. I’d forgotten how much I liked to grow sesame. Thanks for the reminder; I’m adding it to my list.
The chickens do stray onto the patio, but not for long before getting shooed off. We’re usually out there when we let the chickens out, and since we’re on the patio they usually keep away. If you want to drop me an email with your mailing address at journeymom_1(at symbol) yahoo.com (not all spelled out to keep from getting scraped by spambots) I’ll mail you the seeds I have from last year- I’m getting another pack to grow the black colored seeds- but I hate to think of these white sesame seeds going to waste!
You did well! Isn’t it interesting how we learn from year to year what works in our own garden patches and what doesn’t? And how we can’t wait for next year to do things better, repeating the successes and changing strategies for things that we’ve learned don’t work. That’s one of the things that makes gardening fun. Your garden is looking great!
Appreciate it! The constant Learning is one of the things I like the most about gardening
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