November 2, 2012

Maine Gardener: Looking back, this gardening season was sow, sow bountiful

By Tom Atwell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Our leeks are huge, and along with some Bright Lights chard and some carrots, are the only vegetables still growing in the garden.

Both winter and summer squashes did well, but our cucumbers did not. I haven’t figured out why.
Last year, Nancy and I had some good success growing potatoes in special bags on the patio, and that worked OK again this year. We decided to expand, and bought a rectangular bag in which we planted one bush tomato, one pepper and one bush zucchini.

The plants did OK, not great, but I really disliked the design of the bag. It did not hold its shape, the fabric ripped and it looked messy. We threw it out at the end of the season. If I want to grow other vegetables, I will just convert the potato bag into a vegetable bag.

It also was a great year for flowers – except the gladioli, which got hit with a bad case of thrips, which in my ignorance I misidentified as gladiolus rust. I will soak the bulbs in Lysol and hope for better performance next year.  (Note to anyone wishing to buy bottles of liquid Lysol: Try

The dahlias were wonderful. We were busy in the spring and planted them a bit later than normal, and we didn’t get blossoms until August – but we got a lot of them. One of the last bouquets is on my desk as I write this.

Everything was early, and seemed to have an extended bloom. We expanded our daylily collection this year. We removed some grasses bordering our patio that we have looked at for a decade or so from the window by our kitchen sink, and replaced them with a wide variety of unusual, large daylilies.Some are from the Barth collection of Maine plants sold at O’Donal’s; others are just large and unusual flowers. They had a long period of flowering.

The warm winter followed by a cooler spring certainly extended the blooms on a lot of shrubs. The hydrangeas, rhododendrons and azaleas bloomed long and fully. Our Rose of Sharon was excellent, and our perennial hibiscus “Clown” bloomed until last week. We still haven’t cleaned out our garden borders completely, because the asters (“Purple Dome”) and Eupatoriums are still in bloom. Our “Autumn Joys” are going to stay where they are until next spring, but they’re still looking great.

This year, we had enough raspberries to grow sick of them (not really – just fed up with picking constantly). We had some blueberries, but not as many as we would have liked (our “Pink Lemonade” blueberries haven’t produced fruit yet – maybe next year?).

We did miss getting strawberries this year, but our row of Sparkles is green and lush, and I expect we will get a lot of them next year. Something to look forward to over the long, cold winter.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

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