Tipping The Scales – 2022

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With the 2022 growing season at an end, it is time to do an overall comparison to last year. There were some plants we didn’t grow this year and some new ones we added so it is good to do a full overview. We find we go back to previous years stats to determine a baseline of what is “normal”, though because we have been making so many landscaping changes to the yard each year, it has been difficult to establish what is normal when the plants are in new growing areas and beds each year. Moving forward, this coming growing season will likely be the last year that we have “new” beds, so we should be able to make good progress on understanding the garden better.

That being said, this is year 2 with our first set of garden walls, and for some plants it was a banner year, and for others we came in lower than last year. It do believe a big part of it is finding the right locations for some of the plants. For example, the cabbage did fantastic in an area that had a very short wall behind it, but terrible where it had a tall rock wall behind it and a brick wall beside it. In retrospect, it was likely just too warm for it in that corner. We will look at putting something that loves the heat in that section rather than plants that do better with just a mild heat.

The temperatures were all over the place this year, though last year was an odd-ball year with the heat-dome…And I feel like 2020 was an exception as well because human activity was at an all time low with everyone staying home, and we saw the impacts of that. Where we live, the weather was the most enjoyable, mild summer we have had in ages, and no fires! So really, I feel like I need to get an idea from 2019 to see what was a “normal” year. But that is 3 years ago, so is that really an accurate comparison either? Too many questions about it all, so I didn’t bother looking it up.

So how did we do overall? Overall, it was another great year for the garden, with more variety to the vegetables and fruits we were growing, as well as healthy harvests of most of our plants. We did have a few plants however that still did not produce anything, so we will try moving them to a new home next year. We grew a lot less this year compared to 2021 but were above what we grew in 2020. I do feel like the heat dome last year created a greenhouse like condition, and with steady irrigation to the roots of our plants, they thrived in the weather. This year, our plants overall did very well, but didn’t have that same burst of heat that really made everything take off early. Instead, we had a very cool and rainy start to our season, which slowed the progress of the plants in the beginning. We also neglected a few of the plants which definitely resulted in lower harvests.

2019202020212022
135.19 lbs167.82 lbs231.75 lbs197.53 lbs

With food costs what they are, we did very well with our garden. Averaging the food costs between Safeway, Superstore and Save-On-Foods, our overall produce amounts came in at $1099.53, which is fantastic for the wallet. Now that we are well into winter, I am happy I was able to save and store a lot of veggies for the winter months, though not as many as I would have liked. I will also have to supplement with some of the veggies that just don’t store long-term like cucumbers and lettuce. Here’s an overview of how we did with each item from the garden.

We had 3 plants that didn’t produce anything this year.

Our cauliflower just didn’t want to seed. We tried seeds we had and when they didn’t grow, we tried a brand new pack of seeds. Out of the new pack, we only got 2 plants out of 12 seeds planted. Of those 2 seeds, 1 got stuck in the seed and i was unable to get the seed off without damaging the plant. The other made it and we did get it into the garden, but it stayed stunted and never grew.

The Cantaloupe had a slow start due to the weather, but did eventually really start growing. The vine however never produced any female flowers, and what flowers it did produce was sparse. I feel like it didn’t have a good start, and then was too shaded below the corn and sunflowers. We are going to try them in the hot corner that the cabbage didn’t do so well in.

The pumpkins also didn’t produce anything. The vine stayed relatively short and only had 3 flowers, all of which grew in October. Again, we will try them in a new space to see if we can get some to produce. I would like to have pumpkin for the winter months (pies and kurbis pickles), and for a treat for the dogs.

The butternut squash was almost a bust, but in September some vegetables finally started growing and by mid-October, I was able to harvest 1 small vegetable. There were many other vegetables starting, just super late and with not enough time to actually grow.

No more growing in the corn and sunflowers. It just hasn’t worked out for us, and after 2 years, we don’t think it is a weather issue, but rather a crowding issue. Very different weather for the last 2 years, and yet the butternut squash had mostly male flowers both years. I was sure I wasn’t going to get any females this year, but lucked out toward the end of the season.

We had a few plants that we didn’t plant this year but are listed in the infographic above. Due to landscaping, we just didn’t get them in on time, or didn’t get new spaces for them up and running in time.

Potatoes are going to alway be a staple. This year, it just didn’t work out for the timing of getting them into the ground. It is unfortunate, because this time of year, I am usually really enjoying our harvest. Back to it next year, with a variety. Though, I don’t think we will be doing towers anymore. Instead we will do the good old fashioned mounding in one of the new garden beds. See how it goes. The towers were great space savers, but the potatoes still only grew in one section of the tower, not like advertised. Perhaps others have better luck with their towers, but for us, we are going to scrap them for now.

Brussel sprouts were also not planted this year. I don’t think I will plant them again in the future either. The battle of the aphids and the white moths are just too much to make it worthwhile. I love brussel sprouts, so it is unfortunate not to want to grow them, but at least for now, they are off the growing list.

We had a few plants that did ok. They produced well, but could have been better in some way based on past years growing.

The cabbage still produced, but in much smaller heads that I managed to grow last year. As mentioned above, this I believe was due to location, so we are going to change it up and see what happens.

The zucchini grew spectacularly, but our harvest was smaller this year as we only grew 1 plant instead of 2. What was great, was that I could keep up with it! I’m very ok with the smaller harvest of these this year. In fact, I will be only planting 1 plant again in the future.

The onions were a really fun experiment this year. It was really cool learning to grown them right from seed. We will definitely be doing this again next year with a few adjustments. The first, is that despite a great variety, I would like more of each one. The other issue that we had was the overall size of the onions were not great. They were ok, but in past years, we have had much larger onions to enjoy. I am tempted to do both seed and some starter bulbs to see if there is a big difference. If there is, then I will know that we are doing something wrong with our seeds. I know we want to start them sooner this year, so that the bulbs are larger when they go into the ground. Perhaps that is what will make the difference.

The corn variety that we grew this year was a much better variety for enjoying off the cob. We did grow more overall this year, but the cobs were stunted, with a lot of them only producing a section of the cob. We realized our mistake right away and it was definitely gardeners error. We didn’t think when planting, and planted our corn in the same spot as last year. We also didn’t add any nutrients to the soil to replenish what the corn took out last year. Corn leaches so much out of the soil, that we should have really rotated it to a new spot. Moving forward, it will be on a 3-4 year cycle of spots to ensure better success.

Our strawberries did ok, probably better than we tracked actually. The tower should have been taken down this year and the strawberry patch moved to a new location, but we just ran out of time, so we just left them as is. The top 2 layers of the tower also didn’t come back this year, so it was only the bottom level that was growing strawberries. By mid-summer, the bindweed had made a good home of the netting we used to protect the strawberries and the wolf spiders had built some luxury condos and invited all sorts of new friends. Between the weeds and the spiders, it became a bit of a jungle in there and I couldn’t be bothered to harvest, so I know we missed a lot of berries, resulting in low numbers this year. Next year, we will get back into the strawberry patch and start a whole new one with new plants. I will still need to build some sort of protection from the birds for it, but it will be in the garden walls, so it should be easier to do.

Our carrots also didn’t seem to get very big this year, but that could also be an issue with a porky dog who helped herself to most of them earlier than I would have finished harvesting them. I heard from a few people this year though, that their carrots were a little stunted and didn’t seem to get up to their normal sizes. I’m thinking my main problem was the dog. Better fencing around this area will also have to be built.

The peppers overall did well again this year, but it was a much smaller harvest than last year. I do think the heat last year really helped the pepper plants grow large. The plants were happy in the house, but the cool spring delayed the planting outside, and eventually I had to put them out or risk losing them due to overgrowth in the pots. They just didn’t like that cold start and were delayed in their growth.

So what grew really well this year? Our creme de la creme of the garden this year.

Well, let’s start with our tomatoes. We switched out the pear tomatoes for big beef, which we haven’t grown in a few years, which resulted in a much larger harvest…partly because they are a much larger tomato. But, we also saw tomatoes coming off much later into the season, and an abundance of growth from bottom to top of the plant. I will not run out of tomatoes this winter season!

The cucumbers did great this year. We had a lot of growth and regular harvests of delicious cucumbers. We were slightly lower than last year since those lemon cucumbers from last year grown in a ridiculous abundance. But the difference is that this year, we ate almost all of the cucumbers. Last year, we couldn’t give away enough of the lemon cucumbers, so many went to waste. It was easier to share the traditional long english style cucumber.

The celery once again was great. Though, I think I will have to be more careful with my planting as I overcrowded without realizing because I forgot that we did 3 plants per pot. Next year, we will do smaller pots with only 1 per pot, and I am going to space them out further for some thicker stalks. Overall though, despite the overcrowding, the celery still turned out amazing and we consumed most of it, with plenty saved for winter soups and stir-fry’s.

I don’t have a gauge for the broccoli, because this was our first year growing it, but man-oh-man do I feel like they were stellar this year. We harvested beautiful size main heads off the plants and then were harvesting the side stalks right up until Oct 22. And not just little bits. My last harvest resulted in a huge stockpot of cheddar broccoli soup.

I am putting the beets in the great category because they would have been great. I managed to harvest about half of my planted beets before disaster struck. Miss Basil buried the last half of my beets when she went to town in the carrot patch. Because the greens got buried, I had to try to dig them out, with no success. So instead, I had to harvest the beets at the size they were…which were small because they didn’t get the growing time they should have. But they were well on their way, so I have no doubt that it would have been an amazing harvest again.

Last, but certainly not least, the herbs were amazing again this year. The basil was out of control to the point that I ended up tossing a large amount of it because no one wanted any and I just couldn’t process any more of it. I am definitely going to cut back on the amount I grow this year. I would say cut it by half. The tarragon came back this year, which I was really happy about because I love it in so many dishes. I am hoping it will come back again next year, but we will see. If not, I will make sure to plant more. My rosemary was slow to start, but worked out really well and was delicious, as was the sage and oregano.

With food costs on the rise, we were very thankful to have the space to grow some of our own food. It is rewarding on so many levels, but this year, it was rewarding for our bank account. Below is a table over the last 4 years. It really puts into perspective the drastic change in food costs over the last year especially.

2019202020212022
135.19 lbs167.82 lbs231.75 lbs197.53 lbs
$ 421.37$ 506.01$ 940.38$ 1099.53

Until next year…We are looking forward to our new walls and garden beds, and expanding what we are able to grow and the different varieties of foods.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Well done. The organization and tenacity are really impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

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