It seems to me that, now I’m embarking on my 17th year of writing this column, I continue to be both a bit surprised at, and appreciative of, the interest and response readers demonstrate. I never know what reaction I might generate – some are a bit angry, others are appreciative, and yet others request a follow-up on something I’ve written about even if the subject appears trivial.
One of the latter has been the melancholy tale of my gardening experiences both last year and so far this year. Yep, I’ve recently been buttonholed – again – by readers who asked about what’s happening with my continuing efforts to grow vegetables and flowers. Well, I figure if there are some folks who are interested enough and bold enough to do a face-to-face request, there may well be others, so here goes.
My attempts to counter the blight that devastated my tomatoes last year included purchasing two varieties of “blight resistant” tomatoes which I planted in a specially prepared bed that was covered with landscaping fabric to help prevent blight spores in the ground from reaching the plants. I also have used a spray fungicide as a preventive, caged the plants, and watered and fertilized them carefully. Unfortunately these steps have proved to be of little avail as the blight has attacked leaving few leaves and some unripened tomatoes still on the vines. Very discouraging, but my Plan B has been more successful.
I also planted two “regular” types of tomatoes in pots filled with “fresh” soil and these are doing well on my patio away from my other garden beds. The cherry tomato plants have grown so well that I recently had to purchase six foot stakes to add to the cages in providing support for the vines – and we are getting a small but steady supply of cherry tomatoes. The other “regular” tomato plants have produced a few absolutely delicious ripe tomatoes and have a number of green ones still on the vine. No sign of blight so far but I’m continuing to spray them.
Okay, moving on to my yellow and green bean growing endeavor to counter the ravenous rabbits that dined on my bean plants last year. This year I elected to use a solid, granular rabbit and other varmint deterrent to protect my bean plants. As I reported earlier, this defense mechanism had proved to be ineffective, possibly because a steady rain may have washed it away and so I was left with some bare stems, but a fair amount of untouched leaves and blossoms. I continued to spread the deterrent around the bed and tend to the remaining plants.
The other day when I went out to pick a few cucumbers and sweet banana peppers, which are doing quite nicely, I noticed a movement in the garden bed. Suddenly a rabbit jumped out from amidst the remnants of my once luxurious bean patch, hopped over the “invisible fence” supposedly laid down by that varmint deterrent stuff, and squeezed through the fence into my neighbor’s back yard.
But that’s not all. Would you believe that rascally rabbit, once safely about 15 feet away from the fence, stopped, turned around, and looked directly at me before hopping away? If I didn’t know better I’d figure he was letting me know that my efforts at keeping him away from one of his favorite snacks just wouldn’t cut it. Adding insult to injury, doncha think?
Last year I also lost a goodly portion of my New Guinea Impatiens to the midnight munchers. This year I embedded Marigolds – which are supposedly a rabbit repellent – with the Impatiens. Thus far nary a nibble. I don’t know if this is attributable to the Marigolds or not, but their brilliant yellow and orange provide a beautiful color combination with the crimson red, deep violet, shocking pink and pastel lavender of the Impatiens.
I have also been asked about my Geraniums which I transplant to indoor containers in the fall and to outdoor ones in the spring. They have been absolutely spectacular this year with about 15 – 20 blooms showing pretty much all the time. I’m getting a bit concerned, however, if I’ll be able to move them back into the house come next fall because they’re so big. Oh, well, I’ll figure that out later.
Well, readers, there’s the requested update on my adventures in backyard gardening. I’m continuing to work on each of these challenges and will likely change some of my strategy next year – such as possibly abandoning planting tomatoes in the ground and putting together a chicken wire enclosure for my beans. I’m sure I won’t employ my neighbor’s suggestion about my rabbit problem – he called it the 12 gauge solution. Nope, I gotta beat those bunnies head on, fair and square. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]