The growing season lasted an extra couple of months this year with warm temperatures extending well into fall. I took down my garden the last week of October, but could have easily pushed this back another two weeks.

In fact, I distinctly remember a 70 degree day in November that I used to clean up the deck. Gotta love the volatility of midwest weather!

All in all, I’m very happy with the performance of my container garden this year.

Most of the plants I chose for a high yield, continuous crop were great performers. I think the biggest take away I learned from this year is that plants bearing small fruit yield the best crop for container gardens.

I’ve landed on this conclusion for a couple of reasons.

First, the smaller the fruit, the faster it ripens. So there’s less time between pollination and getting to enjoy your produce.

Second, miniature varieties just seem to handle containers better than full size varieties.

I’ve tried growing full size tomatoes and bell peppers out of pots several times. And the results were always disappointing.

But my cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers thrived in containers! So did my mini eggplants, even though they were smushed between two pepper plants in one pot.

So, going forward, I want to plant more miniature varieties to increase my yield.

While we ate more homegrown produce this year compared to previous ones, there was still a lot of stuff that went bad before we could get to it.

This mostly happened with the mini eggplants. Unfortunately, they just didn’t fit into our diet very well. I had the same problem with zucchini in the past, which is why I stopped growing it.

Even though these watery vegetables bear a lot of fruit, we prefer crunchy, brassica type vegetables (think broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.) to pair with meals. Eggplant and zucchini don’t make a great stand alone side dish, so we really struggled with how to use them.

On the other end of the spectrum, we loved our bush beans this year but didn’t get nearly as much as we wanted from them.

Unfortunately, the plants got sickly after their first big crop and never bounced back. Bush beans were also much harder to harvest from than I expected. So many leaves for beans to hide behind!

Next year I’ll definitely be doing green beans again, but this time I’ll grow them vertically.

Overall, this year made me feel more confident than ever as a gardener. I’m grateful for the challenges and successes of this season and can’t wait to see what the next one brings.