Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sucesses and Failures

Last year was my first year gardening, so I consider it a wild success. I doubt anyone else would, but I'm excited. Here's my review of last year's season. There were more, but here are the broad stokes. 

I'll start off with the failures. 
  • Obviously, keeping up with this blog has been a failing. I can try to make excuses by saying that it's winter, but I stopped before everything was even harvested, sooo.... Honestly, the last year has just been a doozy and my family comes first. 
  • My starts really struggled last year. I used grow lights and my starts were super leggy. This year I'm using a mix of red and blue lights and I'm really hoping for better results. Fingers crossed!
  • Frozen zucchini. I tried to save some and it was not eatable. I shredded and froze it but it was just not good in anything. I've heard this is amazing in breads, but my family did not agree. 
  • I actually had quite a few plants that didn't really do anything or that got eaten by slugs. Sadness. 
  • Onions were a mixed bag. Mine were sooo tiny, so kind of a failure, but they were also the best onions I've ever had, so I'm trying again this year! 
  • Rows - My last garden row didn't yield anything really, so I have opted to do all raised beds this year and moved them over by 4 ft, to get more sun. I don't think it's quite as pretty, but I'm hoping my yield will be better. Lots of people love rows, but I think I just prefer beds.
  • Soaker hoses. Ugh. BIG FAIL. These were expensive and really didn't work well at all for me. I used MORE water with them and they didn't have as big of a range as I'd hoped. So, they were supposed to offer water a foot out, but I found that only the plant ON TOP of the hoses did well. I erred on the side of caution and this ended up being expensive and not so great for the plants. I took all of them out and plan to water traditionally this year. 

Now for the good news. Successes! A few of my garden plans actually turned out better than I expected or at least as good as I expected. Yay! 
  • My GARDEN PLANNER. I LOVED this tool. I think it will also help me in the future to make changes. 
  • Peas. All of my peas did great. 
  • Salad. Yummy.
  • Zucchini. I actually had an over abundance. I was able to share with other families because my zucchini went crazy.
  • I had a really funny success, actually. A bunch of my sad tomato starts I decided not to use. I kind of tossed them over by the house and meant to put them in the compost. Then some hay kind of covered them and I forgot about them. Well, they they flourished. I got a TON of tomatoes! I found them when I was cleaning up my garden and they were at least as big as my "good" plants and very productive! This has led me to turn that side of my house into tomato beds. We'll see how it works out, but I'm very excited!!!
  • CANNING! What fun!!! I just started out with the smaller investment of steam canning. We did just a little bit to see how well it worked for our family. This year, I will do WAY more!!! 
    • We canned 14 jars of strawberry jam (gone almost instantaneously, I will do waaaaay more this year!) 
    • 42 jars of plum syrup - a HUGE hit!
    • 11 pints of applesauce
    • 11 pints of cinnamon applesauce - every one's favorite, next year most of my applesauce will be cinnamon or even cranberry
    • 7 quarts of applesauce - I think I liked the pints better, I'll use my quart jars for something else next year
    • 16 apple chutneys - I gave many of these away. I actually haven't even tried them yet. Everyone said they were yummy, but maybe they're just being nice. I used a recipe from America's test kitchen though, and they are always pretty dang good. 
    • 23 jars of apple butter.
    • 9 qts of sliced apples - I'd rather have applesauce, I think...
    • 3 qts apple pie mix - ended up too soft for pie mix. I keep meaning to try it in an apple betty though...
    • 5 qts sliced apples - For the baby 
    • I also froze 5 bags of sliced apples to make pies. I think that was waaay better than canning for pies. My hope had been to make my own canned pie mixes, but I felt the apples got too soft in steaming. 
  • Garlic. Oh. My. God. Delicious. Plus, I apparently didn't harvest all of it, so my garden has it everywhere already! WIN!!!  Seriously, I feel like I never knew garlic before...
  • The bunnies have been a fantastic addition to our family AND garden. 2 teeny bunbuns makes a perfect amount of compost and they're very cute and sweet. 

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