Year 2 – The vegetable garden begins, adventures in canning.
Now that the ground had been prepared, it was time to sow. I immediately made the classic mistake of going seed crazy. (I still make this mistake pretty much every year, by the way. And just about every other gardener I talk too says the same thing!) Seed catalogues are highly addictive, so before I knew it, I was shopping for carrots, peas, potatoes, leeks, onions, tomatoes, peppers, beets, chard, pumpkin, lettuce, herbs, and many different varieties of each of those. I did a bit of research (but not much) on companion planting, drew a rough sketch of what would go where, sectioned off the garden with string, added a little extra compost to the planting areas and in late March, went for it.
To my absolute surprise, I didn’t need to buy vegetables for six months.
The strawberry bed was a great success and by the end of May I had plenty left over from eating to try my hand at making jam. Canning was much easier than I thought and after a good tomato season, I canned my own tomato sauce too.
This was also the year I planted an apple and a pear tree. There’s no denying that fruit trees are a challenge and I bought multi-variety trees which can be even harder to deal with. In the few years since I’ve learned so much about fruit trees. Firstly, get the trees from a local nursery and make sure they will grow well in your area. Just matching up the zone might not be good enough. I didn’t; mine were shipped from California. I was excited to get blossoms that first year but it still remains to be seen how they will perform in the long run.
The biggest issue were the pumpkins. By July the plant was already huge but I was completely unaware of vine borers and squash bugs, and they really got a hold of it while I was away. After harvesting just two pumpkins, the pests had won.
There were some things I knew immediately needed improvement, like better trellising for the tomatoes and peas, but overall, at the end of the year I looked back with immense satisfaction, wishing the winter away so I could try it all out again the following spring.