Find below our yearly gardening update. Wishing you all the best this growing season!
Looking back over the year at the end of 2014, it is clear that there were many challenges for gardening. Here on the prairies it was the year that summer almost forgot. We only had a few weeks of summer at the end of summer – beginning of fall. The spring was cold and wet, greatly delaying the start of gardening, and many crops never caught up. It was especially hard on the heat loving crops, especially the vine crops. The squash and pumpkins set fruit so late that we had an almost complete crop failure here in Muenster (different growing conditions than out at the farm). Cucumbers and melons did not develop the flavour and sweetness that require hot weather. The exception was the Kazakh honeydews because we grew them in our plastic tunnel. They produced a lot of tasty fruit which kept well and gave us good seed for the 2015 catalogue.
Tomatoes seem to be the one heat loving crop to buck the trend. We didn’t get as much vine ripened fruit as we would have liked but the overall yield was good. Rachelle grew well over 20 tomato cultivars, most of them out-of-doors, and we got ripe fruit and good seeds from all of them. The late blight which gave us some problems over the last few years seems to have run its course. As usual we had some tomatoes in the plastic tunnel which always do better than out-of-doors. Particularly interesting were the volunteer tomatoes. We always get volunteer tomatoes (and other plants, flowers and vegetables) which are very happy indoors. We had a huge crop of Spoon tomatoes in 2013 and they volunteered and produced abundantly again in 2014. The other notable volunteer was Striped Chocolate tomato. In 2013 we found the large fruits to be soft (almost mushy) and not very flavourful. The predominant colour of these tomatoes is green so it is difficult to determine when they are ready to harvest. In 2014 we picked them earlier and they proved to be quite tasty.
In closing, 2014 has been a challenging year and yet it has been a great pleasure. Working together has been very good. Rachelle has done a lot of work with our new website and will continue working on it regularly. We have done more speaking on seeds and food than ever before and continue to receive invitations for such things. In the spring, Rachelle will start the process of returning to our family farm near Cochin to grow seeds with family and friends and start to establish her life and household there. Jim will reduce the amount of gardening he will do at St. Peter’s Abbey. In the fall, we will be getting together again to process and sell seeds all winter. In a few years, Jim hopes to be ‘retired,’ (after all, he did just turn 70 in November!) though always gardening and working with seeds to some extent, just no longer ‘the boss.’
Wishing you wonderful gardening and times with family and friends in 2015,
Rachelle and Jim