What worked and what didn't this year? Fall is a great time to look back at the summer and decide what to try again next year, and what just wasn't worth the trouble.
Tomatoes: This year was too rainy and just not hot enough for a good crop of tomatoes. We hardly got any ripe ones off the vine, even though we planted early varieties. We'll just have to hope for better luck next year, but I can definitely say that the variety 'Celebrity' had much better flavour than 'Orange Blossom', although serving alternating red and orange tomato slices on a tray was visually pleasing.
Ground Cherry: The cute little seedling we planted in the spring quickly became a bit of a monster in the garden, so we'll plan for more space if we ever try this again. Unfortunately, we got a lot of flowers and no fruit, so I'm guessing that there was a pollination issue. Either we didn't have enough bees, or maybe they need more than one plant to produce fruit. Either way, it was a bust.
Carrots: This year we planted the variety 'Purple Haze'. The early carrots were only a little purple in the skin, but the ones we pulled at the end of the season were a very deep purple colour about halfway through, with a bright orange core. The flavour was about average, since they aren't the sweeter Nantes type, but I felt they were worth growing for the colour alone. I served them to some family members to varied reactions. Some people think purple carrots are neat, others won't eat them! They also grew quite large.
'Cupid' Sour Cherry Tree: The birds ate all five cherries. We'll have to try bird netting next year.
Alpine Strawberries: Our rainy summer was bad for the tomatoes, but the strawberries were abundant. Since this was the second year we've had them, the plants were much more established, and the berries were bigger, some the size of a dime. They were very sweet and delicious, producing from the last frost in spring to about the end of August, with a few sporadic berries into October. The birds enjoyed these too, but there were lots to go around.
Peas: We grew 'Super Sugar Snap'. The yield, as promised, was quite good, but I think 'Sugar Sprint' had better flavour for a snap pea. And the shelling peas we grew last year were even tastier, but the snap peas provide more food.
Sunflowers: We grew 'Moulin Rouge', a deep burgundy variety. The plants were about five feet tall, with lots of small to medium sized flowers. Because the petals were so dark, they didn't stand out very well. I would like to try one of the bitones next time for more contrast. We're leaving them up over the winter in the hopes that they'll attract birds (and because we're too lazy to pull them out).
Cucumbers: I have transplanted cucumbers successfully in the past, but this year they didn't make it. I've always read that they don't transplant well, but now I know. I think the trick to moving them successfully is not to start them too early. If they get rootbound in the pot, they won't go into the ground easily. I managed to save most of the plants, but they sort of struggled on most of the summer, only putting out a couple (not too tasty) fruit before finally giving up.
Garlic: We planted the kind that's meant to be planted instead of buying it at the grocery store. The bulbs weren't any bigger (but they might have been if we weeded more), but the bulbs separated into cloves much better.
We also put in some perennials this year. Some flowered and some didn't, but we won't really know what was a success until they've been through a winter.