After a slow start the 2015 garden season with a very wet and cold spring, our gardens finally flourished. August provided a lot of warmth that extended into the late fall. Despite the late start, we were privileged with an abundant yield of garden fresh vegetables and fruit as good or better than any other year.
Most of the summer was occupied with building a five foot fence around the lower garden. Next year the garden fence will need a few minor touch-ups before it is finally finished. We also accomplished a few smaller structural projects. More raised beds were added to the upper garden to border already established raised rows. Next year more raised beds are planned, especially for our cabbages and broccoli, making it easier to attach hoops for row covers.
We also experimented with an arched trellis for cucumbers. The trellis was made with using a 4’ x 8’ concrete mesh attached to the sides of two raised beds and shaped into the arch by gently bending the concrete mesh and holding it in place with cable ties. The trellis was 8 feet long and “Straight 8” cucumbers were planted along each side of the trellis. The trellis produced fantastic yields through the season and provided for lots of pickles, salads and cucumber sandwiches.
We redesigned our pole bean trellis to a ”V” design. This allowed sunshine to penetrate into the middle of the trellis and allowed air to circulate freely inside the trellis reducing moisture and the possibility of mildew. It also became an obvious advantage to harvesting the beans as they hung freely away from the strings. Two types of pole beans were planted, Carminat, a 7 to 8 inch long purple pole bean that produces a beautiful lavender blossom and Monte Gusto, a flavourable yellow pole bean that can be harvested the full season. The yield from the trellis provided daily fresh beans, pounds of frozen vacuum packed beans and this year we have experimented with a large brine crock full of beans.
We tried two new things this year and will certainly be doing them next year as well. With our regular greens we also planted mustard greens. They were enjoyed in salads, soups, and stir-fry. We enjoyed them so much that over 50% of our late fall garden was planted with mustard greens. The greens grew late into the season and a final harvest was taken in early December. The variety favoured was Red Giant.
The other star of our 2015 garden was the Chocolate Cherry tomato. A deep purple almost chocolate colour with a very sweet flavour. They are so good, most were eaten in the garden, but those that made it out were gratefully consumed.
The 2015 Garden Report – Part Two will look at some of our other experiments and the success, failure and why we would or would not do it again.
Until then, Merry Christmas to all from Tom and Di at the Creative Garden Patch.
The last post was about the “Green Tomato Blues”, whining about the green Brandywines and ranting over the green Romas. This week, Mother Nature has done some magic and the tomatoes are ripening and with Her continued support, there will be a good harvest. There has been an abundance of Tiny Tim and Chocolate Cherry tomatoes. Many are consumed right in the garden, but some make it to the kitchen. Last night’s cottage supper included a Panzanella Caprese Salad. Some Lemon Boy wedges were added to our salad. By the way, if you have not tasted Chocolate Cherry tomatoes, they are delicious!
Panzanella Caprese (Styleathome.com, August 2015) Ingredients:
½ quality baguette
¼ cup EVO
1-2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup small bocconcini torn in pieces
½ cup fresh basil leaves
Fresh ground pepper Procedure:
Preheat oven to 425°C, cut baguette into crouton cubes and place in a bowl.
Place oil and garlic in a small dish, let stand for 1-2 minutes then drizzle on bread, toss to coat.
Bake bread on cookie sheet until golden brown. Meanwhile, reduce balsamic to half over medium heat. Set aside to cool.
Arrange toasted croutons, tomatoes and bocconcici on a platter. Top with fresh basil leaves, drizzle with EVO and balsamic reduction. Grind pepper over salad to preferred taste. Serve.
I HAVE ALWAYS CAGED my tomatoes, but many experts agree that staking–and regularly pruning and tying the staked plants as they grow–is the most space-efficient and also most hygienic tactic of all, helping manage the potential for disease while yielding plenty of fruit. With tomato-transplant time just ahead here, I’ve been studying up with experts like Tom Stearns (that’s his High Mowing Organic Seeds tomato trial field, above) on how to stake and prune tomatoes, and other tips for producing a healthy, bountiful crop.
Staked plants will ripen faster crops of generally larger fruit. Stakes must be at least 1 inch thick and 6 feet high, inserted a foot into the ground. Adding supporting twine between stakes (as in the photo above) helps add stability; some gardeners lash horizontal cross-pieces of bamboo between stakes instead. Either way, as the plant grows you continue to tie it to the support with twine or twist-ties. Remember: Staked plants require a commitment to ongoing pruning, keeping the plant to one or two main stems of vine-like, not bush, habit. All small suckers that develop in the crotches between the leaves and the main stem must be removed.