I guess it’s been some time since my last garden update. I will admit to being somewhat frustrated with my garden this year. It had such a slow start because our weather was so cool and wet I thought I’d get nothing from it. Not to mention the infestation of slugs. Ugh! But it finally dried out and warmed up, things finally started growing and I began to get a nice harvest. My tomatoes are only now turning red and I’m pretty sure I won’t have enough to can spaghetti sauce this year. Bummer. We went through that pretty quick last year and it was so much better than store bought and a lot less time consuming than making it fresh each time.
My zucchini and yellow squash were iffy at best this year, believe it or not. I mean, really, who ever says they have a problem growing zucchini? I did get some early on and then a lot of little fruits dying due to poor pollination. Don’t get me wrong, I did get a decent harvest of zucchini, just not the number you’d expect from four plants. I honestly didn’t see a great number of bees this year. Even with marigolds surrounding the beds. I’ll have to try different flowers next year. My best year was the year I had the huge sunflower in the bed. It was way too big for the raised bed but it sure did draw in the pollinators.
One of the things I really needed to work on was cutting down on the slugs. I hate the slimy monsters so much, and can’t even deal with them, that my daughter had to pick them all out for me. Numerous times. I can’t get close to them without gagging and shuddering. I’m a pathetic gardener, I know, can’t even deal with the normal garden pests. I did a bunch of research and found so many different ideas and suggestions but most of them squicked me out even more than the slugs themselves. Bowls or cans with beer to collect them? Yuck! Then I have a bunch of them in one spot, gross. The best idea I saw was copper wire mesh or tape around the beds or pots. I only managed to get it around one bed but it was the one that seemed to have the worst infestation. The idea is that the belly of the slug has a reaction to the copper, sort of like a small electric shock, and they wouldn’t be able to cross the copper as long as it was wide enough. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s true or not but it seemed like the best way to deal with the slimy creatures without me having to get near them.
It did seem to work because there were fewer slugs. I think the reason we had any at all was because of the strawberry bed. I was pretty lazy early spring and didn’t clean out the strawberries like I should have. So there was a lot of dead debris under the plants not to mention it was overcrowded because I didn’t pull out the daughters like I should have and transplanted them elsewhere. It was really shady and dense, perfect breeding ground for the slugs and snails. You have to make sure all of the slugs are out of the beds too. If the copper is going to keep them out, well, it’s going to end up keeping the in if there are any left behind. I didn’t put the copper between any of the sections so the slugs probably crawled from the strawberries into the other beds and then high-tailed it back to the strawberries later for protection. I did see some slime trails but they didn’t seem to harm the plants. I plan on pulling out all of the strawberries anyway and putting them in barrels and planting corn there next year.
I had quite good success with beans this year, so much so that they outgrew their support system. I added another couple of feet and they still wanted more. I get attacked by wandering vines when I’m out there right now. So for next year I’m thinking a bean tunnel between the two beds. Some rebar, pvc and wire and I think I might have a much better support system for the climbers not to mention it’ll look pretty. I’m just worried about any shade it might throw on the rest of the plants. But if I keep it to the north end of the beds then it shouldn’t be too bad.
Pumpkins are looking good but I swear a couple of them looked like spaghetti squash at first and then got huge and orange. I’m not growing spaghetti squash this year, but I did grow it in the same bed last year. Might that have caused an issue?
I was worried my tomatoes were going to stay green forever or the plants were going to get blight or something before they ripened. The evenings are getting cool and wet with dew so I’ve been hovering over the plants checking them constantly. We went camping for a few days two weeks ago and when I got back they were finally getting some color and have been doing pretty good since then. I guess it’s like a watched pot huh? Keep hovering and it seems to never get to a boil. Same goes with watching the plants grow and ripen. The Roma and Early Girl plants did pretty well, it was my Celebrity that ended up not going anywhere. It only got about knee high and the fruits are just a bit bigger than cherry tomatoes. Such a bust this year. I’m disappointed I won’t have the harvest I was hoping for because the ones in the grow bags aren’t doing so well either. I was too inconsistent with my watering and they are sort of dying. I need to do better with the plants in pots. Even my flowers suffered.
I ended up with way too many cucumbers and let them get a little too big as well. Before we went camping I really should have harvested them but didn’t want the sitting in the refrigerator for four days while we were gone. By the time we got back they were monstrous. The weather was pretty hot and sunny the whole time and they were loving it. I’m going to make a few loves of chocolate zucchini bread with the monster zucchini.
Each year is a learning experience and I’m making sure to keep things written down in my garden journal as I go along. What I did this year, things that worked or didn’t, ideas I want to try next year, that sort of thing. By writing it down each year you have a nice record and won’t forget important points and ideas for the next time.
I haven’t decided if I’m going to throw garlic in this fall yet or not. I keep waffling back and forth on it because I’m not sure how much I want to grow or if it’s even worth it for the few plants I’d put in. I don’t want to use up the space I might need next year.
Happy gardening everyone!