Garden Review 2016

It’s the end of the season and time for a quick review of the 2016 garden. This year was our first real attempt at a large garden. We didn’t have any real plans to sell anything, but had goals to learn the overall process, grow leafy “cut and come again” greens for the chickens and attempt to grow tomatoes and peppers “commercially”.

This year I decided to try and sprout everything in the greenhouse, which in retrospect, I probably didn’t need to do. Many of the leafy greens and large seed items like peas, beans, corn, okra, etc I could have done directly in the dirt, once we were clear of frost dates. I ended up doing so with kale, tatsoi and lettuce with mixed results. I ended up hand broadcasting seeds in rows to the best of my ability which ended up with plants too close and wasted seed. Next year I’ll definitely be purchasing a seeding tool to make sure I get the correct spacing and depth.

For the tomatoes I constructed one big trellising system using t-posts and smooth farm fencing. I spaced anchored t-posts on the end with wire running about a foot apart horizontal and vertically, spanning about a hundred feet or so. As the tomatoes grew, I clipped them using reusable greenhouse clips. The peppers I let on their own, but honestly could have used at least one level of trellising on those as well, most if not all fell over and we ended up quick staking them with short sticks and the same greenhouse clips.

I soon realized that I should have dropped a handful of trees that I was on the fence about removing when I originally cleared the space. For next season, at least four additional trees near to the garden will get pulled. These caused too many shade spots and basically ruined the production of about 20 tomato plants.

The other big addition for next season will be irrigation from the pond. The pond was constructed late in the season and I didn’t have enough time to test and setup any kind of irrigation. The main problem to solve is filtering the water enough to pump either via drip lines or soaker hoses. I’m considering drilling holes in PVC, but would rather purchase purpose made drip lines. I’d also like to get some sprinklers for sprouting leafy greens. I think I may have to drain the pond this winter and construct a pond well for filtration.

Most of the existing garden area will be devoted to tomatoes next season since we very last minute ended up selling them by the bushel. The goal will be to start seedlings earlier in the greenhouse, around the first week of feb, have better spacing in the rows, select better seeds and consistent watering. I’m leaning towards heirloom-esq, high yielding, indeterminate varieties.

We’re also going to concentrate on a few vegetables in large quantities instead of “trying” different ones in small quantities. So far, tomatoes, peppers, okra, cucumbers and kale are on the list. Expanding depends entirely on how much space I can get opened up for additional garden area.