Counting up the Harvest.

Fall is here and this morning I had to turn on my furnace.  That means the garden needs to be cleared and quickly tidied before bad weather arrives.  It’s time to pull up the carrots and pick the last of the tomatoes, whether they’re ripe or not.  (I call this time of year fried green tomato season.  It’s a very delicious season.)

It’s also time to evaluate how this year’s harvest went.  While I do find gardening enjoyable (except for the whole sweating and dirt under my fingernails part,) I mostly do it to provide food for the family.  So it’s important for me to look over what worked this year and what didn’t.

First off, the tomatoes were wonderful.  Oh beautiful red globes of deliciousness, how I love you.

This year the tomato plants filled up two of my garden beds and produced billions of fruit.  (That is, admittedly, a rough estimate.)  I harvested enough tomatoes to have plenty for eating and enough to can over 3o pints of tomato sauce.  So the tomatoes were a hit and have earned themselves a spot on the roster for next year’s garden.

The strawberry bed produced over two gallons of delectable berries.  I used them to make a dozen jars of strawberry-raspberry jam and we gorged ourselves on the rest.  The wonderful thing about strawberry plants is that they send out little runners that make new plants every summer.  With a little luck (and some good mulching) we should have a full bed of strawberry plants in the spring, ready to go without me doing a blessed thing.  That right there is why strawberries rock.

This year for the first time I planted broccoli.  It was pretty much a complete flop.  I wasn’t sure what I was doing, I planted the starts too late in the season to get a good crop, and they took up a lot of room I could have used for other things.  So broccoli, I’m sad to tell you that you will not be returning to the garden next year.  The tribe has spoken.

Our spinach was just lovely this year.  I mean, seriously, look at all this deliciousness.

Next year I will plant a spring crop of spinach and do a fall planting of spinach.  We just love it so much.  So around August 20th someone needs to remind me to plant my second crop of spinach seeds, okay?  Any volunteers?

My ninja-like carrots that were planted into any spare corner I could find did amazingly well.  I spent just one morning weeding and thinning little carrot plants and this fall I pulled almost three dozen good sized, dark orange carrots out of the garden.  This week I’m going to make a spicy carrot and white bean soup with some of them (thank you Pinterest.) I definitely need to plant more next year.

My lettuce crop this year pretty much sucked.  Most of the seeds didn’t germinate, and the little that did tasted rather bitter.  So next year I am going to try a new variety.   I’ve been perusing some seed catalogs and there are some delicious sounding lettuce out there: Buttercrunch, Red Butterhead, or Boston Bibb.  I’m not sure how I’ll ever decide which one to try.  Just like with the spinach, I plan on doing two crops because I am sick of spending $1.69 a pound for average grocery store lettuce.  (Yes, my middle name is ‘cheap-skate.’)

That is pretty much what my gardens did this summer.  All in all, it was a good harvest.  Now, I can’t wait to spend the cold winter days pouring over seed catalogs with their gorgeous photographs, deciding and redeciding what seeds to purchase, and planning what plants go in what raised bed.

Did you garden this year?  How did yours turn out?

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8 Responses to Counting up the Harvest.

  1. Mindy says:

    I am completely envious of your strawberries. I need to figure out what I’m doing wrong with mine.

    We haven’t had a terribly successful gardening season, but we were dealing with extreme drought conditions and 100*+ temperatures for four straight months. We managed to keep things alive and now the tomatoes and bell peppers and pumpkins and watermelon and eggplant and spaghetti squash are all flowering out and starting to bear fruit. Weird, right? We’re still trying to adjust to Texas gardening. Summer is generally not one of the growing seasons. On the up side, our blackberries did fantastic and the raspberries made a modest showing.

    While you are tucking your garden in for the winter, we’ll be using the (finally) mild temperatures here to construct some new raised beds so we can get serious about our food production. No more recreational gardening for us. 🙂

    Did you try broccoli as a summer crop? I thought it was a winter/early spring crop.

    I’m off to pour over seed catalogs, too. Thanks for reading my farm report.

    • bunkersdown says:

      I planted the broccoli starts in early May because I found them for $.25 a piece and couldn’t resist. Now I know better. As for the strawberries, I have no idea what I am doing, so I pretty much do nothing with them. I do think our cold winters kill off a lot of disease and bugs that would otherwise build up into a problem. Does it freeze hard where you’re at? I think Texas weather would really screw me up in the garden arena, so you are pretty much awesome for even attempting to raise food there.

      • Mindy says:

        We get maybe 3-5 nights of hard freeze/winter that require us to cover our plants to keep them alive. Isn’t that crazy? I hadn’t even thought about that being a reason we’ve lost so many crops to pests. I haven’t been able to get zucchini to grow for the last three years because of the squash vine borer.

        At any rate, I’ve loved seeing your pictures and your resourcefulness in production and preservation. I put the kids to work yesterday helping me with applesauce and I thought of you–a lot! 🙂

  2. Marie says:

    Have you thought of branching out (no pun intended) to fruit trees? We have a great peach tree that takes up little space in the front yard, but gives us the yummiest peaches ever. I usually freeze the peaches in slices, and feel like I have little gems of summer all winter long. That is, unless my upright freezer dies right after I’ve finished freezing the last batch. Oooh… 10+ gallon-size Ziploc bags of now rotting peaches (among other things) in the suddenly warm freezer. Doesn’t smell pretty! I’m glad I have a brave husband who’s willing to clean it out. 🙂

    • bunkersdown says:

      I would probably cry if that happened to me. I had a nightmare that someone broke my shelves that all the canning jars are on and I woke up so sad.
      We do have an apricot tree in our back yard. It probably won’t have apricots for another year or two. When I move to my farmhouse I am going to have apple trees, apricot trees, pear trees…….well, the list just goes on and on.

  3. Natalie says:

    Reading about your amazing crops is suddenly making me very sad that we didn’t get those garden boxes put in that I asked for when we moved here. 😦 Our last house had them and my kids and I miss the zucchini terribly. I actually had to BUY zucchini at the store the other day! Blasphemy!!

  4. Woodstockgurl says:

    Broccoli is so picky, we don’t even bother since it can be purchased for 49 cents/lb. You tomatoes were Glorious!

  5. Please post more about gardening in the spring… I really want to do more of it because we love fresh veggies, but I kind of have a black thumb of death…. I need to follow your lead!

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