It seems to me that now the growing season for us backyard gardeners is coming to an end it’s time for a recap of my gardening adventures this year in response to the interest and curiosity of a number of readers,. Oh, sure, some may have been a bit humorous – such as my encounter in the bean patch with that rambunctious rabbit that I have already shared – but others were educational . So, in the spirit of sharing a few learning experiences this year, here’s a quick review.
Since I have already mentioned my bean patch, I have to describe it as a near disaster for me but a veritable feast for one or more rabbits. Yep, my efforts at deterring unwanted varmints by spreading granular stuff that supposedly would keep any and all munching marauders away proved useless – a costly lesson. My two foot high fence didn’t give any protection – shoulda been higher. My last line of defense was planting Marigolds in and around the bean plants because I understood rabbits don’t like Marigolds. That didn’t work either as the ravenous rabbit(s) simply ate around the flowers. – but that measure did provide one redeeming feature. I ended up with a very nice crop of Marigolds where my beans should have been. Next year I may erect a higher chicken wire cage if I decide to try again.
Okay, moving on to the tomato situation. Readers may recall that in response to the devastating blight that hit my tomatoes last year I tried a two-fold assault this year. One was to plant two varieties of “blight resistant” tomatoes in a specially prepared bed; cage them to keep them off the ground; carefully use an anti-blight spray; and a couple of other measures. All to no avail as the blight still hit despite my employing all the anti-blight measures I could find. Looks like in-ground tomato planting just won’t work for me any more – the blight spores are too embedded.
The other approach was to plant “regular” cherry tomatoes and two old favorites in patio containers using all “fresh” soil. This worked out fairly well as we had both cherry tomatoes and “regular” tomatoes right up until the recent cold snap. I watered them regularly while avoiding getting the leaves and stems wet (that’s an anti-blight measure) and also sprayed the entire plants with the anti-blight spray. I originally caged them but had to add additional stakes as the cherry tomatoes grew to a height of about six feet. I figure this is the way for me to go in the future.
My sweet banana peppers flourished this year – they started producing fairly early and there were quite a few I stripped off when the cold snap came along. No problem with those nasty nibblers – they apparently don’t like peppers. We also had a nice supply of cucumbers – nothing spectacular, but enough for us.
Okay, on to the flowers. My geraniums – the ones I alternate between having outside in the warm months and inside during the cold ones – were nothing short of spectacular this summer with lotsa beautiful flowers. In fact, they grew so well that transplanting them into their somewhat smaller “in-door” pots was quite a chore. I sure hope they will survive their fifth season.
Readers may recall that last year voracious varmints did a number on my flower bed of New Guinea Impatiens. My countermeasure this year was to plant Marigolds around and amid the Impatiens as a deterrent. This not only worked but resulted in a very attractive color combination – I’ll do that again next year.
One more item. When I did my Impatiens/Marigold plot I had a few Impatiens left over, so I planted them in pot, put it in an old wicker basket where it fitted nicely, and then put the basket under our backyard tree. Those Impatiens developed beautifully and provided a nice spot of backyard color. In fact they did so well I decided to bring them indoors to see if I could keep them going during the cold weather.
The morning I went out to get that pot I found – guess what – the midnight munchers had eaten the flowers overnight leaving just the leaves and stems. Yep, they were nipped off just as neatly as if they had been cut with scissors. Well, I brought the pot in anyway, but whether the Impatiens will survive is questionable. You know, it sure makes a body wonder how those voracious varmints knew just when I was going to move those flowers out of their reach.
Well, there you have what I promised – a brief overview of my successes and failures this year in backyard gardening. Yep, it kinda illustrates that gardening means being flexible, persistent, and, as a lady gardener told me recently, “willing to get dirty fingernails”. Now it’s time to finish tidying up the beds, cleaning and storing the gardening equipment, and start planning for next year. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a regular Greene County Daily columnist and local area resident, resident, may be contacted at [email protected]