Analysing our 2022 garden: lettuce, spinach and chard

Okay, it’s that time! I’ll be working on a serious of posts, going over how our 2022 garden went, what worked, what didn’t, and what didn’t even happen at all. This is help give us an idea of what we want to do in the future, what we don’t want to do in the future, and what changes need to be made.

Growing greens this year was pretty touch and go.

We had three varieties of spinach seeds left over from the year before. Only one variety was a success.

The Results:

These were planted with the Tropeana Lunga onions in the high raised bed, and they did quite well. They were not as lush as the year before, but still quite good.

The other two varieties were planted in nearby low raised beds, together with other onions, and with peppers in one bed, and eggplants in another. The few that managed to germinate disappeared very quickly, with none growing beyond their seed leaves! I don’t know what went wrong with them this year. Last year, they were grown in the low raised beds and thrived.

After the high raised bed spinach was harvested, the space was replanted with chard.

We also had three varieties of lettuce seeds left over form the year before, and those were planted in the L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden, with netting to protect them from critters – whether those critters be groundhogs or playful kittens! The last of the seeds were scattered, all mixed together, over an open space by a nearby rose bush, since there weren’t many seeds left.

The Result:

The lettuces did pretty well, in general. Even in the area you see in the photo above, which kept getting overtaken by the nearby invasive flowers, managed to do well. I think the Buttercrunch lettuce did the best of the three varieties.

We eventually removed the netting, when it seemed the groundhogs had moved on, because the netting made it very hard to keep up on the weeding. Ultimately, though, we found we just didn’t eat a lot of lettuce, and they started to bolt. I left some plants to go to seed while harvesting the rest, and then the bed was reseeded with the last of our spinach seeds.

The Result:

The second sowing of spinach was a complete fail! The first section that got planted had started to germinate, but the kittens flattened the protective cover and rolled all over them. They never recovered.

We planted more in two other sections, and made the netting supports stronger – strong enough for the kittens to use it as hammocks, and not touch the ground!

It made no difference. The second sowing barely germinated at all, and never got past their seed leaves. They were a total fail, which really surprised us.

Then there was the chard.

*sigh*

The Result:

What you see in the above photo is all the chard we got. As soon as they started to germinate, their leaves became riddled with holes. Some insect was eating them, but we never saw the insects themselves! In the end, we simply left the chard alone. Most died off, but I figured whatever was left could act as a bait crop for whatever insect was eating them.

Conclusion:

There are expectations, and then there is reality!

With growing greens, we were picturing having plenty of salads, or having lettuce in our sandwiches, and basically just enjoying having access to leafy greens, any time we wanted. We figured they would be among those things we would eat more of, simply because they were there.

Well, that was more or less true of the spinach – what we got of it. But not so much with the lettuce. We found we just don’t eat lettuce all that much. Having them barricaded under netting didn’t help. None of us wanted lettuce enough to go through the bother of taking out pegs holding the netting to the ground (so nothing could crawl under it) to harvest leaves.

As for the plants we left to go to seeds, only one variety seemed to reach full maturity. The others were still blooming when I finally cleared the bed out.

With how well the lettuce did, I expected the second sowing of spinach to do well, so it was a real surprise for them to fail completely. Now that the L shaped bed has been built up to a low raised bed with wattle woven walls, anything we plant there should do better. There is new garden soil, as well as layers of organic matter trench compositing below.

As for the chard, we really didn’t know what to do with it, that we actually enjoyed eating.

For 2023, we will have just one variety of spinach. That, at least, is something we enjoy eating, sometimes even just picking leaves to snack on while doing other things.

We will probably not grow lettuce again next year. If we do grow chard again, it’ll be because we still have seeds left, and have space for it.

It turns out we just don’t like leafy greens all that much. It actually makes more sense for us to buy greens at the store every once in a while, rather than grow them ourselves.

I do still want to get chickens next year, if we can build a brooder and coop for them early enough. One of the things we plan to do is grow as much of their feed as possible, and I can see us growing greens more as chicken feed than for ourselves!

The Re-Farmer

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