Garden 2018

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This summer came and went in the blink of an eye. Between working, driving my kids all over creation, and it just being insufferably hot for much of the season, I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wish I had working in the garden. Here’s a rundown on what we did accomplish:

Raised beds

Our wheat-growing experiment was a success, but required me to sacrifice one whole 4′ x 8′ raised bed, limiting my options for planting. After the wheat was harvested, I decided to give the soil a rest and just left that bed empty for the rest of the growing season.

Despite being sorely neglected, everything we planted seemed to be successful. This year I inherited started kale and tomatoes from my mom, and late in the season I planted the seeds I saved from last year’s bean harvest—they actually grew and produced more beans, which I harvested to save for next year! I got absolutely nowhere with the partial-shade raised beds behind the house. I envision them being great spaces for shade tolerant herbs and fresh greens—maybe next year!

Child’s garden

In his child’s garden, Zane chose to put in eggplant (as usual), and also some Jarrahdale pumpkins which, when ripe, are a beautiful seafoam green color. They really are stunning. In the winter we will feed them to the squirrels. On St. John’s Day we also dug up some St. John’s wort we found growing close to our house and planted a bit of it in Zane’s little garden—St. John the Baptist is his patron saint, after all!

Fruit trees and berries

Elsewhere in the yard we had fantastic good luck with the blackberries I planted last year. They didn’t do much last summer, so I wasn’t sure what their growth would look like this year. Boy, was I shocked when they shot up huge trailing vines. I read online that you should tip the canes at around 3 – 4 feet about midsummer, which will encourage the growth of the lateral shoots (where the berries will grow the following summer). I did that, and now the lateral shoots are basically huge trailing vines, too. In the winter I will prune them back to about 18 inches and remove the spent canes from this summer. We did get a few berries on last year’s canes, but not a whole lot. I expect we’ll be inundated next summer.

Zane bought two blueberry bushes at the very start of the growing season, which did well when we planted them. They even produced quite a few berries but, unfortunately, the birds got all of them. I am going to work on creating some sort of enclosure for them this winter so that poor little Zane can enjoy the fruit of his labors. The raspberries are really taking off and growing maybe a little too well—shoots are starting to pop up everywhere, even in the child’s garden where they most certainly do not belong!

Sadly, our two pear trees did not produce any mature pears this year. There were some blossoms and a few baby pears at the start of the season, but they all fell off at some point. I’m not sure why, though I think it would be unusual to have pears on trees as small as ours. Maybe next year! We also planted a green gage plum tree that I drove over an hour to buy. Unfortunately, it died back to the roots. Since I don’t know what root stock the graft is on, I will probably dig it up next spring and try something else in that space. I’m looking at Nanking cherry bushes, maybe?

The wild crabapple tree in the town forest just over our fence produced almost no fruit this year. It’s really a mystery!

Hop trellis

Our hops did really well this year, though they are still not growing the “25 feet per year” that I have read about. However, when we were on vacation in Lubec I had a conversation with a local brewer there, and he said that we shouldn’t expect too much from first or second year hops. I feel reassured that next year we will be pleasantly surprised.

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Kelli Ann Wilson

Kelli lives in rural New Hampshire with her husband Damian and their two children. She works as a writer, and in her free time enjoys reading, gardening, taking pictures, walking in the woods, and celebrating the seasons of nature and the feasts, festivals, and holy days of the Christian year.

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