2020 Garden Recap

I’m going to do a quick recap of 2020’s garden season and be done with it, because there are other apocalyptic homestead topics to be discussed.

Our first planting date is May 4 or so. I actually didn’t plant anything then, but started thinking about things.

It was Memorial Day weekend when things really happened. BOOM, baby! Since I was a few weeks late, I planted a lot of seedlings from local greenhouses.

In addition to resurrecting the old 4×12 bed, I added another 4×8 bed. I used a composite raised bed system that was pretty expensive. I’d decided to go that route because the former raised beds had become ugly and rotted. I figured if I was going to WANT to be in the garden all the time, it would need to look really good.

That 4×8 end bed is magical for peppers, eggplants, and as it turned out, a watermelon that went nuts, cascaded down the landscaped slope, and wound up producing over 120 pounds of watermelon. I got more sweet peppers than I could handle, and a bunch of eggplants. Sadly, I didn’t plant any hot peppers this year, but I sure know where to plant them next time!

Then in June we had a frost, followed by a heat wave, and the peas were all set with that. The green beans did great though. And the 6 tomato plants I put in did, too! That was a surprise; normally I have no luck with tomatoes. I wasn’t even going to try, but one of my husband’s coworkers expressed incredulity that we weren’t growing tomatoes. So I caved and did it, and I’m glad I did! For whatever reason, I had no disease or pest issues with them at all. Except for one tomato hornworm, and I don’t really count him, since he only ate one tomato leaf before being apprehended.

In late August I planted a fall garden consisting of another crop of green beans and radishes. I tried cucumbers in both the spring and fall, and didn’t have much luck with them. Certainly not the rumored piles and piles of cucumbers one’s supposed to have!

The other thing I planted for the fall garden was more square footage. I lengthened the main bed to 4×16, and created a new 2×12 bed along the back porch. The 2×12 will be mainly tomatoes next year, and edamame.

And then fall frosts started to happen. I was ready for gardening to be over for the year. I amended the beds with compost and mulched them heavily. I added biochar, too. Fancy! Oh, and planted a LOT of fall garlic.

The biggest harvests were zucchini (before the borers and the powdery mildew got the plant), green beans, which we ate raw, steamed as a side dish at dinner, and pickled.

And the watermelon. The problem with watermelon is that it mostly ripens all at once, and there aren’t a lot of good ways to preserve it. I canned a lot of watermelon jam and watermelon jelly, and experimented with watermelon fruit leather (never again). You can bring half of a 46 pound watermelon over to a friend’s house as a “gift” once, but you can’t really do it three times.

By the time we were dealing with the last of it, we were all super sick of watermelon, and feeling grateful that some small rodent had tunneled into one of the 4 melons, ruining it. Thank you, little guy.

So bottom line, 2020 was by far my most successful garden ever, and we’ll be enjoying canned salsa, jam, and pickles into the winter. I started pretty late in the season, and by all accounts this was a very weird year weather-wise. We had watering restrictions that started in August and we’re actually still under. Late frosts, early heatwaves.

One of multiple batches of watermelon jelly

I’m really looking forward to 2021. I’ll have more garden space, and like I said, I’ve amended the beds. That’s a step I never took before. I also never planted garlic before. Next year I’ll be keeping a closer account of what the garden produces, and I expect it to produce a lot more.

Plus, our apple tree never bloomed this year. It’s a self-pollinating Dwarf McIntosh, and it has given us an apple before, so I think that was probably due to my traumatizing it early in the season by dropping another tree on it and breaking a main branch. 🙁 It seemed to focus on growth this year, as it got significantly larger. So hopefully it’s looking forward to next year, too. Because there are a MILLION things you can do with apples!

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