Tales From My Veggie Garden 2009 III

Well as hard as I tried, I have not been here updating the growth of my Veggie Garden. Unfortunately, my Veggie Garden has been a bit difficult to get growing this year. I suppose that my 1 month old does have a bit to do with lack of time to keep up with my gardening, and my updates here, but there are other factors that have kept me struggling to save my veggies as well.

When we bought our home 6 years ago (which happen to include 7 summers!), our back yard was hard, unforgiving Southern Red Clay and for the first 2 summers, hardly anything grew. We collected all of our produce scraps, along with grass clippings in the summer and mowed over leaves in the fall and added them to our compost bin. We added the rich compost, covered it with a thick layer of mulch and after a few summers we had a wonderful, healthy garden bed.

Last year all of that changed when we broke ground on the addition to the back of our house. Half of the garden bed was dug up and eventually returned to our yard to make up for lost yard space for the kiddies to play in. And what was left of the garden space got dug up a bit and covered with hard red clay and too many rocks to count. We used that remaining garden space to plant about 200 corn stalks and moved the rest of the garden to the other side of the yard, behind a new retaining wall. That space was filled in with…you guessed it, more of that hard rock filled red clay.

I spent a good amount of time trying to mix in what little topsoil we had left into the new garden and covered it with as much mulch as we could afford this year, but it wasn’t enough. I did my final plantings in the beginning of June, and it has only been in the past couple of weeks that the pepper and tomato plants have come to life and started growing.

I watered them for weeks on end and nothing happened. Now all of a sudden they are growing big happy leaves and I actually have a few green tomatoes. The peppers are finally starting to produce little flowers, along with the eggplants. We have a few small melons, although I am not sure what is growing. I planted honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon. The little melons all seem to be the same type, but since I mixed the melons together, I am not sure just which one is which.

We have been eating zucchini for about a month, I think maybe even 5 weeks. Our first yellow squash just popped out and is just a few inches long. The zucchini is falling prey to powdery mildew, which has been an issue in our garden for our zucchini, squash, cukes, pumpkins and melons for years. If my friend Lisa was here she would probably smack me for not getting rid of the powdery mildew since I begged her (and begged her) to write an article on How to Get Rid of Powdery Mildew in the Garden and I have yet to find the time to do it! She gives the simplest easiest instructions and I have all of the ingredients needed, I just can’t seem to find the time to save my poor powdery zucchini plants.

We have also been eating green beans for the past 5-6 weeks. They are actually stuck in a small garden space that used to be home to about a dozen hostas that got transplanted over the years. They had a nice happy and healthy plot of soil to start out in and the only problem with them now is that since they are so far away from the rest of the veggies I forget to water them and they are starting to die…I forget all about them until it is time for dinner and I needed something to eat, and at that point there was no way they were going to get watered. The only thing that saved the long vineing plants was the summer storms we have been getting for the past week or so.

I tried to harvest some corn this week and was yet again disappointed. We got enough for one good meal so far, but most of them were small and not completely developed. I have never had much luck with corn. What ever we do get always tastes so good, but I can never seem to get a nice big fully grown ear of corn. Next year I am going to have to actually invest in some kind of organic pesticide, taking it to the next level! We have several dozen small ears of corn and I hope that they come out better than the first harvest.

Our brussel’s sprouts are pretty tiny little plants, but they too are finally starting to get a little burst of growth. I am hoping to get a few good meals out of them.

It looks like we will be able to freeze some green beans, maybe some corn and some brussel’s sprouts. Hopefully we will get some plump juicy tomatoes for salads and for canning along with some more zucchini and squash.

My cucumbers would not grow for me at all this year…which is so weird because they always end up being one of the plants that take over the garden. There are no cukes for pickling, but the dill survived. Without the cucumbers, I don’t really need the dill. I would have been much happier if the basil survived, but the little plants did not transplant so well and all shriveled up within a few weeks. The sweet peas didn’t stand a chance hanging in the basket, even though that basket was right outside my kitchen door and I looked at it everyday, it didn’t get enough water and they are now sad dried little pea pods that are begging to end up in the compost. The one harvest we got was oh so sweet though!

Our carrots are growing very slowly and suffered a huge set back when I forgot to water the container they are in for a few weeks. I thinned out a few of them, but the longest one I got was about 2 inches long. Hopefully they will get bigger now that I have started to thin them out and remembered to water them.

We also have no beets! I am very sad about that. And not one of our sunflowers survived. I am going to have to make sure they are much bigger next year when I transplant them. Considering they are such huge and majestic plants when they are full grown, they are more delicate when they are young than I would have thought. It also didn’t help that the pigeons ate the seeds that I planted directly in the ground.

This year is not nearly as bountiful as the work that I put into it should have produced, but it is not a total bust either. And the growing season is not over yet, here in the Shenandoah Valley we still have at least another month of growing left, maybe even 6-7 weeks if I am lucky.

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