Nov 19, 2012

Garden Cleanup & Summary

I FINALLY got a chance to pull up the garden (only a month late!). The baby was napping and it was the next priority on a frighteningly long to-do list. I pulled up dead plants and put away trellises. We dug up the carrots and remaining few dahlia bulbs... hopefully the dahlia bulbs aren’t dead from sitting here an extra few weeks. I left the oregano, rosemary and thyme for now - they can handle light frosts. Last year I made the mistake of not covering the beds with fresh black plastic for winter and we had a ridiculous number of weeds. This year I didn’t want to make that mistake again. I pulled out my plastic roll... and discovered I only had enough for 2 beds! So now I have to make a trip to Home Depot, buy more black plastic and finish the job another day. But the good news is I’m at least half done.

Overall the garden this year was a success, though we had some tough weather - first a drought and then too much rain and humidity that allowed mildew and blight to take over tender plants. It wasn’t optimal vegetable garden weather to say the least. Here’s my summary of this year’s plants - the successes and failures that give me some important lessons for next year.

Tomatoes: Success. Luckily the blight and black spot didn’t set in until after the tomatoes were grown and ready to start ripening. However without the blight we probably would have had more.

Cucumbers: Neutral. We did get a bunch of tasty cucumbers, but we had a lot more last year thanks to some setbacks. First my seedlings (that I started indoors) died the first week, so we had a late start waiting for new seeds to grow. Then just when things were really starting to get going, powdery mildew arrived and started killing off my vines.

Zucchini and Summer Squash: Fail. In early July things were great and we had a few squash and zucchini come in. Then everything died. Fast. Thanks to an infestation of squash vine borers that killed everything off. By the time I knew about it, it was too late. Next year I’ll keep an eye out ahead of time.

Musk Melons: Success. The melons did very well on the trellises and we had quite a few of them. We did get powdery mildew at the end of the season that killed the vines off, but we had more melons than last year.

Dahlias: Fail. While the 3 bulbs that came back looked beautiful, I had 7 bulbs that didn’t come back at all after the winter (despite following all instructions on how to overwinter them). I had 2 more bulbs that sprouted leaves but never bloomed.

Zinnias: Success. Beautiful and taller than ever. I had some grow 6-7 feet tall!

Snapdragons: Success. Beautiful and produced lots of pretty flowers. They would have done even better if I had planted them with the dahlias where they would have had more sun - the zinnias overshadowed them quickly.

Herbs: Mixed. My oregano that came back from last year was enormous and lovely. My basil did as well as it always does, though at the end of the summer the mold started to damage it. Last year by the end of the summer I had a good-sized beautiful rosemary bush, but this year’s plant barely grew at all. I only had twigs! My thyme had a very slow start but finished strong.

Radishes: Fail. I’m not growing radishes again. The plants were very irritating to my skin, they grew so ridiculously fast that they took over everything, and when I pulled them up I was left with only 1 real radish and 5 paltry mini radishes. That didn't look very appetizing. It’s much easier to buy them.

Carrots: Success. Plenty of them at good size, despite the fact that for half their growing season they were shaded constantly by a ridiculous mess of radish brambles.

String Beans: Success. Wildly successful as usual. They are so easy to grow and they produce so much.

Peppers: All Successes. Sweet Bell Peppers, Jalepenos, Sweet Banana Peppers, Poblanos - I’m definitely growing these in pots again.

Lettuce: Fail. I started the seeds too late and it was too hot so the seeds never took. I’ll try again next year much earlier.

Spinach: Success. I planted seeds in February and had a ton of lovely spinach. I’ll definitely try it again next year.

So in the spring of 2013 I’ll be making a few changes. I’m not investing in more dahlias for now, I’ll replant this year’s surviving bulbs and that’s it. I’ll sow my lettuce much earlier. No radishes. I’ll watch out for squash vine borers and hope for better growing weather.


  1. Alissa, I'm very impressed by your garden - lovely to look at as well as productive. I've pulled all my plants out but have yet to get the beds covered. Maybe next week?

    1. Thank you! Covering the beds isn't essential, but boy does it make things easier in the spring preventing the weeds! It also warms up the soil nicely.

      I still have to fit that home depot run in to get more black plastic. Hopefully I'll get it done before Christmas!