Taking Stock of Our Garden Successes and Failures

— Written By and last updated by Kerry Jones
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In late summer, as the thunder rolls and the rains fall–sometimes keeping us inside–we have the chance to recall our summer efforts in the garden and the results we’ve gotten. Life is that way. We work and work for that bumper crop, and then mother nature offers us the opportunity to take stock of what we’ve accomplished.

There are literally thousands of varieties of crops we can grow; some simply grow and produce better than others. For example, one year I grew a new zucchini variety called “Meteor” in our demonstration garden. This was a solid yellow zucchini that promised high yields and great flavor. As it turned out, nothing could be farther from the truth. The plant is hard to grow and must be planted when it is hot outside to thrive. Oh wait–did I say “thrive?” Well, “thriving” to this plant meant producing a bland yellow zucchini from time to time. Meteor was not a winner.

Well, back to the drawing board. But thats the reason we have a demonstration garden. That way, we can share with Polk County residents information about plants and varieties that work well (and not so well) in our area.

During this lull following the Summer harvest, take the time to review your own growing season and note what worked and what didn’t. Then we can turn our attention to the Fall garden. It is time to start thinking about what you will grow and where you will grow it. Don’t be afraid to pull out those past-due tomatoes and replace them with your Fall crop. Come November, you will be happy you did when fresh vegetables are aplenty.

So, what do we do this month? Hopefully, you’ve already started some cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and head lettuce indoors under florescent lights. This way they will be ready to go in the garden the first couple of weeks of September. Contrary to what some believe, these crops grow great in the warm Fall weather. They only need to mature in cool weather. That’s why Fall, frost-hardy crops are generally better in the Fall than the Spring.

Take any rainy days to reflect and plan for next year and for this Fall. A garden that is planned out properly always produces more than one haphazardly thrown together. Remember, gardens are like people; they need love and care to be successful and proper planning is the first step in that love and care. Enjoy your Fall gardens and if you have questions, contact me and I’ll get you going in the right direction.