Wow! It’s September! Time is flying by, and summer is coming to a close for us in the mountains. I can already feel fall settling in on the homestead, and I am excited for a new season. Being six months pregnant in 85 degree weather was not working so well for me anymore! Where we live, it always seems like summer zips by so quickly, and winter drags on for months. With summer reaching its end, we also reach the end of our summer gardens.
This year was the first time we ever were able to have a full-fledged garden. Prior to moving into our house, we lived in a tiny apartment, but we grew herbs in pots and a few small raised beds. This year, we had three garden beds. The front bed had tomatoes, jalapeños, lettuce, kale, and our attempts at broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and parsnips. We had a bed of strawberries in our side yard and a bed of corn, green beans, cucumbers, and butternut squash in the back yard. We had no clue if our gardens would be successful. Here at the homestead, we have rocky, clay soil, but we gave it a go!
The front garden yielded a ton of tomatoes, kale, lettuce, and peppers. I was still swimming in tomatoes until recently. No surprise there because we planted 48 tomato plants! My peppers came on a little late because the ducks slipped into the garden and ate all the leaves off, so we basically had to start over with those. Our lettuce did amazing and just recently started to bolt within the past month. We still have multiple rows of kale growing as well. The failures (yes, it happens) we had were the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and parsnips. I’m not exactly sure why we didn’t have much success with those. We think our soil quality had a lot to do with why our carrots and parsnips didn’t grow. We got a few small heads of broccoli and cauliflower after we thinned the plants out. We had planted them too densely so they weren’t able to grow well.
Our strawberry bed was a semi-success. We planted 40 plants, but we didn’t yield as much fruit as we expected. After doing some research, we discovered we had planted them a little late, and they would stop producing in June. We enjoyed the fruit while we had it (by that I mean Henry did because he ate almost all of them), and we learned our lesson for next year!
By the time Chance got to plant the back garden, he was pretty tired of the planting process, so he basically tossed the seeds in and said so be it. We weren’t sure what would happen. We didn’t even fence the bed in to keep chickens, ducks, and other wildlife out, so it was a bit of a risk. I am happy to say our cucumbers and green beans turned out great! We also have quite a few butternut squash growing which we will enjoy this fall. Our corn grew, but the ears were pretty small. We think the soil quality had a lot to do with that as well, but we were able to harvest and freeze some corn to use later this winter.
Overall, our gardens were very successful for our first year. I was happy to harvest anything at all! It’s an amazing feeling to reap the harvest from what we planted and grow our own food. We were able to learn from what didn’t work out and make a better plan for next year. One thing we hope to do next year is use deep wood chips on our beds instead of the black garden fabric. Using wood chips helps cut down on weeds and retain moisture. This method also helps utilize the nutrients in the soil. We also plan to have the chickens and pigs till the beds for us this fall and winter by scratching in and fertilizing the soil. Amazing how your animals can help cut down your workload, isn’t it? I’ll do a post about this later once we have it set up and show exactly what we are going to do.
What did you grow this summer? What were your successes and failures? Favorite garden tips? Share below and don’t forget to subscribe!