Thursday, October 23, 2008

How My Garden Grew

Things are basically done in the garden this year and I had some good successes and some stunning failures.

The chickens have been great - I am still getting one egg a day per bird, this means 3 1/2 dozen a week at the moment which has a retail value of $12 a week. My costs are about $15 a month. My friend the vet and organizer of the Chicken Tour each May here in Victoria says my hens might keep laying all winter. I do need to work on sheltering the coop over the winter to keep the rain out.

Esquimalt is close to passing their new chicken bylaw, there will be a public hearing on the issue on November 3rd at 7 pm at the council chambers. There seems to be some restrictions on where you can have your coop, mainly that it should not be visible from the street or by the neighbours. Given where my coop is and how many people walk less than 6 feet from the chickens, they really are not very noticeable.

My pumpkins plants produced a meager three pumpkins. A lot of them rotted on the vine right after setting.

The peppers produced almost nothing - I got a single walnut sized pepper from all of the plants.

My zucchinis produced, but not in the sort of volumes I expected, we got enough, but not a lot. I harvested only about 15 pounds over the season.

The peas were a failure, I think the seed was a bad batch. Next year I am going to buy the seed in bulk from Borden Mercantile.

The Scarlet Runner beans did well, but I planted them late in the season. Also, the seed from the package was not as good as the bulk seed from Borden Mercantile. Next year much earlier in the ground and a lot more. I did harvest about 10 pounds.

The tomatoes did not badly, I got a lot of the cherries and a few of the larger ones. I know I planted them late. I was afraid I would blight here as I did on Balfour Street, but there seems to be no blight here. I managed about 15 pounds of cherry tomatoes and 15 pounds of the regular ones.

Basil did well, but I need to plant a lot more to make it possible to have a harvest to make pesto or freeze.

Spinach was hit and miss, I got some, but often it would go to seed very quickly and I never planted enough to really cook with it.

Lettuce is still coming. I did well early in the season and expect to harvest from a few more weeks. I estimate I got about 30 small heads over the season and will harvest another 10 to 15. The chickens got about 20 heads. I will keep some under cloches for the winter and see how they do.

Cucumbers - the plants produced a moderate amount, but not really as well as I had expected them to. I harvested only about 10 pounds worth.

The wheat is still not quite ripe, I am harvesting seed heads as I go out to the garden, I am not going to do this next year as this really was only meant as a one off experiment. I hope to have enough wheat to make a loaf of bread or two.

Herbs - no end to parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano. I need to plant more chives and dill. Garlic will be planted for next year.

Figs - we have lots on the tree, but I need to figure out what to do with them. I could have picked about 200 pounds but only ended up using maybe 30 pounds.

The small blackberry I have needs to grow in size.

For next year I plan the following:

  • Garlic - forty to fifty of them and I need to get them in the ground soon
  • Scarlet runner beans - ideally forty to fifty plants
  • Peas - ideally 30 plants
  • Tomatoes - more than last year
  • Zucchini and other squash - I am going plant these along Maddock street on the grass strip that is there.
  • Cucumbers - ten plants is the plan and I will add more compost to the ground.
  • Lettuce, spinach and basil - I need to expand the patch by a factor of three or four.
  • Berries - I want to plant a lot of strawberries, but I need a bed to do that in. I am looking at a few locations for this in the yard. I would also like to get some raspberries in though I am leary given my past track record on cane management.
  • Fruit trees - I would like to plant half a dozen apple frees, a few plums and a few apricots. I would do this in the front and replace some of the shrubs and things there.
In general it is clear to me now that there needs to be a lot more work done on the soil in the yard. There needs to be a lot more compost added, more sand and top soil as well. The soil is a long term project and does daunt me with the what I will have to do.
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