5 min read

End of 2022 Garden Update and New Year's Resolutions

Blank, hand written list for making new year resolutions.
Make those new year resolutions people. Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

This growing season I've had some big harvests, finished a few projects and am slowly transforming my yard from a large amount of lawn into a productive garden. So far, it's provided a lot of food for my family and friends as well as the wildlife in my yard. Here, I share what's been going on and my resolutions for the coming growing season.

It was an interesting summer and fall weather wise in Edmonton - we started out with the wettest June on record, followed by a very dry July and August. The weather stayed warm and I didn't get a killing frost until the end of October. Considering that the typical frost date around here is the middle of September, that's quite the season extension and I definitely benefitted from the extended harvest window.

One of the first projects I tackled this year was adding three 30 inch by 20 foot beds with walkways in between for growing flowers and vegetables. I stripped the area of sod using a shovel and my wheelbarrow, laid out the beds and then used double-digging to loosen up the subsoil, adding compost and amendments to provide more fertility.

This was a lot of manual labor, but getting exercise is one of the things I enjoy about gardening, and it was a quick, low cost method of starting these garden beds. I plan on using no-dig methods from here on out as, so I won't have to repeat the double-digging now that the beds are made.

Vegetable garden with three beds and mulched paths.
Double-dug garden beds with mulched pathways.

Around my expanded vegetable garden, I planted a haskap hedge, with four different varieties fruiting at different times, to provide some protection and separation for the new vegetable area. If I was redoing the hedge now, I would have planted the seedlings closer together to make it thicker and so I've been looking at other plants I could add to fill it out. I'm thinking of filling in the gaps with some small currant bushes, or possibly some nitrogen-fixing plants like sea buckthorn.

As well as the hedge, I've planted some fruit trees. Apple trees need two different varieties to produce fruit, so I've planted a standard sized Norkent and a TreasuRed apple. The TreasuRed is what's called a columnar apple, as it grows upwards without branching, growing the fruit on small offshoots from the main stem. This saves me a lot of yard space, but is supposed to still be very productive. I've planted the Norkent apple close to the house, thinking that it'll provide some afternoon shade for the kitchen in the summer when it's fully grown.

Apple tree being planted in the garden.
Planting a Norkent apple tree this fall.

I also chose a Cupid dwarf sour cherry tree and planted it on the same side of the yard as the apples in an orchard-meadow type area. I plan on filling in gaps in this part of the garden over the next few years with trees and plants that will provide us and the wildlife around us with lots of fruit and flowers.

In that same area, nearer to the garage, I've also planted some strawberries and a mixed wildflower pollinator patch. The strawberries were dug up from a friend of my mom's yard and were giving me tiny but delicious berries all summer.

This fall I signed up for a tree propagation course, offered through a local group called Shrubscriber, so hopefully by the end of it I will have a few trees I can add to the yard.

Through the course, we're growing some interesting trees from seed, with each variety having it's own unique biology and requirements for germinating. So far, it seems like it'll provide me a good overview of a lot of different ways of propagating seeds. Some of the seeds I'm most excited to sprout as part of this course are Pawpaw, Black walnut, European plum and Gingko.

How were the harvests this year?

I was able to grow all the greens my partner and I ate from about June to October and we had extras as well, which I delivered weekly to my brother and sister in-law and to my parents. Each week I managed to have five to eight different things from the garden to share with them (always a bag or two of salad greens) and did the deliveries for about eight weeks. I'm planning to continue doing that next summer.

This was my first year growing potatoes and I got a great harvest, some of which is still stored in my basement. I grew enough shallots and onions to last us until the new year and we only finished the fresh tomatoes in the middle of December. It's amazing how long tomatoes can last, especially if you harvest them before they're ripe.

I also froze a few bags of tomatoes, which we've been using for making sauces. That's a quick, easy way to store them and they're simple to use as well, because as they thaw the skins come right off and you have no problem taking them out of whatever you are cooking.

The other thing we harvested a lot of was squash. The zucchini lasted us until this month and we still have some scaloppini squash to use. I grew some spaghetti winter squash as well, and there's still a small pile stored in the basement.

Zucchini plants and tomato vines with blue harvest tote.
The tomato and squash area at the back of my yard. The zucchinis I grew this year had silver-mottled leaves and the cherry tomatoes were very prolific.

Speaking of basements, I have got my grow lights going again and have been growing some leafy greens and microgreens to supplement our diet. We haven't picked a ton so far, but it's still nice to have some fresh produce throughout the winter.

Garden Resolutions for 2023

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions (because I don't usually keep them), but as a fun exercise this year I'm making some garden resolutions for 2023.

  • Up my watering game.

Hand watering takes too much time and wastes water. Next year installing a drip irrigation system is top priority. Also, I'm planning on getting some rain barrels to make use of that free water that falls from the sky.

  • Grow more varieties of vegetables in smaller amounts.

Next year I'll only plant TWO zucchini plants, not six. Six is too many. Also variety is the spice of life.

  • Try some new kinds of vegetables I haven't grown before.

I have a list going on my phone of the new tomatoes and squashes I want to try. Also on the list is watermelons and pumpkins and I'd like a small section of the yard dedicated to corn.

  • Become more efficient at washing and processing my harvest.

I only half set up my work area in the garage last year and would like to build a few more things so that I can spend less time doing this stuff, because it's not the part of gardening I like.

  • Plant some more perennials.

Edible and not, but choosing plants that will have some kind of function for me in the yard. I'd like to continue slowly removing the back lawn and planting perennials will help me do that.

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All the best for you and your loved ones and I hope that 2023 brings you some excellent garden time and bountiful harvests.