2011 Garden Reflection

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Perennial Garden area

Last year, I wrote a garden reflection post.

I want to keep up that tradition and do the same thing this year. 

Gardening is a constant learning experience.

Even if you could do things exactly the same every time, mother nature may have different plans – things will always be different.

This year, I will start by following up on my “what didn’t work so well” list from last year…

  • One of the main themes in my “what didn’t work so well” list from last year’s garden reflection was planting too many seedlings, and planting them too close together. So this year, I was diligent about planting my seedlings further apart and in organized rows. This worked very well! Not only did the plants seem to do better, but it was easier to walk between the rows.
  • I vowed that I wasn’t going to grow tomatoes from seed anymore. Well, I am stubborn and just couldn’t give up that easily. I started seeds indoors early this year. They did ok, but I still bought some plants in the spring (which did great). I’m still not sure it’s worth the effort to grow them from seed… we’ll see how I feel closer to spring.
  • Although I thinned the broccoli and cauliflower and spaced them out better, they did horrible this year. I got hardly any broccoli, and I didn’t get any cauliflower. The plants were still puny by mid summer, when in previous years I was already harvesting broccoli. Cauliflower has never done well for me, but I’ve never had problems growing broccoli before. I’ll have to do some research to see what I’m doing wrong so I can be more successful next year. 
  • I made it a goal to use my cold frame this year, and I did it! Now I love it! I will use it again next year for sure, and might even build another one… or more!
Vegetable Garden

What Worked

  • Using straw in the vegetable garden as organic weed control was a great experience. It made the garden look really nice too. Although, I do suspect the residual preen from last year helped me out with weed control this year, so I ‘m still a bit worried the weeds will overwhelm my garden next spring. But I plan to put down a thick layer of newspaper, then add a thick layer of straw and other organic material on top of that as soon as the snow melts.
  • Although I started them a bit late, my second crops of cilantro, dill and lettuce turned out great. I will definitely do this again next year, but I’ll start my second crops a few weeks earlier.
  • For the first time ever, I made herbal tea from fresh herbs in my garden, and it was awesome! Drying the herbs and harvesting the dried leaves to store for winter was a job, but now I have loose leaf tea to enjoy all winter. Mmmm! I plan to find more herbs I can grow next year for tea.
  • Last year I mentioned how building a larger compost bin made life easier… well this year, I took it to the extreme and my husband built me a super fancy compost bin. I couldn’t be happier!
  • Fall is a busy and overwhelming time in the garden, so this year I started working on my fall tasks, like bringing in my potted plants, earlier and in smaller increments so I wasn’t so overwhelmed. I will definitely do this again next year!
Tropical Garden

What Didn’t Work So Well

  • Probably the most epic failure I had this summer is that I discovered my vegetable garden is becoming too shady. The neighbors trees have matured all around, and it will only get worse as they grow taller. This is a HUGE bummer for me, I am extremely sad. I love where my vegetable garden is and the size is great. I don’t know where else I’d put it. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this problem. 
  • The weather was terrible this summer. Not that I can do anything about that, but I wanted to mention it. We had a cold and rainy start in the spring, which delayed planting the vegetable garden. Then it was hot-hot-hot in the middle of summer, which caused me to neglect stuff. Then we wrapped it up with drought in fall. Needless to say, this wasn’t my best gardening year.
  • I harvested the basil and mint (for herbal tea) too late, next year I will harvest these earlier.
  • I planted a second crop of peas, but started them too late. As mentioned above, I will start my second crops earlier next year.

For the second year in a row, I am happy to see my list of successes is longer than my list of things that didn’t work so well. I can’t wait for spring to start gardening again!

What about you, do you have any stories of great success… or epic failure that we can all learn from?

Annual Garden

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Comments

  1. says

    Very cool compost bin. I'm actually in the process of building a similar three bin system. Most of the boards are cut, but for some reason the project keeps getting delayed. Maybe now with cold weather, there will be more time for "garage projects" to get worked on.

    I really enjoyed your list. It's always helpful to see what other people in the area (I'm in

  2. says

    Hi El Gaucho – Glad you like the compost bin. Hopefully you'll have time to finish yours soon. I LOVE mine!

    I'm glad you enjoyed my reflection, thank you. It feels like we had a few weird weather years in a row. We sure are due for a "normal" summer. We don't have snow right now either, and it's been in the 40s. I'm loving it, but many Minnesotans are not

  3. says

    Have to agree about the compost bin. Looks great. Right now my compost is just an open pile (and not done correctly to boot). My FIL is supposed to give me his left over concrete blocks (he made his smaller) so I can build one out of those.

    Rather than list my successes and failures here, I may do a similar post on my blog. Check it out if you like.

    Thanks for all the tips!

  4. says

    Thanks Tom! Mine was an open pile for years, and that worked just fine. I hope this one will make compost faster. Hope you get yours made soon.

    I will definitely read your post, please share the link here too if you want.

    Amy

  5. says

    Hi Amy! Thanks for visiting my blog, I'm glad you are following my doings with concrete. I think there are different grades of concrete, but I couldn't see anything about that on the bags in the store. I might look a little closer next time, it's hard when I have my husband standing over me, asking which one?

    I love this look back, reflecting on what worked and what didn&#

  6. says

    I love those tomato cages you have. Did you make them?
    My huge gardening flop this year was my brussel sprouts. I was joking to my husband and said they might be ready by Christmas and it is looking like they are a bust this year! Also, my acorn squash was really prolific but a lesson in the need of vertical gardening was learned as it became the garden bully!
    Many successes this year

  7. says

    @Tom – I thanks! I will definitely read it, can't wait.

    @Alison – I can't wait to hear more about your projects. I know what you mean about the antsy husband. Good point about the tomato seeds, they do usually have a limited variety of seedlings. Every year is different for us, but we usually have pretty hot summers. It's just a very short growing season here.

    Amy

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