Friday, 19 July 2013

Great? ... Expectations...

Gardening has it's moments, lol ....

Red Rock Mammoth Cabbage in early summer... just starting to form heads.

Lately, I have heard from many frustrated gardener's about rotting squashes, powdery mildew, all kinds of worries of things going wrong in the garden ... a failure to thrive, rot, powdery mildew, and more.
Most of the gardeners I have heard from are new gardeners, new to this gig of growing things, especially growing food.

I totally get it! I do! You really want everything you plant to thrive and do really well, and if it does not, it feels like a personal failure! What went wrong and why? What happened, what did I do?

And then it becomes....
Grrr, I will never grow this grunblegrumble-swearword broccoli again, or cauliflower, or zucchini, or tomatoes, or cukes.... lol.

Kali baby eating heirloom purple podded snap peas. 

So here are some tips to help you prevent the most common problems in your vegetable garden this year and every year forward.

Basic Rules
1. Mother Nature rules, she will always throw a kink in your plans, so you gotta learn to roll with her crazy whims!

2. The 'Gardener's Motto ... Welp, there is always next year!

The purple snap peas, lettuce, etc.. earlier this year.....

Okay, now on to some more serious tips and hints for a really great gardening year....

1. Water in the morning only or early afternoon, so the plant does not go into the evening and night with wet foliage.
2. Never, ever water the foliage. Water at ground level, wetting the soil only, never the plant itself. Unless you are blowing off aphids with a strong jet of water.

3. Do not shallow water your garden each morning... go as many days between watering as you can without stressing out the plant, watering heavy and deep when you do water and then letting it do dry in between watering's... This causes the plant to develop a deeper root system which is then able to handle water shortages and odd/even watering days.

4. If you mulch your garden to cut back on watering, please make sure that you actually cut back on your watering. If you do not allow the garden to dry out between watering's, you will end up with rot, mould, or mildew ... or rotted out dead plants.

5. Feed your heavy feeders... the tomatoes, pumpkins, onions, corn, squashes, peppers, cucumbers... They will need more TLC than the other veggies.  Side dress with manure or compost, or feed with a spray of liquid seaweed, or water with manure/compost tea ... whatever you use, feed your heavy feeders on a regular basis.

6. Pick often to get more produce... the more you pick the more the plant produces ... tomatoes, peas, beans, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini's...

7. Water as consistently as possible, to prevent Blossom End Rot (BER). This means no great highs and lows, especially if growing in a pot. If growing veggies in pots, water daily or maybe even twice daily.

8. Leave good air flow between plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc... to prevent mildew. Is spring, do not plant them really close together, leave good space in between so that as the plant grows larger, it has room to do so. Plus, this ensures that during the early summer, when weather is iffy, there is great air flow between the plants.

9. Do NOT plant too early in the season. This is a hard one to follow as we all like to push our luck ... and gauranteed, we will push our luck again next year, though we swear not to! We get all excited about the new gardeing season, want to get the plants in a soon as possible to get earlier harvests and more veggies... However, it rarely pays off. Those two early tomatoes are not worth the risk of planting your tomato out too early and then losing it to frost, or having it sit stunted for a month and a half as it was planted in cold soil and suffered because it really loves the heat and thus did not thrive. This rule applies to seed also! Do not plant your beans, your corn, your zucchini's, your cukes, etc... before the night time air is 10 C at night! so that soil temps are warm and even.

10. Bits and bobs... Remove bottom foliage on tomatoes, esp anything that looks like it is not thriving. Do this with any plants with yellowing foliage. Spray a blast of strong water on any bugs you see (aphids, spider mites, white fly) each time you water to get rid of them organically. If in doubt, pull it out ... if it looks wrong, toss it, and move on, do not dwell on it... outta sight is outta mind. Spray your powdery mildew with a 10% skim milk solution, every 3 days, 3 times. If you still have a problem, pull out the plant, and move on.  

Lesson plan #11 ... Relax!
You did what you could, let it go... not all things will thrive! Remember Basic Rules 1 and 2?

You gotta let it go, cuz not all things are going to thrive. Each year there will be some things that do not thrive, regardless of whether you have gardened 1 year or 10 years. It happens.

The reason I do not get these frustrated emails, messages, and notes from seasoned gardeners?
Cuz all of us old, tried and trues know that something will fail to thrive and so follow the first two Basic Rules!
We know that sh#t will go wrong .... each year, no doubt at all!
Some of the things will be things we could have prevented if we caught them in time, however, most things will be out of our control!

I get that you want everything to do awesome, I really do...
I want that, too!
However, it rarely works out so that we have a year in which all things thrived and nothing failed.
Hopefully, you learn something from it, maybe not...
Otherwise you chalk it up to experience, and move on.

Therefore, please, enjoy yourself!
Rejoice in your successes!
Move on from the failures.... because ...

Welp, there is always next year!
 Legacy garlic... just harvested... needs to be brushed off and the roots trimmed off.
Will be left to cure for 2 weeks in the shady car port.

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