I consider 2017 my best year of container gardening (or as I sometimes call it, Deck Farming) to date. Not, mind you, because I produced an epic amount of veg (I certainly didn’t) but because of how much I learned, and how well I feel it set me up for this year’s gardening escapades. And so, without further ado, here are some of my wins and fails for the 2017 growing season:
WIN: 2017 was the first year I attempted starting tomatoes from seed indoors under a shop light, and I am pleased to say that the Glacier and Super Bush seedlings that came from it were hale and hearty!
FAIL: To harden off my precious tomato seedlings I let them spend some time outdoors getting used to the sun and wind. One evening as I stepped out to collect my dear little darlings, I discovered to my horror that a rude groundhog had eaten my poor little plants down to stubs! I’m sure you can imagine my rage and despair. However, it was early enough in the season that I was able to replace them with transplants from a local nursery, praise God.
WIN: I finally got around to growing the Rattlesnake pole and Scarlet Runner beans I’d ordered the year before. The Rattlesnake beans had a great flavor.
FAIL: I overcrowded them terribly, probably didn’t give the Scarlet Runners a deep enough container, and due to being sick a good part of late spring and early summer did not water them nearly enough. The Scarlet Runners never gave me beans, but I did get to finally have a look at their flowers.
WIN: I managed to successfully produce a few peppers and eggplants from nursery transplants.
FAIL: Mr. Awesome doesn’t like peppers or eggplant, and I didn’t get around to eating them much either. They were a waste of valuable space and growing medium.
WIN: I grew some lovely baby lettuce
FAIL: Didn’t grow enough lettuce. My new, long term gardening goal is to produce enough leafy greens all year long that we do not need to buy any at the store.
FAIL: Our poor plants were beset with cabbage worms again this year, and I wasn’t well enough, or diligent enough, to get outdoors and pick them off. Think I’m going to just have to get some BT this year seeing as they have been eating my seedlings away.
ALSO FAIL: I grew no less than three different types of basil last year and I think I may have used them once in cooking. Same goes for the other herbs.
WIN: I grew some lovely varieties of marigolds from seed that I was very happy with, specifically Bambino and Naughty Marietta:
I’m finding I much prefer marigold varieties with single flowers over the double. Something about them seems so joyful, and they aren’t what you typically see offered in flats at garden centers.
EPIC, EPIC FAIL: The last time I was blogging I mentioned that Mr. Awesome bought me several lovely own root roses for my 30th birthday and stated that I would be bringing them indoors that winter to protect them. Well, I didn’t, and I lost EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. Talk about a hard lesson learned!
WIN: Last September I was moseying around a local greenhouse which the few times I’ve been there has had some truly impressive rose bushes for sale. Being later in the season, their remaining stock was 50% off, so for less than $15 I brought home a lovely grafted Burgundy Iceberg rose, which bloomed its heart out until I finally brought it into the garage to (Lord willing) safely hibernate until spring.
WIN: After watering a particular houseplant and having it overflow onto our lovely antique Victorian secretary, I banished all of our houseplants outdoors to, frankly, thrive or die. They had been looking quite forlorn anyway, and I wasn’t terribly worried if they didn’t make it. I told myself if they did well I would worry about what to do with them when the weather turned cold again.
Well, the field trip outside did the majority of them a great deal of good. They grew, got plenty of water, sunshine, and humidity, and I didn’t have to fear for our furniture or worry much about them for a couple of months. I fully intend for this to become a routine in our household. Another big bonus to taking them outdoors was my Christmas cacti were given the conditions they needed to flower, and put on quite a show:
WIN: I read Eliot Coleman’s books, The Four-Season Harvest and The Winter Harvest Handbook. Living in Michigan in zone 6a where we are beset with cold weather six months of the year, the concept of winter growing is extremely attractive to me. I also made my first cold frame and put it to use, but that’s probably a good subject for another blog post.
Those are some of the main highlights of the 2017 growing season. My main goal for 2018 is to grow enough produce that it makes a significant impact on our diet (and bank account). I’m especially excited to put to practice what I’ve learned about season extending and winter growing, and hope to have more cold frames together by spring to start seedlings in.