Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Obligatory Garden Update

We are halfway through the gardening season so now seems like a great time for a garden update. Year two of raised bed gardening has been both challenging and rewarding; the challenges coming mainly from pests and the rewards appearing in the form of victories over said pests. I'll get to all that in a bit.

Due to the increase in social activities on my calendar this summer, I have had to spend early weekday mornings and late weekday evenings tending to the garden, rather than large chunks of time on the weekends, ironically; I think this might actually be a smarter way to handle the duty, as it allows me more frequent opportunities to check for issues.

As an added bonus; mornings and evenings are when the hummingbirds are most active, which spurred me to hang a couple of feeders on the veggie trellis. Hopefully, I'll get some decent pictures of the birds in the next few days.

The spinach and arugula that I planted had a great season; I harvested a large majority of it before it bolted in the summer heat. Then, I pulled out what was left, in order to give its neighboring plants more room to breathe.

Once the spinach and arugula vacated the garden, I was able to see amongst the cucumbers a little better, which is when I found this guy.

There are tons of flowers on the cucumber plants, so I am hoping this isn't the lone product for the season. Time will tell.

My beets have done splendidly; I already harvested once, and, still have two and a half rows to pick from later down the road.

The various lettuce varieties that I planted have all produced well, and, I've already sowed the second planting, which should be ready for harvest closer to the end of the summer.

My butternut squash is growing rapidly. I am training it over the trellis again this year and hope to see it reach the opposite end of the garden by fall. It goes without saying that I hope the tiny butternuts currently nestled among the foliage will mature into large, soup-worthy butternuts by then, as well.

At the beginning of the season, I planted five tomato plants; at the time, they looked like this...

Now, they tower over their cages, threatening to topple right out of the raised beds. I'm hoping that doesn't happen; they are all loaded with green tomatoes and I would hate to lose them before they ripen enough to harvest. Also, if you recall, I planted four of the five with an egg and one without; the goal being to see if the additional nutrients provided by the egg at planting would encourage more growth. Based on the resulting uniformity in the plants, I think it's safe to say; the additional egg mattered not one bit. The control plant is just as large and hardy as its neighbors., and, it has just as many fruits.


Now, about those garden pests..., not this guy...

...I'm talking about the devil spawn that comes from these harmless looking eggs.

Squash bugs. Bane of my existence. Terror of the garden. Asshole creatures, to be sure.

I've done a relatively good job of eradicating the adults when I catch them fornicating among the squash leaves; this required me to set squeamishness aside. Happily, I have actually gotten really good at plucking the little bastards from their perch, hurling them into a container, and watching as they die a quick (although, hopefully painful) death when I spray them with organic insecticidal soap (I use a mixture of castille soap and water and the little assholes die, almost on contact). 

Unfortunately, they are legion, so I am bound to miss a few, which is how their eggs occasionally end up on the underside of a squash leaf. In those cases, I sacrifice the entire leaf, rather than taking a chance on just squashing the eggs.

As a result, my yellow summer squash is healthy and productive, and I have those aforementioned tiny butternuts.

One last thing that has multiplied in the garden since the beginning of summer is the amount of metal signs and license plates that I have collected. I now have three Colorado plates, one Texas, one Hawaii, plus a variety of the signs; mostly reproductions of vintage advertisements. I love them and feel like they make the garden even more charming.

So, that's how it's going so far. I continue to advocate for a greenhouse to replace the kennels currently taking up space next to my garden. Hugh is unconvinced, but; Hugh is also the owner of an expensive side-by-side and two 4 wheelers that I didn't have a say in purchasing, so...

Yeah. I'm getting a greenhouse.

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