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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gardening: 2021 growing season was an uneven exercise

Another casualty of 2021's summer heat was the raspberry crop. The berries often dried on the canes before they could be picked.  (Pat Munts/For The Spokesman-Review)
Another casualty of 2021's summer heat was the raspberry crop. The berries often dried on the canes before they could be picked. (Pat Munts/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Pat Munts For The Spokesman-Review

Last Sunday after I finished the last of the fall yard work, I took some time to reflect on the gardening year.

It was getting dark, and sunset was coming quickly. The wind was still blowing hard and whining through our three ancient pine trees. The clouds were sailing quickly to the east and weren’t hanging around long for the setting sun to color them up much, but there was enough color to be a fitting end to the day and the garden season. Now its time to wait for the snow to arrive.

This was a garden year to remember. The 20 million new gardeners who took up the hobby during the pandemic in 2020 were back for 2021. If you didn’t get your seed and plant orders in by late February, you found many of your favorite seeds backordered or just flat out of stock. Between seed shortages and staff issues with COVID-19, one major seed company resorted to taking home gardener orders only a couple of days a week.

Most of the local gardening events were canceled, went online or limited their sales to preorders to meet the gathering restrictions.

We all had to rethink how we got our plant fixes. I missed being able to browse through plants at leisure. The saving grace is I probably saved some money by not falling into the impulse buying.

I got spoiled during summer 2020 by having a lot of extra time to garden because everything was shut down. Last summer, many of my work-related activities returned, and I found it frustrating they cut into my garden time. It’s all about priorities in life. It’s a good thing I’m retiring from my day job (but not writing this column) at the end of the year.

The spring weather was dry and cold so that didn’t help getting the vegetable gardens planted and growing. I know people who replanted beans and corn three times. Then came the end of June and we all know what happened after that. The vegetables shot out of the ground and so did the weeds, and the battle for dominance was on.

We struggled to keep enough water on the gardens but crops like potatoes couldn’t handle the heat and morphed into weird shapes and sizes. It was too hot for tomatoes, squash and melons to set fruit. As a result, when it finally cooled off in August, they did start setting, and we got a late crop. Next challenge was finding canning jars and lids to put them up for the winter.

The peppers and basil loved the heat and grew like mad. I’ve gardened here since 1976, and this was only the second time I was treated to red peppers hanging off the plants. We will be stuffing those poblano peppers with cheese for chili rellenos all winter.

For now, the rains have returned. What lies ahead for winter is anyone’s guess. Do you know where your snow shovel is?

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Correspondent Pat Munts can be reached at pat@inlandnwgardening.com.

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