This Season’s Garden Successes

Fall Harvest

A few weeks ago I shared what didn’t go so well in my garden this season. I’ve learned over the years that there’s a certain amount of mystery to gardening. Sometimes I do all the “right” things and it goes terribly wrong, sometimes what I thought would be a mistake turns out great, and sometimes I have no idea what happened! For me, this is all a part of the adventure and fun of gardening. You never know what you’re going to get from season to season!

Now that the first frost has come and gone here in Madison I thought it would be a good time to celebrate the successes – whether I meant to do them or not!

First, let’s start with the two things that are most important to me: a garden that produces a lot of food and that looks really beautiful. As the photo at the top of this post declares, I grew a lot of beautiful and tasty food. I definitely feel like I got more out of my garden than I put into it, which is always my goal!

And, as the below photo shows, my garden looked pretty darn great for most of the season. The perennials bordering my front yard garden and the colorful annuals I always mix in with my vegetables ensured that I had bursting patches of color all season long. I loved walking past my garden, looking at it out my front window and taking photos of it. As a visual person I got so much aesthetic joy from it this year. Many days I would eat lunch out on my front steps just so I could look at my garden while I ate.

Colorful Vegetable Garden

My spring season extension experiment was a delightful success. I planted greens and cold hardy vegetables under my hoop in March. By the third week in April I was harvesting salads from that bed – a full month earlier than usual! This was the bed on April 21.

Spring Garden

At the beginning of spring I thought my side yard garden looked a little flat and uninteresting. So, I decided to construct some quick and easy trellises for more visual interest. That was a great idea and I love how they worked out. I’m definitely keeping them next year and will experiment with planting different things.

Vegetable Garden Trellises

 Last fall I built my herb spiral so this was the first season it was planted. I liked having all of the herbs I needed for cooking right outside my front door and it adds an interesting visual aspect to the garden, even in winter.

Herb Spiral

I decreased the amount of tomato plants I grew this year by half to give me some room to plant vegetables I hadn’t grown in a few years. I definitely had a greater variety in my garden and was able to grow fun things like edamame and okra.

PicMonkey Collage

Every year one of the harvests I’m most thrilled with is red peppers. There’s something about them that feels so precious and valuable to me. I know that a lot of people struggle with growing them successfully, so I’m always extra grateful when I have a great harvest. This year I had plenty to eat fresh, freeze for winter and even give away to family and friends.

Growing Red Peppers

When we bought our house last year it had very little landscaping around the house. The vegetable garden was our priority, so we put other landscaping on our 3 year plan. We also wanted to update the color of our house from 1960’s mint green to something more modern. It seemed easier to paint first and landscape second, so I decided to take on the house painting project this summer. I’ve spent many hours since June painting while listening to podcasts. And had some much needed help here and there from a friend and my parents. It’s been worth it! We love the dark gray color and I think it makes a much better backdrop for the garden. Below is before and after painting the front.



I accomplished most of my food preserving goals – from freezing u-pick berries for winter smoothies to stashing away essential vegetable like kale, broccoli and peppers. My chest freezer is pretty much full to the top. Now it’s time to move on to eating it all.

Freezing Strawberries

And lastly, I grew giant kale! I have no idea why my Redbor kale grew so tall. Neighbors walking by our house would often ask me, “Is that kale?!?!?” It’s much taller than it’s ever been in the past. And I must say, it’s pretty fun to have huge kale.

How to grow kale

It’s a great time of year to reflect on your garden successes and make notes for next year. I’d love to hear what went went for you in the comments below!

Want to read about my failures and mistakes? You can do that in this blog post.



Growing Peppers

Growing great red peppers is very much an attainable goal in your garden! You just need to know a few tricks and tips. I share everything I know in my Essential Guide to Growing Peppers. Read about it here.



  • My garden in Scotland operates on these same principles. This year the potatoes were small but very, very numerous. Probably due to the rainy Spring. We have had more apples than perhaps ever before from our two little trees, and although the season for soft fruit has been much shorter tan last year, we have so far made 37 jars of jam, maybe 20 chutneys and pickles – and we still have loads in the freezer awaiting inspiration. Carrots were small and the second batch just seeded in the first year, which they are not supposed to do. It encourages us to be flexible!

    • Sounds like you have a great little garden, Janine! You’re right, gardening does encourage flexibility since the best laid plans don’t always turn out the way we think.

  • […] Want to read about this year’s successes? You can do that in this post. […]

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