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2014 Garden in Review

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The garden has been put to bed for a while, so this is definitely a late wrap up this year. Though looking at last year’s it actually not that much later.  The big garden change this year was that in the early spring we decided to fence in our free-ranging chickens.  The reason was so that we could work on growing grass in the gigantic dirt patches in the yard.  For the most part the grass did grow.   The effects of having the chickens not free ranging (as well as, sadly, not having Pippin sleeping in the beds) was surprising in a couple of ways.  On the one hand we were able to grow things from seed and create a whole new gourd area. On the other hand, it turned out that they managed the weeds in a few areas and without the chickens the weeds grew rampant!
Rainy Tulips
Front Garden: This year we added a rose bush to the front, and as usual the peonies were beautiful.
More peonies
The raised beds out front were very nice in year 2.  The mailbox garden wasn’t quite as spectacular, but still cheerful. This fall I added a lot more bulbs to it to refresh it in the spring.  And the zinnia/cosmo bed was very nice, though not quite at tall as last year.
Cheerful Annuals
Recommendations for 2015: Nasturtiums all around, stick with cosmos and zinnias.

Vegetable Garden: The garden redeemed itself in the zucchini category this year. Plenty of beautiful blossoms, and plenty of nice smooth green zukes.
Squash Blossoms

Holy Zukes!
I had wonderful success with carrots this year, with yields in late summer and fall.I definitely planted seeds way too close together and should have done a lot of thinning, but it was super satisfying to pull up so many. And the foliage was beautiful.
Carrots!
I had high hopes for the brussels sprouts, my first time planting them. Nice plants grew, but yielded nothing. It may be in part that they didn’t have enough room-again I’m terrible at thinning!
The peas were very good. As usual we liked to just pick and eat them right then.
Peas
I put feed bags down in the little paths of the garden and that really did help with the weeds (though some of the bags ended up soggy and yucky.)
Thriving Garden
The tomato bed was tremendously successful! The really large tomatoes needed more support and a few large stalks bent over, but continued to yield nice big tomatoes-I just had to pick them before they got too wet on the ground. As usual I did a lot of roasting and freezing.
TOmatoes
Recommendations for 2015:
Try brussels sprouts again, but thin. Continue to plant the most liked vegetables: lettuce, carrots, peas, zucchini, cucumbers (one plant was just the right amount this year!). Do butternut squash next year-I missed it this year.Also plant bell peppers.

Butterfly Garden: The butterfly garden was the shining star of success this year and all because of: Monarch Butterflies! The garden itself was not nearly as vibrant as it has been in the past.  It seems that some of the perennials didn’t survive, and we still don’t have a butterfly bush. And the bee balm sort of fizzled. It just wasn’t as pretty as usual. BUT. The milkweed flourished and did the job of bringing monarchs to lay their eggs.
a Monarch Sighting!
At the peak we counted 30 caterpillars on the plants. They devoured the milkweed and we had to bring in extra milkweed to feed them.
Monarch Madness
We were so rewarded when we actually witnessed a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis.
The Monarch Emerges!
The Monarch Emerges!
Recommendations for 2015: add another milkweed plant, if we ever get that many caterpillars again bring some in to a critter container to feed and watch.

Overall it was a good garden year.  In the spring we discovered our bees had died, so we did not have our honeybees adding to the overall system. We also had to restock our pond because our beloved frog had not survived. So, we have new fish and we bought bullfrog tadpoles that did develop into grownup frogs. The plum tree was drastically pruned and looks ridiculous now. We have to wait and see if it has improved next year. A big change was the chopping down of terrible shrubs that we didn’t like. It opened up our back door area and I kept a planter of annuals there that was very cheerful. Along the driveway the newly opened and untrampled area was perfect for growing a massive assortment of gourds and one big sunflower.I think next year we’ll either stick with gourds or try pumpkins or other squash in that same area.
So now the garden is put to bed to wait until next year when first the snowdrops, then the crocus, then asparagus, and tips of peonies show their springy faces and start the cycle all over again. Happy garden dreams!
1st Harvest

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About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

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