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This season: what worked? what didn't?

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This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  dk54321 on 8/22/2015, 11:03 pm

Due to various distractions, my garden did not get the attention it needed this year. 

Garlic seems to thrive no matter what. Once I had a flower bed where nothing would grow. I planted garlic in the fall. When it came up, my son thought it was a weed, and mowed it all down with the lawn mower. It came back in the spring. My idiot landlord thought it was a weed, tore out the flower bed, and planted grass. I planted a 4'x8' bed with garlic last fall. Green shoots came up, and thrived until snowfall. As soon as the snow melted in the spring, green shoots came up again. Did I mention that I hadn't got around to putting Mel's Mix in this bed, and it was all hard clay? The plants were thriving in June. I had to work overtime for a few weeks, so I didn't get back to my garlic until late July. I should have some good bulbs by then, right? By then, the weeds had grwon so tall, I couldn't find the garlic. I thought I could just cut everything down, and dig up the bulbs. The clay was so hard, I couldn't dig them out without destroying them. I'll start more garlic in September, but this time in Mel's Mix.

I wanted to try some new tomato varieties this year. I'd always started seeds indoors or bought plants before. This year, I didn't get started until May, and the varieties I wanted weren't available as plants, so I started seeds in the garden. At least, I planted seeds. I don't know whether I had bad seeds, or the birds ate them all, but nothing came up but weeds.

I pulled out the weeds and planted basil. Everyone seems to want basil, and if they like pesto, they can't get enough of it. I planted two 4x4' beds all in basil. It was old seed that I had never gotten around to planting. Only 25% of the seeds germinated, but the plants thrived. My wife loves basil and pesto. I have more than I could use. I give it away every chance I get, but still struggle to keep up with the harvest. People are always glad to get fresh basil. Turns out I don't like basil all that much.

I've always had good luck with sugar snap peas. I like them, they're easy to grow, and people are always glad to have the extras. I got them in late this year. A thick tangle of vines, lush foliage, and plenty of flowers, but no peas.

I wanted to see which vines would provide the most cooling shade when planted next to the house. I set up a vertical frame 9 feet tall next to the west wall. I planted sugar snap peas, two kinds of beans (Kentucky Wonder and Scarlet Runner Beans) and two varieties of morning glories (Clarke's Heavenly Blue and Blue Star). The Blue Star and the Scarlet Runner Beans were the clear winners, with Blue Star morning glory vines being somewhat taller and leafier. The blossoms were on the small side for morning glories, but they were definitely the tallest morning glories I've ever grown.

My peppermint  that I planted in a 5 gallon bucket last year didn't survive the winter, so I put a new plant in the narrow bed between the house and the driveway. If it escapes the bed, it has nowhere to go. It's growing more slowly than last year's plant, but seems strong and healthy. (I believe they are the same. I bought them from the same greenhouse.) We'll see if it comes back next year.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 8/23/2015, 10:18 am

dk, I had a couple problems with a late start, basically getting my early/cool plants in too late, spinach and radishes either didn't bulb well or bolted early. And I put all my carrots too close to my soon-to-be monstrous squaah, so 16 carrots turned out to be 6 due to being shaded out. Also had shading issues with the Swiss chard in front of the pole beans, some of them did OK though.

The patty pan squash, tomatoes, beets, potatoes and pole beans did well, so overall a success I feel. Today I am going to try and get some fall stuff planted, and see if lettuce, another try at the spinach, radish and maybe some kale will like the fall here! And perhaps some carrots...they were sooooo sweet!

In the potted flower department, I got a hold of some very inferior potting mix which stunted the growth or downright killed about 6 of my containers. I think it was just crappy dirt, lots of woody stuff, stained my fingernails black..... Sad

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/23/2015, 8:22 pm

Purple Ruffles basil always works out; looking good this year too. Marigolds and trailing lobelia flowers are doing well. Veronicas are finally doing okay; last year they were ragged in the same spot. Peppermint always does well, and my apple mint is going on its third year in the same pot, still producing.

Dragon tongue beans are doing fantastic in a new spot I put them in. I get a nice big bowlful every couple or few days. Juicy and flavorful, even a bit sweet. Scarlet runner beans too, but they have been hit really hard by the constant attacks of the cucumber beetles, which apparently are just as happy eating bean leaves. More importantly, they carry bacterial wilt disease and that's just about wiped out my scarlet runner beans. My royal burgundy beans were doing very nicely too, but after the first early flushes of beans, the beetles/bacterial wilt got to them too, and so they've given me a poor crop.

Overall, though, I found a great new spot with apparently the right mixture of sun and shade to give me vigorous bean production. I'll definitely plant there next year -- right alongside the chain link fence that also gives them something to climb!

Down at the neighbor's garden, where he lets me use a couple of beds, my tomatoes haven't been impressive. Unless my Arkansas Traveler tomato produces really sub-par fruit, though, I will probably plant it again, because it set fruit early compared to the others, and I've got a dozen or so tomatoes on it at this point. Considering how hot and dry our summers get, that's not bad.

Chocolate cherry tomatoes are delicious, but I may not plant more than one next year. They have nice big cherry tomatoes, but not too many of them. I'll try something else that will give me more volume.

Some of my beans down at this garden were planted as a succession crop, a week or two apart from my earliest planting. Those planted later could not take the direct sunlight all day and those that survived never really thrived. Those I planted earlier, though they look great, produced few and not very robust fruit.

My biggest lesson this year was that beans need some shade in this climate no matter how good the soil and how good the watering. Unfortunately, the location that is growing them very well is also the one overrun by the cucumber beetle and its horrible wilt-spreading ways. *sigh*

Another lesson: The dragon tongue beans seem the most resistant to both the wilt and the bug. Since they're the best-tasting one I've grown, I'll plant even more next year.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  plantoid on 8/23/2015, 9:07 pm

The only thing that has thrived in my garden this year are weed seeds from a sally willow tree some 200 mtrs away.
  
The tree has been so prolific this year that the gardens around it were covered in a white fluff that looked like a dusting of snow . I spent a couple of hours trying to vacuum them off the beds I had to empty the tub of the workshop vac cleaner twice there was that many .
We have thousands of 1/2 " tall baby willow trees growing in the flower & veg beds ......OK so I missed a lot Rolling Eyes .

 As soon as we snip them off another seems to grow . Sad
 The root system for a single 1/2" tall seedling is about four inches long by 2 " wide .

 I daren't try raking them out as all our food crops for the year are also in the beds .

On some beds that had 2 inch high crops in them  I've added a two inch layer of coconut coir waste in an attempt to smother them..it seems to be working on some beds . But I ran out of material to be able to do all 27 or so beds.

The darn things have even managed to invade the green house and it only took six days of us being away before they had produced 10 inch plants from no visible seedlings the morning we left ...

It's like day of the Triffids ..... thank goodness I have a genny and plenty of fuel Laughing

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  donnainzone5 on 8/23/2015, 10:18 pm

Plantoid,

I can certainly sympathize!

This year, for the first time, I'm getting hordes of tiny tree sprouts--probably from the many crab apple trees in the neighborhood.

A couple of yards on this street are sprouting trees like you wouldn't believe!  When I spot one, though, I pull it out, post-haste.   Twisted Evil

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  walshevak on 8/24/2015, 6:12 am

nothing worked this year. Twelve plants, 4 cukes.  Twenty plants and a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes and 3 smaller than usual full size.  Planted squash 5 times and got some healthy looking plants that bloomed like crazy until SVB got them.  Unfortunately only male blooms.  Nary a female.  Three plants, 1 pitiful tiny eggplant.  A handful of strawberries. One cutting of kale and spinach.  Chard never got more than 1 1/2" high. I'm getting some super hot peppers but the sweet peppers are not producing a bumper crop.  One picking of snap peas before the 98* heat got them.  I blame the late frost (which wiped out the local peach orchards) followed almost immediately with upper 90s both early and persistent and no pollinators.  

And a forest of mimosa seedlings.

Kay

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/24/2015, 4:41 pm

Planting cukes next to potatoes doesn't work.
Broadcasting leafy greens seeds in the late fall works too well. Shocked As does allowing bolted lettuce seeds to fall where they may.
Worm castings work!!!

I still can't grow zucchini. Rolling Eyes

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  greatgranny on 8/24/2015, 7:42 pm

Beets, carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnips, winter squash all doing great.  The cabbage and brussel sprouts are not the best but hopefully will produce something worthwhile. Tomatoes are so-so this year.  Some of the fruit has green/yellow shoulders.  Yes, we did have some days of intense heat so that is most likely why.

The biggest disappointment has been the cukes and peas.  Have no idea why but then I was laid up for awhile and didn't probably take the best care either.

A great year for root crops. Hope the potatoes fare as well as the other root crops.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  sanderson on 8/25/2015, 12:05 am

More sunshade this summer - well worth it!

Tomatoes 'B' - At least most grew this year, not bumper crops but did put up some tomatoes and salsa.  Some in beds, some in 5-gal buckets with a sandwich of perlite on the bottom.  Big mistake as the water just freely ran out the bottom!
Peppers B+
Coriander A - life time supply of seeds
Beans B+ - first flush of KY Wonders and DT were great, second flush, well, I'm still waiting.  I think it would have been better to pull them up and plant a second crop.
Eggplant D-  Just now getting 2 purple fruit.  I will buy them and put them up in the future.
Tomatillos B
Winter squash D - 6 plants , 2 fruits
Summer Squash D - I'll buy these and put them up.
Cucumbers - B  Yeah!  Actually got some decent ones without using a brush.
Cantaloupe C+  10 fruits from 4 plants. No brush!
Onions C  Got enough to can some Annie's salsa  Some went softer after harvesting.
Garlic B  Got enough to braid and use.  My 2013 store bought garlic still does the best.
Spinach, New Zealand A  It actually survives the heat.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  johnp on 8/25/2015, 3:01 pm

tomatoes and cuc's were AAA, eggplant B (small but prolific), lettuce a B-, chard a C

Kale and beets wiped out by the plague of grasshoppers ( Kale twice)

Peppers C-, small and grasshoppered

Corn D- to F, small ears and stunted growth, probably I did something wrong.

Squash and pumpkins B they all look good (winter squash only)

Raspberries B smaller and also grasshoppered.

Carrots B

BTW putting hose over the tomatoes worked and saved my crop! Thanks for the suggestion.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/25/2015, 4:48 pm

Glad to see you're having good luck with your NZ spinach. I found out that it was true that it is notoriously hard to germinate. None of them I'd planted last year made it.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  herblover on 8/26/2015, 8:47 am

Like everyone a mixed year.  Finally starting to get some tomotoes but all the plants have late blight due to such a rainy June and early July.  Carrots are a star as usual; doing really well.  Most varieties of radish did ok, the fall ones I planted last week are up and look good.  Kale outstanding but chard, usually so reliable has been a total bust.  Peppers are so-so; I am getting some but not the usual prolific crop.  Onions did very well.  Salad greens very good; I tried a new variety called 'Scottsdale' which was billed as heat tolerant and truly was.  I still have roughly 2 months of growing season left and am still succession planting fall crops.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  CitizenKate on 8/28/2015, 3:04 pm

What didn't work


  • Green beans.  Where do I begin?  Low germination rates, pill bugs - lots and lots of pill bugs - and boy, do they love green beans.  Many blossoms, and lots of small bean pods but very few made it to harvesting size - still don't know what happened there, maybe that was the pill bugs, too, but didn't find any that were partially eaten.  Hmmm...

  • Mel's Mix in self-watering containers.  It's great in the boxes, where it needs to drain well, but not so great when the water needs to traverse from the bottom up.  At least, not compared to what I used before.  The pepper plants were wilting on hot days, even though there was plenty in the reservoirs.

    Next year, I'm going to try amending it with something to help it wick water up from the bottom better, and just use it in one or two test containers.  The rest of the containers will go back to the mix I used before.

  • Still looking for an effective insecticide for spider mites.  The tomatoes were a huge disappointment this year.

  • Hand-watering in general.  I know this is what is recommended as the best method, and I do see some advantages of it, but it's just not for me.  It's not just that it takes too long, it comes down to a question of whether I can find the time to do it at all.  I have 5 boxes, but I only planted in 3 of them because there's no way I would have enough time to water them all by hand.  It's also not something I can just give the pet sitter to do when we're away on trips.



What did work


  • Planting seeds in seed starter cells after sprouting them in wet paper towels.  Seedling flats were 99% populated!

  • Starting my spinach seeds by soaking them in water in the refrigerator over night, then in wet paper towels in a dark, chilly place (58-60 deg F).  Got 75% germination in 3 days.  And by only planting the sprouted ones, a very high percentage of those came up from the mix. Huge victory - had a horrible time getting it to sprout before trying this.

  • Starting lettuce seeds indoors (vs planting them in the boxes straight out of the package).

  • DIY PVC grow light stand. Got much better seedlings this year due to better light source, and this was super-easy to build for about $50.  Just the stand took only about $15 in materials to build. Also...

  • Setting seedlings outdoors in the direct sunlight and outdoor breezes as early as possible.  This year, I started putting them outside for part of the day as soon as they sprouted, on days when it was warm enough.  This, in addition to the new grow light stand, produced some very strong, healthy young plants.

  • Everything about onions.  Super easy and trouble-free. (Or maybe I just happened to have a good year for onions?)

  • Topping the pepper plants to get them to produce more.  It really does work.

  • New DIY PVC drip irrigation contraption.   cheers   After a lot of failed attempts, I've finally got a convenient, water-efficient way to water my boxes.  Fourth time is the charm, right?

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 8/28/2015, 5:44 pm

Kate, I use a wand on the end of my hose, have never done the hand watering thing. I know my lazy limits!

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/28/2015, 7:27 pm

@CitizenKate wrote:What didn't work


  • Mel's Mix in self-watering containers.  It's great in the boxes, where it needs to drain well, but not so great when the water needs to traverse from the bottom up.  At least, not compared to what I used before.  The pepper plants were wilting on hot days, even though there was plenty in the reservoirs.


Maybe a wick or a few will help.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  CitizenKate on 8/29/2015, 12:16 am

@Marc Iverson wrote:
Maybe a wick or a few will help.  
Yeah, like maybe an old sock or towel strip.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  CitizenKate on 8/29/2015, 12:19 am

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Kate, I use a wand on the end of my hose, have never done the hand watering thing.  I know my lazy limits!
I followed that approach on some occasions when I just had to get-r-done and there was no time left in the day.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  floyd1440 on 8/29/2015, 6:38 am

Unfortunately I started my seeds 2 weeks late and then to compound the issue we had a TON of rain here early this spring so unable to get to the garden once things were planted and also got a ton of weeds too.

Cukes have never seemed to work in the garden and I planted some in pots close to the house and got 10 from one plant, which is better than I have done in the garden in the last few years, but they need a ton of water or they quickly begin to turn yellow.  Perhaps this is why they failed in the garden as they are not very hardy IMHO.

My toms are producing late but that is my fault and have tried some new types this year and some are keepers, especially the orange, and got a WV 63 and grew it mainly for the seeds.

My biggest failure was my yellow bush beans as they take over many squares and had to pull some out.  I need to find a variety that grows like green bush beans as the yellow turned into more like a pole bean.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  CitizenKate on 8/29/2015, 10:13 am

@floyd1440 wrote:
My biggest failure was my yellow bush beans as they take over many squares and had to pull some out.  I need to find a variety that grows like green bush beans as the yellow turned into more like a pole bean.
I just tried yellow squash this year for the first time, and really had no idea what to expect. It has now wondered a few feet out of the box, and still producing... I don't know if trellising will help, or if it just needs room to spread out and wander.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  Zmoore on 9/1/2015, 1:09 pm

Cucumbers and bush beans did best for me.  Cilantro and Basil went nuts, planted too much, mostly wasted.

Tomatoes and green peppers were disappointing and seems everyone else in the area had bumper crops.  I think I didn't add enough compost and didn't work it in like I should have.  Potatoes were a complete disappointment, first time growing and I think a lot of that was on me, got about a dozen tater tots.   

Radishes and onions did "ok", but I was disappointed in size.  Carrots also too small, but rabbits will still enjoy them.  I definitely have problems with root type plants, I'm missing something.  I think it's "K", might try a little bone meal or something next year.

Strawberries are first year so not much produced, but they look good... mostly... deer still got some along the edges of the box.  razzin-frazzin.. grrrrr.  Next year will tell the tale for those.    

My compost piles/storage is coming along.  I think I'll have enough that I won't have to buy any store bought next year.  Look forward to trying the "homemade" compost.  It SHOULD be a better blend than what I can get at stores.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  FRED58 on 9/1/2015, 9:24 pm

My big problem was stuff I planted way too late: garlic, cukes, onions.

My Tomatillo continues to impress (I WILL plant two next year). Also: Poblano Peppers. I am still waiting for purple Cherokee and Brandywine tomatoes to ripen (also planted late). I am really enjoying tomatoberry mini tomatoes (strawberry shaped and very sweet), but it looks like it will expire early too. Windsor mini pumpkins look good, but Halloween is two months away! Still waiting for my knuckleheads to "ugly up" (they get warts as they ripen). Zucchinis are, of course over producing. Next year I'm growing 'eight ball" and "one ball" zukes; one zuke per batch of chocolate zucchini bread.

oh yes, the "Rattlesnake" beans are growing like weeds, DESPITE being planted late. They are part of a line to seeds aimed at kids that I picked up at Canadian Tire. (Sorry, I can translate metric measures and some Canadianisms into American or British, but I can't explain Canadian Tire).

Planting spinach for Thanksgiving this weekend (nothing ventured...)

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  sanderson on 9/26/2015, 2:40 am

Not labeling/losing labels for the peppers! If I can sweet talk hubby into building another TT, I will put all the peppers in TTs and label with Tall labels that will stick up above the straw mulch. I planted them here and there, then lost some labels, and these little mis-shaped peppers are like playing Russian roulette.

I can't wait until next spring when a whole new adventure, filled with new hope, begins. The fall/winter crops should be easy compared to summer, as long as I cover with tulle.

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  jimmy cee on 9/26/2015, 9:32 am

Cold Frame !!! after spring plants were done I added zucchini to my cold frame...it did nicely although I only had one..
Going to try to make a 4 X 4 bed just for zucchini, maybe add some covering to keep those bugs away...
All in all I think a cold frame can be used for different purposes all year long.


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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 9/26/2015, 9:47 am

Compost!!!! At last! Started out as a hole, filled it in, and last night, went out to add some kitchen offings and turned the pile, beautiful!

Kale, mesclun, and French Breakfast radishes all germinated....for Fall. Will see!

Not so: Still no peppers. Got one from each plant.

Scorpio Rising

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Re: This season: what worked? what didn't?

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