It's Been a Difficult Summer for the Garden

I usually write about what should be going on in the garden and how to manage the garden properly.  All garden writers talk about ideal situations most of the time, and blogs usually show photos of gorgeous gardens.   I have never claimed to be an expert gardener, but I try to talk about how the garden should operate.  This time, I thought I would tell you about the successes and failures (mostly failures) from this summer in the garden. 

I started seeds for fall tomatoes back in early July.  Those languished in pots until late August, when I finally set the tall, spindly things in the garden by laying them in long trenches so that the stems could sprout roots along their length.  That was easier than digging a hole 10 inches deep, and the tomatoes figured out which way was up by the next day.  In defense of my laziness, rain certainly prevented gardening, and I didn’t want to trouble my husband with watering them while I was gone to Missouri in case the rain stopped.   Some of them are beginning to bloom now, and perhaps I’ll get some late tomatoes before frost.  I doubt I will get any though; as of today there are a few tiny green tomatoes on the beautiful plants, and we usually get our first frost by the end of October.

I haven’t managed to freeze any lima beans this summer, and the bunnies have eaten my peas.  It is the first summer since I began this garden that I haven’t frozen any beans or peas, and we will miss them in the winter.  We have had some nice meals of lima beans though.

Although it was still producing some pods, I removed my okra plants last weekend.  I do detest cutting okra because the leaves make me itch, but in past years, I have managed to keep up with the okra cutting.

I haven’t even made any pesto because my first several sowings of basil seeds didn’t germinate, probably because I sowed them in the garden soil and they washed away.  I finally sowed some seeds in pots and transplanted them into the garden when I put in the late tomatoes.  They are growing slowly, and I don't think they'll grow large enough to make much pesto before frost blackens them.
My perennial border is bedraggled because I allowed the dead flowers to remain on the plants.  After the deer attack of early summer, many of the plants look as if a two-year-old gave them a haircut.  I have weeded, though, and I am enjoying the benefits of the heavy layer of mulch I put down last winter. The fall flowers are beautiful.  I’m looking forward to cool days after frost to neaten the plants.

As for weeding, although I avoid using it, I have put out chemical herbicide to gain control over the weeds. My y usual weeding strategy of hoeing out weeds in the morning with the assurance that they’d be dead and crunchy by the afternoon after a day in the sun failed this summer, because of the rain.  To kill the weeds, I had to individually remove every weed from the garden.  Herbicide, and the past month’s dry weather, has enabled me to manage the weeds and put out mulch, and I am finished using herbicide.  

Many of the plants in my formal garden behind the patio are dead.  Deer attack, bunny nibbles, wet weather, and perhaps disease have decimated many of them.  We believe there is an underground spring of some sort under that area of the yard, and during wet weather, the area turns into nearly constant mud.  I pulled back the mulch to examine the plants and saw wet clay instead of soil, and this was several days after the last rain at the time.   The perennials I planted in the area were not necessarily able to tolerate “wet feet,” a gardening term for an area that is wet constantly.  I am not sure what I will do with the site in the future.

How has your garden grown this summer?

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