How did your vegetable garden grow this season? Now that its August I’m walking the garden daily and making notes on what has worked and what hasn’t. The weather this year has had its moments. Not only did we have a long cold spring which set back many of our early plantings but I wonder how much of a harvest I will have. This was the year to stock up the freezer with tomatoes and peppers. I’m not sure that will happen but we have another six weeks to find out. Yes, six weeks until the nights start to cool down and the leaves start to change colour. By the time our warm weather arrived it was July.
I’m at that point where I’m asking myself if I should remove the plants that may not produce and plant something else. Do I bother? This year, the pandemic year, has brought its challenges but the garden has been my sanctuary. Not once this year did I complain that it was too much work. I finally got time to enjoy the garden and not have to rush around madly tidying, weeding and pruning. If I didn’t get to it one day I knew I could wait until tomorrow.
What did well this year? We all had bumper crops of lettuce and other salad greens this spring. Even the broccoli, collards and radishes did well in my garden. They did so well that it was difficult to find room for the warm season crops that were planted in late May. I still have lettuce in the garden but it’s being grown out for seed.
The garlic that I planted last October did well. There were a lot of reports about rotting garlic in areas that received more rainfall than we do. After nine months in the garden that would be such a huge disappointment. It’s important to harvest garlic when the soil has been dry for a week. My garlic is curing on shelves undercover before it goes into storage.
If you grew potatoes this season they were gigantic plants. All the rain led to lots of top growth and a great harvest over the last month. I invested in a potato bin from Tupperware to store my potatoes but need something larger. I have two more trays of potatoes curing as I write. The skins need to harden a bit for good storage. This year I grew Sieglinde potatoes and they are delicious. I had several rogue potato plants come up in the garden. If you leave one tiny potato in the garden it will overwinter and grow in the spring. I won’t complain but it was a bit difficult to harvest potatoes in the middle of the cabbage plants.
Unfortunately many gardeners had to wait months to get seeds as the pandemic had everyone at home and the gardening craze took off. Seed companies couldn’t keep up with the demand from new gardeners. I was very thankful to have a large seed stash as I am an avid seed saver.
Whats not doing well? Okay, I may be a bit premature but I doubt my peppers will amount to much unless we have warm weather until the end of September. I’ve tried growing them in containers in the greenhouse, in pots outside and in raised beds. I do have some fruit coming but enough for one meal doesn’t really count now does it?
Even though the tomatoes are mostly green they should start to ripen soon. Harvesting the main crop is usually done in August and September. Its important to remember to grow short, mid and long season tomatoes to ensure a good crop all summer long. Most cherry tomatoes ripen first followed by cocktail and medium size fruit with the beefsteak tomatoes ripening later in the season. By noting the days to harvest on your seed package it will help you plan for next season.
Many gardeners had issues with basil due to our cold weather. Basil likes the heat and overnight temperatures are rarely over 15C here. My best basil plants are ones that are sheltered a bit by tall growing lettuce plants.
Cucumbers, squash and melons sat and sulked through our rainy June weather and finally started to grow in July. I normally expect the cucumber bed to be fully covered, no soil showing, but it’s not quite there yet. I’m harvesting cucumbers finally but the squash and watermelon is far behind. You know sometimes you can do everything right but if the weather doesn’t cooperate there isn’t much we can do. I even grew some extra cucumbers in the greenhouse just as a back up. The greenhouse helps to extend the season a bit. I had hoped to harvest enough cucumbers to make my favourite Million Dollar Relish but I am settling for enough for salads for now.
Even though its not been the best growing season it’s not too late to plant more seeds. Now is when you want to start planting lettuce, spinach, beets and arugula. Check your seed packages for days to harvest. Our first frost can happen in October like last year but it’s usually November. Look for vegetables with short days to harvest and plant them. Garden centres have fall vegetable starts to give you a head start. There is nothing better than having early spring vegetables in the garden.