Confession time: This year, I have been growing — or trying to grow — 140 different varieties of vegetables, fruits, and herbs; and I think I bit off a little more than I could chew. This is the most common gardening mistake and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. (Damn you, seed catalogues!) On top of the amount of extra work and lessons to learn, the Tennessee Summer has been punishingly long and wet. My tomatoes have been a disaster and all the Brassicas seedlings I planted earlier in the year were destroyed by cutworms. I had never heard of cutworms until this year. I have nightmares about them now.
But there has been lots of goodness from the garden, too, so far this year. My big success was the lemon squash, and I cannot recommend them enough. My first year for growing squash, but not my first experiencing the pests that come with them, so I was ready to go to battle against squash vine borers and squash bugs — and I won. (There’s just no getting away from checking plants daily, removing eggs, and squishing any adult bugs.) I planted six plants and harvested nearly 200 squash! They also grow vertically, which is great if you don’t have lots of room.
It’s been my first year growing melons, too. I chose a French variety called Vert Grimpant because of it’s small size (perfect for one), and because it sounds fancy. I highly recommend that one, too.
My other great success this year has been the soft fruits — strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. I’ve been growing strawberries since my first gardening year, the early kind that produces all it’s fruit in a few weeks. This year, I added some ever-bearers which produce smaller amounts of berries over a much longer season. I spotted one this morning — fresh strawberries in late August!
In 2015, I ordered six raspberry plants. They come in the mail as six-inch canes with roots. In one year, from six sticks to this:
Most of the canes have produced fruit already, but new shoots are coming, so I cut them back this week to see if they will produce again.
The blackberries have been plentiful, as well. They don’t propagate as much as the raspberries, but I’ve still had a bounties for breakfast and jam, with more on the way.
And now, it’s the time of year when the planting begins all over again. The beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach, radishes, chard, peas, and beans are coming up already and doing well. I’m giving the Brassicas another go: cabbages, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and the very tricky brussels sprouts. Wish me luck.