Lessons Learned from a Bountiful Summer

 A few random tidbits I learned this summer, in no particular order:

  • Rosemary and apricots were made for each other.
  • Whey is the liquid you get when you strain plain yogurt or raw milk and you can use it to ferment salsa so you can eat it for months to come.
  • When saving tomato seeds (via fermenting in water to help remove their gelatinous coating), it is possible to leave them in the water too long to the point where they start sprouting. Seed saving fail.
  • If you don’t harvest your kale (or chard or lettuce) at the first sign of edible leaves, they get bigger.
  • Roasting tomatoes for freezing is a hell of a lot easier than blanching, peeling, and coring tomatoes for canning.
  • Potato towers are pretty neat, but didn’t really provide me with the bounty I was expecting. I think I’ll stick to the garbage can method from now on.
  • Eggplants: Do over.
  • Brussel sprouts: Do over.
  • Butternut squash: Even worth it? I love them, but they didn’t work again. I’m wondering if these are better left to my local farmers.
  • Gross out alert! It’s normal to see blood in your chickens’ poop every once in a while. They’re sloughing off parts of their intestinal walls, so don’t freak out about it like I did. I guess a little overreaction is to be expected after the chicken debacle I had this summer.
  • Raspberry vinegar is a good thing. The only problem was that I discovered that at the end of the season. And raspberry shrub is totally happening this fall.
  • Tomato jam must happen again. Every summer. And the fact that you can make it with almost any tomato, including cherry, makes it even more amazing.
  • Determinate tomatoes (non-vining) need a lot more space than the indeterminates I usually grow. Sprawling vines mean tomatoes practically grow on the ground…not good. I will take a pass on those next season.
  • The terraces in my backyard make the most of my small space, but I’ve got to keep in mind how plants on one terrace might shade another. I’m thinking that might have contributed to the lack of success I had (and powdery mildew) with my cucurbits this season. I’m going to keep working on this theory.
  • Planting fall seeds in the shade of spent spring brassicas is genius. I purposely left my aphid-ridden Brussel sprouts in a little longer because of the shade their leaves were providing my fall seed beds. My fall garden is thriving this year!

What lessons did you learn in your garden this summer?

Photo by Jenn Ireland

7 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from a Bountiful Summer

  1. Reading (and chickens)

    You’re such a good farmer, Stacy! One day you’re going to own your own farm, I know it.

    The only lesson I learned is that my children are better gardeners than me. (We only grew strawberries and basil and rosemary, but we grew the heck out of them.)

  2. Winnie

    What a great photo…and thanks for sharing these priceless lessons learned. I learned a lot this summer, too! I for one am not planting eggplant again. Flea beetles get to the leaves every time 🙁

    1. stacy Post author

      Yeah, I’m thinking that might be another something I leave to my local farmers. 🙂 Thanks again for the raspberry recipes!

  3. Val

    I share your pain on the winter squash–it just takes up so much space for the backyard gardener, and the squash vine borers are my nemesis. But now I have 4 huge squash on my mantle, and maybe it was worth it.
    For the flea beetles, if you can keep the plants covered with row cloth until they get some size on them it helps a lot.
    This summer, I learned that I absolutely have to keep a bed empty after spring so that I’ll have a space to start my fall crops. It is hard to resist the urge to fill every bed in summer.
    Love the red Hunters–I’m wearing my green ones today.


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