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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gardening: Bring on seed catalogs after tough year

The fall sunlight highlights a wheelbarrow full of rose campion plants dug from Pat Munts’ garden that will find new homes with friends before the ground freezes solid.  (Pat Munts/For The Spokesman-Review)
The fall sunlight highlights a wheelbarrow full of rose campion plants dug from Pat Munts’ garden that will find new homes with friends before the ground freezes solid. (Pat Munts/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Pat Munts For The Spokesman-Review

I think it’s safe to say that our gardening season is over for the year.

I celebrated the last 60-degree day sitting in my garden watching the sun set and thinking about what happened through this crazy garden year. It was nice to have summer close its door on us gently and let the cooler temperatures and rain take over.

If you were disappointed in how your vegetable garden grew this year, you are not alone. I have gardened in Spokane for nearly 50 years and even with my knowledge base, I had the worst garden. I started seeds indoors and it wasn’t long before I was fighting with aphids. No amount of insecticidal soap would knock them back and the plants looked pathetic.

I planted them anyway and bought two tomato plants just in case the others failed. Got to have that August BLT. And fail they did – and spectacularly at that. So did the peppers, eggplants and most of the squash.

It didn’t help that the soil temperature when I planted at the end of May was still 45 degrees. Nothing grew in June and thus the warm season plants weren’t ready to bloom by mid-July when the nights warmed up. By the time they were ready in early August, the temperatures were into the 90s and it was too hot to set fruit. The rest of my landscape went to pot as well because it was too hot to be out even in the evening. The weeds took over and the lawn looked like a hay field.

When it did cool down in early September, other peoples’ plants went to town setting loads of fruit. Not mine, which proved my premonition that planting struggling seedlings was not a good idea. The saving grace was that it stayed warm until Oct. 20 when I harvested my last tomatoes, all 20 of them.

Now we slide into winter . In a few weeks, seed catalogs will start arriving. Their pretty pictures and enticing descriptions will call to us and the credit card balance will rise.

It’s all for a good cause, we’ll tell ourselves. Seed catalog season will roll into seed starting season in February, by which time we will be tired of winter. The snow may still be around in March, but it will be a good time to spend time in the garage cleaning up tools, sharpening blades and dreaming of the new garden season.

It is also writing season. If any of you have questions or story ideas you’d like me to work on over the winter, let me know.

Winter is a good time to explore topics in depth. We can explore new garden trends, resources and techniques. If you are seeing garden advice you would like checked for accuracy, let’s explore that. What kinds of holiday gifts are you looking for this year? Lastly, if your garden club is looking for a speaker, let me know.

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