Well, if my goal this year was to grow healthy tomato plants, then the garden was an overwhelming success.
That’s just two tomato plants, each of them bigger than me and heavy enough that it’s a struggle to hold them above my head like that. However, if my goal was to actually grow *tomatoes*, well that didn’t go so well. I’m not sure about all the science of it, but I know there are various minerals that affect plants differently. Some will make lots of leafy greens (great for your lettuce bed, not so good for your tomato bed), others make lots of fruit (apparently lacking in my tomato bed). We got a few handfuls of pear and cherry tomatoes off these plants. There were also a couple of other tomato plants in the same bed that didn’t get quite as big and also didn’t ripen much fruit. Part of the problem was that I got the whole garden started late, so next year this should go better. For now, I have hung these plants (and the few smaller ones) upside down in the hopes that the last of the fruit will ripen before it freezes. I had to take them out of hte bed they were in because it’s past time to start my fall/winter garden and they were taking up valuable real estate in the mini-greenhouse.
There are several things that I would like to note for myself to remember in the next planting season:
Most of the garden was planted the end of May. It could have been started way sooner. The neighbor said she planted tomato starts, unprotected, in mid-March. Her plants never got more than a couple feet high, but they way out-produced mine. I should be able to start tomatoes in the greenhouse in mid-March at the latest.
The two pear tomato plants were bought as seedlings from the farmer’s market. They are the ones that got huge, but didn’t make much fruit. The plants I started from seed would probably have done much better if they weren’t crowded by those two giants. Next year I should be able to start the seeds earlier and not buy seedlings. Let’s see if I can resist the market temptation in the spring.
I do not like Malabar spinach, even though it is beautiful and grows really big. It is so strong that it makes my lips numb.
The front walk grew *fabulous* allysum and nasturtiums. I planted approx 8 nasturtium plants and that was way too many for the space by the front door. They took over the walkway and eventually got black aphids at least partially because of the crowding. The allysum did great, and it would make sense to do a late summer planting of allysum so that we would still have some flowers now instead of just the green parts going slightly weedy.
The garden balsam also did great by the front door.
None of the other flowers that I planted along that walkway came up, largely because they were crowded out by the nasturtiums, but possibly also because of the lack of sun there.
In the shade bed, the impatiens held great color all summer from mid-July when I planted them there. I got them on sale for 2/$1 or something like that and they were well worth it. I also loved the cosmos, although they didn’t last as long and the slugs seemed to like them more.
The two kinds of lavender and the bamboo seem to be in a holding pattern. I hope they wake up in the spring.
The cilantro didn’t like being planted in the greenhouse. Next year it should go in the regular garden. It was too hot and went almost immediately to seed. Also, I’d like to figure out how to use the seeds as coriander next year, after we harvest a lot more of the plants.
The lemon and cinnamon basil did great, even though I couldn’t water it stuck behind the tomato plants all year. I won’t be surprised if it winters over and I don’t have to plant any more. None of the greek basil came up, so I wonder if those seeds are bad. I also wonder about bringing the basil inside for the winter and using it as a windowsill plant…
The kohlrabi didn’t like the greenhouse at all. Two plants came up, closest to the opening. One was eaten by bugs and slugs right away. The other one matured, but I left it too long and it was eaten by slugs before I got to it.
The corn was the most delicious corn in all the land, and I wish we had more of it. I wonder if I could plant it early in the greenhouse and then transplant it. I’ll have to look in to it. It didn’t have long enough to mature, so out of 8 linear feet we got only 4 good ears. The broom corn didn’t really do anything for me, since I’m not a Thanksgiving decoration kinda girl, so I could use that space to grow more edible corn and start it earlier.
We loved the purple beans. I grew only three plants, and at its peak that was a good amount for us to keep up with daily, but it didn’t last long enough. Successive plantings next year, and started earlier.
I started 3 cucumber plants, but I’m not sure how many came up. That has been a really good amount of cucumber for salads and various fresh eating. If I wanted to make pickles or use them for anything else, I would want another couple plants. It seemed to work well to grow them with the corn so there was room for them to wander without choking out another ground-cover neighbor.
I also started three cantaloupe plants. Maybe if I had started them sooner it would have gone better, but they seem to be a lost cause. They get to be about 4 or 5 inches in diameter and then split at the bottom and bugs eat them. Maybe this is because of the wet summer?
The marigolds planted along the border are fabulous and I want to plant more of them next year.
Only two purple cabbage plants came up and they have been infested with bugs since early on, so much so that no heads have been able to form. I will plant more of these this fall and see if it goes any differently.
Neither Preston nor I likes radishes. I should not plant them.
Preston doesn’t like arugula, and I only like small amounts in salads or on sandwiches. I planted two 2-foot rows and that was more than plenty.
Only one celery plant came up. I just noticed it this week, and there are 6 or 8 mature stalks on it. If I could start it earlier and do successive plantings next year we would probably use a plant per week in salads and such.
I planted 3 or 4 2-foot rows of carrots. We used a couple a week, but they last so long in the ground that we would have used a lot more if we hadn’t already used them all up. Maybe twice as many. Again with the successive plantings.
The 2×4 foot area for lettuce would probably have been sufficient if I had planted a lot less to start with and been better about the succession. One whole packet was at least twice as much as I should have scattered. And when I am ready for the successive plantings I should make sure to thin the mature plants so that there’s room for the new ones to come up. We would probably average one small plant per day for as long as I can keep them growing.
I just learned a couple days ago that salad burnet is a perennial herb, not an annual green as I had thought. It seems to be holding up really well to the cold weather of the fall, and I won’t be surprised if it lasts at least until the first frost. I have 2 square feet of it, and that is plenty. If it really comes back next year then I won’t need to plant any and could probably try to get rid of a lot of it.
The parsley did fine in a pot, and we don’t need any more of it than that. We just use it for a small flavoring in salads. The chives didn’t come out so well. Not sure what they need different, but we didn’t use any of them.
The onions were great. We used most of them raw in salads because they were that sweet. We would definitely have used more than the 6-foot row I planted. Also, I should do a better job of spacing them, either in planting or in thinning, next year. Many of them didn’t bulb up because they were too crowded, so we’ve just used them as green onions.
If I made another two or three raised beds, we would still be able to keep up with that amount of food during the summer. And another one or two cold frame beds would keep us better supplied through the winter.
Everything would have gone better had I planted initially in mid-March, and then did successive plantings about once a month each month through June. It would coast nicely through July, August, and September, and then I could be starting my fall plantings in Mid-September (rather than mid-October like I’m going to be doing this year).