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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Garden Winners and Losers

This year I had some outstanding harvests. Gardening is a huge part of our farm and food supply. 
For the last 6 years no matter how small something is always growing in my garden.
In the fall and winter there may be greens, onions , garlic ,spinach and carrots ... To early spring with mass amounts snow peas , carrots ,broccoli , more greens, radishes and kohlrabi .. To summers filled with tomatoes , cucumbers, melons, okra, peppers, squash , grain corn and more! 
This extra long Summer's end has left us still with peppers, okra, wild tomatoes and sweet potatoes not yet gathered..
Waiting for that first frost to sweeten the fall/winter greens! Spinach , broccoli, cabbage and hopefully Brussel sprouts!!
The garden is never boring .. It's a ton of work.. But boring?? NO! 
But it can be totally overwhelming if you have other things going on.. 
Like kids.. like dairy animals,,or like animals that need more attention & training than other livestock (donkeys!)
Maybe Like so many different hobbies ( I have to many hobbies!) .. Or Like a life! 
And no matter how good you think you are at gardening... There will be failures!
Every single year....
No matter how tried and true you plant the weather will rule your outcome.

Now this year , yes, I had huge harvests and lots of success .. 
But I also had loads of fails this year, mostly because I did a lot of experimenting ...never know till you try!

This year...
Winners: •little tyke cucumbers ( extra early hybrid) planted in wall o waters in March .. I was harvesting cucumbers in April!
•Red stripped greasy beans( hands down best tasting green bean I've ever ate,, we loved these! unfortunately so did the rabbits.. Next year I will protect longer!)
•paymaster dent corn ( a grain corn that can be grow on sub-standard soil,, needs another run because my goslings broke in and ruined most of it.. But it did produce even without the additional mid fertilizing I have to give other grain corn)
•red ripper cow pea
•Dixie Lima peas
•Bertha low Lima beans
•snow on the mountain Lima beans
•Charleston grey watermelon (amazing!)
•spaghetti squash ( 88 day , netted and planted extra early to avoid SVB. Planted late it couldn't hold up to the heat) 
•tender green mustard ... Love!
•dragon tongue mustard .. So hardy! But very hot and sharp! Needs frost to mellow the flavor. 
•glacier tomatoes ... This is an extra early , more cold tolerate tomato and only does good here ( zone 7) planted extra early! I start seeds end of Janurary and plant in wall o waters in March . 
Done right this plant will give you tomatoes by the end of May/first of June .. Which is way better than waiting until July for most tomatoes! They do die out end of June. 
• sugar Ann ... Great sugar snap peas! Early and long producing for a pea here!
 
Losers never to be planted again...
• any *new* specially bred OP tomato .. I devoted huge space to plant these new improved tomatoes .. none of them could hold up in the humidity here. Some never produced a single tomato , some produced a small amount of unimpressive tasting tomatoes! I'll stick with my 3 tried and true favorites next year! Maybe try one of the hybrid specifically bred for humidity! 
•mouse melons .. Hardly produced until late summer.. Took up a lot of space..Then they produced a load of tiny fruit and have an odd , unappealing texture. Nope!
• buttercup squash.., supposed to be more insect resistant .. Lol! Produce 2 squash and died from SVB!
• shark fin melon ... It's huge .. Grew and grew took over a huge area..and it's weird and it produced 2.. Never again!
• cassabanana ... No.. Just no!!
•triple treat pumpkins... A naked seeded pumpkin that's supposed to be good for eating and carving..Produced 3.. They were terrible keepers.. Not a lot of seeds.
So.. No...
•Job's tears... Used as a grain like barley .. They grew beautifully! Formed perfect seeds and then kinda molded ☹️ not good for high humidity obviously..,
•tiger nuts... Grew great!! Produced well..But what a pain to harvest and clean!!! Would be good in a food plot to draw in turkeys though 
•any variety of sweet corn ... Just no! They suck up a huge amount of nutrients , attrack pest like crazy and take a lot of space For very little food.. And are kinda a one trick pony compared to a good heirloom dent grain corn .. Which can be eaten off the cob in its milky stage or left to dry for cornmeal either way. Either one the Cobs can be used to make corn cob syrup though (which I made this year and it's amazing!) 
• flour or flint corns... They are just to attractive to pest here. And they typically only produce 1 ear per stalk. I like dents that produce 2 ears per stalk. For obvious reasons ..
• any snow pea but Norli ... I planted 4 different types this year. Snow peas don't exactly like this climate and must be planted very early to get a crop .. I plant in February.
 But most snow peas still yield to little for me .. All but Norli. I won't bother with any other again.
•runner beans... Did surprisingly well planted extra early but wow! They take up tons of space! Not worth the space for the yield for me. 
• fava beans... They are yummy and different but they yield low and I've decided they must hate it here. Only 1 variety I planted produced anything. I'd rather just have more snow peas anyways. 

I think that sums up all the experiments this year!! Except for the sweet potatoes which haven't been all harvested yet..

Next year I will more than likely stick with tried and true since I'll be milking sheep and cheese making again on top of planting, training donkeys , managing baby poultry and lambs! 

Hope some of you zone 7 gardeners find this helpful! 
Blessings for great future gardens!!!

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