Toolshed Tips: Evaluate the Season

Your October Tip: As you begin to wrap up the season, there’s no better time to take stock of your successes, challenges, and lessons learned from this year’s garden. You can start by asking yourselves as garden leaders and your garden community some basic questions. Record your answers, so they can be used to inform next season and as well as help you build your garden’s resiliency in the long-term.

  • What worked well this season? What were small details that allowed things to work well in your garden (i.e. a hose without holes, healthy starts, a garden log in the shed, etc.)? What new efforts took your garden above and beyond this year? Encourage thinking about not only the gardens themselves (i.e. plants, pests, harvest, etc.), but also the things pertaining to your garden community and garden program (communication, community building, educational opportunities, etc.).
  • What was challenging this season? Where there barriers to your garden’s success this year? How did you address these challenges? Were they addressed effectively or do you still need to resolve issues related to your garden? Again, when asking yourselves these questions, consider the physical garden as well as your garden community and programs.
  • How can this season’s successes and challenges be used as lessons for next year? Discuss what you want to keep up for next season. Are there new projects that will further support the good work happening in your garden? Do you have the resources you need to make this happen? How will you address remaining challenges or issues?
  • Is your garden resilient? There’s great value in taking one season’s lessons to inform the next; however, make sure to keep an eye on the big picture, considering: Are you meeting the greater needs at hand? Is your garden community able to respond effectively to challenges? Will your garden last in the long-run? A resilient garden community has:
    • the resources and know-how to solve problems that arise;
    • the infrastructure to adequately meet the needs of the gardeners;
    • a diversity of skills and knowledge to contribute to the garden;
    • effective ways of communicating to and among gardeners;
    • suitable conditions for growing on and maintaining the land in the long-term;
    • a system of support within and beyond the garden borders;
    • and a joyous community of gardeners that value the garden and its benefits.

      Charlotte Central School's outdoor classroom, made with sunchokes and tree stumps

      Charlotte Central School’s outdoor classroom, made with sunchokes and tree stumps

To learn more about resilient planning and problem-solving, check out these resources:

Take stock of the season and practice resilient problem-solving with garden leaders from your region by taking part in a VCGN Grow It! workshop this fall. Workshops are still ahead in Manchester on October 15 and in Brattleboro on October 28. For more information and online registration go to or call us at (802) 861-4769.

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