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David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 257
I am wondering how people did this year. It was too cold this summer. Too many periods of prolonged dryness too. (at least here)

I did mostly terrible with vegetables. Some of it was due to crazy experimenting that didn't work. Then there were the slugs and bugs. A lot was due to not enough light due to dramatic changes in overstory on my property as a result of trees strongly growing back from the selective cutting I did a few years ago. Live and learn. I will comment later on my crazy potato experiments (that sorta worked).

I need to cut more wood. I need to open up my gardening places to more light. Additionally, I have pines that are seriously interfering with my ability to collect solar energy in the daytime. Hard to get my wood guy in now. He is so busy and I am a small job. I could certainly use the dough those pine logs would bring.

I did great with fruit. My cultivated wild highbush blueberries really punched out well this year. We ate a lot of pies and corn bread and froze a lot too. Blackberries and raspberries did well. My peaches did really excellent. I should have thinned my fruit much more. Too conservative. I had a ton of mostly smallish fruit. It ripened slowly because it was so cool. I did manage to utilize a lot of it though making peach cider/juice and making fruit leather from the pulp. We at a lot of pies and muffins and froze some of those too. Finally broke down and got a freezer.

I still have a few good blueberries around. Just a few cranberries. Most perennial weed food did real well this year.

It was not a great year for mushrooms. The dryness. August produced some. It was very good for certain species but not most. It was pretty weak for chanterelles and trumpets this year. Hen of the woods/maitake was good. I found over 40. Probably 150+ lbs. It's still out there btw. Check out the giant oaks! It's a really great edible. Very different from anything else. We had some last night and it was fantastic.


I have a lot of winterberry if anyone wants to get some for wreaths. Lots. Come and get some. Free.

If anyone is interested in tipping balsam firs, I am looking for a tipper or two. $.15 a pound. I will have at least a few christmas trees available to cut. I'm thinking 15 bucks. More the traditional wild look than the shrubbery look. I could also come up with a few live potted trees too. A little more.

I did it last year and replanted it in the spring. It grew quite a bit in the house over the winter and got pretty weirded out about the spring weather. It looked pretty rough this year but it will likely make it back.

David Spahr
A former member
Post #: 203
For a first year garden, I am just thrilled with how well my garden did. I started with a patch of weeds and quack grass growing in silt and clay. It was plowed, which broke the quack grass roots into hundreds of pieces which I had to pick out of the beds or holes, as for tomatoes and squash. I spread aged cow manure over all and dug it into the beds and holes - I hope not to have to dig next spring, but I'll have to see how good the soil looks. I do know that I only found 2 or 3 worms this spring, but I'd bet there are a lot more out their now, so hopefully they are doing my digging for me. I spread cardboard over all the paths and covered that and the beds with 50 bales of hay. That was it as far as work goes; I never needed to weed other than the few that came up in the hoop house.

The tomatoes did very well, I have saved seeds from two Romas that were extremely thrifty plants. Friends came one day and we canned 30 quarts--I'm not sure how many I canned for myself, but certainly enough to last till next season. The squash did very well also, mostly butternuts and buttercups. I put wood ashes in their hills and I think they liked that. I had a row of bush beans, purple pod, and two teepees of pole beans, all did well. National pickling cukes and dill did well and I put up many quarts of pickles. Two short rows of Swiss chard continue to produce much more than I can eat. The zinnias provided cut flowers till the frost of a few days ago, and much to my surprise, the sweet peas held out all summer.

Pests? A cucumber beetle problem in the spring which I needed to use Rotenone for. After that I ignored them and they were not a problem. The only other pest problem was tomato hornworms, which stripped a lot of leaves from my tomatoes. Even though I looked for them 3 times a day, and I have sharp eyes!, I had trouble with them. They must be a problem in this area because I noticed that the neighbor's plants down the road looked even worse than mine.

I did have one uninvited, but most welcome guest, and if I knew its name I'd be set for life. Near the end of that long dry spell, mushrooms began to pop up in the weeds at one end of the garden. They have continued to come up in that spot and I find them here and there throughout the garden as well. They are a big, nice looking mushroom, but unfortunately I have not been able to ID them. I have found almost no boletes in my woods, but I did find a nice patch of chanterelles. I picked a fair amount of boletes in the nearby woods and dried them.
Merry H.
Portland, ME
Post #: 14
Our second year garden was a real improvement over last year. Tomatoes, strawberries, summer squashes, corn, peppers, lettuce, radishes, potatoes, onions, garlic and winter squashes all thrived. I credit that to imported composted cow manure we were able to haul in free in return for a helpful article I wrote for a local dairy farmer. (Isn't barter wonderful?) Wild blackberries were a bonanza.

Carrots improved, but were still small and misshapen in our shallow soil. Peas, beans, and raspberries were a washout. Our grapes, cranberry and blueberry bushes, apple and pear trees all grew well this season but aren't ready to produce yet.

When we can afford to fell some front yard trees, we'll have better southeastern exposure sun. We also plan to swale the southwest slope of our property for more berry bushes and strawberry plants. We finally got the hang of composting. The second weekend in October we plan to do some sheet mulching using some of what we've produced and the biomass from this year's garden. We will also haul in a truckload of seaweed. We're already looking forward to next year.
Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 571
This was year three for the gardens we started in 2006. I feel the first couple of years of "upsetting" the balance that had been here previously (lots of lawns, conifers, non-edible shrubs) by introducing alot of new material and structures has finally started coalescing into a "new" ecosystem. Incredible increase in birds and pollinators as well as friends like frogs and salamanders. Yields were high for the things we have planted. The perennial edibles (trees, shrubs, vines) are really really healthy, though many have not reached fruit-bearing age. We're working in a sun trap with some limitations on light but despite that results are very promising. We're only scratching the surface of what we'll be able to do with this 1/3 acre. The mulch and the rainwater catchment system got us through the dry spells no problem. Lots of wood chips acted as time release water, soaking up the heavy rains and keeping the ground moist afterward.
user 5846522
Portland, ME
Post #: 73
My veg and berry gardens were bountiful this year. I shared with three households in the neighborhood plus bartered veg for garden work with one person. I am still harvesting eggplant, tomato, chard, lettuces, carrots, beets, green peppers, chiles, radish, and herbs.

I planted the three three sisters guild for the fist time. I found the beans did not thrive because they were shaded by the corn. Also, harvesting the beans was not quick and easy in comparison to other planting scenarios. As a bit of a departure I planted melons instead of squash and found that the corn shaded the melons too much too.

Next year utilize successive planting more.
Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 573
We also planted the three sisters guild. It did well. The Garden of Eden beans thrived and were fun and easy to harvest. Red Kuri squash eventually got so vivacious that it yanked the corn to the ground (which had thankfully been harvested almost fully) opening itself up to more sunlight in the process. The corn was well pollinated and sweet, despite many well-meaning advisors' comments that it would not pollinate unless planted in a block formation. Massive quantitites of squash will probably not ripen due to lack of sun in our sun trap at this time of year. But the ones that do ripen will be great storage.
user 7662870
Portland, ME
Post #: 7
Our first year garden (30 X 75 feet), shared by my neighbor and I, did remarkably well overall. The entire surface of the garden was completely mulched with maple leaves and organic grass clippings. There was no exposed soil anywhere. The potatoes were the star of the show and grew exceptionally well. We harvested over 300 pounds of potatoes from a section about 25 feet square. We 'hilled' with leaves, pine needles and straw but all of the potatoes formed in the soil below. The beans were also prolific and the cabbages were amazing. The tomatoes did very well as did the zucchini and summer squash. The celery never really took off nor did the beets. The swiss chard grew moderately well. The onion family plants did not perform well.

My experiment of planting a 'Three Sisters' (corn, squash, and beans planted together) patch failed, probably for a number of reasons. Initially they all grew like gangbusters but everything stalled in July when we had nearly a month of rain. The corn shaded the squash leaves somewhat but the added lack of sun multiplied that effect. I also think my rows were too close together. The corn grew well but failed to set ears until very late--all were small. Next year, I may just mix the beans and squash....or perhaps plant hills of corn rather than rows. That section of the garden was under pines for a very long time, so I suspect the soil pH is also a bit too low. Corn is a heavy feeder so it probably exhausted the soil nutrients too early as well.

Our pest control plan seemed to work well. We companion planted everywhere. Horse radish was planted among the potatoes (not a single potato bug). The marigolds we planted liberally as pest control grew very well EVERYWHERE! We had few pests. We did have to spray an organic product on our cabbages and broccoli in mid summer. I waited too long last year and lost all of my broccoli to cabbage worm in my other small garden.

For next year, we are already making plans to augment our soil with low-temperature charcoal a la 'terra preta.' We have two large compost piles created through the summer and also plan to use seaweed. A friend recently described drying the seaweed and then running his lawn mower over it to chop it up. He said that that had worked very well and allowed the smaller bits to incorporate into the soil a lot better. All of our garden residue, except for the tomato vines, which had spot fungus, will be composted over the winter and used next spring. We also plan to mix additional pine needles into the potato patch as one variety was affected by scab. We will again use all of the leaves from our yards (round 60 large contractor bags) as mulch. I cannot say enough good things about using leaves. They shade us in the summer; I pack the bags around my foundation to insulate the house through the winter; they are an excellent garden mulch to conserve the soil and soil moisture; and, they decompose slowly throughout the growing season to release nutrients.
Dick H.
user 6105531
Portland, ME
Post #: 14
A pretty good year here in Lubec. Didn't plant enough haricot verts. Peas came in good. Upright freezer is crammed full, potatoes, all five varieties, covered in the cellar, around 75 lbs of onions drying out in the shop, pumpkins still out beside the gardens and raised beds, and we'll be making cider from the bumper apple crop beginning this week, weather permitting. On Sunday, 10/12, we're leading a Pathfinder hike and coming back here to make cider. Bring apples! We're five hours from Portland, though, so that's a bit of a drive to go for a hike.
That's the news from Down East.
In peace,
user 6954726
Sullivan, ME
Post #: 54
my 2nd year garden rocked this season, i feel so blessed and grateful. had some setbacks early in the season with indoor starts stagnating and taking a long time to settle in post-transplanting. the celery never really took off. the melons stagnated the whole season, however i have harvested one moon and stars watermelon, 2 OUT OF THIS WORLD charantais savor (this variety is divine, grew it last year too. unfortunately it's a hybrid. hope to find something comparable in taste that is OP), and one earliqueen which i harvested slightly too early.

i had a lovely onion crop, but i think i did something wrong in the curing process. after 2 days of sun-curing many of them had soft spots. ?? not sure why, perhaps too much moisture in them from all the rain? i know i could have waited a LOT longer to harvest. tomatoes did great, though i feel i could have had a heavier harvest. they are in the greenhouse, the guys in the back definitely get less sun and are more yellow and lanky. but i did win a judge's award for black krims at common ground so i did something right!! lol nice eggplants too. peppers took a LONG time to take off, now i have lots of green peppers but i doubt they'll ripen in time. garlic was AWESOME, and despite a wet harvest period has cured beautifully. i grew 4 varieties, 3 new ones (to me) and they did not do nearly as well as the variety i've had growing here for 3 years. from reading "growing great garlic" i think it is a continental type but can't get more specific. i have started to call it "granite garden garlic" lol

i also tried 3 sisters this year, 1st time. i found that the beans pulled down the corn. the squash i planted around the edges, there were 3 plants that got too shaded by the corn to do anything much, but the others vined all over the place. i dont' know typical squash fruit yield so not sure how i did with that. the corn did great. i planted SUPER close, SUPER intensive and still got good pollination (not all ears were full, but many were). the area started out as mounds of corn but i ended up transplanting many of the thinned ones between the mounds that it sort of created unintentional block formation. grew kandy korn, painted hills (an OP sweet multi-colored corn!!! GORGEOUS i totally recommend it, from fedco), and sugar buns. the downside of 3 sisters was that the beans were almost impossible to harvest, due to the rampant squash growth that totally blocked me from about 1/3 of the garden! actually the corn was pretty hard to access too. i like the 3 sisters idea but it needs some tweaking to work for me.

potatoes did amazing, i experimented this year with sheet mulching the patch in spring with seaweed, cardboard, and straw. a few months later planted the potatoes into holes cut thru the cardboard with a handful of seaweed. mulched with dried leaves from last year. i have found some real beauties, but haven't fully harvested yet.

peas produced well but many suffered from aphids, not sure why. the sweet peas were gorgeous this year despite being in a pretty shaded spot. leeks have been wonderful, beets too. had some trouble with carrot germination early on, i think damping off and slugs, but those that survived are gorgeous. i am continually amazed at how huge and long some of them are despite what i think of as poor and rocky soil.

beans.... mixed success. haricot verts and providers did not do well. providers were from saved seed, not sure if that was the problem. haricot verts i think were too shaded out and definitely too many seeds planted. the shell beans did amazing. grown from saved seed, they were super vigorous, partially vining (which i forgot, and thus placed them poorly). i experimented with a succession planting of jade beans (WOW i could say a million great things about jade!!!) and they were awesome, made up for the poor 1st round of green beans. i am hoping to save seed but i'm not sure they will ripen in time. in fact the plants are still flowering now, they were lightly touched by frost last week.

my soybeans did pretty well. i grew 2 batches of shirofumi--- one batch from fedco seed, another from a friend whose saved seed survived a fire at her house last winter!! both did well, again i planted too many so some plants were stunted. also experimented with a late crop of butterbeans (just harvested a few days ago). it was a little risky with that unseasonal frost warning we had last week. i was NOT impressed with the seed, from johnny's. the plants were partially vining and the beans ripened very unevenly. still tasted good but not a winner. however last year i grew butterbeans from johnny's (different seed batch) and they did great, so i think it was an off-type.

brassicas..... numerous attempts failed to produce healthy, vigorous starts indoors. i finally got some starts from a friend, it felt borderline too late, it was early july. i planted them out into the garden early-mid july. they took off, they were planted in new ground that had been sheet mulched the previous season. the broccoli did amazing, the cabbages are mixed. some are sizing nicely, others are still quite small. i'm hoping they will still be able to bulk up this late in the season.

i could go on and on, have learned so much this year. not quite ready for fall yet but here it is!

congratulations if you managed to read this far. :)

A former member
Post #: 205
"congratulations if you managed to read this far. :)"

Oh yes alder, don't you ever worry about that! The next best thing to back yard-over the fence-garden talk is new-fangled computer talk. Glad all went so well!
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