Thursday, 8 July 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

Now, before you look at this post you should go back a year this date and look at this one, which was posted on July 8th, 2009. Okay, ready? Let's compare and contrast.

Our garlic scapes kind of looked better last year. This year, it's been so hot and so dry that the scapes have been picked for 2 weeks and some of the weaker bulbs are dying down already. But that's the beginning and the end of the list of things that were better last year. And we certainly expect to get a reasonable amount of garlic.

The short variety of peas in the lower left are the same as the ones being grown in the picture in last years post. (They're Norli, to be precise.) We've planted them a fair bit thicker I would say, but there's more to it than that. These were a completely different experience. And of course, we didn't have anything remotely like the peas next to them, which are Mammoth Melting snow peas. Named for the peas and not the plant, but they make me feel like a little kid again when I pick peas that are growing over my head.

Last year the zucchini, peppers and eggplant were all in the same bed, where they got along just fine, since all of them were scrawny little non-producers. If I went out and picked all the peppers forming on my plants right now I'd already have a better harvest this year than last year. Also, the zucchini were barely starting to grow at this time last year, and so far we've picked and eaten six already. They're still not producing enough to suit us yet (maybe Mr. Ferdzy was right to insist that we plant 16 zucchini plants (all that germinated). I thought it was too many, but maybe not. Not yet anyway! BWAHAHAHA!

And holy cow, the tomato seedlings were barely clinging to life this time last year. Must remember that, when I go out and poke all the little green spheres and whine that they aren't turning red yet. This year plants range from 2 to over 4 feet tall, and there's very few that don't have visible tomatoes on them yet.

Well these are pathetic looking carrots (they came up spottily and have been pruned, several times, by the deer, along with the beets) but they're waaay better than last years carrots, which essentially didn't germinate and so didn't exist.

The flowers were nice on the potatoes briefly, but the deer came and pruned them all off too. I always thought potato leaves were mildly toxic but the deer certainly don't seem to care. They think they are something of a treat. Fortunately though, they only graze them lightly and I don't think the plants are much damaged. Just no pretty potato flowers in the garden.

I didn't have a picture of brassicas last year at this time. We did plant some and they sort of produced, late in the season. This year they are looking pretty good, mostly. We did some direct seeding early in the spring that didn't do well, and so we augmented the survivors with purchased seedlings. Now I can't really tell which are which. However, I did just plant some tiny Brussels sprout seedlings in the spots that look bare. I didn't want to start them too early, since they get harvested late. We'll see if I got the timing right. I'm a bit nervous about it.

Our corn didn't look a lot worse than this last year, I don't think. It's obviously not something that we're growing well yet, but at least it is growing. We'll just have to wait and see how it does.

And finally, we could barely get a bean to germinate last year, and once they did germinate the deer ate them. This year, we've gotten at least partial germination out of every bean and some beans, like these Trionfo Violetto are going like gangbusters. A few have been pruned, but I think the deer mostly didn't find them until they were a little less tender than they liked. Good. I definitely expect to be eating beans within about 2 weeks.

So, what a difference, eh? That's warmer weather, more dedicated watering, a wee bit more experience, and 30 cubic yards of compost, mostly 2 year old elk manure. Let's not forget the elk manure; three cheers for it!


Kevin Kossowan said...

Wow. Gardening is truly an adventure from year to year, heh? I often quietly curse being limited to space in the city, but am often reminded by my rural friends that it is to great advantage to have no deer or bears robbing my crops. Worst I have is house sparrows pecking at beet and chard seedlings.

Glad to see you're lined up for a whopper of a harvest season this year. Can't wait to hear more about it!

Ferdzy said...

Kevin, I am very, very happy to report that we have no bears. *knocks wood* Raccoons and skunks, yes; but they are also pretty urban critters. You are lucky if you don't have them at least passing though.

Yes, it's looking very good. We went out and looked at things this morning and discovered that in fact, we have a small handful of beans ready. Lunch, here we come!

CallieK said...

I live in downtown Toronto and I have to fight with squirrels, raccoons and a thieving possum to harvest a lot of my veggies. Last year I had a bumper crop of tomatillas and I actually got to harvest about 5. And there's always the neighbourhood pets who like to dig, poop and sometimes run through my gardens. At least in the country you're allowed to use lethal methods to deal with garden pests ( not that you would but it must be a tempting option)

Ferdzy said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure we're dealing with fewer animals overall than we were in the city. It's just that the deer are... efficient. Damn their eyes. And the things that are smaller and eat proportionally less tend to arrive in batallions.

People think gardening is a nice, peaceful activity, but it isn't, really. It's an all-out war of nerves and inteligence against relentless foes. Good luck to you this year. Maybe some bird-netting would help?

And look on the bright side: no bears. Or elephants; I hear gardeners who have elephants are really SOL.

Melynda said...

What a great garden you have crafted. Great stuff!