Garden 2009: Successes!

So since I completely abandoned my blog last year, I didn’t post anything about my second year of gardening. I had so much fun with my first garden that I had to do a second garden. Browse through the 2008 posts in the spring and summer months if you want to read about my first garden. There are only a bazillion posts about it.

Well did I ever garden last year. I made the garden MUCH larger and organized the growing area into ten 10′ x 12′ beds. That doubled the growing space compared to 2008. 1200 square feet! Instead of having one big square dirt area for everything, I now had ten separate beds with grass paths in between. Here’s what it looks like:

Thank you to my husband for making me this diagram! We still have the same compost bin and it works great. The entire area of the garden is fenced in to keep our dogs out, however it doesn’t keep other animals out unfortunately. The two shapes at either end are mulberry trees.

The ten separate beds worked out great and I think it will be even more beneficial in the future years when I have to rotate the plants. For example brassica plants (ex. broccoli) can’t be planted in the same place for five years. It would be hard to keep track of exactly where they were planted in a big dirt square. Now I can just rotate them from bed to bed.

The grass pathways were also wonderful because I had a lot more room to move around and places to lay tools and baskets without worrying about damaging the plants. I can also get a wheelbarrow in there now.

We planted a TON of stuff last year. Some plants were wildly successful and some were miserable failures. Today I’m going to post about the sucesses and we’ll save the failures for another time.

Bush Beans. One of our most successful crops was bush beans, aka green beans. This year I bought bulk bush bean seeds from a local store. We did three successive plantings of two five foot rows, four weeks apart. We had more beans than we knew what to do with. We filled up the new freezer and gave a lot away. And we even composted a lot that we let go bad by accident. Here’s a picture of a day’s harvest that included a lot of green beans:

Lettuce. Another very successful crop was lettuce. We also bought bulk black-seeded simpson (green leaf) lettuce seeds from the local store. Buying bulk seed is the greatest. The smallest amount you can buy is more seed than we would need in a year and only costs a buck in general. In the spring I did two sucessive plantings of a 10′ row of lettuce about four weeks apart. Those two rows gave us more than enough lettuce. In the fall I also did two successive plantings of a 10′ row about 2 or 3 weeks apart. I don’t think we ever made it to the second row of lettuce before the frost hit. We were still eating off the first row. And we were picking lettuce into November! Here’s the spring lettuce:

Radishes. Another great crop was radishes. So easy to plant and they mature in 30 days. You can plant them in spring and fall but we just did a fall planting. We had one that looked like a butt! I know I took a picture of it so as soon as I find it, I’m posting it.

Hot Peppers. We had great luck with hot peppers – jalapenos and sport peppers. We bought one seedling of each at a local nursery and dropped them in the garden in May. They produced like crazy and we canned a lot of pickled hot peppers and also canned jalapeno jelly. I did try to grow a jalapeno plant from seed but it didn’t make it.

Some herbs. As for herbs, basil was successful again in 2009 but we did not make as much pesto as we did in 2008. Now I’m rationing it so it will last me until the basil is ready this summer. We also had good luck with dill, thyme and sage, all grown from seed.

Tomatoes were also very successful. We grew yellow pear, grape, roma, big boy, jet star and celebrity. The yellow pear, roma and big boy I grew from seeds. The seeds did much better this year compared to 2008 because I put a lamp real close to them. As a result they weren’t reaching so much for the light and grew much sturdier. The yellow pear tomatoes were out of control. They produced hundreds of fruit. We had no idea what to do with it all. Eventually we just gave up on them and let them be free. The romas were fantastic as usual and we froze a lot of tomato sauce and tomato puree.

Turnips, surprisingly, were also crazy successful. We threw the seeds in the ground at the last minute in the fall and nearly every single one sprouted. We picked the last of the turnips on Christmas Eve before all of Kansas turned into a frozen tundra covered in a foot of snow.

Bell Peppers. I’ll also throw bell peppers into the success category. We had seven bell pepper plants total with a variety of green, red, yellow and orange. We ate a lot of fresh pepper and also froze a big bag of pepper strips for cooking this winter.

Flowers. I also planted one full bed of flowers in the 2009 garden which was really fun. The best ones were the dwarf sunflowers. Compared to last years 12 foot sunflowers these things were tiny and cute. I always have to plant sunflowers because they are the Kansas state flower! I also planted zinnias, cosmos and bachelor buttons, as well as marigolds all over the garden.

There you have it. These were the sucessful plants. But oh there were some failures and I’ll write a separate post about that in a few days.


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