July 24, 2006
Lessons of a newbie
Here are a few things I've learned this summer:
1) California Poppies grow well in crappy soil. That means they grow well in my sink where the dirt is compacted and has a tendency to dry out AND flood. The only question I have to ask myself is: should I try to improve the soil or just grow the poppies there and not worry about it?
2) As plants grow, they really do take up more space than you think. I planted everything in my garden with plenty of room (I thought) but, for most of June I was feeling like my garden was very sparse and boring. Now that it's late July and I can hardly get throught the paths I created I feel better about the space I left. My plot is still lopsided in terms of tall things and short things but, I think I have some ideas for next year.
3) Eggplant and Basil go really well, Red Peppers are a struggle. For two years in a row now my basil and eggplants looked pretty bad in June but look damn good by the end of July. I've already got a few eggplants on the way and a bunch of flowers that should bring even more. Red Peppers are not my forte. Last year it was blossom end rot and this year its some mysterious wilting disease that may or my not be Southern Blight. I still have one plant that I'm hanging onto. Maybe a different type of pepper will go better.
4) Tomato plants are big and demanding and even the "small" ones need to be caged or staked. I feel really good about the staking I did for 5 of my larger tomato plants but, the other 3 really could have used something (they're sprawling around on the ground and spreading over to neighboring plots.) I underestimated how much pruning is needed and how early you have to start doing it.
5)"Bush" Beans do grow easily but they need more space than you think. I planted a row of lima beans next to a row of green beans and basically created a thicket of plants. I'm not even sure I'll be able to find all the beans to harvest them. Next year they either need more room or something to grab onto as they grow. I've yet to build anything in my garden (like a trellis) but, perhaps next year will be the year.
6) Carrots may "love tomatoes" but, if you plant them too close together, the carrots will never see the sun. The jury is still out on my success at companion planting. The tomatoes may be benefiting but, I think the carrots are probably a little annoyed living in the shadows.
Photos below are May 27th, June 27th and July 23rd. AMAZING! (I need more flowers though.)