Monday, September 6, 2010
This year I tried something a little different.
I started "Lasagna" composting, i.e. linear composting is what it's been called for a long time. Every time I had plant matter that could be added to the garden, be it grass clippings, rabbit litter, or kitchen vegetable waste, I added it. Sometime in March I noticed some type of squash growing in a great clump a one end of the grown bed I was actively adding material to. In fact, I had two different types of vines pop up out of the grown box. I weeded most of the huge clump out and left probably 3 - 4 plants to continue growing. It was fascinating to watch and I was excited to know what I had tossed in that had volunteered.
Since one end of the bed was actively growing something vine-like I decided to plant the opposite end of the box with tomatoes, green pepper, Japanese eggplant and bush cucumbers. This was at the beginning of April. Note to self: If you want tomatoes before it gets too hot, they must be either short season varieties or they must go in no later than the beginning of March. I tried growing several 'heirloom' varieties but my most successful was one from Mexico called Tlacolula - It's shaped somewhat like a plum tomato but it had deep ridges all the way around it. It was a very mild tomato in flavor, it didn't have the sharp, acidic taste of so many tomatoes you get these days. I really enjoyed and have (I hope successfully)saved some seeds.
I wish now that I had taken a picture of my thriving garden. I haven't grown so successful a garden since I lived in New Jersey, more than 15 years ago. I think it had a lot to do with the composed organic material.
I discovered I had volunteer spaghetti squash and volunteer acorn squash coming up at one end of the garden bed. Every day when I came out to check the garden it seemed like the vines had grown another foot or more. I had 12 spaghetti squashes of various sizes hanging from the nylon netting I had stretched across my galvanized tubing frames and 1 acorn squash. I was excited. Then it happened...
The squash vine borer moth found my garden and my lovely vines. In two weeks my vines were history. I tried to cut the grubs out of the vines in an attempt to save the plants and for a short time that worked but quickly the moth laid more eggs, and as they say, the rest is history. The first to go was the acorn squash vines (I harvested 1 acorn squash), the next was zucchini (it was almost like it was here today - gone tomorrow) (I harvested just one zucchini squash), then the spaghetti squash vines were attacked(I had to pick my immature squash and hope that they'd ripen on the counter.) It was very sad. I'm still seeking an organic way to deal with them next year. The Master Gardeners at the AgriExtension office have all said "Good Luck with that, there isn't anything." The moth has a fat red body with black wings.
I fought the birds and won most of my Tlacolula tomatoes. Bird netting helped with that. Near the end of the tomatoes productive season the leaf footed stink bugs arrived with their nymphs. Now I know what the white dots on tomatoes and peppers are - they are the damaged done by the stink bugs. I discovered that a dust buster is an excellent way to deal with them, since they prefer to crawl rather than fly. I'll be using a dust buster more frequently in the garden next spring.
Currently, the only thing growing happily in the garden is morning glory. I pulled out everyone I saw before it got too hot to work in the garden. The minute I turned my back it spread like wild fire.