Summer summary

IMG_20140919_085823255_HDRWith autumn’s frosts approaching, it’s time to separate the ambrosia from the stinkweed  in our gardens this year.

Here are our top five successes:

Peppers. We planted them over a former compost pile, and they responded to the rich soil. We’re freezing lots of green peppers (shown at right), and are intrigued by the beautiful and productive Czech Blacks, a hot pepper we will freeze whole.

Cucumbers. We were deluged with them, and made lots of pickles. We gave many away, and there are still nine in our fridge and more on the vines. I attribute this success to picking over 100 cucumber beetles from zucchini flowers.

Zucchinis. The beetles didn’t nuke the zukes. We headed off their real enemy, the vine borer moth, by covering the plants up to the flowering stage. We made lots of curried soup and quick bread with the zucchinis and even froze some slices.

IMG_20140919_085631815_HDRBeans. Called “Kentucky Wonder,” these beans were indeed a wonder. We canned lots of Chili Dilly Beans. Still on the vines are the lovely Scarlet Runner and Aunt Jean’s Beans, which we will shell for winter use.

IMG_20140919_090132676Celery. We thought it was hard to grow, but it isn’t. Our home-grown celery has a stronger taste than store-bought, and I’ve made and frozen two kinds of soup. There are still several heads; next year we’ll plant less.

Here’s the top failure-turned-to-success:

IMG_20140919_085938850_HDRWoodchucks. These critters were climbing our garden fence and devouring our crops, and weren’t deterred by a horizontal fence extension or fox pee. Gardeners in the neighborhood were distraught. So on July 11 I bought a trap and baited it with pieces of broccoli or peach. We caught, killed and buried six woodchucks. Even our vegetarian neighbors were grateful.

Here are the top five failures:

Tomatoes. I lovingly planted 40 tomatoes in cages, put down red plastic mulch, pruned and watered, and then Late Blight struck. I had three six-foot-tall cherry tomato plants loaded with fruit that I had to pull up and destroy. We picked many tomatoes green and made chutney out of some and left others to ripen. We canned about 20 quarts, about half what we expected.

Pears. We carefully pruned our three trees and sprayed oil to kill pests, but are getting very few pears. One tree was damaged when a maple tree limb came down in a storm. I suspect that the trees aren’t getting enough sun, a problem that will be fixed when that maple  comes down this January.

Carrots. These were eaten by the woodchucks shortly before they came up. I replanted last month and the new ones are coming along nicely. Will they have enough time to bulk up before winter?

Broccoli. The woodchucks seemed to like these best of all. They were chewed down to the nubs and never came back. Slugs like broccoli too. Virtually no broccoli this year.

Spinach. After a great crop last year, I tried planting it this year in a low-sun location. It didn’t work.

 

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