Our 2014 spring garden was our fourth attempt (in three years) at growing food for our table. We planted less, and harvested more, so I guess you could safely say it was our most successful attempt, so far! We’re still learning as we go.
Last year we planted seventeen rows, each over 150 feet long, and we nearly worked ourselves to death! This year we dropped back to eleven rows, and shortened the rows a bit. At times, it was still overwhelming, but buying a tiller helped tremendously with the keeping the garden cleaner.
We got a late start planting our new potatoes, thanks to a rainy winter season, but we still made a decent crop. We didn’t plant many, but are still eating the harvest now–a couple of months later!
We didn’t plant many Lincoln Peas (1/3 row), but still harvested enough to eat some, put four packs in the freezer, and save some seed for next year. Next year’s crop will be larger, because these peas are really beginning to grow on me! They’re sweet and quite delicious with dumplings cooked in them.
Our carrots did well, and we had the largest harvest to date. I fed carrots to the chickens for two months, and still managed to harvest a gallon bag full of carrots for our use!
Our lettuce crop produced well, but our cabbage crop was lousy, this year. The cabbage heads didn’t grow very big, and we were constantly plagued by worms! I planted a different kind of cabbage seed, and am wondering if that had anything to do with our problems.
We only planted four squash bushes and three cucumber vines, but we made more squash and cucumbers than ever before. The reason? We didn’t see a single squash bug this year! As long as nothing kills the vines, which squash bugs tend to do, the bushes keep on producing!
Last year we were able to grow okra. This year, we didn’t have any luck with it. Some of the seeds didn’t sprout, and the seeds that did sprout grew into unhealthy plants. No okra for us this year.
We made our first attempt at growing peppers. At first our seeds refused to sprout. After replanting, we had a little better luck. Next year I’ll know to plant our peppers on the end of the row closest to our water source! Apparently peppers require more water than I thought. For some reason, we also lost a lot of bell peppers to bottom rot. I’ll have to do some research about this problem before next year. In the end, we had plenty of peppers, and they were still producing when plowed them under.
We did great growing green beans! Our bushes were beautiful and made plenty of beans. I picked green beans almost every day for two weeks! By the time they were gone, I was sick and tired of picking, eating, and canning them. The only problem we ran into regarding our green beans was battling stink bugs! 2014 seemed to be the year of the stink bug! We sprayed and we dusted, but the stink bugs kept on coming to punch holes in our green beans.
It wasn’t a great year for tomatoes, but it was partially our own fault. Ed neglected to stake and tie the bushes up properly, this year, and many of our tomatoes rotted from touching the ground. We won’t make that mistake again! I tried a new heirloom tomato seed known as Heinz VF and the tomatoes tasted very good, and they were a good size for canning. I’ll be planting Heinz VF again next year, and staking the bushes properly!
For a while it looked like our butter beans weren’t going to fill out. The bushes were loaded with pods, but they remained flat for what seemed like forever. Finally, about the time the bushes were ready to die, most of the beans filled out. We still haven’t discovered the secret to growing good butter beans, but we’re working on it!
We planted Pink Eye peas this year, and they produced well. For some reason, our pea pods didn’t grow quite as long and full as they should have, but the bushes still produced large amounts of peas. As always, we planted our ‘old standby’ of black crowder peas, and they did well, for the third year in a row.
Once again, we put chicken compost in the bottom of the furrows when we planted our two rows of corn. We, also, planted our corn in the wettest section of the garden, like last year. Our corn was healthy and produced well. I think we’ve figured out how to successfully grow corn! Chicken poop and plenty of water seem to be the secret.
We have two thornless blackberry bushes growing at the end of our garden, along with a variety of other fruit trees. This was only the second growing season for the blackberry bushes, and they really out-did themselves this year. I harvested over ten quarts of berries off those two bushes!
Below is a summary of how many vegetables I put in the freezer or in jars, followed by a video account our 2014 gardening experience. All-in-all, I’d say we had a pretty good year!
Blackberries-10 quarts Pink Eye Peas- 19 packs Black Crowder Peas- 23 packs Colored Butter Beans-39 packs Ford Hook Beans- 9 packs Butter Peas- 6 packs Green Butter Beans- 5 packs Corn- over 100 ears (on the cob) Tomatoes- 23 packs in the freezer and 14 quarts in jars Green Beans- 44 quart jars Pickled Peppers- 3 1/2 pints.