Report of Gardens to Date: Newbie on Track?
I don't believe I've ever posted new msg here on GW, but thought I'd like to see if my gardening attempts are on track. PLEASE pardon the length, I just really wanted to share all I've been up to this year (and previous) Why? I was just so surprised to learn that we're supposed to start fall planting now...It's sooo hard to think about that! My spring and summer crops are just now beginning to flower, and I'd love to see how they compare with others in my area (or even state!)
I've learned a lot from so many people on GardenWeb over the years, and wanted to provide a report of all I have thanks to soo many tips, and maybe I'll even get some feedback about some things I've got questions about... :) Heck, I am perfectly happy to share any help in exchange as well ! I like to think of it as "Gardening Karma"... So with no further delay, grab a cold glass of tea and a seat,... here it goes !
In Fort Collins, CO, like many other cities in our states, we've had LOTS of hail, HEAVY rains, and an unbelievable outburst of flea beetles and slugs last month from what I've seen and heard. Personally, my crops and flowers have really not produced much. This is the status of my efforts to date:
VEGETABLES: This is my biggest garden yet (divided actually into 2 large and 1 small bed in different areas of yard. Due to shade and space restrictions I've had to get creative. I don't have huge bumper crops of any given vegetable or fruit, Rather, most items I only have 1 of, but a few I have 3 or 4 of them just to protect myself against problems hoping if 1 suffers, the others will live, and also to "just try" to see if we like, it turns out, etc...
* Tomatoes - have 5 quarter size or less from 9 different varieties and 11 plants
* Watermelons - nada, not even flowers
* Summer squash - 3 TINY fruits, 1 is almost 2 in. long
* Zucchini - 1 about 3 1/2 in x 1.25 in
* Cucumbers - 1 female flower with .25" long fruit under it opened yesterday so I painted that one, 6 male flowers now
* Pumpkins - out of 6 plants, (3 from seed, 3 store bought locally), nada, although I am starting to see female and male flowers (just not hardly ever at the same time!?!) So I "cheat" and re-open a female when I see a male open and use my paintbrush to pick up where the bees have missed (I'm assuming they haven't done their job as no fruit evident, and hardly any pollinators at ALL in the area or stop by for a conjugal visit)
* Broccoli - 4 florets on 3 plants, 2 in. or less in diameter
* Sweet peas - although yes I did plant them late as I was informed after I planted them, no flowers, no fruit - a wash? or will they pick up in time for a fall harvest ?
* Butternut squash - indistinguishable tiny flowers just starting to form
* Spaghetti squash - same thing
* Spinach - family reported it was tasty despite having to work around the slug damage. It started to flower 2 weeks ago, but by picking flowers off I seem to have bought it ( and us!) some time as new leaves continue to sprout in, old ones grow, and still using in salads and sandwiches.
* Lettuces - still holding on to dear life, just starting to bolt, have had TONS of it :). Even tried a new row of it 10 days ago, it is about 3 inches tall. I even attempted a transplant of 4 TINY 1.25 in. or smaller leaves I pulled gently out with roots intact, and new small leaves have started to grow on them - I never knew I could get away with that. I did it because I always feel "guilty" about thinning seedlings. In hindsight, I should probably have done that with the carrots and radishes last month, too.
* Wax beans - 11 beans on 6 plants mom grew from winter sowing
* Green beans - nada out of 12 plants I started from seed early June, just taller stems and new leaves forming.
* Radishes - out of about 75 seeds - I grew 3, yes, count them 3 - edible sized radishes (~ 1in.), then husband forgot to eat them and they went bad ! :( We have tried radishes for YEARS and had virtually no success - new soils, different soils, different locations, pots, full sun, partial shade - it doesn't seem to matter - even tried companion planting with compatible plants this summer and I only grew the 3 decent ones - I surrender - at least they are cheap to buy! And I learned I can let them go to seed if planted in over by my pumpkins, watermelons and tomatoes and it will act as an insect deterrent - how cool is that!
* Bell peppers - 3 mixed variety from Mom's tender loving care-style winter sowing(Irisgirl ROCKS for winter sowing btw !!!). I probably should have put them out with walls of water as they were too small and it was too cold when I put them out - they are only 3 inches tall at best :( ); on the other had my store bought ones are FINALLY getting some more heat -1 each orange, yellow and chocolate - many mini's and flowers
* Cayenne peppers - 5 are 3" or less, curling?!
* Habaneros - 3 about size of a pencil eraser
* Giant Thai's - 2 are 1" long, rest are mini's
* Carrots - once I cut back the radish foliage in 1 row and the lettuce in the other row, they have finally started to grow, companion planting didn't work so great that way as they got too much shade + all the !@# rain this spring/summer
* Sweet cherry peppers - 5 mini's
* Sweet hot peppers - tiny flowers, eraser sized fruit
* Green onions transplanted from neighbor - doing GREAT !
* Sunflowers - again, out of about 50 seeds, only 8 grew, tallest are ~3 ft or slightly less and no signs of flowers to be seen
* Corn - just barely over knee high by the 4th, out of 11 canes, 2 look remotely possibly making cobs?
* Jalapenos -4 different plants, 2 different varieties, tiny peppers now starting, but more flowers than fruit. I mistakenly thought you had to thin peppers a few weeks ago - my bad! So hoping the ones that were left will grow to be big and strong!
* Poblano pepper - tiny flowers and ALMOST a fruit starting
* Parsley - store bought - thriving WELL!
* Chinese Basil - didn't know the difference when I purchased this plant, and 1/2 of it has died - slugs? rain
* Strawberries - 9 yr old plants - too much shade + birds gave us 10 berries. New plants bought as a fundraiser item died while still in the bag (only a few days after I received and I kept moist slightly cool and in shade - hit the box , tried to revive but to no end - death! However, 2 new store bought (from mid-June) ones are going nuts in the small box, many runners, a few berries - looking good!
* Cantaloupe - started ~60 plants from seed - have 2 growing about 1 ft long vine if stretched, and 1 about 4" tall, no flowers or signs of any though?
* Raspberries - cut back in March as usual - explosion of new stalks - 1 original cane 9 years ago now has about 50 babies (not including all the ones I've sold off, cut back or out, or mowed as they grow in the lawn now, too - they are HEAVY producers oftentimes as late as 1st or 2nd wk of November depending on the year and weather - awesome berries - BIG and TASTY, excellent for pies, ice cream, yogurt smoothies or off the bush! Now have hundreds of baby fruits - FINALLY!
I've started growing plants as companions for natural insectide protection, and planting appropriately (learned about in the midst of my flea beetle fights - I'd scoured the GW pages and learned of many suggestions, as well as went to this site recommended by my Mom: http://gardensablaze.com/Companions/CompanionPest.htm). Many of these I've had in place for years and didn't even know of their abilities, I just like herbs and the like... unfortunately, the ones against flea beetle were not near the garden that was attacked so heavily - so I'm making plans to change that for future prevention!
*Nasturtiums *Marigolds *Petunias (which I've always grown anyway as I love 'em) *Radish to seed *Cat mint *Lemon balm *Hyssop *Yarrow *Basil *Garlic *Wormwood (artemesia) *Sage *Mints *Onions *Sunflowers *Chives *Lavender
I've also taken to putting up tarps to prevent more rain reaching my crops, and just hand watering in the early am or with a good ole sprinkler. The flea beetles finally succumbed to the "Eight" - and much as I do NOT like chemicals in my garden (have ONLY ever used Miracle-Gro only as needed, and Fish Emulsion) until this year, I SWEAR my allegiance to this product - it worked great in 1 application. A few more dared to show up a few days later (assuming were hiding under the grass mulch) so I reapplied what little I had left, and wa-la! no more flea beetles (and hopefully didn't kill off too many of the beneficial bugs in the process). My lady bugs and small bees are still around as are the spiders, so keeping fingers crossed. I am also alternating use of Espoma's "Garden-tone for Organic Gardening", and Fertilome's Blooming and Rooting Soluable Plant food per the bag recommendations.
I've also since taken to trying some of Jerry Baker's magical garden potions (courtesy of my neighbor with a wicked green thumb and moms recommendations). I had NO idea you could use some of the household ingredients he recommends in the garden, namely Epsom salts, ammonia, Murphy's Oil soap - and things seem to have taken ok, I used mostly the ones for new seedlings and transplanting recipes, and most all have done well.
FLOWERING ANNUALS AND PERENNIALS:
As for my flowers/bushes:
* Petunia's - my favorite store bought as they thrive well in cruddy soil and weather for me
* Marigolds - doing ok, not great as usual ?
* Red, pink and white Nicotiana's - most are ok, I didn't get many in the ground fast enough though so they are struggling now despite the magic recipe
* My potted Liatris from last year came back with multiple stems, no flowers yet
* Columbine's - new store bought, got in the ground late, bloomed for about a week, then nothing, hoping cutting back as neighbor recommended that they will bloom again in fall as his do!
* Clematis (Blue Light) - still not in the ground :( but doing awesome in their pots - vines have grown an additional 5 ft, and gorgeous flowers - I just keep moving them around to protect from hail
* Crotons (yes, had to have my tropical plants!) - I discovered these in Florida last year, saw them here locally last summer and grew them, trying them again this year but also still in pots from a 3 weeks ago and DOING GREAT!
* Purple sage - still in pots, not looking so hot ;) My bad...
* Concord grapes from 4 years ago have really taken off, and it looks like small grape clusters are trying to grow - think it needs more sun though (story of my backyard due to HUGE towering Cottonwoods on the south side - trashes gardens (and pools!) supply of sunlight
* 4 year old peony finally bloomed 5 gorgeous flowers LATE June
* Red hot pokers - 2 yrs old, each had 1, count it again, 1 cane with small flower on top, now courtesy of growing Ash tree on East side of garden by patio. It has just taken off and grown like an additional 8 feet tall or so this year, and the pokers are in direct line from its shadows :( Transplant in the fall?
* Irises - divided in April/May (I know, I know but at least it GOT done - most survived the transplant and I finally got 1 flower late June. From 10 initial tubers I got 125 new ones (never divided-my bad again!) we'll see how they do next spring
* New Johnny Jump-Up's hanging in there despite the heat
* White bleeding heart new to me in mid-June,bloomed for a bit, now just doing what it should and gaining more leaves
* Dianthus from 2 years ago exploding in shade on North side of garage - my best producer so far as summer flowers go and I can hardly see them from the backyard where I live in the summer
* Hyssops - finally blooming, late this year
* White hibiscus - 2 yrs old, flower heads for 2 weeks now, but not getting bigger or opening
* Store bought Snapdragons of sons planted kind of late, now mostly in shade thanks again to Cottonwood above it which gained girth so no flowers
* Trumpet vine from last year that I thought had died, came back and is about 2 feet tall - shorter than I expected but it's healthy so not arguing
* Daylily's from last year - too much shade? NO flowers this year at all despite all around town they have gone NUTS! ?
* Delphiniums from 3 yrs ago - bloomed and still is, but not like previously - weak stems, not near as tall
* Morning glories from seed - it took about 150 seeds, but I got 7 plants, all about 8 inches tall now :) ??
* Moonflowers - took a lot of seeds as well, got 4 plants, range from 5 to 9 inches tall
* Four O'Clocks - total bust - NOTHING
On these last 3, I not only soaked to germinate them (as well as the cantaloupe, pumpkin, and sunflowers), I even used my dremmel to nick the ends of the really tough seeds to give it growing room
I've told mom I will just let her winter sow me my favorite Heavenly Blue Morning Glories - all of this work for a "24 Hour Blooming Fragrant Bed" was pretty much for naught-very disappointing first time out of the gate, and not sure if I'm up to trying it again next year :(
* and finally... my "Golden Isle" fern from last year-got to be about a foot tall - now is WELL OVER 3 feet tall, with MANY babies in the bed next to it - never grown one before, but this one obviously loves it's home in a small amended bed in a sandy old child's play box with mostly light shade, about 3 hours of direct high sun. It ROCKS!
* Will all these little tiny veggie flowers grow? :)
* Will my vines ever grow? :)
* Will I get fruit big enough to harvest at this point if there are none to be seen on the plant/vine?
* Anyway to safely and successfully over-winter any of these vegetables?
* Saw some yellow/black striped bugs in the garden today, suspect these are not beneficial? Will have to research. And my other concern is this - for those of you who didn't see my reply to Irisgirls Grasshopper post yesterday, check out this link and critter:
I am now wondering what this is, and if it will do damage. We measured it to be about 3~ inches long by 3 inches wide, give or take a little... Tomota greenworm product? Noctuid moth species? I have NO clue.
I'd appreciate any feedback or help. Hope you maybe even had a chuckle or two while reading, and maybe learned something along the way as well?
Here is a link that might be useful: Flickr: What is it anyway?!?