Free Drawing–2009 Gardening Lessons

What  gardening lessons do you take away from the 2009 season? Share your experience here for a chance to win a CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator.

CobraHead Weeder BlogFall has definitely fallen around here and I’d like to recapture some of those nice, warm feelings from summer.

Want to play along? You could win a CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator–my new favorite gardening tool.

Thinking back to this year’s gardening season I recall it certainly had its ups and downs.

Some gardens took too long to come up and others were beaten down by hail.

Despite these challenges, I’m sure every gardener learned something from his or her 2009 gardening experience.

What gardening lesson did you learn this year?

Think about your 2009 garden…

  • Did you try a new plant that performed well?
  • Find a new planting or maintenance method that saved time or effort?
  • Did you beat Mother Nature at her own game?
  • What do you plan to do the same (or differently) next year?

Please post a comment that describes what you learned from your 2009 garden in the comment box below by Friday, November 6, 5:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

Your name will be entered in a random drawing to win a CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator (a trade show giveaway by the nice folks at CobraHead). Any U.S. gardener over 18 may enter; one entry per person, please.

Questions? Just contact me at jodi@westerngardeners.com or follow me on Twitter @WesternGardener.

Thanks for your comments!


 

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Comments

This summer I spent most of my time indoors doing twitter! So my best advice is to let your husband do the gardening. That is a true story. In addition, I did get a chance to spend one day in the sunshine. I dug up the columbine that were scattered around and planted them in a location where they seem to propagate themselves naturally. My best advice from over the years: observe where plants are happy and thrive. Then add more of the same, cut and divide and allow them to flourish in this area. Many blessings, Debby

I learned that overcrowding my plants is my biggest impediment to keeping a tidy, healthy and abundant garden. We had lots of rain, so everything grew magnificently, but the bullies tended to run mad. Which leads me to my other mistake, putting in rampant groundcover to control weeds. Namely periwinkle and euonymous vine that went underground and wouldn’t die, even under 2 loads of wood chips. So, to remedy the big blunder, I’m cutting back flowers and shrubs after blooming, tearing out the aggressive plants, like forsythia and the two above, containing the lily of the valley, planting hostas as breaks to the encroaching woodland zone and, for the most part planning well in advance what I shall have where.

Thanks, Debby. Your advice to place plants where they’ll be happiest is a good one. It follows the master gardener mantra of “right plant, right place.”

A tidy garden? What’s that?? But you’re absolutely right, Anna, about the benefit of planning in advance. Thanks for your comment.

My lesson is about preventive maintenance that would have saved 2 weekends of effort. Out here in Southern California, nutgrass/nutsedge has massively invaded our lawns. Even my thick, healthy, drought-tolerant St. Augustine lawn is full of it. You can’t see it in the lawn but when it gets to the flower or vegetable bed, you either go out and hack it back every day or kiss the flower bed goodbye. Nothing but Roundup will kill it and even then you have to spray and spray and suffer the collateral damage of losing other plants to the spray. I don’t like to spray at all. But I didn’t know when it started to invade the beds that it was stronger than me. I should have installed LANDSCAPE FABRIC in the beds before they were planted. Now this weekend and next, we’re removing perennials from 2 beds, trying to dig up the nutgrass and little “nuts” down deep that the grass springs from. I’m told that it’s not possible to find and remove the nuts, but we’ll start. Then next weekend, we’ll install landscape fabric and re-install all the perennials and mulch. If you find a cure for nutgrass, you’ll make a million dollars in California!

Hi Eva, thanks for sharing your lesson about preventive maintenance. Unfortunately, that sounds like one of those lessons that has to be learned the hard way and we’ve all had them. I don’t know anything about nutgrass, but if I could make millions with a cure for it, I might start studying up!

Plant what you’ll eat. With my (first ever!) veggie garden this year, I planted three summer squash plants — and realized in, oh, three days, that I can eat one or two yellow squash and be done for the whole season. But the plant kept producing … and producing. Next year, lots more green beans, which never go to waste.

Thanks, Melody–great advice to plant what you’ll eat. I had to smile at your example of planting too much yellow squash; I had my own problems with them this year. For me the best way to get rid of them was to bake Chocolate Squash Cake. I also completely agree with your green bean assessment.

I learned that no matter how cute a bunny is, don’t encourage him with baby carrot treats from the kids’ lunches.

Oh, I bet there’s a terrific story behind this lesson! Thanks for sharing.

I was reminded that New England summers can be way too short … spend too much time working at your computer and, poof, summer’s gone. But I learned that planting beans as late as July in pots or the ground, and having little time to tend to them, does not prevent them from providing many meals late in the season. Actually, I guess I knew this before, but what I didn’t know is that beautiful purple beans I planted turn green as you cook them – a way cool trick to show any youngsters nearby – and, when they are planted near eggplant, the purples of the fruit really compliment each other. I will definitely plan for this combination in future gardens.

I learned that squirrels can develop bad eating habits, and it’s best to protect your pumpkins, squash, melons and tomatoes from those four footed foodies.

I started putting the grass clippings in the garden this year and absolutely loved this no cost weed control alternative (In Colorado so possibly it works even better with this dry climate). Obviously less expensive then buying mulch and the best is that it will compost right into the soil. I really look forward to seeing the benefits of that next summer. Getting my father (who helps me with the yard stuff) to do this took a few weeks of convincing but when he saw that I was weeding way less and that it made it easier to walk through the garden he was quickly on board with it. (I also bought him a tumble composter for his birthday – ok, maybe it was actually for me but – He is slowly starting to get the hang of that.) Think I’ll start hitting up the neighbors next year for their clippings 😉

I was married in July and being an avid gardener, decided to plant 10 urn containers to display at the wedding reception. The containers were potted in May and looked fabulous…until the first hailstorm. The second hailstorm made them look worse. They had recovered fully by the third (thank goodness for fertilizer). Then, during the week of the wedding, hailstorm #4 came through and it was a classic moment when my future husband and best friend braved the pelting hail to bring all ten containers into our house. I think it was my friend who yelled, “Hail! Get the containers!” Believe me, there was plenty of shrieking, but everything looked beautiful on our wedding day. So my lesson: be a flexible gardener…you never know what Mother Nature will dole out.

I learned the importance of planning! This year we took our veg plot to a highly ambitious stage and while it performed wonderfully, I wasn’t thrilled with the wildness of my tomatoes. Spent much too much time rerouting aggressive growth. Next spring I plan on building a heavy duty A-frame trellis to keep things a bit tidier (I can try!).

I also learned the importance of quality vs quantity. Next year I will do a better job of maintaining pepper plants to get larger fruits vs. lots of smaller peppers.

Finally the biggest change in my plans for 2010 will be planning according to growth schedules! We pretty much planted all our seeds at around the same time and it didn’t translate properly with the harvest. I know now which plant types are hardier in the unpredictable Colorado climate (peas, broccoli, lettuces, onions, leeks etc.). Next year we’ll stagger the indoor seed growth process and stick to a plan!

Gardening in Colorado is as unpredictable as it’s weather.

As a beginner with a mostly dead yard to plant, I learned that I should follow my habits (or lack thereof) and only plant things that will survive both our dry climate and my failure to water. I also learned that I need to mulch, mulch and mulch some more. I lost a lot of new plants this year.

This summer revealed that my neighbor does not share my enthusiasm for composting. Last spring I purchased a compost bin and proudly installed it in my backyard, only to have said neighbor trot over and lodge a complaint about having to look at it. Since then I have been trying to compromise and figure out ways to camouflage it. I am still working on that, but my biggest victory will be when my plants begin to grow and flower to magnificent proportions from my homemade compost!Then he can eat his heart out!!

This fall before the leaves fell, we went on a 11 day trip. We returned to about 30 bags of leaves (which will be composted.) I had netted my pond hoping that would keep the leaves out of the pond. It did not work. We came home to a pond filled with “leaf tea water”. We cleaned up the pond but I have a new rule: Never leave town until the leaves have fallen. Gloria

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