You know, it was over a month ago that I thought “I’m going to write a letter to myself about how to make the garden better next year.” And did I do it? No, I did not. But perhaps a little garden wrap up here will be helpful to me next year AH! Real time typing–the cat just got caught on the window blind cord behind my head. Good grief! She is fine. I can’t believe one of my weird “what if that ever happens” cat thoughts just came true! Anyway, back to the garden. Here’s a 2011 Evaluation:
Butterfly & Bird garden: Did wonderfully this second year of existence! The butterfly bush in particular grew quite large and attracted not only butterflies, but also a hummingbird! The hummingbird mint was always full of buzzing bees and little white butterflies. That particular plant is also quite large and I’m not sure if I planted it funny or what, but it’s growing totally sideways. I’m hoping it will be able to straighten up next year, but it may be too late for that. All in all this garden fulfilled our hopes for it-it was beautiful, completely revitalized that area (gone are the weeds and the dormant hydrangea bloomed for the first time in years), and was beneficial to birds, butterflies, and bees.
Recommendation/Plan: add more mulch (a lot of it has been scratched away by chickens), next year add some red blooming plants to attract more hummingbirds.
Front flower beds:In front of the porch the three hostas from last year held on, though they didn’t become enormous like the pond hostas. The three hydrangeas I planted last year did not reappear. A friend gave me another hydrangea which I planted this spring and it has held on pretty well. The peonies looked gorgeous and although there were very few perennials amongst them, their green foliage looked pretty good throughout the summer.
Recommendation/Plan: Paul suggested that sometimes you need to sacrifice what you have and start anew. Good advice. He tilled the bed in front of the porch, making it a bit wider. I wasn’t quite willing to sacrifice the hostas, so did it around them. We put down weed barrier, then planted a whole bunch of new spring bulbs (daffodils and tulips). Ordered a big pile of mulch and started to fill it in. The plan is that next year we’ll add some other perennials to it, possibly the same as we’ve got in the butterfly garden. It did so well this year we’re trying to apply the same actions to the front. I have ordered two new peonies to put somewhere in there as well.
Raised beds vegetable garden: I’m sorry to say that once again we were disappointed by our vegetable garden. The corn did not yield anything-grew strong and straight for a while, then just fizzled. The cucumbers were ridiculously abundant-ridiculous because, well, I only like maybe 2 cucumbers per summer. I don’t like pickles and it was a silly crop for me to plant so much of. Sadly the canteloupe and watermelon plants were completely unfruitful. I did get zucchini, but just a few. The tomato plants were very promising, though a lot of the green tomatoes just never ripened (there are some still out there.) I did not plant tomatillos this year, but there were volunteer plants all over the place. I did get some, though there are many little paper lanterns out there that just haven’t yielded any ripe ones. I planted many pepper seeds, but did not get a single pepper plant. Basically we have a huge fenced in mass of weeds that supported the morning glories (which are glorious). I feel very frustrated when I look at people with smaller gardens getting bigger yields, and people with raised beds that are not filled with weeds. It seems like when we plant from seed the weeds are crazy because it’s too hard to weed when the seedlings are coming up, and the weeds come up so fast they overtake everything.
Recommendation/Plan: only plant a couple of cucumber seeds; plant herbs in containers (and maybe place along the driveway?); throughout the winter take used chicken coop hay and place between beds to control weed growth; do not plant any corn, but do plant more tomatoes, including varieties of cherry. Mulch or hay to keep weeds down. Don’t overplant the beds. Don’t forget to plant butternut squash. Keep on top of cutting back the asparagus. Be sure to get the giant basil plants from the store.
Pond: Due to last year’s poor winterization of the pond we lost most of our frogs and fish. We got tadpoles and more fish and they seem to be doing well. Unfortunately the growth around the pond is so big and bushy that we really don’t see in the pond anymore at all. We did not add any plants to this area.
Recommendation/Plan: Heeding Paul’s advice to sometimes start over, I’m going to attempt to remove the enormous hosta that completely obstructs the view. I’m sure it will be very difficult, as last year I removed another one and it was nearly impossible. Basically we should have had flat rocks around the pond, then plants. Instead we planted things way too close and it all became very overgrown and created too much shade and it’s not very fun to have a pond that you can’t actually see. So we’re going to attempt to pull things out and either move them or just plant anew.(But not the iris, because they are gorgeous in the spring.) We will also be sure to clean out debris and leaves this autumn so that our living creatures in there will not suffocate and will be able to safely winter over.
So, that’s the garden update. This week I’ll be distributing the mulch and planting some more tulip bulbs. I’m looking forward to next spring when I’ll be happily surprised by all the crocus bulbs I already planted.
(And on a chicken update, we lost 4 chickens over the past two months. Our flock is down to 13-still getting plenty of eggs, though 3 of those we lost were laying hens, so definitely not as many.)