Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dazzling Successes and Epic Fails

The purpose of my blog is in part to dole out advice on vegetable gardening; it is also a record of my (mis)adventures in gardening that I hope entertains as well as informs. But at the risk of sounding too high and mighty, I feel I need to knock myself off my perch of gardening know-how. I’ve had great successes in terms of amount and quality of vegetables harvested, but I’ve also had some epic fails. In some of my endeavors, the jury is still out. But I like to think I can learn from my mistakes.

My previous weed abatement attempts have been dismal. My first sin was pride; who am I to completely counteract millennia of weed evolution? My second sin was using the wrong tools. I used two types of weed control fabrics to cover my seven vegetable beds. The first type was black, permeable to rain, but not to smaller particles. This kind worked reasonably well, only the most determined weeds poked through the surface of the material. The second weed control fabric was white and gauzy, opaque enough that the sun’s rays could penetrate its filmy surface and give weed seeds the chance to germinate. And germinate they did, in spades. Ever the recycler in the garden, I plan to reuse the black weed cover fabric for parts of the garden next fall. The opaque fabric can be used as a shield to protect lettuces from the full strength of the summer sun, but it will never ever again be used as weed guard.

About two weeks ago I orchestrated moving my herb garden including mature rosemary and Cleveland sage bushes. I wanted the herb garden closer to the back door for easier access. I also wanted to re-purpose the bed (vegetable bed four of seven) to serve as Hubby’s new home for his collard greens and my cucumber trellis. Alas, I did not know it then, but in the transplant process, we had damaged the root balls beyond repair. First, the sage and rosemary drooped, then they withered, then they burnt to a crisp despite plenty of watering. Replacement was the only option, so off I went to the local nursery. I have planted the new sage and rosemary seedlings in their new home. Hopefully I can train them to conform nicely to their new space. In the meantime, I’ll have to make do with my dried herbs until they grow large enough to safely provide fodder for my spice rack.

As for my attempts at growing perennial flowers, the jury is still out.  I started my second planting of cooler season vegetables, including perennial flower seeds, in February with some success. I have radishes galore and my carrots are beginning to make an appearance. I also have a significant amount of ‘volunteer’ tomatoes, the children of last year’s crop. The humor is not lost on me; I plant lettuces, broccoli, carrots, and flowers and the first thing that comes out of the ground is tomatoes. Though the vegetables are making their appearance, it is harder to discern the flowers from the weeds. I think I see a couple of suspects, but only time will tell if they are really the hollyhocks, black-eyed susans, butterfly bush and yarrow that I originally planted. I have high hopes though, and that is the promise of a seed, that it will germinate in the future.

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