I have spent many hours over the last couple of days digging up my garden beds to get ready for fall. I can’t believe I’m trying it again either, but what the hell!?! This has meant lots of time to reflect on things I did well this summer and the things I did not so well.
My summer garden was, in some ways, so much more successful than I anticipated. It started as an experiment and there were lots of challenges, but in the end it was totally worth it. I wish I had kept a spreadsheet of all the produce harvested (Nerd Alert!) so I could give you the stats, but alas you will have to settle for these unofficial notes. I want to have something to look back on next year to help guide me.
*Soil Testing – I mentioned this back in May when I started getting everything ready and honestly, I think it was 100% the reason we had overflowing amounts of everything. Well that, and we planted A LOT. I hardly fertilized but I think because I started with soil that had all the correct amounts of pertinent things, it helped my otherwise novice skills.
*Elizabeth’s Tomatoes – I bought 4 tomato plants from Lowe’s and planted 12 little seedlings that Elizabeth gave me. The Lowe’s tomato plants? Were garbage. Only one produced regularly and the rest were just limp, lifeless and hardly had any fruit. Despite all that, we still produced over 220lbs of Tomatoes (OHMYGOD, I KNOW!) I stopped counting mid-August mostly because I forgot, and because at that point I started giving them away to people on the streets. Next year I will seed myself and put in the freakin’ effort. Totally worth it.
*Spaghetti Squash + Zucchini – These were amazing and awesome to have around all summer. No maintenance. I planted 2 spaghetti squash plants and 2 zucchini plants. I would definitely plant again. Maybe even MORE zucchini?
*Garrett’s Irrigation System – Despite the fact that we fought like crazy over this (also over staking tomatoes) — Gardening: Good for the Tummy, Bad for the Relationship? — having an irrigation system hooked up to timers that automatically watered was paramount to maintaining a garden this size. Everything would have died otherwise, I’m sure of it. Worth the time, money, effort and bickering.
What Didn’t Work
*Lemon Cucumbers – I actually enjoyed these in June and a bit in July but then they started getting REALLY seedy. Didn’t love that. Might just plant regular or burpless cucumbers next year. Oooh, or pickling cucumbers. Yes, those!
*Bell Peppers – After all damn summer, I got ONE pepper. One. And it wasn’t even very big. I think I’m either doing it wrong or they are a pain in the ass to grow. Either way, not worth it. Won’t plant again. Or mayby I’ll do jalapenos or something small??
*Crook Neck Squash (maybe) – This was delicious at the beginning of summer. Towards the end they started getting super bumpy and dry on the inside. I don’t know what causes this. Then they would grow and look normal on the vine, only to be discovered completely HOLLOW when I would pick them. Weird. I love squash, but I will pick a new kind next year and probably seed it myself.
Herbs — dude, this was another pain in the ass. I planted Dill, Lemon Thyme, Basil and Rosemary. The dill died, I never used the lemon thyme and then IT died, the rosemary just become a fort for spider webs, and the basil, while that did well, I forgot to pinch off the flowers so it ultimately stopped growing Herbs are drama. May or may not attempt again next year.
*Just Wear Gloves– Yes you will probably only be out there for a minute but just do it, ok.
*See Also: Sunscreen.– Nuff said.
*Cage your freaking tomatoes. – Don’t be a dummy again next year.
*Keep a Spreadsheet – acknowledge your nerdiness. Delegate to Garrett, the spreadsheet nerd of the house.
*Pick tomatoes more often – also can them. You will miss fresh tomatoes this winter. FIGURE IT OUT.
All in all this was a totally fun experiment and I can’t wait to track fall progress!