2013 Garden Reflection

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It has become a tradition for me to write a garden reflection post each year. This is when I take the time to relax and reflect on the gardening season. I find it a very important task, and every gardener should get in the habit of doing this for their own garden.

Each year before I sit down to create my garden plan, I read through all of my garden reflections from the previous years. It is a huge help with planning, and helps make sure I don’t make the same mistakes over and over.

Some of my gardens this summer
Some of my gardens this summer

2012 Follow-up

I like to start by following up on my “what didn’t work so well” items from the previous year. My biggest challenges from 2012 were:

    1. Finishing projects left undone from previous years. This one is definitely worth repeating. I was so mad at myself last spring because I left a ton of projects unfinished in the fall of 2011. I spent half of my gardening season last year finishing these projects, which was stressful and overwhelming. But I got it all done, and am vowing to myself to never leave projects unfinished again. (Do you hear me future self, don’t forget it!) Here are all the projects I completed in 2012… My To DONE list

 

  • Growing low performing vegetables. These are vegetables I kept trying to grow over and over despite the fact they have never performed well in my garden. I have limited space, and it’s frustrating to waste any of it. This led me to create what I call my Skip It List in 2012; these are the vegetables I won’t grow again. How did I do sticking to the list in 2013? Well, I stayed away from all of them except for two – Eggplant and Cauliflower. I tried eggplant again because I found seeds for a high yield, early producing plant so I had to give it one more shot. It did pretty well, and I ended up harvesting a decent amount of eggplant. As for the cauliflower, well I tried to stay away from it, but it found it’s way back in. You can read this story and see how I ended up with cauliflower in my garden this year (which did amazing in the community garden by the way!) in this post… I Have Cauliflower!

 

Cauliflower harvest
Cauliflower harvest

2013 Garden Reflection

What Worked:

    • Greenhouse – My greenhouse was my savior this spring! If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have been able to plant anything until May. It snowed all through April, and it even snowed a little in early May. We left the greenhouse frame up all winter, which made putting it up in February go much faster. This year, we’ve decided to leave it up all winter. So far, so good.

 

  • Planning My Focus – In addition to my garden reflections, I started documenting my garden focus for the year. This helped so much in my overall garden planning and allowed me to enjoy summer more. I was able to put less pressure on myself because I knew what I was going to focus on. I’m definitely going to do this every year.

 

 

  • Community Garden - We decided to try our hand at community gardening this year, and rented a community garden plot. Our vegetable garden has been becoming shadier and shadier every year, and the full sun vegetables haven’t been performing well. It was a little bit of added work, but worth it for the amount of harvests we got. We already signed the lease for this year, can’t wait.

 

Community garden plot
Community garden plot

 

  • Drip Irrigation – We installed an easy drip irrigation system in a bunch of our pots in 2013 to make sure our peppers were being watered consistently. We had a terrible problem with blossom end rot in 2012, and we were hoping consistent watering would prevent it. Well, it worked great, and growing in pots was very low maintenance this year. I’m happy to report we did not have one container grown pepper with blossom end rot. Yeah!
Easy DIY drip irrigation system
Easy DIY drip irrigation system

 

    • Raised Beds – I’ve been experimenting with growing in raised beds for the last few years, and noticed that things grow WAY better in the raised beds. So this year, I decided to add raised beds to the entire vegetable garden. Everything grew great, and I love how clean the beds make the garden look. I also feel like I was saving money on my water bill since I only had to water the beds and not the whole garden. I’m hoping to add a larger scale drip irrigation system this summer to make watering even easier.

 

  • Companion Planting – I made companion planting a part of my garden plan this year, and I want to continue this practice. Honestly, I didn’t notice if it made a difference. But this was one of the best years I’ve had in a while in my vegetable garden, so I want to repeat it. I loved the color that the flowers added, and herbs are so easy to tuck in anywhere. (plus, companion planting is a fascinating topic)

 

 

  • Annuals in the Vegetable Garden – Several years ago, I started adding annual flowers in with my vegetables to help attract more pollinators. This year, I added even more just to add color and spruce it up. Well let me tell you, my vegetable garden looked better than ever this year. I will definitely do more of this from now on. Check out some of the pictures of my vegetable garden in this post… More Garden Pictures.

 

Annual flowers mixed in the vegetable garden
Annual flowers mixed in the vegetable garden

What Didn’t Work So Well (besides the weather):

    1. Greenhouse Plastic – One of our major fails in 2013 was one of those live-and-learn life moments. When we were first shopping for the plastic for the greenhouse, we had no idea what type to buy. So, we ended up getting a roll of heavy duty plastic from HD. It served us well for the first growing season… but the plastic ended up being shredded by the wind last fall. We were so bummed. This year we did our homework and ended up ordering greenhouse plastic, which is supposed to last 4+ years. We’ll see.

 

  • Trees – I tell you, it has been a constant struggle with the trees around here over the last few years. I didn’t know how good I had it before the trees started to mature. Here’s a quick list of what I struggled with in 2013 regarding the trees…

 

  • Those same trees are on a rotation, and therefore are constantly dropping seeds in my gardens. I’m convinced it’s their evil plan to spite me for smack-talking them. This summer I literally pulled thousands of tree seedlings out of my gardens.
  • A few years ago, we planted a bunch of small trees in our yard. Big mistake. One tree was broken in half by a storm in June, which prompted us to cut down another one that we planted way too close to the house. Sad I know, but it’s better to cut them down while they’re small rather than have them fall on our house some day.
  • Hornets decided to move into our evergreen tree in the front yard, and I found their HUGE nest in July. I’m all for nature, and hate to destroy beneficial insects… but YIKES. There was no way I was going to leave that danger in my yard with all the kids in this neighborhood (not to mention the fact that I am terrified of wasps).
Huge hornets nest in tree
Huge hornets nest in tree

 

  • Yellow Jackets - Speaking of scary wasps… there were a ton of yellow jacket in my compost bin this summer. I’m not sure if they had a nest in there, or if they were just foraging, but now I’m afraid to ever turn my compost bin again. I need to be better about turning it on a regular basis anyway, but this is not helping motivate me. I hope they’ll be gone this spring.

 
What about you? Do you have a list of hits and misses from your 2013 garden?

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Comments

  1. says

    I really enjoyed reading your year-end garden reflections! I need to follow your lead with the "Skip It" list and cull a few things on my list this year. I always enjoy writing my end of the year posts, because it forces me to step back and look at the whole year – it provides some good perspectives before moving into garden planning mode again :)

  2. says

    Wow, great lessons! Yellow jackets are nasty buggers and they terrorize the hummingbirds in the fall, too. Plus, they aren't native here, so I don't feel bad trying to trap them. I would say the fact that your vegetable garden produced well this is evidence that the companion planting is working! I've been doing that for years, and I know it's what it allows me to have an entirely

    • says

      Yes, they are such nasty things, I hate them so much! Good point about the companion planting, I thought about that too. But since I added raised beds this year, I figured that also helped. I'm sure it was a combination.

      Thanks!
      Amy

  3. Krista says

    I don’t blame you for being wary of your compost pile and yellow jackets! We bought our house two springs ago and I was all gung ho about getting the garden into shape. I was removing big pine branches from the compost pile and didn’t hear the humming of several yellow jackets that then had their way with me. I wound up in the ER after my entire body became covered in hives, yikes! Anyway, I am all for the benefits of yellow jackets as long as they aren’t in my yard. I have a can of supposedly natural wasp killer and I spray any wayward yellow jacket that I find in my yard- all other flying creatures are spared though!

    • Amy Andrychowicz says

      Oh my gosh Krista, that sounds like a nightmare!! I am terrified of wasps, and I think if this ever happened to me, I would never go outside again! :-( I’m so sorry you had to go through that, and I’m glad you’re ok. Yikes is right!

      Amy

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