Gardening has a lot of ups and downs. This year has been a year of experiments. We are growing a lot of varieties of plants that we haven’t tried in our gardens in the past. We wanted to bring some unique and unusual varieties to our CSA members. We’ve found some varieties that are doing very, very well – dwarf white cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, currant tomatoes, Rutgers Space tomatoes, and gold rush zucchini. We’ve also found several that just don’t make the cut – strawberry spinach for berries (much better for greens), blue velour bush beans, tiger’s eye shelling beans, spinach and chard (leaf miner issues – plants are doing well), and mesclun lettuce blends.
We’re taking those experiences and using them to better plan for next year’s CSA. We will be reducing the number of varieties we’re growing and planting more of those varieties that are doing well. We hope to expand our harvest next year to bring our members more produce. Those failed plants have taken up space in our containers and not produced the yield we expected.
I was so disappointed this year when the blue velour beans (64 plants in total) yielded a little over 1/2 a pound of beans. Since they are a bush bean, there’s only one harvest. It appears that our garden area is better suited to runner beans. We are getting blooms on the Kentucky Wonders now.
The strawberry spinach really didn’t meet my expectations. It DID produce berries, if you want to call them that. The berries are about the size of the head of a pin. It would take hundreds of plants to make enough berries to actually use for a jelly or juice. The leaves, however, are tasty and have been included in our salad mix each week.
This year has also been a tough one for leaf miners. Our spinach and chard crop has been decimated. We get a few leaves each week, and I spend hours picking off the eggs from the underside of the leaves. I have a “New Zealand Spinach” in test now. It’s more of a cooking green than a raw green, but I am hopeful to avoid the difficulties I’ve had with the spinach family of plants.
I’m still undecided on growing broccoli and cauliflower for next year. We have lovely foliage on the plants, but no heads have begun to form. The plants don’t get ideal sun, so they are taking longer to grow, but I have been expecting to harvest them for a while now. The second crop of these plants is already growing, and maybe those will be more productive!
I am also looking at adding kale to our harvest list. Kale is a hardy, healthy green that is usually cooked or made into tasty kale chips!
What would you like to see in the harvest plans for next year?