2019 recap & 2020 plans

TwinCitiesPanda

Garden Ornament
Joined
Mar 2, 2019
Messages
94
Reaction score
138
Points
82
Location
Zone 4- Twin Cities, MN
Hi all!

I started my first ever garden last year, using all the history on this thread to guide me and solve issues as they arose. It was a smashing success for a first try, I was really proud of it. I wanted to share some pics!
6DC5DB47-59CB-4F34-A043-7ED4468A109B.jpeg

This is the raised bed I put in, about 4.5’ x 40’. Weeks of work. I removed all the grass with a shovel and planned on planting straight into that, but then we had one of the wettest springs on record and I found out this is perpetually wet ground. So what I’d made was a massive breeding puddle for mosquitos that would never be suitable for plants. I got some raised bed block and 2x6x8s and ordered a big truckload of dirt. Then had to shovel it all from the pile and fill this bad boy in ~ 2’ deep one barrel full at a time. I mulched with my grass clippings and would hand pull weed starts when I watered, low effort and low time investment.

FC7E9226-5798-4294-8397-BA37A171119A.jpeg

Top left to bottom right (progress pics) potatoes, tomatoes (Amish paste, dwarf Russian swirl, brandywine), Missouri yellow watermelon & nasturtiums, corn & mixed peppers, buena mulata peppers, blue jade corn, and Amish paste tomatoes.

5639AB8C-7486-462C-AD02-C390968E188E.jpeg

I made quite a few friends and enemies out there. The potato bugs never found the potatoes, but loved the ground cherries. Several adorable danger bugs in don’t-touch colors, and a cute assassin bug who looks like he’s got little boots on. Japanese beetles were probably the worst. Every time I’d hit them hard with neem oil they’d flock to a new vegetable. They weren’t the least bit discriminatory. They didn’t down right ruin anything, but they were quite cruel to my sweet potatoes. I had a big vole population in spring, but between that hawk and the squirrels they knocked it down pretty good. I shared a good amount with bunnies, squirrels, and maybe the voles got in on the action a bit, but there was plenty to share so I wasn’t too upset.
999E0A21-6A36-4861-AB58-2A9496884460.jpeg

part of the haul. I chopped and froze tomatoes, totaling 22 gallons excluding what was eaten fresh. 20 lbs of potatoes, 10 lbs sweet potatoes, lotsa basil, five big (big) melons, about double the peppers pictured above, 20 miniature ears of corn. The tomatoes were by far the best part, they were all softball sized or larger and so delicious I would just slice and eat one for a meal.

Lessons learned: I had bought a bunch of canning supplies and discovered once the garden was producing I was putting in a lot of time and couldn’t make time to can. Ended up blanching and freezing onions, peppers, and tomatoes. It’s hard to stagger plantings here because the growing season is so short. I also didn’t get a fall planting in, partly because I knew we were moving.

- I need to set more realistic expectations for what I can accomplish in late summer/fall. fewer plants would afford me more time to preserve food.
- I could worry less or be a bit less vigilant about pests. If the garden is doing well I can sacrifice a little bit of produce and save a lot of effort.
- I started my bell peppers way too late for my area. They need to be quite established and bushy before they get transplanted. I put those guys out with about 8 leaves and they took forever to grow and I only got miniature bells off them before frost set in. Due to a short warm season I’m looking at smaller peppers.

2020 plans:
We bought a house on 5 acres in September. The house is near the road and lacks privacy and trees overall, so I planned on no veggie garden for a couple years while I deal with trees and landscaping. I’m planning a food forest/permaculture approach. I’ve got tons of trees on order and that will fill my time.

That said, the current COVID-19 situation has me feeling that there would be a huge benefit to producing some of our own food again this year, even if just to reduce our trips to the store. The house doesn’t have a garden area and I don’t have time to make one, but there are foundation planter beds around the house and I’m just gonna plop some veggies in between the perennials and dig a few hills out in the yard for melons and squash. I’m behind on starting seeds (since I didn’t think I was going to) but my last frost date is still about 7 weeks away so there’s time.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your great informative posts and stories!
 

flowerbug

Garden Addicted
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
6,672
Reaction score
5,267
Points
297
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
yes on the bugs, they can eat some, we just cut around the damage, you can't always keep every bug or loss from happening, it's not even worth getting upset about. the birdies have to eat. :)

good luck this season with whatever you attempt! :)
 
Last edited:

digitS'

Garden Master
Joined
Dec 13, 2007
Messages
19,785
Reaction score
9,511
Points
457
Location
border, ID/WA(!)
The skills you gain will grow with each and every season.

Memory gets us started but it won't serve every purpose. Circumstances change. Weather is such an important factor.

A diverse garden is a way around some problems. I have grown sweet potatoes a couple of times. Whereas I was pleased enough with the results, Dad and DW had experiences in southern climes and had much higher expectations :rolleyes: :rolleyes:. I realize that the Twin Cities are not as far north but it's almost unimaginable to me that a zone 4 climate would be suitable for sweet potatoes, pests or no pests. You certainly had a successful year.

Steve
 

TwinCitiesPanda

Garden Ornament
Joined
Mar 2, 2019
Messages
94
Reaction score
138
Points
82
Location
Zone 4- Twin Cities, MN
They did shockingly well! All the starts were off of two grocery store specimens started inside in January, transplanted out in in late May. They were in poor hard garden soil, and I think that hindered size. But they were in black fabric grow bags, and I think that gave them lots of warmth. We also had a real hot summer. Lots of humid high 80’s in there. It might have just been the luck of the weather.
 
Last edited:

flowerbug

Garden Addicted
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
6,672
Reaction score
5,267
Points
297
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
The skills you gain will grow with each and every season.

Memory gets us started but it won't serve every purpose. Circumstances change. Weather is such an important factor.

A diverse garden is a way around some problems. I have grown sweet potatoes a couple of times. Whereas I was pleased enough with the results, Dad and DW had experiences in southern climes and had much higher expectations :rolleyes: :rolleyes:. I realize that the Twin Cities are not as far north but it's almost unimaginable to me that a zone 4 climate would be suitable for sweet potatoes, pests or no pests. You certainly had a successful year.

Steve
some varieties can do ok in the north country. you need enough moisture and good enough soil and if you want to get larger taters you can make sure that no other vines root and that makes sure that the most energy is going to the central clump of roots and thus those tubers. this is all second hand as i've not grown them here. Mom did grow them here one year many years ago but it was too hard for her to harvest them. we may have better luck out front where there is more sandy soil and topsoil but that's not anything to worry about for us for now.

i would guess that the grow bags pretty much did the same thing with the root pruning of the vines. :)
 

ducks4you

Garden Master
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
6,141
Reaction score
3,526
Points
377
Location
East Central IL, Was Zone 6, Now...maybe Zone 5
If you don't plant much this summer, definitely compost, now that you have loads of room. I lost my flock of hens last Fall to a weasel and I used to feed them leftovers. Until they are replaced I put moldy bread, stale lettuce and any other vegetables that are past it in the middle of wheelbarrow when I am filling it up with used horse bedding. They will break down with everything else.
As you know leaves make perhaps the very best compost. If you have any trees you can mow down the leaves and pile them up. Some folks dig a depression with a ramp and fill That up with chopped up leaves. They Will become soil by next Spring. I'm pretty sure that you know not to compost with any meat, but you can crush egg shells and add that your piles, too.
Congratulations on your new place! :hugs
 

TwinCitiesPanda

Garden Ornament
Joined
Mar 2, 2019
Messages
94
Reaction score
138
Points
82
Location
Zone 4- Twin Cities, MN
If you don't plant much this summer, definitely compost, now that you have loads of room. I lost my flock of hens last Fall to a weasel and I used to feed them leftovers. Until they are replaced I put moldy bread, stale lettuce and any other vegetables that are past it in the middle of wheelbarrow when I am filling it up with used horse bedding. They will break down with everything else.
As you know leaves make perhaps the very best compost. If you have any trees you can mow down the leaves and pile them up. Some folks dig a depression with a ramp and fill That up with chopped up leaves. They Will become soil by next Spring. I'm pretty sure that you know not to compost with any meat, but you can crush egg shells and add that your piles, too.
Congratulations on your new place! :hugs
Thank you! I did plan on composting, I had a small pile at our last place and I loved how much waste it cut back on.

My real holdup is weather- my instinct is to put the pile far off from the house due to rats/mice, but that means for a couple months outta the year I neither have to shovel several feet of snow to get to it or wade through snowbanks. I was thinking because it’s so cold during those months maybe I can just temporarily use an outdoor sealed trash can by the house - all the waste will be frozen so it shouldn’t get smelly- then add to the pile after spring thaw. What’s the policy on composting pet waste- dog and cat? My cat uses a pelleted pine littler that breaks down into sawdust.

I have about an acre of deciduous forest at the back of the property, and I’m already planning to raid the leaf litter for mulch and use some downed trees to make garden bed edging logs. Also the rest of the property is grass (my mission in life is to replace about 90% until it’s a reasonable front and back lawn) so I’ll have tons of grass clippings for mulching and composting.

I’ve got 530 trees arriving this summer and my planting party has been cancelled, so it’s gonna be a busy one for me.
 

Ridgerunner

Garden Master
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
6,937
Reaction score
5,888
Points
377
Location
Southeast Louisiana Zone 9A
I was thinking because it’s so cold during those months maybe I can just temporarily use an outdoor sealed trash can by the house - all the waste will be frozen so it shouldn’t get smelly- then add to the pile after spring thaw.

:thumbsup

What’s the policy on composting pet waste- dog and cat? My cat uses a pelleted pine littler that breaks down into sawdust.

The experts say don't do it. Supposedly because they are carnivores their poop can house pathogens that might be harmful to you. Some people disagree with that and don't worry about it. I've noticed that my dogs' poop is pretty big, It can hold enough moisture to start molding in a few days and it starts stinking. . If it gets thick it can draw flies which lay eggs and you get maggots, you may need to mix it up pretty regularly.

Personally I avoid piling on cat or dog poop in the compost. Part of that is what the experts say about the potential for pathogens but a fair part is the drawing flies and it stinking. I don't want to work that hard to keep it mixed up. But is some gets in, so what. You will almost certainly have mice and rats eating and pooping in your compost pile. Probably raccoons and possum too. I'm in the camp that as long as you are in "moderation" it's not a big deal

Wood products like sawdust can be slow to compost. Some people say avoid it. I don't worry about that. When i saw treated wood in my workshop I do not put that in my compost or garden because of he chemicals. But if I saw untreated wood I collect that sawdust and use it as mulch in the garden or toss it in the compost. It will break down.

I have about an acre of deciduous forest at the back of the property, and I’m already planning to raid the leaf litter for mulch and use some downed trees to make garden bed edging logs. Also the rest of the property is grass (my mission in life is to replace about 90% until it’s a reasonable front and back lawn) so I’ll have tons of grass clippings for mulching and composting.

:thumbsup
 

digitS'

Garden Master
Joined
Dec 13, 2007
Messages
19,785
Reaction score
9,511
Points
457
Location
border, ID/WA(!)

I fill about 3 buckets with kitchen scraps during the coldest months. The buckets are outdoors and things freeze as they go in. The buckets stay covered and are carried away from the house when full. Usually, they will be down about 25% after they thaw - I can get more I ;).

I've been just a little concerned about the slight odor as they wait for the compost to thaw so that I can them mixed into that (or, get them buried in a garden bed). However, their location is right near where the neighbors puts their garbage cans! I know that those cans outdoors have as much smell as the thawing scraps.

;) Steve
 

seedcorn

Garden Master
Joined
Jun 21, 2008
Messages
8,344
Reaction score
6,753
Points
397
Location
NE IN
I’ve got 530 trees arriving this summer and my planting party has been cancelled, so it’s gonna be a busy one for me.

Glad it’s you........ have fun.
 
Top