Planning and fertilizer

plum tomatoes
With the first month of autumn already away, my vegetable garden in running on its last few plants, and this is a nice opportunity to look back at what I have gotten so far and how to improve yield for next year! 

I bought my house in March 2011 and was already to late to full plant in my garden and still had to tidy up a bit. So last years harvest was not that great, I also had to guess what good positions were for each crop. So I drew up a short plan with sowing dates, fertilizer and positions. 

For 2012 I sowed the following:
- Brussel's sprouts

- Carrot (orange/white/red/purple/yellow)
- Beets (red/white/chioggia)
- Radish (red/purple/yellow)
- Lettuce (green/red)
- Pumpkins (Uchiki kuri)
- Potatoes
- Broad beans
- Purple snap beans
- Pole slicing beans
- Tomatoes (cherry/plum/cocktail)
- Cucumber (long/mini)
- Pepper (bell-red)

broad and purple snap beans

Next to the sown crops I also had the following perennials
- Rhubarb
- Apple trees (elstar/pippin orange)
- Peach tree
- Kiwi berry
- Lemon bush
- Strawberries
- Blackberry

I managed in total to get 4 rotations of radish, 3 for lettuce and 2 for beets. All the others had a single rotation with Rhubarb being the exception which I got to harvest thrice. 

Some numbers: 
peeled broad beans (tumb on the left)

- Carrot: about 40
- Beets: about 10
- Radish: over a 100 
- Lettuce: about 20 heads
- Pumpkins: 1
- Potatoes: about +6kg
- Broad beans: 1kg
- Purple snap beans: 1.5kg
- Pole slicing beans: 4.5kg
- Tomatoes (cherry/plum/cocktail): over 50 in total
- Cucumber (long/mini): 2 long, 7 mini
- Pepper (bell-red): 8

Next to the sown crops I also had the following perennials
- Rhubarb: 15kg
- Apple trees (elstar/pippin orange): 4kg
- Peach tree: nothing :-(
- Kiwi berry: nothing :-(
- Lemon bush: still growing
- Strawberries: about 20 small ones
- Blackberry: 3kg
Radish is always a winner (yellow, french breakfast and purple)

Some crops are still growing like my Brussel's sprouts and I still have some carrots and beets as well. What I did different than last year was sowing directly on the spot, thereby circumventing possible damage to the plant roots while transplanting. I had this for my maize last year and the adaptation of the plants took too long. The tomatoes and cucumbers were an exception, I took those as a well developed plant from work (yay). With sowing on the spot, I covered the seedlings with glas bottles for any snails proved a good strategy. Also using a fertilizer really speeds up growing of the plants, I did not have this last year. Sowing crops well in advance is not a great idea, I was prone to do this in the beginning but they get out of sync and hardly produce anything. So stick to the sowing directions. 

What is the plan for next year?
pole slicing beans

Crop rotation to decrease pathogen build-up and complete depletion of minerals and other nutrients in the soil. I did have a few pathogens this year, mainly in my peach tree. after blossoming and fruit set I had about 24 peaches but due to the wet spring there got a fungus in my tree that thrives in wet climates which caused all my fruits to drop. Another pest that I had in the summer, in the few very hot and dry days were mites in my kiwi berry which also caused fruit drop and almost killed the plants! I got for both pests some tricks up my sleeve for next year. Beware!

The crops that I intend to plant next year are again the above mentioned ones but I will change to a different pumpkin. The "uchiki kuri" pumpkin in my garden is prone to fruit drop in the wet seasons, so I am switching it with the "sweet dumpling" though smaller, they produce more pumpkins per plant. As for the tomatoes, cherries and smaller tomatoes are better suited for the dutch climate but I found an interesting tomato, "pink brandywine" that I am eager to try, it is the closest heirloom I can get my hands on. I also want to try a cousin of the tomato the naranjilla (or solanum quitoense), it is said that it has great flavor. 

As for new perennial fruit bushes/trees I added a gooseberry, black berry, honeyberry and a plum tree (actually two but both grafted onto one rootstock, downside of plums is that they need cross fertilization for a good fruitset). 

I know I have some work cut out for me next year. Lets hope for a good season.

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