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We had a pretty good frost last night and will have another tonight so I suppose the garden is about done. Some things learned this year:
– Two rows of fishing line strung on simple wooden garden stakes worked wonderfully. Deer bump into it, don’t like the feel, and back away. Prior to this weekend, I only had two intrusions by a single deer going by the tiny bit they ate. Ironically last night there had to of been a bunch in there by the sheer volume of stuff they ate. This sounds strange but I’m thinking they knew there was going to be a good frost and so they jumped in for a feast before the frost got it.
– Garden fabric worked wonderfully reducing the amount of weeds, but the exposed rows still need to be weeded. Given the size of the garden I only weeded once (except the cabbage which got a 2nd weeding). Come SHTF, regular weeding will be necessary if you are to maximize yield.
– This summer’s drought required a lot more watering than I did. Again, come SHTF its all got to watered well if you are to maximize yield.
– The permanent marker I used to keep track of exactly what variety was planted where faded away in the sun.
– I somehow missed that one of the bush bean varieties I planted was really a pole bean. The result was a tangled mess that made it twice as hard to pick beans, and surely a greatly reduced yield. Come SHTF pay attention to exactly what you are planting.
– On the theme of paying attention, I somehow missed how large the acorn squash vines would grow. Not only did they grow all over each other, they also grew right through the tomatoes. The acorn squash did yield prolifically though. Butternut squash did too as did the tomatoes.
– Speaking of tomatoes, some volunteers grew in the midst of the bush beans. Neither side won that battle.
– Come SHTF, the objective is to grow as much food in the allotted space as possible, with that food being of a nature that can be preserved. I tried growing watermelon cantaloupe, and honeydew which for SHTF purposes is a total waste of space given how little you get per unit of space, and the fact it can’t be preserved. Up here there is as well the matter of a short growing season. I did get a couple watermelons and some cantaloupes but no honeydew. Most of what was trying to grow of all three items has now run out of season. The rest are not going to ripen.
– Peppers have proven to be kind of a waste of space given how little you get per plant.
– On the maximize food capable of being preserved, beans probably take top prize. Huge yields and easily preserved. Cabbage and potatoes are good choices too, though I am guessing a bit on the potatoes as I haven’t dug them yet. I haven’t pulled the carrots or onions yet either.
– Pumpkins take a lot of space too but they grow well up here and the eating variety is easily preserved.
– Zucchini and summer squash grow prolifically but they don’t lend themselves to practical preservation, so growing more than you are going to eat fresh is a waste of space. Cukes can yield a lot too but beyond what you eat fresh, you only need so many pickles so best not to over-plant cukes too.
– Corn is easily grown and easily preserved so that’s a winner. Unless you really like sunflower seeds (and are going to fight off the birds and the deer), growing several hundred 10′ tall plants like I did probably isn’t a great idea. I suppose you could make a sunflower oil out of them though so maybe lots is OK.

And so another season begins to wind down. It will be a lot of work to put the garden away though given all that weed fabric that I need to take up, and the thousands of 6″ staples that held it down early in the season. Now it is mostly overgrown with plants of course.

One more thing. There is a mystery that I have yet to resolve. My zucchini plants which I grew from seed also grew this small (6″ roughly and green, some of which turn orange eventually but most stay green) pumpkin-like things. They are decorative and neighbors have taken a bunch for that purpose but what are they and why did they grow on the same plants as the zucchini? A neighbor was going to cook one as an experiment.