I’ve gone back and forth on doing this post for some time now. But I figure since the whole point of this blog is note-taking on the garden, I better get these notes down before I forget.
Nine days after my last posting, we were informed by our landlord that we needed to move. It was a blow we definitely were not expecting. Our plan had been to purchase that home. And as I looked at my garden that very next day I was so torn between crying and cheering. Because my garden really was spectacular. I have never had a garden grow like this one! Everything I planted was growing, and growing well. I started planning and preparing, and 19 days after that, there was no more garden.
Amazingly, we got some harvests. I managed to harvest all the garlic, although it was a little on the small side. We had several bunches of carrots, scallions, beets, a nice pile of green beans, the celery and the swiss chard. We’d enjoyed the lettuce until it bolted- and had so much I was giving it away left and right! We harvested and fully enjoyed three nice sized heads of broccoli as well- those were a real treat!
The tomatoes I dug up and transplanted to two separate growing spaces. Amazingly, all 52 plants survived the transplant process, despite their maturity. I had dug up plants that were bearing fruit already! But I was determined to not leave a scrap of plant behind for someone else to benefit from my labor. That really showed the resilience of tomato plants! Transplanting them did seem to set them back a few weeks though, and I won’t get the spectacular harvest I’d have gotten had they stayed where they were. And of course, I can’t save seed from a single plant this year. They were all bunched together as they traveled to their new homes in the back of my van.
What I especially was excited about seeing in my garden was the progress of the winter squash. My plan to get them to grow up a ladder and trellis worked perfectly- and it was very clear that had we stayed, that blue hubbard squash would have taken over the entire garden. But it was growing exactly how I’d hoped- and there were dozens of baby squashes on those plants. Next year, we will revisit the winter squash using the things I learned growing them this year. The biggest thing was that I did have to continually attempt to manipulate the plants. I needed to coax them to grow where I wanted them to grow- moving and adjusting gently daily. That paid off after a while, and then I could just let them grow and tangle themselves on the growing mediums I had for them.
My gardens were producing WEEKS before anyone else’s was in the area. Part of that was my quick sowing of seed as soon as I could get in. But part of that, I really feel, was the fact that my growing medium was solely compost. I didn’t get fancy and mix anything it. It was just compost from the local composting facility. When we tore the gardens out it was clear that the compost had settled a lot, and had we had another growing season, we would have needed quite a bit more to fill the boxes back up. But using the compost straight up produced amazing results as far as growth.
My nemesis (other than the landlord, lol) were the squirrels, of course. They dug and dug and tried to dig some more. My method to foil them was multi-faceted. Initially when I planted the seeds, I covered the beds with bird netting. That keeps all animals out, and I would leave the netting on until the sprouts were a good inch above the netting. Then I would carefully lift it off. Later on, as the plants grew and there was more space in the dirt, the squirrels came back. The first thing I tried doing was spraying my plants with a hot pepper spray. I took the hottest hot sauce I had and mixed it with water in a spray bottle and sprayed that everywhere. That seemed to deter the squirrels, but it wasn’t perfect, and I thought it could get tedious spraying everywhere everytime it rained. So instead I went and bought an institutional sized bottle of cayenne pepper and sprinkled that everywhere. That seemed to work well also- but again, every time it rained I needed to go out and reapply. A little time consuming, but it saved my plants from the squirrels.
In the end, we completely tore the garden out. We didn’t leave a scrap of anything growing. We harvested what we could, and ripped up what had yet to come to fruition. Someone else was not going to get to harvest the fruits of my labor…
Anyway, we move on. We have a garden space here at our new home, which, while still a rental, we have no danger of being asked to leave. Andy moved my raised beds over here, and the next few months are going to be spent re-arranging, filling, and preparing the beds for spring planting. I am also eyeing a community garden that I can literally see from my backyard. I will be seeing if I can rent a space there next year for a tomato trial I wish to do.
The best thing? With a garden, there’s always next year. Armed with the knowledge I obtained this year, I cannot wait to see how next year’s garden works out. I am already looking forward to it.