2012 was quite a year for the garden! We had many challenges, a lot of opportunities for growth and reflection, and a lot of homegrown food!! This year we’ve got a lot planned, and I want to do a better job of keeping all of you in the loop. From now on I’ll be doing a weekly blog post here. I’m looking forward to regularly sharing and involving folks who stop by to read!
I figure the best way to start is to pick up where we left off. We accomplished a lot, and I did manage to grab quite a few pictures along the way. So, a visual tour of our last year gardening, and then forward with the weekly updates here in 2013.
Pictured below is our little garden area in the basement of the facility, back in February/March. We started all our own seedlings! It was quite an operation, and thankfully most things survived to make it out to the garden!
Here are some lettuce seedlings in soil blocks. We liked using the soil blocks as a plastic-free alternative. You can read more about soil blocking here.
Below you can see many of our early seedlings hardening off out in the hoop house, getting ready to be planted.
Then we entered one of the hottest and driest summers I can remember. It was tough for the crew to work in that heat. It was hard to keep up with watering and even just general maintenance. Some of our crops just wilted in the heat.
But, as is always the case in gardening, we had a lot of success too.
We had a great garlic crop (see below).
We had amazing groups of volunteers come out and give us loads of support- even in the oppressive heat.
We had sugar snap peas, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans, squash, lettuce, beets, cucumbers, etc. We even ate some wild edibles like lamb’s quarters!
We encountered quite a few pests. Our theory was that because it was so hot and dry, many of the predatory insects that we rely on suffered and so pest insects thrived.
Next year I plan to combat the pests by creating a habitat for beneficial insects, including plants for pollinators, and areas for them to rest and get water. We have an organic garden here, so it’s important to us to combat pests without chemicals. It’s more about keeping things in balance than eliminating pests. I saw that theory in action this year by how well most things actually did- most things improved from the previous year. We had pests and some struggles, but we always saw something thriving.
We filled our new hoop house with beautiful heirloom tomatoes. They were hit pretty hard with the tomato hornworm, but we did our best to keep it in check and we had lots of tomatoes to show for it!
One thing that really thrived in the heat was our peppers. They were super resilient and productive. Each plant hung heavy with fruit, and we had bags and bags of them to store for this winter.
We got invited to an event at Zingerman’s Creamery this summer to participate in a picnic for non-profits. There we were able to hand out info about the farm and sell some of our produce. It was lots of fun!
It was a good year, all told. This coming year we have a lot planned- we’re always growing and changing around here, and the garden is no exception! I’ll share more details next week.