Thursday, July 10, 2008

on a not so perfect gardening season

sometimes you have good gardening years and sometimes you have not so good gardening years or so they say. this gardening year seems to be a bit off.

i believe that many of the veggies are confused. i think they wonder if they should set fruit, go to seed or just give up and rest a while. i'm confused too.

my pole beans are growing like mad. they are near to 8' tall and flowering every day. the bees are out and about each morning and evening doing what they do best but no beans. not a single one. the green towering mass is beautiful but for now, it's not producing.

the tomatoes are flowering again and i was hopeful but it looks like we are heading into triple digit temperatures again at that means the maters are toast. they won't set in the super hot conditions and frankly i don't blame them. i'm going to keep them around to see if maybe i can baby them through the fall.

i pulled a number of cucumber plants today. they were swimming in aphids and beginning to show signs of weakness due to downy mildew. their vines were turning yellow and the flowers were all shriveling up. there is a patch, two actually that seem to be holding on. i'll just hope for the best but i don't see this as a strong pickle year folks. darn it darn it darn it.

the peppers are showing signs of success. i hope they can set before this weeks super hot days arrive. the plants look healthy and strong and the bees are visiting daily so it could go well in pepper land.

the eggplant in the east garden are doing great. lots of flowers, no signs of flea beetle or spider mite stress and fruits a plenty seem to be forming. the eggplants outback are a whole other story. the spider mites are giving them a good run for their money. there's flowers out there but for the size of the plant, the number of flowers is few and i have yet to see a fruit take hold. i'm tempted to pull them but i keep spraying with the seaweed/garlic combo to see if i can carry them through.

the melons front and back are doing great. the squash may have their days numbered. i was out murdering vine borers this afternoon and usually around here, it's a loosing battle. the borers win. fingers crossed though, i'm hoping for the best.

the okra is also doing great. i'm not worried for the okra a bit. my early planting was spare but the later planting will be sure to give me a hearty harvest. this may be the year where the pickling is all about the okra. and friends, that's not a bad thing in my world.

the fall maters are in and i'm hoping that they'll make it through the heat healthy and set once it begins to cool. so far they look good.

the sweet potato vines are so spare. i don't get it. they are a plant that should just be taking off right now but they too seem shy to get going. don't know don't know. maybe they're getting too much water. maybe not enough but i doubt it. maybe i'm just being impatient but i don't think so. this time last year, they were kicking big time.

the worm population all around the garden seems to be thriving. the garden soil feels good, soft and fluffy. each and every bed was gifted with a good healthy dose of compost this year - high quality stuff. so i'm not worried that the soil is not prepped to offer the plants the nutrients that they need. i think ultimately the weather funked the whole cycle a bit.

we are now in the seasonal place where it's better to just let things rest for a while.

i feel like a bad gardener. still local folk stop by several times a week admiring the garden, wishing to talk about the garden, wishing to talk about their own gardens. i don't know what to think. i feel at a loss. i find myself wanting to apologize for the lack of tomatoes and cucumbers. i know they don't see the lack of maters and cukes in the same way that i do so i do my best to stay cheery and to willingly share the lessons learned from this year's garden observations.

i have considered ripping the whole thing apart now and setting up the new bed layout but that's just crazy. there is enough doing well that it would be a shame to knock it out. and even if i did attempt to replant every thing bed by bed i'd be sure to lose a good number of plants due to the harsh challenges i'd be asking them to face. so there's no way i'll be doing that, it's just too cruel. better to wait it out and see. it will be nicer doing all the shift the garden around work in a cooler season anyway.

looking back, last year was the year of rain. we had so much of it and this year so very little. i guess this is a swallow your pride and be happy for that which survives kind of season. i will always wonder though - what could i have done better?

i will not resort to non-organic methods. the plants that make it through this year are tough cookies and i will make sure to save seed from those. if anything, it's a great year to see which of the veggie types can make it through the toughest days.

it's at times like these when you've got to remind yourself of the monty python creed
"always look on the bright side of life"

a bright bit...
we do have eggs in the mix this year where as last year we had none.

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