Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Report Card

It's time to begin taking stock of the garden's performance this summer--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Lots of ugly here. This evaluation gets skipped for the spring garden, when I am too busy prepping for the big show of summer, but I recall having plenty of lettuce, arugula, and spinach, a first (though tiny) harvest of asparagus, and some sweet English peas. I still need to work on timing for roots and crucifers, and finally get a good crop of fava beans.

1) Schizo about squash. I loved it one week and hated it the next, but you can't argue these results:

Squash requires careful monitoring of the squash vine borer, but with row cover and some triage, it can recover and perform. It is recommended to direct sow, which works well with my vacation schedule, but maybe I should try starting them earlier indoors.

 2) Grow Up. I've already said it, but I need sturdy, attractive trellises. They will look nice, maximize my space, and increase my harvest. It will also avoid scenes like this travesty:
 3) Pepper Problem. Hot peppers I can grow. Sweet peppers I can not. Figure out why by next year.

4) Cuke Blues. I conquered my bitterness problem by growing lemon cucumbers and using lots of mulch, but I still got a paltry harvest because the plants always get sick, most likely because of cucumber beetles. I am currently decimating the population by catching them in winter squash flowers, but they'll be back, and I need a plan. Or could this be a mildew and not a bacteria or virus?
5) Cherry tomatoes are the bomb, as are "Fourth of July" hybrids. I love heirlooms, especially black ones, but the black prince was prone to cracking while the Fourth of July are still producing. With two cherry tomato plants, we had more than we needed, but I'd still probably grow two next year just in case. Next year, more sauce tomatoes for sure. I could can them, but freezing is just as easy.

6) Beans are the Best. Despite looking like this, the Lima beans did well. My first experiment with black eyed peas was a success, though I should not have fertilized the bed. If I have room, I'll grow more bean varieties next year.

 7) Okra. I thought 8 plants would be enough after 12 last summer. Nope, 12 was perfect.

8) Eggplant. Why the low yields? It was a brutally hot summer, but now they are looking great. These are so pretty they will always be room for at least one plant.
9) Herbs. I am learning that varieties matter. I know I like peppermint and not spearmint for example. My oregano is not that tasty, so I need to try several varieties. After reading this article in Saveur, I want to try growing basil for pesto the traditional way. The herbs are moving again, out of their pots and the square bed and into two new beds I have yet to dig, in a part sun area. I also need to figure out why my scallions are not getting any bigger.
10) Fruit! The blueberries did so much better this year than last year, so I am really feeling optimistic about next year. I will need to build some kind of bird-excluding cage that the birds cannot get trapped in like bird netting. I did not refresh my strawberry bed when I was supposed to, so we'll just have to see about those. The blackberries will be trained off the fence so I can try to better protect them from the birds next year. I still was able to pick and freeze several pounds, though some are not fully ripe--that makes them better for jam anyway. The raspberry gave me a small harvest, but the plant is looking nice--poised to impress next year.
Anything missing? What am I not growing that I should be? I can't think of anything, just to continue trying different varieties and increase my yields.

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