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what did you learn this year?


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Every year I learn a little more about gardening, the hard way. One thing I learned this year was that I'd better dig the garlic before monsoon season. It wasn't any fun digging it up in the mud and the heads had started to split. Another thing is that you really should pinch those garlic flowers and those rhubarb flowers, even though they are so so pretty. smile It really *does* impact production, a lot. (The garlic I didn't pinch was about 1/3 the size of the ones I pinched.) Ok, I might let one rhubarb flower. It was dazzling. Or maybe I could put one somewhere where I could see it from the house?

 

And because I had to take a trip before I got all the tomato seedlings in the ground, I learned that tomatoes will bear in my living room! They tasted like those winter grocery store tomatoes, but they were food.

 

For some folks, gardening seems to have skipped a generation. My grandparents had huge gardens, but my parents never gardened and don't really remember much of what their parents did. So ya'll, let me a few things you learned this year. I figure I can get five years more experience just listening to you.

 

Thanks,

 

nmchick

 

 

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What did I learn?

If you grow it.....they will come....the squirrels that is. This is my first year dealing with the little predators. I've learned that you need to make your area (my yard) an unwelcome place from the beginning. I thought they were cute when they first started coming around at the beginning of the year...kind of brought a little nature to the area...boy was I wrong! eek This a part of nature I'd rather do without.

 

Brandywine tomatoes make a really great tasting tomatoe but they don't do well in my area...or maybe it was the weather...

 

I've learned you can't totally rely on past weather patterns anymore...I have cucumbers that are still growing during the summer and watermelon that is just not doing much because we haven't had the stretch of hot days we usually get.

Stacy

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Same lesson as Stacy on the Brandywines. I grew them every year for years one end - at our old homestead in central Washington. Now that we are on the west side of the state I have finally learned (after two years of trying here) that Brandywines will just NOT do well in this area - too grey/cloudy too often, too mild of temps, and my property poses sun challenges anyways. So no more of the Brandywines. Now my challenge is to find the best tomato varieties for this area - without resorting to Early Girls (blech!).

 

 

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Brandywines do poorly in NTX. However Celebrity (hybrid) does well. Picklebush cucumbers don't like the moderate heat, but aphids love them! Mockingbirds may be the state bird of Texas, but they are NOT a gardeners friend!

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I learned - and this may be a big 'duh' for many of you - that one can plant before the 'last frost date'. For some reason, I had never realized that - maybe I was absent that day. wink I put many things in about 3.5 weeks before our last frost date and I think it's been pretty effective.

 

In fact, this week, I've got some newly bare spots in the garden where I'm going to plant second plantings. Even better, the things that are done are beans and peas, which fix nitrogen in the soil. In the bean area, I am going to try broccoli from seed (the spring crop is nearly all eaten already - I think I have one small bag in the freezer), which needs lots of nitrogen. Where the peas were, I'm putting in more zucchini. feedme

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When you trim the very over-grown trees for the first time in at least 9 years, it lets the blackberries (that you never knew you had) grow.

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I learned to "try" the second planting. Some things worked some didn't. If we could just get some rain I'd have a ton of pumpkins!

 

Also, rouge roosters can do as much damage as squirrels and deer.

 

And last but not least plant the potatoes in the tires MUCH earlier in the season. Dad blastit they all were burned up before I even thought about it!

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This is my first big garden year, so this has been one giant learning experience!

 

I learned:

 

--To furrow beets deeper than I did. Many of them were pushing up out of the ground by the time I pulled them.

 

--To stake tomato plants earlier than I did. I waited waaay too long and had a heck of a time staking them.

 

--speaking of 'maters....I would rather cage than stake. Our tomatoes looked like they were on steroids this year! They became intertwined and like a jungle. Would have been much easier to have them caged, methinks.

 

--if trying to train vines (pumpkin, etc) to go a certain direction, do it early and keep on top of it. I interplanted pumpkins/winter squash with corn and should have kept on top of keeping the vines trained in one direction. They are overtaking my green beans....luckily I have one more picking on the badly overtaken ones!

 

--not to show my 3 year old the little green tomatoes crazy I had more *green balls* than I cared to count LOL!

 

--the best laid garden plsn can go a-wry. I had a lovely graph drawing of my garden, number of plants figured out, etc. Was great until I started getting plants from our neighbor ( I am SOO not complaining, just to make that clear!!!). Thins like egglant, I planned about 10 plants, not the 36 plants I got form him....ya know, things like that wink

 

--when you have the worst taste in the world for a nice red tomato, it will take a month-and-a-half for your green tomatoes to start to turn red bounce

 

That's about it from me so far! LOL!!!

 

Shawna

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Originally Posted By: dogmom4
What did I learn?

I've learned you can't totally rely on past weather patterns anymore...I have cucumbers that are still growing during the summer and watermelon that is just not doing much because we haven't had the stretch of hot days we usually get.
Stacy


You can say that again Dogmom4. We got our first cucumber today. (The children promptly ate it. Do all small children fight over cucumbers? smile ) I have no squash on the vines yet at all. We might get a couple ears of corn, maybe, if the fall is late. But, the peas I planted last March are still bearing.

Some wise woman here suggested we plant two years worth of everything so that if we have crop failure one year, we still have part of the last year's crop put up. I think I'm going to try to plant to cover growing zones 3-5. If I'd put in another crop of spinach a month ago, we'd be eating spinach now.
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Originally Posted By: Shawna


-not to show my 3 year old the little green tomatoes crazy I had more *green balls* than I cared to count LOL!


Shawna


LOL, Shawna.

I finally got organized enough this year to make labels for the different varieties of squashes and tomatoes I planted. My kids, who are 4 and 5, keep bringing them to me saying "Look Mommy. Look what I found in the garden".

Another thing I learned is that even with 35 feet of sugar snap peas, Mommy and Daddy won't get any.
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I learned that if you have a Master Gardener for a neighbor...and she drives by often enough seeing your nekid garden with no mulch (cuz you're too bone-weary to get to that project yet).......that she'll come over and HELP you do it eventually. laughkick Was she great or what?

 

 

I learned that if you invite friends to share your garden space, there are 4 of you trying to divvy up the jobs...not just 2. Neither DH or I would have been able to get and use the rototiller. And while I cannot get into town to buy more seeds, vermiculite or whatever, DFs can. But DFs cannot come over often enough to water. Which I can easily do and enjoy. I am also on hand to cover for frost. Due to a crisis in their lives this summer, I've also managed to keep up with all the weeding. She WANTED to come sit in peace in the garden and weed..... Maybe next year. In the end, their beds and ours are all producing right about now. It has been wonderful. feedme

 

They learned that up here in Mt. gardens, one normally plants in the valleys within a bed, not on the furrow-tops. To catch the precious water. A lot of their carrot seed slid off into the 'valley' and when weeding, I just left them to grow there. shrug The normal hills that one plants melons/squash.....they must turn into 'volcanoes' - again, to trap that moisture for the young plants.

 

We learned that transplanting everything but root crops DID help hurry things in this short season. A test between transplanted vs direct seed was obvious. But I also know, as the nursery worker, that I'm limited in space and energy for this job. And it IS very intensive while you are growing/nurturing the babies.

 

We learned that the highly alkaline soil here in the granite Mts has to be neutralized or you can't grow potatoes and several other things would be strained.

 

We learned that our nice black soil of the bottom garden did not grow as fast as the more prepared soil of the fabricated beds up by the house. NEED more organic mterial to fix the compacting soil!!!!

 

Learned that we REALLLLLLYYYYY want some sort of greenhouse/row cover arrangement to help extend this season!! Getting high on the Purchase Priority List. Fresh garden produce is just too good.

 

 

MtRider lois

 

 

 

 

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I learned not to plant Goliath tomatoes. I put 4x4 post in the ground and ran #4 wire to tie off to. They got so huge they pulled the post over! And, they did not produce like I thought they would. They grew like mad and went everywhere but were hard to pick because of the intertwining.

 

 

wormie

John

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Ive learned to keep a better eye on a 4 year old helping plant. I have cukes growing EVERYWHERE. Almost as bad as the squirrels moving the seeds or eating them.

 

I have also learned that in this area. Always stake the flimsy wire cages no matter what because there will be a huge gust of wind in a storm that will lay over all of the tomato plants no matter what year it is.

 

Definately need to figure out the second planting thing otherwise if we were to live off one planting we would be starving this winter. A too hot spring and summer beginning will kill a garden and put things to seed much faster.

 

Ive learned that around here the Mr. Stripey(sp?) to tired to care) tomatoes do really well just need to watch the amount of water.

 

I know I have learned more but even my fingers and my brain have abandoned me for the night.

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MtRiders comments about planting the valleys, not on the tops is something I began years ago. We have adequate water - well maybe too much, because I found that the soil would erode away from the roots of my plants (corn was really bad one year). So I just keep most of the garden flat. I do dig holes/trenches for potatoes, so that when I 'hill' them they end up more-or-less flat.

 

Heather, do you trellis your cukes & squash? That's another thing I started doing a few years ago. I even trellis pumkins (I grow the 'eating' variety that get to basketball size, max). They take up much less space in the garden. There is less place for water to accumulate and cause rot. And less space for pests to hide. OTOH, you need to mulch or do something with that bare space, else weeds will grow and your moisture will evaporate away.

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Originally Posted By: Shawna
--To stake tomato plants earlier than I did. I waited waaay too long and had a heck of a time staking them.

--speaking of 'maters....I would rather cage than stake. Our tomatoes looked like they were on steroids this year! They became intertwined and like a jungle. Would have been much easier to have them caged, methinks.


I learned these things too. My tomatoes were a complete jungle and it was like looking for Easter eggs when I was picking ripe tomatoes.

I also learned that I need to rotate where I plant my tomatoes.

I learned to spot the signs of the dreaded tomato worm before it ate my plant and ruined the tomatoes.

I also learned what squash borer beetles look like and just what kind of damage they can do to the vines. I've also learned that you can put some Sevin dust in the ground where you are planting your squash seeds and it will keep those beetles away. (At least that's what my mom says.)
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I learned not to water things in the sun, wait until evening, so your plants dont get sunburned. I almost lost a beautiful something plant....what the heck is it called again? i do not know, it has beautiful burgandy and yellow leaves. Thankfully the colour is coming back again, that plant does not do so well in the sun.

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I learned that when I ignore my garden, the slugs take over in the back, and the weeds take over in the front.

Lavender does quite well if it needs to be ignored, as does sweet woodruff, tickseed, english box, and chives. I am going to plant more lavender next year...it makes my front garden look so nice.

Clematis does not like to be ignored.

I learned that if I don't trim our hedge when the neighbours (who share the hedge) are trying to sell the house, they will do it for me, which is great, but it looks a bit lopsided. Oh well, at least it got done ;-)

I also learned that my yard is way too small for strawberries...I have them in a pot, and they didn't produce well...and they are trying to escape, putting runners between my patio stones.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This year I learned...plant lots of paste tomatoes and not so many slicing tomatoes. It takes forever to boil slicers down to make a good sauce. It has only taken 3 years to discover this...not sure why I didn't catch on sooner!!

 

Also this year was the first year we have had vine borers....nasty little things! Wiped out my buttercup squash before I knew what was happening. Sounds really gross but....all the vines that they burrowed into...I took a big long nail and ran it right up their little tunnel. I even got some of them. Nasty nasty!!!

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A few years ago we had that happen to our acorn squash. I couldn't figure out why they were dying, everything looked great, until DBIL said look inside the vine. Yep, there was nothing there. He'd had it happen a couple years earlier.

 

I planted them in a different spot the next year and have never (fingers crossed) had it happen again. I don't know if you have to plant them in a different place but I thought I'd not chance it.

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Dee I try to rotate what I plant so that everything is in a different area each year. I read somewhere that is the best thing to do with your veggies to discourage lots of different bugs/pests. Last year I had a problem with squash bugs...this year not so much. shrug Not sure if it was the rotation or what.

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