Friday, September 23, 2022

Retrospective: The 2022 Growing Season

I learn something every growing season. Sometimes God blesses me and I remember what I learn.

The big event this year is that I broke my leg on the last day of April, arguably the first day of the growing season. Looking at it from a certain perspective, there are lessons to be gleaned. For example, it is a reasonable simulation of "guerilla gardening" but on my own property. I was not physically capable of providing much care for the food producing plants on my property. Some produced well. Others were less productive.


Liberty apple on the smallest, freestanding rootstock that grows in your climate.

Asian pears

FIreblight resistant European pears.

Stupice tomato

American persimmons

Chinese and hybrid chestnuts

Sweet peppers

American plums

The pasture. I was surprised at how well it held up in terms of mass. The paddocks I let the cattle into probably held 4000 lb/acre of standing dry matter and that was after a horribly dry year by local standards. At 4% dry matter per day consumption, each of the four back-paddocks holds 2 weeks of forage.

Locally, alfalfa continues to excel in spite of the drought.

Treading water:

Small fruits. Swenson Red and St Paul grapes will be culled. Swenson Red ripens unevenly, is too prone to over bearing and is not very disease resistant. St Paul is too early. The other varieties of grapes will get to live for another year.

Principe Borgoulash and Sweet Aperitif tomatoes

All apples other than Liberty

Butternut squash

Apples in the semi-wild planting. Large numbers of lower limbs died off. Maybe Nectria? It is an opportunity to plant something useful in the understory since sunlight is now hitting the "forest" floor.


Potatoes. The kid I hired to rototill the potato patch tilled down five of the seven rows because he could not recognize potato plants and was too proud to ask. Weed control suffered after that. I don't think that was a "potato" failure but a failure to find good help.

Tashkent quince: Seems very sensitive to fire-blight. Fire-blight rages when the temperature is over 70F and has a special affinity for entering the host through its blossoms.  Quince flowers about 10 days later than pears when temperatures are higher. The surviving Tashkent quince will be grafted over to Potomac pears. Skorospelka and a cultivar "borrowed" from the alleyway between Clement and Fairview streets in Lansing seemed to shrug off the fire-blight with minor twig damage.

The lawn. Sigh. My ego is shattered.

Apricot trees. Canker got all except one. 

Hazelnuts. Squirrels #$%^#$%^

Bush beans. The smart money plants pole beans and protects them until they are up out of rabbit's reach. A lesson relearned.


  1. Welp, there WERE lessons learned, right? So you take those lessons and move on.

  2. Thanks for your notes.
    Even without getting run-over I had a very poor gardening year.
    Some things just don't thrive here.

  3. What is your grow zone please?

    Assuming your near Lansing it's 5B more or less? I'm 4B but can shelter to a bit better.

    I tried to look up "Skorospelka and a cultivar "borrowed" from the alleyway between Clement and Fairview streets in Lansing seemed to shrug off the fire-blight with minor twig damage."

    And I found something about Sunchokes?


      -17F is not uncommon. Micro climates might bend that +/- 10F. I have good elevation but pay for it with more wind.

  4. Louie Bromfield wrote about finding Alfalfa roots down to 30 feet in that old abused dirt he was restoring a couple of hills away from me . If you haven't read any of Louie's non-fiction you should try some . He was quite the agricultural pioneer . You might even learn what being "touched by the Great Spirit " means .

  5. Seems like the winners and losers in the garden and orchard change every year. That said, consistent trends, upward or downward, should be noted. I like your ideas on trying many varieties and cultivars, as it is a way to hedge your bets that at least something will produce.

  6. Good notes, I keep a notebook to track how our gardens are doing every year. We’ve been at it for nearly 30 yrs, and the weather and bugs are different every year I think. Drought this year, too much rain early last year.
    For us, butternuts are reliable, and also pole beans, Amish paste and Brandywine tomato, snow peas, beets. We don’t grow fruit. Other vegetables are grown, better yield some years than other years.
    Southern NH

  7. Good advice, and a good habit, too.
    I had decent luck with romas and corn. Next year I need a better tomatoe trellis, and will seed the corn more evenly. (bad germination required re-re-and re-planting).
    Half runner beans grew decent enough to give another shot next year, now I just have to figure out how to eat them (freh/green or shelled and dried?)
    Your stories of grafting and re-purposing root stock is exciting, I may be developing an interest in a new hobby!

  8. In re: potatoes. You might be interested in this alternate method of growing potatoes - no digging, either to plant or harvest: I stumbled across the channel in my Youtube wanderings, but some friends of mine in Pinckney actually used the method this summer and were very pleased with the results. You and I are of an age where "work smarter not harder" becomes an increasing necessity.

    1. I grow a few potatoes in large pots or buckets. No weeding usually, and harvest is easy - just dump over the pot. No rodent problems, and I only hill up once. It has been much easier than rows, and we don’t use many potatoes these days.
      Southern NH

  9. This summer, I grew honeynut squash, a variety of butternut with an exceptional flavor. It was one of my more successful crops.

    Thanks to this blog, I also tried blacktail mountain watermelons, which made my wife very happy. I didn't see a mention above of how you melons fared this year.

    I'm also curious to know what it is about Liberty apples that makes them so desirable?

  10. I have a very, very, very small garden.
    My report for this year is "dismal".
    We had a very long cold/wet (northern Illinois) spring that prevented getting any planting in on time. I had started seeds inside and they did well at first, but quickly got leggy and 85% of them died so I did not have good starter plants.
    The good news is that I grow stuff just for entertainment and something to do in my backyard so I won't starve (this year) for lack of crops.

    1. Forgot to add: We did have a bumper crop of @$!#%@& bunnies

  11. Growing up, my mom and dad planted a lot of bush beans because they produce at the same time which made canning easier. If we spotted a rabbit in the patch, we sniped it with Dad's .22 from an upstairs window then buried the rabbit in the bean patch, which really discouraged the rabbits. We also had a cat that was very good at hunting rabbits.

  12. I will agree wholeheartedly about the American Plum. They do very well here in Northern lower Michigan. It was a good year for cabbages and All Blue potatoes here, too.

  13. I saw an article about caffeine producing plants. It said caffeine in their blossoms made pollinators more active and caffeine in their sap was toxic to sap sucking insects. Made me wonder if those benefits applied only to the caffeine producing plant, or if the pollinators would be more active in other flowers as well, and the bug load for neighboring plants would also be reduced. Unfortunately of the caffeine producing plants tea has the most cold tolerance and zone 6 is about the coldest it can grow.


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