This year we got off to an earlier start but still I think we were a bit late. Next year we will have a greenhouse and that should help quite a bit with getting things going on time and also with many of the plants that are not as hardy and need additional heat and shelter like; tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc. Last year we didn’t manage to raise even one tomato, we raised the plants from seed on our veranda and they were just too small and slow growing to produce any fruit before the cold Fall weather arrived.
This year we bought greenhouse-raised tomato plants from the farmer’s market which were already beginning to flower and were about 1 ft tall. We moved them out into the garden a few weeks ago and they are doing really well. We also tried once again to raise a few plants from seed but they are again, way too small.
Last year we were so frustrated and disgusted with our dismal results that we didn’t even bother to properly close down the garden, we just left everything as it stood, weeds, dead plants and all, and so this year Peer had to completely dig the beds again.
Last year we had a very dark and wet growing season which no doubt contributed to our failed garden. This year we are having the opposite… it’s way too hot and hardly a drop of rain so far. Using tap water to water our garden isn’t even an option. Water is way too expensive here and it is just not the way it is done. You never see sprinklers or irrigation systems in our area, instead we use rainwater. Up until recently we didn’t have a very large rainwater catch and so we hauled water in buckets from the creek that runs under our property. Now that we’ve got our large rain barrels hooked up, we fill watering cans from them and water the garden that way. We are having to water every 1-2 days currently and it’s about an hour’s job.
But here is what the garden looked like yesterday. We purposefully kept it small this year. We figure it is better to have a few smaller successes than one huge failure like last year. We’ve got potatoes, white cabbage, red cabbage, brussels sprouts, peas, broad beans, bush beans, pumpkins, cucumber, tomato, radishes, carrots, onions, garlic, spinach and sunflowers…a small amount of everything.
Another problem last year was the bugs. We had a HUGE amount of snails and slugs. We were determined not to treat them with anything poisonous, we want to let the land work out the balance between good bugs and bad bugs naturally, but damn, is it hard watching them devour and destroy all your hard work! We waited until nearly the end last year and then put down snail and slug bait. Not poisonous to anything but slugs and snails. It helped but was like spitting on a forest fire at that point. This year we began right away with the snail and slug bait and it is making a huge difference.
We definitely aren’t pest free though. We started keeping out cucumber and pumpkin plants covered at night because we lost 2 plants during the first night to something which just bites the stems completely through down near the base. It didn’t even bother to eat the plant just chewed them in half and left them laying there! I think it was slugs or snails but I’m not sure. The lids seem to be helping, I’m pushing them down about 2″ into the dirt.
A closer view of our potatoes and cabbages, these seem to be doing really well.
Of course we’ve also got a ton of aphids. My MIL gave me a climbing rose bush last year for my birthday and I planted it beside my studio. Of course this year it has just about every kind of pest that a rose bush can have. Along with the tons of aphids, it’s also got something that is completely chewing the flower buds in half. I haven’t seen what is doing that but I’m first going to focus on the aphids…more about that in my next post.