I know, I know, I’ve been very absent this summer. It was a very weird summer up by the garden. The timing of nearly everything was off, from when plants were transplanted to when the birds showed up to when the deer left. It was hot, the hottest we have had. It was the driest we have had, with only very small monsoon rains materializing. I had trouble with soil, both with seed starting and in the garden. All of this led to significant disappointments, interspersed with some successes.
Excessive and prolonged deer predation meant a number of plants, mostly tomatoes and kale, got off to a slow start on top of what was already a late start. The kale never really recovered but many of the tomatoes did. The only tomatoes that did grow reasonably well for us this year were the hybrid cherry tomatoes, Sunrise Bumblebee and Purple Bumblebee. Without them we would have had almost no tomatoes. Many of the tomatoes were roasted and will eventually be made into a homemade roasted tomato marinara sauce which goes very nicely with the eggplant bites and eggplant Parmesan. The beefsteak tomatoes that are actually healthy and doing ok are volunteers.
Soil issues plagued me with stunted seedling growth then again with uncontrollable issues with tomatoes and cucumbers and squash. Eventually the issues, I think a powdery mildew, killed the squash and cucumbers, and the cantaloupe were stunted then rotted before ripening. I had high hopes for all of those but those hopes were not to be.
Ok, enough of what didn’t work. What did work? Although it was cool late into the summer, we transplanted the seedlings about five weeks later than last year, we did not have any frosts last spring. This led to banner harvests of cherries, apples, and pears (at least those the deer could not reach). We were not geared up for the amount of cherries we harvested, six-times our previous largest harvest. Some were dried and most were frozen. The apples largely became apple sauce. The pears were eaten fresh or are being made into pear brandy and pear infused vodka (you had to know alcohol would show up somewhere).
The eggplant did very well. They were planted in a sunnier location than last year and seemed to thrive in the hot weather. I grow a Japanese variety. We made cabonatina, eggplant Parmesan, and roasted and froze a lot for enjoying this winter.
Another thing that did very well were many of the flowers. Some of the perennials we planted over the years came into their own this summer. This provided a nice cutting garden and attracted a lot of butterflies, which are always fun to watch.
Next year will be a rebuilding year. I will need to get back to basics with seed starting and soil management. I will need to be more ruthless with volunteer plants taking over the garden. Many of the pots will be moved and/or redone. New flowers will be selected for the pots. We have already moved some of the horseradish to a pot to see if it does better in loose soil. Hopefully the irrigation system will work consistently next year (can’t someone design a more full-proof version for household use?). We will hope for better weather. So, basically the same as usual.