Lessons from the 2022 Growing Season
Oct 13, 2022
It's the end of the season and as I do each year, I think about how the garden did. Writing a blog article is a great way to summarize the year, but you don't have to be so formal. I do encourage you to go through this exercise. Write a few notes down in your garden journal at the end of the season.
You do keep a garden journal, right?
Even if you don't, you can jot some notes down somewhere you'll find it when you're starting to plan your 2023 garden.
If this was your first year gardening, wow! Congratulations, you made it through!! I bet you learned so much and you've taken a huge step to becoming the kind of gardener you want to be!
Here's how I summarize the season.
Crops in 2022 - In or Out?
Of the crops I grew in my plot this year, are they in or out for next year? What changes will I make to how I grew?
Early Spring - pea sprouts and spinach sprouts
- English Peas (a.k.a. shelling peas) - out
- I have grown peas for 2 years in a row now, and both years I was disappointed with the results. Too much space for too little return.
- Spinach - in, but lower priority
- Even though I've had 2 years of poor performance I have successfully grown spinach in the past.
- Carrots - in
- I will continue with tried-and-true Yaya carrot, but I will try a different new variety to complement it. Tendersweet did pretty well; however they were long and skinny (difficult to harvest) and I didn't find them particularly tender or sweet!
- I only grew one row this year, and this single row provided a good amount of carrots for our needs. I will do the same next season.
- Lettuce - in, but less
- I didn't care for a new variety "Lolla Rossa." It was pretty but I didn't like the flavor and texture. I'll try something new in 2023.
- "Crispino" and "Buttercrunch" are still favorites.
- For a while in the spring, we had more lettuce than I really wanted. I may reduce the space next year or I may choose different varieties.
- Green onions - in
- I just love growing these, and I use them in my cooking reliably. Definitely in.
- Onions - in
- First year for a super-successful crop and I was pleased.
- I have a better feel for how much to grow. In 2022, I grew way too many. Reducing the crop will free up space in the garden in the busy spring planting season.
Late May - young tomatoes and maturing onions
- Tomatoes - in, yes, of course!
- Tough year this year due to drought and very thirsty squirrels. I did not get the crop I had hoped for.
- "Amish Paste" did well, under the circumstances. I plan to grow them again next year. I was particularly impressed with the size of these paste tomatoes. Flavor is good too.
- I am undecided on "Park's Whopper" again. My 2021 crop was good - large tomatoes with excellent flavor. This year was not so good. Maybe I'll try a different slicer because it's fun to try new varieties.
- I'm not sure if I'll do the "Sun Sugar" cherry/grape variety again. Its flavor was awesome, and the plant really produced; the squirrels seemed to leave it alone. I just don't use cherry tomatoes all that much.
- Beets - in, lower priority.
- Reliable crop and I really like to eat them, even if my spouse does not.
- Cucumbers - in
- Variety "Marketmore" did well. I'll probably grow this variety again.
- Peppers - in and out
- I tried "Lunchbox Red" this year, which is a sweet mini pepper for snacking. The plants did very well, they taste like sweet bell pepper, and I'm getting lots of adorable peppers... but I don't really enjoy snacking on little peppers.
- "Big Bertha" produced well and I got plenty from 2 plants. I got enough to freeze some chopped peppers.
Late August - mature tomatoes, brassicas under cover, cucumber, peppers.
Late Summer / Fall
- Arugula - in, but smaller crop
- Very successful in late summer. Could be grown in spring, too. I now have a better sense of how much to grow - I planted too much this season.
- Swiss Chard - in, if there's space
- Reliable crop. I only really need a few plants for the amount I use, and I can stick this in at any time of the season whenever I find myself with a row available.
- Chrysanthemum melon - out
- I planted two such plants because I had some open space.
- Melons are a tough crop in our garden because of cucumber beetles and squash bugs. The plants started out robust and healthy, but by the time they were ready to produce melons, they were stressed. The melons they produced were poor quality.
- This was an experimental crop. It was OK if it didn't make it.
- Broccoli - TBD
- Variety "Belstar" was started from seed. One of 3 plants grew to a good size, and it's not quite ready for harvest yet, so I don't know if I'll grow it again.
- Requires protection from cabbage worm butterflies and takes up a lot of space.
- Cauliflower - TBD
- Variety "Snowball" was started from a transplant and is not quite ready for harvest. I am delighted to have successfully grown my first head of cauliflower.
- Like broccoli, requires protection and takes up a lot of space.
- Cabbage - TBD
- Variety "Golden Acre" was started from a transplant.
- Like broccoli, requires protection. This variety stays fairly small, though.
- Zinnias - in, low priority
- I planted 8 plants and they grew fairly well. I was able to pick blooms in late summer and I enjoyed having some fresh flowers in the house.
- The plants looked sick, with powdery mildew drying out the leaves. And the cucumber beetles chewed on the flowers by the end of the season. The zinnias were next to the cucumbers.
Thinking through the season crop by crop like this helps to inform the planning process for next year's garden. I'm beginning to see a pattern that I tend to delight in crops that I can grow a (relatively) large amount of and preserve. This clearly impacts the garden plan - more plants of fewer crops.
I hope this review has been helpful. Depending where you are, you may have had similar results, or your garden turned out completely different! It's about finding your unique balance of space, what grows well in your garden, and your personal preferences.