Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - The year in review

This was the year I decided to get serious about gardening again, as I was no longer traveling for work and was tired of having one of the worst yards on the block.  Here's what happened on the floral front:

I planted roses for the first time, despite my wife's objections that the grand kids would hurt themselves on the thorns (hasn't happened); I'm relatively happy with the results, but am considering removing the Climbing Golden Showers.  It's an aggressive climber, but the blooms are uninspiring and short lived. I'm amazed that the miniature roses I got at the dollar store are doing well, as I've never had success with them before. The daylilies were a bust, but the daffodils put on quite show and I can't wait to see how they do this spring.  The gladiolas were planted too late and the blooms got sunburned, but next year they should be glorious.  The dahlias were also planted too late and even though I got a few blooms, the plants didn't make it through the summer. I've planted alliums in their place and they're already sprouting nicely; I'm hopeful they'll do well. The petunias are going great and some even made it through the summer.  The vincas are looking tired after two years, so I'm currently replacing them with various annuals for some winter color.  The hyacinths are coming up, even though it's a bit early, but it has been relatively mild so far, so hopefully we won't have any hard freezes in the next six weeks.  The Asiatic lilies are coming up in their pot and present the promise of a shower of red blooms this spring.  The salvia is still blooming like crazy; hard to believe how much they've filled out, since I was sure I didn't have enough when I planted them.

On the veggie side of things, the green beans and bell peppers did very poorly and won't be back next year.  The radishes and carrots weren't worth the effort for the yield received and also are off the roster for 2012.  On the other hand, the Roma tomatoes were fantastic, as were the chile's and are all still growing out back.  The okra did very well, but weren't a hit on the culinary side of things, so they won't be back either.  Zucchini and cucumbers produced well enough to be replanted this Spring, with the exception of the lemon cucumbers, which only produced a few flat tasting fruits.  The leeks did well, so they'll be back as well and this time I'll put the effort into mounding soil or sand around the bases to get more white parts.

In the fruit and tree department, the Anna apple gave me the biggest yield ever, probably due to the high number of chill hours we had last winter.  I had enough to eat fresh, plus make apple butter, apple sauce and apple pie; I still have a little of the apple butter left in the cupboard.  The grapes tried to produce a few clusters this year, but next year should be the first year for any real production, as it generally takes three years to get the first decent crop.  The nectarine disappointed yet again, this time not producing a single fruit. This spring is it's last chance; if I don't get fruit this year, the tree is gone!  Planted a "Eureka" lemon and it's doing well but don't expect any fruit until 2013.

I got a few projects done in the garden that are worth noting, including converting an old dresser into a potting station, recycling some old cedar fencing into a six unit birdhouse and a soaking sink next to the potting center.  I also created three solar light posts from vintage floor lamps, two of which have been installed on concrete bases, with the third to be done soon.  I also turned an old kid's scooter into a planter and built some window boxes that currently contain lettuce and spinach.

In August I created Larry the Scarecrow and he's been a big hit with the on-line community, the local kids and my grand kids, but my wife, children and siblings all seem to think I've gone nuts.  I think my wife is beginning to get a little annoyed when we go shopping and I wind up finding something for Larry.  As long as I'm having fun with him, he'll continue to be a fixture in our front yard.  When I first placed him there, he was in a back corner, but after Halloween, I moved him up front so he's more visible from the street as his former location will be undergoing renovations this spring.  I also created this blog in August, the 18th to be exact and I'm at almost 900 pageviews, which I think is pretty good.  I've had visitors from the U.S., Russia, South Korea, Germany, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, the U.K., Latvia, Mexico, Egypt and India and maybe others that don't show in the statistics available to me; to all of you, I say welcome, visit often and tell your friends.

All in all, 2011 has been a good year and the gardens are beginning to take shape, but there's plenty more planned for 2012 and we'll see how much can get done based on available time and finances.

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