The 2022 yard and garden year in review
Most of us were delighted to see spring moisture and cool temperatures after the hot drought of 2021, but too much of a good thing led to a late spring with soggy, cold soil and delayed planting."
Gardening keeps us optimistic. If one growing season disappoints, we quickly look forward to the next. And next year’s yard and garden will always be better, with timely rainfall, less weeds, less insects, and temperatures neither too hot nor too cold, and everything will grow like it’s supposed to.
I once thought there was a gardening “normal” in the Upper Midwest, and most of our growing seasons would fit into this average weather, where flowers, vegetables and fruits grew as expected.
After gardening through the mid-summer rain deluge of 1975, the drought of 1976, the dry years of the late ‘80s, the super wet decades starting in the early ‘90s, and the recent drought of 2021 ending in a too-wet spring 2022, I realize our up-and-down weather is what’s “normal.“
We garden through dry years, wet years, and everything in between, and our vegetable gardens generally yield food to eat and our flowerbeds bloom, with some years better than others. We supply extra water where possible, treat outbreaks of insect hoards, continue fighting super weeds, and hope next year’s growing season will be a little better.
In our optimism, we recognize that our growing seasons fluctuate, and we develop a resiliency and bank of knowledge that yields at least some success in good years and bad.
How did the gardening season of 2022 stack up? Most of us were delighted to see spring moisture and cool temperatures after the hot drought of 2021, but too much of a good thing led to a late spring with soggy, cold soil and delayed planting.
Our own vegetable garden and flowerbeds in Fargo’s heavy clay soil were deeply gooey last spring, sucking off your overshoe if you made a false step. I waited patiently to rototill, as clay soil provides a very short window of opportunity before it transitions from slippery goo into hard-baked brick.
We were finally able to plant the vegetable garden and flowerbeds in early June, making it among our latest planting dates ever. Adequate soil moisture helped seeds and plants quickly establish, though.
During June, warmer-than-average temperatures helped push vegetables and flowers along. Lawns that were parched and brown during the previous year’s drought had made a green comeback with generous spring moisture. The growing season appeared to be progressing.
But by July, rain became sparse and extended heat caused non-irrigated lawns to again turn dormant and brown. Vegetable gardens and flowerbeds required irrigation for continued growth. The cold, wet spring became a hot, dry summer.
Heat-loving crops, like tomatoes and melons, flourished. Crops that enjoyed the earlier cool weather, like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas and spinach, didn’t care for the transition to hot temperatures.
It was a good summer for mulches. I again used clear plastic mulch on watermelons and muskmelons, which warms the soil while conserving moisture, resulting in earlier melons. Moisture-conserving mulches around tomatoes helped reduce blossom end rot disorder.
Insects were troublesome, including squash vine borers, Colorado potato beetles, bean leaf beetles and rose sawfly. Applications of insecticides like spinosad, Sevin or Eight were effective, if applied at first signs of insects.
Flower gardens were beautiful this year, especially heat-loving types like zinnias and marigolds. Geraniums, always popular for containers, didn’t like the mid-summer heat, and didn’t thrive until temperatures cooled in late summer.
September rains were lacking, which usually help lawns recover from summer heat and drought. Lawns didn’t develop their normal lush September growth.
Even though the growing season swung from cold and wet to hot and dry, flowerbeds were colorful with extra watering, and our vegetable garden produced some of the best potatoes we’ve ever grown. Carrots were small, but we had plenty of fresh vegetables to eat.
Fall frost came later than average for much of the region, which is always a treat for gardeners. Tomatoes continue bearing, and flowers remained colorful well into October.
The growing season wasn’t my long-lost notion of “normal,” but all things considered, I think we did okay. And next year’s yard and garden is going to be even better.