End of Season Gardening Recap

My perpetually inconsistent pursuit of self-sufficiency in regards to food yielded some mixed results this year. Our lasagna gardening was a spectacular failure. The idea of lasagna gardening is that you place a layer of cardboard over the area you want your garden to be and then layer compost, peat moss, manure, and whatever else would normally be used in a garden on top of it. This is supposed to smother the weeds or grass underneath and give you a rich growing medium for your plants. Well it was a rich growing medium alright, the weeds absolutely loved it. Really I think it was mainly our fault for not putting a thick enough layer on top to smother everything.

But our plants did grow well too, just lost in the weeds sometimes. The onions we grew from seed did great but we harvested them too soon. The sugar snap peas were thriving until one day they completely disappeared. I think some baby rabbits got through our fence. Our peppers that we grew from seeds taken from store bought peppers didn’t really grow at all, we learned our lesson there. The cantelope didn’t produce anything. Our watermelon plants managed to produce one watermelon between them all which I accidentally lopped off with the weed whacker (which gives you an idea of how bad the weeds were).

This was the third year for our strawberry patch and it was relatively weed free and yielded our biggest crop yet but even so the amount of berries we got was pretty pitiful for the amount of plants we have. This was also the third year for our grape vines and still they produced no grapes. They grew a good deal but I’m not sure what to do if they still don’t produce next year. It was the second year for our self-pollinating peach tree. Seventeen peaches grew on it, none of which developed into anything edible. It was also the second year for our two apple trees. One of which seemed to have died over the winter but just the other day I saw that it had begun regrowing from the base and now has a new “trunk” that is a couple feet tall so hopefully it will make it through the winter. Our raspberry crop was large as always though perhaps not quite as plentiful as last year.

Three years into all these gardening attempts has started to be a bit of a downer. Each year it seems something comes up that keeps us from putting the time into maintaining the garden like it ought to be. Two years ago my wife and I were each working full time jobs. Last year we had a new baby. This year I sprained my ankle and was out of commission for awhile.

There was one bright spot for the garden this year though. Our tomatoes came in wonderfully. We had tried doing tomatoes in hanging baskets which failed miserably because the soil would dry out very quickly if we didn’t watter them every day, which we didn’t. But the tomato plants that we put in the garden produced a large crop in spite of not being supported on anything and being smothered in weeds. The tomatoes and a few other vegetables from the store allowed us to make enough salsa to last a year. Before we harvested them and made the salsa I was ready to throw in the towel on gardening all together. Three years of failed efforts were piling up in my brain but the tomatoes helped place me firmly back on the course of self-sufficiency.