Part 2: About our first vegetable garden in 2008, with which we discover what two raised beds can produce…
Late August: We’d read about Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International and how he kept track of his first garden’s production to see how much he was saving on his family’s weekly grocery bill. We’re keeping weekly tallies of each week’s harvest, and comparing them with MOFGA’s Organic Price Reports. Lesson 10: Numbers don’t take into account the utter satisfaction we’re gaining from growing our own food.
Peas were started too late, and succumbed to heat; powdery white mildew put an end to the cucumbers; and, though there’s plenty of Delicata squash set, the vine dies back before the squash are ready. Looking back, it was most likely due to squash vine borer. Despite those setbacks, the tomatoes and summer squash, which are crowded together in half a bed, continue to produce prodigiously. Lesson 11: You win some, you lose some.
We assiduously kept up succession plantings of salad greens. Much to our surprise, we had salad greens when they’d all but disappeared from the farmers’ market. Lesson 12: Each garden is a microclimate, and ours allows us to grow tender greens through the heat of summer.
Late summer is beginning to take its toll on the garden, which has become impossibly overgrown and unwieldy. Maybe we shouldn’t have planted so many things, and so closely. Lesson 13: There’s inevitably a point in the season when the garden gets neglected, whether due to apathy, heat or mosquitoes.
September: We’re passed the garden doldrums — days are shortening, the temperatures and bugs more manageable. One by one, plants are petering out, and we begin to plan for next year. Lesson 14: Gardening is an optimistic endeavor.
2008 Harvest Totals
Cherry tomatoes – red and sungold: 22¼ lbs
Salad greens: 10¼ lbs
Peas: 1½ lbs.
Green beans – Maxibelle and Masai: 8¼ lbs
Boothby: 12 cucumbers
Costada: 16 zucchini
Zephyr: 100 summer squash
Delicata: 2 winter squash
Red potatoes: 3¾ lbs
Blue potatoes: 9 lbs
Purple potatoes: 12 lbs
November: The last planting of the year — garlic. We fear we may be too late in getting them in the ground, and learn from others that it’s fine as long as the soil is workable. Lesson 15: It’s not necessary to remove all of the paper coverings when planting garlic.
Based on our initial foray, we add four new beds to the original two, no small feat in New England’s rocky soil. Above: A wheelbarrow full of rocks next to a pile of larger ones, all unearthed while digging out the beds. Lesson 16: Rocks are indeed New England’s largest crop.
Last harvest of the season: Apples from the old tree on our property. We’d mistakenly took it for an ornamental crabapple until a neighbor came over and set us straight. We took a sample to Great Maine Apple Day, where local pomologist John Bunker identified it as a Priscilla. Lesson 17: Sometimes food is already growing in the garden, it’s knowing where to look.