An update and recap of what my vegetable garden produced – and what I hope for in the future.
Vegetable Garden Recap
Remember in grade school when you had to write an essay called “What I did on my summer vacation?” I thought of that this morning as I jotted notes in my gardening journal – “What I will do differently next year in the vegetable garden.” I spent Saturday morning tending the vegetable garden and Saturday afternoon thinking about what I’m going to do differently in the garden next year.
Vegetable Garden – What to Do Next Year
Here’s my list:
- Corn: Our neighbor Tom and his son Tommy dropped by in the morning, gifting us with a box of delicious sweet corn. Next year, I’m going to plant it in two week intervals so we don’t get 40 ears of corn at once. We got sick of eating corn and some went to waste, getting too dry in the fridge to eat. If I stagger it, maybe we will enjoy it, get a break, and enjoy it again!
- Tomatoes: At this point I cannot keep up with the tomatoes. Nice problem to have, right?! I just can’t pick them fast enough! I’ve given away so many but many are just left on the vine. Next year, I’m planting half as many. And I’m staking them. They have flopped all over the garden paths and I’m squashing tomatoes underfoot as I walk. I have to go the long way around the vegetable beds to get to the ones in the back so I don’t step on tomatoes.
- Green beans: Either I have to invest in a pressure canner or plant less. I can’t freeze anymore. I froze another gallon bag yesterday, with about 2-3 more gallons to freeze today. Green beans anyone? The ones we bought from Southern States, I must say, are absolutely wonderful – Blue Lake and a heavy producer.
- Cucumbers: I only got a few cucumbers this year. Next year I must plant more!
- Beets: Plant about a third as many
- Turnips: Plant only a row or two. How many turnips can one family eat?
- Peppers: Plant more of the bell kind and plant varieties recommended by the Cooperative Extension….ours are smaller than normal. I froze a lot and am giving away more.
- Melons: Plant fewer cantaloupes and more watermelon. I can’t get enough of the watermelon. I could eat it all day long. Home grown watermelon is AMAZING.
- Strawberries: Would you believe I’m getting yet another crop??? I had berries for about six weeks, then they took a rest, and yesterday I harvested another cup. I love these every bearing plants and I bought them at Lowe’s. They’ve now spread throughout the whole berry bed!
- Greens: More lettuce, less spinach. And I’ll harvest spinach when young and eat it as salad.
- Onions: Plant more!
- Carrots: More! I had the most amazing, wonderful carrots…straight, long, sweet. Superb. I am still digging out pounds of them. They freeze or keep well. Yum!
- Squash: I lost most of my squash to squash beetles. Next year, row covers are in order to keep them from using my squash plants as a nursery bed. I must have raised thousands of those things!
- Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts: plant them in fall or skip them entirely. It was a lot of effort especially for the cauliflower with very little to show for it.
Next year I want to try:
- Peas! Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello, John loves them, and if I don’t plant as many beets…well, there’s room for peas!
- Sweet potatoes: We love them and I’m hoping they grow well in Virginia.
- Garlic: My neighbor Patty gave us the most wonderful garlic she grew. I’m hoping she’ll give me a few starter bulbs.
And one last takeaway – I’m planting more flowers from seed next year. This year I focused on the vegetables, but you know what? I could have fit several trays of perennials under the grow lights inside. My Echinacea that I grew from seed is such a joy and a treat – I have lots of purple, of course, but yellow and White Swan everywhere. The helopsis grew from seeds I saved, and I’ve got more. I missed my snapdragons this year since I planted so few. The zinnias I sowed around the shed were wonderful but I could have done with a lot more. I’m not going to skimp on flowers next year. Seeds are so inexpensive, and I’ve already learned that Echinacea, lavender, helopsis and a few other perennials grow well from seed. So I’m going to try some new varieties in 2010!
Rain is expected today and all day tomorrow, which for this gardener is very dangerous indeed. I’ve got the Parks, White Flower Farm and a few other catalogs waiting next to my chair in the living room and that gift certificate my sister sent me for my birthday gently calling my name from the desk drawer. I’ve got some new iris circled….and daffodils…and…