It’s easy to become discouraged in the garden sometimes. During the early spring you plant everything that you’ll hope will grow and produce plentifully. By August, you know which plants will fair the best and which didn’t survive at all. This year has been especially tough because I ended up getting gallbladder surgery first, and then, because we do everything together, Rebecca ended up getting gallbladder surgery as well. So, with both of us on our backs, our garden had a true test of being weed-bound. Unfortunately, that means that some plants didn’t live at all and some won’t produce well. Our corn was nice and tall, right before the wind blew it over. Many of our peas succumbed to the weeds.
Still, it’s a good year in many respects and that’s the aspect I choose to focus on. Good years fill larders with interesting vegetables and fruits. Apparently, this is a bean year. We planted the normal amount of green beans and Lima beans. However, the plants decided to grow twice as tall and twice as wide as normal. We’re now inundated with green beans and will soon have a bumper crop of Lima beans as well.
Not every year is a good year for every vegetable. In my Dealing with Overabundance post, I discussed how some years produce so much that you can hardly fathom what to do with it all. Last year and the year before were horrible blight-filled years for tomatoes. This year isn’t just good, it’s amazing. Our tomatoes have never looked quite this good.
Those are the same diminutive plants I wrote about in Mulching Your Garden. They’re over five feet tall now and loaded with so many tomatoes that we’re going to try pickling some green tomatoes this year. (Remember to try different preservation techniques whenever you can to discover new ways of dealing with overabundance.) The plants have obviously overgrown the tomato cages and are threatening the other plants in that plot. Unlike previous years, there is absolutely no sign of blight, even at the bottom of the plants (which are usually brown by now).
Many of our plants are late, but will most definitely produce. The egg plants and okra are of sufficient size that we’ll get the normal amount from them, or perhaps just a bit more than usual. As in most years, the egg plants are constantly under attack from flea beetles, but the lacing of their leaves hasn’t reduce their vigor much and we expect the normal crop from them.
The beets and kohlrabi look good this year as well. We fully expect to harvest enough to replenish our larder and even provide a little extra for next year. So, many plants are producing enough that we’ll most definitely not starve. It’s best to avoid focusing on the lack of corn this winter in the larder or the fact that there won’t be much in the way of broccoli (we will have an abundance of Brussels sprouts though).
It’s important to remember diversity in gardening. Don’t plant just one or two items—plant a variety of items so that at least a few of them produce well. This is our year for tomatoes and beans. Next year might be a corn year or the year of the mutant squash (we’ve had one of those lately and are still eating squash from that year). Each year is a good year for something, and an equally bad year for something else.
There is actually a health benefit to all of this. If every year produced copious quantities of whatever you planted, there would be no incentive to try something new. Gardens force people to moderate what they eat and to try new things. As someone once said, “Variety is the spice of life!” So, what has grown well for you this year? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com