From spicy peppers to eggplants: the valuable gardening insights I’ve gained over this year.

New Year is a time for reflection, planning for the future, and being more strict with my vegetable garden.

I love this special period between Christmas and the new year when the days seem to blend together and work emails aren’t a concern.

Maybe some people enjoy keeping busy during this quieter time, but I prefer to use it as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and my gardening space. It inspires me to consider what I hope for in the upcoming season.

As someone who enjoys taking notes, I often look back on my diary to see how my vegetables in the garden fared throughout the year. I analyze what factors may have influenced their success or failure. Instead of complaining about the weather or my own mistakes, I try to say goodbye to the pitfalls of the previous season and commit to avoiding them in the future. Each season brings new lessons, especially as climate change affects the garden and requires us to pay closer attention to our plants’ needs.

Firstly, I need to be more ruthless in thinning out the self-seeded plants in my vegetable patch. They compete with my crops and impact the harvest. I shouldn’t panic about the empty spaces in early spring or neglect the proper spacing that aubergine plants require, as they can grow quite large when happy in the greenhouse.

Another lesson I’ve learned is the importance of repotting my chili plants as they outgrow their containers, rather than ignoring the issue and hoping for the best. Additionally, I need to make time to harvest my Szechuan peppers in late September, before heavy autumn rains ruin them.

Of course, there have been many triumphs to celebrate as well. The lemongrass I grew from seed took care of itself in the greenhouse corner. The gifted agretti seedlings thrived in my soil and provided a surprisingly salty and delicious leafy crop. And the tomatillos at the farm where I work were bountiful in the polytunnel and became my favorite plant of the year.

Although the view from my window may currently appear gloomy and bare, I prefer to see it as a blank canvas. It motivates me to organize my seed box and browse through seed catalogs, imagining what my garden will look like next season. I want to grow edamame, tatsoi, and patty pan squash, and finally set up the barrel pond I planned a year ago. What about you?

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