It's official- summer is over. A killing frost came to my neck of the woods about two weeks ago and destroyed all that was left of my garden. Now it's time to round up the season. What went well? What gardening advice do I need to remember for 2013?
The tomato harvest was insane. They just kept coming. Four plants may have been too much for me. I could probably do just fine with two or three.
I planted two rounds of beets. They were great (a personal favorite with goat cheese...mmmm baby). However, I need to remember to thin them out after the first 3 weeks. The sprouts are tiny and get all clumped together when you plant them. Since I didn't thin them out, it just made for smaller beets when it came time to harvest.
The dahlias I planted were amazing. They provided great cut flowers for indoor bouquets from August - October. They actually thrive when cut, producing more blooms, so they were amazing to have. The cleome (planted from seed) were beautiful in the garden, but not a great cut flower for indoors.
The zinnias were perfect. I started these from seed in pots when the lettuce, cilantro, and onions were still in the ground. After they were done in June I trans-planted the zinnias to the raised beds. They totally thrived in the raised beds and looked amazing as cut flowers in bouquets. They were a great counterpart to the dahlias. Need to do this again next year!
I planted these cucumbers late (I think in July). They produced about 3-4 decent sized cukes that were tasty. I think next year I need to water them more if I want a better harvest.
The cherry tomatoes were delicious, but a total pain to harvest. Next year I need to be better about picking a BUNCH in one sitting, instead of letting them on the vine.
The broccoli was not so successful. Bugs seem to have gravitated toward them from the get-go, making the plants much smaller than they should've been. I never got any broccoli harvest out of these four little plants. Bummer! Need to be more mindful of pests next year and be proactive about removing them if I want any broccoli in my harvest basket.
I got what seemed like a million zucchinis from the few plants I had. They are tricky buggers that hide in the foliage. Need to be better about searching for them. After the recent frost there were still about 8 left that I hadn't discovered!
These string bean plants provided a TON of beans. Just like the cherry tomatoes, I need to set time aside next year to pick them in bulk. I was picking them when I wanted to eat beans. I ended up not picking as many as I could've.
Though I don't have pictures, I am so glad I planted my basil. I used the basil almost every week and had a HUGE plant. Next year I need to harvest it in bulk before the frost and make fresh pesto to use throughout the winter!
I also had beautiful gladioli in the late spring/early summer that provided beautiful cut flowers. Not as easy to integrate into a bouquet as the dahlias, but totally fabulous nonetheless.
Cilantro was also a big hit in salsa. I had piles and piles of fresh cilantro leaves. However, the cilantro did die out by July- need to plant two rounds of it next year.
One of the issues I had this year was with my onion harvest. I didn't thoroughly dry them out after pulling them from the ground. This caused about half of the harvest to rot. It was very sad! Next year I need to remember to dry them out in the sun for at least a week. Keeping them in a basket (however aerated) just won't do.
I have been thinking about some of the things I wished I had planted. For next year:
- jalapeños (I dislike spicy food, but jalapeños provide a great kick in salsas all throughout the summer, since I had so many tomatoes, salsa was a weekly dish in our household)
- bell peppers (I use these like crazy, not sure why I didn't think to plant them!)
- pumpkins (why didn't I plant these for Halloween!?! I found myself buying them...)
- funky squashes (need to plant some just for decoration)
- strawberry patch
- potatoes (because I make hash browns pretty much every Sunday)
- more peonies
- white hydrangea
- white tulips
I hope your gardening season was just as rewarding as mine. If you haven't gotten the gardening bug yet, I urge you to try. It's pretty amazing what a little soil, light, and some water can do.