Lessons from 2016
Garlic, zucchini squash, potatoes, and basil were big winners in 2016. The big losers were tomatoes and cucumbers. The tomatoes just dropped dead in front of my eyes due to mice/pocket gophers eating the roots. I did not plant enough cucumber seeds to account for losses. Green beans and snap peas were OK but I lost too many to birds or rodents. Asparagus were OK but I am waiting for my patch to expand. Strawberries were Ok but with too many losses due to mice. Vermin are the biggest problem for the inthewheat garden. I definitely need to pay more attention to controlling them. Based on the tomato roots getting eaten, I decided to plant tomatoes in a garbage can for 2017.
Recovery from winter
We had more snow than usual and while the snow was covering the ground either mice or pocket gophers got at my Fall-planted garlic. This is the first year they did that, so my favorite no-hassle crop is now a battle with the vermin. Still, some survived and early I the year I went out and planted more. The strawberries recovered great from winter and in the deep Palouse soil they just take off.
Lettuce and arugula do well but I haven’t quite got down a planting schedule so we tend to have an overabundance, then a shortage. The asparagus is great but our patch has not grown as much as I would like. I try transplanting two patches to spread out the dense patch but they fail. I’ll just wait till the patch grows in 2018. Snap peas are a disaster for the first time. Something eat them after they sprout and stops them from getting established. All I get this year are a few to munch on in the garden. The parsley is hilarious. A pocket gopher comes up from below and eats it all. We have some parsley growing in our mud room for convenience, so it’s not a total loss. The Yukon gold potatoes are doing well, will plant more next year.
Squash and cucumbers are growing like weeds. The lettuce and potatoes are also doing great. I notice more disappearing garlic. I suspect a pocket gopher. This is going to be an ongoing battle. Stinky the barn cat helps control them but we feed him (he is older) so his motivation isn’t great. As it gets hot I tend to slack off on weeding. The tomatoes are doing OK but taking a long time to mature. At least the garbage can is protecting them from gophers. Beets are doing fine, we like the leaves in salads.
Final report card
Plans for 2018
I will try planting the garlic in the Spring, which will reduce the size but hopefully also reduce losses. I am going to try growing potatoes and tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets. The nice thing is I can start a few tomatoes inside and just carry them out if that works. I am going to plant more green beans and snap peas and hope for the best.