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.