Summer Garden in Review

Author: Meera, September 5, 2013
Red onions grown from sets laid onto the dirt and barely covered with soil produced bountifully this yearprinkled with

Red onions, grown from sets laid onto prepared beds of soil and barely covered with dirt, produced bulbs all summer


As I prepare and amend planting beds to sow some cool season crops, I am also reviewing my summer garden. I will be the first to admit it was less than a stellar year for my vegetables, except for the peppers, eggplants, summer squash,  cherry tomatoes and the sweet French pumpkins for pie, Rouge Vif d’Etampes.


Some of our heirloom tomatoes produced lots of tasty fruit, but others didn't

Some of our heirloom tomatoes produced lots of tasty fruit, but others didn’t


We bought seedlings of heirloom tomatoes and also grew some plants from seed (captured and preserved from last year). The paste tomatoes produced abundantly, but I didn’t get many slicing tomatoes and the cantaloupe and Armenian cucumber plants performed dismally for me. Last summer, those two were star performers in my garden.


The German heirloom Riesentraube (the name means “giant bunch of grapes”) will produce sweet, red 1-ounce fruits, if they ever ripen. The plant’s vines have spread like a wild weed all over the garden and are covered in blooms. The plant is a heavy producer but the fruit is still green. To be fair, I planted this one later than the other heirloom tomatoes, so it may yet surprise me.


Of the blue-black tomatoes we planted, the most notable are Blue Beauty and Indigo Apple. I loved the taste and the thin skin of Blue Beauty but Indigo Apple’s small fruit, despite being described as sunburn and crack resistant, suffered from both in my summer garden.


Our sweet corn suffered from an aphid infestation

Our sweet corn suffered an aphid infestation that rapidly spread throughout the patch


My patch of sweet summer corn produced lots of ears but quickly became infested with corn aphids that I had difficulty controlling. Finally, I ripped out the whole patch.


We had an abundance of raspberries and strawberries this year. Although we picked strawberries every morning from early May throughout the summer, those strawberries kept on blooming and producing. The blackberries produced lots of vines, but few berries. My blueberry bush went into the compost pile–the soil is too clay and alkaline. I’ll try growing one next year in a wine barrel with acid soil, maybe adding some pine needles, sulfur powder, peat moss, and sawdust mulch.


Our White Genoa fig tree is loaded with ripening figs and the Fuji apple, a few feet away, has branches needing support for the low-hanging, heavy apples. We picked and ate all the sweet summer-ripening Bartlett pears. Now, while we await the fall pears ripening, we’ll keep an eye on the blood oranges from which I hope to make marmalade in late winter when the fruit on the citrus trees ripens.


So, in review, this summer’s garden wasn’t the best. But gardeners, myself included, are eternal optimists, ever dreaming of the next plant, the next season. As English writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West astutely observed, “The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic . . . always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before.”





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