Garden Journal Update
It’s very easy to sum up this growing season: peculiar. It was the daisies that tipped me off: normally they bloom for a good two months and this summer they came and left in two weeks. I count on them to provide that beautiful blast of white around the garden beds and without them, the garden looked rather sad. Many of the other flowers came and left quickly as well. July looked like the new October. Meh!
These notes are my summary for reference next year. Who knows what oddities lie ahead.
- Winter 2011/12 was almost non-existent. I only had to shovel snow three times total. The previous winter I had to shovel snow often several times a day x 5 months.
- Spring 2012 We had very unusual hot summer weather in March prompting early blossoms that were killed off by (normal) April and May frosts.
- Summer 2012 While areas all around us had drought, our rainfall was probably higher than usual and consistent. There were a few wicked heat waves as well.
Spring Salads and Greens
- I grew a lot of greens (spinach, lettuces, mesclun mix– my favourite) in the spring and they all flourished. I had them for two meals a day for several months and it was one of those spectacularly delicious food romances that can wake you up in the night just thinking about your next meal.
- The peas were outstanding: possibly the most delicious fresh vegetables I have ever tasted.
- Beans were plentiful.
- The brassicas (broccoli and Brussel’s sprouts and cauliflower) had some sort of wilt for a while and then rebounded after I pulled the affected plants but almost no heads formed. What’s up with that? The Brussels sprouts are just forming now (September), which is late considering their early start.
- The carrots, parsley, eggplant, cucumbers did fine except despite epic numbers of pests (more on this below).
This was my first disappointing tomato year ever
- I grew 17 different types of tomatoes from seed and approximately 75 plants.
- The indeterminates (vines) grew like maniacs (some were 15 tall) but almost all of the fruit was meh: mealy, waterlogged, meh.
- While areas all around us had drought, we had perhaps a bit too much rain for the tomatoes. They bloated up and became watery tasting.
- I’ve been drying most of the tomatoes in the dehydrator (cut up or as tomato leather to rehydrate later for soups and whatnot).
The watermelon and squash vines grew incredible lengths, sprawling all over the garden. Some of the watermelons often broke off the vines before maturing. Boo!
- As I write this (September), there are a dozen more watermelon growing. If we have a hot fall, I will have more fruit. It’s a free gamble.
- The winter squashes (butternut) will be picked in a week or two. I have been craving squash soup for months.
I planted white emergo beans for the first time and they became real show stoppers.
- The vines reached 12 feet or more and produced massive pods (12″ long). Next summer I may use these beans on privacy screens along the sides of our yard. Even without the food supply, they are really attractive vines and pretty flowers. The bees and hummingbirds loved them too.
- The fruit trees (apple, cherry, plum) are still too young to produce, plus, the chipmunk and squirrels take any forming fruit.
- I moved one apple tree that was struggling. I think it was too close to the walnut tree.
- I had to remove the pear tree because it was really dying/dead. I returned it for a refund.
- The raspberry bushes (here when we bought the house) are spindly at best. I think the previous owners used to drain the pool in that area (yuck).
- The grape vine was planted last summer and grew very well, producing one cluster of the sweetest-tasting little green grapes. Can’t believe the critters didn’t beat me to them.
- The fig trees (in pots on the covered patio), grew to new heights but no fruit so far.
- I still haven’t found a good peach tree at the garden nurseries. Next year, I hope!
Pests & Problems
- There were times when I could look out at the garden beds and see several dozen moths flitting around. Strangely, there were only minimal bite marks in the brassica leaves: I was sure they would clean out the entire supply.
- The Japanese beetles devoured the hardy hibiscus flowers. I could catch anywhere from 10 to 50 in one hunt. Gross and then some.
- To trap them I used a bowl containing a mixture of vinegar, water, and a few squirts of liquid detergent. Dip popsicle stick in honey, stick it to a beetle (otherwise they fly away when you touch them) and flick the beetle into the vinegar mixture. Then crush the beetles with a flat-bottomed cup. Gross and effective.
- When the Japanese beetles ran out of hibiscus to destroy, they centred around the emergo bean blossoms. Fortunately the beans were prolific producers this year so there was enough for both of us.
- The weather leading up to the summer was odd for 9-10 months.
- The summer flowering perennials went through their bloom cycles way too fast. Right now (September) they’re gearing up for second blooms.
- I was really hoping this would be a year to advance the perennial beds (I have a dream) but I ended up just planting a few seedlings and not much more. I couldn’t find what I wanted at nurseries (for fair prices, anyways) and it just wasn’t a year where the existing plants seemed very pleased to be there.
- Some of the produce was off-tasting, including many of my beloved tomatoes.
- The number of pests and butterflies was unbelievable (presumably from so much long-term warm weather).
- In a word, it was one peculiar summer.