I heard somewhere that 90 percent of life is what happens while you were making other plans. That has been true this year. When we made our seed lists and orders last January, we could not have foreseen how different this year would turn out to be. Steven and the kids started work and school online in March, and have been online ever since. Like you, we've rearranged travel plans and our furniture and workspaces to accommodate online schooling. I wouldn't change everything though. In many ways this has been a great year.
This year marks a turning point for us as our two oldest make college plans and we'll have another senior next fall. My mom says I shouldn't get used to having everyone home. It is time for them to launch and make plans of their own. I feel blessed to have just a little while longer with them all at home. However, online school and work has not been problem free. The golden retriever personalities in my family have really missed spending time with friends and attending high school games, band concerts, and events and I have missed my quiet spaces. With people on zoom meetings in every room of my house all day, we've all had to be extra considerate about noise and schedules.
I loved this summer when the kids had no obligations or zoom meetings and could help with the garden. We grew a record amount of food and canned and dried more than ever. This is good because with everyone home for three meals a day, we are eating more too. Summer and fall are not the time I can sit and reflect. Even during a "normal" year, there is not much downtime as we can and preserve the harvest and take care of our large family. I had planned to write all sorts of things for the blog and add recipes too, but family comes first. I managed to post some updates to Instagram. Now I have some quiet time again as the holidays come to a close and everyone, even Steven, is taking a short break. It's time to reflect and think back on the garden year and see what we learned and what we will be doing this next year.
Let's start with the garden wins this year. I loved growing the potatoes in buckets. The buckets kept the voles out and they were really easy and fun to harvest. We plan on expanding that project next spring. I love fresh just dug potatoes. We already preordered several hundred pounds of seed potatoes in six different varieties. We want to offer an early spring sale for those of you who are local and who have asked if we sell seed potatoes. Our onions were great too. We dried some, froze some, and ate a whole bunch fresh. This next spring we will be growing our own onion starts. We've already purchased 1000's of seeds (they are very small). I found an everbearing strawberry that I am excited to try from seed too. We had a hard time getting all the strawberry starts we needed last year in all the unprecedented rush. We've already ordered plenty for next year, so no worries. We are planning to have the seed potatoes, onion starts, strawberries, and kale etc. available for purchase for early spring planting in April. If you're local, let us know if you're interested. Someone recommended Ogalalla strawberries; an everbearing type created for the midwest, so we will have those this year too.
This year with shortages on different products, it felt extra important to get a good yield out of our garden. We tried a bunch of newer sweet peppers that we will add to our list next spring. The winner of the spicy peppers this year was Aji Rico. It made the best smoked paprika powder, and was so tasty. We will definitely plant them again. We grew a different blend of tomatoes than we usually do this year because we lost all the plants in one full greenhouse last spring. The winner for us last year was paisano. It was a perfect sauce tomato and produced a ton of tomatoes even in pots. We've already looked through and ordered a bunch of new tomato seeds for the spring. We remodeled the Roma, paste, plum line up for maximum production and disease resistant varieties. We retired a few that didn't perform as well as we hoped and added a few more to try. When canning lids were in such short supply this summer, I was lucky not need to purchase more, but as we look ahead to 2021 the supply still looks tight, so I am thinking that I will dehydrate some of the tomatoes we grow next year instead of canning them all; paste tomatoes will dry beautifully.
We have lots of seeds for herbs, melons, squashes and cucumbers. Steven and I sat down and did our own little "advancement" meeting this fall to determine what varieties we want to grow or sell in 2021. He does this on a huge scale for his day job at Corteva. It was fun to review the varieties we grew and what worked and what didn't. As we looked for things that we wanted to add to our list we were drawn to plants that would really work. For instance, cucumber beetles decimated our cucumbers. We got some, but not nearly what we needed to make pickles. We added county fair pickling cucumbers. They have all female flowers, which means they are self pollinating and we can cover them and keep out the cucumber beetles. They are also resistant to the bacterial wilt that the cucumber beetles carry. We did the same review on tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, herbs etc. I'm really excited about our 2021 spring lineup.
That leads us to our upcoming spring sale. The big project this month is going to be trying to put all of the 2021 plant inventory online. My appreciation for the ease of online shopping has increased this year during the pandemic. We want to be able to provide online ordering so that is easy for you, and easier on Steven. The spreadsheet magic that he does every year is amazing, but very labor intensive.
We've been ordering seeds, pots, and everything we need for the 2021 garden season. We ordered lots of things months ago. Why so early? Well, seeds have been in short supply everywhere, and some of them have been more expensive than they used to be. We've done a lot of shopping around. Some things are still backordered, but we got in line early so that we could find everything we need. We didn't want to be caught without our favorites available for you. It feels good to know that we have found a source for almost everything now. We'll be planting onion and strawberry seeds soon, and probably some hot peppers. They take forever to get going. I know winter is just getting started, but we will have the grow lights up and going in no time at all. It is great therapy in the coldest dark days of winter to turn on the grow lights and have green things growing. Only a few more days until it time for garden 2021! It's going to be great!