It wouldn’t be summer without a few failures and successes in the garden. Let’s look at one big boo boo in my kitchen garden. Last fall we topped off five out of the six raised beds in the kitchen garden with shredded leaves or leaf mold. Why only five beds? The sixth bed was heavily planted with winter crops and covered in plastic for frost protection. I should have known this would happen. My usual routine in spring is to add organic fertilizer and steer manure to each raised bed two weeks before planting. By March I was happily harvesting my overwintered crops and being thankful to have lettuce when most gardeners hadn’t even planted yet. Once the winter bed had been harvested I replanted vegetable seedlings into the amended soil.
Last week I could see a few of the pepper plants were struggling and leaves had shrivelled. Now I am a good waterer and had faithfully watered the plants to get them going but I started trying to space out the watering by a few days. I wanted the plant roots to go deep to look for water. Unfortunately the soil was as dry as dust. The kind of soil that you water and you can literally see the water sit on the surface and not want to go any further. It wasn’t until this week that I had to rewind and try to remember what we had done with the leaf mold. A light bulb came on and I realized we had forgotten to add any to this bed. All the other beds have done well and I planted right into the leaf mold without cleaning up bigger chunks from the beds.
This goes to show you that we all have those moments in the garden when something doesn’t go right. My soil just needed the extra organic matter for structure and aeration. I will be adding leaf mold to all the beds this week as we hope to get away for a five day holiday. Hopefully it will not only keep the soil beneath moist and cool but help the struggling pepper plants. The pepper plants went in late so they also had warmer temperatures to deal with during the move, not ideal conditions. You can read about how to make leaf mold here.
There have been successes in the garden that certainly outnumber the failures. We have harvested salad greens and potatoes and are now into berry season. I am also not burning out as fast as last year. I will credit my new walking routine for that. A stronger back has enabled me to be more active in the garden. If you have read my blog for some time, you will know I had a hip replacement five years ago. Finally I can now get up and down in the garden as easy as I did before surgery. The only thing I can’t master is shovelling but using a hand trowel works just fine.
I will always have challenges in the garden and morning glory is my nemesis. Just tonight I saw her blooms in the Buddleia. Grrr… I know where my next weeding will be. It will never be gone. I will leave this garden one day and morning glory will still be here. This is about the time of year when the weeds can get ahead of me. With half an acre to weed, water and harvest, the harvesting and watering come first. You can’t grow food without allowing time to handle the harvest.
There are always a few casualties in the garden. Farmer Jim helped move a Hosta from the back garden to the front a few months ago but it’s not very happy. I am not really worried as sometimes it takes awhile for plants to adjust to new homes. Here again it could be a soil issue as this is where a bobcat dug up the soil to install a new water line last summer. The soil is far from ideal so compost and leaf mold will be added here too. I am happy that the other Hostas and surrounding plants are doing well. Even the Rhododendron that had half its branches cut off is sending out new growth.
Have you had something disappoint you in the garden this year? I would love to hear your stories. I often catch myself saying it’s just a plant. That’s so true, there are always more to grow and garden centres to shop at. Life doesn’t end if you miss a weed or have a plant die. It’s how we learn to garden, by trial and error. Even the best gardens have their challenges.