backyard garden

Backyard garden: 2023 season update

As the seasons (abruptly, here on the southwest coast of BC!) change, it’s a good time to look back on the gardening season that was. As it’s all too easy to forget the nuances of the year, it’s helpful to make notes about what worked, what didn’t, and what could be changed up for next year!

All in all I’d have to say it was a pretty good year, see below for highlights! Read along about past years here.


Best thing made with garden produce (so far)

Have you ever heard of a tomato mill or strainer? I hadn’t until a couple of years ago but then I discovered this amazing machine! You heat the tomatoes in a pan and then run the cooked tomatoes through the machine, ending up with tomato pulp less the seeds and skin. We’ve used the resulting product for soup, pizza base, sauces, and curry! I think my favourite so far was an amazing chickpea curry that used my crushed tomatoes, see a similar recipe here.

backyard garden
Source: Lucy_Prior via Pixabay

What went well

In past years I haven’t done so well with pickling cucumbers but this year I had a bumper crop – so much so that I was begging people to take and use them. We made our share of pickles too!

Tomatoes and raspberries also had great yields. I have some tomato sauce in the freezer and a few more tomatoes yet to come. Also, for the first time, our raspberry patch produced enough berries to freeze for use through the winter! Our favourite is to use them in oatmeal and yogurt.

What didn’t go well

Pumpkin vines have so far yielded only a couple of small, green pumpkins – same as last year. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, so might have to do some reading!

Snap and shelling peas were late and didn’t yield a lot due to some cute but also very frustrating visitors: bunnies. They continually ate the shoots of the pea plants until I finally protected the plants with upside-down dish drying racks. It worked and the plants were finally able to grow, but they were late and didn’t seem to appreciate the heat.

I attempted the three sisters planting method with corn, beans and pumpkins however I found that the pole beans strangled and toppled the corn toward the end of the summer. Maybe I used wrong varieties together?

Ruby red corn

This year’s top learning

This year I spent a lot of time learning about the codling moth lifecycle and why my apples have been so impacted!  The lifecycle involves a moth laying eggs on the apples, the eggs hatching and the resulting larvae burrowing into the fruit. I thought these pests would attack apples only once a season, but apparently there can be up to three lifecycles per season 🙁 

Our best year to date (meaning fewest infected apples) was likely due to the use of pheromone traps, but I couldn’t find any this year.  The pheromone traps work by luring the moths with a chemical into a sticky pad and so prevent the moth from engaging in the process of egg creation and laying. 

In absence of the traps I tried a number of ways to reduce the impact on my apples including clay applied to the apple, a sticky red tennis ball hanging from a branch and sticky band on the tree to attract and trap moths, and bagging the apples.  By far the most successful was bagging the fruit with white organza bags. Not sure why white bags helped more, but they did!

Last year I had one apple without a worm, and this year it was more than 10, about 20% of the apples that made it to maturity.  We’re aiming for much less infection next year as the bags also functioned to contain any worms that tried to escape the apples to re-start the cycle.  I will bag the fruit much earlier next year, and try to track down pheromone traps!

Plans for next year

I started to do some reading on how to build healthy soil and plan to keep learning more about this topic through the winter and next year.

Another topic for research and experimentation is around keeping kale, cabbage, and broccoli pest-free. These plants seem to become infested in my garden!

I have a few types of seeds to plant this fall for summer blooms next year including jumbo poppies, coneflowers, and lupines!

My buggy kale

How did your garden go this year? Did anything go particularly well for you? Any tips to share?

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  • Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader)

    My tomatoes did really well again this year. I had to plant them in the corner of the garden because of the construction happening on our deck. The only other thing I planted was a couple of pepper plants. I got one lonely pepper from each. Is there a trick to getting more than one pepper from a plant or is that normal? It’s a lot of caring and watering for just 2 peppers.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      I’ll see if I can get an answer from Krista about the pepper plants. That happened to my pepper plant last year too…just one lone little pepper. It was rewarding to watch it grow, but I agree it’s a lot of care and watering for such a small amount of fruit.

  • Molly | Transatlantic Notes

    I can imagine that having a garden or growing anything takes a bit of getting used to and requires lots of learning, but that is something I would really enjoy. If I ever end up in a space/home where I can do this, it would be wonderful. I hope there is continued growing!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Indeed! There seems to be an endless number of things to learn in a garden–a part of what makes it so rewarding 🙂

      I hope you do get your garden space one day!

  • Sarah @ Exploring All Genres

    This year seemed to be all over the place for many gardeners. My normally good growing crops, like beans, really struggled, yet the tomatoes which normally don’t do well have had a surprisingly big yield. Doing garden research in the winter is great, I do that too.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      It’s amazing how one year can vary so much from the next, isn’t it?! Hopefully the tomato harvest made up for the smaller beans yield. It’s definitely been a year of learning. Thanks for sharing about your experience this year!

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