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Continuing the Vegetable Garden

September 6, 2009

With the vegetable garden already prepared, I spent more time last winter obsessing over stacks of gardening books from the library. Square foot gardening, companion planting, seed saving, seed starting, sustainable gardening, composting… you name it, I read about it. I also had more time, energy, and a budget for seed starting. I did start my seeds last year, also. However, last year we had just finished moving in. The seeds were started later, maybe the end of March, and they were lined up on every available surface near a sunny window. When I ran out of surfaces, I stacked up moving bins and moved trays of seedlings from the East window in the morning to the West window in the afternoon. I only have two windows facing South and one of those is next to the refrigerator. Very inconvenient.

This year, I spent most of my gardening budget setting up an indoor seed starting area. Photos and details coming next winter. For now, it’s in a sorry state, overflowing with garden clutter. (Note to self: practice better organizational skills.) I’ve since seen Patti Moreno’s video of her fabulous hydroponic set up that I’m totally lusting after. Hydroponic how to guides are on my winter reading list.

Oooh, I wonder if pitching the idea as a winter home for Kirk’s pond fish would get me one…

Anyway, one of the tasks facing me was hardening off. This was one of those tasks that was all of the resources said to do, but none of them took the mystery out of how to do it without stressing the plants. So, more trial and error learning ensued. I made a makeshift cold frame with pvc pipes and semi-clear plastic sheeting. It worked fairly well, but I’ve got some ideas for improving on it next time.

Kirk also made me an arbor to support climbing plants. It’s not the most decorative, but it does the job well. It might have been decorative if the hyacinth beans grew over it, but the first planting was devoured by slugs. The second group survived, but didn’t like the weather this year. Now that fall is in the air, the hyacinth beans are just starting to take off. Go figure. The best part is, Kirk’s willing to build more structures for me. This year, the tomatoes and cucumbers are using the support. Next year, I’ll have beans under the arbor. I’m putting my requests in early for another trellis for the new tomato location.

April 26, 2009

April 26, 2009

The garden grew very slowly this year. Slugs and earwigs devoured everything they could. I thought marigolds were a pest deterrent, but they were among the first devoured. I’ve since read that marigolds are among the earwig’s favorites. I knew they were creepy, but I didn’t know earwigs could cause such destuction. And the slugs, oh my gosh, these moisture loving nocturnal creatures were gorging themselves on my babies in the middle of the afternoon. You wouldn’t know by looking just how sly they are. I made a fall planting of radishes and turnips and sprinkled crushed eggshells over the whole bed. That should have been an effective deterrent, but the slugs just crawled along the drip hoses to get to the seedlings. Who knew there was intelligence under all that slime?

While I can’t control the weather that allowed these invaders to gain the upper hand (The average rainfall for July is a little over 3″ and we got nearly 15″.), I did learn some other factors are in my control. Last fall, I left the mulch in the garden to save on having to replace it this year. I also didn’t keep up with clearing out the leaves. I raked them away many times, but eventually, I stopped and left the rest for spring clean up. Both of these things create habitat for the devourers. Everything will be dug in or cleared away this fall. New mulch will not be added until summer actually arrives next year. The gravel paths are also a place for creepies to hide, but I’m not moving them. The best I can do there is use a clean up spray to get rid of the creepies.

June 9, 2009

June 9, 2009

The small bee balms that I started from seed last year returned with vigor this spring. They must spend their first season putting all of their energy into roots and dastardly plots to take over the garden. This year, they suffered powdery mildew. I’m thinking of moving them. A baking soda spray seems to work if used regularly, but I still don’t want the mildew that close to the garden. I’ve also discovered that bee balms are very vigorous and will regrow fairly quickly after a good pruning. When I returned from a two week vacation to find the plants covered in mildew, I whacked them down to the ground. They may not be as tall as they should be now, but they are very healthy looking and mildew free.

August 26, 2009

August 26, 2009

I’ve ripped out the squash plants. They weren’t producing and I got tired of battling the borers. The eggplants haven’t produced anything yet. Most of them didn’t look even close, so they’re gone, too. I have two left with flowers and a couple of very small eggplants. I never found any late blight on my tomatoes, but a few of the pepper plants had something that looked close enough to get them ripped out. The remaining peppers are healthy and producing nicely. The hot peppers are much more productive than the sweet peppers. A few of the herbs I planted last year turned out to be perennials, but looked sickly after all the rain, so they’ve been ripped out. Now that I know they return much larger, I’ll plant them in better locations next year.

Is it too soon to start planning for next year?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2009 11:14 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and entering the drawing! BTW, my brother lives in Darien, Connecticut, and it’s beautiful country back there. They also have problems with slugs! Like you, my garden has overly infested with earwigs this year and they were literally devouring my marigolds. I sprayed for them and they went away and my plants flourished, but the came back again around mid summer. It’s like these things never want to DIE! Your vegetable garden looks wonderful and I like the arbor your hubby made!

  2. Kate permalink*
    September 9, 2009 9:13 am

    Thanks, Miss Daisy. I’m very happy with my veggie garden. I wouldn’t mind more sun, but it does okay. I’ll have to look into earwig sprays. I try to stick to non-toxic remedies because my garden fairy doesn’t understand bringing her prizes in to be washed before eating them.

  3. September 9, 2009 3:04 pm

    Very nice vegetable garden. My mother and sister both live in Maine and boy oh boy have they ever not been happy with all that rain this year. I say let it rain. We’ve had too much drought the last few years. The really bad thing has been all of the mosquitos. Your indoor starting area sounds great. I too have that organizational problem, but there is always next year:)-I hope!

    • Kate permalink*
      September 13, 2009 10:10 pm

      Tina, I don’t fret too much about the weather. It’s not in my control, so I just live with it. The mosquitoes I could do without. With all the rain, they’ve been overpopulating. My poor garden fairy came in with dozens of bites some nights. It was just awful. Thank goodness they’re not as bad since that brief glimpse of summer we had. 🙂

  4. September 13, 2009 11:36 am

    Love your garden. I’m still waiting on my first official harvest — our recent heavy rains after our long drought might affect this! And it’s not too late at all to start planning for next year! I’m working on this myself.

    • Kate permalink*
      September 13, 2009 10:05 pm

      Thanks, Meredith. The waiting is full of impatience and anticipation. Hope the weather hasn’t been too bad for your harvest.

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