A few weeks ago we decided it was time to finally pick the last of what was growing in our raised beds at the house on Pender Island. This year had been our experimental year as we had never grown vegetables before in this climate. To make things even more interesting we are also absentee gardeners. The plants we grow cannot be something that needs to be babied, they must be able to withstand drought and weeds (and raccoons and deer) for the times we are not on the island.
The strawberries have done well once we protected them from the raccoons. The vegetable patch had hits and misses. The first issue with the vegetable beds was figuring out just how the sun was going to sweep across the yard and which trees we going to block the sun. For the most part I guessed right except for the planting of a few very leafy plants that grew much faster and higher than the carrots keeping them in shade for much of the summer. The other thing I discovered was the melons and cucumbers were a total disaster; I think these plants need a bit more love and attention than we can provide.
I think we have decided that the root vegetables are our best bet. We are also thinking we just may have to think about some type of watering system for when we are not able to water, especially if we have another summer like this past one where it did not rain for a full month.
After picking the vegetables I decided to try an experiment and plant a few more seeds of cool weather plants. I am not sure if it will work, however when I plant late in April in Alberta often it snows on the planted garden and the seeds still sprout and grow. I am hoping this will work with this garden and it will get a jump on the season if we have a warm early spring. If it doesn’t work it is just a handful of seeds lost.
Next spring we will be building more raised beds. We have also planted an apple tree and are still trying to figure out if we need two trees to have fruit. If anyone knows the answer, let me know. My eucalyptus tree that we planted in October is still doing well; I am collecting all the deadfall leaves for dyeing wool and fabrics.
If you look closely at the pictures of the raised beds you will see a weird mish-mash of netting, bricks and such. This is our raccoon and deer prevention program. It may be ugly but it works. Prettier coverings are also on the “to do” list for next year.