Bradley Handziuk's blog

Our 2015 Garden Harvest

This year was the best year for our garden! 2014 we also fantastic but we started in May (because that's when we moved into the apartment) which meant we didn't have the full season to think about what we were going to grow and to plan and we missed out on the whole spring season.

We had several improvements to the homestead this year the biggest of which was the chickens of course. But since we also have 6-4x8 ft planter boxes we tilled them all up and revitalized them by distributing a half cubic yard of fish compost from the Dirt Exchange. By the way, Dirt Exchange is really awesome. I don't think we'll be buying bagged compost/soil again. They have so many options and the prices are great! But, anyway, the fish compost was super rich and really helped out the beds.

Emma has been using this software called The Old Farmer's Almanac Garden Planner. It was great for laying out what would go where, how much we could get, and suggesting what plants should be planted when given your location and plant hardiness zone.

I've not been keeping particularly good tabs on general yields but this is the gist:

From our peach tree:

  • 2 gallons of frozen sliced peaches
  • 4 quart jars of canned peaches in syrup
  • About 3 fresh peaches per person for about 2-3 weeks

From our fig tree

  • ~3 pints of fig jam
  • A lot of figs fed to the chickens and a few eaten by us. They are really hit or miss though. Often they are dry or moldy. They seem to only be ripe for a day. The timing is crucial for picking them.

We have 2 plum trees which we ate a lot of fresh plums off of but didn't make anything from. We have in the past made plum tarts but the plums ripened with unfortunate timing this year.

We have 3 Black Krim tomato plants (larger tomatoes) and a half dozen Matt's Sweet Cherry tomatoes (very small heirloom tomatoes). Those provided many fresh tomatoes for us but Emma's co-worker also had way more tomatoes than she could eat. Mostly Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes. From our plants and her's we made

  • ~4 pints of tomato jam
  • Several servings of tomato soup
  • 4 pints of tomato sauce
  • Lots and lots of dehydrated cherry tomatoes
  • Many, many salads worth of Matt's Sweet Cherry tomatoes (and kale)
From our 6 kale plants:
  • Continually making kale through the spring, summer and fall. Lots of salads.

We planted several yellow bean plants and (even though Emma things the yield was low) I think they did very well. Maybe 6 grew well enough to make beans. There was never enough for a side dish of beans but they were always an excellent compliment to the cherry tomato/kale salad.

Emma planted 3 Marconi Rosso pepper plants which to her great pleasure actually made peppers this year!

  • ~2 dozen peppers

The squash did not do great this year. In summer 2014 we were getting almost a squash per day for like 2-3 months. We were keeping a sheet on the fridge with a tally of the squash count and we ran out of room on the paper. This year we had twice as many plants but probably only got half as many squash. Two of the plants were zucchini and two were Early Prolific Straight Neck squash (a bell shaped yellow squash). Both were slow to start and never made huge fruits. Regardless, there was always a squash of some size available for spaghetti sauce, omelette, or quiche.

Last December we planted garlic and in the spring picked it all and dried it out. We're still eating it. We got about 2 dozen heads of garlic. Still eating it. One of the best things we've planted!

The onions yield was terrible. The soil moisture was hard to keep right and they never got that big. We planted red onion bulbs and they expanded by about 3 times the size. Not much. They flowered early too and we were not aware we needed to snip the flowers off to keep the bulb growing. I guess it's the same logic as with a lot of other plants (e.g. basil you snip the flowers off to keep the leaves growing).

We have a few strawberry plants that were in one of the garden beds when we moved in. They keep creeping and making daughter plants but there aren't many fruits coming off of them. Plus Misty, our cat, keeps choosing to poop near them. She is disgusting.

The basil plants were one of the most successful plants in the whole garden. We had 9 plants I think and we made pesto several times. Every time we made pesto for pizza we'd freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray and save them for later. many pizza later we have about a half gallon of pesto cubes in the freezer. Our home grown garlic went into each batch. The cubes should last into the winter!

We had small parsley and rosemary plants. The parsley was in a pot and the rosemary was in the ground. The parsley did ok but the rosemary died right away. BUT we left the rosemary in the ground and lo and behold several months later when the weather got a bit colder it started growing again! Now it's thriving. I couldn't believe it. We have another rosemary we got about 8 months later and it is suffering the same fate. I've been keeping it around in the hopes that when fall comes it will comeback to life...we'll see.

There were a few minor plantings in the spring of arugula and broccoli. Maybe 4 heads of broccoli.

Snap peas (spring) not on a trellis and didn't do great. Emma ate them all basically without giving me any. She's a much bigger pea fan than me.

We just planted snap peas, snow peas, romesco broccoli (~12), arugula, Rainbow chard (1) for the fall.

And that's about it. That's the summary of the 2015 plantings and eatings. I think we have most of this written in Emma's Almanac program but I wanted to document this for posterity, too. Hopefully next year will be just as good!