In The Garden
This week is another short one due to travels. I serve as an investment coach once a month or so, usually in Atlanta, so away from the garden for a few. The them for us this week is back to basics.
If you didn’t see our previous newsletter after much crop lost, here’s what we discovered:
3 Most Important Ingredients for a Healthy Garden
- Good soil
- Ample sunlight
- Adequate water
Inadequate growing conditions will weaken your plants and make them more susceptible to pests and blight.
We’ve heard from many of you with various garden challenges and struggles since publishing about ours. Many have been afflicted by either drought or too much rain. For drought, drip irrigation really helps. For too much rain, straw bale gardening helps. Here are some additional ideas.
Tomato Plants Need Full Sun. Period.
The topic of site selection is still very much on my mind. Last time, we covered how the lack of sunlight is likely the major factor in squash and tomato “fails” and suboptimal production. We have learned there are many compromises if sun-loving plants are grown in limited sunlight conditions. Plus, such conditions stress the plant making it more prone to pests and diseases.
We know you oldtimers may be shaking your head, but we also know that you understand the desire to grow whatever you can wherever you can! 🙂 Meanwhile… OK! Lesson learned.
Whether it’s ourselves… our kids… our pets… or our plants, for the best success, the environment we “plant in” matters.
~LeAura Alderson, GardensAll.com
The Lost Tomato Plants
Thankfully, we did have a “fair” turnout with the rest of our tomato plants with more sun. Of course, those that did the best were in the sunniest of locations. And, the early blight came on really strong so that we had to cover some of the ripening ‘maters with shade cloth to keep them from sunburning. Rather ironic, but the technique is working well.
So we’re happy to be picking a lot of tomatoes, in spite of our losses. Many of the Royal Hillbilly variety, the Black Beauties, and a few Dad’s Sunset, and a few Golden King of Siberia. These latter two are yellow types, which contain less acid.
Tomatoes: Royal Hillbilly, Black Beauties, Dad’s Sunset, and Golden King of Siberia. 2 Eggplants.
Owl Bird Deterrent Scarecrow
Now we have hardly seen many squirrel raids on the tomato patch. It’s likely the natural “bio-controls”, namely a family of barred owls, one adult and two young, hanging about the garden. And we also installed a mail order owl, dubbed “Owlfie”. He’s been working the garden beat in several locations 24/7. Consequently, we have many more tomatoes coming in the door than last year.
We’re not 100% certain if Owlfie is responsible, or the real life owl family that was hanging around our property a few weeks ago, or a combination of the two. Whichever it is, we’re grateful that we’re not finding our best, almost ripe half eaten tomatoes strewn all over the place.
Garden Site Selection
Next season, we’ll grow some tomatoes in our sunniest patch here in the backyard (6 hours full sun/day) and savor whatever we can harvest. The bulk of our tomatoes will be planted in the upper garden (9 to 10 hours of full sun). The ten plants up there now are way outperforming our “lower garden” crop of some 30 plants.
As we indicated in our previous newsletter, with the right conditions, our upper garden produced 4x more for 80% less work!
Never underestimate the importance of a healthy environment for a healthy crop.
We’ve begun planting the fall garden with leafy greens, broccoli, and a few other cole crops, including kalettes (Brussels crossed with kale). And next year, our sun-loving plants will be happily lapping up rays in the upper garden. We will make our trips more frequent and stay a bit longer.
Garden Lesson: Essential sun.
With ample sun, we got 4x the crop production with ~80% less work.
Our cucamelons are starting to come in as well. They’ve been extremely prolific for the past two garden seasons, and they’re a delicious treat!
It Pays to Read Seed Reviews…
One other thing, since we’re on the topic of selection. It really does matter what variety you choose to put in your garden. And, the more info you can gain about the specific variety, all the better. We really like Baker Creek because they have gardener reviews and a star rating system. It pays to read them.
A selection of winter squash we made, Musquee de Maroc had fair reviews but we missed the comments saying it grew like crazy yet produced just one or two squash per plant. Now, we can testify to this observation as fact. One single plant is now attempting to cover two side by side arches with only a smattering of fruit. The one fruit actually grew so large it broke off the vine.
That’s it for our weekly report!
What’s Happening in Your Garden?
That’s our report, folks.
Our biggest lesson is not to ask so much of our plants when we know better where to plant them.
How about your week? We know gardeners love to share photos of your crop, craft and harvests, so if you’d like us to publish your photos, comments and/or articles, we’d be delighted to hear from you. We enjoy sharing tips from the community and especially what’s happening in your neck of the garden. You can post comments and/or photos up on our Facebook page, or send us an email.
“May your gardens flourish and your harvests be bountiful, and when you look upon your little Eden, may you see that it is good.”
~Coleman Alderson, GardensAll.com
Grow Great Gardens!
G. Coleman Alderson is an entrepreneur, land manager, investor, gardener, and author of the novel, Mountain Whispers: Days Without Sun. Coleman holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. He’s a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a licensed building contractor for 27 years. “But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And in the garden, as in life, it’s always interesting because those lessons never end!” Coleman Alderson