Slugs and rain included, this was by far the most productive gardening season at Maxwell House. Why? This success is by no fault of my own olive drab thumbs, I assure you. Two words: healthy soil. Additions to our lifeless dirt included fall leaf amendment (everyone thought I was crazy but it rawked the house garden come springtime), spring compost, and fish fertilizer (advice curtesy of Mr. JB who really DOES have a green thumb).

In a nutshell; I spent four years depleting soil that didn’t have much nutrients to begin with, and my garden was looking more terrible with each passing year. In one year, with a healthy dose of once-per-year amendments, I’ve seen crazy good results.

Though the pumpkins were itsy bitsy, and the green beans yielded an average of one lousy bean per plant, the carrots, lettuce (pre-slugs), squash, and kale did great. Kale was the real king of the garden this year. I enjoyed the spring spinach, but the season is so short for its cold-loving self. The kale (from seed) came on early, and is still now producing spectacularly. I was even more excited when google enlightened me on the storing options of kale: freezing, drying, and canning. This year I’ve been drying the plants, and I love that I only have to run the dehydrator a few hours to get the leaves perfectly crisp and storable. Now the challenge is to actually remember to use these sweet bits in soups this winter 🙂

Here is this year’s list of garden winners and losers (dontcha like how I make it sound as if this is a list I’ve been posting here every year, rather than this being its inaugural writing?)


  • Kale
  • Mixed lettuce (pre-slugs)
  • Crookneck squash
  • Carrots (scarlet nantes)
  • Broccoli (Green Goliath?)


  • Green Beans
  • Patty Pan squash (they seemed great in the beginning, but they just took up too much space)
  • Munchkin Broccoli (I know I loved you last year Munchkin, but this year you just annoyed me)

I’d like to start getting serious about planting species of veggies that are truly suited for this area. I’ve played around with tomatoes and some veggies that do OK here, but now I’m interested in understanding which veggies will provide the most food for the least amount of work. If I were a colonist, and my family were dependent on this garden, which varieties would I be choosing? Next year I want to try beets, turnips, onions, and garbage-can potatoes. We’ll likely put in more carrots and Kale. I’m really excited to see how beets fare in the garden.

What about you? What varieties worked well for you this year?

Here’s an interesting link for possible perennial veggie varieties (yay for perennials!):’s cold-hardy list