|White cosmos at the garden gate|
What I have noticed about this year is that everything is growing awfully slowly. Compared to other local gardens, my garden is always a little behind. I believe this is due to a combination of issues:
- My half acre is surrounded by large trees and overgrowth along the fence lines of all my neighbors. While I love the privacy, the morning shade and nutrient-depleting plants tends to slow the growth of my veggies.
- I still think there is an imbalance of nutrients in some of my beds. When I've done soil tests the last three years, I've taken small samples all around my garden for one soil test for all 4,000 square feet. This year I am going to start getting individual soil tests for each 10' x 4' bed so I can amend each one individually for the optimum nutrient density. This will mean getting something like 30 different tests, so I'll just do a few at a time over the course of the year. Details on how to get a soil test can be found here.
- It was a late, cool summer and some of my favorite veggies, like peppers and tomatoes, don't do as well without the heat.
- Birds stole a bunch of my seeds! I'm going to have to cover my plantings with burlap.
Pests/BeneficialsAside from my ever-present cabbage moth and worm infestation, pests haven't been much of an issue. I haven't seen any squash bugs and I've seen only a handful of cucumber beetles. Both of these pests were a huge problem two years ago, a minor problem last year and non-existent this year. Something is obviously working for me. Remember, I don't use any pesticides in the garden so nature is obviously taking care of itself.
We still have asparagus beetles, but I'm leaving them for the birds. The asparagus seems to be doing OK in spite of them.
The dry weather has given us a reprieve from slugs, so that's been nice.
Squash vine borers have always been an issue and this year has been no exception. Again, the Benning's Green Tint and Tatume squash have survived the damage and continue to produce plenty of squash for us and for our Garden Boxes.
Veggies: Tomatoes have been slow to produce and have been affected by early blight due to early rains. I haven't had enough to do any canning, but I we've had enough for garden boxes and fresh eating. Peppers are producing very slowly, it's going to be a lean year for peppers, I think.
Ornamentals: I have finally had some time to add ornamentals this year. Our white cosmos is one of my new favorites.
To do differently next year:
- Cover direct sown beds with burlap until the seeds sprout to prevent the birds from stealing my seeds.
- Get soil tests for individual beds.
- Grow at least one determinate variety of tomatoes to ensure a bumper crop for canning.
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