A rocky May

“Global cooling”, my foot. If you ask me, the earth is simply balancing itself back out. We’ve had a rough few summers and some wretched winters over the past few years, so it only makes sense that we experience some distemperate weather this year to balance it all back out. That being said, that sharp chill around the middle of May did not help with our vegetable growth. From the looks of it, we’re about a month behind on everything: squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, blueberries and even the strawberries are being a bit sluggish.

The potatoes had a rough spot, I think because of the excessive amount of rainfall we’ve had over the past month, and we’ve had to harvest a little earlier than expected. I was worried that the yellowed leaves and brown spotting on the potato plants might be a blight, it but looks like it was just rusting from the rain.

Rusting on the potato leaves from excessive rainfall.

Rusting on the potato leaves from excessive rainfall.

The garden peas didn’t like all the water, either, and died off before we were able to get a really good harvest. We did get a good handful of fresh peas and the sweet, crunchy taste of those little pods right off the vine were more than worth it. What potatoes we were able to harvest also turned out well, even though the skins are a little thin (if you wait 10 days after the potato plants die off to harvest, you’ll get a much more developed skin on the tubers). Each plant seemed to produce between 5 and 8 new potatoes, including some little seed potatoes which we’ll use for next year. The squash blossoms have also been quite abundant. In fact, we found out that several of the restaurants downtown pay upwards of $3 per blossom. If we can keep harvesting them like we did this year, I think we have a great potential source for some extra income!

New potatoes and squash blossoms from the garden.

New potatoes and squash blossoms from the garden.

Because of all the rain, however, next year we’re going to try and build more boxes for raised gardening. Our neighborhood is built on an old riverbed, which provides wonderful soil, but it’s not so great for drainage. The raised beds not only provide great drainage, they also discourage many types of ground insects and are perfect for rotating above ground crops, as well as root crops. The carrots love the raised beds, as the soil is much more loose and allows for more rapid growth. Even better is the fact that we can harvest the carrots while they’re small and eat them as baby carrots, leaving the extra room around the others so they can grow.

Rinsing off some of the baby carrots.

Rinsing off some of the baby carrots.

Lastly, we’ve been using a few different products to discourage insects, though nothing fights aphids like a good swarm of ladybugs. For most of the harmful garden pests, we’ve used Organicide, which works relatively well in that it’s kept away worms and whiteflies. For the slugs, we used Sluggo, an organic product composed mainly of iron phosphate. In all, we probably have to spend more time in the garden picking out the more resilient little buggers and spraying soapy water on the squash, which is the aphids’ favorite hang out, but it’s worth it to know that we’ve done everything in our power to have a completely organic garden.

Kevin sprays the garden with Organicide - a combination of sesame oil and fish oil.

Kevin sprays the garden with Organicide - a combination of sesame oil and fish oil.

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