May Comparisons

Last year we decided to track all of our harvest weight to get an idea of where certain plants grow best in our yard. It was a beginning to a habit, but this year will be when the data really starts coming in. Last year we were still growing in our temporary raised beds. No plant was in a place that it was likely to be in the future. So why did we bother? 2 reasons. The first, it created a habit of weighing everything that we grew. Believe me, it is a habit that we had to create. I love to eat some of the strawberries as we pick them, or our cherries, or our tomatoes….you can see a pattern. I like to graze while I harvest. If you are going to track your data, then you can’t graze. You need to just pick, clean and weigh….then you can enjoy the fruits, and veggies, of your labour. The second reason is that due to the sloped yard, the sun hits different areas for different lengths of the day. Some of the slope is steeper, with the cedar trees casting a larger shadow, earlier in the day on our growing area. To best understand how plants will do in these areas, we needed to start gathering information on the harvest. We also knew the type of soil in each area to give us a good idea of what kinds of soils we may need to mix in order to create a happy home for some of the plants.

Now that we are into the permanent beds, this year will be the first of many that will give us accurate data about where some of the plants do best, including what type of soil we added. Dorky, I know, but this is us. We are a dorky pair of people that enjoy spreadsheets and data, and of course gardening. Next year, when we have added in our newest beds to the mix, we will truly be rolling. The “tomato tower” side of the yard (as we dubbed it years ago), will be fully developed and ready for next spring. It offers shade a little earlier in the day, and has a steeper slope. The slope won’t matter much once we have terraced it, but it will affect how the sun interacts with it. That side also will not have a side slope, like the left side does, which will factor in when it comes to water run-off. See, so much to consider and it will be nice to have the information to record.

But there is more. We will also be recording when we plant everything, whether it is started from seed in the house, then when it gets planted in the garden, when we start seeds in the garden, when they start poking out of the soil, etc. etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if over the years we add more columns to the data. Average heights of indoor plants before they are planted outside; temperatures during the times that we plant the seeds in the ground outside; rainfall during each month? There will be a limit at some point, but for now our dorky brains are correlating data that we hope will confirm our decisions. On the flip side, we can also be spontaneous and go with our gut, even if the data isn’t really pointing us in a specific direction for planting. Take this year for example. We know that end of April is too early to plant outside in our region, and yet we did. Now we have plants that are growing fast and we feel ahead of the game. We will see as we do measure the harvest throughout the summer.

Ok, enough of our methods. Here is the May comparison. It is brief and simple…it’s strawberries!

We will start with the ever-bearing, strawberry tower. We paid close attention to which plants that we added to the strawberry tower already had strawberries on them so that we would not count them as part of our harvest. Those were due to a greenhouse. We did however, get a couple, 3 to be exact, that grew and ripened on our old plants before the end of May. Those early berries weighed a whopping 19 g. Not much, but we will take it!

Our wild driveway berries had a great spring. These little plants showed up a few years ago, and are now well established. We believe they came from a planter that we had by the fence back before we had removed the junipers from the back part of the yard. Planter gardens were all we could do, and at the time, we had a bunch of strawberries on the other side of the fence. These wild plants produce very small, but very flavourful berries. They don’t weigh or amount to much, but they pack an intense flavour, which I have been enjoying in my morning yogurt a few times this spring. Last year we picked 40 g in May. This year we picked 102 g! YUM! For reference, here is how small the berries are. There are a lot of them this year, they are just small so the weight is a hard way to reference the abundance of them this year.

It will be interesting to see what our June harvest brings. Last year it was strawberries, cherries, green onion and herbs. I am guessing, it will be similar items this spring, but hopefully in higher numbers.

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