This spring I was so excited about gardening (this being my first real* year to garden on my own) that I got way too many seeds to plant and raised way too many seedlings to transplant.  May saw me putting about half my seeds and seedlings into the ground and shoring up the beds with brick borders, watering every morning and walking around the tiny plots just “checking on things.”  The end of the summer, however, is here, and there’s so much I want to write down about the way things have played out.  Really very few of my grand plans have worked out, but I’m learning so much.

1.  Never buy those retarded flimsy pansy-ass bamboo stakes again, not for tomatoes, not for peppers, not for anything.  My tomatoes grew into monstrous towers of heavy green branches and pinned every stake to the ground that I did not reinforce first.  Incidentally, the metal stakes I borrowed from Mom and Dad were half as tall as they ought to have been, so I won’t be getting any of those, either.  There must be a solution to these indeterminate tomatoes — I’d like to keep growing them, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen tomato stakes that are eight feet tall.

2.  My Charantais melon, from France, did not acclimate.  It pined and grew small vines and one small melon that ants ate, and then withered, and died.  Vive la France.  It whispered words to me like malade, nostalgique and  j’ai languir. Ah well.  Better luck with a native melon, perhaps.

3.  I grew eight tomato plants, sure that I would can tomato sauce and salsa, but never did.  I did manage to eat most of the tomatoes, though, and I think I’ve discovered that eight plants is not too many.  Notes on variety: Brandywines were nice when they didn’t split, but they didn’t produce many tomatoes.  I don’t think I’ll do them again.  They crawled all over the place and half the time they got worms in them.  The Golden Sunrays were my favorite, with a dazzlingly gold fleshy interior and a rich tangy flavor.  They were determinate, I think, and most of the time bugs left them alone.  Definitely will grow them again.

4.  I had five jalapeno bushes, dwarfed by my neighbors’ giant bushes, but they really produced just enough for me.  I was going to pickle and can jalapeno slices, but didn’t until today, when all the bushes but one came up and got taken to the back alley.  Next year I’ll probably fertilize everything, and plant just three bushes.

5.  The herb garden could have used twice as many basil plants and some things like tarragon and marjoram and green onions.  I guess I want to expand this to maybe twice its size, even if I’m not using even half the herbs I thought I would be.  Herbs are the prettiest things I grew this year (except the roses), and I want to add some of the nice-leaved vegetables and some unobtrusive flowers in there.  I kept every herb fairly distant from its neighbors, but I’ve realized that there’s no reason to do that, and tons of reasons not to do it.  I will have an herb garden like a bouquet next year.

That’s about it for now.  I pulled up all the peppers and tomatoes in the back up, and now I have to pickle & can the 800 jalapenos I got off the bushes.  Brenna next door has been doing this all along, and hers have been hot enough to … !!!!!!  I don’t know how to describe them except to say that I was gobbling them up (sliced, on pizza) because I love the ones you get from the store, which are not very hot, when I suddenly had a hot flash and my mouth was smoldering and I was very afraid for about two minutes that I couldn’t cool it down and that something very terrible was going to happen.  It reminds me of the time I was out with Katie Gray in Nashville eating sushi and I almost choked to death on a piece of sushi the size of my head, which I had so nonchalantly put in my mouth.

Plan for summer garden 2011 start NOW.

*Last year was technically my first year, but it was right after surgery and was consequently very small and neglected.

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