Even though this was a far from perfect year as far as the weather, it’s still important to spend a little time at the end of each growing season going over the things that worked–if only to remind yourself that a few things did, indeed, work.
So while there was much misery over the drought and excessive heat, we can still take a few lessons with us for next year. Which is bound to be better, right?
Here are a few of our stand-out successes.
Carrots and tomatoes
You know, maybe carrots really do love tomatoes, as Louise Riotte says in her book of the same title. We’ve never been big companion planters in the past, partly because a lot of it involves flowers. Marigolds, for instance, are said to repel bugs. But we always hated to use up valuable growing space on something we can’t eat. And we’ve grown basil near tomatoes for years and not noticed much of a positive effect. Likewise, I accidentally planted potatoes near tomatoes one year–which is supposed to be a big no-no–and nothing much happened.
This year, though, I thought I’d put a row of carrots up the middle of two tomato rows because…what the heck, right? They were not especially close, so I didn’t think much about it.
But despite the brutal weather, the tomatoes (Romas) produced very well. And the carrots were some of the best and sweetest I’ve ever eaten. They were not a new special hybrid, just the same old Nantes I usually plant. Something to think about for next year.
I planted this variety for the first time a couple of years ago and hated it. Hated it. It was so late, I didn’t get anything before hot weather. Then last year just out of laziness, we left the cauliflower stumps in the ground rather than pulling them out.
And were rewarded with beautiful white heads in the fall.
I planted earlier cauliflower this year, but put in a couple of Amazing because I had some seeds left over. The early variety formed some heads, but they were ugly, rubbery things. However, as I write this we have a couple of nice white heads of Amazing still forming and a third one on the way. I’ll never get used to picking cauliflower in the fall. But I tell ya, I’m in favor of making it a habit.
If you have fruit trees, you know how hard it is to keep pests away. We have three apple trees (two of which are mature enough to bear significant fruit) but each year most of the apples are carried away by the dozens of little tree rats in our neighborhood. Sometimes, when it gets too dry and food is scarce, they make off with green tomatoes as well.
Not this year, though. This year, we resurrected the owl.
The decoy owl, with the swivel head has been with us for a long time, but has not been very effective. That’s not the owl’s fault. That is because we had not been disciplined enough to use him the right way.
We would put him out, with every intention of moving him around as you’re supposed to. And then we’d forget all about him for weeks. Birds and squirrels would get wise. And our apples would be gone.
This year, Mike made it part of his morning routine to move the owl. Get dressed. Get the paper. Walk the dog. Move the owl.
And it worked. We got more apples than ever before. My hero.
Or it could also be because a local cat has taken an interest in hunting in our garden.
Either way, though, it works for us.
Posted by: Roxie