Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Failed Garden Down... Another Thriving Garden To Come

Well I guess I wouldn't say that my vegetable garden at Cam's is a failure. I'm just disappointed at how things are turning out. My bell peppers, which had hope for new fruit and were flowering constantly, have started to turn for the worse.

Below: A few weeks ago, this little brown knob (where my finger is) used to be green, and it looked like it would be growing into another bell pepper. Now it's about to die.

Below: And this baby bell is very dried out, and I don't think it's going to grow any bigger.

I blame it on the rain--lack of rain, that is. It did rain over the weekend (Friday and Saturday), so that helps. I don't know if my soil is turning bad or if I need to add something to it, but my plants are not liking whatever I'm doing. The tomatoes are fine, but the bell peppers don't look so hot.

The soil isn't the mix that Mel Bartholomew (founder of Square Foot Garden and author of SFG books) recommends, but his mix seemed to be too expensive to buy. So Cam and I mixed Miracle Grow Organic Gardening Soil and topped it with Organic Top Soil. We bought it at Lowe's and Home Depot.

I am seriously going to look into a soil test kit. Cam wants to send the soil off to get tested, but I don't have the patience. I'll let you know what we decide. In the meanwhile, I need to figure out how to get rid of the bugs, aphids and slugs that keep eating my lettuce. Urg.

Onto to the second topic of this post: a thriving garden. My parents' raised bed garden seems to be doing very well. I'm growing corn in one of the raised bed. My dad has been working this soil for 10 years, and it's amazing. He adds more manure and top soil every year, and it's been productive.

I decided to try corn again. It is failing at Cam's house, but at my parent's house, it's actually thriving. I planted seeds in two rows, and the leaves are green and continue to grow at a brisk pace.

Below: Two rows of healthy corn.

I'm very optimistic this time. Corn is hard to grow, but I just want one ear of corn to eat. Just one.


Frances, said...

Hi DP, your parent's garden does look very healthy. You may need some real good ole Tennessee dirt in your beds, not just the soilless mix that miracle gro makes. I like to add Black Kow composted manure also to the veggie beds. I have been reading that the e coli bacteria live in uncooked compost that contains mammal manure, it lives in their stomachs and can make people sick. I know people have been adding manure to their gardens for centuries, but decided to use the Black Kow, a trusted brand, this year and am pleased with the results so far. Lack of rain doesn't help either. Sigh, along with you.

Frances at Faire Garden

Dave said...

You corn does look pretty good. A good thing too considering the corn disaster in the midwest. For your aphids a blast of hose water, insecticidal soap, and/or ladybugs could help! The aphids shouldn't do a ton of damage to your plants but they are best to get rid of, I'm glad I managed to get rid of mine! For the slugs get some cheap beer and put it in a shallow cup near the plants they like to eat.

tina said...

Looks good and no weeds! I would think the soil you used would be fine. Adding compost is vitally important though. I believe in the beneficial organisms that live in the soil and form a symbiotic relationship with plants that is beneficial to both. The purchased soil may not have this. That is possibly why your dad's soil is so much nicer. It has living things in it that are good. Start a compost if you don't have one already. Do a soil test. It does not take long at all and with you being in Nashville you can maybe walk it through. It tells you so much more than the home kits though I hear they are not bad. Do like Frances says and mix in some real soil and Dave gave good suggestions for the pests. Good luck and don't despair.

DP Nguyen said...

Frances, welcome back! I'll have to try Black Kow. Thanks for the suggestion. My dad actually uses that brand and it obviously works! Perhaps the manure is what my veggies need for that added boost.

Dave, I'll have to try that beer technique. The slugs love to get inside my lettuce heads. I've just sprayed insecticidal soap, so hopefully that will do the trick.

Tina, I've started a compost heap. I think Cam is going to buy a compost bin to make the process go faster.

plantgirl said...

I agree with the others - you need some compost. I've also heard compost tea can really help and earthworms added to the soil are supposed to do magical things too. My garden has been struggling too - I blame it on the weather. good luck!

tina said...

You can buy a special bin or just use a trash can or just even stack it in an out of the way place. Nothing fancy. Mine is filling up so fast this time of year-lots of debris from spring flowers. Good luck!

Skeeter said...

Hopefully with all this advice, you will be on your way!

Little worms are getting in our beans! argggg...

jenn said...
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