Growing Season Recap: Catching Up With the Garden


| 11/11/2009 1:34:05 PM


Tags: garden, okra, potatoes, tomatoes,

A photo of Paul GardenerSo much to talk about … where to begin??? The last time I posted here was waaaay back at the end of June!! I know, I know, it’s unforgivable. “Bad Blogger ... Bad blogger!!”

So then, now that the self punishment has been doled out, what say I start trying to get you up to date? You may remember that I mentioned that my wife and I went through our local extension service’s Master Gardener program this Spring. It was a pretty long course that consisted of 40 hours of classroom instruction spread out over 10 weeks. But it didn’t stop there; the second part of the program, and one that must be finished if we were to actually be counted as “graduates” of the program was to provide 40 hours of garden-related service to our community. That took a surprisingly long time to do working on it only part time but was truly one of the most rewarding parts of the process as well.

One of the things that I did a lot of was to teach beginning gardening classes to different groups in my area. It was so fun to get to share my passion for the garden and the many fruits of that sort of labor with my neighbors and community groups. I can only hope that I was able to affect at least one person or family. We also spent a couple of afternoons at our county fair manning a Master Gardeners booth and worked together to answer phones at the extension service office; both times providing knowledge and “expertise” on some of the typical garden problems that arise in our area. They’re called diagnostic services and its amazing how much you can learn just by looking up information for others. I heartily encourage anyone who is seriously interested in gardening, of whatever sort, to check in with your local extension service to see if there is a Master Gardener class scheduled for your area. Now is the time to check too since they usually start at the beginning of the year.

And speaking of the garden, a lot of good things came out of it this year. This spring we added a new garden bed to the side-yard area of the front of our house. It’s not a common site in our suburban area but we hope it will be soon! You can see that new garden area in the bed below.

New side-yard garden area

The low lying plants are the potatoes that I talked about planting earlier this year, but as you can see they weren’t the only thing that did well in this area. Let me take this opportunity to tell you about how many sun flowers of varied and prolific numbers that we had. The sunflowers you see here - both the large ones and the small - are naturally seeded ones that came up as volunteers from last year. I did thin them out quite a bit, but the ones I left did great and brought us lots and lots of bees and lady beetles. Of course we know that the lady beetles showed up because we had an abundance of aphids.

sue lackey
12/19/2009 9:35:36 PM

Hi Paul, Thanks for a great article and update. I have been making raised beds for the last 3 years and I really enjoyed seeing your pics and getting ideas. Do you put anything on your wood to preserve the raised beds? I haven't just because I am not aware of any product that preserves wood but isn't toxic for the plants and veggies that we eat. Also your tomatoes were amazing! The past two years here in upstate NY QC border, I have been hit hard with a bad fungus or something that causes big black spots in my tomatoes and causes all the leaves to go yellow and fall off. The plants look so sick, to say the least. I am trying to go all organic. I use my rabbit manure as fertilizer. Maybe that is too high in N? Thanks for whatever tips you or your readers could pass on. I didn't get one tomatoe this year!:( Lisa


sue lackey
12/19/2009 9:35:31 PM

Hi Paul, Thanks for a great article and update. I have been making raised beds for the last 3 years and I really enjoyed seeing your pics and getting ideas. Do you put anything on your wood to preserve the raised beds? I haven't just because I am not aware of any product that preserves wood but isn't toxic for the plants and veggies that we eat. Also your tomatoes were amazing! The past two years here in upstate NY QC border, I have been hit hard with a bad fungus or something that causes big black spots in my tomatoes and causes all the leaves to go yellow and fall off. The plants look so sick, to say the least. I am trying to go all organic. I use my rabbit manure as fertilizer. Maybe that is too high in N? Thanks for whatever tips you or your readers could pass on. I didn't get one tomatoe this year!:( Lisa


paul gardener
11/20/2009 11:55:37 PM

Hi Cindy, Yeah we really really had a great time with the master gardener program. Already looking forward to next years volunteer opportunities. And believe me, there are plenty of weeds, luckily the soft soil in the raised beds makes it a lot easier to pull them. Lisa, I don't do a thing to the raised beds, and I use plain construction grade lumber. They are rotting a little bit, but it's not stopping the plants from growing! Every fall part of my garden wrap up is to lift the beds just enough to push some of the mulch and dirt under the wood. You can see in the picture of them that they look like 2x4's. They're really 2x6's but the ground around them keeps "uppening" as I spread mulch every year. So sorry to hear about your tomato troubles. There was a lot of news this summer about a very bad outbreak of late blight that affects tomatoes and potatoes (nightshades). You can read about it here. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/nyregion/18tomatoes.html It was very prevalent in the Northeast and may be part of the problem. All the best and remeber "There is no garden so successful, as next years garden"! Paul~


lisa_5
11/20/2009 8:02:57 AM

Hi Paul, Thanks for a great article and update. I have been making raised beds for the last 3 years and I really enjoyed seeing your pics and getting ideas. Do you put anything on your wood to preserve the raised beds? I haven't just because I am not aware of any product that preserves wood but isn't toxic for the plants and veggies that we eat. Also your tomatoes were amazing! The past two years here in upstate NY QC border, I have been hit hard with a bad fungus or something that causes big black spots in my tomatoes and causes all the leaves to go yellow and fall off. The plants look so sick, to say the least. I am trying to go all organic. I use my rabbit manure as fertilizer. Maybe that is too high in N? Thanks for whatever tips you or your readers could pass on. I didn't get one tomatoe this year!:( Lisa


cindy murphy
11/12/2009 7:09:44 AM

Hi, Paul. Glad you and your wife have enjoyed volunteering by sharing your gardening knowledge; it's the coolest part of the Master Gardener program, I think. And wow! I've honestly never seen a neater garden than your row of raised beds! It looks spic-n-span, not a plant out of place, or a weed in sight. I envy you all those tomatoes; the okra not so much (bluck!). We did well with peas, potatoes, green beans, and all sorts of squash and gourds, but suffered from a homegrown big, juicy tomato-less summer. None of them ripened, (except for the cherries). I'd have turned in my green thumb if it was just me, but it wasn't. People here were scrambling, laying straw, sheets of black plastic - anything they could get their hands on to heat up those babies and get them to turn into something more than a hard, green ball. It was just too cool here for most of the summer for the tomatoes to do anything but stay green. Ah, well....there's always next year. Enjoy the relaxation while you have it, and have a great holiday season.





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