Garden 2012 update

by formerchef on September 1, 2012

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This year’s garden was a massive failure and disappointment. I’m not saying this to whine about it. Really, it’s more along the lines of  ”What the $#@!??” and my ever growing frustration. I’ve had big gardens and small ones. I’ve had very successful ones and this one, not so much. It started well, but while a bunch of big green plants might be pretty, if they don’t provide the vegetables you plant them for, is it worth it?

Tomatoes are the primary reason I plant a garden. It’s true “there’s nothing like a homegrown tomato”, and the photo above notwithstanding (that was the garden’s best day, photo taken with my cell phone, sorry), my tomato yield this year was paltry. You might have seen the giant tomato I picked and posted on Facebook. I got about ten that size, but out of nine tomato plants I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect more than the 30 lbs of tomatoes I got when in the past I’ve gotten 90 lbs from 7 plants. Even the old standards, the Champions and the Celebrities did not do well, both yielding golf ball sized tomatoes. The highly anticipated San Marzanos, supposedly so good for sauce, were tiny and most had blossom end rot. It’s enough to reduce a girl to tears.

I don’t know what happened but other people in my area have experienced a similar sad garden year. Everyone has their theory; it’s global warming, this year it didn’t get hot until too late, planted too late, planted too early. Disease in the soil (but I used fresh, new soil). Too much water? Not enough?

The frustration also comes from the amount of work, water and expense put in for such a low payoff. It makes me want to give up. But when next year rolls around, I know I won’t. I’ll tweak it again. I’ll revise and plant because in the end, it is worth it, and maybe next year will be better.

How was your garden this year? Successful? Disappointing?

If you found yourself with an abundant garden, here’s some ideas of what you can do with the excess:

What I planted this year and what happened…

From seedlings (purchased):
9 tomatoes (brandywine, green zebra, yellow beefsteak, champion, celebrity, san marzano, and others)- Out of these only the Brandywine and the Yellow Beefsteak produced well. The others yielded undersized fruit with blossom end rot.
1 yellow squash- only about 4 sad, small squash
1 green zucchini-This one went crazy with more zucchini than I could eat.
6 Japanese eggplant-Lots of eggplant but they were so seedy inside they were almost inedible
2 Italian sweet peppers-ok yield, about 20 peppers
1 golden bell pepper-nothing edible
6 sugar snap peas-only a handful of peas, I think I planted these too late.
1 small watermelon-3 fruit, only one was any good.
plus, 1 zucchini (color unknown, plant is a volunteer from last year)-nothing edible

From seeds (packets I already had):
lemon cucumbers (they all came up so I had to give some away)-one cucumber. I think this was because the plant got hidden under a zucchini
pumpkin (only 1 seed out of 20 germinated but it’s doing well)-3 pumpkins
green beans (none came up)
carrots (sprouted, then nothing).

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Betsy Mosteller September 1, 2012 at 10:32 am

I can relate, our tomatoes were not up to snuff this year, and the pepper plants yielded exactly two peppers. But I did get enough tomatoes for a couple of weeks of tomato sandwiches like we do them here in South Carolina:

Two slices white bread (don’t even think about whole wheat bread)
Sliced homegrown tomatoes
Mayonnaise
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Lather both sides of bread with mayo, add tomato, salt and pepper. Serve with freshly brewed iced tea. Swoon.

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2 formerchef September 1, 2012 at 10:33 am

Betsy, that does sound good! Here in California, our summertime favorite is the BLT with avocado (and yes, lots of mayo). :-)

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3 movita beaucoup September 2, 2012 at 3:53 am

Oh, boy. I can relate. We didn’t plant a veggie garden this year, because LAST year was such a disaster. We had rain for weeks and weeks. Seeds were pummelled, seeds were washed away. Plants were bruised and sun starved. We managed to harvest some peas and zucchini (of course), but most of our crop was pathetic. All that hope washed away! Maybe we’ll give it another go next year… I guess that’s part of the fun and frustration of gardening. I come from a long line of gardeners – it sounds like planting is in your blood – so I’m betting you’ll have more bountiful crops in the not-so-distant future!
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4 formerchef September 2, 2012 at 7:15 am

Movita, don’t give up, try, try again! :-) BTW (I hope you see this), I tried to leave a comment on your blog and it would not let me do so without logging into something else first, like FB or wordpress.COM.

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5 Jen Smith September 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm

After a early season hailstorm of epic proportions, (in which my tomato and pepper plants were shredded down to sticks, all carrots killed and my apple tree lost 80% of it’s fruit) I ended up with quite a bit of food. My grape tomato and bell pepper plants came back, strangely enough. My grape tomatoes are throwing up fruit. I must be harvesting 30-40 tomatoes a day. My yellow bell peppers have 3 almost ripe and another 3 growing(not sure they will be ready by the frost, but who knows). I replanted my carrots, and after I discovered nefarious bunnies munching the seedlings, I finally saved 2(my 3 year old son is so jazzed too, because they are HIS carrots). They are almost ready to harvest too. Unfortunately my apple tree is a total loss. What fruit we do have is severely hail damaged to the point it can’t be used, or is insanely pest ridden.

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6 formerchef September 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Hail? Yikes. That would make me want to weep. Good for you for maintaining a positive attitude!

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7 Jenn @LeftoverQueen September 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Interesting, it could be because we are on the other coast, but we had a wonderful garden year. We had lots of sun this year (unusual in Vermont) and some strings of very hot days. Everything produced amazingly! I also think the bunny poop we used to fertilize helped. Sorry to hear yours was a disappointment.

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8 jenlturner September 8, 2012 at 6:39 am

Hi there -

Just found your site & will be adding to favorites.

I have literally gardened my entire life – 50 years. Started when I could walk, working with my father. Last year’s garden was a sad site & this year, well, I couldn’t even call it a garden. I am doing NOTHING different. I grow nearly everything & what I got – out of 4 varieties of tomatoes – maybe 30 tomatoes total, there are a few left on the plants, but not what would be normal. All tomatoes were undersized. I got 1 large bowl full of green beans. Maybe 8 zucchinis, 4 jalapenos, 3 sunburst squash, a hand full of peas.

I have always used seeds (non-gmo/organic/heirlooms) to start my garden, except for tomatoes, I’ll buy plants. I planted & planted all sorts of seeds over & over again, even purchasing new packages. I finally gave up on peppers & squash & bought plants. Seeds just wouldn’t sprout.

Yes, the weather has been funky. I live in Northern California & although for the most part, we haven’t had a summer, I can’t see that as an excuse as to why our gardens aren’t producing. Gardens can be grown during late spring & summer months in most regions of the US. I don’t believe in climate change as it is being propogandized, but I do believe something more is going on.

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9 JulieD September 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm

What a beautiful bounty!! I really really want to do more than ‘just’ herb gardening, I say I’m going to to do it and every year, sigh I never do. Hopefully next year! :)
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10 Sandra Fitasimmons September 30, 2012 at 7:16 am

Planted multiple varieties and had very good luck with Burpee’s Big Daddy and Burpees San Mateo paste tomatoes. Had way too many tomatoes this year, canned 6 cases of tomatoes, roasted red pepper and garlic basil tomato sauce, spicy catsup and gave the rest to neighbors, family and anyone who would take them. Also had some luck with Heirloom yellow pear tomatoes and of course the favorite Beefsteak. I have found that tomato plants bought in garden centers don’t do as well. Start mine under grow lights in my family room.

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11 formerchef September 30, 2012 at 7:18 am

Wow! That’s a big haul! Good for you. I hope mine do better next year.

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12 Mychele @ Tasty Hobby October 27, 2012 at 6:25 am

Hey, just found your blog and will be adding it to my reader. (I was looking for a fresh tomato soup recipe.) In the past, I’ve had a lot of trouble with blossom end rot on my tomatoes. This year, I put crushed egg shells near the base of each plant. I did this any time we cooked eggs and had very minimal problems. As I understand it, the rot is from a calcium deficiency. I’ve also heard of putting powdered milk around the plants, but egg shells are cheaper. :)

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13 formerchef October 27, 2012 at 7:37 am

Mychele- I’ve seen that recommendation before and I remember my grandmother doing that when I was a kid. I’m going to try that next year for sure!

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