With the pool plumbing repaired and the PVC cement curing, I thought it was time I got back to gardening. Since I didn’t have enough time to setup another trellis for the cucumbers, I gave all the vegetables a once-over checking for pests, weeds, and potential produce.
One of the first things I noticed was that one of the clusters of seedling cucumbers is laying dead on the ground; not good. As I picked at the mulch to see if I could tell what had killed these seedlings I found a number of Striped Cucumber Beetles hudled together. I removed all of the beetles I could then checked our other cucumber plants where I found several other clusters of these beetles.
Next to the cucumbers are our beets; I let these over-winter in the garden, dug them up before I tilled this year, then replanted the golf-ball sized beets. I wasn’t really expecting much out of these beets since they did so poorly last year but this year these things are growing like crazy! They have large, healthy green leaves and the tubers appear to have grown to about the size of a soft ball. This is an heirloom beet from Baker Creek named Albino Beet that I planted more out of curiosity than anything else. Both the tuber and the leaves from this variety of beet are supposed to be good to eat and it can be used to produce sugar; I’ll have to cut some of the leaves and give them a try. Does anyone have a good borscht recipie?
As we move down the garden row from the beets, we have our lettuce which is thriving this year. I’m not sure if the weather is the biggest factor contributing to our garden’s success this year or if the compost I tilled in was richer or maybe it’s both – I just know that everything is growing well. We have heirloom varieties of Iceberg and Little Gem lettuce, both from Baker Creek and both make excellent salads.
Our peas are up and starting to flower, the radishes are putting on strong greens now, last year’s carrots are between five and six feet tall and about to flower, the tomato plants are starting to bloom, we have three varieties of squash that are about to start producing, and the pepper plants are finally starting to grow.
I’m trying a method of growing potatoes in a barrel this year and, of the three varieties I started, the Yukon Gold are doing amazingly well. Oddly enough, the purple potatoes I planted directly in the garden last year, that didn’t appear to produce anything, are popping up all over the garden and growing at an incredible pace. I guess they just needed a year to get settled in.
The one thing I know I did right this year has to do with watering the garden. The year we started this garden, I tried soaker hoses buried under mulch, that just made everything molder. the next year I tried soaker hoses on top of the mulch but that only watered about a three inch wide area so I had to have seven or eight of these hoses to completely water the garden; these hoses would also tear up a plant in a heartbeat if the hose was moved and came into contact with the plant stem. The third year I setup various sprinklers around the garden but could never get complete coverage and wasted a lot of water on areas outside the garden. Last year I tried a combination of soker hoses and sprinklers on different timers; while this worked better than any other method I had tried, it still wasn’t perfect. This year, as I thought about the best way to water the garden, I remember the kind of sprinkler hose my piano teacher used – these were flat hoses with tiny holes in the top, they produced a fine almost mist-like sprinkle of water that would cover about a three to four foot wide area for the length of the hose. I searched all over the place for these hoses – big box stores, department stores, online stores, garden supply stores, hardware stores – but I came up with nothing. I found two manufacturers who had a part number for these hoses but nobody appeared to actually carry them. That is until I was picking up some parts for our lawn mower; the little old hardware store that has been in Memphis longer than I have had two 50 foot sprinkler hoses and one 25 foot sprinkler hose. I bought them all without thinking twice! I’m glad I did too. The plants in the garden were already up and going when I got these hoses but I was able to slide the hose through the plants without damaging a single one. I anchored the hose down with some steel “U” pins then turned on the water. In five or ten minutes the garden was well watered with little or no water being wasted on the walkway or yard.