It’s been a while since my last post! Here’s the highlights
Liquid fertilizer today!
Dino and Red Kale up!
Chamomile up but still very small
Pansies and Rosemary still trying to sprout
So it begins!
New additions to this years garden
And 3 new Varieties of Morning Glories for the fence
AND I bought my cover crop seeds for the fall. I couldn’t find them anywhere in September. I’ll be building a second bed in the next few weeks! Spring is so close :)
As We come to the end of the season I can now start to reflect on what worked and what didn’t.
Lesson one: seedlings started inside like heat! - It’s super chilly in my apartment in the winter and some of my seedlings were severely stunted because of this. Peppers and tomato seedlings never matured past a few inches tall. My cucumber plants did well but stayed small compared to my friends cuke plants. I pulled out the seedling heating pad after everything sprouted, clearly this was a bad idea. Next season I may try to build a little hot house around the plants so they stay toasty.
Lesson two: Less is more (space wise) - One big mistake is I planted stuff WAY too close to each other. Vegetable plants look so tiny when seedlings and seeds go into the ground, but fast forward 3 months later and everything is overgrown!
These pole beans need more room to stretch out. I’ll plant these in a container next season and have a larger trellis system or just have the trellis trailing out from the container. They are now taking over my tomato plants and all my herbs. The basil was lost between my tomato plants after only a month. Things like radishes I didn’t thin out enough so some of them never matured past a thick root. The only thing that lack of space wasn’t an issue was the lettuce greens.
Lesson three: Not all tomato cages are created equal - I couldn’t decide what kind of tomato cages to buy so I bought the cheapest average sized ones. The Lemon boys quickly outgrew the cage and fell over on the top. Roma’s and husky golds never grew large enough to fit in the cage and started to fall over when they started to sprout litlle baby tomatoes. I ended up staking them mid season for damage control. I think next season I may try staking them instead of the cages.
Lesson four: there is such thing as too much plant food - Giant tomatoes gross me out. I chose 3 varieties that looked like they would stay small. I fertilized with tomato tone and compost in garden before I planted and then thought I needed to keep fertilizing diligently throughout the season. I switched off between fish/kelp emulsion and tomato tone every 2 weeks. The only thing it really affected was the lemon boy tomatoes, but what I ended up with was 4 small pumpkin sized tomatoes. They were gross, they had stuff living in them and some were moldy on the inside by the time they turned yellow. After this I laid off the fertilizer and I went back to harvesting normal, non freakish tomatoes.
Lesson five: Beets don’t like my garden - This is somewhat an exaggeration, but my beets took too much time and stayed tiny. I think I only had one that was passable as an actual beet (see above). After doing some reading I realized that I didn’t have enough drainage and my soil was too rocky. I plan to mix in some sand, and sift out the rocks in a section to try planting beets again this week since they are a cold crop I can harvest them before the frost in November.
Lesson six: If people tell you not to stake it… don’t listen. - I was told not to bother staking my peppers, that they will hold themselves up. well today I harvested 4 peppers off one plant that was bent over completely. It looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. A stake costs like $.50 - $1.50 and will save your plants!
Lesson seven: Don’t wait for a problem, prevent it. - I had a bad cucumber beetle infestation that has damaged my cucumber plants. I should have been a little more proactive in preventing this problem with some sort of garlic/pepper spray or some other prevention method. I got mad and impatient so I sprayed them with a natural pesticide (which is probably not natural) then realized the spray was unfit for cucumbers so I had to throw out the cucumbers that were still on the plant… which made me more mad. Then I kind of threw my hands up in the air because it was really only damaging the plant and not the cucumbers it grew.
Lesson eight: The suckers! Dear god the suckers - I tried to be diligent in pulling the suckers off my tomato plants, but they had a mind of their own. Also I had to buy replacement tomato plants from the garden store partly because of lesson one and Hop Hop the garden destroying bunny. These plants hadn’t been sucker pruned and had wacky offshoots on them. The Roma tomato plant ended up with somewhat of an S curve in the whole plant, which made it hard to stake when I realized the cage was doing nothing (Lesson three).
Lesson nine: Trees get in the way - It really never occurred to me when I was planning my planting in January that the trees would grow leaves and shade parts of my yard in the summer. Luckily my garden is not affected by this oversight and still gets a ton of sunlight, but my flower bed actually loses half a days sunlight on one side.
With all this said, I didn’t f*ck up everything. Here are some thoughts on stuff I did right.
I think that my watering worked out well. I chose not to water everyday because I read somewhere that tomatoes watered everyday lose their flavor. Once it hit August I really didn’t have to water at all because we had drenching thunder storms evenly spaced out (Also I was traveling a fair amount and felt rude asking a friend to come all the way to my house to water). The only plant that I think it affected was the Roma tomatoes. I had to toss out a ton from blossom end rot, but then again I’m not entirely sure because after all those where thrown out I haven’t seen it happen since. I’m not a fan of that variety anyway so I won’t be planting them again.
Radishes and lettuce are absurdly easy to grow!! These are a no brain-er, and with about a month between planting and harvest makes them totally gratifying. Parsley, Basil, Peppers, Beans, and tomatoes also worked out really well besides the problems listed above.Even with a few bumps I ended up with a ton of home grown veggies that blow their store bought cousins out of the water. Never before would I slice up a tomato and just eat it with nothing but a sprinkling of salt or eat green beans without boiling first. Everything has been SO flavorful and crisp. I loved being able to head out to the yard to fill my salad spinner with fresh picked greens for dinner. Gardening is pretty OK, I’ll be ready for next season to put all this new knowledge into motion.
With that said this season is not over, I plan to clear out some stuff some and plant more beets, radishes, lettuce, and possibly carrots? I don’t know, I’m feeling crazy! Also, after seeing Shawn’s aunt Cindy’s crop of homegrown garlic I plan to pick up some garlic starters at the garlic fest in October. It will be pretty neat to plant a food crop that winters over before harvesting. I’m also kind of jealous of a neighbor in my area that is growing corn in his front yard, might have to try that shiz out next season as well. which brings me to my last insight..
Lesson ten: Gardening is awesome.
Today at 4pm I sprayed my garden with Bonide Beetle Killer. I was going to try to remedy the situation in a more natural way, but in the end this just made more sense. Those stupid Cucumber beetles are mating like crazy in the cucumber blossoms and in the lettuce that’s next to it. It’s like their mocking me! I bought Organic pesticide, which is probably a crock of shit but if it works I won’t have to dig up plants I’ve been growing since MARCH.
I plan to try the Garlic/red pepper spray or Red Pepper/onion/spearmint spray after this, I just figured one application of this and I could greatly reduce the population of the cucumber beetle.