Victory Garden 2011: weeks 6/15-6/30

It's been a heart-rending last two weeks in terms of my beloved garden. I had such high hopes for it when I started out and the last 2 weeks felt like a breaking point for me. 

Two weeks ago I realized that something definitely was wrong with my peas, bush beans and tomatoes. I took the following pictures of my peas & bush beans and posted them on the Mittleider Yahoo Group asking if they were deficient any minerals and Jim Kennard e-mailed me back with an answer.
bush bean plants

bush bean plant - brown & shriveled leaf

pea plant

He told me that dry, rough leave edges are often associated with potassium deficiency so he suggested that I apply some potash if I could find some at my local nursery. He also told me it was really unusual that I would have this problem when I did the correct pre-plant mix before planting and I have done the weekly feed every week since planting my food. I actually had some Dr. Earth Organic fertilizer that had a fairly high potash count so I applied that to my beans and peas. Wow! What a difference that made!
bush beans

So although some of the leaves are still dry, rough and brown - those are from when I first realized I had a problem on my hand. Since then they have grown so much and their coloring is so good (as you can see above)! It also helps that for the first time since learning about the Mittleider Method I finally understood per Jim's e-mail that I wasn't giving my plants enough water. They need about 1 inch of water in each row a day - I was just watering it until it looked like it had enough, I wasn't really filling up the row (or trough, because my soil beds really do look like troughs) with water. Had I realized THAT small,minor detail earlier, I'm sure more of my seeds would have sprouted and/or my seedlings wouldn't have died on me!

Having that problem 'fixed' it only took about a week until this week while pruning my tomato plants that I noticed my tomato plants have an aphid infestation! Seriously bad news- my poor end of the row tomato plant below USED to be the largest tomato plant, but I am afraid the aphids have stunted its growth (it's a good thing I have 7 plants!) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can revive the tomato plant and that the aphids don't wreak havoc on my other 6 plants!
My poor end of the row tomato plant - can you see how shriveled and dry it looks compared to its neighbor?
I did try putting some of my ladybugs I bought a few weeks ago (and have kept in the fridge rather than letting them all go at once), but about an hour later when I went back to see if the ladybugs were feasting on the aphids, I found that the ants that protect these aphids had ganged up on the ladybugs and killed them and were dragging them back to their nest! I don't even have red ants - just plain old carpenter ants!

This meant war on the ants! Ants farm aphids for their honeydew like humans farm dairy cows for their milk - and they will protect their food source at any cost! Kill the ants and the aphids lose their protectors. I've increased how often I head out at dusk to sprinkle ant bait and water it as the directions state. I'm sure the kind we are using (whatever was at the Big Box Blue or Orange Home Improvement stores) is working - because I found an ant hill littered with hundreds of dead ant bodies pretty far away from anywhere we have spread the ant poison. That taught me two things: 1) the commercial ant bait was finally proving its effectiveness and 2) rather than having 10 ant colonies, it is more likely that I have 1 huge metropolis ant colony in my entire yard (front, back and side yard!)

My friend Doug sent me this link on facebook when I updated my status with the fact that I had an aphid infestation. I am going to try the honey dish/tray idea next time I put ladybugs out. I also had 2 friends comment on facebook to buy marigolds and plant those around my tomatoes. I may try that now that I am running out of options to keep my plants healthy and pest-free!

Now that all the nitty gritty details about what I feel are my failures in the garden - here's the bi-monthly photo update the garden:

The overall garden picture - see that patch of grass coming in nice and thick finally? I think one more seeding will do the trick!

My strawberry plants are not only producing fruit, they are sending out runners!

Pea plants are sparse due to not enough water and potasssium, but I am hoping to still get some pea pods even though it is July.

My canteloupe is growing up nicely and you can finally see the lettuce growing in size! I re-planted more lettuce seed and hopefully I can keep it moist enough that it will sprout and grow!

"Knee-high by the Fourth of July" is the old farmer's saying for corn. Looks like my corn is doing well although I am worried about the aphids attacking the corn next since they are already in the bush beans at the end of the row.

Here's the tomato row with peas at the head of the row. Pruning my indeterminate tomato plants sure helps to keep the stems and leaves off the dirt!

Carrots are sparse, but I re-planted these as well this week. I also planted pole beans in the half closest to the camera.

And here is my zucchini, spaghetti squash and pumpkin row. I inadvertently killed a pumpkin seedling since it seemed to be in the same position for the last 2 weeks. I also inadvertently dug up a spaghetti squash seedling that hadn't broken through the ground yet. Perhaps I did plant the seeds too deep the first time. Oh well, since I uprooted them I had to replant them.

My landscaping pumpkin plants which seem to be doing the best with the least amount of effort on my part. Although it does appear that an insect is snacking on the leaves of the plants. What insect eats pumpkin plant leaves? Anybody know? Please leave a comment below if you know what insect is snacking on my pumpkin plants!!!

I received my Winter Territorial Seed Catalog this week and I started to get excited to start my kale and broccoli seeds this next month in preparation for an August transplanting. It also got me excited to even consider doing a winter garden this year -but I may as well try building some row covers to try to extend my growing, or at least harvest, season this year.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading the Victory Garden update - I hope that if you are experiencing gardening troubles it makes you fell better that I struggle with unexpected gardening struggles as well.


Sarah said…
Mary mentioned you were having some garden troubles so I thought I take a look.

First Aphids:

Some of the things you can use. You can use a soap spray...A soap spray can be used to strip them of their protective wax coating, dehydrating them. Mix 1 tablespoon of Castile soap to 1 gallon of water, spray.

Garlic oil spray, Elderberry tea, and even a banana peel placed at the bottom of the plant.

You can also grow. Chives and Cilantro to deter them. They like yellow do not plant yellow flowers by your garden.(unless your using the yellow flower as a trap).

The Peas and Green Beans also do better as there leaves don't get as they get bigger and taller (since it looks like to me your water the ground, not the leaves) it's helping the leaves not get wet, which in turn helps keep them from getting brown.

I'm not sure if you'll have a problem with the aphids going after your corn. We only have issues with the caterpillars eating the corn (not leaves)...and so far it's the only thing we seem to HAVE to use something on to keep the buggers out. We are going to try a soap once the stalks are mature enough...but if that doesn't work next year the big stuff will be used..since luckily for is not a big deal since it's so well protected underneath the layers.

I couldn't tell on your pumpkin leaves what were wrong. I know for some of our types...instead of a normal flat ground...they like to be grown on a we built up a small mound for them and planted them that way.

We also cover our entire garden with straw. We can get it super cheap out here in Kansas...and it helps keep the moisture in and the weeds out.


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