Monday, August 29, 2011

The Other Side To Gardening

I love posting all my pretty plants and vegetables, but it occurred to me that I might be giving novice gardeners a complex by only sharing the successes. In reality, gardening is a ton of trial and error. It's a lot of study and research. And success one year in no way guarantees success the next.

Take this, for example.  What is eating my bok choi?

I've got no clue.  I'm thinking it's either tiny caterpillars or tiny slugs.  Last year, my most successful bok choi was planted in this very container.  It's exactly why I planted it here again.  After last year's success, I'd decided this was THE spot for bok choi.  Now, something's eating it, and I may never know what.  I don't bother posting pictures on the garden forum I frequent, because I know I'll get seven different answers.  Honestly, unless you can catch something in the act, it's all a guessing game.  So I've sprayed it with Bt, which will kill the caterpillars.  If I can get up real early on a foggy morning, I can see if there's any slugs.  Short of that, I just have to hope the plant overcomes and I end up with bok choi I can actually eat.

Moving on, this tomato was a complete failure.  So was the other one that is no longer planted in the container next to it.  And I purchased, stained, leveled and filled these wine barrels JUST for tomatoes.  I've learned tomatoes are like children.  Just because you slave over something for them doesn't mean they'll like it.  These tomatoes hated these pots.  Probably because the spot doesn't get the sun I thought they would.  My fault for doing this all in the winter when I couldn't really check with any certainty how many hours of sun I'd have in July.  

I am now trying out cool season veggies in the pots.  I'm determined to find something that likes them on a regular basis.

And speaking of cool season veggies, take my cabbage here.  Why, pray tell, are all my cabbage doing beautifully except for this little one on the end?  They are all exactly the same seeds.  They were all grown exactly the same.  They were all planted exactly the same.  They get the exact same water, light, everything.  Yet this one isn't happy at all.  Why?  Who knows.  There's some green leaves coming out of the center, so I'm hoping it snaps out of it's funk.  If not, it will end up as compost.  But for sure, the mystery will never be solved.  It's why I always plant lots of everything.  You never know how much will actually make it.

And while I'm asking why, what is this rusty looking crap on my green beans?  I get it every year.  I let it be there every year, mostly because it never seems to bother the green beans.  I always get tons of beans and the plants keep growing.  So I just live with ugly leaves and hope I'm not growing some sort of fungus that will infest my entire garden.

Here's another why:  Why did I only get one butternut squash on this healthy looking plant?  I got lots of flowers.  I get a zillion zucchini on a plant.  What was up with this one?  No clue.  But next year, I plan to plant 3 butternuts instead of one, anticipating that they'll be as unproductive next year as they were this year.  Watch.  Next year, I'll be up to my ears in butternuts.

And lastly, why are some of my cucumbers horribly bitter, while other ones are fine?  I've been playing that guessing game for a while.  Maybe I left them on the vine too long.  I'm trying to pick them earlier.  Maybe it's just a crappy variety. So next year, I'm scratching these seeds and will plant something different.

But there you have it.  With every success, there is 5 failures.  And starting from seed is even more ridiculous.  I've killed so many seedling attempts, it's a miracle I've got anything to plant at all.  But the more I do it, the more experience I get.  There is such a thing as a Master Gardener.  I don't think it's possible for anyone to master gardening.  I think you just end up with fewer self-inflicted failures the more you do it.  But the key word is fewer.  I'd like to meet that guy who has none.  If he/she exists, I'd call them liars! LOL


  1. There are so many mysteries to be encountered in the vegetable garden! It seems like a constant guessing game about why plants are unhappy, or what is chewing on them and what to do about it. Why does something work so well one year and is a total failure the next? It all certainly keeps us on our toes. I frequently find myself grateful that I don't have to rely solely on my gardening "skills" to feed myself.

  2. LOL isn't that the truth! And I'm also glad I'm not a farmer and need to make a living doing it.