Nov 8, 2016

On Figs and Garden Failures

First - figs! We finally have figs! Delicious figs that taste amazing. This is very exciting, after all of these years.

Our first batch was a dozen ripe ones and then additional ones ripened one at a time. I'm not sure how many more we'll get now that we've had a hard freeze, but we are really happy to finally get a few!

They are all from our Chicago hardy fig tree, planted a few years ago. The brown turkey fig is struggling with our winters, even wrapped up. The beauty of the Chicago hardy fig tree is that it can freeze to the ground, regrow in the spring/summer and still bear ripe fruit in the fall. It seems that while the brown turkey fig is a more mature tree, dying back to the root ball each winter doesn't give it a long enough growing season and it sets its fruit too late. It's why we've barely had any figs so far from that side.

The Garden

This was probably our worst year for the garden ever. Baby or no baby, this would have been a disappointing year thanks to some bad weather and very high levels of mold, blight and mildew.

The fruits in our yard fared the best overall, though even this was mediocre (except the figs). The strawberry harvest was light. The raspberries were more plentiful last year. The blackberries were probably the only thing that had a good showing (we had LOTS of blackberries). It was our first year getting a few blueberries on 2 out of 3 of the bushes, I wrapped the fruit branches with mosquito netting to protect them from birds, but something else managed to chew through and get most of them. We ended up with 4 berries total. The citrus trees started off great until they attracted the interest of a the chipmunks and now there are 2 limes and 1 lemon left to ripen. Next year I'm putting hot sauce on my baby lemons and limes.

Next year I also need to rethink the strawberries - they are overshadowed now by peonies and the fence and even though I spent a ton of time weeding that bed, they struggled. I think it might be time to move them.

We now have a second bed of raspberries on the other side of the forsythia bush that are growing significantly better than the original ones I've been cultivating next to the blackberries.

The backyard garden was a disaster. I spent my maternity leave trying to take care of it, but it was a lost cause. The tomato bed fared the worst. First there were tornado-force winds that damaged several plants and sucked two whole plants (and their cages) out of the ground and dropped them on the lawn! (Though we were lucky it wasn't a tree picked up and dropped into our house like our neighbors.) Then the rest of the bed was then struck by terrible tomato blight, the worst I've ever seen. Everything turned yellow at once with black spots. By August pretty much everything was dying or dead. Pathetic.

The cucumbers did well at first with lots of fruit, then were destroyed by powdery mildew and blight. The pumpkins were doing great too until the blight set in. We did end up with two beautiful pumpkins in August that I realized were just starting to be being eaten by bugs - so we rescued them and decided to have "Halloween in August." We watched a Halloween movie, carved two jack-o-lanterns and put them on the porch to confuse the neighbors.

The flower bed was depressing. The dahlias all lived, but they didn't thrive even with a fertilizer boost - everything stayed small. I've never seen zinnias do badly before, but these stayed short, scrawny and didn't produce a lot of flowers. Oliver's sunflower did grow as tall as the garage though - our one success - so I'm glad it was his flower (he was quite proud of it).

In the last bed the herbs faired fine, so that's another silver lining. The carrots have done better other years but they weren't a complete disaster either.

So it wan't our year for the garden. We've had good years and bad years and this was definitely a tough one. If it had to happen it's probably better it happened on a year when I didn't have a lot of time for the garden anyways, so I didn't waste a lot of time on it. I do regret letting the weeds get so bad in the beds and paths - we'll pay for that next year.

Next year we'll try again. Hopefully the weather will be better!

1 comment:

  1. The figs look great! Yes, it was a difficult year. Couldn't get some of my roses to bloom. I guess it was the horrible heat. I'll just join your gardener's lament - hopefully, next year will be better!