Garden Update: The End, The End

by Heidi Obermeyer

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Pardon my major garden update delay- the damn thing started producing so many tomatoes that blogging about it, much like managing the amount of fruit coming at us, seemed like a futile endeavor. I’ve just returned to the DC after a month away, and the garden has held up fairly well even with the beginning of cold weather. The photos above are from the end of August.

Tomatoes– The tomatoes I planted all did pretty well, but the winners by a mile were the Cherokee Purples, both those that I bought at the Arboretum plant sale and the ones I grew from seed. Once they started ripening they just couldn’t stop- we had massive tomatoes and massive amounts of them. In my over-zealous planting extravaganza last spring, I also put a few tomato plants in 10 gallon buckets. This ended up being a terrible idea once the novelty wore off and the watering schedule set in- things planted in buckets require water, like, all the time. This every-other-day watering got old fast, the plants didn’t grow nearly as fast as those we had in the ground, and the few times we had big storms they got blown over and nearly knocked out of the pots. Next year I am going to skip the buckets and only use our garden bed.

Basil– The basil we grew was amazing and lasted all summer as long as I kept pinching back the flowers. We barely used any of it at our house (sadly- how did I skip making caprese salad even one time this summer?!) but it was a great thing to be able to give to people in great big bunches. I think I will plant some again just for that purpose.

Beans– I planted some scarlet runner bean seeds as an experiment alongside another bean plant I bought as a sprout at a nursery. The scarlet runner beans were nutrient-deprived (as was much else in the garden, more on that in a minute) and could barely compete with the other bean plant for much of the summer, although once the larger green bean plant started to die off the scarlet runners were still holding up pretty well. The beans all looked pretty good, but again, I never ate them. Wah-wahhhh.

Kale and Lettuce– I pulled up the lettuce about half-way through the summer, but we ate a lot of it when it was doing well and I would certainly plant it again. The kale never really took off as I expected, but I did make kale chips a couple times. I think I need to restrain myself and plant it later in the year next time.

Jalapeños and Bell Peppers– these were both awesome to have around. We used a surprising number of jalapeños for pizzas, salsa, pico, and more. The bush of them that I planted grew really well and produced a surprising amount of fruit consistently throughout the summer. My only beef with these things is that whenever I would cut them up my hands would burn for hours afterwards- and they weren’t even that spicy! It was weird. The one bell pepper plant we did produced some tasty peppers but only a total of about 6 over the summer. Next year I’m going to quadruple our bell pepper plants and cut way back on the tomato situation. I also planted a small salsa pepper (I think that’s verbatim what the label said) and one very hot pepper plant, both of which were productive but neither of which saw much action on the dinner table.

Dahlias– These were my favorite thing I grew this year. I bought two bushes at the Arboretum plant sale in April, and for whatever reason one of them took off like a bat out of hell, growing to 10x its original size and producing endless small purple flowers. I cut them to take to work, to give to friends, for my room, and for our dining room table. It was great!

Zinnias– I bought a packet of zinnias on a whim for a dollar fifty, and they ended up being another nice floral addition to the garden. They grow super fast and multiple as you cut flowers from the plants, so by the end of the summer they were producing a few blooms a week in all different colors.

Watermelon, eggplant, and Mexico midget tomatoes– I don’t think I will plant any of these again next year. The watermelon and eggplant completely failed and the Mexico midget tomatoes did a weird thing where they would grow, produce fruit, die, and then start growing again in weird directions. The garden gets plenty of sunlight but they ended up super spindly anyway.

Next year I’ve got a few changes in mind, namely planting a lot more flowers, cutting back on the plants I put in containers outside of the garden bed, improving the soil quality by purchasing a bunch of dirt (that’s when you know you’re an adult- when you’re psyched about buying dirt), and planting more bell peppers for our culinary enjoyment. T’was a lovely summer of growing things!