In keeping with the ’90s* rap theme from last week’s post which was inspired by Notorious B.I.G., this week’s post is inspired by LL Cool J. I was sure my garden was in decline, but I was very wrong!
I’ve had some recent issues with my squash and cucumbers. The leaves on both plants were changing colors and dying. It also seemed like they were producing less. Based on a master gardener recommendation, last week I used fish fertilizer around the base of the plants. Looks like the extra TLC made a difference; the plants are now thriving.
I’ll have to remember rather than panicking and jumping to worst case scenarios, to instead take a step back and be optimistic. This problem is why I concluded that Steve had early-onset Alzheimer’s when I saw he was watching the same movies over and over. I thought he’d forgotten that he had already seen the films. After calming down, I realized that he just likes watching his favorite movies multiple times. This is something I’ll definitely continue working on in the future.
Anyway, photos of my growing squash and cucumbers below.
*Notice how the decade for the 1990s is properly notated at the beginning of the blog post? 90’s here would not be correct since the usage is not possessive. Just a slightly unrelated rant because I recently saw “Stop in and try our hamburger’s” on a restaurant sign. When did plural become possessive?!?!?
New squash coming in
Thinned cucumber plant
Thriving cucumber plant
Abundance of cucumbers
This year is the best by far in my garden- a great thing! I’ve already picked more than a dozen cucumbers and a couple of squash. The tomatoes should be ripe by the end of the month. But like Biggie said, mo garden mo problems. Well, not exactly that, but something very similar.
I’ve been checking on my garden daily. Earlier this week, I noticed I had multiple problems. Here’s how I addressed each one:
Out of control tomato plant
Bending and Snapping Tomato Plants- My tomato plants have gotten far bigger than I thought they would. I bought cages at the beginning of the summer to support them, but each plant is now at least a foot taller than the cage. Luckily this was an easy fix. I staked the plant by tying the main stalk of each plant to a pole with a string. As the plants grow, I can use taller poles and retie the string to better support the plants.
What is this?!?!
White Spots on Cucumber Leaves- I noticed several squash plant leaves had white spots or were covered in a white powder. After doing a quick search, I found out this was a fungus. There are multiple treatment methods, but I settled on a milk and water mixture because it seemed pretty effective based on feedback. Just spray on the leaves once a week and the problem should go away.
Yellowing and Browning Cucumber Leaves- Some of the leaves on my cucumber plants started turning yellow and brown, then dying. I had no idea what this was so I went straight to Google. This was about as big a mistake as going to WebMD to look up your medical symptoms. I found out the problem could’ve been anything to nothing to a rampant plant killing fungus. Much like what happens when I use WebMD, I jumped to the worst case scenario. My entire plant was dying. For a little extra help, I contacted Wake County NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. Luckily, these experienced gardeners calmed me down. The gardener told me that the soil likely needed more nitrogen and recommended fish fertilizer. I purchased some and applied as directed.
We will see if these remedies cure my garden problems. On the bright side, my crop over a two-day period this week.
I decided to revive my garden all-stars edition, which I started last year. In this now annual tradition, I take stock of failures and celebrate successes over the first half of the summer gardening season. I borrowed this idea from Major League Baseball which takes a mid-season break to celebrate it’s best and reflect on the season thus far.
And since I mentioned the MLB All-Star game, I have to note that my Cubs locked down the entire starting infield. This is only the second time in the 87-year history of the game this has happened. This is a big deal people! For those of you hating on my Cubs, deal with it. They are incredible good.
Anyway, let’s get to it.
My cucumbers were the first vegetables to ripen. They’re thick and coming in at the perfect shade of green. I picked the first one yesterday and placed it in my vegetable basket. Although lonely now, there will soon be plenty more cucumbers to keep it company.
Haven’t Reached Their Potential
My tomatoes, peppers and squash are still in the early growing stages, but are coming along nicely. In just a few weeks, they’ll be fully grown. Baby vegetables are so cute!
I’ve planted lettuce twice now with no luck. The first seedlings sprouted and didn’t really progress. The second batch of seeds were starting to doing a little better. Unfortunately, we got a major thunderstorm and it destroyed the immature plants. I haven’t decided if I’m going to go for round three.
I’m going to add myself to the poor performers list. I had planned to have everything planted by mid-April. But I got behind and due to a long spring vacation, I didn’t get to plant until mid-May. I’m disappointed that the garden is a month behind of what I originally planned.
But hey, you can’t win them all. Unless you’re the Cubs! I’m just happy that this year’s mid-season report is much better than 2015.
Basket of garden vegetables
My basket is getting full! The cucumbers and tomatoes are producing consistently now. Looks like the perfect makings for a cuc and tom salad.
Sadly, I may not get many more cucumbers after this. Someone in the household who is not me or the cats (but shall remain nameless) staked poles in the ground so the cucumbers could grow upright. I thought the cucumbers would do better growing on the ground where the vines would have room to spread out.
Well, after getting to full size, the cucumber plants didn’t have enough support and started buckling. One plant shriveled like 50 Cent’s net worth, another is barely hanging on and the third appears to be holding it’s own.
It seems I have problems keeping everything in the garden healthy at this point each summer, once the weather really heats up. And to be honest, keeping my interest in the garden as well. Believe me when I tell you the struggle is real. Relaxing with a beer in the AC vs. tending to the garden. Luckily the garden has won each time.
You probably noticed a break in posts in the second half of June. Or at least my 10 dedicated readers did. (And I appreciate you all!) I was on vacation late in the month and had the best laid plans of blogging while I was away. You know how it goes when you bring workout clothes on vacation telling yourself you’re going to use them and never do? Well, I did that as well. But now I’m back on track with working out and gardening.
Apparently it stormed a lot in North Carolina on my 10-day BBQ road trip across the deep South and Midwest. I had someone coming over to water the garden on days it didn’t rain. I assumed the plants would be fine because they had plenty of water but I came back to this on my cucumber and tomato plants:
Cucumber plant leaf damage
I’m not sure what happened to the cucumber plant in the time I was away. I sprayed more organic pesticide on the leaves since it looks like pests were eating them. I figured the tomatoes stayed on the vine to long. So that’s an easy fix.
If you think the holes in the leaves could be the result of something else, let me know. I’d appreciate your advice!
I can’t believe it’s nearly been three months since I prepped the garden and planted strawberries and vegetables for the summer. Since it’s about halfway through the growing season; I thought I would pause and reflect on successes and non-successes, like Major League Baseball does with its mid-season All-Star Break. Much like MLB teams at the halfway point, there are clear winners and losers.
The tomatoes are the clear winners at this point in the growing season. I purchased four plants and all have produced nicely. I’ve enjoyed the flavorful tomatoes in sandwiches and salads. There are many more unripened tomatoes on the plants so they should keep producing into the fall.
Haven’t Reached Full Potential
Just like my Cubs team, the cucumbers took a little longer than expected to come in, are in various stages of growth and doing well. The cucumbers will be used in cuc and tom salads, perfect for summer
The lettuce came in as planned. I pulled the leaves off four plants and they were delicious. Since then, the leaves have been slow to grow back and it’s been a waiting game for more.
I was excited when the strawberries first sprouted. Due to battles with slugs, I lost quite a few but I picked the equivalent of a couple handfuls. In the last couple of weeks, nothing has come off the vines.
The peppers and carrots in this category are because they didn’t bother to show. Not in the athlete didn’t even make a decent effort, but in the literally never showed up sense. I’m not sure what happened, but I never saw a hint of the carrots and peppers I was looking forward to.
I’ve got some things to work on, so we’ll see how the rest of the summer goes.
I had high expectations for this blog when I started this venture- I was going to post twice a week, build a community of gardeners and the blog was going to catch on. Well, that didn’t quite happen or even come anywhere close. Due to summer travel, the World Cup and taking on a couple of new volunteer projects, I’ve barely managed to keep up. Such is life, I suppose. Unfortunately, this is going to be the end of the road (Boys II Men chorus going through my head) for the blog this year. Well, maybe one more post after this. Gotta tell you what I learned!
Cucumbers in produce basket
Let me start off with the good. I finally got edible produce from my garden! I pulled two cucumbers from my garden which you can see on the right. One is a healthy green and the other is yellowish. That’s because we got a TON of rain over a week to week and a half period. Too much or too little water can cause the yellow color.
I didn’t care; I finally got to use my produce basket! On the other hand, with all of the money I put into the garden, the cost for each cucumber averages out to about $100. Not exactly cost effective. I cut up the good cucumber and put it in a salad. Delicious if I must say!
That was the mostly good. The bad was that one of my watermelons split open. I believe that this was a result of the heavy rains as well. The garden became saturated and the soil didn’t drain well. I’m down to one watermelon. I’m waiting for it to fall off the vine. I’m sure it will be delicious though.
Next up- telling you what I learned from maintaining my first garden
Salad with my garden cucumber
Things in the garden are still going well; the watermelon and cucumbers are getting larger and I’m seeing new sprouts each week. This post is focusing on another vegetable in my garden- the carrot.
A couple months back I planted a row of carrot seeds. Weeks went by and I didn’t see any results. I figured they just never sprouted. In this post, I asked if the green things were weeds or vegetables. The consensus was that they were vegetables. The group was right, but I was oh so wrong.
The greenery sticking out of the garden was about a foot high. I thought if these were the carrots I planted, they would be pretty large by now. So, I went ahead and picked what I was sure were flourishing orange carrots. You can see the results to the right. The long, green tops fooled me. The bigger of the two carrots was barely
a nub and very very thin. The other wasn’t even worth taking a picture of. But I did want to put this very nice produce basket (a lovely gift from my mother-in-law) to use. Even though I made a judgement error on the carrots; I’m sure I will soon have enough produce to fill the basket.
On a brighter note, check out the cucumber below. Almost ready to pick!