Sunday, December 30, 2018

Winners and Losers of 2018


Here we are with one day left in 2018.  It's been one of those years & I'll be glad when it's firmly in my rear view mirror.

In my last post I wrote about what went wrong and what went right this past gardening season.  Regardless of the proportion of each (because no year is all good or all bad) one thing is for sure – the harvest will be impacted.

This year, the losers outweighed the winners by a fair bit…but there were still a lot of winners (hurray!).  The great thing about having a variety of veg in the garden is that a growing season where absolutely everything does badly is a rarity.  Usually, conditions that are not favourable for one type of veg (i.e. peppers and melons will sulk in cool temperatures) are relished by others (lettuce & broccoli thrive when summer temperatures are on the lower end).

Eggplant was one veg that appreciated our hot weather this summer
Pictured above:  Farmers Long

Even if you completely neglect the garden, you’ll probably still get a good harvest of the more tenacious crops that can hold their own such as chives or mint.  And who hasn’t heard of that ubiquitous squash growing spontaneously from a compost pile with zero intervention?

Chamomile is one crop that, once in the garden, needs no coddling
and self-seeds for years to come if given the opportunity

This Year’s Losers

So on to the losers – ‘cause I like to get the bad news out of the way first 😊.  All percentages reflect the change from 2017.

The biggest losers this year were:   Potatoes (-61%), broccoli (-62%), turnips (-65%), lettuce (-58%), carrots (-81%), garlic (-54%), scapes (-78%) and sugar snap peas (-74%).

The broccoli harvest was down both due to the hot temps
and not harvesting frequently enough

It's important to note that, for these crops, I grew the same # of plants in the same amount of space as in 2017.  Therefore, these decreases are all about a decrease in productivity rather than growing less purposefully.  My harvest of shelling peas, for example, went down by 37% but I also reduced their spot by 25%, which puts their actual yield for the space used within what I would consider the “average” range.

We still harvested enough shelling peas this year to freeze a couple of bags

There were a few zero harvest losers as well:  Figs, sweet potatoes and collards.  And with barely a handful of strawberries harvested, those also hit the list this year.


This Year’s Winners

Now on to the good stuff – and what makes us keep at it in the face of the inevitable difficulties, disappointments & failures that every gardener goes through (some years more than others!).

This was the first proper year of harvesting asparagus.  The patch is in its 4th year (from seed) so I limited the harvesting to only 3 weeks & am more than pleased with the over 7kg (15 lbs) picked.  Next year I’ll be upping the harvest period to 4 weeks and will hopefully see a nice jump in the harvest.  Fingers crossed the asparagus beetles didn’t do too much damage to the roots.

The asparagus harvest was beyond my expectations this year 😃

I’m calling tomatoes a winner, even though the harvest was down 35% from the prior year.  Considering the number that went to waste in September and the irrigation issue in the one bed (that I spoke about in my last post), I still ended up harvested over 100 lbs. which is nothing to sneeze at.

My hands down favourite new addition
to the tomato lineup this year was Mexico Midget - nom, nom!!

When it came to winter squash, I only grew 2 butternut plants, which I squeezed into the end of the pea bed, and ended up harvesting 15.5kg/34 lbs.  Yup…that’s a winner in my book!

My winter squash stores also include a couple of Tromboncino that hung on the vine a bit too long.  Apparently, these guys are equally good used as a winter squash so I cured them and will be trying them out over the next couple of months.

Butternut squash together with a couple of Tromboncinos that went past their fresh stage.

Beets were another winner, not for the quantity harvested (which was less than a pound) but for the simple reason that I had never grown them before and I ended up liking them…a lot.

Other winners this year were cucumbers (+41%), eggplant (+94%), summer squash (+29%) and onions (+257%! – I wrote about my successful onion experiment HERE).

Ailsa Craigs...'nuf said

Now, I grew many more veg than reflected in the above lists (beans, Chinese greens, kohlrabi, kale, etc.) that yielded fairly average results, so they are not highlighted one way or the other.

With everything that went wrong this year & the rather big decreases in the harvest for a good number of veg, I’m rather surprised that I still ended up harvesting over 400 lbs. worth of produce – 209 kg (461 lbs) to be exact.  I honestly thought that I had harvested around half that.

So, when I really think about it and put things in perspective, 2018 was not as bad as I originally assumed.  In fact, it was pretty darn good...considering.  It's funny how certain events can overshadow others until you sit down and really take stock (a worthwhile exercise for every gardener and, IMHO, life in general too).

And that is that - another year done and a new one about to begin.  Cheers & wishing everyone a bountiful and floriferous 2019 with many garden adventures....preferably of the good kind ;)

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

26 comments:

  1. I'm envious of your harvest. As you know, I don't have much sun, so we get most of our produce from our CSA share. So, yay you! Your produce looks really healthy, too--even the crops that fell short of expectations. Blessings and best wishes to you and your family in the new year!

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    1. Thanks, Beth :) All the best to you and your family for 2019! Hopefully we will be seeing each other & catching up in person at one of the western conferences this year XO

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  2. I am glad to hear that your harvest was not as bad as you thought! Gardeners never give up trying. I just ordered my seeds for my courtyard garden next year. As usual I order too many! But that's the fun of it! Have a great 2019 harvest year! Nancy

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    1. We always order far too many seeds, don't we? We just can't help ourselves! Best wishes for a wonderful and bountiful 2019 in your courtyard, Nancy!

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  3. I'm so happy you like the Mexico Midget! It's one of my faves for snacking on too. And yay on the asparagus! I am always tickled to see others growing it. It's definitely one for the patient gardener, and it looks like your patience is being rewarded. Wishing you a great 2019 and hopefully a less stressful one!

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    1. Yes, we LOVED Mexico Midget - a big thank you once again for sharing the seeds! It was so delicious - the perfect replacement for Sungold which has a huge issue with cracking around here. Wishing you & your family a wonderful New Year with many new adventures, both in and out of the garden :)

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  4. You're absolutely right, you can think your year hasn't been as good as it has until you actually take stock. 2018 was a challenging year with the heat and the dry conditions anyway, let's hope that 2019 doesn't throw up too many obstacles for the gardener. Wishing you and your family all the very best in the coming year.

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    1. It's funny how we tend to put more weight on the things that went wrong. Sometimes, what went right was simply that something didn't go wrong (like no cucumber beetles this year!). All the best in the coming year, Jo, for both you and your family.

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  5. It’s why it is a good thing to grow a variety of crops.

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  6. I've said many times that when I have a perfect year in the garden that that's when I'll quit. So I guess I'll be gardening for a long time to come. You had so many challenges in 2018 and yet you still had impressive harvests. Those onions! Wow! It is hard to keep your perspective when things don't work out as expected. I went through that myself this year but I keep reminding myself how fortunate I truly am and I am trying to turn the experience into an opportunity to try something new. Happy New Year! May 2019 be a happy, healthy, and productive year for you and your family.

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    1. Ha! When I think about it, a perfect year would not really be perfect as then there would be nothing to improve on, which is one of the best aspects of gardening!

      We both have had a tough year and do deserve an "easier" 2019, though, don't we? Happy New Year to you & Dave...may the New Year bring better weather, more veg and fewer rodents :)

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  7. Few things are more delicious than freshly picked asparagus. You and a vegetable-gardening inspiration!

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    1. Oh, thank you Jason! And agreed on the asparagus - yum!

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  8. Well seeing your photographs, in spite of it all … it wasn't a bad year!
    Yum to all the vegetables :)

    My good wishes for 2019.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you Jan - yes, sometimes all it takes is a bit of reflection to realize that there was a lot of good amongst the bad :)

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  9. I gave up vegetables (other than artichokes) a couple of years ago in favor of a cut flower garden, principally because I just didn't have enough space (or water!) to grow more than a piddling crop of anything. My garden never produced anything on the order of yours! I do miss the sugar snap peas and tomatoes, though...

    Best wishes for a productive new year, Margaret!

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    1. Oh yes, tomatoes and sugar snaps are both up there when it comes to veg that we look forward to each year...so yummy and you can't really get an equivalent at the grocery store.

      I do, however, envy your cutting flower garden & the beautiful arrangements you make...so we are even ;) Wishing you and your family the very best for 2019!

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  10. Nothing to sneeze at overall, even with your drops in productivity. I'm very, very envious of your asparagus harvest. Happy New Year, Margaret.

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    1. Thanks Helen! And a very Happy New Year to you too :)

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  11. Congratulations on your asparagus and all your other successes! Those onions are amazing. Like you I'm glad 2018 is in my rearview mirror, but thank goodness for the successes, however small. Happy new gardening year! P. x

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    1. Thanks Pam! The asparagus and onions were definitely at the top of the list when it came to this years successes...more than made up for the shortfalls. And happy new gardening year to you too, Pam!

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  12. I am always so impressed with all you grow. Even your 'losers' look good! I have learned a lot from your posts and am looking forward to further education from you in the kitchen garden. Will I see you in Denver? I hope so!

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    1. Oh, thank you Karin! And yes!! I am definitely planning on going to Denver. I'm so glad you are going too - I always look forward to the many fits of laughter when we get together :)

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  13. Wow, that onion! That's amazing! (off to read your experiment post)

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