This summer was a tumultuous one for me and the garden. I avoided it until I had friends visiting and quite nearly forcing my hands into the dirt. I felt mostly shame and anxiety whenever I passed her. But, by Labor day Nick and I were overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of food she had produced. The resilience of the garden gave me a good boost of growing confidence. Now that the inaugural year of gardening-on-my-own is safely behind me I find myself anxious (in the very best sense of the word) to start planning this coming year's garden.
After closing out the garden last year I took some time to write in my journal about things I would and wouldn't do again. Here is a sampling. Most of it will seem painfully obvious so please forgive me my naiveté.
I will not include eggplant for 2013. We had four lovely plants dripping with purple and white fruits and we didn't eat a damn one.
I will refrain from sowing the entire packets of not one but two pickling cucumbers. The little suckers were terrifically prolific and their stamina outmatched my own by tenfold in the processing kitchen.
We do not need 9 different cherry tomato plants. We are not a pickyourown free-for-all. We are a civilized home garden.
I will plant radishes on a pre-determined schedule. This is to avoid being overwhelmed with them one week and searching in vain for a pair the next.
I will never again conflate the growing season in Vermont for the one in North Carolina.
Thus, I will plan winter squash in early June not in July.
I will order seed potatoes in the winter and not wait until Memorial Day.
I will plant more cabbage, more broccoli and more brussels.
I will write-up an actual plan for a fall garden.
I will build a modest hoop house for the late fall and winter greens.
I will not allow the garden's foot paths to go to the weeds. That was a rather poor choice.
I promise to more faithfully worship the practice of stringing tomatoes. We will cut stronger saplings for stakes instead of the lazy cheap ones they sell at the garden center.
I will plant more flowers, for a purely utilitarian garden is a somewhat boring one to the eyes.
There now. The 2013 garden can't fail. I'm sure there are hundreds upon thousands of don'ts and dos for the summer garden. I hope my journal will be overflowing with them in a decade's time. For this is the only way I will meekly progress to feeding my family well.
I'd be curious to hear if you have any lessons learned from your own gardens this year?