As summer nears its end, it is a good time, especially for new gardeners, to take stock of how things went in flower beds and vegetable gardens.
Summer heat and humidity in the Piedmont are a real stress test for many kinds of plants. And it is fun to make your own judgments about how they performed through the summer. By performance, I mean how well vegetables produced and the plants held up and how nicely bedding plants bloomed. This is not hard work, and it will be helpful in the future, especially if you write down your observations and judgments.
For example, I have been watching the performance of a summer annual called angelonia for the past couple of hot summers and remain amazed at how well it holds up, looking as fresh in August as it did as young plant in May.
And you probably grew more than one kind of tomato. Next spring you will want to remember which one was so good and did so well.
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Here are some things to think about as you evaluate:
▪ The vegetables: Think about the quality and quantity of the produce. Did the vegetables taste good and were they popular at your table? How about the space they took in your garden? Were they worth it, or do you need to make a note to try smaller, more compact types of squash, melons or cucumbers next year?
What failed and why? Perhaps your tomato plants were ravaged by one disease or another. Some types are more susceptible than others.
How about the insects? Did they get ahead of you when your back was turned (or you went on vacation). Anticipating this problem next year can help you stay ahead of it.
▪ The flower beds: It is wonderful to see how many beds of annuals performed well this summer, despite the long stretches of heat. Look over your plants and those of others and decide what did well and what did not.
Were some things too time-consuming because of the need to dead-head old blooms? Did some things require more watering than you would like? Or did some, such as bedding begonias, seem to thrive just on the rain we got?
▪ The seasons: Did you start your vegetable garden in early spring? Consider cool-season vegetables that can be star performers. The fall garden can also be wonderful, and spent summer crops can be removed now to make way for them.
Once you make your evaluations, write it down. It is a long time until next spring. You don’t need to make it fancy, just notes and thoughts about what you like and didn’t like about the flowers and vegetables you took care of this summer..
Q. This is the first year of our garden, which is mostly perennials. We would like to move some taller plants to the back and smaller ones to the front.
A. You will have plenty of time to do this this fall. I would wait until about mid-September to start. Then you can move them. Roots will have a long time to readjust to their new spot before new growth appears next year.