Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 Garden

Well, I had intended to write about my garden this summer but between a nasty surgery and hard recovery and my retirement I never did. So I'll wrap up the year now.

I had a very late start planting because of my surgery. I was unable to walk from February until late May and even then running a tiller or digging was not possible. It was early July before anything was in the ground. Rabbits, deer, and a groundhog plagued my garden. I eventually shot the rabbits and groundhog but there is not much you can do about deer. I surrounded or covered everything with fencing and that solved that problem for the most part.  The rabbits and groundhog went into my compost pile and will be in the garden next year as fertilizer.

This year I managed to plant two tomato plants, six peppers, green beans, onions, sweet potatoes (the first time trying them), zucchini, and radishes. I also had many "volunteer" potatoes grow from potatoes that I failed to find when I dug up last year's crop.  From these plants I harvested the following:

1. Two bushels of tomatoes. I ate some fresh and then made two batches of sauce.
2. Half a dozen peppers. This was disappointing. The plants did not do very good this year.
3. We ate green beans fresh for a couple weeks and I froze 24 servings for this winter.
4. I harvested fifty onions but they were mostly golf ball sized; very strong flavored though.
5. The deer loved the sweet potato vines and ate them back to the ground several times. I finally got them protected with fencing but by then it was late in the summer. Even so I got 30 nice tubers. Then I found out they have to be "cured" before you can store them. I used the half-bathroom in my garage with a small heater to keep the room at 75 degrees for ten days. It was a hassle but seems to have worked. They sweet potatoes are wrapped in paper and stored in my basement.
6. The zucchini were a late afterthought but this worked out very well; no grubs in the vines. I got enough fruit to make eight zucchini breads this winter plus I gave a few away.
7. I always get a good radish crop and this year was no exception.
8. The volunteer potatoes also did pretty good. About ten plants sprouted and I harvested two five gallon buckets.

In addition to that I picked three gallons of raspberries; down from previous years but we had a brutal winter last year. The blue berries, however, did awesome. I picked so many that I was able to sell $80 worth at work and still gave away and froze several gallons of berries. I got quite a few nice peaches from my old, decrepit tree. The previous year's pruning helped a lot and I will cut it back even more this winter.  The big surprise was the half gallon of Elderberries I was able to pick from a couple struggling plants around my yard. These are the first Elderberries I have picked here in thirty plus years. I picked a gallon of wild black raspberries and five gallons of crab apples from my dad's tree.

I have already made six jars of crab apple jelly, which is delicious. I will mix the black raspberry and elderberry juice to make a batch of jelly as well. We had the last jar or pear jelly, that I made last year, for Thanksgiving dinner.

Between the fruits and vegetables from my garden and a deer I just butchered, my freezer is completely full. Not a bad way to start the winter.

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