Sunday, March 5, 2017

2016 Year in Review - Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot


If I were to describe the summer of 2016, one word comes to mind – HOT.  Actually make that two words – VERY HOT.  All...the...time.  Think I'm exaggerating?  This is what a senior climatologist at Environment Canada had to say:  "May, June, July, August and September, five months in a row, it was the warmest such period in Toronto's history, in 78 years of records...we also had 38 days when the temperature reached above 30 degrees, more than the three previous summers all together".  See - I'm being completely objective here :)

So what did the hot weather mean for the vegetable garden?  Well, crops that love heat were in heaven – it was a great pepper year and the number of butternut squash that I harvested from the same number of plants more than doubled from 5 to 12!  Crops that are partial to more moderate temps, however, didn’t do nearly as well – turnips and kohlrabi come to mind.  Even though I harvested a bumper crop, in terms of yield, both of these developed a stronger, less sweet taste than in the previous year.  In other words, we harvested more of them, but they weren't nearly as delectable.  I would have rather had it the other way around.

Hot temperatures resulted in kohlrabi that lacked the mild, sweet taste
they had in 2015 and every bulb was a bit fibrous to boot



Another factor that contributed to the lackluster performance of some crops was the fact that my drip system was not completed until mid-July.  The snap peas were dismal this year and a good chunk of onion seedlings died off early on, with those that survived only reaching half their potential size at maturity.

The onion harvest was particularly disappointing this year

There were a few big successes, however, that, in my eyes, stole the show.  It was a record breaking year for several crops including peppers – the hot weather had a lot to do with that but I also tried a new bed layout, squeezing 32 plants into an 8’x4’ bed, which worked out extremely well.

The straw bales were also a success...finally!  After two unsuccessful attempts, I found a method of conditioning the bales organically that didn’t break the bank, but still gave beautiful results.

Straw bales in early August

The other success this year was my early spring brassica bed – I harvested a wonderful variety of early greens including arugula, baby choy, claytonia, rapini and radishes, all of which were done producing before I needed to plant up the same bed with tomatoes in late May.

Baby choi in spring brassica bed

As I've mentioned, I finally got around to installing drip irrigation in all of the beds this past year.  Even though the system wasn't completed until half way through the season, it still made a huge difference, especially in light of how hot and dry our weather was.  What an absolute delight not having to lug hoses around and the timers meant that I didn't even have to worry about remembering to water.  It was definitely a "should have done this a long time ago" type of improvement.

Peggy's Delight zinnia

I also grew several ornamentals including zinnia's and Tithonia...I'm hooked!  You'll be seeing many more ornamentals in the lineup this coming season.

So those are the main highlights of the 2016 growing season, both good and bad.

Up next:  What you are all anxiously waiting for - well, if you're like me, anyhow ;) - the numbers.


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

14 comments:

  1. We only had a couple of days or so where the temperature managed 30C (86F) in all you must have had our share of heat too.

    Onions, parsnips, peas sprouts and fruit were stars. Cabbages and broccoli were the disappointments.

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    1. I could very well do with only a couple of days in the 30's - in fact, anything much above 25 and I'm complaining! I'm actually surprised about the broccoli since I don't think it enjoys hot weather either - all the more reason why I love Arcadia as it seems to produce well even during adverse conditions.

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  2. 2016 was a bad year for onions and garlic for me, but I think it was too wet in the autumn and then I didn't keep on top of the weeds in spring. Both Onions and garlic bolted way too early and none of the bulbs were big enough. Brassicas pretty much failed due to catepillars. Can't blame the heat, all my fault :)

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    1. Ah yes, those darn caterpillars - they are a big problem around here too. I usually keep my brassica beds netted but last October I figured that the cabbage whites wouldn't be a problem anymore so I removed the netting from the kale bed...that was a mistake. I was picking caterpillars out of the kale for the rest of the season.

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  3. Hi! Good to see you blogging again. We could use a little more heat here right now. Anxiously waiting for a little nicer weather. Nancy

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    1. Hi Nancy! If our February weather is any indication, we may be in for an early spring :)

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  4. Goodness, all those weather records broken in one year. It will be interesting to see what a difference the drip irrigation will make to your veggies this year, you'll be able to get a true picture this year with it being in place right from the start of the season.

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    1. I could have definitely done with cooler temperatures last year - anything over 24 or so, especially with our high humidity, and I'm usually complaining :)

      I am very much looking forward to seeing the difference the drip makes now that it will be going from the start. I have no doubt it will make a big difference, both in how well the garden does but how much I enjoy it now that the stress of watering is lifted.

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  5. The heat does have such an effect on the veggies we grow. We're used to having hot summers here, but when it gets hotter than normal things still suffer, especially if it's dry as well. The drip irrigation sounds like a real winning proposition for your garden. I don't think I could make it work for me unless I went to raised beds. And too often our problem in recent years is too much rain, which is tough to deal with. Looking forward to the numbers too! :-)

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    1. My biggest aggravation in the garden has always been, without question, watering. If the garden was more compact, it probably wouldn't have been as big a deal, but with it all spread out in 3 different areas, it was a true pain. But you are right about dry vs wet weather. At least when it's dry you have the option to water but with too much rain there's not whole lot you can do.

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  6. Isn't Tithonia great? I can't live without it now.

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    1. Amazing! Won't be long until I get started on those seeds.

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  7. Yes the weather has been truly crazy. Here the forsythia and daffodils are in bloom, perennials are sending up shoots, many shrubs are leafing out, and we are supposed to get a low of -8C Sunday morning. Will be interesting to see what damage is done.

    It really sounds like you are putting together the systems and planting schedules to make a garden plot productive. It's always satisfying when it comes together.

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    1. That's exactly why I'm usually less enthusiastic about unseasonable warm snaps in late winter than most people - I worry about the damage that will ensue when temperatures go back down.

      It is gratifying when the garden starts coming together - it's a long process when you start from scratch and I'm glad that most of the heavy lifting is done and I've more or less reached the "tweaking" stage :)

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