The spring of 2020 was warm to begin with, but was struck down by a burst of cool weather that negated everything I’d done up until that point. Weeks went by with me inspecting bare soil for a sign of growth before I had something to show for it.
I got smart this year and laid cloth over the unused parts of the garden to eliminate the amount of weeding that would need to be done. Unfortunately I choose a very poor quality of cloth, and all I really achieved was to give the late spring wind something to rip up and distribute across our entire backyard. So I spent a lot of time picking up black pieces of cloth, and then had to weed anyway.
The strawberries thrived, with absolutely no help from me, but now I have fears of them taking over the whole garden. They marched relentless through summer and are now occupying a good portion. I’m going to have to deal with them at some point, but it’s difficult to rip up perfectly good plants that produce such delicious berries.
Once the weather warmed up, and I had more to my name than just spring onions and radishes, the tomatoes popped up wild everywhere, good boys that they are, and I duly pruned them into shape so they wouldn’t end up such a wild mess of vines mid-summer. For the first time I purchased capsicum seedlings, because all previous attempts to grow from seeds had failed.
The zucchinis did well as usual, though they were later and slower – the two that finally emerged produced pretty much the perfect amount for us. Two cucumbers was also a much better number.
One of the capsicums died unceremoniously. I’m not sure why I even tried.
It was such a wet summer that after we finally got the automatic watering system installed we pretty much didn’t need it.
Then the tomatoes got blight and rotted. This stopped me from cooking up numerous batches of diced tomatoes to freeze, but we did have enough for salads and what not.
The sweet corn did very well. Home office lunch was corn on the cob a great many times. And the broccoli was abundant and well-spaced, so I didn’t get stuck with a whole lot of rotting plants. My beetroots are still odd-shaped – they grow long and skinny rather than bulby – but they taste good.
Then lo and behold, I was poking round in the garden late summer to discover that the capsicum plant that had supposedly died, had done a zombie rebirth and was dancing a late revival. Unfortunately it was so close to cold weather by that point that I rescued only a few tiny but tasty buddies in the end.
I planted plenty of silverbeet because in the past the snails have obliterated the one or two I produced, and weirdly they all thrived. Much of it’s still out there… just hanging out getting frosty, but I ate a lot of it in stir-frys over the summer.
The pumpkins did not disappoint, and there are still too many in the cellar to get my head around – after the third week of pumpkin soup I had to take a break… it was all getting a bit too much. I got a decent crop of snow peas, unlike last year, though the beans were disappointing, growing slow and limp. They did endure the last of the late autumn weather and the second coming was quite bountiful in comparison.
With all the additional time Covid has afforded me this year, I made a pact with myself that I would get the garden cleaned up before winter, like a good Austrian does. But then it got suddenly cold… so the skeletons of corn and broccoli remain still… until spring when the sun wakes up and it feels right to be out again.
2020 wasn’t the bumper garden year I’d hoped for. But then again, 2020 wasn’t the year anyone hoped for. My garden certainly didn’t give back equal to the amount of work I put in. But I guess that’s not why we choose to grow our own veggies. Because it’s probably cheaper and definitely easier to just pick everything up at the store. But yesterday when I cleaned off the last of my ill-shaped beetroots and roasted them up with a side of local venison, I experienced a satisfaction that almost made all that work worth it. But even with all that… I’ll still do it all again in 2021. Bring it on.