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
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 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!
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...