Jul 122011
 

It’s been a while since I posted about the garden. I guess maybe that says a lot about it right there.

We had a lot of trouble with the water situation here. Following the instructions in “Square Foot Gardening”, and on many seed packets, we upped the watering from once to twice a week – it’s not like we didn’t realize it was hot.

But the plants still wilted and did not thrive.

Trying to get out there before the sun got up and water became an even bigger challenge when we went away over Memorial Day weekend to visit family, and then Nick start a youth internship that required us to make a lengthy round-trip drive to drop him off early every day.

We broke down and bought a sprinkler and a timer, like these:

The cheapest timers are “shut-off timers”, just designed to turn off your sprinkler after a set time, so you don’t forget about it and leave it running all day. Then most of the other timers you see are big, elaborate, expensive gizmos designed to run your whole sprinkler system.

But I did find just what I needed, and it has been a lifesaver.

We set up a timer and sprinkler like the ones above to come on every day at 4 am and water for 10 minutes. I have no idea if it would be optimal to have somewhat more or less water, but this at least seems to be working.

We’re certainly had some success, and our cucumbers are thriving!

But so many things are just not working. At all.

I’m willing to accept that this year is a learning experience – in fact, that was the plan. But I don’t feel like I’m learning much, because in most cases I don’t know what I could do differently.

At the time the radishes should have been ready, according to the calendar, we pulled on up and it was nothing more than a thick pace in the root.

We figured that he had not had enough water, but that perhaps with a little more time – now that we had the sprinkler thing worked out – they would mature nicely.

Then one day we woke up to this:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Radish Forest! That’s a bad picture – you can’t easily tell that they’re three feet tall and have flowers on top.

Now, granted, this didn’t actually happen overnight.

But it did happen during the period of discouragement when we didn’t get out to the garden enough…

The butternut squash gave me the one squash in the first picture. The vine continues to grow wildly, and I trim it to stay within its boundaries. There is some yellowing. I wonder if it’s still not getting enough water?

The summer (crook-neck) squash is NOT happy about being trained up the frame, and has steadfastly refused to produce any squash.

The tomatoes (two plants, shown here) seem to be delighted to be growing up the frame… But have also yet to produce a single fruit.

Hmmm.

My lovely bush-beans have largely died off. I’m thinking this may be, at least in part, because we didn’t harvest them enough, for that while.

The blueberries are not thriving.

The woman at the Farmer’s Market who sold them to me said they they could go another year or two in the pots they were in, so (since we’re renting) I haven’t transplanted them.

I have no idea why they’re so unhappy. About half the branches seem pretty healthy, and about half look totally dead.

The watermelon never did sprout again, after being replanted from the first “eaten off at the stalk” episode.

The corn is over all just kind of runty. Only bout half the plants came up, and only about half of them even tried to grow an ear of corn.


This is my carrot garden.

Yeah, what’s that… two carrots? And they just recently came up – weeks and weeks later than expected, and hiding under the marigolds.

Next to this area you can see is a big (for my garden) expanse of bare earth, full of carrot seeds that didn’t.

I have no idea what to make of that, either.

The strawberry plants are healthy, but of course no longer producing – and what they did produce the ants ate before we could.

So, there you have it, my garden.

I know I’m at fault for many of these problems, simply due to getting discouraged and leaving things along too long…

But it’s those other things. It’s frustrating to not understand the problem, or the solution. I couldn’t do any better next year, then!

More fertilizer? Toxic chemicals? Eeew!

I just don’t know…

  4 Responses to “Renewing My Heart for Gardening”

  1. Maybe a trip to Lowes to talk to the ‘garden man/woman’? Or try the local Agriculture office from a local college maybe.

  2. So many of my plants have passed due to the heat this summer.

  3. I was just recently introduced to the “county extension agency of the state university” by a mormon friend and then at a watering workshop. I’ve always been a water daily kinda girl, so I ignore people who water once or twice a week. I’ve learned this year that seeds like to be damp at all times, or they die before sprouting. When I first planted seeds and my transplants into the actual garden, I watered them at least twice a day (sometimes more cuz I was excited to see new growth). I have beans, peas, tomato, cukes, zucchinis and summer squash all in full bloom, but not much happening yet, as we’re only a month into our growing seeason. :) With root crops like carrots, beets and radishes, wait until you can see their tops. I’ve harvested about 30 peas over the last month, and a dozen radishes (some I even tried roasting). Don’t give up. Be persistent and be thrilled that you’re learning and you’ve gotten a little stuff out of the garden. Wait a few more weeks and plant some lettuce, and other cool-weather crops for the fall. My calendar says plant now because we’ve only got about 10 weeks till a 50% frost (blech!). Good luck!

    • Oops, I never finished that first train of thought… At the county extension agency, there are master gardeners who are experts at gardening in each county. They are happy to offer free advice to people about gardens, lawns, trees, etc. Google the agency in your local county. Mine is only 10 minutes away.

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