Frost brings end to gardening season

In the Garden

Ralph Purkhiser, Purdue University Master Gardener


     Frosty mornings last week brought an end to the gardening season.  It was not a killing freeze, and some very tough plants continue, but most garden ornamentals are done for the year.  It is time now to look back at the garden season and make plans for the spring.

     Unlike the past few years, we actually had an extended spring.   We did not have a late frost, but temperatures remained pretty mild through the month of May.  We also had adequate rainfall through the spring season.  The result was that spring blooms lasted longer than usual and spring food crops had extended harvest periods.  Most years, we are lucky to get three weeks of harvest of leaf lettuce before it gets too hot and the lettuce bolts.  I had lettuce for eight weeks this spring and snow peas continued bearing for a month or more.

     The flip side of that was that summer crops were delayed.  While we did not have the frost killing early-planted tomatoes and other crops like we had in 2020, the plants in 2021 were just slow to grow.  However, once temperatures warmed, most gardeners reported that their vegetable crops produced well.

     Without a late spring frost, fruit trees also produced well.  I had many calls about trees that were so loaded with fruit that their branches were bowing to the point of breaking.  Bramble crops and other berries were also plentiful.

     Throughout the season, rains supplied adequate moisture and the need to water crops and landscapes was minimal.  With the growing season continuing into November, no one could deny that this was a good gardening year.

     At Sandhill Gardens, there were some major advances and some set-backs.  Early in the gardening season, I had some major health problems.  The recovery time set me back in getting things done that I had planned for the spring.  I, like almost everyone else, also had trouble finding reliable help to do the things I could not do myself.  It seems like I have been playing catch-up all summer, and I must admit that many things have just gone un-done.  Thankfully, the frost brought an end to the weeds of summer and I get a new chance next year.

     On the bright side, great progress has been made on one major project—the moon garden.  I was able to get my moon gate up, although I still need to get some stone work completed at the base.  There have been some new white-blooming plants added and I have some new seats that are also painted white.  As I shared a few weeks ago, I added a marker there to dedicate the area as a “Never Forget” garden honoring the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and all of the soldiers who are missing in action.

     Problems getting materials delivered played a part in the lack of progress on the fire pit area patio.  The fire pit has not been used as much as normal, and I still hope to have at least one more fall gathering around the fire.  The work that needs done there can still be accomplished as long as the weather cooperates.  Other jobs still to complete are a floor in a shed and renovations to the old greenhouse.

     All-in-all 2021 has been a pretty good year in the garden.  I hope next year is even better.




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