2013 - The Year in Review

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Reflecting back on the 2013 growing season.

THE GOOD

The greenhouse completely sold out! Thousands of tomato, pepper and lettuce plants went to new homes, with not one ending up in the compost pile!

For this I have all of my customers -old and new - to thank. Without your continued patronage and sharing of the Michigan Heirlooms name I am sure this wouldn't have happened. As such, I will continue to do my best to keep your trust and retain your future business.


A BRAND NEW GREENHOUSE ...sort of.

As if there isn't enough to do in the early spring, we decided that the greenhouse could not go one more season without being re-glazed. The original greenhouse (the first 24') was erected in 1993. The second 24 feet were added three years later.

The polycarbonate had become almost opaque, and the plants were stretching for sunlight.

In the photo to the left, you can see just how discolored the panels had become (lower left). The top right of the photo shows the new panels installed. There are no panels in between the ribs in the lower right part of the photo.

Par for the course, this little 'project' went from a 'weekend and a couple of extra sets of hands', to a full week and six adults. It was a lot of work, but I couldn't be more pleased!

A big shout of "THANKS" to Jon, my Dad, my friend Ken Wilke, my sister and brother in law, Kelly and Andy Heer, and of course, my niece and nephew, Danielle and David. We couldn't have gotten it done without you guys!

I'd also like to thank Turner Greenhouse, for all their assistance.


ADDING SPACE TO THE GARDEN

For years I’ve been planting around two large evergreens and a pin oak that were growing in the center of the garden; a pain in the rear end, to say the least.

We finally had a tree spade company come in and transplant them to the existing hedgerow along the perimeter of the property.

I have no idea why I don't have an 'after picture', so you'll just have to come and see for yourself.

Actually, I don't have a single picture of the garden this year. I suppose it stands to reason in hindsight...


THE BAD

My only feeble explanation is that I must have gone a bit stir crazy over the 2012 winter, because by the time it was all said and done I decided it was a great idea to commit to putting 500 tomato plants in the ground.

This decision now ranks in my "Top Three Stupidest Things I’ve Ever Done".

Five hundred tomato plants, a couple hundred pepper plants and a couple hundred other food plants against one woman equals defeat.

I could not keep up. Plain and simple, I was beaten. Even if the weather had cooperated (which it didn’t), I’m pretty sure the results would have been the same albeit a bit less dramatic.

A near picture-perfect early spring turned into a hellish month of June with searing temperatures, only to be followed by a solid month of rain. The tomatoes didn’t stand a chance. The weeds soon overtook the garden only to be outdone by the inevitable disease that followed.

On the verge of throwing in the towel, I decided to change my mental stance. After all, the goal of the season was to grow, record, photograph and collect seed from the nearly 350 ‘new-to-me' varieties, not to supply half of Oakland County with fresh tomatoes, right? Right?

With the pressure now relieved of a weed free, cover-shot-ready garden that I had been wearing around my neck like a lead necklace, I got to work. To this end, mission accomplished.

 
(Left to right: Pepper "Albino Bullnose, Tomato "Cherokee Lime", Tomato "Dinner Plate, Tomato "Purple Dragon", Pepper "Trinidad Perfume")


and THE UGLY

While trying to console me, a friend shared this with me this summer: “ONE YEAR WEEDS, SEVEN YEARS SEEDS.”

Sometimes all you really need to hear is the truth.

With the above anecdote pounding in my ears, I set to work to remove every single weed that had taken up residence in my years past pristine vegetable patch. I now knew what was in store for me if I allowed any one of them to go to seed.

So with pitchfork in hand, I set to work. It took me nearly a month, but I singlehandedly turned over every square inch of my 6,750 sq. ft. garden, fastidiously removing even the smallest bit of flora. Each patch of naked soil was then quickly covered with freshly mown grass clippings ( I’ve never mowed my 3 and a half acres as many times in one season as I did this year.) It's official, my neighbors know I'm crazy.

The Seven Year Curse has been narrowly avoided.