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A Year in Our Garden - 2018
December 19, 2018

Our gardening year of 2018 was one where we had to focus on what was good, as there was way too much bad stuff going on. We began picking good tomatoes on July 7 and had our pantry stocked with canned whole tomatoes before the month was out. We produced enough pumpkins to make all of our grandchildren happy at Halloween. Our cucumber harvest allowed us to make lots of delicious sweet pickle relish. We froze lots of broccoli and some cauliflower for winter use. And both our spring and fall carrots produced good crops.

Earlirouge Tomatoes Howden Pumpkin Hot dog with homemade relish Broccoli Some of our fall carrots

In years past, we have often shared several small truckloads of melons from our East Garden with local food banks and missions. Since we didn't get to plant most of the East Garden this year, we first shared tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Later, we drove in a small load of pumpkins and butternuts that we did get planted in the East Garden.

Pumpkins and betternuts for the fook bank

Lettuce under floating row cover Lettuce uncovered (after some picking)

Our spring lettuce didn't produce much for us before things got hot and it all got bitter and/or bolted. But we did have a really nice fall lettuce crop, aided greatly by a floating row cover. Most of it was romaine lettuce coming in just as the E. Coli contamination cut off most commercial romaine supplies!

We dug a good supply of regular garlic in early July. Sadly, our elephant garlic was a near total failure. Moles had run down the row under the elephant garlic, apparently doing evil things to it. I did learn from that experience, though, that bone meal that I usually put under our garlic sets can draw moles! We also got a nice yield of onions even though many of them had been overgrown by weeds (more about that later).

One of my goals this season was to replenish our supply of dried parsley. We had a wonderful crop of it and completely refilled our large parsley jar.

We also had another great crop of kale. Most of it went into our Portuguese Kale Soup, but we also enjoyed a good bit of kale boiled with onions and bacon drippings. For our occasional winter kale cravings, we froze several pints of cooked kale.

Parsley and kale

Gloxinias on dining room tableIndoors, we had gloxinias in bloom all summer. We saved (and have shared) lots of open pollinated gloxinia seed.

Along the way, I got some writing done this year. How-to's included:

New recipes:

  • Refried Kidney Beans - An easy, basic recipe for refried beans using kidney beans instead of pinto beans (August 17, 2018)
  • Sweet Pickle Relish - With lots of cucumbers and peppers on hand, I was able to make a great pickle relish with the help of some online recipes. (August 21, 2018)

And a few feature stories:

  • Best Garden Photos of 2018 - (November 3, 2018)
  • Time to Let Go - After my concerns about the direction of the Seed Savers Exchange were totally ignored, I decided to give up and just let my membership and participation in the organization lapse. (June 4, 2018)

As I alluded to earlier, all was not well in our garden plots this season.

One thing that became obvious early in the growing season was that we had a serious problem in our newest, narrow raised garden bed. I'd attributed stunted tomato plants there the previous season to difficult weather. But when repeated seedings of early peas simply wouldn't germinate there, I realized that we'd gotten something into the soil that was preventing germination and limiting plant growth. Over the season, I found that transplants would take and grow, but not flourish as they normally would. At this point, my best guess is that I brought in some pre-emergent herbicide on the grass clippings we use for mulch.

I also overdid things early in the season and tore the meniscus cartilage in both of my knees. I was unable to plant most of our East Garden plot or care for our plantings in our main garden from April through most of June. Family members tried to keep our main raised garden bed weeded, but in the end, we lost a lot of production of our spring planted crops to weed pressure. Thankfully, my knees seem to be healing without surgery.

Blooms on Granny Smith apple treeWe also lost our Granny Smith apple tree to root rot. While we'll miss its apples for the excellent applesauce they made, I may more miss the abundance of beautiful blooms the tree had each spring.

To top things off, we had another mini-drought this year through most of June and July. With all of those challenges, we still had a respectable gardening season.


I'd decided a month or so ago to just abandon this garden review. Previous reviews don't get read much. But more then the hits on the site, writing this stuff refreshes my memory about what we did right and wrong in our garden plots this year. So I got started writing the text again a month ago. Having said what I wanted to, I then turned to adding photos to the review. I may have overdone it a bit, but had a lot of fun adding pictures to this review.

As with most growing seasons, there are successes and failures. We celebrate the successes and try to learn from the failures. This year was no different with dry weather and some physical problems making our gardening efforts more difficult. But we really had a wonderful summer.

I thank the Lord for continued good health and the chance to enjoy gardening and share it with my readers.

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From Steve Wood, the at Senior Gardening
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