The 2020 growing season didn’t hold a lot of surprises in my opinion. There were both wet and dry periods.

Diseases and insects (bagworms) were present again. Quick changes in temperatures seem to be the norm. One constant is the growth of weeds.

Gardeners look forward to the potential growing season of 2021. It will likely be more of the same and plan to deal with the challenges. Some of what the gardener works with is out of our control. Decisions that are made in planning can improve success.

Food crop choices will have an average number of days to maturity listed. When everything else is equal, the one maturing earliest can avoid potential failure.

As an example, cabbage varieties will range from 62 to 120 days to harvest. The longer growing variety will require two additional months for watering, weeding, pest management and surviving the Kansas weather.

Disease management for some crops can be done with variety selection. Both edible apple and crabapple varieties have genetic resistance to commonly occurring diseases. Modern tomato varieties and grafted tomatoes use genetics to solve some disease issues. Use disease-resistant plants if this is important in your garden.

Insects seem to defy any type of resistance. If hungry enough, they will eat it. I have had success in growing the yard long bean in place of the bush type that gets devoured by the bean leaf beetle.

Temperature is a difficult factor to manage. Hoop houses, row covers and other tools can be used to get through some fluctuating temperatures.

Selecting hardy plants will aid in surviving the really cold temperatures. Some of these plants may not survive the really hot days. New plants are fun to try, but they may not have what it takes to stand the test of time like the old standards.

Plant selection requires a bit of investigation. Success can be accomplished by choosing the right plant for the right place and growing it in the right way. Check out the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website for good plants to grow.

If you would like additional information on a horticulture topic, please contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension.

Gregg may be contacted by calling 537-6350, stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan, e-mailing or at

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