It's never too early to start dreaming; to start planning for the next gardening season. First, however, it helps to assess the previous year's successes and failures. I evaluate each year's vegetable crop for flavor, disease resistance, and performance. I determine which varieties we liked and which failed. I assess flowers for their visual appeal and impact, considering their color interest, texture, and unique features. This isn't as big a job as it sounds because from year to year I tend to repeat the tried and true, with just a few new varieties. There are unexpected failures and successes, however, that are often weather related. This summer's record rainfall and numerous violent storms were enormously challenging. As a result, I spent far less time on maintenance than usual. The gardens quickly became a jungle. You can see the rapid growth in the two pictures above: The bottom photograph, taken at the end of May, shows grandson, Jonathan, admiring the neat beds after we had sowed peas, beets, pole beans, bush beans, zucchini, cucumber, parsnips, carrots, cosmos, and nasturtium. I captured the top picture only 81/2 weeks later. This annual miracle never ceases to amaze me. We followed the plan I developed back in March; you can read about it HERE. When Jon and I had finished the direct sowing, I planted the peppers, tomatoes, zinnias, marigolds, and snapdragons that I had started indoors from seeds. Row covers protect cabbage, kale, and broccoli from insect damage. In the cold frame, I started Swiss chard and lettuce. We anxiously awaited all the seeds to germinate and the seedlings to develop.
|Swiss chard and lettuce in the cold frame|
|Parsnip seeds are the last to germinate, so we are excited when they appear.|
Today, the combination kitchen and cutting gardens are a tangled mess. I dodged raindrops to take the following picture this morning:
Here are some of this year's vegetables that performed well:
|One zucchini plant is enough to keep us in vegetable dishes and zucchini bread|
|I protected the beautiful red cabbage from insect damage with a row cover|
|'Mammoth Melting' snow peas continued to produce even in the heat of summer|
|Red beets are always very successful for me - tried and true 'Detroit Dark Red'|
For the third successive season, I had little success with tomatoes - they were too soft and watery. Three strikes and they are out. I decided against growing any next year as I can't justify the amount of work involved. Likewise, the peppers were disappointing. We didn't like the texture and flavor of the pole beans, but loved the bush variety. I plan to purchase 'Rattlesnake' pole beans next year. Of the many I've grown over the years, it's delicious and is very interesting visually.
|The 'Straight Eight' cucumbers and 'Blue Lake' bush beans were wonderful. Not so the peppers and tomatoes.|
|Peppers started well but did not receive enough sun due to the rainy summer|
We are expecting our first frost this week. Then I will begin harvesting the parsnips. You have probably heard me say that they taste so much better after being touched with frost.
|I still have carrots and parsnips to harvest.|
|The garden in July. The ferny plant, bottom left, is cosmos|
The cutting-garden flowers suffered from the dreadful wet, stormy weather, plus it was often too wet, too hot, or too humid for me to spend time outdoors deadheading. The late cosmos are still blooming, although mostly blown flat to the ground. The zinnias are fading fast; the first frost will finish them all.
|Cosmos bloomed late and is still producing its pretty flowers|
|Nasturtium and marigolds bloomed reliably|
|As 2019 is the year of the snapdragon, I will plant them again next year. Maybe some will reseed.|
|Essential for pollinators, the stand of milkweed at the bottom of the kitchen/cutting garden|
|The bees and butterflies were busy in my cutting garden all summer in spite of the awful weather|
|There were so many monarchs this year, even on the fading zinnias|
I have some brassica plants for the cold frame, as I hope to extend the season. Unfortunately, the heavy rain found its way into the back of the cold frame making the soil too wet for planting. I need to contact my handyman for help. Maybe a gutter under the eaves ...
|Swiss chard in the very wet cold frame and a tray of brassicas|
|Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli waiting to be planted.|
I feel my kitchen garden and my cutting garden were less successful than usual this year. By making an honest evaluation I am able to plan for the next garden season. I know it will be much better! Don't you agree?
I am linking to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day even though it was too wet to take pictures of today's flowers for the meme. I look forward to visiting Carol's wonderful blog, May Dreams Gardens, to see what is blooming around the world on this Bloom Day.
|A birthday gift that makes me smile!|
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