A slow year for veggie gardening

We have been so incredibly busy that Lee hasn’t had time to hoe in the garden much or finish fixing the rototiller. He has been very stressed over the garden but I tell him no worries–we get done what we get done. Actually, I didn’t think we would even have a vegetable garden this year as we wanted to focus on the house more. We ended up getting a few things started, but it’s not as extensive as our plans or seeds. We are a bit bummed out by that, but on the whole pretty pleased.

My garlic from last year is still looking really good. I’m looking forward to a new harvest of garlic as last year’s supply is getting low.

Last year when I was planting my winter garden I planted fava beans. I had no idea what they were but I knew they could be planted for spring harvest, and into the ground they went. So … now I have fava beans, and I still don’t know what they are. I guess I will have to look for recipes.

We did get a few pathetic little onions going in the spring. They may be small, but I am still excited about them. The white object by them is a vole trap. We are still dealing with an out-of-control vole population. Trying to garden with the little veggie munchers all around is very frustrating.

I planted a small patch of popcorn without any hope that it would sprout. Lee’s failure twice last year to get his field corn to sprout made me feel worried (note aforementioned vole problem). I honestly thought that the voles were going to tunnel up and down each row and eat every seed. I about wet my pants when I saw little corn sprouts coming. So far my little section of broom corn is still a no show though.

I had the same worry about the voles eating the bean seeds I planted. I ended up planting three row each of three varieties of dry beans. I had so many more I wanted to plant, but I only had a small bed with good tilth from our failed over-wintered lettuce. Oh well, the rest of my bean seeds will just have to wait until next summer.

I planted a mix of squash, pumpkins, and zucchini from seed and from starts I bought. I was so late in planting the seed that the starts are kinda of a backup against voles and failed germination. I was afraid if I didn’t plant any starts I was going to be really disappointed if not one seed sprouted. We planted two rows of potatoes which were left over from last year. Those were also planted way too late, but if we have a late fall then maybe it will be ok. The potato starts were going to be composted anyway so we might as well take our chances. We did get our tomatoes and peppers in mid-May and they are doing great so far. Here is an overview of our sad little garden as it stands at this moment.

Lee started shoveling pig poop so he could get it composting. He was going to count every wheel barrow full that he dug up but he lost track. We layered the poop with the straw from the pig hut shelter.

He thought he may have moved about 25 loads, but there is still a lot of poop left to shovel out of the pig pen. As he sweated away I heard him wishing for a tractor with a loader.

There is grass about six foot tall in certain areas of our fields. Lee’s tractor started having issues last year (running rough) and it’s got worse this year. At the moment he thinks it’s a carburetor problem. It will start up and run okay for a little bit, but when you try to mow it gets really unreliable and he has to coax it back to park it. He gave it an oil change this spring, so it has decided to slowly leak oil in appreciation.

The tractor sat so long that vines were growing up it again.

Lastly, after living in this house for almost three years, we had some plants by the mailbox bloom for the first time. I thought they were gladiolas but boy was I wrong. It looks like iris to me.

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22 Responses to A slow year for veggie gardening

  1. Ali says:

    Considering all you two are juggling, it looks great! I’m the East Coast Queen of biting off more then I can chew, so I know. Lee, relax about the garden, you are doing the best you can. The reason our forebears died so young is they worked themselves to death. We don’t have to do that anymore!

    My advice: make a list of everything, then prioritize it in terms of urgency, then go back and deliberately add in a few fun things. When you finish an item, cross it off and enjoy the endorphin rush.

    • robin says:

      I think that is probably some good advice Ali. It’s hard not to feel stressed out and overwhelmed when you feel like you have so much to do. I do love that crossing an item off a list feeling though. I’ve been thinking about writing a list of to-do stuff just to keep Lee and I on track.

  2. Evan says:

    Try a product called Seafoam. It’s a fuel additive and did wonders for my carburetored tiller.

    • lee says:

      Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll look into that. The carburetor problem is partly my fault, as the tractor routinely ends up with the old gas from our other tools.

  3. Ann says:

    Robin, the garden looks glorious! You know what I said to Eric this year? No raised beds, no garden! That’s it – I’m on an embargo! I’ve so had it with weeding and weeding and weeding like a wild-woman that I’m done until the beds are raised. The cedar’s now on order and maybe next year I’ll be back at it again. I’m just growing herbs and potatoes (an experiment), and really should have made an effort to put some garlic in last fall. Good intentions…

    That said and done, the corn in our field is growing by leaps and bounds, even though it was planted really late this year. We’ve had a nice mix of warm temps and lots of rain, hopefully we’ll have a good summer for corn.

    It would be lovely to do everything…your chickens take lots of effort, and I’m getting intimidated by the thought of getting some when I read about your tribulations. Again, we’re not there yet, but the time will come! We’re really giving the house a big push this summer, something we normally save for winter months. We’ve both had it LOL! One thing at a time…deep breaths!

    I am sure Lee was cursing his tractor as he was shoveling pig poop! Oh a nice front loader would be a great thing! We’d still be using a scythe if it wasn’t for our John Deere. The day Eric drove the new tractor home was a red-letter day. The day we paid it off was another LOL! Such a huge expenditure, but so necessary.

    Yummm…fava beans! They are so delish! A bit of work to peel, but worth the extra work. Dang, you’re making me feel guilty I didn’t make more of a effort in the veggie patch this year!

    Keep up the great work!

    • robin says:

      I almost went on a veggie garden strike this year. You wouldn’t believe the amount of guilt I started having. I ended up trying to get a few things in just to keep it at bay. I hate weeding soooo much. That is probably why our garden is always a weedy mess.

      I’m glad your corn is doing well. My luck with corn is rubbish and about the only corn item I can grow with somewhat success is popcorn. Ok maybe I should say it was the only corn I’ve managed to grow to a finish that was edible. lol

      I would say that on a whole our chickens are usually low maintenance. So low maintenance in fact (due to their automatic feeders and waters) that me not checking their eggs every day probably led up to this egg eating problem that we are having now. I do enjoy having them around and they are fun to watch.

      Lee has been keeping his eye out for a dirt scoop (3-point) for his tractor. I think he needs to actually get it running reliably before he goes buying any man tractor accessories for it. 🙂

      • Ann says:

        Oh yes, I can imagine the amount of guilt you feel! I always tell myself, (to quote the great Eric, who’s not driving himself nuts like I am, “This is a marathon, not a race. You have to pace yourself!”) LOL! There’s a lot of truth in there. Everything in its time.

        Regarding your slug problems, have you considered using copper around your seedlings to get them started off? Apparently slugs get an electrical shock when they touch copper. I found some copper dish-scrubbers at the hardware store – they’re actually knit copper tubes – and cut them into rounds, placing one around each of my potato plants. We don’t have as many slugs as you do on the ‘wet’ coast, but it did help.

        • robin says:

          I have heard about the copper trick before. It would probably cost a minor fortune with all the plants we have out in the garden. I’ve always wanted to test it out though. 🙂

  4. Phoebe says:

    This weather is a real challenge even if one did not have a million other things to do besides fight voles and slugs. I went out to slug pick the other night and baby slugs were on my potatoes like confetti.

    • robin says:

      Aren’t the baby slugs awful. I think we must have a billion of those tiny little goo balls sliming their way around our garden. Something has been nibbling on my newly sprouted beans and I’m not amused. Grrrrr

      • Phoebe says:

        I have resorted to using “Sluggo”. It’s tilth certified organic, not poisonous to anything (just gives the slugs stomach aches) and it is making a big difference in my garden. I just wish I had sprinkled it in the beginning instead of waiting. Now my garden is so behind.

      • lee says:

        Yes, we also use Sluggo here in the spring and early summer. It’s especially useful when the seedlings are first emerging, as the slugs will just come by and mow them off.

  5. Rae says:

    Garden’s lookin great! Mine, not so much. Lol.

    We’re trying corn for the first time at the new place, and this variety is doing pretty well. If I remember correctly, it’s a shorter season variety with a lower germination temp. Really taking off at our place. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the stinkin variety name. Just that we got it at Wilco. I’m running on stupid today.

    • robin says:

      I hope your corn works out well for you. I’m so bad at growing it. Like a true vegetable garden gambler I’m addicted and still like trying to grow it.

  6. ..looks good..I think you guys are too hard on yourselves! my garden is screwed..and I wish I had of skipped this year due the the bitter disappointment I feel everytime I go to look at the small veggies. depressing…then again my garden is 1/10th the size of anything you have…constant storage issues and lack of a hooked up fridge/freezer ( and lack of canning/bottling skills and equipment ) means we have to keep things small..I always mention it but someday I will have a sweet big garden..living in a totally craptastic weather area does have 1 advantage..weeds are not all that prolific..I hope.

    • lee says:

      Yeah, people who have gardened elsewhere and then move to this area always lament how quickly the weeds grow. In spring the weeds and slugs will try their best to choke out the garden and in the summer the lack of rain will do it.

      I liked your post about the solar oven. Have you looked into a solar dryer? If you can count on 2-3 days at a time of sun in the summer then you should be able to build a dehydrator. Dried foods are extremely space efficient to store also.

      • ..just followed the link back..I should really check back after I post..more.

        WHen I originally posted my comment I would have said ‘no’ but I am planning on using the passive solar air heater as a dehydrator in the summer months…as an initial step at actually preserving food..right now the only preserving we do is when I leave a veggie in a warm/dry spot accidentally..I had a mummified peach that I found in Jan after sitting for 5 months on a shelf but something tells me the nutritional value would leave something to be desired. hehe

  7. Lynn says:

    Your garden is amazing!!!! We don’t even have a garden this year!! None! Nada! Nothing! It was too much work to weed and water, and then we had a drought last year and the well ran dry, and so any water we got from the well was used for us humans and the garden died a sad and dried up death. I was heartbroken, but I had no water for it. I chose to wash dishes and laundry and flush toilets instead. And so, alas, no garden. I miss it though. I miss the fresh veggies! I’ll just have to drool over yours! 🙂

    • Phoebe says:

      Lynn have you thought about capturing your gray water and using it to water your garden?
      There is an interesting garden technique they use in Africa called “key hole gardening” http://www.scribd.com/doc/3482845/How-to-make-a-Keyhole-Garden-East-African-style
      It might suit your situation perfectly.

      • robin says:

        That is a good idea. Another idea is planting a garden for a drought. Basically you have to keep all weeds out of the garden (so they won’t steal available moisture) and space your plants far apart. Steve Solomon’s book Gardening When It Counts talks about it. When we get our veggie garden beds in permanently Lee wants to experiment with some plants to see how it works.

    • robin says:

      Don’t feel bad Lynn. I really was a hairs breath away from not even trying a summer veggie garden. If I was in your place last year I would have picked the toilet and dishes and laundry over my garden too. 🙂

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