This week we said goodbye to our beloved tomato plants. Some of the other summer plants had withered away prior to this, and some are still growing and producing, but the loss of the tomatoes felt significant. Perhaps it’s because when you think of growing vegetables in the summer, tomatoes come to mind first. Or perhaps it’s because we nurtured them from seeds, turned our bathroom into a greenhouse to give them the best chance possible, and then watched them grow into 8-ft Lycopene-producing power houses.
All I know for sure is that Andrew and I both felt a little bit sad to put what remained in the compost pile. (Yeah, I know. We have a compost pile and feel sad over the death of plants. I promise we are not these people. Like seriously… we are not part of that group.)
What feels like the end of the season, however, prompted me to reflect on our first real attempt at gardening, and I’d like to pass along a few tidbits we gleaned along the way.
Plants that thrived: tomatoes (cherry and slicing), peppers (bell, cayenne, and pimento), green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatillos
Plants that didn’t thrive: broccoli and Swiss chard (better as fall plants… oops!), cucumber, cantaloupe, and pumpkin (all eventually got some kind of disease and the vines looked terrible), watermelon (still growing…Andrew disagrees), carrots and beets (all grew as miniature versions of what they should be).
Tips for Next Year’s Garden Rookie (From This Year’s Garden Rookie) :
–Vegetables that produce continually and quickly are the most fun–cherry tomatoes, green beans, tomatillos, and squash were among our favorites. We lost interest in the melons and pumpkins, which take up a lot of space in the garden, and the reward (if any) takes a long time.
–Grow vegetables that you’ll actually eat–we thought it would be fun to grow cayenne peppers, but we have yet to eat any. We now have dozens drying in our dining room because we don’t know what to do with them other than dry and crush them into what will probably be a lifetime supply of pepper flakes.
–Don’t be afraid to prune and thin–when our tomatoes and peppers were little sprouts living in the bathroom greenhouse, we were so thrilled to watch them grow that we couldn’t bear to thin them to one plant per square inch (see photo above). When the time came to plant them outside, we practically had to do surgery to get the roots apart without damaging the plants. And I think we have pruning to thank for our huge tomato plants and fruits. Definitely cut off leaves and branches that look bad, but cutting off a few healthy ones as well helps the plant grow stronger and the fruit grow bigger.
–Cage plants that have the potential to be tall before they are actually tall–it may look silly (again, see photo above :)), but if you don’t, they will shoot up and bend over before you know what happened.
I’m sure there’s more, but those are the tips that come to mind as ones you might not find if you Googled, “tips for first time gardeners.”
Additionally, I’m pleased to present to you our first fall garden:
(The forest on the left is the pepper plants still going strong!)
Butternut and acorn squash, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, sweet peas, kale, chives, and lettuce
So, as much as we’re going to miss having these guys around:
…we are pretty stoked for the new recruits. 😀
What thrived/didn’t thrive in your summer garden?
Are you planting anything this fall?