SOOKE GARDEN CLUB: Another year of gardening adventures

Fall is the time when gardeners typically take stock

This basket of fruit and vegetables, prepared by Wendy Hales, won the 2018 Fern & Maudy Memorial Trophy at last month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club.

This basket of fruit and vegetables, prepared by Wendy Hales, won the 2018 Fern & Maudy Memorial Trophy at last month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club.

Loretta Fritz | Contributed

There’s no doubt about it: fall is upon us. Gardeners are still busy, of course, but most welcome the change in routine. The summer regime of watering, weeding and worrying has given way to such tasks as harvesting and preserving, planting and transplanting, and preparing the garden for winter.

Now is also the time when gardeners typically take stock: What did well this year and what didn’t? What got done this year and what didn’t but should have? What can I do to improve the situation next year? Do I care enough to put in the time, effort and money, or should I try my luck growing or doing something different?

Despite what we know about gardening, outcomes are not always predictable. Every spring we yearn for a Goldilocks growing season: not too hot and not too cold, not too wet and not too dry – everything just right! Alas, we seldom get it. But then, even if we did, conditions wouldn’t be “just right” for everything we want to grow. So we typically win some and lose some. It’s the nature of the beast.

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Our garden certainly faced challenges this year, and it didn’t always come out a winner. Trees and shrubs were stressed by the dryness; some died. Too many seed-planted vegetables took a hit from pecking and rummaging birds. Early salad greens went to seed before I got to them. Treasured butternut squash plants produced masses of male flowers but almost no female flowers, resulting in only three squashes.

On the other hand, some things did very well. The roses, for example, were particularly healthy and floriferous, and several are still blooming. We harvested our best garlic in recent years (no rust!), our largest crop of grapes, kilos of delicious tomatoes, and 14 figs (our first!) from a small tree planted last year. Everything else was somewhere in the middle.

Let’s face it, the garden is a year-round classroom and gardeners are year-round students. We learn primarily from our own experiences (especially the mistakes), but also from others in the gardening community.

This month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club offers an ideal opportunity to learn from fellow gardeners. Led by Club President Ron O’Brien, Garden Forum: A year-end review promises a lively exchange of stories, information, tips and techniques.

Also featured will be the annual pumpkin/squash contest, the judging of photos entered into the annual photo contest, and the annual fall plant sale.

Join us next Wednesday (Oct. 24), 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road. New members are always welcome. Questions? Visit our website at or email us at


Loretta Fritz writes for the Sooke Garden Club.