Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Summer Season in Review

by Francesca


My garden is showing the first hints of autumn, and since this is my last post at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op for the month of August, it seems a good opportunity to look back at the summer season. I take my lead here from Amber of, and her neat tradition of “A Month in Review” in which she lists and briefly comments on the main things she's learned during that month. I'd like to do the same today, as some of the things I've learned during this gardening season have come from the readers of this blog.

So, here are some of the things I learned so far:

  1. Intercropping requires careful short-term and long-term planning. I made two main mistakes this year: I intercropped radicchio, chili peppers and carrots, to combine a leaf, a vegetable, and a root vegetable. However, it didn't occur to me that I was growing three plants of the same height, quite close together, and all three with long growing cycles. As a result, the plant stuck in the middle (the chili peppers), which happened to be the one I was most interested in, didn't grow very well. Also, I intercropped perennial flowers of the Asteraceae family, like calendula officinalis, with my vegetables, not considering that the perennials will make it difficult to hoe and work the soil next spring without damaging them.

  2. I planted potatoes for the first time in many years (here), and learned from Brenda of Sense of Home how to cure them before storing them here.

  3. When in doubt, it's wise to over-plant. I planted enough tomatoes for eating fresh, but not enough for canning. I knew I was going to be on the road for a whole month, and I was afraid the tomato plants might not make it. As it turned out, they were among the vegetables that did the best during my month away (here). Had I planted more, right now I'd be putting up tomato sauce.

  4. Mulching is a great practice to use while you're on the road, as Sue of Garden Notes suggested in the comments here: it retains moisture and it suppresses weed growth.

  5. Neem oil is a natural remedy that diluted can be successfully used in the garden as a parasiticide and an insecticide, as Theresa of All of Us, and AG Ambroult of Elemental commented (here, with more suggestions on homemade insects repellants).

But perhaps the most important lesson I learned – or rather, re-learned – this season is that when it comes to gardening, you can never stop learning.

What did you learn in your garden this season?