21 September 2021

Lessons Learned

I tried extending the season on the tomato plants I started last year from seed by setting them up with grow lights in the basement last winter. Miserable experiment that will not be repeated.

I planted more tomato seeds prior to this year's growing season and put them on the porch once it was warm enough with no chance of overnight freeze. I'm just now beginning to get my first tomatoes from those plants, and some of them have blossom end rot, probably because I did not water them enough during our record-breaking heat wave. The porch gets hotter than any other part of my garden in the afternoon sun. Lesson learned.

Because tomatoes are my favorite food, I also bought five different fully mature tomato plant varieties from the local home improvement store to plant in my new double-decker raised-bed gardens. By about the second week of June, I began enjoying fresh, (mostly) home-grown tomatoes on a nearly daily basis. (Some of the early tomatoes were already on the vines when I bought the plants, so I can't honestly claim credit for them.) My tomatoes never grow as big as what I might find in the grocery store, probably due to elevation, but they taste SO much better. I had only one tomato from the raised bed garden all summer long with blossom end rot. YAY!

I'm still getting tiny tomatoes from the raised-bed garden almost every day. And loving every single one.

Lesson learned: Although I may start some plants from seed again this winter, I probably will not keep them in pots but transfer them to the raised-bed gardens once they've hardened next year. And I likely will buy more fully mature plants because I don't like to wait for fresh tomatoes. I really had a great and enjoyable crop this year! No regrets at all! Oh, and they get to go to tomato heaven on first freeze; I won't try to bring any tomato plants in this winter.

I planted cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber and crookneck squash seeds in the new raised-bed gardens in early June. I also bought one mature zucchini plant and put it in with the cucumber and squash seeds. (I learned many decades ago in New Mexico why you do not plant melons and squash anywhere near each other.)

My seed squash and cucumbers are just beginning to make their first blossoms, mostly male, so I've had no success whatsoever from seed. I've had six wonderful zucchinis so far, with one more that might be ready by the time we have our first freeze.

Lesson learned: Just buy the mature plants next year. I might try starting some seeds this winter, but I'm going with mature plants from now on. It's fun to grow something besides leaves in your vegetable gardens.

Speaking of leaves... I've enjoyed fresh salad greens all summer long. Actually, all year long. I was able to grow them indoors throughout winter and spring. I also learned they do best indoors because grasshoppers and caterpillars are salad hungry, too.

Same thing with broccoli. I am going to try growing more broccoli indoors this winter, but I didn't get to eat much of what I grew during the summer. I've yet to ever get any florets, but the leaves, when they aren't stripped by garden terrorists, are good in salad.

The jury is still out on brussels sprouts from seeds. I've been able to harvest a few tasty leaves, but no sprouts yet. It may have gotten too hot; I probably do not live in a good zone for brussels sprouts, sadly.

Oh, and I almost forgot... My watermelon seedlings never grew past about an inch tall. Still green and healthy looking, but no blossoms, no fruit. I'm not sure the pumpkin seeds ever came up. And the cantaloupe seeds are just beginning to blossom. So another lesson in buying mature plants. I'll try that next summer. I think it would be fun to grow my own melons. Oh, and yes, I know pumpkins are in the squash family. They were in a raised-bed garden all by themselves. I thought I'd have enough to share with the neighborhood kids.

I wanted to try growing my own celery for the first time ever this year, but I couldn't find any seeds. So I tried planting the stalk bottoms from store-bought celery three times. The third one is growing! It probably won't produce prior to first frost, but the leaves are actually growing!

I've been planting all my onion scraps for a few years now, and I've had wonderful success from seeds, bulbs and root ends. I will continue to buy a bag of bulbs each year because I've found that's the most successful way to keep bunnies, deer and mice out of my flowers most of the time. When they are hungry, garden terrorists will brave any smelly plant, sometimes even spitting them out and leaving their gags behind.

Carrots and peppers have been wonderful this year, and I'll probably dig up some of the pepper plants and try to keep them going through winter, replanting them next year. I've enjoyed some of the best mostly home-grown salads and spaghetti sauce this year, and that's success enough to keep me trying again every year!

1 comment :

  1. Great crop! :-) I'm also very pleased with what has grown in my garden this season. We had lots of rain and grey days this summer, but notheless there was a lot to harvest. I didn't have to buy any vegetables or salad at all. :-)

    Have a nice fall!



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