Successes and Failures of the 2013 Garden at Hunny-Bunny Farm
Despite the unseasonably warm weather and considering that it is now October 11, 2013, we can conclude that the 2013 garden season is over. Now is the time for reviewing some garden successes and failures and to prepare for next year’s garden season.
Overall I must say that, once again, the production at Hunny-Bunny was dismal. That said, this year has been the best year experienced in my more than twenty years of various orchard and fruit cultivation. Apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, elderberries, mulberries, and yes, even grapes produced extremely well, (although my grapes again succumbed to mummy berry disease due to our mostly sylvan setting here in the woods of New England).
The only thing that I can attribute this to, beside the quirks of nature, is the early addition of a two inch thick blanket of composted rabbit manure from the compost pile. With this in mind I will spread compost on the base of all the fruit trees and bushes before the hard freeze sets in so that all nutrients may leach into the soil and subsoil and get an early start on next year’s crop in the spring of 2014.
Meanwhile in the garden, the extreme hot weather in mid to late July not only gave the weeds a leg up on the crops but also allowed pests to proliferate. Most of my garden produce has been enjoyed by slugs, grasshoppers, worms, and other creepy-crawlies. Even tomatoes high on the vines and still green were attacked by the critters, although for the most part we still used the parts of each fruit by cutting out the wounds and quartering the remainder for salads. The cabbage heads, which are usually robust here because of the relatively cooler season, were small and well chewed by the varmints to render them good only for the hens. Sadly, this will mean no sauerkraut for this season unless I buy some from the grocer.
One truly successful crop, which I’d never tried before was the Kentucky Burly ‘baccy seed, sent to me by a friend from down South. These I sprouted in May in the greenhouse and transplanted in June. My plantings were rather haphazard as I fully expect poor results considering my north-facing slope and the relatively cool environment up here on the ridge. To my surprise the plants grew to an average of 5 feet with some reaching 6 feet. When it blossomed the flowers were a magenta trumpet shape edged in white and very fragrant. The leaves were serving-platter size on average, with the surface somewhat sticky. I’m not sure if the stickiness is from some exudence of nicotine or a miniscule fibrous nature of the leaves. Anyhow, some of the plants were attractive to aphids and others not; as to why the discriminating preference, I’m not at all sure.
Since the plant has blossomed and I can collect seed for next year, I’ve harvested and hung the stalks for color curing in my two car garage. This process is slow and could take all winter potentially. Next is the fermentation stage which essentially leaches out all the ammonia. I will keep you updated on the progress, but since this is entirely new to me I basing my actions on YouTube instructions and various textual data from the Internet from other home-growers.
We did have a nice supply of potatoes, despite not having planted any this season. I believe they were Yukon Gold potatoes that were left from previous years. Essentially, these were new potatoes and were used almost immediately for last Sunday’s dinner of Coq’au Vin. Delicious!
Inside the basement, my mushroom cultivation, just as in the previous year, reached a certain phase and stopped growing; this despite my effort to keep the box well moistened and in a dark and cool location. This is very disappointing and I believe it is a fault of the supplier rather than anything I did because I’ve had successful with successive crops in other years. I will try to find alternate suppliers this winter season.
Despite the poor production I had enough produce, though not edible, to save seed for next season. Radishes, paste and salad tomatoes, heirloom Brandywine tomatoes, jalapeno and cayenne pepper, and various flower tomatoes are now on my basement workbench drying to the necessary storage desiccation. These and previous saved seed will be the basis for 2014 garden.
I’ve also hung cuttings of various herbs from the rafters of the basement to dry; these will eventually go into jars for the herb cabinets, both culinary and medicinal. I also transplanted many of the herbs to pots in the greenhouse there they will overwinter for collection throughout the season awaiting transplant to the outdoors next spring.
Still Remaining to be Done
This coming week the hens will be turned into the main vegetable garden to clear the weeds and weed seeds, as well as, giving a light turning and fertilizing to the soil. Though I will have to keep a wary eye for the fox who has been making her rounds in the twilight of the dawn.
I will also harvest and bottle my honey for the season. I’m not certain what my production will be as I’ve not check on them since late August.
I’m very late in my garden chores as all the above should have been completed by September 20th, the historic first frost date for my climatic zone. By the Grace of God, I’ve been given, what might be call a literal Providential “grace period” through the prolonged weather of the intervening weeks. It is still scheduled to be mild until at least October 20th, a full month behind the official first frost date. So my outdoor chores will be completed by then.
I’ve taken advantage of the rare inclement weather during this grace period to ready the coal stove to handle the upcoming heating season and will begin hauling the firewood from the rear of the property to the wood-racks placed up front for this season. I will also be splitting some additional wood. This together with my anthracite coal supplies laid in in early September will carry us through ‘til next St. Patrick’s Day, and we will be as snug as a bug in a rug to use an old cliché.
Since we are in October, the Month of the Holy Rosary, and as we approach the anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, please strengthen your prayers by added Rosaries for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.