Gardening · Homesteading

Growing Food In An Off Year Of Weather

To say the growing season of 2022 was trying…is putting it lightly. As I have talked about since mid winter in early 2022, this winter/spring and into mid summer was cold and wet (see a post I did end of April “The Cool Spring“).

Trees didn’t bloom at all for some. The bees came out weeks late and missed some flows on other trees. Seeds didn’t want to sprout. I keep pushing and went into growing season fingers crossed. Finally in July the sun started showing up and it warmed up into summer. And we have had a garden, and grown food – but not at normal levels. For example, we have taken in about 1/3 of the tomato crop as we normally do. Shelling beans are at the level we will only have seeds for next year, not any for eating. But we do have food, to eat, and to put up for the winter.

And well, I was able to grow tomatoes still. And even some big ones.

It taught me more lessons, maybe ones I needed to hear. That every year will be different, and if it isn’t working, stop, and try another way. Immediately.

One thing was our greenhouses were FULL until end of June, into early July. No planting tomato and pepper plants on Mother’s Day Weekend in May this year. I kept holding back. The plants were huge, but I had no choice in it if I wanted the plants to survive.

When I did take the items out, I wrapped the fencing on each bed with 6 mil thick plastic sheeting (find it in the painting section). This blocked the wind, and kept the soil warmer.

It made a huge difference and is why I feel most of the tomato plants survived and thrive.

We had to wrap one of the coops as well, for there was a mama and her 3 babies in it. They often spend the first weeks downstairs, and the wind howled through, chilling them. Oh the irony – all 3 turned out to be roosters. Gotta love the chances on that.

We used zip ties to connect. Due to the many windstorms out of season I had to replace them periodically.

Another bed wrapped.

So remember the 5 Gallon Bucket method I decided to do for my peppers?

Poblano Peppers, actual big ones.

Red bell peppers. Thick walled and proper size.

In early July I moved the 5 gallon buckets outside and let them reside in one of the main beds, in a line, next to the tomatoes in the ground. They got protected from the wind coming up from the water, and got well watered all summer.

Thick walled, full sized green peppers. The wrapping of the beds made all the difference.

The onions thrived in the no-wind-more-heat way as well.

Overall, it’s been OK. But some areas we were truly hit hard in. No pears, no plums, only one apple tree bloomed on time. The apples, which I removed half of, won’t be good enough to eat (the chickens are happy). The peach tree thrived oddly, and I got a handful of cherries. Oddly the fig trees have done well this year. But swiss chard bolted constantly, as did the lettuce and spinach (not normal here). Carrots and beets grew at half the rate of normal. Peas came ready 4 weeks late, but were ample and delicious. The kohlrabi grew to massive size, the broccoli did well, but the cauliflower bolted and the green cabbage went to seed (and looked like it was sprouting snakes out of the top). It was just so random in what did well, and what did not.

September is around the corner and while it will be warm here for a couple more weeks, summer ends in 3.5 weeks and fall will slip in. A third La Nina winter has been promised (not normal). It leads to promises of a long, cold, and wet fall and winter. Fall crops may be well trying, but I will see that the garlic gets in the ground (that crop grew this year, but was ugly as could be when harvested. Still, it will be fine to seed with this fall.).