Well, summer’s mostly over as far as I’m concerned. School’s back in session, I’m driving little people to piano, soccer and ballet, and what’s left of my garden is looking tired, though the basil and tomatoes are still producing. It’s been fun to have a garden in my backyard this year. Here’s a wrap-up of my square foot garden.
First we built three cedar boxes from kits and made trellises from rebar, pvc pipe and nylon netting. After digging out the sod and all the grass that came with it, I put the boxes in place with the trellises and filled the boxes with special dirt. Well, it was supposed to be perfect for raised bed gardens so I wouldn’t need to add anything, like peat moss and vermiculite. I wish I had, but more on that later.
We had a very early, hot spring, like 80’s in March. None of my spinach came up, or carrots either. My onion set died. The heat that nearly killed them weakened them so much that the last, late frost finished them off. The broccoli was so confused, it never produced broccoli. The peas and beans grew lovely vines, but no peas or beans. That’s alot of space for no food to grow. After the sweltering March, April was too wet. The dirt was so wet, the tomatoes and basil nearly died. Not funny. My red pepper plant produced one pepper, golf ball sized, that had a large chunk eaten my someone that wasn’t me.
Then came the heat. Unbelievable heat. From the last week of June through the first week of July, we had 9 out of 11 days in a row over 100 (the other two were 99 degrees), with most days 103 to 109. And no rain. I mean NO RAIN. A quarter of an inch in June and none in the first part of July. We usually get above 4 inches in June. You can water all you want, but no rain, low humidity and 109 degrees equals unhappy plants. They spent the first half of the summer simply trying to survive and the harvest bears that out.
Really, I got tomatoes, basil, rosemary and cukes. The corn finally started growing, but the damage was done. Ears only 12 inches off the ground, the kernels not fully formed. Inedible. More wasted space. I did get one sugar baby personal watermelon and two cantaloupes. Again, alot of real estate, not so much produce. The vines climbed the trellis beautifully, but the cantaloupes proved too heavy for the pvc pipe. Definitely need those vining melons on metal trellises next year. I cut the netting away from the cantaloupe vine and laid the plant on the bed, which was already pretty empty due to summer heat deaths of even some herbs. I must of bent something, because within two weeks, the vine died. Sigh.
So lessons learned:
- Mel’s Mix is best. I’m adding peat moss and vermiculite in a couple of weeks before I plant my fall cool weather veggies. The soil I bought did NOT live up to my expectations. I’m also going to add more compost. I had some pretty heavy feeders this summer, like the corn.
- Really, I’m just going to buy pickles at the store. No one likes either my sweet or dill pickles. I don’t have time to make ’em if they won’t eat ’em.
- I wish I’d planted more tomatoes so I could can tomato juice. My plants produced, but were still stressed by the heat and drought.
- Vining melons need metal frames instead of pvc pipe, or maybe thicker PVC would work…
- Next year I’d love to try some herbs that are a bit more tender in the shade. Maybe my cilantro and dill would last longer. They are lovely and yummy, but short-lived around here.
- Corn really does need more than 6 little plants to grow well. I’ll just buy mine at the farmer’s market from now on.
- My little shells, painted as garden markers are still cute and legible. I’m glad I sealed them. I’m looking forward to using them next year:)