Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 Garden Yield

This year involved much more travel, some as much as 2 or 3 weeks at a time, which made planning when to plant trickier. Fortunately, it was also the wettest year on record, so most everything managed without me. The eggplants succumbed to flea beetle (they're going under row covers this year) and I discovered that planting peas in early March is way too late for this region (I'll be planting early January instead).

Here's this years yields:


This winter has been so mild, the oregano, chives, rosemary, sage, spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, thyme, and lemon thyme are still thriving, as well as the dill and parsley which go under cover on the rare nights we get frost. The aerogarden is overflowing with chervil, tarragon, basil, dill, summer savory, and  mitsuba. Throughout the year, the following also made appearances:
  • chamomile
  • lavender
  • coriander
  • marjoram
  • anise
  • cumin
  • caraway
  • sesame
  • black cumin
  • fenugreek

These are all cut and come again so I don't track yields. However, a few plants of each keeps me in fresh greens every day I'm not travelling. Swiss chard is the best value. I planted 3 in March and I'm still eating these while I wait for the winter lettuce. The cold frame went in late this year (early December) due to the quirks of my fall travel schedule. This year's greens included:
  • 6 radiccio (so pretty but need to be eaten before April)
  • 3 swiss chard (still going strong after 9 months)
  • 10 bok choy (so easy to grow but hard to plan planting as most travel is in spring/fall)
  • 4 napa cabbage (for kimchi)
  • 2 patches mesclun (lasted slightly later than radiccio)
  • 4 kale
  • 2 mustard
  • 3 cettuce (doesn't taste like celery, as advertised, but still tasty and crunchy)
  • 1 shingiku (very tasty but picky about temperature)
  • 6 fennel
Root crops

I love root crops, both tops (greens) and bottoms. Yields were small this year due to spring/fall travel.
  • 2 rutabaga
  • 13 daikon radish
  • 8 watermelon radish
  • 5 carrots (still amending our clay soil--radish don't mind but carrots do)
  • 13 kohlrabi (with 3 more I'll eat before year's end)
  • 6 pink beauty radish (our favorite, we had these for Easter)
  • 21 sparkler radish
  • 5 zlata radish
  • 2 red turnip
  • 12 detroit red beets
  • 10 chiogga beets (I won't grow these again as too sweet and greens were bland)
  • 4.6lb yukon gold potato (from 1.5 potatoes cut into 3 pieces!)
  • 28.6lb sweet potato (from 16 slips)

Besides the chives which are basically year-round, we have quick onions as well as keepers for daily picking from spring to mid-summer. Though, I have yet to grow enough keepers to actually keep instead of using for fresh eating.
  • 7 leeks
  • 7 red beard (Japanese spring onion)
  • 2 scallions
  • 3 shallots
  • 8 martina (nice big white onion)
  • 5 red creole (big firm red onion)
  • 44 walla walla

These did well this year due to the torrential rains and the late arrival of the squash bugs. I was pleasantly surprised as I had to quickly transplant them before leaving for 4 weeks of unanticipated travel and basically wish them good luck. This year I trialed 1 or 2 plants of new-to-me varieties. Some I will definitely grow again while others were bleh. The squirrels ate their fair share this year (including the last of the melons while I was in Germany, grrr) so yields were actually higher than the ones we ate ourselves:
  •  220 lemon cuke from 2 plants (will definitely grow these again every year, beautiful, single-serving sized, burpless, and thin skinned)
  • 15 lemon squash from 1 plant (will definitely grow much, much more of these every year as stunningly gorgeous, firm (not watery), and tasty, best summer squash I've ever tasted)
  • 3 rondo squash (pretty but just OK for flavor, squash bugs discovered these first)
  • 1 cucamelon (I tried to like these as they are cute and very prolific, but the flavor just didn't do it for me)
  • 9 melon of 3 varieties (by the time I returned from travel, these were an intertangled jungle so I never did figure out which melon was which, they were all tasty though so I'll try again next year and hopefully be around to trellis them and keep the squirrels away)
  • 37 luffa from 2 plants (these were the pleasant surprise, hundreds of yellow hibiscus-like flowers daily from early May to early November and a life-time supply of luffa, considering the average length was 2')

After the disappointment of the peas (which didn't become big enough to yield until it was way too hot for them to be happy) I discovered the joys of fresh broad beans (fava/lima). Anyone who thinks they don't like lima beans has never had them fresh. And like cowpeas, they thrive in this part of the country. Next year I am growing many, many more. I also trialed a bunch of legumes this year, but many just can't take the heat.
  • 1/4 cup fresh peas (from 18 plants)
  • 4 cup dried razorback cowpea (3 plants)
  • 1/3 cup dried arikara bean (1 plant, the other wilted)
  • 1/2 cup dried henderson lima (1 plant, better dried than fresh)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dragon tongue bean (couldn't take the heat)
  • 1/2 cup dried hutterite bean (2 plants, will grow more as good soup bean)
  • 5c fresh speckled lima (best eaten fresh, will grow many more, 1 plant averaged 1/2 cup beans every second day)

I only planted a few peppers this year as I still had lots of paprika, pickled peppers, and frozen peppers from the previous year. Next year I'm growing many more jalapeno as I discovered a recipe for an addictive jalapeno relish. The minibells were cute as they were appetizer-sized and most of the fresh bells ended up on the daily grill with that day's onion.
  • 61 jalapeno (2 plants)
  • 36 minibell (2 plants)
  • 50 bell (2 plants) 

The star this year (as the overflowing freezer attests to) was the Roma. This was my first determinate and I feared they would all ripen on the same day while I was travelling. Instead, I picked daily from mid-July to mid-November and was using the tomato mill to process them every second day. 4 plants were enough to keep me in daily tomato soup or marinara until next July. As usual, the cherry-size (blush) were prolific. The German pink (a beautiful beef steak) seems less so, but these averaged 2lbs each. The tie dye are worth growing just for their looks and the Carmello (a favorite fresh eater from last year) didn't disappoint. The striped cavern are shaped like a bell pepper, so good stuffers, though as the season progresses the cavern becomes more dense. I probably won't grow the Sioux or Ninevah again. There wasn't anything wrong with them, they just paled in comparison to the other must-haves and I have new varieties to try next year.
  • 688 Roma (4 plants)
  • 467 Thai Pink (2 plants)
  • 184 Carmello (2 plants)
  • 38 Sioux (1 plant)
  • 536 blush (2 plants)
  • 38 Ninevah (1 plant)
  • 27 German Pink (2 plants)
  • 198 Striped Cavern (2 plants)
  • 33 Tie Dye (2 plants)
Fruit Trees

Both the  pear and the persimmon tree enjoyed the amount of rain this year and produced prolifically. Unfortunately, so did the neighborhood squirrels. We had one scrawny squirrel in previous years. This year we had at least 6 well-fed, energetic ones who really enjoyed (every single) pear, most of the persimmons, and lord knows how many melons. I did manage to pick 8 persimmons for this year's mincemeat and left the rest for the wildlife.