End of Season Garden Reflactions 2014: What We Will Do Different Next Season

By Julie Sews - 9:41:00 AM

Garden A: Oct 1 2014 cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, beets
While starting to take down our garden, I always reflect on the season and what I would do differently next year.  I started to take down some of our garden last week, despite our beautiful weather (highs in the 60s).  This year for gardening my plan was to have our garden be as care free as possible, while still providing us with our fav veggies for the summer and early fall.  So I'm judging this season on how well our garden accomplished these goals.  In my last post I reflected on what worked for us this year.  In this post I plan to share what didn't fit our goals of low maintenance, and high yields of veggies and fruits we love.

What We Will Do Different in Our Garden Next Year

Plant less Kale and Closer Together
Check out our HUGE Red Russian Kale it takes up about 7 sq feet!  Oct 1 2014
If you follow this blog you probably know that kale is always a rock star of my garden.  It's very cold hardy so it's one of the first and last plants to go every year, and I love that you can harvest it any time.  I've learned last year that kale can get really big if it's given enough space and light.  So I planted 6 kale plants (2 red russian, 2 curly, and 2 dino) this year the same as last year, but gave it a lot more space than last year.  Well as you can see in the picture above, if given the room kale can get HUGE.

Oct 1 2014 garden B Dino kale (has branched out to 2 stems), and curly kale right
Notice in this picture there are 2 kale plants to one row as opposed to the one in garden A, and the kale plants are smaller when they are planted 2 to a row (our rows are 1'x5').  While having tons of kale might be great to some, I've found we really haven't ate nearly close to what we've grown.  I use to add them to smoothies but my husband complained about not liking that.  I also like to add them to soups and stews (which I haven't even made this year yet), and kale chips.  I'm not a fan of eating kale raw, but I'm trying to learn to like kale salads.  I think I'll like it more if our kale is closer to baby kale, or at least smaller leaves.  I think growing 2 or 3 to a row should create smaller kale leaves. I plan on buying 4 transplants next year instead of 6 and planting them 2 to a row.

Plant Less Cucumbers and Replace Sugar Snap Peas of One Row
Oct 1 2014 Garden B cucumbers, turnips, Roma tomatoes
After years of having a problem growing cucumbers, we've finally had two years of great harvest.  In fact we grew so much, it was actually too much.  I like to juice my cucumbers to make cucumber limeade juice, and eat some fresh in salads, on lamb burgers, and sushi.  I don't make pickles since it's so inexpensive at the store I don't think it's worth the time. How do you like to eat your cucumbers?

This year we grew so much cucumbers I'm finding it hard to know what to do with them.  We planted 3 rows (each 1'x 5") of cucumbers this year, about 24 cucumber plants.  I'm thinking I will replace one row next year with sugar snap peas.  Sugar snap peas are more work harvesting, but my husband and I love adding them to stir frys and I love to snack on it with ranch dip.  Last year we moved peas from our front yard garden to our backyard and they didn't do well.  The squirrels ate most of the seeds planted.  And since I've decide to scale back on gardening this year I decided not to plant any. 

Plant Cold Season Transplants and Seeds Sooner
Garden B Oct 1 2014: helper tomato, flowering broccoli, and dino kale
We planted broccoli, spinach, and lettuce at the same time we planted our whole garden including warm weather crops.  I think we planted around May 22, 23?  something like that.  Well we planted our cool crops way too late.  The spinach never grew much at all before going to seed.  Our lettuce did much better than the spinach, but we could have enjoyed our lettuce much longer and therefore harvested more if we had planted sooner.  Our broccoli took so long to mature that by the time it did, I forgot about it and it went to seed, we barely even harvested any broccoli this year.   It's always so cold here in the spring that it seems too early to plant when I really should for cold season crops.  Hopefully next year I'll plant cold season crops earlier!  When do you plant your cold season crops and what zone are you?  We here in Minneapolis are zone 4a.

Give Peppers More Space and Light
Oct 1 2014 Garden B: Kale Dwarfed our jalapeño plants
While I'm well aware of the fact that peppers need lots of light, I thought planting kale by our peppers would be fine because I planted the kale far away from the peppers.  That only allowed the kale to get even bigger!  Whoops.  Thou shall not plant any tall plants in the same square as peppers and basil (both plants need lots of sun).  Our bell pepper did better this year than the last two years, but still could do better.  We use to grow lots of big beautiful bell peppers and then they flopped.  I was convinced it was due to poor placement of my transplants (not enough space and sun), and am now even more convinced.  I planted our bell peppers in a space with more light and space this year, but it could still have gotten more sun.  

What do you plan to different next season?  What plants flopped for you this season? What were the rock stars of your garden?  I'd love to hear about it.

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