Year Two - 2011 Garden Journal
With Christmas around the corner, I guess it's time to finally let go of the 2011 garden and reflect on what went well and of course what didn't. I love gardening! It's wonderful exercise for both the mind and body, which is probably why I don't feel like myself during the winter.
Hence operation germination started in January. I did lots of reading about seed starting and made a big order from Johnny Seeds. I usually rely on nurseries for most of our plants but our 2010 garden adventure was swept with blight and powdery mildew. I wanted to have more control and variety. I ordered and grew from seed sugar snap peas, butternut squash, sugar baby watermelon, baby pam pie pumpkins, dundoo zucchini, prizewinner pumpkin, spaghetti squash, charentais melon, diva cucumber, lemon cucumber, pink beauty radish, ancho pepper, jalapeno, lipstick sweet pimento pepper, hansel eggplant, sun gold tomato, defiant tomato, swiss chard, spinach, pole beans, red ace beets, golden beets, and dill. Think I over did it? I also added lots of flower seeds, like cosmos, zinnia, sweet alyssum, sunflowers, nasturtium, and four o'clocks as companion plants to attract as many beneficial insects as possible.
In February, Mike and I constructed a "green house" out of metal shelves we got from Lowes, rope Christmas lights, florescent shop lights, fans for wind simulation, and clear plastic to keep the heat and humidity in. Many seeds need warmth to germinate, so the rope lights were an affordable replacement for heat mats that covered way more surface!
Mid-March, I started planting all the nightshade plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. They popped up in about a week and I was elated. I had to transplant the tomatoes because they were getting spindly and I wanted to help them establish more roots. I worried about these plants a lot! It was a long time to keep them healthy until... June.
Beginning of May, I planted all the squash varieties and they literally germinated over night. I learned my lesson - grow squash outside, right it the ground you want them to be in. They just kept growing inside, getting tangled and producing flowers. They were impossible to plant and withered soon after planting. Only the zucchini did ok and one diva cuke plant that we got maybe three nice cucumbers from. The baby pam pumpkins grew nicely too but the winter squash didn't produce much usable fruit. I also got one beautiful prizewinner!
It was one wet spring, making it hard to get the gardens ready. Hardening plants off was a challenge. I also wanted to create a new bed because we needed more space for my overzealous winter shopping spree. Plants didn't go into the ground until the end of June, which pushed the whole harvest until August. I also seeded beets, greens, and flowers directly and the pole bean seeds didn't go in until July, but I still got a ton!
Overall I was happy and every year I learn something new. Our gardens always turn into a wild unruly jungle by the end no matter what, just the way a happy garden should be.
- Bags and tin cans only keep deer out for so long. Need to research other methods.
- New puppy loved the garden like a playground. As much as I love her company, she needs to be trained to stay out of the beds!
- The more seeds that can be grown directly in the ground the better! It will grow! Don't worry!
- We have tons of slugs and snails. Sluggo was a good non-toxic solution. We had a lot less damage this year overall!
- Oraganic Neptune's Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer was good stuff. I swear plants looked greener, bigger, and healthier the day after feeding. I even added the stuff to moisten the compost pile.
- I need to research an organic solution for my grapes and apples. We had a lot of waste from bugs this year.
- Grow nasturtiums! They beautifully trail all over the garden, are tasty on soups/salads, alert you to aphid problems by luring them away from the crops, and deposit thousands of seeds for the next year!
Pest problems: flea beetle, Japanese beetles, and aphids. Next year I should introduce or attract more beneficial insects like lady bugs.
Now let the 2012 garden planning begin! I already bought some seeds, like candy cane beets and kohlrabi, and planted garlic bulbs!