Looking Back at the 2009 Gardens

I love this time of the year as a gardener. I have the pleasure of looking back over the past gardening year and I am already planning and planting for next year. This was a wonderful year for my gardens. The biggest problems were Japanese beetles and simply keeping the garden in check. The rain brought nitrogen to both weeds and the gardens making everything grow.

One of the most exciting additions to our gardens was a tree, a Cornelian cherry. An article on this tree in Heirloom Gardener magazine so enticed my husband that he asked me to buy a tree which of course I did! A Cornelian cherry is actually a dogwood hardy to this area. The Cornelian cherry has a long history. It was known to both the Romans and the Greeks. Ovid wrote poetry about it. Cornelian cherry trees were also grown in the gardens of monasteries. We saw the fruits in Istanbul where they are called kizilcik I purchased the tree when it had just completed flowering and we have had the pleasure of watching the fruit ripen. We need to try tasting the raw fruit to see if we were lucky enough to obtain a tree with tasty fruit. I hope to use the fruit in tarts or jam. If this doesn't work out we will simply enjoy the beautiful globular shaped tree, the yellow flowers which appear before the leaves, and the red fruit which surely will provide food for the birds.

This year I also planted some new annuals which I grew from seed. I would like to share the heirloom marigolds and the Ten Week Stocks with you. I have gotten away from growing marigolds over the past few years as I find them rather rank in smell and coarse in flower. I decided to try some of the heirloom varieties and was delighted. The flowers are tiny but profuse and are so long lasting that pinching of spent flowers is not really enormously time consuming. The leaves are delicate and airy looking which I find quite enchanting. Ten Week Stocks resulted from seeds I purchased from Renee's Seeds. The flowers are pink, white, or blue. The plant does need pinching back for continual flowering but the flowers are so beautiful that I didn't mind.

You may remember that I started Lisianthus from seed back in January, another annual here in Western New York, with flowers that strongly resemble roses. The plants don't produce flowers here until the end of July.....that's seven months from seed! I researched growing Lisianthus recently in the hope that I could get them to flower earlier in the season. That won't happen because Lisianthus like cosmos is a long day length plant. I find that the plants become so heavy with flowers(and they are a small plant rarely reaching much over 9 inches in my garden at least) that need staking, something I have to admit that I hate doing. I have been mounding up soil around the base of each plant which seems to help keep them upright.

We have been luckier than many people this year with our tomatoes. Late blight wiped out entire tomato crops for many people. If this happened to you please try to plant your tomatoes in a different spot next year as the fungus resides in the soil. If this is not possible because of space considerations you might try covering the soil with black plastic now and leaving it in place until planting time next May. The built up heat will kill the fungi present in the soil. Yes I know it also kills other microorganisms as well but you will avoid using fungicides. Also please be sure to dispose of diseased plants.

Now get out into your garden to plant your garlic cloves and bulbs for next year.

Forever Young Magazine - October 2009