Kitchen Gardening

Reader Recap: How Did Your Garden Grow?

What were you happiest with in your garden during the 2012 season? Please share your most successful gardening tips, best plant recommendations and other good growing ideas.

An expanded container garden gave me more space for gardening, used less water and was easy to maintain.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

Despite the difficult gardening conditions this summer, it appears some gardeners had a lot of success with their vegetable gardens.

One clue that it was a better-than-anticipated year was the Denver metro area’s Plant a Row for the Hungry results. Individual gardeners and community gardens reported donating 4890 pounds of vegetables to 16 different service agencies during our annual campaign.

That means there were quite a few gardening success stories.

What worked for you this year?

The top three winners for me included expanding my container garden, planting more hot peppers and growing 13 different kinds of tomatoes.

Expanding the Container Garden

This year I grew many more kinds of vegetables in containers than I had before. In addition to my cucumber experiment, I also planted radish, eggplant, beets, kale, carrots, peas, tomatoes and tomatillos in containers.

I was pleased with the results of all these plantings, but was especially surprised at the large crop of tomatillos I harvested from the two plants growing in one 15-gallon fabric Smart Pot. The eggplant, planted in a 20″ x 21″ container, also produced well.

A larger container garden was easier to maintain, it used less water than a traditional vegetable bed and there were no issues with pests or plant diseases. It was also nice to be able to move some of the containers inside the garage when an early cold spell hit in September.

Planting More Hot Peppers

I tried some new-to-me pepper varieties this year and was happy with the results. Two varieties, ‘Mariachi’  and ‘Cayennetta’,  produced more than enough peppers for eating fresh, adding to recipes, drying, and turning into hot sauce.

I also planted cayenne, serrano, three kinds of jalapeno peppers (including ‘Early’ and ‘Macho Nacho’) and two varieties of black ornamental peppers. All the plants produced good crops of peppers that benefited heat-wise from the unusually hot and dry weather.

Growing Different Tomatoes

I planted 13 different kinds of tomatoes from cherry-size to beefsteak type in colors that included red, yellow, orange, black and striped.

The ‘Tye-Dye’ hybrid was one of my favorites for its looks and taste. The bicolor red and gold tomato has stripes that added extra interest to an already good-tasting tomato. 

I also liked ‘Glacier’ because it was an early-season tomato that produced all summer long. The fruits were small and packed with flavor.

Of course, my all-time favorite tomato is ‘Black Krim’. My garden wouldn’t be complete without at least two of those plants.

What were the top three winners in your vegetable garden? Please share any planting or maintenance ideas, specific vegetable varieties or other vegetable gardening tips that worked well for you this growing season.

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