2020 what a ride!

It’s a cold Monday in Ohio and it’s snowing today! A little white wonderland on this chilly 34° day and my weather app says it feels like 25 but that’s ok! After what all this year has thrown at us with Covid 19, riots, political unrest, sheltering in place and social distancing I think a little white stuff on the ground is a pleasant and refreshing surprise.

I don’t know about you but this year has definitely brought it’s ups and downs but in the long run I can truly look back and say it’s been a good year. Once the dust has settled I can surely say that and look at the positives that have taken place.

This year was the first year we decided to try our luck at our first garden and I must say it has been successful and also a big learning process. Most things grew well while a few others did not but over all I can’t complain being that I thought it would be a big flop.

We started with a nice size of 40′ x 50′ area and tilled it added five raised boxes and added a good assortment of soil amendments.

Amendments ready to till

Then tilled again to add all the organic compost/dirt into the ground. Marked where each row of plants would go and added irrigation lines then next adding T-Posts, electric fencing to keep the critters out and some chicken wire on the bottom for the small little guys who love veggies more than I do.

Amendments tilled in the ground
Plants marked and staked
Water irrigation added
T-Post fencing added

This was the hard part. A lot of sweat on that work but now came the fun stuff. The planting! I researched all of last winter to make sure I was hopefully doing some things right with the type of seeds mostly all organic and heirlooms where I could find them online or in stores.

I started in March and planted everything I could from seed. Most of which sprouted into beautiful little plants. This was just one tray of many that I started.

Seedling starts
Small green house with starter seedlings

This is the layout of the garden I designed on the farmers almanac website.

Electronic drawing layout of garden

I followed this plan almost to the T and learned a thing or two on what changes to make for next years garden.

I think what excited me most was planting straight from seed in the ground but having some seedlings growing sure was nice for earlier harvest such as cucumbers and tomatoes, peppers and onions etc.

peppers, onions and tomato plants from start

After planting all the seeds it was time to hook up the water, make any adjustments to everything and then the hardest part was to WAIT!

Then the greatest feeling from all your had work…Growth!

Cucumber plants germinated

Seeing a plant grow from seeds was very exciting! It’s funny because I can see how people actually talk to their plants. I did. LOL

Throughout the summer it was awesome to watch the growth and pray that God would keep all the varmints, bugs and disease take your plants from you but it was a pretty successful year. I did loose most of my corn because it grew was is known as corn smut (slang) for Huitlacoche. It’s supposed to be some sort of delicacy in some cultures but didn’t appeal to me to try. Even being a chef I just couldn’t bring myself to it. Here’s a pic of it from my corn.

Corn Smut

However, overall I could not complain. Mid summer started to harvest cucumbers, more cucumbers and CUCUMBERS!! So many that I started canning immediately (which was my first time too but that is another story).

Watching the growth
Still growing
Cucumbers becoming pickles!

Harvesting on a daily basis was very taunting and exhausting but very rewarding at the same time. Here’s a little of what would go on regularly.

Swiss chard cucumbers and zucchini
Beans, Chard, Cukes, Zucs, Romaine
Potatoes, purple and white
Onions, Red, White and sweet yellow

Then the tomatoes started to come in and in and in! I was able to make 18 quarts of pasta sauce, 12 Tomato Bisque and pizza sauce too. Let alone eating them everyday. These bad boys were delicious and reminded me of my childhood when a tomato actually tasted like a tomato. Not like what the green house hydroponic tomatoes are like you buy in the grocery. These were delicious.

Tomatoes, cherry, sweeties, san marzano, Brandy wine varieties

They made some delicious dishes like this tomato caprese salad with Burrata cheese and homemade croutons.

Tomato Caprese Salad

Then came more, sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon etc.

Sweet potato, peppers, tomato, watermelon

Then the best part according to my wife! The butternut squash! Overall we harvested almost 80 of these bad boys and are now stored safely for the winter!

Lettuce, Kale and swiss chard were abundant all summer long and we never ate so many salads in a summer! All were amazing!

Butter crunch lettuce
Swiss Chard and Baby Bok Choy
Swiss Chard and Curly Kale

Overall, we harvested zucchini, summer squash, carrots, 5 types of peppers, 3 types of onions, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, corn, beans, radishes, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, loads of cukes, butternut squash, kales, swiss chard, 4 types of lettuces, baby bok choy,

All I can say is what a year 2020 has been. This garden was probably my sanity during everything going on around us. It was a lot of hard work but well worth it. There were a lot of obstacles but came through it pretty good.

This year has brought us closer to our friends and family and hopefully taught us to be patient with others and how to help others and I can’t wait to start posting recipes from this years harvest!

May your 2021 be better than 2020 and may you find happiness in the good of what 2020 has brought you. God bless!

Chef Dave

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