Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Year Of Giants

Looking back on the gardening year I think I will remember this year for the giants. Some of the crops have reached huge sizes this year. Now Occasionally we will get really large fruit here and there, but this year we seemed to get lots of really large fruit. As a gardener this tells us that we are doing something right.  

I think that all these years of adding amendments to our soils is really paying off and our soil fertility is higher than ever. 

Added to that our decades of experimenting with different varieties and once finding one we like, then developing it so that it is acclimated to our farm, climate and our soils. Saving seeds from the largest and healthiest of each variety, year after year, helps to maintain that good genetic material.  

Mulching helps tremendously with those early cool crops

Thinning fruit and maintaining those trees helps too

Someone once told me that apples could NOT be grown without spraying insecticides and fungicides or commercial fertilizers. 

The watermelons this year were some of the biggest we have ever grown. With over a dozen weighing in over 60 pounds. And not one drop of spray or commercial fertilizers. 

Pepper plants almost 3 foot tall with huge bell peppers on them. 

With the gardening year pretty well over we truly feel that the gardening gods have indeed smiled on us this year and we are thankful for all that we have harvested. 

But maybe we are the most proud of the fact that as recent as a few weeks ago someone left a comment on this blog about hybrids being healthier, more productive and disease resistant. Every vegetable above (with the exception of the apples is an open pollinated heirloom from seed produced and saved right here on this farm. Nothing above was sprayed with anything for insects except the broccoli and cabbage with bt for cabbage worms. Everything was fertilized with natural animal manures produced on this farm or compost again produced on this farm. 

Now I in no way want to imply that we don't have our crop failures because we have our share just like every other gardener. I simply want to provide encouragement for all you new gardeners out there who are being told that it can't be done.

It can't be done easily or quickly but it can be done. It may be more labor intensive and take may years to achieve but again it is possible. Sure we also grow the occasional hybrids but when it comes time to buy seeds I sure am thankful for those home produced seeds and my low seed bill.

How was your gardening year?  

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. I'm very encouraged with what you have done and proved:) God has indeed blessed what your hands have worked!

  2. It seemed like it would continue to rain ALL season, but DH and I did have a very productive garden. Most was a little late due to the fact we couldn't get the seeds in the ground earlier. I agree 100%, I don't grow many hybrids. My tomatoes are seeds I've saved probably 30 years and they are bigger and better now than the original seeds. Neighbors planted hybrid tomatoe plants this year, disease resistant tomatoes and they blighted--turned dark brown and died. That does say something about hybrid seeds. I'll continue to save seeds I can depend on for good crops. Like you say, we know what works in our soil...... I enjoy reading and seeing the pictures on your wonderful blog. Would love to meet you and your family.

  3. I'm with you on raising heirlooms and gardening with 'homegrown' mulch and fertilizer. Some hybrids may be 'prettier' but the nutritional value isn't there and what will they grow if there are no seeds on the shelves. Those of us who go to the trouble to save seeds will always have food. We'll stick with our tried and true ways as well......

  4. oh my have accomplished so much.

    I have to agree it is you/your family's hard work in adding to the soil/saving seed/etc which has accomplished this.
    My husband's Grandparents originally were farmers (I didn't know them then). From what I've heard, they did much the same as you/had much the same results. Sold the farm to a family member, who did not have this same understanding/attitude re the land/production.....well, it was not the "same".

    Grandparents moved into a modest home in the city. had a modest yard. there was a garden there, so to speak. folks who sold it to them were honest about it not being too "productive"

    well, Grandparents expanded the garden to most of the back yard. Grandparents did much as you. Only exception, I think they did this different, instead of a compost, they would take scraps out (veg scraps) etc, and bury them in a different spot each time. Saved winter scraps in freezer to put in in spring.

    OH MY GOSH..within a few yrs Grandparents had a garden producing much like yours...

  5. Organic is the only way to go and with Heirloom seeds. "New and improved", Ha! Don't fix it if it ain't broke!

  6. I have been gardening for a few years, I'm still in the learning stage. I had a couple more successes this year than last year. The one pest I really had a problem with is cabbage worms. You used a bt spray what is that? I have learned a lot from you, Thank You.

  7. sorry if this has been addressed,
    but I am wondering if you add Used Coffee Grounds to your compost, or maybe directly to the garden dirt?

    have been reading about this in so many places, lately, got to wondering if you do?

    apparently folks canvas their local coffee shops, and ask them to save coffee grounds for them.

    1. Yes I keep a small sealed bucket in the kitchen just for coffee grounds and every week they are added either to the compost or the garden. Have for years.

    2. The plastic container that the ground coffee comes in works great as a kitchen bucket for the composter - it even has a lid. We use one for all our vegetable scraps.

  8. You are making my mouth water with those bell pepper photos...oh how I love peppers. Those heads of lettuce? you could probably sell for $10 here. LOL. Our local grocery store has some very sad looking ones for 1.29 we ladies could hold in our hands. Even the local farm stand has not had nice looking ones. With the cold winter predicted, all this food will certainly tie you all over till spring.
    blessings, jill

  9. always so rewarding when we get bonus crops
    Happy Sunday Kathy

  10. Your crops look wonderful! If your neighbors get tired of your extras, there's always the food bank which will give you a tax deduction too.

    I have a bug question: I live in Northern VA and have some broccoli rabe growing but something is eating the leaves. What do you suggest I do to stop the critters snacking? Nor do I particularly want to eat any bugs when I pick the stuff. It's getting big but the florets haven't appeared yet.


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