September 19, 2011

Garden Report: 2011 Edition

Well, there's not actually much to report for 2011, because when my garden was supposed to be getting planted I was off having a baby. A few weeks later, though, I pulled it together and bought a few seedlings in six-packs, which, I have decided, I will do every year (until I have my own greenhouse!) because, frankly, our season is too short to try to grow from seed and I just don't have enough sunny window sills to grow seedlings indoors. And even if I did, my cat would eat them. She likes tender green things.

So, here's what did grow:

Peas: Yummy, yummy! Next year I will plant twice as many, because I actually only grew enough for a couple dinners of peas. Also, be sure to water in July or they will burn right up.

Beans: Golden wax and green varieties. Double yummy! But maybe next year I can find some pole beans. I always think I'm buying runner beans, when I'm actually buying bush beans, and I'd rather have the runner beans. They're just so much more ... dramatic.

Swiss Chard: Chard might be my favourite leafy green. (But then again, what doesn't taste good sauted with olive oil, garlic, onion, and a pinch of salt?) And the rainbow variety is certainly the most beautiful thing that grows in my garden. But I almost didn't have any this year thanks to a mysterious flock of birds that arrived in early June and ate them down to the stems. Any clue what kind of bird would do this? I'm stumped, but next year I will build a scarecrow of some sort.

Raspberries: Beautiful crop of raspberries this year--enough for breakfasts and for freezing. I think I'll use them to make raspberry tarts in January. Wouldn't that make the month just a little bit brighter? But note to self: raspberries ripen from July 15 to August 15, which is when I usually take a vacation. Next year, I think I'll stick around for the raspberries and take my vacation in June, when it's rainy and full of mosquitoes.

Rhubarb: This might be the most successful thing I grow. Two years ago I transplanted a couple of neglected root heads from an abandoned lot and now I've got four or five of the biggest rhubarb plants you have ever seen--far more than I can use. I mean, you can only eat about one rhubarb pie a week without getting sick of the stuff. I think next year I will try to can some strawberry-rhubarb jam, if I can work up the courage to try my hand at canning.

When you've forgotten to make dessert: pick raspberries with friends.

And here's what didn't grow:

Peppers: At the start of the season I bought a three-foot-tall miniature red pepper plant on a whim. And while it did produce lots of miniature red peppers, they were so miniature I actually couldn't pick them. Oh, well!

Strawberries: I had a nice little strawberry patch last year, but this year I had very little fruit, owing, I think to the fact that the strawberries share a bed with the raspberries, and the raspberries are starving them of light and nutrients. So next year, I'll rip up the strawberries and add more raspberry bushes. Might as well grow what grows well.

Tomatoes: Again. I planted only about 12 plants this year, and, to date, I have had only six ripe tomatoes. (Tie Dye--a yellow variety--and Pink Lady were the only early producers.) I have lots and lots of green tomatoes--and I think we'll be having Fried Green Tomatoes all this week. But the days have grown too cool to ripen any more and a frost is due any time now. So that's it! No more trying to grow tomatoes in Edmonton. I've sacrificed half of my vegetable beds to them every year I've been here, and it's just not worth the space or the disappointment.

Things to grow next year: Carrots, lettuce, spinach, and kale. These are all things I've grown before and things that we ate a lot of this summer, so next year I'll try growing them again. Also, I know grow well in Edmonton, and from now on I'm only going to grow what grows well here. In addition, I think I'll try my hand at potatoes, onions, and zucchini. My neighbours all grew lots of these, and they did really well. But remember: a little zucchini grows a loooong way.

A final note to self: You don't have to grow everything. That's what farmers' markets are for! This summer we made it to the farmers' market every weekend and have really enjoyed buying all those things we can't grow ourselves: eggplant, cucumbers, bok choy, gai lan, and peaches. Oh, the peaches! I had to throw this photo in for good measure. No, we can't grow peaches in Alberta, but BC grows the most delicious peaches in the world (outside of Georgia), and I've been enjoying one every day for the past month. Next year: pickled peaches?!

Most importantly: It's supposed to be fun. Just ask Colin.

How did your garden grow?


Vicky said...

Considering you had a baby, your garden seems to have done well. The catepillars are ravaging mine and the zucchini are turning into monster marrows because I keep forgetting to pick them!

Sarah said...

Have you tried Zucchini chocolate chip cookies? Or zucchini risotto? I got both recipes from Barbara Kingsolver's book and they've been a huge hit over here. We've been having them every week!

Recipes are here: