I'll start with what went well:
1) Potatoes: Potatoes are plain-packaged miracles in my opinion. I was astounded again this year at how many potatoes will grow from just a quarter-potato planted in the Spring. I planted a section of Yukon Gold potatoes this year - the section was about 5 feet square. I probably planted the potatoes too close together, and I didn't hill them up as much I had intended, yet I got over 40 lbs of potatoes out of that little patch. Some of them were hands down gorgeous! Smooth, creamy, perfectly formed spuds. I have since made a whole lotta potato-leek soup and mashed spuds, which are now in my freezer for Winter. Not to mention the bounty of new potatoes and butter we had over the Summer itself.
2) Carrots: These grew and grew whether I thinned them or not, and tolerated quite the variation in temperature and moisture - I was so enthralled with them I wrote a little post all about it a couple weeks ago...
3) Perennial Herbs: I was so happy that my lavender plant made it through last Winter, despite the many nights of bitter cold we had (and by bitter cold I mean -45C at times, and often many nights in a row of -30C). Not only did it survive, but it thrived and produced lovely flowers that were loved by a lot of bees and bugs. By virtue of a late September trip to a lavender farm just outside of Victoria, BC, I found out that my particular variety of lavender was edible! So I harvested my lavender flowers (probably past their peak, but oh well) and made some delicious lavender scones, like you see in the picture above. I also made some lavender and sage tea with honey, which is also quite tasty. Which brings me to the sage - another plant that just grew like crazy this Summer. I have harvested a huge jar-full, enough to last me over the Winter, for certain. My thyme and rosemary also did well, and I fully expect to see them survive over this Winter, providing there is enough snow to insulate everything nicely, like there was last year.
4) Perennial Salad Greens: I grew three varieties of greens from seed: Salad Burnet, Burnet Saxifraga and French Sorrel. All of these sprouted well and grew quite profusely. Both Gord and I and our guinea pigs enjoyed these greens over the summer and into the late Fall (i.e., now). I am keeping my fingers crossed that they live through the winter - the odds are fairly good since they are quite well established now.
There were several things that didn't go well, some of which I've complained about already, and some which I haven't mentioned yet:
1) Cucumbers: I have absolutely no luck with these. Last year they were killed by frost and this year the seedlings were fried by a hot spell after a cool, dry spell. I had been trying to conserve water becasue of the dryness early in the Spring, and apparently I was a bit too stingy with the H2O.
2) Beans: These things were fried more than once, and were very slow to get going in the adverse conditions of cool dryness followed by hot dryness. Later in the summer they had a burst of growth that happened so fast the beans were past the fresh eating stage before I even noticed there were beans at all. They were even past the pickling stage, they were that big. Fortunately they were a dual purpose bean, in that the seeds themselves could be dried and used for soups. So I have a whole cupboard full of bean pods drying.
3) Tomatoes: Dead. Killed in a late frost (in June). I didn't have the motivation to try again.
4) Pumpkins: Dead. Seedlings eaten by some sort of garden pest, perhaps of the deer or pocket gopher variety.
5) Chard and Kale: started out good, but the above noted pocket gopher decided to invade that corner of the garden after our 'mole repellent' thingies chased them out of the yard. All that underground burrowing killed a good half of the chard and kale after that.
6) Aspen tree "cloning:" Our property is full of trembling aspen trees, but there is one large gap in the treeline from what I assume was some over-zealous grading when the house was built. I want to fill in that gap with the same kind of trees, and when I saw this rooter pot device at Lee Valley tools, I thought it was the answer. I had visions of free trees in my head, and I enthusiastically made my way out into our woodlot to choose some prime cloning fodder. I followed the directions closely and soon had ten aspen saplings fitted out with attached rootpots. I don't know if it was a problem with the rooting hormone washing off of the exposed "wound" inside the rootpots, or my not keeping the soil evenly moist. (Watering these things was a tad more complex than the little instruction book led me to believe.) So instead of planting ten new trees, I killed ten trees instead. Not good.
Despite the disappointments I did learn a lot, and there were some things that did go well even in the tough conditions. I guess that's the most important lesson of all: when the going gets tough, I just need to channel my inner potato. And then maybe have some lavender scones with tea. :)