A Look Back at 2018
The year is coming to an end and it’s time to look back and reflect. What went wrong, what went right (not a lot this year!), and how lessons learned will impact the garden & how I do things in the future.
Harvesting a few tomatoes to snack on 😉
This was a rough year personally, with both of my in-laws passing away before we even hit June. My head was all over the place and my attempt to maintain normalcy was only partially successful. I was also away a lot this summer – 5 weeks in total with 4 different trips between May and September - which didn’t help when it came to staying on top of things.
Both the vegetable garden & the ornamental beds suffered, some more than others. Many of my plans, such as finally tackling one of the ornamental borders in our backyard that hasn’t been touched in years & installing drip irrigation in the raspberry runs, fell by the wayside.
In the end though, just like with each season in the past, some things went wrong while others went right. I don't have many pictures in the first section as I just didn't think to take photos of dying plants and weeds 🙄.
What Went Wrong
My Bad (Things that I did...or didn’t do!)
- Glitch in the Irrigation System in Area #2 – I purchased new timers this year for the drip irrigation and didn’t set up the one in Area #2 correctly. Then I went away and there was a heat wave, with temperatures in the 30C’s (high 80F’s). The beds affected had newly transplanted peppers and tomatoes together with carrot seedlings and strawberry plants in their 1st year. The tomatoes ended up not doing too badly, but the harvest from all the other beds was dismal. The carrots were stunted, the pepper harvest was 75% less than what it could have been and I ended up with barely a handful of strawberries.
This is what the strawberry bed looked like a week or so before we went away & the bed went bone dry.
We not only lost almost all of the developing strawberries, but a few of the plants as well.
- Sporadic weeding – While I kept more or less on top of weeding most of the front ornamental beds and the mulched areas in Area #1 (I’m trying a new “frequent weeding” strategy in my effort to weaken and hopefully eliminate the incessant bindweed), the veg beds themselves didn’t get weeded as much as they should have.
- No succession planting – This wasn't something that went wrong, but it did have an impact on how much I harvested, so I figured I would include it here. With everything happening on the home front, I knew early on that succession planting would be a struggle as even in a “normal” year it’s a hit or miss proposition. Instead of planning to do it and then feeling guilty that I didn’t get around to it, I decided to cross succession planting off the list right from the start. I did manage to get in a 2nd round of carrots though.
The one crop I miss the most when I don't succession plant is lettuce
- Lack of harvesting – Since I was away so much, harvesting suffered, especially when it came to the greens. In September (when I was away for 2 weeks), I “picked” several buckets of rotting/eaten (by slugs) tomatoes that had fallen off the vines. So sad.
- No straw bales – I was planning on getting a few bales going this year but I kept procrastinating and then it was simply too late. This meant no winter squash other than the two butternut plants that I grow in a bed.
|Memories of my success growing squash in straw bales, back in 2016|
Mother Nature’s Bad (Things that were beyond my control)
- Super-hot summer – It was another record breaking summer, with WAY too many days where temperatures hit the mid-30’s (90’s), especially when the humidex was taken into account. The heat would, of course, impact on the yield of crops that prefer it on the cooler side, such as the potatoes, lettuce and brassicas. P.S. You know the 2018 season was too hot when Wikipedia actually has a page entitled “North American 2018 Heat Wave”. In fact, the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere in the world was logged this past summer in Death Valley, California, with 4 days where it hit 53C…127F - yikes!!
- Pests – There were two notable pests this year, aside from the usual things such as slugs and some sporadic rabbit damage (most notable of which was on the sweet potato vines - they were essentially rabbit chow). First were the leek moths, not in the onion beds as in prior years (since these were well covered this time round), but in the garlic bed. Not only did the garlic bulb harvest go down dramatically, but so did the scapes. Secondly, there was a new pest in the garden – asparagus beetles. I don’t think they affected the harvest this year as they appeared after I stopped harvesting and the asparagus had ferned out but I have a feeling next year’s harvest may be impacted.
|Asparagus Beetle Larva...yes, there were LOADS of them|
What Went Right
|Rose of Sharon 'Diana'|
Crown Princess Margareta - my first David Austin rose 😃
Now my fingers are crossed that it actually makes it through the winter!
I grew a whole whack of annuals in pots - and I loved it! Yes there were a few casualties and yes, I made mistakes (some pots were WAY overcrowded while others had plants that were simply too tall and not suited to a 10" pot), but hey...it was a learning experience. Can't wait to do it again next year!
|This terracotta planter included alyssum, dwarf cosmos &|
a peach nasturtium (a new favourite!), all grown from seed
|Zinnias surround the veg garden,|
together with a few other annuals such as cosmos
Let me see, what else.....oh yes, I found out I liked beets (!!), specifically the colourful and/or stripy ones. Although I’m not a fan of them cooked (yet), I do love them raw, grated or julienned in salads.
Beets are now part of the permanent grow list
I really liked the variety mix that I planted this year - I think I'm almost at the perfect mix