There are fun parts of gardening, like pretty flowers and delicious vegetables, and not so fun parts of gardening. This year, it’s been all about the problems with some joys in between.
First, the joys –
100 pounds of apples (or more) harvested from just four out of our eight trees. I am still canning apples. The apples are peeled and canned in a sugar syrup. They can then be used for desserts, baking, you name it later on. I also made over 20 half pints of apple butter and four apple pies which are in my freezer waiting for the right moment to enjoy them.
Apples: Fun part of gardening. Yes. Delicious and wonderful. The orchard finally produced its promise and it was a bountiful harvest.
That was the good part of the summer. Now on to the bad. Deer, deer everywhere! They’ve been jumping the fence into the vegetable garden and eating all the sweet potato vines. They’ve eaten the green beans down to the quick, pulled out carrots, and ruined the sweet potatoes.
One deer must have gotten caught in my tomato cage because I found the steel panel of the cage in the lawn about twenty feet outside of the fence. The top was bent. I can’t even imagine how a deer leaped over the garden fence with a steel tomato cage caught on her but the evidence was plain.
The tomatoes are all dying from some kind of fungal disease. I have tomato plants in pots on the deck this year instead of the cantaloupe and even those tomatoes are dying. However, I do have a cantaloupe growing in the desk – in the gravel under the floorboards, that is. If I tried to grow one in such bad conditions, it would sulk, but have one come up as a volunteer and it’s growing like mad.
All of this just points to one thing I had forgotten – the garden journal. It’s so important to take notes about what grows well and what doesn’t, what pests get the plants and when.
For instance, my zinnias are growing well this year. They are so pretty and easy to grow. Nothing seems to bother them. Japanese beetles like them, but they shrug them off like it’s no big deal.
I had forgotten that zinnias offer the most beauty for your buck. I buy boxes of seeds at the dollar store and just scatter them around. That’s it. They’re cheap seeds that I sow directly into the garden and they grow into this amazing flower bed.
Marigolds are like that, too. Marigolds are about the only flower that tolerates the poor soil in my garden and the dry spells we get. As always, I intend to plant more, but I forget to do so in the spring.
A garden journal is the best way to take all these notes down so that you remember them for next year. It’s so easy to forget much of what goes on from year to year – when to harvest the apples, which year the deer ate the string beans, which flowers survived the drought. Fortunately, with a journal, you don’t have to remember. It’s there in black and white.
Or, you can blog it like me (smile).
Happy gardening. Keep growing!
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.