True North is:

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Michigan, United States

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Black Thumb

As I stated earlier the garden didn't quite turn out like we had hoped it would. Although it seemed like it was gonna grow out of control it faded rapidly and we lost a lot of crops. I'm mystified by most of it, but we were able to figure some things out.

The big loss was our tomatoes! At one point the plants were huge and we had lots of green tomatoes and that's when the tomato bugs moved in. They didn't seem like to much of a problem though. We would just pick them off (although they are well camouflaged and hard to spot) and smash them on a rock. However, just as the tomatoes began turning red I started to notice the leaves wilting and white speckles on the ground around the plants. I thought this white stuff was tomato bug droppings and so we increased our efforts to destroy the ugly little creatures. Yet, no matter how many we got rid of the plants still looked sickly. Before long the tomatoes started to develop nasty brown spots on them and became mushy. at this point we had lost the crop but didn't quite know why.

After some research and talking with other gardening folks we came to the conclusion that our tomatoes had been hit by Blight. Not positive about that or how they contracted it, but by next season I hope to know for sure. All and all, Melissa was able to harvest some cherry tomatoes for salads and such, but our big canning dreams had to be canned.

Our corn, having survived an early deer ambush, did produce fairly well. I'm not sure exactly how many ears we harvested, but the ears were small. They tasted good and we froze about a dozen of them but i was pretty disappointed in their overall size. I think I need to plant more corn next year.

Cucumbers did well and we canned a lot of pickles and we ate a ton in our salads. no real complaint here, although next year we want to plant more....we really loved those pickles!

The Squash plants grew like mad, but just like the corn, the squash were stunted and never matured into anything edible. I did learn that I planted too many and had they ripened we probable would have had more than we needed.

Onions were good for the most part, but we never got any large ones...they just wouldn't grow. I even bent all of the plants over as I heard this would promote the onions growth. it did a little but mostly we just had small bulbs.

Radishes did fine, at least the ones that grew which were only a handful. Again not sure what happened here. Can't figure out why most just seemed to die.

The potatoes were also a big disappointment, but I think I'm to blame. First of all I think I planted a few weeks to late, and second, I didn't buy seed potatoes. I just took ones we had that had sprouted eyes...cut them into smaller pieces and buried them. We did harvest some but not nearly enough; maybe 10 pounds but that is being generous.

The green peppers did well I thought, we just didn't plant enough. Again, we'll be putting more in the garden next year.

Pole beans...didn't do so well after the deer attack. We did manage to get a few handfuls but we had lost most of the plants to the deer.

The watermelon never matured, but I think that was partly due to planting them to late. The plants grew good, but the melons never matured....same as the squash.

So that's the short of it, but I do think I learned a little from the experience.

1: My soil isn't that great. I have heard that I can get it tested to see what it is lacking and I definitely need to get that done. However, i didn't want to have to buy a bunch of stuff to add to the soil, but I may not have a choice.

2: Protect against deer and other animals early on. The stuff I did do worked; I just need to do it right when I plant.

3. Plant at the right times. To be honest I was a little overwhelmed when it was time to get the garden started and wasn't as prepared as I should have been. That won't happen again.

4: Learn more about the plants I am growing. I had researched a lot about general gardening when we started, but I think I really need to advance my studies on the specifics. I had thought if you plant it it will grow...I was wrong. There is a lot of wisdom needed in gardening.

All and all, for our first garden, I think we did OK. if my soil is poor and it was indeed blight that smoked are tomatoes i won't feel so bad about the slim harvest. yet, since our goal is self sufficiency I need to get this gardening stuff down. It's hard to eliminate buying food when you don't harvest enough of the things you grow. If this were the old days and we didn't have a grocery store, it would be a very hard winter for us.

If anyone has any ideas after reading this and viewing the pics...Please share your thoughts!