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Sarah's Garden: Planning for next year

Hellos!  My little newspaper-wrapped tomatoes are still ripening.  They are now varying shades of yellow and orange...getting close!  Hopefully by next week I'll have something more exciting to report. But!  A very exciting thing happened this past week:  I got a seed catalog in the mail!  Okay, I realize that doesn't sound all that exciting but it does mean thinking about warmer weather and how is that not exciting during this albeit-not-very-cold December?  Truthfully I usually make it to January or February before I start getting so sick of winter that I want to throw up but, hey, it's never too early.  With that in mind I'm going to share some of what I learned in this first year and what I will do differently next year. This past year I was all about vegetables and other things to eat.  I planted a few purely decorative flowers but I really didn't care that much about them.  That's why my backyard ended up looking like this: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="sea of tomatoes"]photo.JPG[/caption] Now there's nothing wrong with, oh, 30-40 tomato plants in a small South Philly patio - unless you're a normal person - but I will admit that it was maybe overkill.  I originally planted all those tomato seeds because I assumed a lot wouldn't sprout or would die.  Well, pretty much all of them sprouted so I think I'll try not planting all 60 seeds at once next year.  Though it was kind of fun to pretend I lived in a forest of tomatoes, I would rather have a forest of all different kinds of plants. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="squash blossom"]photo.JPG[/caption] The things that didn't work for me were the squash and eggplants.  They both grew fine (eggplants are still growing for some reason) and flowered but then produced no fruit.  I think the eggplants were just too slow or didn't have enough space or something but I have a sneaking suspicion that the squash did not get pollinated correctly.  Squash plants are supposed to have both male and female flowers - the females produce fruit but not without pollen from the males.  This is where bees come in, spreading the pollen from the male to the female (source.)  I definitely saw lots of bees around the flowers but no actual fruit.  Then again, space is a constant issue so maybe they just didn't have enough room, either. I enjoyed my sunflowers along the back fence but they actually got too tall: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="the only way to get a good picture was from the second story window"]photo.JPG[/caption] I love sunflowers but maybe I won't choose the "mammoth huge gigantic" variety this time (for the record these are Mammoth Russians.)  Here I was all worried that my sunflowers would be small and puny and then they grew taller than the tree. I'm also going to plant my kale and chard earlier.  I've pretty much given up on them because of all this rain, but I really was looking forward to some nice leafy greens.  Here's what I got: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="sad kale"]photo.JPG[/caption] And it's been downhill since then.  I may try to overwinter a few just so it's not a complete wash. And now that I know what I won't do, it's time to pick out what I want to plant!  But first I need to pore over these catalogs.  Come back next week!