OK Garden – what can you teach me?

We are now just passed the middle of the middle of summer.  Although strangely enough the weather in the first half of summer is always a bit rubbish and the second half is generally much more settled.  But we tend to get it all wrong – the holidays are in the first half and the kids go back to school in the second…  But anyway, finally all the holiday things are behind us – there are no more festive occasions to mark in grand style and we have gently fallen back into the ebb and flow of normal life again.

Summer days
The garden does look lovely on a sunny day

But not without one last camping session.  Don’t get me wrong, because I really did enjoy myself, but I’m not sure I’m a camping kind of girl.  Going to bed in a cold and slightly damp tent, with nothing more than a millimetre of fabric separating you from whatever is roaming about outside… in the dark!  Not to mention sleeping on an airbed that isn’t inflated correctly, then waking up to a searing heat so intense it drives you from the tent in the early hours that you’d never normally see.  But in order to get out of the tent you have to crawl on your hands and knees in a most undignified fashion as there is no standing room.   Yeah, not sure camping is my thing…

Hanging onions
The first batch of onions are hanging nicely in my shed.

But we’re back now, doing life in the ordinary way.  I’ve set about restoring order in the garden, not that there has been much to restore, this season the garden is in a good place and I’m grateful for that.  So I can rightly stand with my hands on my hips and look at the garden and try and find out what it is trying to tell me, things I should really do differently next season to improve the garden and all that grow in it.

destroyed popcorn
This is such a heart breaking sight to come home to. My poor popcorn.

Firstly – once again, some vile creature stripped my popcorn.  I didn’t even know it was ready.   Normally I’d leave it on the plant to dry and by the time it was ready it was late season and so I thought maybe it was a creature that was storing up food for the winter.  Then I started harvesting it earlier and letting it dry in the greenhouse, which seemed to work.  But this year I thought maybe if I planted it earlier, then it would be ready before the creature got hungry, but this clearly didn’t work. The harvest day fell while we were away and the marauding was able to carry on night after night until there were very few cobs left.  What I need to do differently is to calculate the harvest date to a time when all the camping and such is finished so I can keep an eye on things.  I also may need some kind of deterrent or physically cage my popcorn once the ears form….  Hmm this requires some thought…

Gherkin trellis
I think a solution to the sagging will improve airflow and make the gherkins easier to harvest.

This season I have replaced all my bamboo poles with steel rebar.  Not only did it turn out cheaper but the strength it offers is beyond compare.  Nothing has snapped under the weight of plants laden with full fruit or tossed about in the slightest of breeze.  I’m hooked on these.  However I think the trellis supporting the cucumbers and gherkins needs attention.  With a pole at each end of a nylon netting that starts the season stretched tight, has not stayed that way.  The gherkins instead of climbing the netting, have pulled it down towards them and gherkins are surprisingly strong and the poles have taken on a distinct lean.  So next season I’m going to need something across the top that will keep the poles upright and at the correct distance apart to resist the lean and also will be able to hold the top edge of the netting to stop the sag.  It is all very easy to suggest this, but I’m not sure how to connect whatever it will be, securely to the top of the rebar.  I’m going to need to ponder this.

Melons in pots
I can’t believe I’m showing you this disgraceful sight. I really should take better care of my melons.

In order to get a bigger onion crop and a bigger melon crop – I got greedy.  I did the same for my garlic and peppers and in theory it should have worked.  The onions and garlic are generally due out on the longest day which is usually a miserable un-summer-like day just before Christmas.  So I figured if I could only just hold back the peppers and melons in containers until the onion and garlic come out and then pop them in their place to carry on growing all season.  It also gives a use to this empty bed that I normally don’t really know what to do with.    Now I’ll freely admit some of this problem is mine as I didn’t plant the waiting plants into big enough containers so they could continue to grow unhindered.  I ran out of time and didn’t have enough big enough pots.  I’ll need to find some.  But one thing happened that I didn’t expect, but probably should have – the weather has been horrible for summer and everyone is saying things are slower than normal, even my onion growing farmer friend across the road.  Added to that the ‘fun’ of camping and my onions have only just come out of the bed I need for the melons, almost a month longer than I’d planned for.

Pepper plants
While still quite productive, my peppers aren’t as big as they have been in previous years.

So the melons are languishing in pots too small in my absence in increasingly hotter weather.   I don’t hold out great hopes.  The garlic came out earlier than expected due to the rust, but the peppers aren’t as lush as they normally are.   So I think in order to learn from this for next season – is I need to be diligent with my plants in pots care.  I need to ensure they are in the right sized pots and are lavished with love and attention until the time is right to move them.  I still think this a sound idea that just needs tweaking.

It isn’t all bad – the flowers are fabulous.

These are just the obvious problems that stare at me and taunt me each time I go into the garden, but if I look closer I’ll see I’ve too many zucchini – what was I thinking? and the butternuts could probably do with more space, I should give up on the catch-up sweetcorn and just make sure the seed is fresh to start with, besides the pukekos just keep pulling them out anyway!  I need to go for a wander in the garden with my notebook and take notes – and then make plans and put them in place next season.

Come again soon – most of the garden is well and thriving, but growing as a gardener is just as important as having the plants growing.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

12 thoughts on “OK Garden – what can you teach me?

  1. First off the camping thing gave me a chuckle. My husband and I went on a camping trek supervising seniors in high school and we did enjoy it, however after that, I liked to say that my idea of camping was a hotel without a swimming pool. As for your garden keeping out the varmints, good luck. We had a deer after our sunflowers this summer and nothing would keep it out. Now that fence, I am surprised you got by this well. We have what is called woven wire on several steel fence posts and then it still sags. Good luck to you and beautiful pictures, I just love seeing your garden when we have so much snow here.

    1. Absolutely. I think I much prefer my creature comforts when ‘camping’.
      I find each season throws up something that requires some kind of adjustment. – maybe I should try using some out our left over lamb fencing instead of the nylon trellis – the netting is about the same size, but would be much stronger. Thanks for the suggestion. : o)

  2. Here in Texas if we even think about camping in the summer it better be with somewhere chilly to swim! Camping is relegated to shoulder seasons, or even mild winters. Oof, I’m sorry you had a bad experience!

    I do like it when gardeners show their failures because I think it helps beginners know that we all mess up sometimes and there’s a lot behind the scenes that most don’t see!

    (here via YouTube where I’m The Garden Path Podcast)

    1. Hi Misti. I guess this is the best thing about where we live – while we get four seasons, it is never too extreme so no season is ever unbearable. But this summer has been particularly slow to get started and warm up.
      It isn’t so much that I had a bad experience, because I really enjoyed myself and have been camping in one way or another all my life – it is more that I feel like my poor old bones are getting over the discomforts of tenting. I think we might need a caravan with more creature comforts next time.
      I don’t think there ever is a perfect garden out there, and it is much better to be honest about how things actually are than pretending it is perfect. : o)

  3. VERY, VERY GOOD!!! I have missed reading your posts in my absence and there are way to many to catch up on. Must be a raccoon that is enjoying your sweet corn. While you are out camping he came for another visit. Set a live trap with an ear of corn in the back. That’s what I do then I take them for a road trip. But take them far away or they are likely to find their way back.

    1. Thanks for your advice – fortunately we don’t have raccoons here in New Zealand. I’m thinking it is probably rats, rabbits or pukekoes – a native bird. I managed to save a few ears so all is not lost for, but not as bountiful as I had hoped. : o)

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