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Putting the Garden to Bed & Making Gardening Resolutions

A gloriously sunny and warm morning inspired us to begin the task of putting the garden to bed for fall. We made a start of it by concentrating on the large round central bed, which this year contained 6 varieties of tomatoes, 3 types of eggplant and 2 kinds of peppers interspersed with basil plants and surrounded by a thick bushy ring of marigold plants. We took advantage of this opportunity to get things in order before the truly cold days arrive.

All of the tomato plants were spent so Jim pulled them out of the ground. Our late season tomato plants often get what some neighbors call “westside wilt”, which we aren’t sure is a true wilt. Just in case it could linger, we choose not to compost our tomato vines here at home, and instead we put them in the yard bags the city picks up at the curb for their hotter composting. While Jim clipped the tomato plants, we kept our eyes open for red or green tomatoes that might be salvageable. We gathered a couple of bowls full of odds and ends to sort and wash. We mulched the bare spots in the garden beds with grass clippings and chopped leaves, and we’ll add more leaves as we rake them up.

I examined the basil plants and decided that there were enough unwrinkled leaves on the plants to make harvesting them worthwhile. I filled a bowl of fresh basil leaves before we pulled up the plants and composted them. After the leaves were washed and dried, I spread them on trays and baked in the oven at 120 F until they were completely dry. We added a jar full of homegrown organic basil to our spice rack.

While we worked, we talked about what we were happy with this year and what we’d like to do differently next year. We call this making our gardening resolutions. Before we started blogging, Jim kept gardening records in a spiral notebook. Blogging has made it easier to keep track of our successes and our future plans.

Here’s some of our resolutions for next year:

1. Plant sunflowers.
For many years, we put a stand of sunflowers in the center of our garden. This year, we dropped the ball on planting the sunflowers seeds at the right time, that is, when we could still get to the center. Next year, we’ll have sunflowers again.

2. Experiment with garden layout.
We have a roomy but somewhat shady spot where the squash have not done well. Next year, we think we’ll plant some kale in the area and see how it does.

3. Stake everything.
This one appears on all of my gardening resolution lists. Some years I’ve done better than others at keeping my plants and their bounty off the ground, but there’s always room for improvement. Next year I’ll do better.

That belief is what keeps me gardening year after year. What keeps you gardening? What are some of your gardening resolutions for next year?

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