I’ve been writing Top 5s for a year now and whilst I had been thinking of stopping them I have ideas for a few (or maybe more than a few) more. I thought January would be a good time do a series of retrospective ones, looking back at the past year. The first of these is this one - The top 5 gardening lessons I learnt in 2012.
1. Planting cucumbers early is not a good idea. This year I am growing 4 varieties of cucumber:
- Catalan Pickling
- Summer Dance and
Thanks for Bek at Bek’s Backyard for the seed for the last two. The Catalan Pickling are the fat ones (they got a bit big while we were away over Christmas). The Summer Dance is the long one at the back and the Lebanese the shorter at the front.
I sowed seed of the Catalan Pickling in early July and grew them on in an unheated mini greenhouse until they were big enough for planting out in September. In August I bought some Lebanese seedlings and grew them on in the mini greenhouse until September. I planted both out and they did not do well. It was simply too early. Growth was slow and a few died. The plants from seed I sowed later (in August) and planted out later (early November) have done much better. The lesson is: don’t plant out cucumbers before the soil warms properly – you might get the occasional early fruit but the plants don’t seem to recover properly and the long term yield will be significantly reduced.
2. Winter and Spring are the best seasons for growing potatoes in Melbourne. I grew potatoes throughout 2012 and I found that; potatoes which did most of their growing during Winter, and better yet Spring, produced by far the greatest yield. This post provides more detail.
3. Setting fire to mint kills rust. My mint developed rust, I researched and found that heat can kill the rust spores. Click here for the post describing the experiment. The upshot of which is that I now have very healthy and productive rust free mint.
4. Garlic, particularly hardneck varieties prefer cold climates. You can find the round up of this years garlic growing experiences here. In a nutshell though; softneck varieties seem to suit Melbourne’s relatively mild winters better than hardneck varieties.
5. Planting tomatoes early is a good idea. I sowed some Tiny Tim tomato seeds in May with the aim of getting some early tomatoes and that is exactly what happened – they started cropping in early December. An experiment I will definitely be repeating.
What has your garden taught you during the past year?