The After Summer Report – part 2

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I was greeted with this when I went out into the garden this morning.

A few days ago I outlined what grew well in my garden last summer, now it’s time to go over what didn’t grow well.

1 – Cabbage. This one I consider a colossal failure. I started two types in a cold frame last spring resulting in enough robust, healthy seedlings for half a garden bed. I carefully spaced them out and planted them once temperatures were warm enough – that night cut worms took action killing several of my seedlings. I made little collars for all the surviving cabbage seedlings and spent several nights outside with a flashlight hunting cutworms down. Next slugs took their turn munching complex patterns into the leaves, then the aphids moved in covering the plants. I sprayed them with soapy water, but the aphids didn’t seem to care. More seedlings succumbed to the attacks. Heading into winter I have two cabbages left, enough for few coleslaws, but certainly no sauerkraut. I sacrificed a lot of space to cabbages, for not much gain – while kale (which I like equally as much) always thrives. I won’t be growing cabbages next year.

2 – Lettuce. I started early lettuce in the ground last spring. Slugs decimated my new lettuce seedlings (but not the arugula). Lettuce starts given to me by others did just fine when planted, I assume they were big enough to withstand some slug munching. I started lettuce in trays on my deck, well away from the risk of slugs, right beside the cabbage with germinated just fine. But, germination rates were low. Mid spring (mostly because of my salad-a-day challenge) I went to the nursery and bought quite a few lettuce seedlings. Over the summer, I tried two more times to start lettuce in trays with little success. I was hoping to try overwintering some lettuce but that’s not going to happen (I do have plenty of mizuna, mache, wintercress, spinach, arugula and chicory – so I’m set for salads). I’m not willing to give up on growing lettuce, so I’ll get all new seeds to try next year – any ideas on how to better start lettuce would be appreciated.

3 – Watering by hand. All summer, I went out every night with a hose to water the garden. I don’t mind spending the time, but I’m a bad waterer. I don’t manage to water everything evenly. In my carrot patch, based on the amount of foliage, I can see where I watered plenty and where I didn’t – I don’t think trying to water more evenly by hand is the solution, I need to make the process more automatic. I’m going to start researching automatic watering systems with the goal of installing a system for next summer.

Overall, I’m happy with how my garden did this year – and I’m not done yet, there is plenty still out there growing to feed my family for the winter and into next spring (kale is the best in the early spring).