How was our garden this summer?

If you’ve read my posts, you know that I love Square Foot Gardening! It’s a way to get a lot of crops in a compact space. We had a small garden at our previous house, but when we moved in late 2018, we slowly started rebuilding one here. Some things worked well this year and I’ll be making some changes next year.

This was our initial garden this year and soon afterwards, we learned that we definitely needed a fence because our chickens and some rabbits were eating many of the crops. My chickens must REALLY love kale because they would clean it down to the stem every single day. Once we put up a makeshift fence, the kale flourished. We will work next year to put up some more permanent posts and build a nice gate on it. We have 15 raised boxes and left a small area of just soil where I could plant things directly into the ground. We also bought a picnic table later and placed at the end of the garden. I absolutely love sitting there and snapping beans, going through the produce we just picked, or just sitting and relaxing.

Such a happy place!

Our cooler weather crops did really well! My onions, sugar snap peas, radishes, kale, lettuce, and carrots were all very successful. We had an unusually cool spring, so my kale produced well into late June. We ate soooo much of it! Our strawberries were little baby plants and we didn’t expect too much of them yet, but they actually produced quite a few strawberries and reproduced like crazy! You’ll see in later photos that they are now so huge that the plants are overflowing the box and we have runners that I need to cut off and plant in other boxes. I’m really thrilled with how they did, and they tasted delicious.

I really don’t regret anything with my cooler weather crops. I am going to replant those same things next week (and maybe some cabbage) so I can have a nice fall garden as well.

Then it came time for our summer/warm weather crops. These crops need more sun and warmth to be able to germinate and to have enough sunlight to produce fruits. I have some success with some things and others need some work next year.

My cucumbers produced like crazy! I probably planted way too many, But we were able to eat them fresh, pickle many of them, and shared bags and bags of cucumbers with Gus’s coworkers. I loved seeing them get longer and longer and creeping up the trellises!

Our squash and zucchini were just okay. My squash didn’t do great at all. I felt like the zucchini did much better. I planted some both in the ground and in raised beds and I had to do a lot of amending to the soil with constant fertilizing and addition of compost. I watched closely for squash bugs and would either squish their eggs or put an insecticidal soap, but they were finally covered with bugs and gave up. I’ll research a bit more before I plant next year.

My green beans did great! I wish I had planted more initially, so I actually have more growing right now from a second planting. My family isn’t a huge fan (I’m the main one who loves them), so I didn’t plant a lot. But they did great! I tried them in a raised bed with corn in the middle and the combination really seemed to love each other! I enjoyed a few meals of green beans, but needed to plant many more.

Speaking of corn, it didn’t do great. I wanted to try it in raised beds and it was really beautiful for a long time. But by the time it got to the point of producing the kernels, they were sparse and uneven and just not pretty. Then raccoons figured out that I had corn in the garden and would jump the fence every night and have a feast. I would wake up to find little chewed up corn cobs everywhere. So we got NO corn from the garden this year. Again, I’ll figure out a different plan for next year.

Peppers are one of my favorite things to grow! I did many colors of bell peppers and some jalapenos. My jalapenos have done great and my bell peppers have done okay, but I usually have many more at this point. There is still plenty of time for them though as I usually harvest them through about November, so I am going to baby them a bit this week. I need to add more fertilizer and compost and maybe some epsom salts to see if it gives them a little boost. I have used many of the peppers in spaghetti sauce and chili starters and then have a ton of them in our freezer for winter meals. I LOVE all the variety of color that they give!

Our melons-just okay. I only did a couple and they were looking pretty good until we got crazy monsoon-like rains that rotted some. But it was fun to have a little bit with dinner some nights!

My tomatoes have done great, too! I had some issues in one raised bed with some blossom end rot, but I bought a calcium booster and it cleared it right up! They are still producing daily, and I love seeing that pop of red all through the garden. I did several different varieties, so it’s fun to see them all. We trellis most of them, so I love watching them climb upwards!

Two surprising favorites this year have been basil and Asian long beans!

We planted basil around our tomatoes because I’ve heard it can ward off pests and honestly, we just love the smell and taste of it. It grew like crazy this year! We still have it in the garden and love drying it and storing in jars. It was wonderful to put fresh basil in our spaghetti sauce when we were canning!

Our Asian long beans were just a fun experiment. I had seen them in a seed catalog and thought they looked fun! They take a while to flower and then produce pods (about 2 months), but they end up being about 18 inches to 2 feet long! We really enjoyed eating them with a soy and ginger glaze. Yum! I learned though that they don’t produce a ton of beans, so you really need to plant a lot of them to produce a decent harvest. Our initial planting only gave us enough for 2 meals. I planted again and they are starting to ripen now! Next year, I’ll plant a whole lot more.

Overall, I’ve been really happy with our results in our Square Foot Garden this summer and am excited to see how my fall crops do. Being in my garden is like my therapy. It makes me so happy to see those little seeds produce enough crops to feed my family! With us being quarantined for much of the spring and summer, it has been such an amazing outlet for me. I have stayed busy and not bored at all! So thankful that God led us to this house and land. It truly makes me so, so happy here!

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