Each growing season is full of surprises. Some things grow amazingly beyond belief and other things flop. I like taking chances, planting things way before the Farmer's Almanac might suggest and see what happens. This year, I used hay bales to plant cold weather crops like lettuce, cabbage, kale and broccoli outside during a warm spell in February. Several snowstorms covered this insulated growing system, yet the veggies thrived and were ahead of other crops which were planted outside and covered with white cloths before the snows. To me, it is amazing how we can create microclimates with hay bales, an extra greenhouse panel and how even white cloth and snow can insulate lettuce from the cold. These are a big collection of wins.
Now onto my losses. Garlic, oh how I thought my daughter Carina and I would be immune to the allium miner that we read about in the newspaper last year and the organic farmer I met warned me to cover our garlic with cloth to keep the bugs away from our treasured crop. Animals don't eat garlic, shallots or onions, which is a treat because we can plant them without a fence. Despite our great hopes of being immune, both Carina and I got the allium miners both in our garlic and in the exciting new shallot crop we tried for the first time this year. We harvested all of our garlic, clearing the infected plant material and are experimenting with different methods of killing the bugs so they don't return next year. Carina burned hers and I have mine in an enclosed garbage can in the sun. My husband Tom and I may add water and heat it with a solar vacuum tube to see if we can boil the water and garlic husks to kill the bugs and still use the material in our compost. Despite the loss of a promising big crop of garlic, I have 4 pounds of the most delicious early garlic, which I have been using to make pesto with the overabuncance of gourmet arugula which has seeded itself in my garden all over the vegetable garden. So we won some early delicious arugula pesto and lost the big cloves of garlic we hoped for in August. As we are seeing the first green beans starting and an orange cherry tomato almost ready to pick on June 16th, we are feeling mighty blessed with the great number of wins, combined with the few losses that keep us on our toes and learning each year.