Once again autumn has arrived and it’s time to start shutting down the gardens in preparation for winter. Although there is some sense of finality to that, the reality is that as we are working on pathways and as we lay out new boundaries for the windmill garden we find ourselves scheming and dreaming about what next year will look like.
We’ve already decided there are several things we want to do differently next year along with the ever growing list of things that we want to try for the first time next year.
Our windmill garden successes included the potato harvest, the garlic harvest, having enough apples to make applesauce and quince to make jam/jelly to last a whole year. Mission accomplished.
We had also set a goal of growing enough carrots, onions and garlic for one whole year. Garlic was a success… the carrots and the onions… let’s not even mention those.
Onions have never given me as many troubles as they did this year.
Two-hundred onions were attacked twice by Henrietta the chicken and then the final planting that I put in was eaten down by our resident bunny. She had been living in the potato garden. At least I didn’t feel too bad surrendering the crop to a fluffy bunny, but it didn’t mean that those beautiful Walla Walla onions that are sweet and juicy did not grace our table much this year. We ended up with 25 small boiler size onions and maybe 5 large onions. That’s 30ish onions out of 600!
Oh and let’s talk carrots.
I planted them using a seed spacer and I was determined that this would be the year that I would not have to thin a gazillion carrots. Oh how I took my time to ensure that they were properly spaced, properly watered… but I had not accounted for the fact that the soil was slightly mounded down the middle of the raised bed. Which meant that when the first heavy rain came, all (and I do mean all) the seeds ran down to the sides of the raised bed and I had no less than 200 carrots growing within a 2-inch by 4 foot strip. Ugh.
I thinned what I could but honestly there was not enough room against that border of the bed for them to grow. I tried to seed them again, but the strawberry spinach had already taken over the rest of the bed.
The beets were a similar story and although I replanted those in the cool months they were stunted by a surprise hot stretch and the strawberry spinach that choked them out.
Never have I had such a problem growing carrots, onions and beets. Historically they have been some of the easier crops that we have grown. One year the beets and turnips were so abundant it felt like we were eating them for every single meal. That was all long before the days of acreage and canning.
Let’s end on a happy note, shall we?
The other harvest that was very successful this year was our herb harvest. I had never been a huge fan of cooking with store bought thyme, but I kept it in my garden because I loved the way it smelled when I brushed up against it. Not to mention that a long sprig of thyme serves as a sweet filler for a single short stem rose or a couple dainty dianthus in an itty-bitty crystal vase.
I never cooked with it though because I couldn’t stand the little bitty twigs that would always be in the commercial bottles of thyme. Not to mention the fact it just kind of tasted like dry leaves.
But once I started harvesting, drying and preserving my own herbs, it was a light bulb moment and everything changed. If you’ve never cooked with fresh sprigs of thyme or a fresh sprig that you have dried and then use within the first few months, let me tell you the taste is outstanding. I found myself using a tablespoon full in every single soup, every single pasta dish… you get the idea. I couldn’t get enough of the flavor!
So what are we doing to correct the onion, carrot and beet flops of 2019? Glad you asked!
While Wall Wall Onions are our favorite onion by far, they do not store well. In hindsight it was totally okay that the bunnies and chickens devoured 600 onions. The Onion we’ll be planting this year in abundance will be a long-term storage variety of yellow onion. From what I understand they taste even better the longer they cure, so it should be perfect experiment to see if we can grow enough for a whole year.
We’re also going to be switching carrot seeds for a long-term storage variety that comes as a pelleted carrot seed. This came at the advice of Shay Elliott from the Elliott Homestead. I’m sure you’ve read her blog and most likely watched every one of her videos no less than 200 times. Me too. She mentioned in a video about a pelleted seed and while I don’t know what variety she’s growing we have chosen a variety that should grow well on the west side of the state of Washington. Being a pelleted seed it will be much easier to plant and should result in less thinning. Yay!
And finally we shall conquer the beet shortage by making sure the bed is completely free of any competition. (I’m looking at you, strawberry spinach!) Because we must have beets in order to make pickled beets. And as you know, one must have pickled beets to survive.
There will be all sorts of other veggies and fruit grown as well. But the above items are the immediate goals to master for 2020.
What are you hoping to master growing in abundance this upcoming year?
Veggies? Fruit? Flowers?
Unless otherwise noted, all photos are taken by yours truly and are exclusive content of this blog.