GARLIC: My garlic was a super crop this year. I cringed to mail order 4 types of high quality garlic seed bulbs that cost about $12 each as I remember. With shipping costs, it added up to a lot. I ended up planting about 100 cloves in my garden and a similar number in my parents’ garden. In July, I harvested 100 big beautiful heads of garlic. In October, I replanted about 1/10 of these – 100 cloves in my garden (and the same at my parents’). So the garlic expense was apparently a one time expense to get started. Not bad. Right now I still have a good basketful of garlic in my larder. Its keeping very well and seems like a perfect size crop for the amount we eat. I may never need to buy supermarket garlic again!
LETTUCE: I grew a cold frame full of great lettuce in the spring. I look forward to this again this year. But then last year the summer was very hot and dry and, as I often do, I forgot to keep planting lettuce every couple weeks. I went for at least 2 months with no lettuce in my garden. I will try again this year to avoid the lettuce lull. Our local CSA farmers produced lettuce all summer, so it can be done. And then in the fall, I planted lettuce for my cold frame too late. The lettuce in my cold frame is still harvestable now in mid-winter, but its too small. I have learned that it doesn’t grow after early November. Lettuce is one of those crops where I probably couldn’t grow too much. My favorite varieties last year were Big Boston and Oak Leaf.
MELONS: I didn’t get any melons last year 🙁 Oh well. I grew 4 varieties and planted them in my cold frame. With the covers off during the summer, I thought this would be a perfect warm and sheltered spot. But the cucumbers in front of them grew so tall and thick they shaded the melon vines and blocked the sprinklers. I have a perfect spot marked for the melons this year (I hope). They will get the south west corner of my community plot next to the garlic, which won’t shade them! I will give them lots of manure and compost when I plant and then hope for a hot sunny summer. I am also going to devise a support rack so they aren’t on the ground.
ONIONS: I loved those onions! They did great last year. I liked the big yellow storage onions, Frontier and Ailsa Craig. I thought I was starting too many seeds, but it was a good number. I wouldn’t mind more this year. And they could even be started earlier and transplanted out to the garden earlier. The ones I grew lasted me from harvest in August until just a couple weeks ago. But we preferred the yellow ones and ate these first even though these were the better storage ones. So the purple ones that we ate second we starting to go bad as we finished them off. Lesson: I’ll eat the poorer keepers first,and maybe I won’t grow purple ones.
PARSLEY: I only planted one pot of parsley seeds. But I ended up with 20 times more than anyone would need. Since parsley does well in the shady parts of my garden, I will continue plant the same amount again this year. One 5 foot row of about 20 plants.
PARSNIPS: Two years ago I grew a nice plot of parsnips, then forgot to store them properly (in plastic in the refrigerator) and I ended up composting them. Last year I never got around to planting parsnips. Then in the late fall, a fellow gardener asked if I wanted some of their bumper crop. (Yes!) We just ate the last of them tonight, oven roasted. Yummy. Parsnips are even harder to grow than carrots, because they take several weeks to germinate and need to be kept moist and not mistaken for weeds. I will try to plant a row this year.