Our garden supplements our food supply with fresh fruits and vegetables. We still trek the 90 miles round trip to the store for most of our normal fare. Perennial fruits and vegetables are my focus, rather than annuals. Most years we get heavy crops of currants and apples, and moderate crops of raspberries, service berries, plums, rhubarb, prickly pears, Italian parsley, sunchokes, pomegranates, and blueberries. Some years we get other things, but it is very weather dependent. From these crops, I trade jams, fresh apples and dehydrated apples for other fresh vegetables with neighbors.
This year has been different, primarily because the normal weather pattern was odd. Spring was warm with the obligatory mid-April deep freeze. The heat of June extended well into July. The monsoon was late and very sparse initially. Late July and early August, the rains were strong and frequent, then dried up for a couple of weeks. This has brought out very different responses from our producers.
Currants were a little below normal, but they are generally bullet-proof. We can count our apples on one hand. That's quite a blow. The plums were prolific. Strangely, the strawberries are producing like crazy. I'd gotten to the point I thought of them more as ornamentals because of their minimal output, so it's a nice change. We've actually had some almonds, which is rare. The blueberries were all nipped. We have our first nectarine, but just the one. The prickly pears are a month behind in their ripening.
What this is teaching me is that we need to keep some perennials that don't produce in 'normal' years. We need a few of those odd plants that may only produce well in an odd weather year.
Even more odd to me is the state of my little experimental winter garden. It is essentially self-managing right now an dI check it weekly. The parsnips I planted last September did nothing. I thought the seeds were too old. In May, they came to life and I have a lush parsnip garden. They won't be ready until fall, but it was a lovely surprise to see them thriving. I had sewn some purslane, which is a nutritious salad green. It is also a welcomed self-managing ground cover, which unfortunately many people see as just a weed. It has started to show up in a few places.
Soooo, my lesson from the garden this week is not to give up on the low-producers. Keep the variety. They may bail you out in years when the weather shifts.