Time for the first fall garden report.
I have high expectations for the fall garden because of the amount of time and effort (and money) I’ve put into straightening out the basic soil problems. I’m using a dual approach of organic and chemicals to cover all bases and have systematically added new patches in increments of 10-20 SF in which I work the soil deeply to get rid of imbedded gravel and building debris and add home grown mulch, purchased manure, ashes from the burn pit, and heavy duty chemical fertilizers. I work a patch then let it sit a couple of weeks to â€œcoolâ€ it off.
The other major improvement is the watering system. I have a portable automatic sprinkler system to water the garden. Last year it was mostly hand watering on a catch as catch can basis. I’ve set this system to water daily for 90 minutes early in the morning. That should make a large difference.
In parallel with the garden mechanics I start plants in plastic containers for transplant into the garden at a later time. From seed to garden is on the order of 4 weeks depending on the particular variety. I also did some direct seed plants into the garden.
The first in the ground was a set of 9 tomato plants. All but one survived the first week. The lone drop out ran afoul of some kind of critter who nipped off the stem about an inch above the ground and consumed all the foliage. Interestingly, I checked yesterday and leaves have sprouted off the stump so I’m back to nine tomato plants although one is a dwarf at this point. I would say the plants were on the order of 4â€ tall at the start and have more than doubled in size so far. At about the same time I put in 18 pepper plants – 9 jalapeno and 9 bell peppers. The same buzz saw critter got one of the jalapeno’s immediately and 7 of the 9 green peppers. So from that you could formulate that green peppers plants are the tastiest.
Being fall, I loaded up on the cool weather stuff and planted 18 cabbages and 18 broccolis. They all seemed to take well with no immediate overnight losses. But I did notice some holes in the leaves. Within a week it was clear that something different was gnawing through the leaves, in some cases leaving nothing but a bare stem. I’m not an insecticide kind of guy but that was too much so I hit Lowes and got something that was a combination insecticide, mildicide, and fungicide. But supposedly you could eat the veggies within 24 hours of the spray. So I gave everything a good soaking and that seemed to stabilize the lunching. One thing of interest was that the broccoli was the preferred meal. After 2 weeks only about 6 broccoli remain in good shape as compared to about a dozen cabbages. These are planted side by side so it’s easy enough to tell which is most susceptible. It looks like I need to spray weekly instead of every couple of weeks as I had planned. And perhaps I’ll have to go to something a bit more lethal. The label said that this was ok to use on organic gardens which may be code for t’s too wimpy. What’s also interesting is that suprisingly, I had no bug problems at all with the spring crop.
The good news is that I have already started replacement seedlings and will fill in the blank spots in a few weeks and I’ll spray the stuff before I put it in the garden. In addition to new broccoli, I have started cauliflower and kohlrabi that I plan to load into the garden at the end of this week.
I mentioned direct seeding. That would be zucchini and cucumbers. Both of those crops are going gangbuster with no critter bites at all. So I guess the empirical evidence is that broccoli is the number one tasty veggie followed closely by green peppers and cabbage. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini seem to be the most immune to leaf eaters.
Next month I break out the lettuce, spinach, peas, carrots, and beets so by January I should have a great handle on exactly what works and what doesn’t.