Here we go again; it’s time to make our vegetable garden plans for 2012. Here’s hoping for a fantastic growing season that begins early and stretches far into the autumn. Something along the lines of 2009, now that was a season to remember!
As I pull out my garden planner, I reflect on what was successful last year, and which crops failed or underproduced. Usually the failures are entirely my fault; I tend to chuck things in the ground too early. When we have an early spring this strategy can pay off, but it seems that spring is more often late to arrive, and my veggies limp along, neither succumbing to the elements nor thriving. It would be better if these early transplants just died, then I could start over again. But what usually happens is that I can’t bear to rip them out and begin again, so I end up with a poor crop of undersized onions, or corn that only grows three feet high before shifting into flowering mode, whereupon the cobs produced are miniature.
Patience is a virtue they say; I guess I’m not so virtuous! This year I swear I’m going to resist the temptation to plant my veggie crops until the conditions are right. Just because I MIGHT be able to plant peas in early March doesn’t mean I should, if temperatures are still wintry and the ground sodden from never-ending rain. And I also pledge to be ruthless with cold-stressed transplants. If I know that certain crops are unlikely to produce well because of exposure to an unseasonable spell of cold or wet weather I promise to rip them out of the garden and replace them, rather than coaxing from them a disappointing harvest.
Last year I grew a patch of early planted “miniature” corn and a second crop which grew like gangbusters to about ten feet tall producing plenty of big, juicy cobs of sweet corn. It was a perfect example of how planting early can backfire, and I intend to remind myself of this when I get itchy to plant this spring.
Another lesson that I’m learning is to grow more of what is successful in my garden. With a limited amount of space for veggies (unless I dig up more lawn) it would be sensible of me to stick with crops that perform well in my cool, moist soil. Towards that end I plan to grow a bigger patch of carrots this year. I’ve perfected a method of growing carrotsthat works well in this climate and for whatever reason this garden grows the biggest carrots I’ve ever grown in any garden I’ve cultivated.
Snap peas did very well for me last season, producing continually from June through September, but I think that had more to do with the lack of heat last summer than anything else. Harvesting fresh snap peas in Septemberwas nice, but I don’t think I’ll give the peas any extra space, we had more than enough to eat and I’m not fond of frozen peas so producing a bigger crop is unnecessary. The carrots, however, were devoured quickly and all winter I’ve had to listen to complaints about how nasty store-bought carrots are!
My dh requested that I grow watermelon, so I’ll have to scope out a nice hot spot and source a plant or seeds suitable for our cool climate.
I’d love to grow some dry beans for winter soups and stews. A couple of years ago I grew black turtle beans but they were really tiny, and because I did’t have much space for bush beans my harvest was pitifully small. This year I’d like to try a pole bean, maybe Borlotti (available from West Coast Seeds). If I go vertical with my beans I hope to produce more in a smaller area.
Hmmm, maybe I should consider digging up some more of the lawn!
In my next post I’ll continue with my vegetable garden plans for 2012 and talk about crop rotation.