Evaluation of the Summer Garden

by - October 16, 2012

After a summer growing season, it's great time to evaluate the planting choices, layout and management of the veggie garden. The season treated us well, with peppers as only crops blatantly failing. Out of a large variety of seedlings, only the Tapas peppers produced a good crop. Nearly everything else at least gave us at least a sampling for the table. Not every summer is like this, so I'm thankful for the season we had.

One aspect of home gardening that I've really enjoyed is planting a large variety of things. When one variety of a vegetable doesn't take, it is wonderful to have another variety on standby. However, I'm to the point now where I'd like to simplify for the sake of efficiency in management of the space. For instance, I planted beans everywhere in the garden this year - many kinds all through the summer. In the process, after seeing some specialty beans and bush beans suffer and seeing some pole beans weave their way across the tops of the okra and corn, I finally found a climbing bean that doesn't monopolize the space - a half-runner bean. This will be my primary choice for next summer and fall.

Other than simplifying the number of varieties I plant, I may also give some crops a rest. Nearly all the squash and zucchini succumbed to vine borers. Letting the soil rest from this crop for a year could help curb the pest population. Still, I may plant one or two in a pot with sterile soil to see if they have a better survival rate. The other pests that were problematic: wire worms on the russet potatoes, corn worms, mystery bugs on the okra, slugs in the cabbage, strawberries and bush beans.  

Dutch Pink tomato
Persimmon tomato
Red Kiss tomato
Half-runner bean
Burgundy bean
Trombetta Squash
Arugula (all kinds)
Blue Adirondak potato
Garden Peas
Baby Butterhead lettuce (even though it didn't grow this year)
Queen Anne Peas
Cucumbers of the normal kind

The Axe List:
Costoluto tomatoes
German Green tomatoes
Speckled Roma tomatoes
Black/Purple Russian tomatoes
Blue Lake pole beans
Cucumbers of the strange kind
Russet potatoes

There are so many other veggies that are on neither list, and I am aware that some on the axe lists are favorites of growers. I can't grow them all - at least not well. Some items aren't on the keepers list because there is no need to seed them. The annual herbs, arugula, and cherry tomatoes are getting to where they seed themselves and are approaching weed status. There are also many lettuces that I grew but couldn't stand the bitter flavor of. I won't rule them out completely because each season can produce different results depending on when the heat hits. What are on your keeper list for next summer? What are you ditching?

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