In the story Gone With the Wind at the end of the Civil War, Scarlet stands in the barren fields of her beloved Tara and declares, "As God is my witness, I will never go hungry again!"
And then, she proceeds to ... use her feminine wiles to get herself a man to take care of her ...
I don't know how that relates to anything, exactly, except that it was on my mind this past weekend.
We started the process of razing the garden beds, harvesting what there was to harvest and mulching all of the beds with their winter blanket of leaves.
Some of the things I grew gave a very disappointing harvest.
I was disappointed with the potatoes from which I only harvested a meager 35 lbs, but as Deus Ex Machina pointed out, I only planted 5 lbs, which means it was a 7x return. So, I guess that's okay. Just like last year I ended up with some enormous spuds. I pulled one of them out of the ground, and immediately thought "Go long!" It is almost as big as my foot(ball).
Big Little Sister harvested almost 4 lbs of scarlet runner beans from her garden. If we're looking at which crop gave us a better ROI, I'd have to say it was her beans. She planted four or five seeds and ended up with a half bushel of beans. Pretty cool! I'm going to try stringing them to dry, but not too long ago, I also discovered how incredibly delicious fresh scarlet runner beans are when they're cooked ... so, I'm kind of torn - eat 'em now, or save 'em for later .... Hmm?
I was really impressed with the tiny pie pumpkins. The vines were really short, and each vine produced between two and six pumpkins weighing between 1 lb and 3 lbs each. They're one-pie-per-each pumpkins, but we'll end up with thirteen pies with only four vines total.
The three sisters bucket garden didn't do so well. None of the beans grew, and the pumpkins in the buckets were smaller and fewer than the ones in the garden bed. I also planted the blue field corn, again this year. The ears are supposed to be smaller, but seriously? These are tiny, and I can't even imagine trying to get the kernels off the cob. I'm going to switch corn varieties next year. I'll still plant field corn, but I think I'll put the three sisters in the 8"x4" garden bed in the back and plant the small vine pumpkins, a field corn variety and scarlet runner beans. Worst case, I'll end up with a ton of scarlet runner beans, which are beautiful and grow prolifically. Best case, I'll have a great crop of corn, beans and pumpkins, and next year's pumpkin harvest, alone, will surpass this year's entire harvest total .... Well, I can dream, can't I? :)
Of course the piece de resistance this year was the Hubbard squash, and I'll probably be talking about those things for YEARS! After this winter, I may never want to look at another Hubbard squash, but if TSHTF this winter, we definitely won't go hungry. The grand total for the Hubbard squash 180 lbs ... all volunteers! Incredible!
We still have some things growing in the garden. I never harvested the beets, and now, with the cooler weather, the greens are amazing. I also still have lettuce and kale thriving in the garden. The comfrey should be harvested and dried, and since Deus Ex Machina prepped the poultry "coops" for winter (i.e. put the plastic on to keep the birds warm), I have a place to hang them outside to dry them. As they will be winter animal fodder, it's appropriate to dry them out there, I think :).
The next step, and something I've never really done with any degree of success, is to start the winter garden, which, this year, will be containers on tables in the duck coop. My plan is to try peas and the spicy mesclun mix that includes a lot of cool-loving greens like kale. It will be awesome of the plants do well. The girls LOVE peas, and to have fresh greens all winter ... ah! Heaven!
And garlic needs to get planted ... soon.
I haven't added up all of the totals for this year's harvest, and I still haven't harvested everything (there are still some things like Jerusalem artichokes that I probably will not harvest until spring), but I have to say that I'm not disappointed in how well our garden grew. I'm not up to a ton of food, yet, for sure, but we're getting there :).
And if anything happens to the grocery store in the next six months, we certainly won't starve, but if the worst case does happen, the first thing I'm going to do in the spring is scatter the squash seeds all around the yard, and that way we'll never have to resort to shaking our fists at a celestial witness, because with the very generous Hubbard squash as our "famine food", there is no chance of going hungry :).
How did your garden grow?