Evaluating the season gone by

With the end of summer, there are some significant changes underway in the garden.

We had our first rain in over 8 weeks, a long heavy rain accompanied by strong winds, making the garden suddenly vibrant. The soil is now soft and friable, worms have begun to appear everywhere, little weed seedlings are popping up and many tomatoes have literally burst!

Not this Black Russian though

I've also started replacing summer crops with winter crops and soon the garden will look a little empty.

At the end of each season I like to reflect on how things went and to make note of failures and successes to improve planning for next time. This is especialy improtant in new gardens. 

Overall I feel that the season has been a great success, especially considering planting started two months late. 

The zucchinis, cucumbers and melons were a great success, with huge and consistent harvests. 

I was really impressed with all of the cucumber varieties (Gherkin, Parisian Pickling, Spacemaster, Doubleyield and Sweet and Striped), all were sweet and crispy, and didn't develop bitter flavor or tough skin. 

I especially liked the Sweet and Striped Cucumber.

Deliciously crisp, sweet and fantastically different to all the other varieties

The zucchini and squash were super productive and I loved all the different colors. The yellow zucchini and little squash were some of my favorites. The white zucchini were especially tender and tasty. The only problem with them is that once a week harvesting is not frequent enough. They really need to be harvest every second or third day to prevent them from becoming overgrown.

And the melons! I loved the melons so much, but it wasn't all fabulous success. Cream of Seskatchewan and Sweet Siberian watermelons were productive and beautiful to look at but thin skinned, most of the melons split and spoiled on the vine. The Golden Midget watermelon were difficult to assess for ripeness and never developed the intense sweetness of some of the others. But the Sugarbaby and Blacktail Mountain watermelons were great, productive and delicious, I'll definitely grow these again. 

The rockmelons were my definite favorite this year. I will be growing plenty of Edens Gem and the very productive and late producing Madeira Mystery next season, as well as some Sweet Granite, which made up for being thin skinned by being the most delicious.

Eggplants and Capsicums have also been a great success. Next year I will plant them as early as possible, early November, and hope for a longer harvest. 

The tomatoes did not grow well at all, the plants struggled constantly and harvests have been pretty small. I haven't made notes about each different variety yet, but I will. In general though, I think they would have done better if planted earlier and given more of a chance to become established before the hot, dry conditions.

so sad..

The peas and beans were an interesting story, initially a complete failure, the soil was too dry and hard for planting out seedlings and survival ranged from zero to patchy...

Beans failed...

The bush beans were the worst performers, Violet Queen bush beans actually grew and produced decent crops, but Golden Wax, Flageolet Flagrano and Borlotti beans never grew well despite two lots of direct sowing. Next year I will sow them in a different area where the soil is less rocky and hope for more success. 

The climbing beans and peas were much more hardy and productive, but also needed direct sowing. The Vitalis climbing bean is the most tender and productive, while I have left the French Haricot to produce dried beans as the green beans were too tough and stringy, perhaps due to the dry conditions. The peas all died when seedlings were planted out, but never looked back after direct sowing.

Beans success!

Peas success!

Sweet and crispy

The potatoes have also finally come good, although I don't think harvests will be great seeing as they were planted much too late, next time I will plant them in late October or early November. But I have faith in the no dig method even though I had to make a few changes to the technique to suit my conditions, they are growing very well now.

Potatoes success!

Everything else did pretty well. The salad greens grew beautifully in the best soil in the garden, which also happens to be in the shade.

The sunflowers were beautiful and very productive, especially Dwarf Sunsation and Royal Velvet, multihead varieties. Next year I will plant more sunflowers through all of summer to spread production accross the season. Sadly, I ran out of sunflowers two weeks ago...

And lastly, while harvests haven't begun yet, I think the pumpkins are going to be a huge success!

What's under all those leaves...

P.S. I will grow more flowers next season