At this time of year, I feel it is the time to review the successes of our garden, the good, bad and ugly and see what practices we need to continue and what we need to change for next year. Here are the winners, losers and the top 12 things we will do next year.
We grew many of our plants from seed and we will continue that practice for sure. We saved so much money. Our favorite seeds? I would have to say that the Chianti Rose tomato seeds from Renee's Gardens were wonderful. We also thought the lilacs and Italian Roasting Peppers were great but those giant, meaty red tomatoes were the best. We had an early period of drought and unfortunately some of our seeds didn't come up. If we had watered during that time, we would have had a better result but we left the seeds in the ground too long without rain. So:
Number 1: Plant more Chianti Rose tomatoes from Renee's Seeds
Number 2: Continue raising our own plants from seeds. It really does save money.
I liked the peat discs but my sister did not. I think after the plants reach a certain size, they contain the roots too much and might stunt plant growth.
Number 3: Either forget the peat discs or be sure to cut them off when planting.
Number 4: Continue to plant herbs throughout the garden. This year we planted cilantro, basil and lavender in the garden. Next year we will plant more and include dill for sure. The bees love the flowers on the herbs and they are great to have in the garden.
Our squash growing saga--growing organic squash where there is an infestation of squash vine borers. I didn't get so upset this year when we had vine borer's and that was a good thing. The row covers we used were a big help and helped the vines grow until mid-summer. The drought was a factor with the squash and hurt their overall health after being attacked by the dreaded worms.
We did have some success in growing squash in straw bales at another location but we had a little too much shade in that area and we eventually had squash borers there, too.
Number 5: For squash, the row covers are vital. We must use them every year to protect from vine borers.
Number 6: Also, next year we try spraying with an oil solution, a kaolin clay (Surround) solution and something like diotomaceous earth to help protect squash from vine borers.
Number 7: We will plant squash in two week intervals to hopefully keep them coming. We have two vine borer invasions in our area and we need to continue planting for a larger harvest.
Number 8: We love, love, love Ronde squash. They are wonderful and we will plant them again and also straight-neck yellow squash rather than the crookneck variety. Straight-necks have better yields.
My husband did learn a new way to cook zucchini. That was a real plus.
It was a terrible year for cucumbers. We had an awful crop. The weather was way too hot and dry for them and I guess that you just have better yields some years than others.
We also had more wild blackberries this year. I think if it hadn't been for the drought we would have had more but I still have enough in my freezer for another pie. Yum.
One of our biggest success stories this year was green beans. We had kudzu bugs on them and that was a negative but we tried planting rattlesnake beans this year and they are the best! We had tons of beans and they were so delicious.
Number 8: We WILL plant Rattlesnake beans again next year. They can't be beat. The weather conditions weren't the best yet the yields were so high and the beans were wonderful. We will be changing from Kentucky Wonders to Rattlesnake beans. We are sold on them.
We picked them by handfuls and bugs didn't seem to go for them quite like before--maybe that was because of the tons of diotomaceous earth we used on them. We finally used Neem oil and the kudzu bugs. They are such pests. They didn't seem to cause as many problems but they would fly into your face when you picked beans. They didn't like Neem oil at all.
Number 9: We will continue using lime in the fall. I feel like it helped with our tomatoes. Not much end rot and better yields.
Number 10: Sweet cherry tomatoes. They were so sweet. We picked them and ate them off the vine. I have never enjoyed miniature tomatoes so much. We will plant them again.
Number 11: We will grow sweet potatoes next year. They were SO good.
Number 12: We will mulch even more this year. The mulch was probably one of the best things we did this year because of the drought. It kept the water in and helped us, probably more than we realized. We will continue to mulch--but even heavier next year.