Thursday, October 30, 2008

Garden Fail.

Ok, I suck. I know. Its been months since I updated. There's a very good reason for this though; its called "shame." After a promising start to the season, my poor garden took a turn for the worse. Seriously, photos of my garden from August should be on .

Still, its a good news/bad news sort of thing. The bad news is, my entire yield for the summer was: Three zucchini, two beans, a whole mess of cherry tomatoes, zero cucumbers, and one sollitary pepper. Yep. A sorry haul, huh? The yield wouldn't have kept my chickens going, let along myself and my husband.

The good news is that I pretty much know why everything failed, so I can make adjustments for next year.

1) Blame it on the weather: It ended up being an awful cool summer down on the coast. It never really got above 80 degrees, which didn't make the peppers very happy. They prefer it HOT. I think next year I'll forget sweet peppers in favor of something else, maybe potatoes or something else that likes cooler temps.

2) Lack of bees and butterflies: It turns out that zucchini needs to be pollinated in order to produce fruit. Lord knows those poor plants tried..every morning a couple of beautiful big yellow flowers were as wide-open and inviting as a sorority girl at a kegger. But there just weren't any bees to play the role of frat house pledge. I tried self-pollinating a couple of times, but had to admit that I had NO idea what the male vs. female part of the flower was. Next year I'll let nature handle it and plant some more flowers to make the yard attractive for those little buzzers.

3) Over-crowding: I tried to cram a lot into a small space (the books call it "intensive gardening", I call it "not being able to choose what to grow"). So the poor bush beans got crowded out and shaded over from the zucchini and the tomatoes.

4) Not pruning the tomatoes: This year, instead of intensively pruning the tomato bushes, I decided to let them go natural and "do their thing." Well, "decided" might be too strong an action word. "Sheer laziness" might be a better phrase. As a result, the cherry varieties took over the whole box, sprawling into a messy, disease-wracked pile. They did however, produce many tasty cherry tomatoes, both red and yellow pear varieties. Next year I'll go back to pruning, and try to feed more often.

5) Poor watering. Last year I was able to rely on the sprinklers to do a lot of my watering, but sprinklers really are a poor choice..they get the foliage wet which prompts disease, and they don't water evenly at the roots, which is where plants really need it. So next year I am determined to finally get that drip system into place. It's time.

The one bright note is still the chickens, who continue to produce lovely, organic eggs. I know that as long as they are around, I certainly won't starve.

Thanks ladies.


Hootchie Scooter Mama said...

Yay! Welcome back!

I really need a lesson in pruning tomatoes. The few times I tried I think I gave them too big a crewcut and they were NOT happy. This year I let them go au naturale but got a lot of tomatoes that went right from bush to compost that were both green and split and moldy.

Anyway, good lessons learned - are you going to take down the fencing and let the chickens have at it?

WeezerMonkey said...

At least the chickens are well. :)

California Girl said...

The weather WAS a total trip this summer... it only got hot in October! Crazy.

Thank god for your chickens... That is still on my pet project list for the future :)

Maremone said...

Your mistakes are definitely ones I"ll learn from. I just planted my first seeds ever and they are starting to sprout.

I have the opposite with my chickens though, we've had them for 5 months and no eggs! how long did it take for yours to produce?

Mary said...

(Meepit from the nest here)
So glad you updated! I loved reading your blog, and seeing your pictures. In fact, I've started a fall garden of my own (we're in Florida) as a result of reading your blog.

How are the Skatkittens?

. said...


Simone, a mutual friend, gave me a link to your blog because I'm about to adopt two chickens and I live in the same neighborhood as you. Sooooo, i might "lurk" around your blog (which is very nice BTW) and ask you a few chicken/garden related questions. I'm also starting a small vegi garden next spring. So, you're kind of like my hero :)
I too have a blog but it's mostly about my kids...

ChewyChews said...

Hi Sara! have you ever considered straw bale gardening?? where you plant directly into bales of straw? They can keep your peppers warm..lots of digging being one of them lol if you get a chance check out there are pics of the process of straw bale gardening and Lasagna style gardens..also how do I follow you??? I didn't see a follow button....