Spring and Summer 2020 has been a whirlwind – not only for me, but for the world. Coronavirus left all of us with more time at home and for me – that means a ton more time in the garden.
I started the spring with high hopes. I started tomatoes, swiss chard, zucchini, peppers, tomatillos, okra, marigolds, watermelon, beans (pole and bush), cucumbers, zinnia, cosmos and many other things from seed.
The transplants grew well to start – and then I made a fatal decision for a lot of my plants…the wrong mulch. Instead of a mulch that helped feed the plants and keep the moisture in, I chose one that sucked the nutrients out of the soil and stunted growth.
Thankfully, there are so many farmers who are willing to share their knowledge and help a gal out. I reached out to Nat Bradford of Bradford Watermelons for help. He is the one who opened my eyes about the mulch – and helped me fix it.
He, other great farmers I know and Martha Stewart (yes, that Martha) also helped me realize that…plants need food. You eat, so the plants need to eat, as Martha said. So! I realized I needed to stop being cheap and thinking that nature will do all the work to produce a large harvest. I need to buy organic fertilizer, other soil amendments and make compost that the plants will use as food and then thrive.
After coming to those realizations – and deciding not to be cheap anymore – things started to grow bigger than I could have ever imagined. I am still waiting for the edible parts to be ready, but the plants themselves are bigger, stronger and happier.
Another issue I’ve had this year is SQUASH VINE BORERS!!! They are horrible, horrible creatures. I hate them. They ate ALL of my zucchini, all of my yellow squash and then moved on to the pumpkins I planted… I have noticed a lot of my gardener friends have dealt with them a lot this year, too, so I don’t feel so bad. They just suck – literally…they suck the life out of your plant.
I’ve also had to deal with grubs, roots, roots and more roots in four of my raised beds (which I have since moved to a new location and prepared them properly) and some kind of fungus or mold that caused an entire section of plants to wilt. (still working to figure that one out… see photo below)
I have had some successes this year. I successfully grew multiple ears of corn, 6 watermelons (others still growing), jalapenos, tomatoes, potatoes, a few cucumbers, radishes, eggplant, marigolds, zinnias, okra, tomatillo, cabbages, greens, lettuces, oregano, thyme, basil, poblano, key limes, meyer lemons, sunflowers, green peppers and…probably some I am forgetting.