Looking Back for Future Success

Posted: October 7, 2013

Now that the garden season is winding down, it is a good time to look back over the past growing season to see what went well and what needs to change for next year.
  • I will share a few of the things I need to change in the hope that you will learn from my mistakes.
  • I am a sucker for new or unusual varieties of plants. When I grow my own plants I tend to plant more than I need, just in case. I can’t help myself. When I go to a greenhouse to buy plants, they either come in 4 packs or 6 packs. I only need one, but I plant the entire pack. This summer I had 23 cantaloupes all ready at the same time. My family can’t eat 23 large cantaloupes in one week. I was only able to push a few off onto my co-workers. I overplanted tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions, and okra. What did I learn? Next year, I will plant less of each crop. There are advantages to planting less. Smaller plantings are easier to care for especially when it comes to weeding and watering. Get together with other gardeners and purchase cooperatively--one person buys a pack of cantaloupe another person buys a pack of watermelon, someone else---eggplant.
  • Another mistake I made was not using a weed barrier under my vine crops. Typically, I will put one row of plastic mulch in the garden for the cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumbers. This year I did not use mulch. I put up a valiant fight against the weeds until the vines spread out. At that point, I lost control. What did I learn? Plastic, paper or some type of mulch is a must for vine crops. In addition to preventing weeds, black plastic mulch also warms the soil in the spring. Vine crops love warm soil.
  • The final mistake I will admit is that I was impatient in the spring. I planted a few tomato plants on May 4th. Yes, I knew that was too early, but I was willing to take a chance. The end result was that half of the plants were killed by frost and the other half were delayed by cool weather. The tomato plants planted on May 22nd had ripe fruit just as early as the survivors of the May 4th planting.

Contact Information

John Esslinger
  • Horticulture Extension
Phone: 570-316-6516