Friday, January 6, 2012

Last Year's Garden Successes

2011 was a good garden year for us. But like every year we have our successes and our failures. Some through no fault of our own. Some just a combination of luck, ongoing experimentation with different varieties and ever changing weather patterns. Last year we had a cool wet spring but were able to get many of our cool weather crops in really early. In those conditions we had a phenomenal potato harvest and still in January are eating fresh potatoes although they are disappearing fast. Also a bumper crop led to extensive potato canning and experimenting with dehydrating both hash browns and sliced potatoes.

Last spring we extended the strawberry bed and moved our struggling rhubard plants (2) to a new location at the end of the strawberry garden. This was a great success because not only are they thriving but by separating the roots we now have a huge rhubarb patch and are looking forward to lots of rhubard to use this spring.

Another great addition was a new variety of pea last year.Through Seed Savers Exchange we acquired a new variety of garden pea called Champion of England . This pea was a phenomenal grower for us reaching a height of almost 6 feet and loaded with peas holding sometimes as many as 10 peas in a pod. We planted 2 rows one for eating and one for seeds so with good germination we are hoping for a really good crop this year. Another great heirloom from Seed Savers.

Another great performer last year was an heirloom, open pollinated pepper we call Italian Pickling Pepper. This seed was given to us by a family member and we are unsure of it's origin. It has for the last several years exceeded the yields of any pepper we have ever grown of this kind.

2011 here was the year of the petunia..For the first time we planted Laura Bush petunias. An open pollinated petunia that was a great performer here. It withstood dry spells, 100 degree weather, rainy seasons when other petunias would have been beat to death. It just kept on blooming, blooming and blooming. With very little care of any kind. This variety is definitely a keeper and can be obtained through many wild seed companies. My hope this year is to obtain the lighter pink version of this plant. My husband laughs and says we will probably end up with acres of this stuff but I don't care : )

As I pour over the new seed catalogs for this new year and read magazines and online reviews I have to wonder what will be the superstars of the garden this year. The one thing I missed last year was the bumper crop of fruit that we had enjoyed the year before. Our hope is that Mother Nature will cooperate this year and we will have lots of fruit for the coming year. No late frosts and freezes, and no tornado force winds and torrential rains blowing off the young fruit. I'll just have to pray about it.

For this coming year I want to add more herbs to my gardens and to learn more about wild edibles and herbal tinctures. I also want to add more herbs for my new found soap making projects. I also want to add a potager or kitchen garden closer to the house.

What garden successes did you have last year?

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your successes! I will definitely pursue finding the varieties you enjoyed. We live fairly close together, and so I hope that varieties you found to be successful will also grow well for us. Your garden is absolutely gorgeous! That is what I aspire to!!! Were the Italian Pickling Peppers very hot?

    My biggest success this summer was sweet potatoes. A friend gave me slips in a cottage cheese tub. I planted them where I had my chicken pen the last two years, and boy did they produce! Out of a ten foot row I got about 30 pounds of sweet potatoes. The vines were just beautiful, and shaded out the weeds for the most part. They were super easy to care for. My tomatoes also did well, but were very late. I mulched them heavily with two year old half-rotted straw, and kept them watered through the drought. They struggled through it, and when temps mellowed out, and we started getting little showers here and there they layed on the fruit. I had tomatoes starting in mid-August and finishing up in early November. In fact, the vines were still loaded with green tomatoes when the first frost hit. I had plans to pick them all for chow-chow, but circumstances prevented me from being able to. Next year, I hope to do so, though!

  2. I think the fact that I got any potatoes at all, even though I was clueless about growing them, was a success. :-)

    Thanks for the report on the Laura Bush petunias. I would love a flower to go crazy like that!


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