Nutrients in the Garden 20: End of the Season

September 11, 2014 | 10:09 am

DSC_0647 Here we are at the end of another garden season. The hail set me back, for some of you it was grasshoppers, deer or disease. As I harvest the last of the summer veggies, I am taking notes on what grew well and what didn’t.  

We had record breaking rainfall and I know that nitrogen leaked away with the rain. I spent more time looking at individual plants before fertilizing.  When a plant showed signs of deficiency; I fertilized. It was the best way for me to keep up the rain and the nutrient needs of my plants. All in all, I am grateful to have come through another garden season. Each year, I think my thumb just might turn a shade greener, while my nails stay dirty!

Here are some thoughts on my season:

Tomatoes – Not so great! They never fully recovered from the hail. I assess that I had 50% less than last year. DSC_0561

Green beans – Disappointing. Last year at this time, I was still harvesting green beans. This year the green beans weren’t as vigorous. I think the cool summer we had affected their overall growth. Peppers – Enough. We have had enough to make salsa and a few extra to share with friends.

Cucumbers – Consistent. I learned a long time ago; one cucumber plant yields plenty for my family. About every other day, my seven year old says, “Hey Mom, I found another cucumber.” DSC_0633

Potatoes – Epic failure! I used potatoes from last year as this year’s seed. I only had about a 25% germination rate. Good potato eyes are a MUST! The potatoes harvested were yummy, just not enough of them. Usually, I have enough potatoes to get me to Christmas. This year, the entire harvest has already been served for dinner.

Carrots – Awesome! Best harvest I have ever had. They are A LOT of work! I weeded and weeded the orange tubers! Pulling them was FUN and rewarding. I froze six quarts of carrots. DSC_0631 *We found a swallowtail caterpillar on the carrot greens! Fascinating!

Onions – Surprisingly well! Most are moderate in size but I had two exceptionally large ones. I let the onion stems dry and then I will braid the stems together to be hung in the basement. I will have onions all winter.

Sunflower – Only one survived the hail. We harvested the one head and removed the seeds. I blogged about how to harvest sunflowers last year, check it out. DSC_0608

Sweet Corn – Delicious! Sweet corn is a family favorite! Everyone helped with picking and freezing. Of course, we also ate it with every meal while it was fresh.

Cantaloupe – A surprise! We didn’t plant any cantaloupe this year and ended up with four plants. Seed from last year sprouted and have given us a lot of melons filled with vitamin A and C!

Watermelon – Zero! The watermelon had to compete with the pumpkins. The pumpkins took over and the watermelon plant didn’t produce.

Pumpkins – Impressive. We are watching the pumpkins transform from green squash into orange jack o lanterns. I do believe they will be orange for Halloween. It’s fun to have our own patch to harvest  from. Plus a money saver, pumpkins can get pricey. DSC_0456 * I wish! This thing was enormous. 1st Place at the Iowa State Fair! 1131 pounds.

Peanuts – Mysterious.  This is the first year we planted peanuts and we are harvesting them this weekend! I haven’t decided whether to roast them or make peanut butter.

Strawberries – A sore spot. Our strawberry patch didn’t survive the arctic winter. I bought a flat of strawberries in June and then didn’t plant them until…..two weeks ago. Yes, I watered a flat of strawberries all summer long. The reason why is a long complicated husband-wife debate. The good news is; the strawberries have put their roots in the garden. Please tell me, what did you learn this season?

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