Thursday, August 2, 2018 Filed in: Vegetable Gardening
Part 8: A Beginner's First Year of Vegetable Gardening
Just starting to plant seeds for a fall harvest of cool season plants, so this is a good time to summarize my experience with warm season vegetables.
- Cucumbers. Both Burpless Bush and Straight 8 have been prolific, with 16-18 cukes per plant so far. While it looks like it's on the downslope, small fruits are still occurring.
- Bush & Pole Green Beans. I wasn't confident these were going to work given how late I planted the seeds. But the beans have started, and it looks like it's going to be a good harvest.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Have already picked about 70 and many more are coming.
- Cover crops. The winter rye, hairy vetch and buckwheat that I've planted as cover crops all came in beautifully and did their job.
What didn't work
- Summer Squash. This is the vegetable I had the most confidence in, yet it has not turned out well. After picking only a few from the Yellow Crookneck and Cocozelle, both plants are about dead. (The Black Beauty may still work out, so there is some hope here). The problem has been the weather. In mid-late July, we got 8 inches of rain in 6 days. We also had a microburst of extreme wind, and it uprooted the Cocozelle zucchini and permanently bent over the branches. The summer squash plants got very mushy and did not like all that water. After a week respite, it is now back to a week of humid, overcast and heavy rain again.
- Bamboo plant labels. These are like popsicle sticks, and I have used a sharpie to write the plant names down. But the names have gotten very faded and blurry, and sometimes birds have taken them away! While these were very inexpensive, I'll have to look for a more permanent solution for plant markers.
- Slicing Tomatoes. The Jet, Early Girl, and Celebrity tomatoes all have many green fruits, but haven't matured much. The lack of sun has been problematic. In addition, it seems to be a race between getting a good harvest before blight takes over the whole plants. Charlie Nardozzi (Northeast Gardening) recommends an organic fungicide called Serenade, which I sprayed a few days ago. It doesn't get rid of diseased leaves, but is supposed to prevent it from spreading. We'll see.
- Peppers. The lack of sun and too much rain are holding these long maturing plants back. Hopefully there will be some production by the end of the month.
Just as I discovered that veggie gardening is a war with pests, weather is another major challenge. Not much you can do at this point with monsoon-like weather. My takeaway is to try to do preventative actions, like spraying Serenade before blight shows on tomatoes, or a bicarbonate solution for powdery mildew on the cucumbers and squash plants early on.
Most of the plants grew bigger than I expected, so I'll try to give each plant more space next year.
These pics were taken a few weeks ago during our respite after the first rainy period.
Indeterminate tomatoes and Bush Beans.
Bell peppers and Buckwheat cover crop.