Sweet Detachment

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Lessons Learned

Posted by Tricia Drover on July 16, 2014 at 6:45 PM

My garden this year has not been my most successful.

Trying to grow in the shade of maple and cedar trees is challenging. The slugs are hungry and the sun is sparing. 

And this mornig I fear I killed my beautiful impatiens plant from lack of water...

To look at it from a more positive perspective: What is working?

Surprisingly, my cucumbers are doing well in the back. I planted them as fairly established plants (the cuke seeds I planted directly into the shade bed didn't do anything at all) and they have little baby cucumbers all over them. The slugs don't seem to care much for the taste of the cucumber plant leaves so they are pretty much untouched by the invaders.

Bok choy has also been successful in my shade bed. Although it is growing slightly better in the containers on my fence rail, the plants in my garden bed are thriving, despite some nibbles from the aforementioned evil slugs.

Once moved to the front, my spinach and lettuce are thriving as well. The spinach has been moved back to the shade (it was starting to bolt) but the lettuce seems much happier in the sunny front.

My flowers were doing great - until I forgot to water them, sigh.

And overall my container garden on my balcony is thriving. I haven't gotten a lot of flowers (and thus, not a lot of fruit) on most of my tomato and pepper plants, however. My cherry tomatoes are the exception to this. I should have dozens of sweet little red tomatoes to enjoy soon *happydance*.

My strawberries continue to be a battle.

I've had a bit of nice fruit off the plants I am growing but I am still having issues with tasteless berries, rot, and poor fruit development. I'm not sure why, but I think next year my strawberries will go in a big container out front and I will save my deck for tomatoes and peppers. And basil. And flowers. And maybe something else that likes to grow in a pot in sunny conditions. Any suggestions??

My experimental garden in what will soon be my main garden bed is doing well, also. My cucumbers there are growing like weeds, although I seem to be having some issues getting the flowers to fertilize. My little baby cukes are turning yellow and dying although I seem to see butterflies and bees buzzing around there all the time. I am going to try self pollinating to see if that helps. My sweet peas are (slowly) growing, my radishes have just sprouted, my carrots are starting to poke their heads up above the dirt, and I am still going to see if I can throw one more container into the mix. I'm just not sure if I want to try herbs or more seeds...perhaps more spinach? Lettuce? I am still undecided. And I need more dirt.

The garden this summer has ended up being not much more than trial and error. I have learned much, however, and I am hoping that this means next year I will be able to have a bountiful harvest in my challenging little space.

Key lessons learned:

1. Always ensure that you have soil with good drainage in pots! Use peat or similar (and more eco-friendly, if possible) substance to ensure that the soil in pots does not become waterlogged and stagnant.

2. Seedlings do not grow without sun. However, established plants can survive (and even thrive) in much dimmer conditions. Next year I will be staring seedlings inside hydroponically and planting them into my garden bed, rather than trying to start seedlings in those dark, moist conditions. 

3. Most vegetables need a lot of sun to grow. Radishes, carrots, and beets probably won't work in my shade bed. However, the following veggies should be able to work, if planted as established plants and not seeds: bok choy, onions, kale, and squash. Beans will work from seed, if I can keep the nasty slugs away from them.

4. Slugs are evil and hard to kill. Time to try egg shells!!

I'm sure more lessons will be learned before the season is over. 

Now time to head home and see if my impatiens will rise from the dead, or if I truly am a murderer.

Categories: My Personal Growing Experience, What NOT To Do - Anecdotes of Disasters, Goals and Personal Growth

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