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Published on Dec 23, 2017  by Jason Carter

Year 1 - Winter Day 3

It's gotten cold here in Boston!  Icy rain and snow have signaled the start of a North East winter and the end of the year of planting.  It's a great time to reflect on my first year of living the Harvest Life.  It's time to reflect on how well I did and grade my success so I can improve it for next year!

So lets review Year 1 of My Harvest Life and take a look at how I did with each thing planted!

To re-read all the posts feel free to start at Episode 1: Spring Planting

First Planting

Garlic (F)

None of my garlic grew!  I think for most of the season it was overshadowed by the cucumbers, but I got no good garlic!

Improvements:  I'll get it more room and more sun and plant it earlier so it can soak up all the heat.

Red Onions (F)

Also did not get any good red onions.  Similar to the garlic they were overshadowed for most of the season.

Improvements:  Start the seeds really early indoors then transplant them, I started them a bit late and from seeds out doors and they just didn't get going fast enough.

Green Onions (D+)


I got a couple green onions, but they were skimpy. Still I was able to eat them in a meal, so that was cool.  D+ for actually being able to use some.

Improvements:  Same as Red Onions and Garlic.


Lemon Cucumber (B-)





Oh the behemoth of the season.  The lemon cucumbers were quite a ride!  My most fruitful plant but also the saddest, the cucumbers grew incredibly, and produced a bunch early on but then succumbed to mildew and struggled to survive.  I got the most out of these plants, but have much to improve next year.  I will definitely try again with these!

Improvements:  First, I'm only going to grow 3 plants instead of 6.  They were MASSIVE plants and took over the whole garden almost.  In addition I need to be more careful with my watering, and also I'll build a trellis for them to climb up and not be so crowded.  In addition they weren't tasty when they got too ripe, so I need to pick them earlier to keep the seeds small and the flesh mild.  Overall I'm very excited to attempt these plants again and hopefully we'll have an A+ next year with a very bountiful harvest!

Tomatoes (C-)




The tomatoes were almost a great success!  Instead they were throttled in a storm and I only got a few useful tomatoes.  There were some, but it was not the great success it could have been.  The plants grew vigorously early on, but since I planted them later, it started cooling down before I got a bunch of ripe tomatoes.

Improvements:  First... I'm going to tie off the main stalks to the stakes.  The biggest problem was the wind that thrashed them and bent them over.  Hopefully tying them off this year will help them withstand any bad storms.  Second I need to make sure they don't get too much water.  Some of the later tomatoes started splitting because they grew too fast.  I'm going to shoot for smaller tomatoes and try to clip the plants to help more grow.

Carrots (C+)

The carrot plants did alright.  The main problem was that the ground was too rocky and they couldnt get far enough down to grow large.  However, I did get some nice (small) tasty carrots out of it and it was decent for what I had planted.

Improvements:  Till the ground a bit more, and pull out rocks and loosen the dirt where the carrots will grow.  Perhaps I might move carrots to a raised bin separately so they can grow in a small raised garden.

Basil (B-)

The basil did alright, it grew quickly and I was able to harvest a lot of it.  The basil in the basement is still growing and has been for a while now.  The basement herb garden is nearing it's end of life, but has provided a bunch of herbs to dry so far.

Improvements:  Give it more space probably, the plants did fairly well, but I could be better at watering and harvesting them to keep them growing longer.  Also snip the flowers to keep them producing leaves.

Beans (A-)





The beans were a great success!  I got a bunch of green beans out of the bushes and ate them many times fresh and cooked.  I will definitely do them again, but I think I will try Pole Beans and build a structure for them to get more out of the plants.  The bush beans produced a lot at the start and then started to wane after a few weeks.  But still, there were a lot of them and they were delicious.

Improvements: Next year I'll experiment with Pole Beans and with a structure to have them grow on.  We'll see how that goes!

Spinach (B-)



I got quite a bit of spinach out of the Noble Giant Spinach plants that grew.  They got progressively smaller leaves as I harvested them, but they produced multiple times per plant which was fun.  I think I will stagger the plantings a bit next year and harvest them one at a time for meals.

Improvements:  Water more, learn how to harvest them in a way that lets them continue to grow large leaves and not branch off too much.  Also I need to sprout them indoors.  Only a couple of the plants grew so if I start them off indoors they'll have a better chance of surviving and I should get more plants out of them.

Sweet Potatoes (F)

Uh yeah... I tried to grow sweet potatoes like potatoes but that's not how it works so... if I try them again I will learn how to sprout them properly.

Improvements:  Don't just chop them up and stick them in the ground... yeah that doesn't work.

Potatoes (B-)




The potatoes, however, did fairly well!  There are a few improvements but overall I got a bunch of decent potatoes out of it and made some tasty meals.  I still have a few potatoes to use before they go bad.

Improvements:  Use actual potato starters (not just store-bought potatoes), and get the ground tilled a bit more and remove rocks to give the potatoes room to grow.  Some of the potatoes had black rot in the center so I should be able to keep them a bit healthier.

Late Planting

I also tried planting some Kale and Winter Spinach but neither of those did well.  The Kale gets an F because none of it grew (was squashed by the tomato plants and eaten by something) and the Winter Spinach gets a D because it wasn't planted early enough and I only got some small amount from the harvest.  I'll try to coordinate a late planting this next year but it'll take a bit more organization.


Overall, it's been a great learning experience and I've learned a ton and... *DING* I've leveled up from the experience!  😂  This next year I'll go into it as a level 2 gardener!  I'll have to get to planning soon for all the wonderful things I want to grow in the spring and add some new additions.

I'd love to try:  Lettuce, Watermelon, Strawberries, Broccoli and Jalapeno peppers this next year so I'll have to find room for everything!  There might need to be a 2nd garden area for the fruits.  We'll see it's a little ambitious, I'll admit.

Well that's all, it's a sad time that I can't work out in the yard and work on a garden, but the winter makes for a wonderful time of tasty food and drink, reading and relaxing.

- Level 2 Gardener: Jace -



Published on Nov 09, 2017  by Jason Carter

Year 1 - Fall Day 50

This year was not a great year for tomatoes.  A couple months ago we had a terrible windy storm that thrashed them pretty hard and I had not taken the proper precautions to protect them.  So this past weekend, I finally tore them out of the ground and stuffed the poor, poor plants into bags, meeting the same fate as their cucumber brothers.

The Sad Plants


What Remained


I learned some lessons though, for starters, plant them earlier so they harvest earlier.  I did not get very many tomatoes from the plants before it started getting chilly.  Second, I need to tie the tomato stalks off to the poles to keep them upright and secure.  I have a bunch of twine, I just didn't think to tie them off.  But I got a new book on tomato plants that talked about making sure to tie them off to stakes to protect them from wind, so next year I will do that.  It's all been learning.  This year has been insightful so far.

I still have some onion, garlic and spinach growing (and Kale but the fallen tomato plants pretty much crushed them) so we'll see if I can get anything out of them before it gets too cold to grow anymore.  I believe the spinach has survived one frost already so we'll see how far in it can go.  This year has been pretty warm, first frost was supposed to be October 10, but it's already November 9 and I think we've only gotten one frost.


Things are winding down for the year, outside of the basement herb garden, which is a little sad, it's been fun working in the yard.  It's going to be a long winter before we get back to planting and gardening again in the spring.

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -





Published on Oct 21, 2017  by Jason Carter

Year 1 - Fall Day 31


Today I harvested the rest of the potatoes!  There was a nice small bags worth from the 3 to 4 potato plants that produced.  I didn't get a ton of potatoes, and I also didn't let the skin harden enough for long term storage, so we'll have to eat them relatively soon.  There were a bunch of medium and small potatoes as well as some really large ones.  Above is one of the bigger ones that I got.  It was neat since these were just red potatoes from the store that I used to start the plants, and next year I plan to get some fancier, rarer brands of potatoes to grow.  In addition I will also dig up the ground before planting to give them some broken up earth beneath to easily grow down into.  The ground is a bit hard and I think that contributed to the limited potato supply.



Other than harvesting potatoes today, I also planted 200+ flower bulbs in front of my house.  For 25$ on Bulbs Direct I got 2 large bundles of various bulb flowers and planted them around our feature plants in the front.  Some of the flowers included:

Liatris Spicata Purple


Anemone Coronaria Mr Fokker


Muscari Armeniacum


Gladiola Nanus Mix


And there were a bunch more varieties of flowers as well from white and purple flowers to yellow flowers.  So I am looking forward to seeing these all bloom next spring and seeing them fill in the front of the house.

Next year I will be sure to photograph the beautiful displays of color!

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -



Published on Oct 14, 2017  by Jason Carter

Year 1 - Fall Day 24

Today I got my first little red potato!  The potato plants were dying and getting eaten up, so I cut down the tops and will let them sit for a week or so before harvesting the rest of the potatoes.  I'm curious to see how many the plants produced in the rocky ground.  There does appear to be a couple large ones near the surface, so hopefully there are a bunch more deeper in.

Some Early Potatoes on the Surface


I've also harvested a bunch of tomatoes: a lot of little ones and a few big ones.  They're full of tomato flavor and have been good cut up on sandwiches and in other dishes.  I also finished picking all of the carrots, as they've stopped growing too much in the rocky soil.  Their growth was stunted, as the rocks beneath the first few inches of soil stopped them from getting big, so next spring I'm going to till up those rocks and pull em out so that the carrots can grow deeper.  I wonder if that will affect the potatoes as well.

Final Carrots and First Bunch of Tomatoes


Tasty things have been made with the tomatoes and the first medium sized potato above.  Today I made myself a scrambled-eggs-cheezy-hashbrown thing that looks horrendous but was pretty tasty!  I sautéed some onions and made the hash browns from the first big red potato, and then added some sliced tomato and topped it all with whipped eggs and cheese.  Was a bit of a goopy mess, but was actually pretty good.

Delicious, despite looking like mush


The basement herb garden has been going okay, but all of the herbs seem rather stunted, so I decided to pick half of them to allow the other half to grow bigger.  I also transplanted a few of the lemon mint plants outside in one of the flower pots so that they could get some room to breath and grow.  This should give the rest of the herbs in the basement growing area a bit of breathing room and space to stretch out and thrive.

For the ones I picked I created a little place to hang them in the kitchen window.  The fragrant aromas of the basil, oregano and thyme are a pleasant experience and in a few weeks they'll be dried and ready for storage.


Fresh Herbs and Tomatoes



The spinach continues to slowly grow despite my dog, Max thinking the garden is an area to jump into and stomp around.  He's knocked over the barrier a few times, and I've had to fix it and staple it back up.  The kale however... we'll see what happens but this one seems to be a failure.  Something, either rabbits or my dog, keeps getting in and eating all the leaves.  (Maybe caterpillars?)  And the tomato plants have fallen over where the kale was planted, so they're not getting much sunlight.  However the onions and garlic are finally making a resurgence after removing the overbearing cucumber plants.  They're finally starting to thicken up and grow a bit, hopefully they can finish growing before winter sets in.

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -



Published on Sep 30, 2017  by Jason Carter

Year 1 - Fall Day 9

It's officially fall!  A delicious time of year, filled with apple cider, warm stews and tasty treats throughout.  Things are slowing down in the gardening aspect, with the weather starting to get colder and wetter.  Tomatoes are starting to ripen and the bean plants have been cleaned out of the garden with a final, small harvest.  Soon the potatoes should be ready to start prepping for harvest and the kale and spinach continues to slowly grow in the cold, wet fall weather.

Tearing out the Bean Bushes


As the bean plants waned in their production, I made the decision to finally clear them out of the garden and bag them up.  We got some tasty beans out of the plants, but I think next year I'm going to go with the pole variety and see if I can harvest more out of each plant.  In addition we've gotten a few small tomatoes, but many have stayed green, and are slowly starting to darken.  I also brought a few green ones inside to ripen on the windowsill and after a few weeks they're just starting to turn red.

Ripening Tomatoes and Last Harvest of Beans



There is a wide spread of tomato sizes, the small ones seem to turn red relatively quickly and I've gotten a few of those so far, but the big green ones are slowly turning red in the garden.  One lesson learned is that the twisty poles I got for the tomato plants do not protect them very well from wind.  We had some very windy rainy days for a while, and the tomato plants are all bent over and got damaged by the poles bending the main stems.  So they're a bit of a mess.  Next year I will build a sturdy wooden structure to let them grow in to give them a lot of support.

Struggling Tomato Plants


But some reddening deep inside!


I'm still learning how to prevent nature from destroying my garden, so next year I'm looking forward to better yields.  However, I've picked a ton of basil from the basement garden so far.  It's been growing incredibly quickly and I've been able to harvest quite a bit and take the extra basil to work.

Delicious Cinnamon Basil



The basil is quite delicious with a earthy flavor (cinnamon-y to some I guess?)  I've made some tasty drinks with it so far and blended some of it up into tomato soup, which was great.  That said I can hardly use all the basil I have growing, so I've given a lot of it away to coworkers, who were glad to take free, fresh basil.

Things are coming along slowly, I look forward to harvesting the potatoes eventually and am looking forward to seeing if the spinach and kale plants take root and start to flourish, as they're still struggling.

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -
Next Episode 15: First Potato & Lunch