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S/O The 2011 Garden: What Won't You Do Again?

gimlis1mum Jun 9, 2011 05:21 PM

I am throwing in the towel on (at?) radishes. I love French Breakfast but they never get any bigger than marbles. Minowase and misc Daikon types went straight to bolting. Zlata got slightly larger than marbles but was all heat and no flavor. Carrots don't do well either...I would suspect all root vegetables but potatoes and garlic, at least, will grow to a size worth harvesting.

I gave up on zucchini long ago because of living in Mildew Central.

I'm also feeling dejected because I worked so hard to install the new fruit garden, or at least the foundation plants that I'd planned for this year, and then went crazy planting corn, beans and sunflowers in all the leftover space. All of which were promptly trod upon by housepainters (not really their fault, the ladders had to go somewhere). (ETA: the beans, etc were trod upon, not the blueberries and trees. So I suppose it's not all that bad...just disheartening).

I'm rallying and plan to put tomatoes and eggplants into the trodden ground. But, misery loves company: please tell me of your failures. It'll make me feel better :-)

  1. chefathome Jun 9, 2011 05:34 PM

    Don't know yet - just planted about ten days ago (I garden in Zone 1a). But all my radishes, green beans, microgreens, braising greens, spinach, etc. are popping up. Carrots not up yet. Planted lots of herbs (as plants - cannot seed here as our season is far too short). Planted tomatoes and pepper plants. Seem to be doing well. Thankfully our days here are so very long (18 hours) and my raised beds are in a perfect spot with our white house as a back drop. We have created our own little microclimate. We have had only 6/10 of one inch of rain since winter so it's incredibly dry. But watering raised beds is very easy!!

    I'll let you know if we experience misery once things are up and growing! Too early in the season to tell. Our usual misery is frost - we had frost last week and often get it in August - and incessant wind.

    4 Replies
    1. re: chefathome
      Sue in Mt P Jun 9, 2011 05:46 PM

      Frost in August sounds like heaven to me!

      1. re: Sue in Mt P
        chefathome Jun 9, 2011 06:11 PM

        I imagine it does to those of you who have incessant heat!! But it is bad news for our farmers. It's a pain to cover everything at nights and then losing everything just before it is ready. And if you are like me, my plants are practically like friends. I baby them like crazy just to try to get them through!

      2. re: chefathome
        gimlis1mum Jun 10, 2011 05:43 PM

        Oh, you finally got to plant! i've seen your posts on other threads and felt for you, having to wait so long.

        We get a lot of wind, too, up here on a hilltop. Nice for hot summer evenings but not so good for the tomatoes.

        1. re: gimlis1mum
          chefathome Jun 10, 2011 05:58 PM

          Yes, and I am so excited! I think those of us who have such difficult winters appreciate spring so very much. There is something so gratifying to watch tiny seedlings emerge after so many months of waiting to plant. We must stake everything due to the wind that rips plants mercilessly on these treeless prairies! Oh, how lovely to live on a hilltop (in most ways!).

      3. Sue in Mt P Jun 9, 2011 05:38 PM

        Poor thing.

        I gave up corn long ago: all comes in at once and somebody's gotta get it before the raccoons do. I actually have a job, so....

        We've had no rain and it's hot as all get out. Everything looks weenie. So don't feel bad. After all, gardens are works in progress right?

        1. meatn3 Jun 9, 2011 07:42 PM

          I thought I would be clever and start seeds indoors. I used little peat pots (bought very cheap at a Big Lots closing sale). Just did not work. If I gently removed from peat pot when transplanting it died or stopped growing. If I planted the entire peat pot it seemed to stunt it. Next year its either direct sow or pots with sterile mix. I'm having fantasies of green house living...

          Fennel from seed is not working for me. It comes up fine, hangs out for a few weeks then just disappears completely over night. I'm bummed - I love fennel and it tends to stay pricey enough that I don't use it as often as I'd like.

          I never got a strawberry. The wildlife snatched the ripe berries first. But they were kind enough to leave me enough mulberries for my yoghurt each morning.

          Radishes, carrots and beets have good foliage but the root just stays, well, a skinny root. Perhaps I started them too late since it decided to dive into the '90's so fast.

          Live and learn.

          1 Reply
          1. re: meatn3
            pine time Jun 12, 2011 07:21 AM

            I've also had that problem with peat pots, but learned to keep the seedlings in the pots, pull off the bottom circle before planting, and plop the now bottomless pot into the ground. Finally worked for me,
            Re corn: this year I actually had the patience to plant in staggered weeks, so I have a few ears nearly ready now, and baby plants just getting going.
            One tomato (can't recall which type right now) is suffering badly from a wilt, so will cross that variety off my list. Hope the tennis ball sized tomatoes may actually ripen. Yeah, dumb mistake, didn't look for the VFT wilt resistance -- buying plants got me too excited to do my homework! Have been harvesting Early Girls for a couple of weeks, though, and tiny baby San Marzanos are coming in.

          2. d
            dfrostnh Jun 10, 2011 02:48 PM

            Last year I bragged about my spinach. This year I planted a week later and one variety has bolted and the one that did well last year, Tyee, is just sitting there. A market farmer said our cold wet spring has delayed things. A couple of spinach plants that over-wintered did fine.

            What zone are you in? Here in zone 5, NH, we have erratic weather. This week has been unseasonably hot. We accidentally planted asparagus in a wet area so have lost some of the roots. A couple of years later we still have weak, spindley plants. I picked enough for one dinner for two. I suspect that letting the patch get too weedy last year set it back.

            I still can't grow good beets but I'm trying. Adding more lime and wood ashes to the soil. But, gosh, maybe I should have a real soil test instead of just guessing. I got home today to have my husband tell me that it looks like the two blueberry bushes we planted this spring are dying.

            I would not give up entirely on zucchini. Last year I grew 3 varieties of summer squash. Striped cucumber beetles feasted on one variety but ignored a round yellow summer squash (Bakers Creek seed) and zucchini costata romanesque. The zuke seems to be very prolific and hardy. If one variety does't do well for you, try something different.

            I was sad to see someone post a photo of their rotted butternut squash on gardenweb.com. I cooked one of ours last week and still have one left (Yes, it's June). The variety is a long neck Pennsylvania from Bakers Creek. Flavor wasn't so great though so I'm trying some different varieties this year that said they were good keepers. Will grow Confection from Johnny's again and always. Great taste and great keeper (a kubocha type).

            I don't plant corn because it's easier to stop at the farm stand instead of feeding the local critters. We might have strawberries this year but we also have a family of chipmunks (who like tomatoes for sure). I keep hoping Mr Hawk will take care of the small critter problem for me.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dfrostnh
              gimlis1mum Jun 10, 2011 05:42 PM

              Oh, I can't grow spinach, chard or beets, either - there's some sort of yucky wilt thing that shows up as wet, brown spots and kills everything off. I'm gardening on a small city plot (zone 6, just north of Boston) and there's only so much space that gets enough sun...I can't rotate crops the way I'd like. And even when I grow things I've never grown before, some sort of critter or blight seems to find its way to my plants.

              I did get a soil test, but it's been a few years, so maybe it's time for another one. I add compost, eggshells, and last year, greensand but things still grow verrrry sloooowly.

              I did try a climbing zucchini last year, trombocino maybe? I thought i could outwit the vine borers by having it on a trellis, but the powdery mildew got it in the end. I'm sticking with Waltham butternut squash, for the same two reasons.

              I'll stop complaining. the garlic, potatoes, and multiplier onions (newly added last year) all seem to be doing well. Chives and garlic chives as well. And oddly, the one thing that does really, REALLY well is rosemary. It will grow to the size of a small shrub in a season, at which point I dig it up and overwinter it in the bathroom (best Southern exposure indoors). Go figure.

            2. c
              carbondiamond Jun 11, 2011 10:46 AM

              I feel your pain-some critter is eating the tops off of the carrots and fennel and I probably won't get anything but a skinny runt of a root. Same critter nibbles off the tender parts of the sugar snap peas but not the peas themselves, go figure. It hates the tomato plants so anything near them is saved. Luckily, I was lazy and didn't clear up all the tomatoes that fell last fall and I have tomato seedlings everywhere in the bed. It is the only thing saving the lettuce, chard and some of the cilantro. I am at war with the chipmunks. Yes, they look cute but will eat a bite out of every strawberry and then leave it on the plant. That's just rude!

              I got too excited this spring and put out pepper plants too early. Then it rained for days and was too cold for them. They just looked so sad and pitiful and then they just ...disappeared.

              5 Replies
              1. re: carbondiamond
                jumpingmonk Jun 12, 2011 04:57 PM

                I also am in a state of hostility with the chipmunks. They can't get to my stawberries, due to the fortuitous serendipity that the year I planted them, a colony of sweat bees set up thier hive underneath the plants. My skins to tought for sweat bees to get through, but they keep the chipmonks away (and as a bonus I get a super bumper crop since the bees are only too happy to pollinate every flower growing above them. And thier alpine strawberries which means I get my crop in eary spring and late autum, times when most of the rest of the garden is dying or no yet present).
                However, Chipmunks have been giving me hell otherwise. No I take that back, A chipmunk has been giving me hell. This spring I filled a pot with specially selected soybeans as part of a breeding experiment to make tastier edamame (it's a bit complicated if you don't understand plant gentics, but my basic theory was along the lines of "I have found some soybeans which are super wrinkly and corrugated. I know (from previos work) that some soybeans have the same gene peas have that can make some green inside. Maybe soybeans also have the gene found in peas that makes some of them wrinkly. and since wrinkly peas get that way by having a difficulty turning sugar into starch, this would mean that those soybeans would have a higher sugar level than normal ones, which might mean sweeter, tastier edamame.". Well the soybeans came up in their course. A week later I went to check on them and noticed there were a lot fever green bits poink out of the soil. Looking close I made a horryfying discovery, every soybean in the pot had had it top removed (what I was seeing at this point were topless stem shoots). There were still some just emerging so I thought there was still a chance. but the same thing happend every time a soybean broke ground a day later and it was decapiatated. Then one day, I was going to the bathroom (You can see the pot from the bathroom window) and I saw the culprit; a fat chipmunk had climed into the pot, and was casually pulling up each sprout chewing, off the tops, and tossing the stems back in! I may have gotten proof my theory was right (there is a whole pile of "normal" soybean sprouts all over a mulch pile about ten feet away from the pot and those were never touched). But this isn't the way I wanted confirmation! He also ate the hell out of most of my other potted beans, I think I have two plants left of something like 400 seeds planted. I have some backup soybeans growing but those are staying inside until they get big enough they lose thier seed leaves (once those are gone, the chipmunk has no interest in the plant) This same chipmunk (or his friends, possibly incuding some of the squirrel and crow persuasion) have also decimated my corn; I put sometihng on the order of 1000-2000 kernels in the ground (I'm used to a lot of squirrel and crow predation anyway so I seriosly overplant) I have a grand total of 0 corn seedlings, not only did they dig a lot of seed up and eat it, but they have systematically gone through and chewed up every rare corn seedling they see (along with most of the beans I planted with the corn, I probably put 5 bean seeds in for every corn kernel, and I think there maybe one plant still there.). I may, however have revenge. Due to some stuff I threw away last autum much of my garden and lawn are spinkled with tiny seedlings of the herb senna. Deep in my nasty little soul there is a part of me that fervently now hopes that 1. the chimpmunks start eating those seedlings and 2. Senna works on chipmunks the way it works on people (it's a laxative).
                In terms of general quitting, I have long since given up on anything that is root based (carrots, radishes, turnips etc.). My soil is just too rocky for good roots. Those rare occasion when I get my hand on a root vegetable that I absoulutey have to grow, I do it in a big pot. Actually I do most of my growing in big pots, most of the trees on my land are oak and hemlock so besides being rocky, my soil is super acidic (I need to add a whole bag of lime to the soil of the veggie garden every year to keep it marginal, and that area's only 10x10!) Lettuce and most leaf veggies do pretty poorly as well (I tend to get enough for one single serving salad, and that's only if I take the whole of each plant.)

                1. re: jumpingmonk
                  dfrostnh Jun 13, 2011 10:03 AM

                  What a terrible situation! My husband's family used to use a product on their corn seed that he calls 'crow tar'. Still crows would get in the garden. My FIL dispatched one and hung it as a warning to the other crows.
                  I had beech,oaks and hemlocks at our last house. I like the vegetable garden at our new house better, more sun and not many trees except by the house where they provided welcome shade.
                  A friend used to make a grapevine cage to put over her catnip to keep her cats from destroying it. Hope you can figure out what works to keep chipmunks and crows from destroying your garden.

                  1. re: dfrostnh
                    jumpingmonk Jun 13, 2011 02:03 PM

                    Yeah that brings up the other problem, there are so many trees that actual areas of full sun (or indeed any sun) on our property (and I live in the suburbs, which means local ordinances don't allow you to cut down trees (even if they are dead and in danger of collapse) without Village inspection and approval (which is hard to get) . Actually we had much the same tree mix (hemlocks, oaks and a few beeches) originally, it's just that, as time has progressed, a lot of the larger older trees have died and come down. The hemlocks are now largely dying which would be good. The bad part is that the trees that are replacing them are things like black walnuts, which are even worse for gardening around. Oh and the pests ate the base off the last bean plant in the garden last night.
                    Your friend shoud count him or herself lucky with the catnip. Since our cat liked catnip so much we decided to give her a treat, and planted cat thyme (Teucium maru) as well. Bad move, If Catnip is kitty marijuana, cat thyme is kitty coicaine. Out cat would literally do anything to get at it. (the day the plant arrived in the mail there were a few sprigs that had broken off in transit, so not thinking, I tossed them in our metal mesh wastebasket and then had to obey a call of nature. when I came back I found the cat trying to chew through the wastebasket to get at the sprigs. I'm just lucky the plant didnt quite survive the winter (were in an area where it's a maybe maybe not depending on how cold the winter is) I have heard there is a plant called Japanese Cat Vine which is even more addictive (it's a kiwi fruit cousin so the analogy would likey be kitty PCP (actually that's what PCP was orginally designed as an anesthetic for large cats) but after the thyme incident, I have no incentive to try fiddling with that.

                  2. re: jumpingmonk
                    DonShirer Jun 13, 2011 07:35 PM

                    I'm also overrun with chipmunks. They burrow under or climb over fences. Today I found one 5 feet up a pole holding a bird feeder (he finally fell off when he hit the crook at the top of the pole). Two years ago I finally constructed some raised beds and put a hoop-shaped wire frame on top and covered it with fine mesh netting. So far they haven't gotten to the carrots or radishes, and the mix I put in the raised beds is much better for veggies than our sandy, rocky soil.

                    1. re: DonShirer
                      jumpingmonk Jun 13, 2011 08:06 PM

                      Our are now making it all the way up and down our 70 ft oak trees. Oh and one of them set up a nest in our downed rain gutter pipe. They never got to the carrots or fennel or dill, but of course the parsely worms did a good enough job on those. Not that I mind, I really rely on others for my fennel and dill, and those green caterpillars are sort of cute (and the world needs more butterflies.)

                2. meadandale Jun 11, 2011 01:00 PM

                  Wow, radishes are one of the easiest things to grow for me.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: meadandale
                    chefathome Jun 11, 2011 01:51 PM

                    Me, too. Wow - those are gorgeous!

                  2. k
                    kevin47 Jun 14, 2011 09:48 AM

                    It seems like everyone up north is having problems with their carrots this year. I might try replanting some now that the weather has settled.

                    I, too, gave up on radishes. I gave up on white onions, but love growing green onions.

                    We planted some popcorn this year, and for a second straight year, corn just isn't happening.

                    I upgraded peppers to the raised beds this year, and they are rewarding me with stunted growth. Last time I give them prime real estate.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kevin47
                      jumpingmonk Jun 14, 2011 02:48 PM

                      As someone who grows corn every year myself, one of the big problems is that corn really only works if you have a lot of room and are growing a fair amount. Unlike most of the veggies grown, corn is wind pollinated. So unless you have the patience to go out and hand pollinate it all, you really need a pretty big block (a minimum of 4 plants square, 10 to 20 is perferred )to get good pollination otherwise most of the pollen overshoots the corn and never gets to do it's work. This is even more true with popcorn, becuse for popcorn to really be usable, the cobs have to be pretty close to totally full. If you get poor pollination on corn so that the kernels are largely sitting without other kernels pressing against them, they tend to grow into funny shapes. With sweetcorn this isn't such a big deal (you have less corn on the cob, but it's just as edible. With popcorn however, the odd shapes often lead to weak spots in the seed coat, so the kernel cant build up the appropriate pressure when heated, and won't pop.

                    2. n
                      Nanzi Jun 14, 2011 11:25 AM

                      We are letting our garden plot rest this year. We did plant tomatos in a flower garden.

                      I am not sure if we need to let the garden rest tho, as we put all our veggie waste in compost and then add that to the garden regularly. It should not be nutrient depleted by any means. I miss growing spuds, and spinach, and lettuce & peppers.
                      As far as the root veggies, we had to get enough sand, and soil mixture softened enough for the carrots to get down thru. Adding peat moss helped too. The year we got it right we had great carrots.
                      Good Luck.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Nanzi
                        dfrostnh Jun 16, 2011 04:06 AM

                        This is my 4th year using the same garden beds. I found a great source for composted horse manure/shavings/kitchen scraps. Last year I planted spinach without adding the compost which we hadn't gotten yet. The spinach was great but a second planting in a different row after the compost was added was terrific, bigger and better.

                        As long as you keep adding nutrients, I think you should be able to keep using a bed. I switch around where I'm growing things so I'm not always growing the same vegetable in the same place. I recently read that if you see 5-6 worms in each shovel full of dirt, your soil is in good health. But maybe I should get my soil tested sometime.

                        The strawberries are ripening and the critters are feasting. My husband found some berries on the lawn half-eaten. Some damage looks like chipmunks but some like birds. We put Agribon fabric on the patch last night after he picked everything that was ripe enough. Of course, it could be some other critters like a porcupine, voles or ? We have a lot of wildlife.

                      2. g
                        gimlis1mum Jun 21, 2011 06:09 PM

                        You are all making me very grateful that I don't have to deal with chipmunks. Maybe it's because we're in the city, or maybe it's all the neighborhood cats :-) but we just don't seem to have them.

                        We do have possums, skunks, and raccoons, but they dont' seem to bother the garden. I think the skunks are busy filling up on my tulip bulbs and the raccoons have enough to scavenge from the garbage in the neighborhood (again, we're in the city...).

                        On the bright side, I think i am finally reconciling my hopes with the reality of what will grow in our yard. We will have to re-do the raised beds in the next year or so, and I think I will just have to be firm with myself: potatoes, garlic, and onions here we come!

                        1. sbp Jun 22, 2011 06:44 AM

                          Beets. I've tried them in containers with drip irrigation, and in my regular flower beds. I've pulled them up in early fall, late fall, and just about winter. Either way, I get great foliage and marble sized beets.

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