Last summer was one of great abundance and today I am looking back at the top 5 best crops from 2016. Although the summer was cooler than the year before the kitchen garden produced well. We had just enough rain that we didn’t have to water often. When you have ten raised beds, that’s a time saver.
So which vegetables grew best? I would say the number one vegetable, well technically its a fruit, were the tomatoes. I grew Sylvan Gaume and King Humbert tomatoes for a seed bank and they were so productive I will now grow them every year. Not only were they productive they were delicious to eat.
Number two on the list will be sweet potatoes. Yes, you can grow sweet potatoes here on the west coast of British Columbia. I started by rooting slips in water in early spring and transplanting rooted cuttings to the kitchen garden in June. It’s important to get your sweet potatoes as plants as they require a long growing season. Each plant produces 2-3 pounds of potatoes. If you are looking for slips this spring I should have lots ready for my annual plant sale on May 6. I recommend growing sweet potatoes in raised beds as the soil warms up faster. Choose the warmest spot in your garden to grow them. I grew mine on the south side of the greenhouse where the bed got reflected heat.
Broccoli was the third crop that did pretty well in the garden. I grew plants from seed and ate florets all summer long. Although it needs a floating row cover to help keep the nasty cabbage moth away, the plants soon got too big for the cover. One day I was outside checking the broccoli and there were wasps on the plants. It was then I noticed that the wasps were having cabbage moth larva for lunch. Within minutes they devoured a larva in front of me.
Peas came in as my fourth best crop. If only I had placed a tall enough support to hold them up. I thought I would grow out some old pea seeds for new seed. Well, they grew about five feet high and a wind storm toppled them over. Of course, my trellis with attached netting wasn’t strong enough to hold them up. I should stick with the shorter varieties such as Lincoln Homesteader in the future.
Number five on the list for 2016 was our harvest of pears. The tree was loaded this year and we tried to harvest as many pears as we could but the raccoons got their share. Pears don’t freeze well so I made many pear pies and made some pear pineapple jam which tastes like marmalade. I gave away pears when I could. It was hard to keep up and we could only reach what the ladder allowed. The tree is over forty feet high being one of the first trees on the property.
What did well in your garden last year? Are you growing something new in 2017?