|Getting Ready to Make Pesto Before the First Frost|
Happy New Year! December 31st was a sunny and warm day so to prepare for the new year I cleaned out my garden. I am still getting Swiss Chard and the carrots still look good but everything else is done. I think it is amazing that my garden was able to keep in production for so long. While we have had a relatively mild Fall/Winter the chard, peas, parsley, thyme, kohlrabi and green onions just kept going. It is hard to believe that I will start planting again in less than four months. Now is the time to start thinking about next years garden. I thought I would share with you a few insights from my gardening experience this year.
When you have a small amount of garden space as I do (120 sq. ft.), planting most Brassicas and winter squash doesn't make any sense because they are so large and take a long time to harvest. It is better to grow a mix of many of the same plants that have a very long productive period (strawberries and green beans), leafy greens with a long harvest (kale, collards, Swiss chard,), plants that grow quickly (radishes, green onions, zucchini), and plants that have high production (tomatoes, summer squash). It also doesn't make sense to plant things that you can buy cheaply. For example: I can buy onions at a local grocery store for .50/lb. If I tried to grow them in my garden I would be wasting valuable space which I would be better put to use growing a valuable crop like Shallots which I can't find for less than $3/lb. Cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes and broccoli are best bought from a local farmer when in season and stored up or frozen, usually in the Fall. Also, use your garden space to grow things that you cannot buy (French Breakfast radishes).
Since I took the time to weigh all of our produce here are our totals and I highlighted the clear winners and added my notes:
- Everbearing Strawberries: 19 lb. 7oz. (Amazing production from May-October)
- French Breakfast Radishes: 4 lb. 5 oz. (I need to grow more of these!)
- Lettuce: 1 lb. 5 oz.
- Bok choi: 9 oz. (This was delicious but start it indoors so it doesn't bolt before harvest)
- Swiss Chard: 23 lbs. 8 oz. (figure out more use for this but definitely my favorite green)
- Kohlrabi: 3 lb. 8oz. (Loved the flavor of these but they took a long time to grow)
- Snow Peas: 2 lb. 8 oz. (PLANT MORE PEAS!)
- Daikon Radish: 11 oz.
- Kale: 5 lb. 4 oz (Bleh. I only have 1 recipe that I like Kale in)
- Green Beans 3 lb. 13 oz.(PLANT MORE GREEN BEANS!)
- Beets: 11 oz.
- Carrots: 3 lb. 14 oz. (Not sure about growing any more since they are so cheap to buy organic)
- Cucumber: 13 lb. 12 oz. (This is from only 1 plant! I also want more pickling cuc's)
- Principe Borghese (drying) Tomato: 17 lb. 1 oz. (So delicious dried on salads and in meatloaf)
- Mortgage Lifter (slicing) Tomato: 1 lb 14 oz. (This was such a disappointment.)
- Sungold (cherry) Tomato: 1 lb 7oz. (Lame, this plant never took off)
- San Marzano & Amish Paste (plum) Tomato: 57 lbs. 6 oz. (From 3 plants)
- Brussels Sprouts: 4 lb. 10 oz. (take up too much space for such a small yield)
- Sweet Peppers: 16 lb. 8 oz. (planted 8 plants and didn't get many that ripened before frost)
- Celery: 2 lbs.(only need two plants, harvest before they get too tall)
- Spaghetti Squash: 16 lbs. 12 oz.(take up a lot of space, maybe Delicatta squash next year?)
Aside from just feeding our family daily I was able to can, dry, ferment and freeze greens, tomatoes (diced, paste, and sauce), strawberries (jam and 2 gallons frozen), herbs, cucumbers (pickles), radishes (pickled) and also cure and put by a number of whole spaghetti squash. It is nice to not have to buy so many groceries now that our freezer is filled.