Monday, August 23, 2010

What I learned on my summer vacation...

It's hard to believe that summer is nearly over, and the consistently warm and sunny weather belies what the calendar is telling me. The growing season still has another good seven weeks or so before we can expect a true frost, but as we turn into the home stretch I'm inclined to look back on this whirlwind summer and what lessons it's imparted.

1. It's the mulch, stupid!
This is rather embarrassing to admit, but I didn't mulch the vegetable bed this year and that was a major oversight! As someone who uses mulch quasi-religiously on the ornamental beds, and who has recommended the use of said mulch in multiple magazine articles, I really dropped the ball here! The lack of mulch contributed to tomato cracking and blossom end rot on some bell peppers, since the moisture level fluctuated rather wildly thanks to my frequent trips out of town and our periodic drought conditions. I guess I fooled myself into thinking mulch would be unnecessary and/or cumbersome because the bed is so small. However, I got a great suggestion from Garden Girl in a comment on a previous post about using leaf mold as a mulch, and I intend to give it a try next year.

2. Grow more hot peppers.

I have been scalding myself on a regular basis, and judging by the looks of these chili peppers it's set to continue. The habaneros are coming along beautifully too. I can't guarantee that next year will have the hot, sunny weather that this year has had, which is perfect for these peppers, but it's certainly worth another try!

3. Abject neglect will kill a container garden.
Before my week-and-a-half excursion away from home:


The 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia is making a valiant effort to keep this container going, but the 'Ready to Wear' calibrachoa from Hort Couture and the 'Red Plume' celosia just couldn't handle the abuse.

4. Abject neglect will not necessarily kill a container garden.

This pot is in the shade, which undoubtedly helped its survival while I was gone. It's simple but I've been enjoying this container all season. Look at the nice crinkly texture of the 'Blackberry Waffle' hemigraphis, also from Hort Couture.

5. Abject neglect will kill a tree.
No photos of this involuntary arboricide. Let's just leave it at this: I bought a darling dwarf Canadian hemlock 'Pendula' that I was nursing along in a container with the intention of planting it in my problematic north border this fall. But I let it get too dry (I think), then I tried to overcompensate with too much water (I think), but I couldn't stop the downward spiral. I'm still not quite sure exactly how it happened, but I have officially killed a tree. Dark days.

6. Squashes need tons of sun.

I have gotten a whopping three cucumbers this year, and my four varieties of squash have produced exactly zero. The lush foliar growth and abundant flowers tells me there is hope for squashes here, but more sun would probably be a good idea. I expect to move the trellis next year, plant solely vining varieties to maximize sunlight exposure, and just generally lay out the veggie bed better next year.

7. Phlox paniculata and purple hyssop make a great combo.

OK, so I don't actually have many pictures of this combo because I mostly observed it in the frenzied weeks of late as I ran from the front door to the car, and later jumped from the car and ran back to the house, thinking as I streamed past the front garden, "Wow, those really look nice. Maybe I should take a picture. Maybe I should get more of them..." and then a thousand other things happened before I actually got the camera. But trust me, these 'David' phloxes and the hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) have anchored the front border since late July, and I like the textural contrast between the spiky hyssops and rounded, delicate phloxes.

So what did you learn this summer? Was it a good summer vacation, or are you ready for fall?

FTC Disclaimer: I got the calibrachoa and hemigraphis complimentary from Hort Couture, but as you should be able to see from this post, I am not predisposed to solely praise them.


garden girl said...

I think you'll find the leaves will really help Rose.

I learned I need to pick up a hay bale this fall. It's cheap mulch - about $6.00 here. I'll stash it near the compost bin till next year, since I'm finding at this time of year I could really use a bit more mulch on the veggie beds and I'm fresh out leaves. Ruth Stout swore by straw for her vegetable garden. She claimed to never water her veggies at all.

I'm not sure that's possible anymore with climate change, but I will try the straw late in the season to build up the mulch. I really need to water NOW! Supposedly August has the highest rainfall of the year historically, but that hasn't been the case in recent years.

Rose said...

I, too, learned that I should have mulched the veggie garden better.I used some dried grass clippings around the tomatoes, which worked ok, but I had intended to get a bale or two of straw, which definitely works the best. I also have some containers that look just like yours--and I have no excuses for why I didn't keep up with them.

But every year is a learning experience, isn't it? I think this year's heat and moisture fluctuation made it difficult for a lot of gardening. Your habaneros look so more ways than one:) And I love happy accidents like your combination of hyssop and phlox.

stamps_coin_banknote of Nepal said...

first of all, thanks for your flowers blog! I am really enjoyed with your blog thanks again to you. I am from kathmandu,Nepal. lovers of gardening and to collect world wide flower seeds. as you known flower seeds collector. I am unmarried person seeking for flowers lover friend all over the world. thanks to you again!

my address
laxmi prasad shahi
house no.163,lakhgalli
ward no.19,damai tole

my blog:

You May Also Like

Related Posts with Thumbnails