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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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THE GROWING CHALLENGE: What Did You Learn Last Season?

The Growing Challenge


What Did You Learn Last Season?


The equinox has passed and our new seasons are upon us. In the southern hemisphere, the spring is warning the earth, I’ve noticed the first plantings are sprouting in your gardens. In the northern hemisphere, fall is upon us, we’re covering our tomatoes and other summer crops to get that last little bit of harvest before our gardens give way to winter crops.


So… I figured we might be able to learn one another: we northerners can share our information with the southerners just beginning their big growing season, and southerners can teach us what they’ve learned in the cooler months. Shall we?


Here Are 10 Things I Learned This Summer:


Tomatoes On Our Windowsill


1. Growing tomatoes in a cooler climate makes a huge difference: a ten-fold difference in harvest! So next year I have a lot to learn about warming up the tomatoes. I did, however, find some AMAZING new varieties. Every type we planted was new this year: Sub-Arctic Plenty, Tonadose Des Conores, Ignoli Gigante Liscio, Mama Leone, Dr. Wyche’s Yellow, Black Cherry, Japanese Black Triefele, Anana’s Noire, and Hillbilly Heirloom. And I liked all of them, but my favorites are the two black varieities: black cherry tomatoes and Japanese black triefle. Wow. Sweet, chocolaty goodness. Yum.


Black Cherry Tomatoes

Japanese Black Triefle Tomatoes


I also found that the Sub-Arctic and “Japanese” (which are really Russian) ripened faster and did much better overall in the cooler Seattle climate. I’ll be looking for more such types next year.


Oh yeah, and I learned how to hand-pollinate tomatoes (and peppers)!


Garlic in Geyserville Hail

Garlic in Seattle

2 of several garlic heads harvested


2. Garlic is extremely forgiving. We planted in Geyserville in late winter – far too late. But it came up just fine – every single one of them! Then when we moved, I put some of them in a garbage bag inside a box, where they sat through the move and long after (weeks!), before we put them back in the ground. Once in the ground, they kept growing and flowered, and then… made garlic!! Tasty, spicy, scrumptious garlic. I’ll be doing that again!


Baby Huckleberries (left of center), Tomatoes and Peppers

Huckleberries on 6-18

Mom in same spot on 9-14


3. Huckleberries. Thrived in Seattle. The tiny little seedlings made it through the move, past weeks of neglect, into the garden, and then they grew taller than I am very quickly. Problem: they went in too late and most of them are still green. But there are thousands and thousands of them!! Another problem: I’m not sure I like huckleberries.


So my thought is that maybe instead of huckleberries next year, we can do tomatillos and ground cherries, which are related. Audrey found them to be prolific here, so I’m thinking that might be better for us. That is, assuming the huckleberries don’t make it through the winter. Anyone know if they survive frosts?


Tomatoes and Peppers Covered in Cold, Hard Rain


4. Peperoncinis and Italian peperoncinis aren’t the same thing. Heh. Just learned that, as ours are skinny and turning red. Apparently what we wanted for pickling were banana peppers. Is that right? Anyone know?


Squash


5. Squashes do terribly in a cold, wet summer. So terribly that I wonder if we should bother growing them next year, considering the space they take up. At the NW picnic, we all comiserated about this, so we were not alone. I believe more than anything, it was the bees that never came out because it was so cold. And the powdery mildew and stem rotting. And the fact that the female and male flowers never got in sync because the sun didn’t come out. Sigh.


I’ll be looking into varieties that do better in cooler climates next year, and we can do a better job of building high beds for better drainage. We can also do some hand pollination. But most likely we’ll put in just a couple of plants next year, and reserve the rest of the space for something else.


Potatoes

Potato Flowers

Potato Berries


6. Potatoes! Hooray for potatoes! Easiest plant to grow, beautiful plants and flowers, and it’s lots of fun harvesting them. And I had no idea they produced potato berries – so strange!


First of 4 Potato Harvests

Blue Fingerling


The variety that did best for us were yellow finns and yellow fingerlings. YUM.


Grapes, Tomatoes, Raspberries, Passion Flower in July


7. Grapes, currants, and raspberries are doing very well. I was worried that the grapes in particular wouldn’t do so well in the cold and wet, but that is not turning out to be the case. They don’t produce fruit the first year, but I have high hopes for them. Very happy. We’re going to visit an organic vineyard on Saturday, as a part of Farm Day, so hopefully I’ll learn a little more about grape growing in the northwest.


Heirloom Cauliflower From The Market


8. I wish we’d grown cauliflower, as both Matt and I have found a love of roasted heirloom cauliflower. Particularly varities with a bit of purple in them. YUM. Broccoli I like, but it only did ok this year (though last year it did really well, so it could be that we used starts this year instead of growing them from seed ourselves).


Broccoli & Brussels Sprouts Seedlings


9. There are two different kinds of brussels sprouts. Did you know this? The early and the late. The early, which is apparently what we grew last year, produces sprouts quickly: as the plant grows, the sprouts grow. The late don’t grow sprouts right away. The plants grow first, and then many weeks later, as the weather cools, the sprouts start.


This has advantages and disadvantages, depending on your situation. I’m hoping the aphids will have died off for the season before they do much to our sprouts. They’re more of an annoyance than anything, but they were QUITE annoying last year! (They didn’t actually do any real damage other than make me waste water. I had to wash our sprouts extremely well to make sure we didn’t eat any extra aphid protein with our vegetables.)


Salad of Lettuce & Herbs From The Garden


10. Lettuce does not do well in pots. At least shallow pots. They continuously went to seed for us. It was very frustrating! The seedlings never got more than a few inches tall before going to seed. So my only guess is that as soon as the roots hit the bottom of the pot, they panicked and went to seed. Next time we’ll try deep, deep pots (eg, wine barrels) and see if that helps because we love greens so much, it will save us a lot of money if we can figure this out.


Melinda In The Garden (That's Me! Next To The Huckleberries.)


So there you have it. Those are the big things I learned.


What’s The Growing Challenge?


There are currently 169 people who are a part of this challenge. Head on over to The Growing Challenge Page and check out what it’s all about.


Your Turn!


Please share with your fellow gardeners what you learned! And again, as always, feel free to link to your gardening posts here.


So… what did you learn last season? What would you do differently? Did you try any experiments, and if you did, were they successful? Have you found any new favorite crops or types that you can’t wait to plant again?


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29 comments to THE GROWING CHALLENGE: What Did You Learn Last Season?

  • 1. we rediscovered home grown spuds. The Yukons are fabulous.

    2. We don’t know that the runner beans had anything to do with it, but we put them in the same beds with the snap peas, only a few weeks later, and let them climb the peas … anyway, we had peas all the way into September from all three spring plantings! A record.

    3. Spinach and beets did fabulously in the shade of the peas and beans.

    4. We winter gardened last year, right out in the ground without row covers, and did OK even though it was really cold, so we’re expanding that effort this year.

    5. Large tomatoes did poorly but salad sizes did well.

    6. Not such a great squash year here, either; yet the bell peppers and eggplant are doing great!!

    7. Beds were dug once by hand and then given a permanent mulch, and that went OK; we’re looking at no-dig for next year, or only with a broadfork.

    8. Corn grew very slowly, and our having selected older varieties like Country Gentleman seemed to compound the problem. We’re eating corn, but it didn’t come in until last week. Next time someone says la nina, we’re listening.

    9. When you’re tired, tired, tired of making applesauce, go to apple butter.

    10. Melinda, we’re following TMEN’s advice on getting apricots and peaches from pits — but nothing to report yet — so that’s our “new” seeds …

  • Melinda, thanks for the shout out and what a terrific post. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to hear about varieties that did well for you this year, especially those tomatoes. They are gorgeous! This was my fourth summer growing vegetables here in Seattle and definitely the worst of the lot as far as tomatoes and squash go. My squash is costata romanesca, a ridged zucchini. Last summer it grew like crazy and this summer I had to seed a second set of plants just to get a few male flowers. My Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are doing well finally, and their flavor is unreal. I’ve also had good luck with the Brandywine tomato.

    My learning this year was mostly about matching site and soil to the crop and coming to terms with the fact that some stuff just doesn’t do well in our microclimates. I may not do peppers again next year. They are just so hard to get to maturity. I’ll definitely do season extenders with row cover and plastic drapes next year. I’ll definitely do the self-watering containers again, we got a very decent bean crop from those. And I’ll grow more flowers and more basil. There’s never enough of either.

  • A couple thoughts on your post: Don’t give up on the squash. It probably will never produce as much as you’d get in Northern CA, but it should produce as much as you need during a better year than this. Try a mesculun (spelling?) for lettuce in containers. I usually harvest at about 3 inches and it will regrow in a week. You can plant cauliflower now for the spring. There is a native Huckleberry here in the Pacific Northwest. Pretty sure it’s similar to what’s grown in Northern California.

    What I learned: That I need to grow more shelling beans. They did great. I also need to grow more string beans so that I have enough for pickling. I discovered that they are really good! I also learned that potatoes in garbage cans are worth doing, if only for the quality of the potato. And I learned that I really want a green house.

    I’m going to dump out one of the containers of sweet potatoes that I’ve been growing tomorrow. I’ll report back on that….

  • Hey there! I grew lettuce in containers and it worked well for me. I used 1 foot deep pots that were reasonably wide. I also harvested frequently.

  • I learned that the cucumber beetles are a big problem here. I lost most of my cukes, summer squash, winter squash, and pumpkins to them. It was so frustrating… however, our lettuce, peas, tomatoes, green beans and herbs did great! Next year, I’m going to skip the frustration and grow more of the stuff that does well!

  • Just coming out of winter…what did I learn?

    1)planting for winter must begin at mid summer.. things need to be a lot more advanced to keep going in the level of cold that we experience

    2)Cauliflower …. much more cauliflower needs to be planted as it is a one crop plant.

    3)recipes… I need more recipes that use produce from one particular season

    4)shelling peas are a great idea but dwarf ones drive me nuts.. climbing all the way

    5)Even if you seem to have 3 varieties of eggplant check the amount of seed left in the packet before deciding that you couldn’t possibly need more.

    Kind Regards
    Belinda

  • Oh… just a question..

    you mentioned two distinct strains of Brussel sprouts…. can you give any variety names for each type to look out for as they don’t get labelled that way over here.

    I think the variety that is most easily available as an heirloom over here must be a late and I think the early would do better in our climate but I would like to do a test to see which of the two types work best for us.

    Kind Regards
    Belinda

  • I will have more horse poo delivered next year (20 yards is not enough!).

    Tomatoes need more space than 3′ OR they need a better/ different staking system (sigh – mine are monsters that I can’t reach inside of).

    I must deal with the powdery mildew problem that hits all my squash plants in late August/ early September. I used to spray weekly with a baking soda, kelp/fish emulsion and dish soap. I never had mildew then.

    I will plant a ton of Basil next year.

    I’ll start my garden under hoops in April next year until waiting until June like every other year.

    I’m expanding my herb garden next year and devoting more of my front yard to edibles.

    I will master pole beans. I am annoyed that they did so poorly, but I know the deer didn’t help.

    That is all I can think of for now.

  • 1) Potatoes rock! So easy to grow.

    2) Tomatoes? I’ll do more cherry next time and some early girls. We’ve had such an on and off year all the farmers are getting a super late harvest.

    3) Lettuce needs to be in the shade or it fries in the summer.

    4) Pumpkins didn’t do so well but banana squash, holey curry! I’ll try more of both next year.

    5) Beans are overrated. Too small of a harvest. Especially the bush beans.

    6) Gotta love the peppers. I’ll plant more of those next year too.

    7) Need. More. Growing. Space.

  • 1.) The number of seeds suggested is for outdoor starts, with birds and rain. Thinning plants is a really excellent idea.

    2.) Peas don’t do well if they are drenched or bone dry, next year I’ll aim for a happy moist by starting them inside.

    3.) The bugs that attack bell peppers live under the leaves, check under the leaves!

    4.) If you’re container gardening, you need a plan for all those containers. Plus the soil they contain and the plants. No one mentions this when they tell us apartment dwellers how easy it is to grow a few things!

  • monica

    I have no answers–I have 2 questions:

    A. We have an inside-the-house-garden for winter season. Now we have tiny gnats all over. I think they like the soil. How do we get rid of them? (safely of course. . .)

    B. How do you get your potatoes to blossom? We have beautiful plants but no flowers yet. I did plant them quite late in a pot outside.

    Any hints are greatly appreciated.

    I think that we are going to continue with the inside garden and have the outside garden for corn for next summer.

    I have a presentation to give at the end of the month and I think inside gardening will be an awesome topic for a healthcare class.

    I love this site. . .Must . . .go eat…

  • Huckleberries
    When I was a kid, oh those so many years ago, I would go out with my mother picking huckleberries on Whidbey Island, in Puget Sound north of Seattle. They ripen in the fall during deer hunting season. I didn’t pick any huckleberries, but I made lots of noise. My mother figured that with me making lots of noise and running all around, no hunter would mistake her for a deer. It worked.

    Huckleberries make great pies. They are a pain to clean. You have to pick off all the little stems. The stems will ruin the pie. But the pie is delicious. The only pie I like better is wild blackberry pie made with the little blackberries, not the big ones you find in the store or growing on giant vines.

    Your post on huckleberries brought back fond memories from over 50 years ago! Thanks!

  • My understanding is that lettuce bolts to seed when it gets hot, so perhaps growing them in dappled light would be better than ditching the pots. That or your pots are drying out/absorbing too much heat. What colour are your pots?

    I re-learned that snails are the sworn enemy of broccoli, and that people who never get around to evening snail killing expeditions can’t expect to eat broccoli.

    I also re-learned that plants still need to be watered in winter when you’ve got a drought and it doesn’t rain. Plants also like sunlight.

    On a more positive note: my sage bush is fabulous, and it’s flowering. I hadn’t even realised that sage did flower.

  • HUckleberries are native to here- at least they grew on their own at our lake property in Shelton- so I think they should handle the frost- The variety I have is an evergreen variety- and the fellow who sold them to me at the farmer’s market told me to just plant them- so I did.
    And i too discovered lettuce likes a deep pot. Last year grew awful and bolted early, this year is going fine. I planted some lettuce for fall garden and it is growing well.
    As far as this year goes- I planted Borage and yes I will plant again- By itself. As far as the seeds go I think these are the seeds that I Iplucked off today. They did get a strange little bug (Aphids?) but they were black. Soap and water got rid of the little buggers!
    As for the *^%$# Broccoli- died, andnothing as of late has made me cuss more- I replanted again today. Should have known that would happen- anything that is supposedly easy to grow dies around me. Hopefully the new stock will grow and flourish. I was going to plant in the garlic planter, but discovered little green shoots growing in the planter, so planted new seeds in the squash box since taking out zucchinni gave me more room so I will keep my fingers crossed!

  • becky

    melinda, guess what?! i’m a newbie to the green gardeners!! yes! i built my first 4×2 raised bed frame yesterday. soil is ready and waiting to be mixed to fill that frame as well as 6 large containers. a tray of just planted seeds calls me out to the porch each morning with a decidedly maternal/nurturing instinct- “what’s been born today?” so far, baby bean sprouts and absolutely the most adorable basil sprouts. the beans look like those huge 10 pound babies in the hospital nursery and the baby basil leaves remind me of little booties in pairs on the clothesline. we live in south florida so gardening season begins now just as most of n.america winds down. so far, i’ve already learned i’ll have to plant the sweet peppers in a different bed than the hot ones. i read they cross pollinate if planted too close, turning the sweet ones hot. who knew? so much to learn and so much fun already!

  • Improve the Soil, Improve the soil, inprove the soil!

    I also learnt
    I love Broad Beans
    Lettuces do better spaced out
    Chickens will not get rid of all the kikuyu, I have to dig it out
    Citrus trees respond amazingly to fertilizer, white oil and mulch.
    Coriander grows so much better when it self seeds
    Keep going, and keep growing.
    Use it or lose it. (otherwise they rot, set seed, eaten by birds etc)

  • hmm over winter.. I learn that having a non-walking baby and an aversion to the cold means that winter garden is horrible and not worth doing!

    I also learn that covering vacant beds with layers of cardboard or old carpet over winter helps keep the weeds down a lot and makes them much easier to prepare come spring – still waiting to find out if it’s done anything terrible to the soil!

  • 1. when filling in a new raised bed, there is definitely a such thing as too much drainage
    2. no matter how much compost you have, you can always use more
    3. make sure the number of sunny hours available matches the plant – I got lucky here in that a tree came down mid-season and allowed much more light for the tomatoes and peppers so they have ultimately produced
    4. plant the small tomatoes – Mr Stripey, Sweet Hundred and Sweet Million have been our very favorites – right now it’s a toss-up as to whether our larger tomatoes (Cherokee Purple and others I can’t remember the name of right now) will ripen before the weather cools
    5. plant companions to reduce pests – the tomatoes plants near the marigolds and nasturtiums seem to have withstood this years record aphids a bit better
    6. plant things you eat a lot and/or have a hard time finding at the farmer’s market – this will be our guide in planting next year
    7. when at first you don’t succeed…try try again. This phrase has some merit – we ended up planting a second and third round of tomatoes, and rounds 2 & 3 ended up growing like crazy. Unfortunately, the three rounds of beans and two rounds of greens didn’t fare so well, mostly due to #1 above.
    8. mulching saves water and nutrients, and prevents the soil from baking in the afternoon sun – mulch early, and make sure it’s deep enough to do the job

    We’ll be expanding our garden this year to a second bed roughly the same size as the first (4′x12′), adding a TON of organic material into the first bed to prevent all the nutrients from washing straight through, mulching like crazy, and planting things we really love to eat. Should be fun!

  • Risa B, Interesting that the peas and beans did better together – I might have to try that! You’re doing some great companion planting. We love our broadfork – and curved-tine cultivator. Both are genius tools! I’m looking forward to watching your apricots and peaches grow! That’s so cool!

    Audrey, You’re welcome! It’s really nice to be able to compare notes with local gardeners. For peppers, we found that ours that grew on the patio – where the black tar roof held in lots of heat and they got a lot of sun – did much better. Season extension will probably help, too, particularly early on so they have a head start! Good to hear from you.

    Deb G, Ok, I’ll give the squash another go. ; ) Thank you. Mom wants to plant them in the front yard next year (!!!) where they’ll get more sun. Sounds good!

    Mesclun lettuces are what we tried, and no matter where the pots were – sun or shade, they went to seed. I think it was just too shallow of pots. I’ve never had lettuces go to seed like that. And thank you for the cauliflower reminder – good idea!

    Your sweet potatoes look beautiful – we’ll be planting those next year!!

    Julie, Interesting… well, we’ll definitely keep trying!

    Abbie, Oh no! Cucumber beetles! Bummer. I have heard that covering young plants can help defend them against the beetles. By the time the plants get big, the beetles shouldn’t be able to do a whole lot of damage…. Good philosophy, though, to grow what does well!

    Belinda, Recipes… Simply in Season and Recipes from America’s Small Farms are both indispensable for me. Also, some of Mario Batali’s books are great for seasonal cooking, and a new book just came out Outstanding in the Field. I checked it out at the library, and it’s wonderful.

    Brussels sprouts… I just spent almost an hour looking for a list, and didn’t find a good one. I didn’t even find where I learned about the early vs. late distinction. Argh. The best I could find was this list, from a UK seed store. I’ll keep my eye out and let you know when I find more info!

    Heather, LOL – more poo – we could use some, too! Last year I called our tomatoes the “tomato cave” – I literally had to crawl inside, and they were so wide, you could only see my feet sticking out! My mom sprayed milk mixed with water onto the squash, and it worked well to get rid of the mildew. Hooray for growing in the front yard!! And I hope you master pole beans – they are really beautiful! I love scarlet runner beans.

    Green Bean, Potatoes do rock. Interesting that your tomatoes are late, too! Banana squash – what does it taste like? Interesting! Beans… hmmm… I’m a big fan of pole beans – a lot more bean for the same amount of space – they continuously produce, too, instead of just one harvest. And they’re gorgeous! LOL, need. more. growing. space. too!

    crstn85, Thinning plants is good! ; ) I like the phrase “a happy moist.” And what a good point about having a plan – we didn’t have much time and our planting this year was sort of a free for all, but I’d like to plan it out more next year.

    Monica, Ah. Gnats. We get those from time to time as well. They’re harmless, but annoying. They are part of the composting process, so they may have arrived in your potting soil. The only thing my organic pest book says to do is use sticky traps for them. You should be able to find some at your local nursery or hardware store.

    Potatoes… some of ours bloomed and some didn’t, but it didn’t seem to matter when it came to harvest. I wouldn’t worry about it. Just harvest them when the plants look like they’re getting old (they get a bit yellow).

    Glad you like the site!! Gardening sounds like a great topic for a health class. Wow.

    Will be back later…

  • Jerry, Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I’m glad this sparked a fond memory. I’ll look for a huckleberry pie recipe.

    Kate, Interesting… the pots are all terra cotta, so they do hold in quite a bit of heat. That could also be the problem – hmmm.

    LOL, we didn’t have a snail problem with broccoli… fortunately that’s a battle not fought (yet) in our yard. Water and sun… good things for plants. ; ) And sage – yes, try different kinds of sage, too, as they have very different flowers: white, purple, blue… big and small… and the flavors of sage are very different as well!

    Rob, Evergreen… hm… I will have to see if I can find the package of seeds, but I don’t believe they said Evergreen… How tall are yours? Are they 6 feet tall?

    Phew – someone else has the problem with lettuce in shallow pots – I’m not crazy!

    Black aphids – yep – lots of those in the northwest. Soap and water does wonders. So does just blasting them with a hose. I’m sorry about the broccoli – hopefully the second round will do better. I have my fingers crossed for you, too.

    Becky, Welcome to the wonderful world of green gardening!! It is fun, isn’t it? So much to learn, so much joy in finding the fruits of your labors… Boy it must be hot in the summers there, eh? If you want to garden next summer, you can try using some shade cloth and/or growing some more tender crops beneath hardier crops. I wrote a little about protection from the heat here. Happy gardening!

    Hannah, Ah, a great mantra! I must try broad beans – Rhonda Jean has told me so several times, and they sound wonderful.

    I had to look up kikuyu – so it’s an invasive grass…? yuck.

    White oil for citrus trees… I had to look that up, too! It’s cooking oil mixed with water and detergent, is that right? Interesting – what is it used for? The article I found said it was for white flies?

    I’ll have to remember that about coriander.

    Katef, I’ll be interested in the results, too! LOL… well, aversion to the cold + non-walking baby = good excuse to not garden in winter. : ) You could grow herbs on your windowsill, though!

    Lori, “no matter how much compost you have, you can always use more” – so true!! And light, yes – makes a big difference. Latitude does, too, for the same reason. You’re not the only one here who has had problems with large tomatoes – interesting – never thought about that before.

    Good to hear naturtiums and marigolds helped. A soapy water spray might help, too. Aphids in tomatoes – bummer – I’ve not had that problem (yet).

    “plant things you eat a lot and/or have a hard time finding at the farmer’s market” Good guide! And “when at first you don’t succeed…try try again.” – that, too, is a good rule of thumb. Each failure is a learning experience in gardening!

    It sounds like you learned a lot this year, which was mostly the goal (I think?). I’m glad you’re expanding! Are you growing anything over the winter?

  • Mari

    I also garden in Seattle and my garden was rather lack luster.
    1.We had great luck with our green beans, they were planted late and just won’t quite. We are going to save some seeds and grow these bad boys again.
    2. We need to grow a wider variety of tomatoes next summer and get ones that ripen earlier. We grew Momotoro (I think) this year and the ones that ripened were delicious but we are having a lot of fried green tomatoes these days.
    3. We too had a bad squash year. Our zucchini did OK but the cucumbers did terribly. We tried some new varieties of winter squash and they totally bombed. We’ve had luck with bush delicata from Territorial Seed the past couple years so I will be going back to that next year.
    4. We put the garden soaker hoses on a timer this year and it was great to not think about the watering much at all. Plus it allowed me to water in the early morning without having to get up earlier to do it.
    5. I need to work on my timing with successive planting. Things took longer to ripen than I had planned on and that delayed things though out the summer.
    6. I had good luck with starting greens and broccoli in a hoop house. I will try to have two this spring and give more things a head start.
    7. I need to work on my plant spacing. When I transplant seedlings they are so small and I forgot how much space they need to produce.

    It is always an adventure! Mother nature will probably give us a record breaking heat wave next summer since we will all be gowning more cool weather varieties.

  • Melinda,

    Biggest lesson? Being a new mom, a working mom and mid-summer gardening didn’t pan out as I had hoped! *Sigh* I had hoped to grow okra. Next year.

    On the other hand, rhubarb is wonderfully easy to grow. It happily returned – I feasted (um, regularly) on rhubarb cobbler for a month straight!

    Your post has me excited to get back out there and start getting things read this fall. Now that our house is done, my husband can help me out in the garden from here on in. Wheeeee! Oh the visions!!

    xo Tracey

  • Mari, LOL – you’re so right, that next year we’ll all be ready for cold weather and -poof- we’ll have record warmth! Sigh. Good to hear from another Seattleite!

    I highly recommend the Sub-Arctic Plenty and the Japanese Black Triefele – both were early tomato varieties and gave us loads of ripe tomatoes in comparison to the others. And I’ll be searching for other early/cold varieties this winter & will be sure to publish about them.

    Since we grew varieties that were suitable for our northern California hot summers this year (not knowing in winter when we bought them that we’d be moving to Seattle!!), we will be investigating cooler, wetter varieties of a lot of things this winter! Good to hear the bush delicata does well – I love those! Since Territorial is in Oregon, it’s probably a good place to buy seeds that will do well in our climate.

    LOL, I think many of us have plant spacing issues!! It’s tough to remember that those tiny seedlings will grow up to be big plants…

    Thanks for your great comment!

    Tracey, Good to hear from you!!

    My mother has been growing rhubarb from the same plant for about 15 years. It was a hand-me-down plant from my grandfather! Only this year it really started showing signs of age and we decided it was time to replace it. It must be 25-30 years old!!!

    I’m glad you’re re-inspired to get out there! LOL, I’m sure the little one has taken over your life quite a bit. But definitely, you could both use some outdoor time. It eases the mind and body, and renews…!

  • monica

    Before you replace the rhubarb:

    Perhaps it only needs to be dug up and spread out the roots. I would hate to see you throw away a plant passed down through the generations. It wouldn’t hurt to see if it just needs some new soil around it!

  • Yvonne

    How do I condense what I learned this year into one comment? There’s so much! This was the first year I’ve planted a full garden – I never had the space or the time before.

    We doubled the size of the herb garden this summer, and the savory from last year self-seeded and did better than ever – I love volunteer plants – they seem to grow better.

    I tried tomatillos and okra for the first time ever – In our northern climate here in Manitoba, I will need to start them earlier next year, but I got a good crop of the tomatillos from 4 plants that grew better than I ever could have imagined, and are still trying to produce since we haven’t had a hard frost yet.

    I planted the pumpkins next to the corn, and the winter squash between the pole beans, and they all did very well. I even had pumpkins climbing the corn stalks!

    I must thin the beets next year! There were lots of plants, but the beets were small since they were too close together.

    I learned that my dogs love asparagus, and in their current spot, there’s not enough sun for them, and they will also need a cage around them so the dogs don’t eat them next year. That way, maybe we’ll get some too!

    And, most definitely, I need more space! My plants grew much bigger than I had expected, and there was one corner of the garden I couldn’t even walk in for all the plants. Plus, my goal is to grow enough that we can provide for ourselves through the winter until the next crop is coming up, since we can’t grow anything outside in our winters.

  • [...] I realized I haven’t posted a recipe in a while – whoops!  Here is a savory delicious dish we’ve made a couple of times with potatoes and tomatoes from the garden, and some lovely onions and garlic from the farmer’s market. (Note:  I had a couple of questions about “those dark things” in the photo – they’re Purple Peruvian Potatoes!) [...]

  • [...] it! That’s what most of us do, and it’s how we find some amazing varieties, like the Japanese Black Triefle tomatoes I planted last year – [...]

  • I learned that I really can’t plant enough tomatoes and peppers (at least, not in the space I have). I also bought a bunch of other cool seeds (and will be obtaining more planters) for this coming year. I’m quite excited.

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