It is time for the what went right and what went wrong report for this season. And there were some of both, unlike many years where the latter category overwhelms the first. I'll start with a good one that will surprise you.
I don't like string beans. I don't like most vegetables that don't come on a Big Mac. But I grow them because they are easy and some people in the house actually eat them. I grow pole beans rather than the popular bush beans. Bush beans are advertised as being developed for the new, smaller garden, but that is spin. They were developed for commercial growers because they come on all at once, can be picked all at once, and then they're done. Pole beans develop slowly, a few ready to pick every day over a long season, so you can go out for a handful every evening.
There are many ways to train climbing beans. I use two 5-foot tall concrete reinforcing wire tomato cages wired together, one atop the other, with the whole structure wired securely to two pieces of rerod pounded into the ground. Sticks work too, though they tend to fall over. And there is the traditional teepee.
Anyway, my wife forced some green beans on me, and they were really, really good. Just steamed with a little garlic. OK, some butter. Did anyone else notice a difference this year? I normally don't eat green beans, but I ate five. That takes care of my five-a-day quotient.
The tomatoes were equally good. Tomatoes are always good in hot dry summers. Too good, really, to cook down into sauce, but too many to eat fresh. And the peppers were good, but they usually are. I didn't get onions going in time, but the dry weather probably wouldn't have been to their liking anyway.
No need to reprise impatiens. I did their obituary last week. I'll miss them, a little, but it will be fun figuring out what to plant next year instead.
I suppose I should report on the new garden area I started this spring where a big evergreen used to be. As new gardens go, it wasn't all that bad. My focus on blue faltered a little, but only a little, with 'blue' being loosely interpreted,. Some of the perennials I put in this spring are still alive. More would be if I had taken my own advice to pay special attention to watering newly installed plants, especially during hot, dry weather.
The experts tell you to start by buying three of each plant so a new garden fills in faster. I don't have to tell you how long I considered that advice before rejecting it, but the word nanosecond comes to mind. Like children and new clothes, plants will grow into the space allotted to them, though it will take longer.
Meanwhile there is empty space to fill, and it isn't all that difficult. You can get a quick fill with summer bulbs, annuals, and container plants. As usual, I had excess dahlias from last season. Aspen is just the right size, and the pure white blooms go nicely with the blue.
I absolutely fell in love with Black Velvet petunias – definitely a keeper. They went nice with Aspen, but great with Black Pearl ornamental pepper and the new Blushing Princess lobularia.
Finally for impact, so no one would notice how sparse the perennials are, I let a giant red amaranth grow. This stunning, bright red annual grows to eight feet in a season and reseeds … let's say generously. In spring just weed out the ones you don't want. With some good fortune, maybe I won't need it in the new garden next summer.
Duane Campbell is a nationally known agricultural expert. He can be reached at R6, Box 6029, Towanda, PA 18848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.