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Year Three - 2012 Garden
I just placed an order for garden seeds for this year's garden and realized I haven't wrote about last year's. No better time than to look through my pictures and reflect on all that hard work! I'm in the process of getting over the flu and winter seems so relentless that my seed packets, catalogs, and past photos are somewhat tortuous.

Last year's garden was a beautiful MESS!

Spring gave us radishes and garlic scapes. This was the first time we grew garlic and it was so rewarding! It goes without saying that many more cloves are hibernating as we speak!

I pretty much gave up on weeding because of hot weather and other projects around the house. It made weeding the last thing on my list.

I'm very excited to introduce our new perennial beds in the back yard! I hope the Japanese maples and other plants I moved last fall are happy there! We also built a bridge over the ditch to view the Erie Canal all out of the wood we stored from the old deck we painstakingly disassembled.

Despite the weeds, the garden was still prolific and a joy to rummage through on a daily basis to build dinners from. In many cases (like zucchini and eggplant) there was more than we could consume so a lot was stored for winter. I would grill up a ton of it... some for dinner and some for the freezer. I found the best way to use the frozen stuff is in a puree because the texture ends up being mushy after a defrost. Zucchini makes a great puree soup base. I love peanut soup this way and eggplant makes a great dip with roasted garlic and lemon. At this point all of those reserves are long gone and I'm looking forward to stocking up again!

The cucumbers did horrible, probably because of the lack of rain. Kohlrabi was also a disappointment because I think I put the seeds in too late and then summer got hot!

We have well water and I had no problem watering the plants in the spring but as our dry summer progressed, we couldn't afford to water the garden all that much. I was still quite happy with my harvest for a small garden nonetheless. The nasturtiums took over and I didn't plant any of them... all volunteers from last year! I had so many that we ate many of the flowers in salads and we even made a nasturtium pesto with the leaves/flowers!

Peppers did really well, although I planted some habaneros for Mike and the seeds were actually banana peppers. Every year I seem to grow banana peppers on accident and we always enjoy them. Pepper jelly will be our new tradition! Tomatoes did ok but weren't as prolific as in the past. We tried a new trellis for our tomatoes called a "cat's cradle" that kind of worked. I think the natural twine I used relaxed too much over time but it did keep most of the tomatoes off the ground.

I also realized that I need to try something new for my root vegetables. Beet greens are great but I want big healthy roots and I think they got smothered. I also scattered carrot seeds in different parts of the raised beds with mixed results. I might try planting them in containers where I can have better control over soil, weeds, and weather conditions.

My grape vines did great as well but I got lazy and froze half of them whole. The frozen puree is great in smoothies, compotes, and sorbets but I tried cooking down the grapes that I just threw in the freezer and the flavor/color was not as great. Not sure why but I guess I learned my lesson.

I'm looking forward to seed starting and all the new things I'm going to learn from the sweet potatoes, potatoes, hops, asparagus, onions, and corn that I will be growing for the first time! Here's to dreaming about abundant gardens producing fresh salads, salsas, ratatouille, and pickled vegetables!

By Heather on February 26, 2013 at 6:34pm EST Topic(s): gardening

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