The 2012 Garden Awards

As the fall begins, I’ve been thinking back on the summer’s garden and all the successes and disappointments it brought. I’ve changed my fall planting plans after a drought set in in August; I plan to just put in cover crops when the summer crops wind down, and start planning for next year. So this seemed an appropriate moment to dole out some “awards” to the best plants, processes, and products in my garden this year.

Best product: Serenade

September tomato picture

Still harvesting Cherokee purples well into September…don’t these look scrumptious?

I only used one real garden product this year, so it’s not really a contest, but even among a greater number of contestants Serenade would have come out as the winner. The bane of local tomato gardeners’ success is often leaf blight, and this spray product’s main ingredient is living Bacillus subtilis, a soil-dwelling bacterium that controls leaf blight, black mold, powdery mildew and many other diseases. I didn’t find out about it until late July, but with fairly regular removal of diseased leaves and spraying of healthy ones, I’ve extended my tomatoes’ life span and productivity considerably!

Overall success: Melons
Perhaps my criteria are not what they should be, but I’m recognizing my two canteloupe plants as the biggest overall victory because I stuck them in the ground and ignored them. They proceeded to overgrow the garden and put out at least 20 delicious sweet orange fruits that we’re still enjoying, and I had to do basically nothing except prop the fruits up off the ground, and remember to harvest them before the bugs claimed them. Hooray for little work and big rewards!

Surprise comeback: Jalapeños

September jalapeno picture

Surprise! The jalapeño plants I had written off were revealed under a tangle of canteloupe vines, and are now bearing a crop of juicy spicy goodness.

I don’t think I ever blogged about this, but lo and behold, about 3 weeks ago, I discovered that the tiny little yellowing seedlings I had written off as being goners in the early summer had, under the secret cover of criss-crossing canteloupe vines, been developing into healthy green plants with plenty of peppers for picking! This picture is from late September. We foresee zesty salsa in our future.

“All frills, no thrills” award: Pumpkins

Pumpkin flower - September

Pumpkin flowers are flashy, but without fruit? A little frustrating.

It was fun to watch the endless vines of soft green leaves spill out of the garden bed and go rambling off into the woods. However, either the flowers never got pollinated, or something else went wrong with the plants’ development, because none of the flowers ever developed into fruits. Any tips on pumpkin pollination would be greatly appreciated!

That’s all for now. I may do “round 2” of awards if I am so inspired. What awards would YOU give for your garden this year?

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