To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow! This sentiment rings true in the Tomato Envy garden since our yard gets closer each year to being the edible landscape I envisioned long ago. I’ve dreamed, visualized, planned and planted to get where I am today, but there are always new garden lessons to be learned. Now with the transition of the garden from summer to fall, it’s time to reflect. I’ve learned a lot this year, and hopefully some of those lessons will be helpful for you, too.
Next year’s garden will be all about practicality. For example, I think fava beans are delicious, but they are the crab legs of the plant world if you ask me. You start with a heaping bowl of bulging bean pods and once you shell the beans and remove their outer membrane, you’re left with a scant 1/2 cup of actual beans. So, I will not devote half a raised bed to them next year. Instead, I’ll plant something that will give us enough food for more than just one meal.
I’ll use floating row covers more often. Even after the threat of frost is gone, floating row covers help prevent young plants from being devoured by leaf miners and cabbage moths or being pecked at mercilessly by birds.
I’ll plant fewer tomato plants overall. Yeah, I know I said that last year, but I really mean it this time! I will plant fewer cherry tomato plants and, instead, more roma type tomatoes that will make great sauce for the freezer.
More herbs! I didn’t plant enough parsley, cilantro and dill this spring and I missed them because fresh herbs are used every day in our kitchen.
I will watch for flea beetles earlier and control them. The flea beetles really enjoyed destroying my four beautiful eggplant plants this year. It was too late once I finally noticed all the little holes in the leaves and realized that was the reason for decreased yields of eggplants.
I made a lot of progress with succession planting this year, but next year, I want to do even better. For instance, I planted two sowings of bush beans two weeks apart and I still had so many beans coming at once it was hard to deal with all of them. I think next year, I will plant the same number of plants, but I will divide them into three sowings, each two weeks apart.
I will use my stacking tomato ladders from Gardener’s Supply for my bigger pepper plants next year. Some of my plants outgrew the pretty red ladders that don’t stack and the plants were flopping over and breaking.
I will locate my potato grow bags somewhere else. This year, I placed the bags inside the garden perimeter. As the vines started taking off, they soon took over and prevented me from accessing parts of the raised beds near them. It was a mess!
I learn so many garden lessons every year. The best part is that even when things don’t go perfectly as planned, I still have the supreme satisfaction of getting a tremendous amount of the most beautiful organically-grown food ever. And, I get smarter!