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win some, lose some: how’d your garden grow?

THE COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT IS OPEN (or if you prefer to rave rather than rant, please do so). We haven’t had a good tell-all in eons. So why now? Fall starts Wednesday at 11:09 PM EDT, so what better moment to answer this one: How’d your garden grow this spring and summer? Was it “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” or “Days of Heaven,” or (so sorry if you answer yes to this last possibility) “Paradise Lost”? My story:

No rain.

That about sums up how I feel about the so-called gardening season of 2010. No rain.  Believe me, you don’t want to hear me say much more, as it gets ugly fast.

The only good parts: few fungal diseases and lots of frogs (who stayed here with me by the little backyard pools in even larger-then-normal armies–as groups of frogs are called–since there wasn’t much moisture in the vicinity otherwise). Lots of acorns (above) and such wildlife bounty on certain other fruiting trees and shrubs (crabapples, apples) but on the other hand, little on my hollies (aborted from drought when half-ripe). Like I said, I had better not get wound up here.

You? Got a complaint, a dream-come-true, or something in between to share?

If you haven’t see our past rants…

The Confessional

Some stuff really gets A Way to Garden-ers going. Weigh in, or just lurk while everyone else shares about these hot buttons:

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  1. Melinda says:

    To use a sophisticated internet term: Meh.

    One big batch of Meh.

    The tomatoes were so-so. The peppers that I couldn’t use up last year were almost non-existent this year. About the only wonder in my garden is the loofa gourd that is generating lots of Christmas gifts this year and the hyacinth bean vine that finally decided to get its act in gear. Flowers were lame, turf was lame. I couldn’t get excited between the hot spells, the dry spells, and the wet spells. Just a big batch of meh.

  2. Joyce Pinson @friendsdriftinn says:

    I heave a sorrowful sigh as the garden season winds down. Unprecedented flooding leveled all conventional beans. (Novelty Yard Long survived) Dampness introduced death and decay upon tomato crop…over 100 plants. Peppers hung in for awhile, but gave up the ghost a few weeks back…they usually produce until October frost. Cucumbers season cut short. Zuchinnis would not produce all year (crazy!). Watermelons and cantelopes stunted and small. Corn and okra good producers. Holding breathe hoping pumpkins will mature before frost. Tough year.

  3. Marlene says:

    A mixed bag. Too much rain early in the season led to weeds like I’ve never seen before. But my pumpkins had an amazingly good year (so maybe my best pumpkin vine ever sprouted in the compost pile from last year’s pumpkin and gave me over 20 beautiful pumpkins?) and I got tasty watermelons for the first time ever. I’ll mail the rest of my zucchini to Joyce – they wouldn’t quit.

    Also learned the hard way that free range chickens will decimate Swiss chard and uproot onions. The onions that I saved were great.

    But then there are my tomatoes. They won’t ripen. I’ve been looking at the same darn green tomatoes for weeks now, and there are 6 different varieties that won’t ripen. I’ve had one garden peach tomato and a handful of black cherries and nothing else has matured. I can’t figure out what went wrong there.

  4. Janet says:

    I was too nice. Lesson learned this year for next. Never let the zinnias, no matter how pretty they are and how many finches and butterflies they attract, again, never let them take over my vegetable garden. I love zinnias, but this year was a banner year for them and therefore nothing else. Tomatoes had lots of horn worms which stunted their growth. Beans had some weird bugs that ate the leaves and seemed to move on to other greenery in the garden. Cucumbers, which we were giving away last year fizzled this year. No squash at all due to squash bugs. The best thing I grew this year was butternut squash. I have bowls all over the house full of them. So we won’t go hungry after all!
    The solution for next year…we are making another garden next to the zinnia garden so I can enjoy the volunteers next year and also have my veggies.
    The joy of a new season is to reflect upon successes and failures and look forward to next year.

  5. Jules says:

    I am pleased overall with my first year of planting vegetables, with one exception- green beans (which unfortunately are my favorite) I must have planted too early because the foliage started turning brown from the time they popped up. Is this a fungal disease? My sister planted the same seeds 2 miles away 3 weeks later and she can’t keep up with harvesting them. Oh well, there’s always next year
    Btw, I’ve absolutely loved browsing your site and have learned so much, thanks

  6. Ginger says:

    In 30+ years of gardening in New England and N. California, this is far and away the most difficult and least productive garden ever! No cucumbers, beans, onions bolted, garlic rust, 1/3 crop from fruit trees, even the wild blackberries were tiny and sour. Gophers galore also. Things that did well….peas, tomatoes (oddly enough), summer squash, flowers. Pumpkins, squash got attacked by gophers and we had to make cages around them. Peppers were so-so. Zucchini, of course were prolific. It all just makes me creeped out.

  7. Linda from NC says:

    This has been a pretty rough growing season, but as a friend/organic farmer said last weekend, “It’s always a rough growing season for one reason or another.”
    My husband said during a rare moment of helping with the weeding a few weeks ago, “Lynne, I think gardening is for people whose lives aren’t frustrating enough.”
    Me, I’d like to say that I did get some tomatoes before the early blight sucked the life out of them, and no beans because mine were donated without my permission to a growing family of rabbits. But the skies are still beautiful here and I’m already thinking to next summer’s garden, so I think my husband and friend are both right and wrong!

    1. Margaret says:

      All of this sounds strangely familiar… :)

      @Linda, I love your neighbor’s take: “It’s always a rough growing season for one reason or another.” And also your husband’s philosophy: “Lynne, I think gardening is for people whose lives aren’t frustrating enough.” !!!!! Ain’t that all the truth.

      Welcome to Jules (and thanks for the nice words). There are various diseases (many fungal, some viral) that beans can get, yes. The descriptions of some of the better known ones are pretty simple (not in science-speak!) on this Colorado fact sheet — anything sound familiar?

      Welcome, Janet. Yours is a great lesson — and a hard one to learn indeed. So tempting not to thin things or pull things one has too many of. Thanks for your visit, and hope to see you soon again.

  8. My first year gardening in 4 tiny rectangle pieces of earth has given me so much pleasure, from the first shoots to the first flowers to first fruit. Will learn from my misses, the tomatoes, okra, herbs and peppers were hits. Next year I know to come here for ideas. Thank you.
    Sandhya

  9. Lynn Mc From Nor Cal says:

    Lousy year. No sun and only a half dozen days of temps above 70 degrees. The only veggie that did well was the squash.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Lynn — well, congratulations on the squash then, right? :) I am trying to emphasize the positive even though I am terribly worried about all the woody plants going into winter in such a dry state. Ugh.

      Welcome, Vegetarianirvana. I am happy to be the place for you to find ideas — what a nice compliment! Congratulations on your gardening debut.

      See you both soon!

  10. Rosella says:

    The worst summer I have ever had, at least in terms of veggie growing! The heirloom tomatoes grown from seed died without ever setting fruit, the rabbit family ate all the Bull’s Blood beet leaves, the beans got some strange disease, the slugs ate all the lettuce despite frequent and generous applications of Sluggo, and the gardener complained bitterly throughout the whole thing about temperatures in the low 100s and No Rain. But — the Jarrahdale pumpkin vines grew prodiguously and I am now the proud possessor of three large blue-grey pumpkins, which fattened wonderfully about 5 feet up in the mahonia bush.

    But I am thinking about turning the veggie patch into a perennial bed because I am tired of beans which cost $10 per pound, tomatoes ditto, woody beets and carrots, limp and holey lettuces, and the outlay of mucho dinero on rabbit and slug preventers and assorted “special purchases”.

    Margaret, I leave the field to you! Oh — except for the parsnips, which are lush and green and lovely. Unfortunately, no-one here likes them except for me.

  11. Anne says:

    I actually had a pretty good year in Poughkeepsie. Perennial gardens required a fair amount of watering but that kept me in the garden regularly so I did a better job with maintenance. I need more drought tolerant perennials for the front of the border as they were affected the most and the annuals took lots of watering. Veggie garden did well even though I water sparingly. All pests (woodchuck, deer, blight/fungus and insects) were much better Tomatoes, beans, peppers, basil, cucumbers are still being harvested. I learned that melon foliage may seem OK on the hottest days while the emergent melons are shriveling. On the other hand the frame I bought to grow the melons vertically worked well.

  12. Paulette says:

    It started out GREAT! Everything grew, flowers bloomed. Then…..well …then the bunnies ate ALL my green beans and the drought here in the Eastern Panhandle of WV had us harvesting pumpkins in August and early Sept. The tomatoes did poorly and I only made one batch of jelly from my grape vines. No one really got any cukes. Even my sunflowers were small. However, it was a good year for lavender and some of the herbs. Can’t be all negative. At least there is always next year!!!

  13. Matt says:

    “Paradise Lost” for the fig tree, rippened a full month earlier than normal. Unfortunately, all of our cucurbits failed to produce. I got a dozen cucumbers and no zucchini.

  14. Kim says:

    Banner year for Peas, Basil and Oregano here in RI, but my Dahlias are pathetic! In fact, overall my flower gardens are/were a disappointment!

  15. Anna in northern CA says:

    Definitely a case of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly.’

    Low clouds, fog and occasional rain ALL SUMMER means my melons are about 2 inches in diameter with no possible hope of ripening; late monsoons mean my tomatoes will split and rot before they ripen. The &*%$ leafminers decimated the chard and spinach crops, and I did daily battle with aphids in the cabbages and roses – All. Summer. Long. Blechchh! The grapes are hard as marbles still.

    But snow peas? I’m still harvesting from the original spring vines that are now over 8 feet tall and still blooming. (I need a picture of me standing atop a six-foot ladder in order to harvest! :-)) I luckily decided to grow my cukes in the greenhouse this year and got a bumper crop; lettuce was consistently beautiful all summer. I harvested green beans and russian kale until I was sick of them. The onions and all the various condiments (parsley, basil, cilantro) had a fairly normal season.

    Strawberries yielded mightily all summer, but with insufficient heat they were mostly tart. My winter squash vine yielded exactly one squash. My peppers are yielding low, and it’s touch-and-go whether any will ripen to the point of turning red. I had a very low yield from the fruit trees (perversely, not *enough* cold last winter). But there were scads and scads of blueberries. ?? I’m clueless about the difference.

    All in all – it could have been worse. But oh, it could have been so, so much better!

  16. Renee says:

    New year, new (to us) house, new garden beds from scruffy turf. Even though the patch for vegs turned out to be shadier than we guessed in leafless March, tomatoes did OK — with weekly watering. Haven’t received the twice-yearly water bill yet, but am grateful there were no restrictions on watering.

    Trying to be frugal, I started basil and parsley from seed, and for the first time actually had enough to use and to share. Your recommendation for a seed-starting rig was great; after being landless for 4 years, it was thrilling to grow from seed again.

    Tried the new Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea (I adore ‘Annabelle’ and a pink one was too hard to resist) but the jury is still out. Not too impressed so far. … We’re still wondering how to remove a thicket of raspberry-bittersweet-multiflora rose-yucca that occupies what’s proven to be the sunniest spot in the yard — dynamite is awfully tempting, since I can’t even get a shovel into the ground, with all the roots. Next year’s challenge!

  17. Tanja says:

    Wet and cool spring resulted in a late start, followed by a hot, dry summer. Tomatoes did just okay while peppers sat on their laurels, not producing till the heat laid off, so like..two weeks ago. Celery is too stringy and woody due to heat although the zucchini and pumpkins continue to do well. Most herbs rocked yet the basil was just so-so. Berries, carrots, potatoes, onions and peas did well, so.. all in all, a mixed bag. Certainly not my best year ever, but, LOL, could have been worse.
    And…gardeners motto…next year will be better!

  18. Fred says:

    Hit and miss. Terrific year for beans and carrots. Not so good a year for potatoes, though some have yet to be dug up. corn was decent. tomatoes are plentiful, but slow ripening. I haven’t had a single one ripen on the vine this year, all i’ve had have ripened inside. a bit of a bummer, since i had plenty of vine ripened tomatoes by mid-august ’09. pumpkins are coming along nicely, but squash has been disappointing. Ooooh, and lemon basil was fantastic!

  19. Fred says:

    ohh, and plenty of frogs and toads here(Nova Scotia) as well. in fast i saw one rather chubby toad hop off as i was giving my lawn what should be it’s last once over of the year tuesday evening.

  20. Patricia says:

    Here in central North Carolina, we are on our 89th day of temperatures over 90 degrees – the previous record was 83 days in one year and unfortunately, we are still climbing. Suppose to be 94 tomorrow. We are also down over 8-1/2″ in rainfall for the year. I water constantly but the water runs off the top of the beds like you are watering asphalt. No sign of red spider lilies or really any of the fall bulbs. It’s pretty depressing!

  21. Burndett Andres says:

    We had a banner year in our perennial garden here in Downeast Maine. Lots of sun and lots of rain and everything bloomed early and long. My friend’s blackberry patch supplied the entire neighborhood and I’ve had gifts of salad greens, squash, tomatoes, zuchinni, basil and parsley from my organic veggie gardening friends. Another friend’s peach tree was so loaded, he had to brace the branches or they would have broken. Commercial “wild” blueberry crop below record levels, however, and the apple and potato farmers are complaining, but our wee little 1/3 acre plot flourished.

  22. cara says:

    My first season gardening here (flowers/shrubs only) among tall oaks in East Hampton, N.Y., so I can’t compare it to years past. I do know I watered a LOT, especially in this sandy soil. Overall pleased that I managed to convert nothing to something — several large beds of everything deer-resistant and shade-tolerant I could find. My ‘rant’ concerns the torrent of ACORNS coming down right now, all day and all night. They hit the skylights, roll down the roof, and bounce off the deck. Thousands upon thousands of them, sounding much louder than one would think. Walking on the deck is like walking on ball bearings. I don’t remember this from last year, and a neighbor confirms we’re having a banner year for acorns (and that one year they had none at all — strange). Feel I ought to wear a hard hat when I go out to do my chores…

  23. Stephanie says:

    Here in central Nova Scotia, the summer was dry, dry, dry and hot!… Everything started early and ended early – the flower gardens have been pretty much done since mid-August. As for veg garden – my lettuce did pretty good (3 staggered plantings), yellow beams were moderate, yellow squash – zilch – small fruit that just won’t grow before rotting off. My broccoli was amazing, though I pretty near missed it – it went from almost ready to almost bolted inside a week! And with the great basil crop, I made a nice batch of broccoli pesto for the freezer. And I thought my tomato crop was going to be piddly, but I have had pounds and pounds from my 12 plants… they are almost done now. The last of them will be sliced and slow roasted in a low oven for amazing brushetta come winter as I have enough simple tomoato sauce to last (my recipe is similar to yours, Margaret – chop up the tomatoes skins included) with garlic, onions and olive oil then simmer until thick and saucy… so simple and so good!). One last comment: don’t tell my boss, but I love comimg to the website during my busy workday… I so look forward to your quirky musings

  24. Eric Rocco says:

    Here near Detroit the tomatoes were better then last year but smaller then usual. Cucumbers were good and abundant but some were a bit dry inside. Oddly the beets and carrots didn’t do too good. I have a second batch of carrots growing and think I may have had a bad batch of beet seeds.

    New for me to grow: the kale is crazy and can’t be stopped and the broccoli did very well early on. I also tried brussel sprouts for the first time and just a few days ago I noticed that they were covered in webs and “powdery” bugs. They were fine just a few days earlier!

    All the herbs did great as usual and just yesterday I made up some of the parsley “logs” for the freezer that you have blogged about. Today perhaps basil cubes… if I can only find that post.

    Thanks for all the tips!

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