Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Garden Successes and Fails

I planted the fall garden back in September and have had some success and some failure. Learned a few things not to do in the future.

For instance, do not orient the peas' climbing lattice so that it catches the wind. I don't know why I didn't think of this because it's very noticeable that wind frequently blows very hard in that direction, but I thought nothing of building what was basically an unstable 6 foot tall wall. It didn't hold up very well, as you can see:
Other problems with the peas revolved around the weather. In the past, we've planted peas in the winter for harvest in the spring. This was the first time I really tried to grow them in the fall. I learned that peas are only cold tolerant if they're used to growing in the cold. If they start in warm weather, any peas on the vine die as soon as a frost hits. Sedona rescued a few peas (she likes to eat them straight off the vine), but for the most part, peas would form, then die with a frost. New peas would form, and again, die with the frost. It was a frustrating cycle.

Also weather related, I think, is some sort of fungal problem. Eventually, the plants stopped forming peas at all and the peas that were on the vine and the vine themselves didn't look healthy. I think this is some form of powdery mildew because that is a big problem here in the fall, but I'm not sure. The leaves looked like powdery mildew and the pea pods were big, but the peas inside were teeny tiny and there was fungus inside the pod.

You don't want to leave powdery mildew in the garden, so we pulled up all the vines and threw them in the trash can.

Another problem spot has been the cabbage. It hasn't formed tight heads like it should. That could be because of two reasons. First, cabbage needs a steady water supply to form up well and mine have been a bit neglected lately. Second, cabbage needs somewhat steady temperatures to form up. The bouts of warm weather we're having make the plants more prone to opening up. I'm salvaging the situation the best I can with more water and they're edible, just not "prize at the county fair" worthy.

Other things have done really well. Namely, the broccoli and cauliflower. The broccoli has been very successful, producing about 2 pounds each week. The cauliflower is growing and producing well too, but since I started with fewer plants, there's a little less to harvest. The brussels sprouts are holding out and looking good. They're being slow-pokes, but they still look healthy and on the right track.

What can I say? You win some, you lose some. Experience is the best teacher and we've definitely gotten better at getting reasonable yields as time goes on. I dare say we're finally at a point where the garden consistently saves us money whereas in the past we never knew if we'd get enough out of it to justify the cost or not!

We were back out there preparing for spring planting and getting some cold tolerant plants in the ground last weekend, I'll share more later this week!

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