Sep 15, 2011

Summer Garden Summary

I can’t believe that summer is already coming to a close.   There’s a chill in the air today and the wind carries a hint of the crisp sweet smell of fall.   The time has just flown by - I feel like a few short weeks ago I was planting the seeds, and now I’m already starting to wrap things up.   Soon I’ll be prepping the beds for winter and creating a plan for next year.  Overall the garden was wildly successful, but there were still quite a few misses.   I thought I would share some of the highlights.

Tomatoes and Peppers

Overall, the tomatoes were a huge success.  We had plenty of tomatoes to eat and freeze (as sauce and salsa) or give away.  A rainbow of heirlooms that were delicious and pretty to look at - every plant was happy and productive.   However, I over-planted them which caused 2 problems:  1) They overtook my bell pepper plants so we never had any sweet peppers   2) They grew so densely that they were a high risk for black-spot mold, which eventually struck in mid August after a series of incredibly soggy days.  We were lucky that the season was almost over when it happened so we were already enjoying a bumper crop, but if it had happened earlier we would have been very disappointed.  Next year I will plant fewer plants.  The jalepenos, poblanos, and cubanel peppers managed to survive the tomato invasion and produced plenty of hot peppers for us to enjoy.


At first the zucchini went so wild that it took over and was so productive we were drowning in summer squash.  However, in early August white powdery mildew appeared on the plants and they started to die back, then the mid-August rainstorms caused the remaining wounded plants to rot and die - so I pulled them up early.  The cucumbers were also bountiful until the intense heat wave in late July, when the shriveled back. We still continued to get cucumbers through August in smaller numbers until Hurricane Irene.  The watermelon was a disappointment - we got several melons, but they were all rotted inside.  Every single one.   The musk melon on the other hand was fantastic - lots of little cantaloupe-like melons that were sweet and delicious.  Next year I would like to plant more and have it grow up a second trellis (which would allow the squash to spread out below).  The ground cherry was very productive as well, but we didn’t love the fruit enough to want to do it again.


I didn’t know that dahlias or zinnias could ever get that tall.   I’ve had flowers in vases almost every day all summer long, it’s been really nice.  The flowers are still blooming too and probably will continue to do so until our first frost, so this bed is still going.  However while the flowers have been very productive, I made the most mistakes with this bed, grossly underestimating the support flowers would need.  The dahlias kept falling over and I should have staked them when I planted the bulbs. Trying to correct it just broke many of the stalks.   The zinnias grew so tall that they could no longer support themselves and kept falling over.  Tying them back was cumbersome and not very effective without a proper setup - next year it would be much easier to do ahead of time.

Beans, Carrots and Herbs

I’ve seen, frozen, eaten and given away more string beans (green beans) than I ever imagined possible.   I tried to stagger the planting of the seeds, but I was impatient and didn’t wait long enough.   The beans on the bush came in first (with purple and white wax beans in the mix), then the pole beans.  They were incredibly bountiful, and we even fought off an aphid invasion in late August.  All of the herbs did incredibly well and went crazy except for marjoram.  And then there were the carrots that we dug up recently, which were amazing.  We enjoyed lettuce in the early summer and recently did a second planting in hopes of a fall crop, as well as sowing some spinach (spinach is a spring and fall cool weather crop).  We’ll see how that goes.

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