Although there are still a few weeks of growth left before our first official frost date – October 9th – I have begun to consider this year’s growing season complete. Due to the enormous amount of weeds and neglect, I doubt I will attempt to plant any fall crops. Instead my attention has turned to prepping the yard for next year and reviewing our accomplishments and failures – the booms and busts, if you will.
Rabbit Haus? Not This Year
I was pretty darned convinced that meat rabbits were in our future – and they still might be – once I figure out how to prepare rabbit meat correctly…and get past “soft and fluffy with oh so beautiful eyes” to “tasty and edible.”
That mental acceptance is simply not there – and combined with the fact that I apparently suck at baking or stewing rabbit and I will be waiting on this for a while. It doesn’t make sense to grow an animal for meat that I don’t like the taste of (like I said, I’m not good at cooking them) and get nauseous over the idea of killing.
Millions of Apples…Peaches…Even Nectarines
I stood in front of our Granny Smith apple tree early this spring and discussed cutting it down with my husband and a guy from the County Extension. For eight years it had done absolutely nothing – a few apples here and there, small and worm-ridden.
It went on to produce over 140 pounds of apples this year – large ones, juicy, and (with the exception of two of fruits) worm-free.
As my dad said, “I’ve heard that talking to plants makes them grow better, but I don’t think they meant for you to threaten its life.”
Hey, whatever works…right?
We also pulled 88 pounds of peaches out of the lone peach tree and it took over three days of peeling, pitting and chopping to get it all in freezer bags or canned.
The nectarines were both bust and boom. We pulled over 60 pounds of nectarines out of the tree, but every single one of them had worms, so the chickens got them. We stored them in our Pepsi cooler in the garage and gave them several pounds a day for two weeks straight.
Next year…more dormant oil applications and more reducing of fruit buds so that the fruit can grow bigger and be hopefully worm-free.
A year ago…maybe two…I picked a whole mess of dandelion flowers. Dave bought some high-end grape juice, raisins and yeast – and we attempted to make dandelion wine.
As we were cleaning the garage on Saturday, I noticed the five-gallon jug. I pointed it out to Dave and he shook his head, “I tried it when the Friends (yes, we have friends who have last name of Friend) were here, it’s awful. We need to pour it out.
As he tilted it into the sink, he first filled up a small glass for me to taste it. I took one small sip and reached for my water, “Oh my god, it tastes like I threw up in my mouth.”
Dave just laughed. “No seriously, Dave, it tastes like stomach acid!”
So yeah, that was a bust.
Except for needing to duck slightly while inside, I love the twig house Dave built me for my birthday. Love it, love it, love it!
Crops That Failed
I planted hundreds of seeds of zucchini and swiss chard – nothing came up. I also planted quite a few sets of onions – which promptly withered and died in the heat of the summer. I was bummed that I couldn’t make zucchini bread, until…
Crops That Surprised
I began harvesting massive amounts of yellow squash this year. Over 22 pounds out of one 2×8 raised bed. I attribute this to multiple applications of diatomaceous earth. It stopped the vine borers in their tracks, or sent them off to the pumpkin patch (I lost all of the pumpkins we planted).
The potatoes were a great surprise. The first 2×8 patch of plants died back in mid-June and yielded over twelve pounds of potatoes. The second 2×8 bed yielded 14 pounds of potatoes six weeks later.
I’ve put all of the potatoes to good use – mainly by eating my 25 cent breakfast each morning.
It’s Never Enough
No matter what I pull out of the garden, it seems that it is never enough. Or as a reader of mine wrote recently,
I’m still proud of what I got from the garden but I wish it had been more.
Isn’t that always the case? I have yet to see a year where I was satisfied with every aspect of gardening. I think it will always be a work in progress. And that’s okay – it seems that gardening closely resembles life – they are both works in progress.