Monday, January 26, 2015

2014 Harvest Tally

 
Since I am talking Total Annual Harvest today, I decided to link up to Harvest Monday on Daphne's Dandelions.  Even in January, there are those lucky few that are sharing an actual harvest - it's definitely worth heading over to get a little bit of a gardening fix.

This will be my final post about the 2014 gardening season.  But before I get to the total annual harvest, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the weather, since it's one of the most important factors when it comes to the garden.  There's only one word for the weather this past year.  Crazy.

First there was the ice storm that knocked out our power, four days before Christmas 2013.  We have a wood burning fireplace, so heat wasn't too much of an issue.  The bigger problem for us is always water.  We're on well water which is supplied by a pump - no hydro means no water.  Thankfully, our power was restored after only 1.5 days, unlike many people, even those in large cities like Toronto, that went without power for a week or longer.  And then there was the tree damage.  There were downed trees everywhere - roads and sidewalks were often impassible.  No matter where you went, this is what you saw:

A Typical Suburban Neighborhood after the Ice Storm
Image from Global News

Thankfully, we only sustained a (relatively) small amount of limb damage and only one large tree (that was back in the brush & half dead anyhow) toppled over.

Next came record breaking cold temperatures in January and February - we're talking into the -40's (C & F!).  Twice our school was closed not because of a storm or freezing rain, but because it was too cold.  Not one person I spoke to had ever heard of that happening before.  I'm convinced that the excessive cold killed off all of the fruiting spurs on our cherry & plum trees, resulting in no fruit this year.

Then the winter just dragged on and on, with spring arriving a full month later than usual.  Our average high in April is around 11C (52F).  Hard to believe when it looks like this on April 15th:

My backyard after a snowstorm....in April
 
I love a beautiful snow covered landscape just as much as the next guy, but a blizzard in April?  That's a bit much.  Many gardeners' plans were put on hold as they waited for spring to arrive.

I kept thinking that the extremely cold winter & late spring would translate into a nice, hot summer.  Good thing I’m not a betting gal.  The only “normal” month we had all summer was June.  In July, August & September, most days were a few degrees below seasonal - it felt more like early fall than summer.  I even saw some online references to “Augtober”.

Don’t get me wrong, as someone who loves being outdoors, most of the time the cooler summer weather was wonderful.  I'm not one for the stifling heat & humidity that often shows up in July.  A few crops in the garden, like the greens, appreciated the cooler temps too.  I have a feeling that I would have had a much tougher time growing lettuce all summer long if our weather had been "normal".

Oh, but my weather rant is not done yet because then there was the rain.  The total rainfall last July was 163 mm (6.4"), almost twice the normal amount of 88 mm (3.3").  It rained on 16 out of 31 days.  This, coupled with the cooler temps, wreaked havoc on the tomatoes…..hello late blight.

And even though greens like moist soil, it was a bit too much of a good thing - the slug population exploded.  By September, my lettuce and brassica beds had turned into a veritable slug smorgasbord.

Hello my sluggy friends - you can run, but you can't hide...
well, actually you can hide, but I'll do my darndest to find you!
 
So considering our wacky weather, I am very pleased with how the garden did.  Heck, I would have been happy with my harvests even if we had had perfect weather all year.

And now for the main attraction, the total harvest summary for 2014.  Instead of doing the usual gram/pound breakdown on each line, I decided to do separate charts to make them easier to read.



Obviously with more beds this year, I would expect to harvest more produce.  But the difference went far beyond an increase in the growing space.  I harvested over 7x more in 2014 than I did in either 2012 or 2013.  My growing space, however, only increased by just over 3x which tells me one thing - over half of the difference was due to factors such as growing conditions, techniques and variety.

So there you have it.  Even with the weather and the chaos it caused, 2014 was still a great year for the garden.  Lots of challenges, but a LOT learned as well.

The 2015 season has already started.  My plan is done, or as done as it ever gets (I always seem to be making one change or another), and my seeds are ordered - yay!  Less than a month and the real action starts.

Till next time...

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

27 comments:

  1. I love this. Great harvest total. I didn't keep track last year because I always dally getting it recorded so this year I will try again and see what happens when you take space away but get better soil... LOL.

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    1. Weighing harvests does take a bit of getting used to, but after a while it just becomes a habit. Good luck with your efforts this year!

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  2. Once again, you do such a good job of tracking your garden productivity.And goodness, those are some big slugs! After reading about your weather, I think I will stop complaining about ours. Though we did have an ice storm a couple of years ago much like the one you had. The tree damage was terrible, and many were without power for more than a week.

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    1. It's amazing how the slugs grew - in the beginning of the summer, they were so tiny (only about 1/8") that I sometimes thought they were specs of dirt. After a summer of feasting on my lettuce and cabbage, they were monsters - shows what eating your greens will do!

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  3. 191 labs. of tomatoes? Wow. Looking forward to a good year!

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    1. Yeah - I was just as surprised when they started rolling in by the boxful. Good luck with your plans this year!

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  4. Ah ha! Now I know where all of our rain went! The weather was wacko here too, but it was drier and warmer than normal, which is how this year seems to be going as well, it was over 80°F yesterday and not a drop of rain yet this month.

    You really had a fantastic year. I see you grew a lot of new things too. It's not easy adding new veggies to the lineup. Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks Michelle! I would have gladly sent you our rain if I could...

      I did add quite a few new veg to the garden this year and the learning curve was pretty big for most of them. I'm planning to add several more next year as well. I have to use this winter down time wisely and do all of my reading up on how to grow them so I'm ready to go in the spring.

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  5. Your weather has given you a lot to cope with and makes our weather seem rather boring, Well done on harvesting as much as you did in difficult conditions

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    1. Thank you Sue - and I would much rather have boring, predictable weather any old day!

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  6. A brilliant result, considering the weather conditions you had to endure. I wonder what the results would have shown if the weather had been "perfect"! I used to think that the weather here in the UK was fairly predictable, but it certainly isn't any more. We haven't had the extremely cold temps like you had (for us -5 is pretty bad), but we did have some very fierce and prolonged storms and abnormal amounts of rain last winter.

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    1. Thanks Mark! I think that unpredictable weather is pretty much the norm these days. I suppose the challenge is being able to deal with whatever Mother Nature throws your way - and accepting that sometimes you will be successful and other times you won't.

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  7. Well, I can certainly commiserate on the weather front - ooh, it's pretty chilly today too, isn't it?! Really impressive production, Margaret. Your excellent record keeping is inspiring - I'll do my best to start tracking harvest weights this year.

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    1. It definitely was cold today - but I'm thankful that this winter has been relatively normal so far with no big extremes (knock on wood!).

      I really do find that keeping track of your harvests is worthwhile; many times my memory has been completely wrong about my harvests. This year I could have sworn that my Batavian lettuce produced far more than any of the other lettuces, when in fact, the Royal Red leaf lettuce was the leader. And I could probably give you a dozen more examples, especially when it comes to comparing year to year harvests.

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  8. That's a quite a yield for a home garden. Congrats! During my first year of gardening, I weighed everything. Nowadays, I just don't have the discipline. That first year, I went a little crazy with the tomato plants and stopped weighing once we reached 400lbs. Now i know better.

    We are gearing up for a huge snow storm tonight. Hopefully we won't lose power!

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    1. Thanks Thomas! Since I'm still in the WAY early stages of learning when it comes to vegetable gardening, I find that weighing really helps me gauge how effective a particular technique is or when comparing different varieties. But you know, had I harvested 400+ lbs. of tomatoes, I probably would have thrown my hands up too.

      Good luck with the storm tonight - fingers crossed your power stays on!

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  9. Congratulations on the harvest. Your diligence and effort is really paying off. Weather is a challenge everywhere with all the climate change, and yet your overcame it. And remember, Sluggo works really well on slugs.

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    1. Thanks David! I WISH we had Sluggo here - I searched high and low for it in 2013 when I also had slug issues (although nowhere near as bad), but I couldn't find it. I think it is only available in the US. So I tried diatomaceous earth and it worked well until all that rain came - it basically loses it's effectiveness when it gets wet.

      Hope you are weathering the storm ok!

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  10. What a harvest this year. Amazing, well done Margaret. Those little grey slugs are the worst, urgh. We now also have Spanish slugs to contend with, they're absolutely massive and as they're originally from Spain, aren't as dependent on wet conditions to thrive. I started spotting them last summer in the plot and think i will need to be diligent in seeking them out this year.

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    1. Thanks Lou! Boy - our slugs are bad enough...couldn't imagine dealing with larger ones. Good luck this year - hopefully those slugs were only there for a visit and won't be making regular appearances in your plot.

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    2. Unfortunately I think the Spanish slugs are here to stay Margaret! They were first identified in the UK in Norwich 2012 and have been spreading. They are too mucusy for predators to eat and they self- fertilise eggs, eep!

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  11. Eww slugs. I dreamed about killing them on my vacation. Surely I had something better to dream about. Weirdly I think our weather was pretty normal last year. Well as normal as it ever gets anyway. No wildly hot or cold extremes. -40 is really cold. We usually get to -4F here, but not colder. At least not yet.

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    1. Oh boy...dreaming about slugs...and while on vacation no less - that hilarious!

      Normally we have a few days into the -20's with maybe a couple near -30C every year (-4 to -20F); I can't recall every having temps as low as -40 before. Hopefully it's not a sign of things to come.

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  12. I gave up trying to keep track of my harvest as I frequently forget to weigh or when friends drop by they and I just harvest, bag and away they go. May be I should keep a scale in the shed.
    Oh yes, last year was a year for slugs and they were HUGE.

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    1. I've got a little routine happening when it comes to weighing stuff, which I think makes it much easier to remember. A scale in the shed is not a bad idea!

      I was pretty sure that the slug-fest this past year was out of the ordinary, and when I hear long time gardeners echoing the same thing, it makes me feel optimistic that next year will be a lot better.

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  13. Slugs, snow in April, AND minus 40 degree weather? What a challenge. But you have done extremely well. I love your table comparing harvests over the years. I have been weighing my produce since 2011, so I think I will try a similar comparison. When I get a Round Tuit!

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm definitely a numbers person & I really enjoy comparing the performance of different years and/or varieties. And every once in a while I am totally surprised by the results when my "impression" of how well or badly a particular crop did is completely off the mark.

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