Wednesday, 16 May 2012

the garden, whats in it and why

We have lived in this house for 5 years now and every year the garden takes on a different shape and form.  Every year it grows a different variety of foods. We move things around to maximize the space, the sunny areas used for the tomatoes and hot lovin' herbs and the slightly shadier spots for lettuces and strawberries.

I love this ever changing piece of performance art that my back yard has become but the year long cycle makes it hard to remember what did well where year to year.  I try to draw maps and make detailed notations but the slip of paper get lost from one year to the next.  I dearly wish the Virgo me had not so a Taurus and Scorpio family when it comes to organization but this is my wonderful 'lot' in life and so I need to learn the ability to relax among the chaos and embrace the the nuts (I am not actually growing nuts but raising them).
One thing I do know and remember year to year is that my back yard does not get enough sun during the day to grow large variety tomatoes like Beefsteak (we tried Kellogg's Beefsteak).  We end up pulling in huge green tomatoes to save them from the first frost of the fall.  They are still delicious but they aren't half as good as if they could ripen on the vine.
My garden is crazy with Raspberries and Blackberries.  These were already planted when we moved in and we have reaped the benefit of these bushes every year

Raspberry bushes will spread like weeds and we do heavily prune them every other year. Our silly little cat makes a little summer nest in the raspberries every year from where she rests in the shade and hunts the birds.  The blackberry seems to be growing more up then out so it hasn't needed to be cut back much but the berries are getting higher and higher and harder and harder to reach.

Black Plum Tomato
This plant is loaded with clusters of plum shaped reddish brown fruits.  These did well but I wasn't a huge fan of the flavour the the fruit.  They would also fall from the vine and rot quickly if we let them get too ripe
Blondkopfchen Cherry Tomatoes
It produces clusters of 20-30 very, very tasty gold/yellow 2 cm cherry tomatoes. The productivity is astounding and I replant these every year.  Gabe likes to pick them right off the vine and eat them.  Everyday there are more to eat.

Break O'Day
This bright red heirloom tomato is the result of a cross between Margobe and Marvana made in 1923 and released in 1931. It has very high yields that rival many hybrids. Tomato expert Dr. Carolyn Male calls it "a workhorse of a tomato" Smooth, round, blemish free fruit have that tangy old fashioned tomato flavour.  I really like the taste of these but we didn't get very many (I think this was our fault because of placement - too close together.  We should try again this year

Matt's Wild Chery Tomatoes
A very old tomato, possibly an originator of the modern tomato. Very tall vines can grow to
300-400cm. Harvest an immense amount of delicious, very small tomatoes right up to frost. I loved these crazy spidery vines that grow clusters of the sweetest and possibly the cutest tiny tomatoes.  Again yummy to snack on right off the plant. I will plant these again but remember to plant them beside the fence so they have something to hold on to.  We lost to many clusters because of sheer weight dragging the long skinny tentacles to the ground and the fruit rotting. (Red Current Cherry Tomatoes are similar)
Roma or San Marzano
These are both wonderful plum tomatoes with good yields.  I have had success with both.  For eating raw I like the Roma better but I like San Marzano more for canning.  These plants just need tomatoes cages and don't 'spread' out like some of the others.

I have hoped year after year to plant some Green Tomatillos but it has just never worked out and really I don't have enough full sun room once the tomatoes go in.

We have had great success with Alpine Strawberries in the dappled sun in the very back.  These are perennials and come back with more every year.  There are never enough to make jam (I have to go picking for that) but we can eat warm berries right off the plant all summer.

I have many perennials that come back every year - Sage, Tarragon, Chives, Oregano and Mint (both will take over your garden if you let it) and every year I plant Basil, Cilantro, Italian Parsley, sometimes Cat Nip.  I never plant enough Basil or Cilantro and plan on remedying that this year....I want to have homemade pesto all year!!!
These truly are the easiest thing to grow.  You can keep reseeding as you cut to eat.  I always have a 'batch' growing that I can cut almost daily salads out of.  I love a spicy lettuce mix (Arugula, Mustard and Radish) mixed in with a mild (Red and Green Leaf, Beet, Kale) 
Things I never seem to have much success with - and I am not sure why yet
Beans - My mom grows beans like no bodies business but I can't seem to get this happening.....I think it is the limited amount of full sun they get. I have tried Golden Wax beans, Bush Beans, and Hariot Vert
Peppers - Hot or Sweet....I have grown a few hot with success....but not even a great yeild

Carrots - We seem to only get stumpy short but thick carrots.  They taste great but never get long.  I think our soil is too clay....? I think we will stay away from them in the future, we just don't have the room

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