Top 10 Lessons Learned – 2019

My Johnny’s Select Seeds catalog arrived just when I was starting to feel the perpetual gloom of winter.  The folks at Johnny’s must know when we are the most likely to order one of everything!

I always like to reflect on the successes and challenges of the last gardening season before getting started with planning the next.  Here’s my post from 2018.  Below are my top 10 lessons learned from 2019.

#1 Flowers

Calendula, zinnia and marigolds added beautiful pops of color to the garden. Marigolds seemed to help deter cabbage moths. Grow more flowers!

   

#2 Green Beans

The green bean arch worked great! Hummingbirds loved being able to rest in the shade while feeding on the blossoms (see her in there?).  Next year, I need to support it underneath though.  It got very heavy and collapsed in the center. I need to make it taller to account for the weight pulling it down so bending isn’t necessary.

 

#3 Tomatoes

My tomato supports were better this year but cherry tomatoes just don’t want to be controlled. Single stemming the heirlooms created huge fruits! The string was still not strong enough when they were full of fruit though and it choked the large stems as they grew.  I need to double check the variety of tomato you’re planting!  We unknowingly got some determinants this year and I accidentally pruned them which severely reduced how many tomatoes we got.   I’m considering the espalier method for training the tomatoes along cattle panels with steel stakes next year so they can be supported at more points along their growing stems.

 

  

#4 Irrigation

The irrigation system worked great.  Our water usage was down 33% from last summer! I need to add more fountain style heads to even out the watering area.  Also, I need to install more shut off valves so some sections can be turned off (especially for fall and winter gardens where only one or two beds are planted.

#5 Soil

This spring I need to add a soil amendment that absorbs and holds water. The beds seemed to let water flow right through when the irrigation was on, especially the center bed.

#6 Blueberries

We waited too long to cover the blueberries in netting this year and lost a lot of fruit to the birds. I like sharing with wildlife but they just peck at the berries one or two times and then move on to the others. So wasteful!  Next year I want to cover the bushes earlier.

#7 Spring veggies

Radishes, lettuce, spinach and turnips did great in the spring. The peas did too. The fence panel I installed for climbing could have been taller.  Honestly, I’ve never had such good luck with peas before so I wasn’t prepared for how tall they could actually get.

#8 Strawberries

The strawberries need to be replanted next year.  Although the new plants growing from the runners are healthy, they’re growing where I don’t want them. I will try to transplant them but also buy some new ones for a bigger harvest next year.  I LOVE strawberries!

#9 Squash and Cucumbers

The squash and cucumbers didn’t do well this year.  I need to research what happened.  The bees were not as plentiful as last year. Maybe the squash wasn’t getting pollinated?  The cucumbers planted with green beans got buried in the leaves and didn’t get enough sun.  They also had the same behavior as the squash with little fruits developing but then shriveling up or rotting on the stem.

#10 Leaves

I had a terrible problem with powdery mildew on the squash leaves and kale. I used neem oil on the squash which helped but on the kale it left an oily residue that was gross to eat. Need a better solution.

Overall, the garden was very healthy and prolific this year!  We enjoyed many fruitful harvests!

 

 

I’d love to hear suggestions for addressing the challenges I experienced this year.  Leave me a comment!

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