It’s fall and every year at this time I like to take a look back at the gardening season evaluating what did well (and what didn’t!) and make a list of things I need to do next year (install an electric fence) that could improve or expand our gardens. This year, because I’ve been bogged down trying to finish my next book and neglected the garden, it did suffer and the result is that my annual ‘to-do’ list has expanded - exponentially.
I certainly had my share of challenges this season. The deer did get in - daily. That pesky patch of goutweed expanded. I didn’t get a chance to finish my ornamental garden expansion. And I still have pots of shrubs on my driveway that need to be planted! Ack, ok, deep breaths ... But, even with all those setbacks we also had many garden successes:
1 - The tomato patch also endured less love than usual and I never did get all those plants adequately staked, but even so, we managed to harvest gallons and gallons of incredible heirloom tomatoes. I try to source most of my tomatoes from local companies like Annapolis Seeds, Halifax Seed and Hope Seed, but I’m also sent seeds from experts and avid gardeners from across North America. This year one of the ‘new’ heirlooms that we grew was called ‘Northern Lights’, a short season, beefsteak variety with glowing yellow-orange fruits. We also tested a pink cherry tomato from Halifax Seed - which I hope they will carry in their future catalogues and of course I rely on their ‘Sungold’ hybrid tomatoes for a non-stop supply of exquisite sweetness!
2 - Our gourds also thrived in the long hot summer weather. For the first time, our snake gourds are over 5-feet long and we were able to mature long-dipper gourds, which we can now dry and use for giant spoons! Luckily the deer ignore the gourds, instead preferring our carrots, soybeans and pole beans (darn deer!) and the rampant gourd vines were able to scale their 8 foot long and 7 foot tall A-frame trellis without damage.
3 - My newly installed perennial gardens also basked in the heat of summer and besides an occasional deep watering, established extremely well with little work on my part. I am especially excited about the fountain bamboo, a vigorous clumping type that will grow about 12-feet tall.
1 - Next year I am getting an electric deer fence to surround our 2,000 square foot veggie patch. The 8-foot tall deer netting that currently rings our garden just isn’t cutting it and those darn deer either jump the fence or nudge underneath it to munch our edibles. The electric fence will cost about $400, but should take care of the problem. I’ll keep you posted.
2 - It’s time to tackle the goutweed - a word can barely bring myself to write, but it’s time to admit the truth. That tiny, minuscule patch of goutweed that I discovered under our back deck last year (from the previous home owners) has morphed into a garden eating monster! I need to smother it with tarps and cardboard and keep my fingers crossed that I can annihilate it before it takes over the neighbourhood!
What did well in your 2012 garden?
Niki Jabbour is the author of the award winning book, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener (2012 American Horticultural Society Book Award) and the host of The Weekend Gardener radio show that airs on News 95.7 FM April through October. For more info, please visit www.nikijabbour.com or follow her on twitter at @NikiJabbour.