Thursday, October 14, 2010

The cycle continues

Since it snowed the other day, I guess that means gardening season is over!

Starting last spring, each season has kicked in two weeks early. Summer was strange this year, perhaps because the weather was, well, summery! Sunny, hot, dry for long periods, unlike our cool and often too-wet norm. The pond got so low we could almost walk across it, and we had to ration water from the well. (Not any longer: In the past 3 weeks, we've had 14 inches of rain!)

Thanks to rain barrels, I always had enough water for the veggie garden. It performed terrifically for a change, this year giving what I've aspired to for a decade: a crop of huge, bug-free, sweet red bell peppers. Low yield but great fruits. Similar results with tomatoes, but another plague set upon them by August so I lost some at the end. As well, I planted different varieties in different locations and got correspondingly different yields and quality. Best performers grew in the lasagna garden. So far, all my vegetables have done best in that location, save for carrots, which like a deeper, more uniform bed.

I tried a new variety of cucumber and got many salads worth of big ones. Also tried a single plant of brussels sprouts, which grew straight and tall and produced abundant heads. It's still going despite a week of frost and a nor'easter.

Broccoli, always a challenge, was mixed: the Goliath variety I cultivated under bug screen indeed was gigantic, both plants and heads. The Premium Crop, in assorted planters, was smaller and didn't deliver much in the way of side shoots after the main head was cut. Oh well. Try again next year. Note that insect-barrier fabric is worth the trouble -- no green worms anywhere on the plants.

We had a great crop of strawberries and raspberries, but almost no blueberries. Why? Who the heck knows. Other dud crops were zucchini and morning glories. The first, I think, resulted from the wrong variety in the wrong soil, inadequately fed and watered; the second, I have no idea. I gave those morning glories everything they are supposed to like, yet only 7 seeds from an entire pack germinated, and of those, only 3 produced blossoms, and the vines never grew more than 4 inches high. Huh?

Just another gardening mystery. I find every season completely different; and although I learn a lot every time, I'm stumped in revolving areas year after year. Despite all the variables, I always get food and flowers. They just might not grow or produce the way they're supposed to!

Already I'm planning next year's layout. The joy of gardening is how it keeps you looking forward with new ideas and hope.

Carolyn Haley

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