The growing season of 2019 has come to an end, at least in the outside garden and greenhouse, time to do an end of season garden update to review our annual garden. What worked well in this year’s garden, and what we will be looking into doing differently in the future.
Every year is a little different in our rather unpredictable climate. After enjoying a few warmer summers, we are back to cool weather as it seems. On a global scale, it might be a good thing, for us though, a few degrees up or down makes a huge difference.
With a cool and late spring, it seemed that summer would never come, but then a warm September made up for it. In the end, we again harvested an abundance of fresh produce, and as usual, we are very grateful for it.
It is worth it
Growing a garden is worth it, in cold climate, in a warm climate, in any climate. In fact, it might be a simple act of love toward yourself and the earth we live on.
At the end of this rather challenged 2019 garden season, I’m sure that we want to do it again.
Grow a garden, just grow one, even if the yield might not be what you would like to see. It still is so worth it.
The benefits are not just measured in food for us, there is so much more to a garden. When we grow a garden, we build up the soil, feed insects and birds, nourish our soul and body – all at the same time.
Growing a garden is a much-needed reminder that food does not come from money, it comes from the earth and is abundantly available if we only let it grow. Our world is so disconnected from this simple truth.
As you know we like to push our limits and even grow sweet potatoes in our cold climate. It’s fun, and if you want to try it, go for it! But for the effort and space it takes, we could rather grow something else that actually is better suited for a cold climate.
For next year I want to reduce and simplify our plant variety. Grow more of what does well here, and we actually enjoy eating, and less of what takes a lot of effort and mostly is just for fun.
There is nothing wrong with growing a garden just for fun, it is still worth it. For us, though I want to achieve more yield with less effort.
Practically that means that I’m giving up on sweet potatoes, too many plants of ground cherries, bean varieties that prefer a warmer climate (purple peacock), and eggplants (it’s just too cold here).
I’m also giving up on brussels sprouts because the yield to space ratio makes it not worth it for a small garden. Cabbage or cauliflower in the same spot gives so much more in a shorter period of time.
I love flowers! At first, I was so concentrated on growing food that flowers played a very insignificant role. But our garden already had a huge variety of perennial flowers. So I just tolerated them and secretly really enjoyed them. Over the years I have come to admit that flowers are a big part of our garden and bring me a lot of joy.
I could also see how many bees, butterflies and other insects come and visit our garden. If we don’t grow flowers, they won’t come.
Expend the food forest
Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production system with edible trees and perennial plants. We already grow a big variety of berries and perennial vegetables as well as fruit trees. As the trees and shrubs get established we can see the benefits of planting once and enjoying year after year.
It is easy to source out the annual garden to a nearby community garden, and use the space for more food forest plants and some exotics like figs too.
Expend the growing season
We have been growing early peas in an unheated geodesic dome greenhouse before, but this year I wanted more and tried to start cabbage family plants very early in the greenhouse, before tomatoes and warm weather crops need the space.
Things grew very well, and we were able to harvest broccoli in the beginning of June. They survived a blizzard at the end of April (-8C 17F), along with the peas and spinach outside. This just showed us again that a lot more is possible as we might think.
Never stop growing
In our garden, we do not really have an end of the season. Sure it is fall, and winter is coming, but our indoor garden is thriving. These tomatoes, started in the summer, are ready to grow and produce, along with cabbage family plants, lettuce, herbs and what else we find interesting to grow inside.
Since we do have more winter than summer months, having an indoor garden has been a real benefit. See more about our alternative to a passive solar greenhouse here.
What was your growing season 2019 like? I hope we could encourage you to continue to grow and grow more next year.
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Holly Wolfe says
Figs!!! Tell me more! What variety? I live in northern MN and would love to grow them!
We grow the Chicago hardy variety. So far it’s doing really well. In the winter the tree is “stored” in an unheated garage, in the summer it grows in our greenhouse.
I can surely relate to your growing years! I too was focused on food producers for many years but it was because I had a new garden palette to work from. I brought “flower plant starts” from my previous gardens and have only planted those and neighborhood rescues. I’m really with you on “what grows well” in my region and climate. I don’t have a greenhouse so healthy plants producing healthy seed and next years starts (seed potatoes) for next year are paramount. This year I let the flowers and several herbs loose, Chamomile, Feverfew, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Cosmos, Mint, Catmint, Hollyhocks. It was so beautiful and those Nasturtiums and Cosmos are still going at it! I planted for the first time (1) Spaghetti Squash and I direct seeded it in the right place because it grew up the Scarlet Runner bean trellis and gave me 14 squashes! The other benefit was the beautiful leaf contrast on the trellis….it was exotic! I didn’t plant a huge garden, just tucking in seeds here & there of Swiss Chard, Zucchini, Patty Pan squash and putting my “milk jug” greenhouses over them until they were ready to take on the world. Around them I just broadcasted salad greens, carrots and I thinned as needed. It was the first summer since 2010 when my husband suffered a massive stroke (then 3 more) that our garden was truly our exotic “Get-Away vacation spot”. (vacations are out for us now) It was a lot of hard work to get to this point….but I achieved making our own little bit of Eden. Winter comes and actually with the fruit tree pruning and berry cane work that needs to be done this year I’ll be working harder this winter. Cheers to all!
Thank you so much for sharing your garden with us. It sounds like a beautiful and bountiful place. The squash/beans combination sounds wonderful. I plan to grow more squash next year as well. Happy gardening!
I love have a bounty of squash because I love to make soups from them and the patty-pans I steam & blend just like mashed potatoes. I have found that my patty-pans & zucchini skins harden with time and keep fairly well beyond their harvest. The spaghetti squash are harvested “green” and they slowly turn yellow placed out on the table where the sun can shine on them. I had to pull them when the rains & winds picked-up. I’ve got 3 of those going now while the rest are being kept in the cooler lower level of the house. I’ll bring 3 more up to let them turn in a bit, so I’ll see how far I can make them last. We had our first frost last night!
That is an interesting way to do it. Thank you for sharing.
All was going well then the frost. Everything was covered but most didn’t make it. brought in 100 tomatoes and about 25 didn’t rot. Pumpkins were good and acorn squash did fine. All the brassicas fared well and were growing but the deer got in the garden, so no more… Guess I am done for this year. Happy dreaming about gardening!
Sorry, you had so much trouble. I guess that’s why we get such long winters, so we can recover 😉