In the spirit of the new year and my gardening-focused week, I’ve decided to write out my garden goals for this year. Last year, my only goal in the garden was to get it started and hope that something grew. I more than exceeded that with the help of a ton of compost from the garden centre, but there are still many things I’d like to do better and improve.
Our current compost consists of some wire fencing contained in pallets. There is a pallet on top of it (weighed down by two logs) to keep out the raccoons, but they still manage to dig under the wire fencing and eat about half of what we put in there. It’s also not very accessible for turning the compost. Chris has said he will build a new compost system this summer, with one area for compost that is “working” and one area for throwing in kitchen and garden scraps. The two-part system should also work with keeping down the smell; right now it can be pretty stinky on some days and I don’t want our neighbours to start complaining.
2. Take better care of the tomatoes
Instead of pruning the tomato plants throughout the summer, I neglected them and let them grow willy-nilly in their cages. This caused them to topple over in a big mess by August and also, I think, worsened the effect of blight. It was a very damp summer and the tomatoes were not able to dry off easily as they were hidden in the mess of leaves. We lost about half of our harvest to blight. This summer I will take the time to prune the tomatoes that need it and will also look at building a structure to better hold up the tomato plants. My step-dad has a great tomato structure design that I’d like to copy.
3. Plant a few fruit trees/bushes.
There is room on the lawn around the garden to plant a good number of fruit trees and bushes. The soil is pretty poor in the area, but I think a few years of adding compost would make it healthy. I would like to start this summer by planting some blueberry plants – both high-bush bought from the nursery and low-bush transplanted from wild blueberry fields nearby.
4. Figure out a potato storage system for the winter.
This fall I harvested the potatoes (about 20 lbs) and hung them in an old hammock in the room under the stairs in the basement. When we got back from our month-long road trip, I noticed a smell downstairs. I opened the door and the potatoes had disintegrated and spilled their rotten juice all over the floor. For those of you who have had potatoes rot before, you will understand me when I say I have never smelt anything so rotten in my house before. I had to wash the floor many times.
We don’t have space for a cold room in our house so I need to figure out what the best way to store the potatoes will be. I don’t want to ever have to smell rotten potatoes again!
5. Can/preserve more of our vegetables
This summer I made pesto from the basil, froze a small bag of peas, and stored six winter squash in the room under the stairs, but I did not (successfully) do any canning.
I did try canning some of our cucumbers and got as far as having them in the jars covered with vinegar, but then threw it all out once I realized I had forgotten to sterilize the jars properly. They could have been fine, but I did not want to worry about getting sick every time I ate a pickle.
My father-in-law makes great relish. I want to get some of his recipes and try them out next year. I would also like to can tomatoes and freeze broccoli.
What are your 2012 garden goals?