Monthly Archives: October 2015

printable Garden Assessment Form

Garden Assessment: Start planning for next year

How was your growing season?  Was it successful?  Do you wish you could have done something differently?  We’re here to help with our printable Garden Assessment Form.

Printable Garden Assessment Form

Now that the growing season is over, take a few minutes to assess the success of your garden.  Use our printable Garden Assessment Form to analyze and review your garden, so that next year turns out even better. Just click on the link below to print our garden assessment form:

Garden Assessment Form

Garden Assessment Form

Assessing your garden

Be sure to think about all of the things that worked well this year:

  • Size of garden
  • Garden layout and paths
  • Types of plants: Vegetables and flowers

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Was your garden too small, to big, or just the right size?
  • Would you like to change the layout of your garden?
  • Which plants grew the best?
  • Which vegetables and flowers did you enjoy most?
  • Did you have too many of one type of plant, or not enough of another?

Now it’s time to fill out the Garden Assessment Form.

What worked well during this growing season?

Start by thinking about the successful part of your garden.  Think about:

  • What worked really well?
  • Are there things you would keep the same?

Jot down your top items that made your garden a success.  These are the items you will want to repeat again next year.  There were several things that went well for us:

  • Giant Zinnias: These are one of our favorite flowers to grow.  This year they were colorful and plentiful. We opted to grow red, orange and yellow colors. This was perfect for a summer vase, as well as fall.

Giant Red Zinnia with butterfly


  • Cherry Tomatoes:  Two plants were plenty for our family. There were enough to share with our friends, too. We trimmed the tops of the plants early in the season, which allowed the plants to fill out and grow strong.

Red and Green Cherry Tomatoes

  • Basil:  This year we planted 8 basil plants. We kept the basil trimmed, and there was plenty all season. It was wonderful to have fresh-cut basil available for our summer dinner meals.

Basil Growing in Container

  • Marigolds: Yellow and orange marigolds are a tradition in our garden because they seem to keep the bunnies away. We prefer the flat-petal variety, called Durango Marigolds, which are a little different that the standard marigolds.

two yellow durango merigolds

  • Sunflowers: We love sunflowers. The 36” low height works best in our garden. Our neighbor loves sunflowers so we planted them on the edge where she can see them, too. Planting 10-12 from seed worked best.

Dwarf Sunflowers

  • Lettuce: Our lettuce grew very well this year. We bought 2 six-packs of lettuce from our local garden center, which proved to be easier than growing it from seed.


  • Herb Container: In addition to growing basil in the garden, we opted to plant basil, rosemary and chives in a container. We snipped herbs from our container throughout the season.  Once the first frost arrived, we brought the container indoors and continued to have a fresh supply of herbs.

Chives in Container

  • Geraniums in window boxes: Although we prefer to have a variety of plants in our window boxes, we tend to regret this decision when the heat arrives in July. This year we opted for simple geraniums, which lasted from May to October. They were very forgiving when we didn’t water them, and are the perfect plant for a window box if you plan to be on vacation for a week or two and cannot water them.  Geraniums come in many colors: Hot pink, light pink, red, salmon, white, and light purple.  Red ones look great from Memorial Day right into early fall.  Pictured below are our hot pink geraniums:

Pink geraniums in window boxes

What didn’t work in your garden this year?

Next, it’s time to think about things that just didn’t work:

  • Did you have enough plants?
  • Were certain crops a bust this year?
  • Do you wish you had more flowers or vegetables?
  • Were there too many weeds?

Write down the things that went wrong, so that next year you can make some changes.  Here’s what we need to fix for next year:

  • Peppers: We had too many pepper plants: 24 to be exact.  There were 4 varieties, with 6 plants of each variety.  For some reason, none of our pepper plants grew very well this year.  Next year, we’re planning to grow just 6 jalapeno pepper plants.
  • Acorn squash: This was our first time growing acorn squash. We were pleased to have three squash, but they were very small and took up a lot of garden space. We will omit acorn squash next year.
  • Cucumbers: We were pleased that our cucumbers were grown from seed. Initially, the plants looked great, but a week of non-stop rain washed out our crop this year. Next year, we will consider using lattice for the cucumbers to climb, and mound the plants again when planting.
  • Potatoes: This was another first-time crop for us. Potatoes require less water than other plants.  It was difficult not to water the potatoes since they were in our main garden. We will try growing potatoes again next year, but in a container.  That way, it’s easier to trim the tops during the season, and we can have more control over the water supply.


Things to do next time

Lastly, write down a few things you want to do next year.  By documenting your thoughts now, it will make it much easier for next year.  Here are the changes we will make:

  • Grow more extra-large flowers: Consider giant spider chyrsanthemums or 18 large zinnia plants instead of 8.
  • Grow more cut flowers: Research flower types over the winter. Look for cut flowers that would look good on a dining room table.
  • Continue growing zucchini: Limit to 3-4 zucchini plants, and remember to plant in full sun.
  • Rotate garden crops: Research efficient planting methods; Change location of cherry tomato plants
  • Shop for blueberry bush netting: Our one blueberry bush is quite large.  The netting no longer fits over the entire bush.  Shop early for white cheese cloth netting.
  • Buy citronella plants: These plants keep mosquitoes away.  Consider having one in the garden, another one on the patio, and a third one on the deck.  Instead of spraying bug spray on skin, simply cut a piece of the plant, and brush it on your clothes.  It smells like citronella candles, and is a more natural way to repel mosquitos.

By taking a few notes now, you’ll have time to plan over the winter. In addition, your garden will be even better next year. Happy gardening!

Additional articles you may enjoy from our website:

flower and vegetable seed and plant checklistGarden Shopping Checklist: Track your seed and plant purchases

Yellow zinneas

First Frost Warning: What it means for you and your outdoor plants

Bearded Iris

Things to plant this fall

Gutters with Leaves

It’s Time to Clean Out Your Gutters

Leaves - oak

Do it yourself: How to clean up fall leaves

Leaf Rake

How to Remove Leaves from Pool Cover

How to drain water from a pool cover

Tips on How to Drain Water from a Pool Cover


Need more gardening guidance?  Check out our monthly gardening calendars: What’s Blooming

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest:  Click here


Halloween Checklist You Can’t Miss

Halloween is on the way.  We’re here to help with our printable Halloween Checklist.  There’s lots to do, so let’s get started. 


  • Have kids decide on costumes
  • Order costumes on-line or buy in store
  • Have kids try on costumes to confirm they fit
  • Plan ahead for cold or rainy weather (sweatshirts, thermal shirts, raincoats, vests)
  • Purchase or pull out Halloween pails for kids to collect candy


  • Buy bucket or basket for candy
  • Buy Halloween candy
  • Buy plastic snack bags
  • Schedule date to prepare Halloween bags
  • Print Halloween sign (if not home that night)


  • Decorate outdoors for trick-or-treaters
  • Change light bulbs to purple or orange
  • Buy mums
  • Go pumpkin picking
  • Carve pumpkins
  • Confirm outdoor light bulbs work


  • Make plans to go trick-or-treating with friends
  • Plan supper for friends prior to going trick-or-treating
  • Set up a schedule for the night

Halloween night

  • Give kids glow-in-dark items (light, necklace, bracelet)
  • Bring a reusable shopping bag to hold extra candy
  • Give kids pumpkins or bags to hold candy
  • Turn on Halloween music and lights
  • Put out bucket of Halloween candy
  • Take pictures of kids in costumes
  • Have fun trick-or-treating!

The day after

  • Sort through Halloween candy; confirm all is safe to eat
  • Fill out an assessment form to help for next year (Use our party assessment below)

Printable Halloween Checklist

Here is a printable Halloween Checklist for you to use.  Just click on the link and print.

Halloween Checklist

Halloween Checklist

Here are a few additional articles from our website:

Party and Event Assessment

The Party is Over and It’s Time to Assess

Halloween bucket of candy treats

Don’t gyp the kids: How to give out Halloween candy when you’re not home

Household Checklist for October

Household Checklist for October

Don’t gyp the kids: How to give out Halloween candy when you’re not home

Are you going out with your own children to trick-or-treat on Halloween night? Do you wish someone could be home to give out candy? Consider setting up a bucket with self-serve treats.

Here’s what you’ll need to set up your Halloween bucket of treats:

1. Large bucket to hold bags of candy

We opted for an orange bucket. It was the perfect size and orange was the perfect color for Halloween.

Halloween bucket of candy treats

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost to you, but Running A Household will receive a commission.  Thank you for supporting our website.

You can check out the bucket here:

Party Tub Orange, 8.5 Gallon

2. Halloween-themed treat bags

We prefer the plastic cellophane ones, just in case it rains. Just check the count to make sure you have enough. Click on the image below to see more details about the three designs offered:

3. Halloween candy, snacks and treats

We like to put in 4-5 pieces of candy, depending on the size and type.   It can include items like small candy bars, a bag of pretzels, washable tattoos, stickers, pencils or popcorn balls.

You’ll also want to be mindful of those children with restrictions including: peanut allergies, dairy allergies, or braces or teeth spacers (nothing sticky for these kiddos). We also try to include something different and fun, like these Ring Pops:


4. “Sorry We Missed You” Sign for your Halloween treat bin

Since your bin will be self-serve, you’ll want to leave specific instructions for your visitors. Here’s a free printable Halloween sign you can attach to your bucket.  Just click on the link below to print your free sign:

Halloween Sign - Sorry we missed you

Halloween Sign – Sorry we missed you

Schedule a date to make your treat bags

Once you have purchased all of you items, schedule a date to make your treat bags.  We prefer to do ours 3-4 days ahead of Halloween, once we have a general idea of the weather conditions. If it’s cold or raining, we make fewer bags.

Setting Up on Halloween

While it’s still light out, you’ll want to put out your Halloween bucket of treats and Halloween sign.  Be sure to turn one outdoor light on, so children can find your Halloween bucket.  Also consider putting out a few Halloween decorations and playing some Halloween music, to make the night fun for the kids. 🙂

Happy Halloween!