Kelley's Garden Review...Wrapping it Up

Charentais Melon
The rest of last summer’s garden…

Fava Beans beans were good as always.  Since they like cooler weather it was no surprise.  Favas are great for so many things.  They provide lots of healthy green foliage over the cold season, are a nitrogen fixer and good cover crop, they bloom early and entice pollinators and beneficial insects, and they provide loads of delicious beans. 

In general, my summer crops were sluggish, smaller, and produced less (big surprise, huh?).  Snap beans, soybeans, winter squash, melons, cucumbers all fell into this pattern.  Of course, while the plants were slow and late, the powdery mildew came right on time.  Ughhhh.  It fizzled out too though, which surprised me.

The star of summer for me was Charentais melon.  OMG!  The most fragrant, beautiful intoxicating melon ever. I must grow these again. The fruit was a stunning slate blue/green while growing, beautiful soft orange tones when ripe, and had the most intoxicating sweet/floral aroma that filled my whole house while perched in my fruit bowl.  They even felt great cradled in my hands.  The flesh was bright orange and the flavor was fantastic.  This was my first time growing it, and I have high hopes for future summers.

Another first for me was Garbanzo beans.  They were quite small, attractive plants, and while they are a warm season bean, many of my plants are surviving the winter.  Something found them to be the perfect place to lay eggs though, because I found small holes in the pods that larva drilled, climbed in and fed on the young beans undisturbed by the world outside.  I lost a good 25-30% of the beans.  Not sure I’ll try it again--the pods were a pain to harvest, but the fresh beans were really tasty.

My summer squash went something like this;  Grow, blossom, set fruit, drop fruit.  Blossom again, set fruit, drop fruit.  Bloom again, grow harvestable fruit, then shut down in July and shed almost all growth.  Sleep.  Wake up, grow, blossom, set fruit, harvest, go back to sleep.  Wake up again, repeat until frost. 

Peppers were a struggle.  The plants that didn't succumb to the snails resisted growing, then resisted producing, then resisted ripening.  If anything beat out the head scratching harvest season that tomatoes were…well…peppers were it.  They were ripening in October, November, even December.  I must say though, that Jimmy Nardello produced fairly well.  Love, love, love these sweet crunchy peppers!

Ground Cherries produced like crazy, as usual.  I’m convinced these will grow and produce nearly anywhere.  I like the unusual flavor of these, and they will hold in the husk for a long long time. 

I always plant flowers in and around my veggie beds, for beauty and diversity, and to foster the “good” bug population.  Many didn’t survive, or didn’t bloom.  I planted cosmos all over and got - none.  Cornflowers - a few.  Four O Clocks – two.  I finally got Tithonia (my favorite!) close to fall.  They usually grow fast and bloom like mad all summer.

Once fall came, so did the cabbage moths. A banner year.  A great year for observing,  I did learn to spot their eggs.  They are so tiny but yellow, and amazingly enough are easier to see than a fully engorged green cabbage worm.  I had planted a bunch of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages and kale, so I was pretty freaked out about the sheer number of egg laying moths on my tender crops, but to my surprise I had relatively little damage.  Nature is a beautiful thing when we let her have command.  Why in the world do we think we can do a better job of managing pests?  Except for snails maybe.  Little bastards.

That’s it.  I’m done looking back, time to look ahead.  What will our summer gardens have for us this year?