1) Basil - planted from seeds in some seed starter mix, sprung up like gangbusters and we enjoyed caprese salad and pesto all summer.
2) Marigolds - from starter plants in a tray. I planted these because I thought they'd keep some stingy bugs away. That sort of thing is hard to test. Anyway the orange ones with the mum-looking flowers practically grew into bushes. The pretty yellow flowered ones did well for a while, then when we had strings of 100 degree days they just shriveled. Next year I'd rather start these from seeds for a more even look.
3) Cilantro & parsley - inherited these from Ms. A, who went on a long vacation and just told me to take the planters home. There was some basil in them too that I kept thriving, but the cilantro and parsley I promptly killed. Not sure what went wrong there.
4) Peppermint - Grew from a plant at the farmer's market. It did well, but we didn't use it much. I read that you're supposed to pinch off the flowers to keep it growing mint leaves and this is very true, the leaves do grow a lot better when there aren't flowers. I cut off the top 4-6" of the plant when it flowered and took it inside and put it in bud vases in the kitchen and it smelled delightful. That's pretty much all we ever used mint for.
5) Lettuce - grew from variety pack of seeds. Got to about 4" little plants, came outside one morning and a cute little caterpillar was hanging out in there, I was like "awe look at you!" When I got home all my lettuce was GONE. Leaves were striped down to the stalk, and every stalk was crawling with nasty little greedy green worms. Fuck. I posted about this in my hippy mom group because they garden and are supportive and one commenter said "Oh but you're growing butterflies! :)" ORLY BITCH?! More likely grew moths... Marc did some googling and concluded that these were beet worms. Left the planter isolated to bake in the sun and smite the wicked. Did not try to regrow anything. Probably planted lettuce way too late anyway.
So goals for next year:
1) Start May 1
2) Use more seeds
3) Grow lettuce
4) Find more things we like pesto on
5) Compost - start in October so we have soil in the spring
6) Try other fruit/vegetable varieties - maybe cherry tomatoes
I had some success this year.
Oh and final note... we bought a rain barrel. It was sort of a birthday present for me, and I LOVE it. I bought a neat looking one at menard's and hooked it up to the downspout from the roof and it filled up fast and had water in it all summer, even through the awful drought in July. The water was hot enough to make tea in, but still there. It was good because our house only has one hose faucet and it's on the opposite side from where I was growing stuff so the rain barrel shortened my walk to fill the watering can quite a bit. Next year I'd like to elevate it a bit more, maybe even run a hose from it. Oh so yeah that's a goal:
7) April - elevate rain barrel and start collecting rain for May planting