Lessons learned

If you’re not a gardener, this post will most likely bore you to tears so you have my blessing to skip it and move on. πŸ™‚

Garden bloggers post about nice things, pretty things.

But, there is the other side of gardening that includes the lessons learned.

Last year, the vegetables in my raised beds were pitiful so I made a few changes. First, I pulled all the plants out the first of August and disposed of them at the recycling center.

Then, I replaced about 2/3 of the soil in the tanks with compost and enriched soil and covered them with landscape fabric to rest until this year.

I’ve changed how I water them, and have used a weak fertilizer every couple of weeks and tried an epsom salt spray. My tomatoes are doing good, and for the first time in years I don’t have blight. Well, I don’t have blight yet anyway. πŸ™‚

A few days ago, I noticed a clump of black eyed susans had some type of issue on their leaves. There were large black splotches, and it spread within the clump and then to other clumps.

This bed is in the same area as my veggies so I pulled them out, all of them, and took a large construction bag half full of them to the recycling center. I spent a lot of time trying to identify the issue, and I couldn’t find an exact match, but it might be cercospora fungal disease.

We had two MG projects going this summer that involved perennial plantings, but were approached from different perspectives.

I was coordinating one and decided we needed to add garden soil for flowers to level the area where plants had been removed. Once the plants had been added, we also applied wood chips from the local recycling center. So far, the plants have survived the heat, humidity, periodic heavy rains, and have the normal amount of small weeds in a mulched bed. They are doing well.

The second project was managed by a good friend who was convinced they needed to add a 50/50 blend of mulch and compost that is sold by one local company. She felt it would improve the soil, act as a better mulch product and look natural, which are all good things. This mulch and compost mix turned out to not hold moisture as well in full sun, but it certainly encouraged weeds. The plants are not doing as well in this project, and they are having some major maintenance issues.

Speaking of weeds, weeding is not my favorite part of gardening, but, I like some measure of neatness to my beds, and if I pull a small weed it doesn’t disturb the soil much. However, if I have to dig out a weed, then I have a larger area to allow weeds to take hold. It’s like that old saying – pay me now or pay me later.

I also got a surprise when I went to check the gauge on my propane tank. Bees.

How lucky can one woman get to find wasps and hornets in one place.

Gardening this year has been challenging because of lack of winter snow cover which dried many plants out, an exceptionally wet spring, and now extraordinary heat and humidity. Our temperature is suppose to hit 90Β° today, and the humidity is already 90% at 6:45 a.m.

Are you finding new challenges in your garden this year? Have some lessons to share with us?

This has really been a learning season this year, but through it all, the daylilies continue to brighten my day. Happy last Monday of July. 😎

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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62 Responses to Lessons learned

  1. Dan Antion says:

    I am glad you’re finding bright spots in your garden, Judy. This year has been hard to cope with. I hope you can stay cool for a few days.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, many trials for gardeners. My black-eyed Susan’s had the same spots last year. Jason, from Garden in the City, told me that it wasn’t fatal for the plants and that if I removed the affected leaves, all would be well. Because I was so busy with my book, I didn’t remove the affected leaves and lo and behold, all was well this year with no sign of the spots. Anyway, thought you might like to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    There are always lessons in the garden, as in other areas of life. My lessons usually involve pests, fungal infections and overcrowding, not to mention weeds. If I mulch, I encourage slugs, no mulch yields weeds and more watering. Sigh. No rest for the weary. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Murphy's Law says:

    Your daylilies are a treat to see. Mine are long gone. Weather pattern the same here. Japanese Beetles are alive and well. And the weeds are looking like small shrubs! 😑😑 Birds and bees making good use of their baths, and butterflies have finally come to visit!

    I keep downsizing my garden so I can ease up on some of the maintenance, but I can’t bring myself to do away with it. It’s not big, but it is a small patch of beauty…..at least to me!

    Going to be a scorcher here today. I just mowed the lawn before the heat and humidity prove to be unbearable.

    Have a great Monday followed by an equally great week.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve downsized too, but I still have huge border beds that I’d need a crew of ten to help me get rid of so I keep maintaining. πŸ™‚ It is a scorcher here today too. Last week I pulled some weeds at a MG project that I had to dig up because they too looked like a small shrub. πŸ™‚


  5. Joanne Sisco says:

    I don’t consider myself a gardener by any stretch of the imagination. In fact this year one of my plant beds is entirely empty. I just never had the cycles to deal with it this spring.

    Having said that, I learn a lot from blogs like yours. The biggest lesson for me is that even highly experienced and knowledgable gardeners like you have issues and things that just don’t thrive. You don’t hesitate to pull something out that isn’t working. I always associated ‘failures’ with having a lackadaisical attitude like mine. Now I know otherwise and in fact it’s oddly empowering.

    Because of bloggers like you I’ve had the courage to dig up a couple of plants that I thought were as good as dead and move them to a new location. The results have been amazing.

    So to you I say thanks! Sharing your learnings has been very helpful πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. ❀️ I thought for sure I’d bore everyone to tears today, but I learn so much from other gardeners that I thought if just maybe I could help another person by learning from my mistakes it was okay to bore the rest of the crowd this once. πŸ™‚ I divide and move plants all the time, and like you said sometimes they just need a different home to be happy. πŸ™‚


  6. Almost Iowa says:

    One of the (many) problems our farmers are having with this very wet year, is that the root systems are underdeveloped, which means the plants are poorly anchored to the soil. My brother-in-law lost the only good corn field that he had when a high wind flattened it. Normally, the plants could sustain a strong wind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pastpeter says:

    All of us in the northeast have experience unusual losses this year, and I noted in your list of weather related problems that the lack of snow cover meant many plantings dried out over the winter. The very wet and cool spring and hot summer have taken their toll as well. Today I discovered the deer have become very active: many hostas have been devoured (not mine yet!) and now they have started on my roses! We have more deer in our suburban back yards than I ever saw in 3 years in rural NH!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My garden is very messy this year. It has been either too rainy or too hot to get out there and work at all. I can’t breathe in this kind of heat and the unwillingness of Medicare to provide an inhaler has made it even harder. The daylilies bloomed like mad and the roses, cut back, are still coming up. Everything else died. But there wasn’t that much else anymore. We don’t seem to have any kind of blight or bugs or anything, maybe because whatever we have is pretty hardy and tends to resist invasion. The roses are those barbed wire specials and they were bred to resist EVERYTHING. Which they do. Really, if I had the energy, I’d tear most everything out of the bed and start over, but I have neither energy nor money to do that, so I leave it to the gardening gods. It IS pretty, even if not really cultivated. It’s a wild garden where there ought to be something cultivated. Oh well. With each passing year, I miss the garden more and am less able to do anything about it. It needs a complete redo, but I’m not the person to do it. I feel bad about it, too. I am a garden failure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are definitely not a garden failure. You are just like the rest of us – maturing. With each year, everything takes me longer and I can stay outside in the heat and humidity for shorter periods. Two to three hours working in the heat and humidity is about my limit. Enjoy your roses and daylilies because I’m sure they’re blooming just for you. πŸ™‚


  9. Dawn says:

    Such a challenging year in the garden, Judy! Remember to celebrate your victory with that very hungry groundhog! I’m facing two big garden challenges: My TIME in the garden is extremely limited this year. Our Midwestern WEATHER has been very challenging for gardeners, too. Last week was our first seven consecutive days without any precipitation since last December! It’s so hard to believe that August is just around the corner…
    Take time to smell the Rosemary, my friend! πŸ’—

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve had more days when I laugh about the weather. When we lived in Kansas, I did not garden because it was too hot and humid. Now, here I am with almost 4 acres of gardens to maintain and it’s as hot and humid as Kansas ever was. πŸ™‚ Mother Nature is having a real chuckle. Hope you get some rain soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ally Bean says:

    “Well, I don’t have blight yet anyway.” Now there’s the essence of all gardening. It’s all about hope… and weeding which I imagine you have to do constantly. Such a beautiful, but work-y, garden you have here. Great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gardening is fun but also so frustrating at times. Even so, digging in the dirt is always good therapy for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t that the truth? Something is weighting on your mind, and you go out and work a while and you feel better mentally and physically. I work most mornings for two or three hours and then I can handle whatever comes the rest of the day plus I sleep better. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Every year my garden teaches me that I am in less control than I believe I am. As I walked my garden today I am reminded of this. Weeds grow overnight it seems. And I’ve never seen so much poison ivy popping up in my beds and I have the rashes to prove it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree. I weed an area, go by there the next day and what do I see but a couple more. Where did they come from? Poison Ivy and I have a terrible relationship. I’ve had some ugly episodes with it. I sincerely hope it leaves you alone.


  13. I’m not a gardener at all and am thrilled to find the original owner of our new house planted some lovely flowers that have brightened up my soul and yard! I have been deadheading the daisy’s and Day Lily’s and am hoping for one more Daisy bloom before they go to sleep for the season.

    Your Day Lily’s and yard look wonderful! I hope your tomatoes continue to do well and you get lots of them. Do you can, make salsa and stuff for winter?

    I hope you can get rid of the wasps and hornets!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deadheading is always good because sometimes you do get that second flush and it keeps things neat and tidy too. I moved those wasps and hornets out of there. They can live somewhere I don’t need to access but not there. I don’t can anymore. I did years back, but I do freeze fruits and veggies for winter recipes. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • So, happy to hear you were able to move the wasps and hornets and a lot quicker than that groundhog too!

        I’ve only tried canning twice. Well, once really I only helped a little the first time. The second time on my own I tried making jam for winter with fresh berries. I ended up making a delicious sauce instead. I haven’t tried it since. Baby Girl wasn’t born then so I must have been in my late twenties or very early thirties. πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I was reading this via the WordPress Reader, but had to switch to your actual site because I wanted a better viewing of those bees and wasps hives. As a sister of mine would say (loudly), “Ewww!‘ Gardening is not for the faint of heart. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • jkitt750 says:

      Bees live in a hive with wax comb. Wasps live nests with paper combs. Bees are pollinators. Wasps mostly are predators and scavengers. Bees are a nice addition to a garden. Wasps are not. Unfortunately you have the beginnings of wasp nests. Best to eliminate them. BTW I enjoyed your blog entry.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I moved those guys out of there. I’m one of the most pollinator friendly gardeners around but I’d prefer to open my propane tank without seeing these guys. ‘Ewww’ covers it. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Annie says:

    Gardening is all about the good and the bad. Congratulations on your healthy tomatoes. Ours are healthy and we’re knocking on wood daily. Only one tomato close to being ripe. I have never seen such a leaf spot like that on your black eyed susans. I don’t have that (yet) but I am battling RUST. I’ve dug up some beloved plants and disposed of them, too. Sniff.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Joyce says:

    I have to admit skimming part of this post, but it struck me how gardeners are not only artists, but manual laborers, scientists, and engineers, as well as pest vigilantes!
    I love your palette of day lilies, especially the lavender one – had no idea “they had ’em that color!” πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Gardening is an on-going challenge, isn’t it. We got a load of mulch which, unbeknownst to us, was infested with a weed and now it is the bane of my life. I can’t get out and prune the roses before the end of winter so I’ve asked Mr ET to get his hedge trimmer out and cut them all back by half. I figure that is better than doing nothing and letting them get all lanky. Roses are usually very forgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some friends bought compost with horse manure that also included invasive worms. Once they arrive, it is a never ending battle because the eggs overwinter. 😦 I think the hedge trimmer will work just fine. I have five rose bushes, and three are beautiful and the other two not so much.


  18. joey says:

    I feel like your garden is Job this year. My goodness.
    My garden is not worth talking about this year. I only have complaints. My husband has decided we should raise the garden beds and I love him so very very much. Hopefully his participation will grow, because I need the muscle sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. KerryCan says:

    Wow–you have day lilies in every color!! I think gardening keeps us humble and reminds us that we are not truly in charge. But then, at the end of the day, I look around and feel like it’s really worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Nancy says:

    Beautiful day lilies!

    Weeds have been crazy this year! So far the tomatoes are doing well.

    I’m still fighting the Japanese beetles in my flower gardens! And overcrowding …so had to get into one of my gardens and divide and transplant!
    It’s always something but I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. germac4 says:

    We bought large raised garden beds a few years ago but the amount of soil that needed replenishing every year put us off using the largest one. ( especially when someone offered to buy it!)
    I like your weed philosophyπŸ‘πŸ‘and your gorgeous Daylilies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have a very good point about raised beds that most don’t consider. I’ve shoveled soil and compost in and out of those tanks too many times to count. At some point, I won’t be able to do it anymore, and I’ll plop some low-maintenance perennials in there and call it good. πŸ™‚


  22. Oddment says:

    I agree with all those who say we learn the lesson that we’re not in control. However, agreeing with it is not the same as LIKING it! I don’t LIKE not being in control! You are so right about the lead-up of the winter and spring and how we’re trying to deal with gardens that grew — or didn’t grow — out of that. Your poor susans! It would appear that your beautiful daylilies are trying hard to cheer you on. I hope your tomatoes continue to thrive. Mine are succumbing to the hot humidity, I fear, but then so am I! As for stinging things, yes, get them gone! I liked Joyce’s comment above about how gardeners are so many things; especially after your post I would add that gardeners are also philosophers. We’re an impressive lot, yes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and I have mentioned ‘aging is not for the faint of heart’ before and in this day of invasives, insects, predators, etc. ‘gardening is not for the faint of heart’ either. But, you are right, we are impressive because in both cases we keep on going. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Norm 2.0 says:

    I’ve switched everything to raised beds and/or individual posts this year and most of it is going well. Growing food for fun is a constant learn, evaluate, experiment, observe, learn again, experience. Every years it seems that whenever one thing does better something else is not as good. This season the tomatoes are not as full and healthy as last year but cukes and peas have gone bonkers.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. tonytomeo says:

    Ha! Someone I work with just found a nest of hornets out on a trail today. Someone else had to go back in a bee suit to collect his tools, but his radio is still lost out there. Because it is a trail where guests go, the nest must be sprayed in the morning. We hope to find the radio too.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Rose says:

    I always like to read what you have going on, since I don’t do much myself. I need to do more but do well sometimes to do what little I do. I had so intended to plant two-4 tomato plants just to try them again but did not get that done.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. slfinnell says:

    Wasps are good pollinators and they do eat worms and aphids, just not good to find that nest in that particular spot!! I should say certain wasps like carpenter wasps…… But hornets and some others are just down right evil. Glad there were no stings in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Karen says:

    While I’m wishing I was back in New England for nicer weather, your having similar weather to here in Florida. This year has really been a hot and rainy one for us…it is like living in the amazon.

    Liked by 1 person

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