No sooner had the Christmas dinner dishes been cleared than that little voice in my head started whispering, “It’s time to think about gardening again.” That little voice was obviously a little drunk, because it’s not like I ever really stopped thinking about gardening.
But my semi-drunken intuition wasn’t completely wrong. What if all the seeds I want sell out before I get around to ordering? These are the types of thoughts that can keep a gardener up at night.
Before I can start seriously thinking about next year’s garden, it seems only right to take a moment to look back at the garden of 2018.
2018 will forever be known as the year I bit of an enormous garden project completely devoid of realistic expectations. When I started the new vegetable garden project, I thought it would be finished by early June. Insert evil cackle here.
What in the world was I thinking? I mean, I’m still working on that damn garden. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I wasn’t the least bit realistic about the amount of time, energy or money it would take to make it.
So, basically, there wasn’t a lot of great news to report on the vegetable growing front. Cucumbers (‘Chelsea Prize’ is now a must-grow for me), zucchini and potatoes (planted a week and half into July!) were standouts. Everything else did as well as it could in an abbreviated growing season.
With so much energy focused on the vegetable garden project, so many other areas of the garden were slightly neglected. I lost so many plants last winter, far more than the budget (stretched by the aforementioned veg garden) could absorb, so some thing just weren’t replaced.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it gave me time to put real thought into what I would replace them with.
The second year in the redesigned circle garden was lovely, and I’ve been enjoying playing around with my “plant in blocks” concept there. I think it works but I have a few ideas of how to shake it up a little for next year.
Container plantings, my favorite task in the garden, were largely successful, particularly the two in which I used Vertigo pennisetum, which got absolutely monstrous, in the best possible way. I will absolutely use that in containers (and possibly the garden) again, but I learned a valuable lesson: plant it in a large nursery pot and sink that in the container. In both containers I grew it in, the roots completely consumed every bit of soil and moisture in the pot (these were 24-inch and 36-inch containers).
But if there was one great success story in my 2018 garden, it was the dahlias. They were abundant and beautiful and borderline gaudy. I’m not entirely sure why this may have been the best dahlia year I’ve ever had, but obviously the weather—which was generally moderate—has much to do with it.
But I think some of it just comes down to practice. I’ve figured out when the right time to plant tubers in pots is for me (mid-April), I actually staked before I needed to (there’s a first time for everything) and I stopped fussing over them so much.
The No. 1 factor that I believe contributed to the success of the big dahlias that I grow along the house is that I installed drip irrigation on a timer. They loved the consistent watering.
2018 was my 16th year in this garden, although I basically didn’t touch it for those first couple years. The garden as it exists now would surely be unrecognizable to the previous owner of this house and there is great satisfaction in having created my own space, for better or worse.
How was your 2018 garden?