A personal record of what's going on in my Northern Michigan zone 4 gardens. I use raised beds and grow organically. Nothing fancy--just trying to garden with nature in mind.

Monday, December 21, 2015

2015 Garden Winners and Losers and 2016 Seed Orders

A Winter "Date Day" at the Meijer Conservatory in Grand Rapids.

Well--isn't this the latest End of the Garden post.  We were gone from mid-September to Mid October, and then I battled a bug picked up on the road that "morphed" into pneumonia.
I'm finally back on my feet after 4 weeks of that fun. So, let's look at 2015's Winners and Losers!

2015 was a terrific year in the garden despite having left for the month of June---right after planting and when weeds are at their most prolific.  Newly planted seeds and transplants relied on Mother Nature for care and we were lucky that for once she cooperated with lots of rain.

Winners this year :

It's a toss-up which is my favorite.
This year I started digging just ONE bed of potatoes PER WEEK.. Those were brought into my "shop" and spread out to dry for a week under a covering of landscape fabric.  They cleaned up beautifully and I stored them in the shop until mid October when we came home from our trip to see "The Boy".  Doing only one bed per week saved my back AND did a better job on curing the spuds.

Another top thing this year was adding a 300 gallon stock tank to my collection of water tanks.
Hubby put up a gutter on the back of the barn and that huge expanse of roof gave us a full tank from only 1/2 inch of rain.  I never ran out of water this year---which was a huge improvement. I only watered with rainwater this year. I found that watering with my icy well water seemed to cause a lot of disease problems and frankly, I think it "SHOCKS" the plants.  Must be working as this year was the best by far in the garden---no diseases whatsoever and great production (except for the Red Pontiacs!)

THIRD on the winners list actually happened last fall.  I never cut down ANY of my flowers and WOW--that was a winner on all levels.
First--I fed a LOT of birds.
Secondly--I ended up with a TON of free plants that created the best borders ever
And best of all is some of those self sowers were the prettiest plants I've ever seen. Check out this self-sown petunia:
Incredible markings on the self sown petunias

And look how full and lush the self sown alyssum along the sidewalk is:
Alyssum (self sown) along the Sidewalk

And some of the self sown sunflowers were crazy tall and beautiful--having as many as 20 heads on them.
Oh, I had some really happy bees this year
HUGE Sunflower!
Self Sown Hyssop--an amazing six feet tall!!

I didn't have time to work on the East border and let Mother Nature do her thing and the results were incredible. I've never had so much wildlife---it was alive with birds in August and September harvesting seeds from all the self sown Heliopsis, Hyssop, Cleome , and Joe Pye Weed.
East Border--A Bird and Bee Mecca

I also used Deer Fencing for the first time ever and it worked!!  Ugly, but I ended up with flowers!!!
I think Hubby will have to splurge on something decorative around the house.

Now-for the Losers!
Well, by far the most mysterious and disappointing thing this year was the Red Pontiac potatoes. What a fail!  They are usually my best performers of all the potatoes, but not this year.  Grossly misshapen , hollow, light as balsa wood with a texture to match.  I can only blame this on the seed potatoes I bought as nothing for conditions was different from years past and my Yukons and Russets turned out so well.
Mutant Red Pontiacs

There was terrible production on the blueberries this year, but that was a combo of factors---We had our usual VERY LATE frost that got the BlueRays and Patriots, which were not protected (My Fault)
The Chandlers were covered, but production was much lower due to bad pruning (my fault) .  We got roughly a pint a day....terrible when you consider we have 5 of that variety. Last year I gave away QUARTS every day besides what I froze.
Lesson learned --cover the bushes and watch those YouTube videos on proper pruning!

This also was not the year for Tomatoes.  Even the cherry tomatoes were late to the party and didn't start bearing decently until Sept 3.

It's been such an odd year. I haven't had pumpkins in 3 years because it never got hot enough and yet this year.--tons. I had a great year for peppers, corn and green beans. And yet---the tomatoes didn't produce.  I guess it's just good that when some things fail, other things pick up the slack.

Seed Orders for the year:
Fedco again got the bulk of my budget $45 out of the budgeted $100

238B - Bush Blue Lake 274 Bush Green Beans 
282A - Fortex OG Pole Beans 
582A - Ambrosia Bicolor Sweet Corn 
2087C - Mokum, Pelleted Carrots 
2224B - Easter Egg Summer Radishes 
2510B - Space Spinach 
2712B - Black Seeded Simpson OG 
2795A - Lollo di Vino OG Cutting Lettuce
2861A - Jericho OG Romaine Lettuce
3309A - Green Super Broccoli 
3339A - Gustus Brussels Sprouts 
3425A - Snowbowl Cauliflowers 
3450A - Vates Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch OG Kale 
3473A - Winner Kohlrabi
3716A - Revolution Sweet Peppers 
4049A - Prudens Purple OG Tomatoes 
4069A - German Johnson OG Tomatoes
4264A - Juliet Grape Tomatoes 

Botanical Interests Order was placed 11/27/15 --Arrived December 4, 2015

Amaranth -Burgandy-OG
Sunflower-Goldy Honeybear AND Vanilla Ice
Canteloupe-Hearts of Gold OG
Lettuce-Salad Bowl Blend OG
Lettuce Valentine-OG
Mache-Corn Salad-OG
Squash-Acorn Sweet Reba OG
Tomato-Sungold Cherry
Zuchinni COcozelle-OG

That's it for me for the year. Enjoy the coming peacefulness of winter.
Merry Christmas to you all!  I'll "see you" in the spring

Novermber "Date Day" --Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, Michigan