4 min read

Garden Successes 2023

Orange pumpkins, purple cabbage, brusell sprouts and leeks lined up on a paving stone patio.
Good variety of produce harvested from the garden this year.

This is a counter article to the previous garden fails article I posted, in part to boost my confidence, but also to give you, the reader, some faith that I have at least some idea what I am doing.

Here are a few of the things that went well for me in the garden this past year.

Success #1: Nice pumpkins

Not too much to say about this, but it was my first year growing Howden variety pumpkins and it went really well. I ended up with 6 or 7 pumpkins of a couple different sizes. A couple were perfect for jack-o-lanterns and some were perfect for roasting and making puree. I kept a couple and gave the rest away.

Orange pumpkin on wood bench.

Success #2: No more tomato blossom end rot.

Some of my tomatoes from 2022 suffered from blossom end rot, which is a plant issue resulting in brown, bruised-looking fruit ends. The problem starts because of a calcium deficiency in the plant, but isn't necessarily related to low calcium levels in the soil. Blossom end rot often has more to do with consistent watering, which affects the plant's ability to take up calcium.

This year, I'm happy to say I completely solved the problem! I did it by adjusting where I grow my tomatoes - moving them from pots to the ground, where the soil retains moisture better. I made sure to mulch with lots of compost (again for moisture retention, as well as nutrients) and I also set up a better watering system, which brings me to success #3.

Success #3: Setting up simple, low cost watering systems.

This past year, I set up three different watering systems, which meant I wasn't spending as much of my time hand watering the garden. They were a a huge efficiency boost!

The common thread between these three systems were that they were cheap and easy to set up and take down at the end of the year. The three systems were:

  • Impact sprinkler - I bought a small impact sprinkler head with a spike that let me stick it into the ground, wherever I needed to water. While not the most efficient use of water, irrigating a large garden area was as easy as attaching the hose to it and turning on the water.
  • Gravity-fed drip irrigation - I set up two rain barrels on a wood platform near my garage and I used these barrels to feed drip emitters running to all my grow bags where I grew my peppers and eggplants. When I would go out to work in the garden, I'd open the rain barrel tap and my pots would get watered while I worked. As long as I remembered to close the tap at the end, this worked great and I had enough rain water to irrigate these pots for most of the summer.
  • Soaker hoses - I used metal pegs to fix soaker hoses into my garden beds, so they stayed in the garden all summer. Like the sprinkler, I hooked up the hose and turned on the water and could work in the garden while my plants got watered. The key to using these successfully was to run each hose through beds where all the vegetables had similar water requirements, so that I wasn't over or underwatering anything.

Success #4: Bumper potato harvest.

I said more or less the same thing last year, but the harvest I got this year once again cemented potatoes as a crop I will always try and grow in my garden. You spend a bit of time planting them, forget them for a while, then dig up pounds and pounds of produce that'll keep for months.

Blue tote filled with potatoes with a garden fork resting on top. Full garden beds in the background.
Harvesting kilos and kilos of potatoes this fall.

I planted about 20 feet (by 30 inches) worth of bed space. It's March now and we're still eating the potatoes I picked in September and October! I grew more than two people, eating potatoes a few days a week could eat - and the ones I don't eat, I can plant back in the garden in a month or two, to repeat the process over again.

They are just easy, I have the space for it and they have done so well for me here in Edmonton so far.

And so, that wraps up some of the things that went well in my garden this year. I'm excited and looking forward to what 2024 will bring!

So far, I've started quite a few seeds in my basement, using my grow light stand, and am waiting patiently to get back outside again soon.

Happy growing!