I definitely learned a lot this past garden season. The season’s not over for my gardens yet, because I still have a lot of peppers coming on and the New Zealand spinach is still viable. There also are a few tomatoes still ripening. They will mostly be for salads, I think. It certainly has been a bumper year for peppers. The tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini did very well until the heat got to them. The results for everything else were spotty. It was a very hot summer and that stressed the plants out a lot. I will be investigating ways of providing some shade for the plants during the heat of the summer this coming year.
I put up a lot of peppers. There’s canned pickled peppers and pepper relish, frozen whole peppers, frozen hot pepper paste, hot peppers dried in a ristra hanging out in the shed, and canned salsa with a lot of peppers in it. I put up a pretty good amount of tomatoes, although not as many as I would have liked. The tomatoes are mostly frozen, as well as the salsa which was canned. The cucumbers were quite prolific early on, but I didn’t have my canning act together very much then, and I ended up with several jars of cucumber relish and also pickles, but I was hoping for a lot more than I did put up. I’m also wishing I had canned more sweet zucchini pickles and frozen less grated zucchini (the grated zucchini was my solution to allowing too many zucchini to get too big). I should have put up way more of the swiss chard than I did. Instead, I let it just grow until I needed some for cooking. I don’t think I will make that mistake again.
The beets didn’t thrive at all, nor did the lettuce. I see that as being a problem related to the heat. And the eggplants developed serious problems after the weather got really hot. This surprised me because I had read that eggplants love the heat. The New Zealand spinach seeds just sat dormant until the weather cooled down a lot. And now it’s probably not getting enough sun to be able to grow very quickly. Where it is now it only gets a few hours of sun per day. I’m probably going to put a cloche on the other side of the house, where there are several more hours of sun, and see if there is some way to keep the plants in it from freezing. I’ll probably try to grow some beets and some other type of green in there during the winter.
In early winter, I’m going to experiment with making an enclosed area on my front porch using plastic sheeting, and putting an oil filled space heater in there for starting seeds for this coming year’s garden. Starting them indoors last year was very bad for my sinuses, and it drove my husband a bit crazy having them and their grow lamps take up a lot of room in the living room (the only place I could find room to put them).
Overall, it was a very good year for the garden, but I’m still learning the rhythms of the climate here. I keep hoping that I can extend my garden season well into the fall, but nature seems to have other ideas. I guess we’ll need to spend some time communicating about that so I’ll have a better understanding of how these things work around here.