Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

Fall Reflection On The Garden

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I started the seedlings in our basement grow room in March. While it has always been part of my gardening plan, the accidental overlap of little green lives taking root in our basement and the onset of COVID-19 lock-downs was fortuitous. We couldn’t have known when we were tearing out Honeysuckle roots with a mattock a couple of years ago, that the effort would put our first year of growing from seed in 2020.

Watching life commence while so much of our human existence was manifesting our own cultural and spiritual sickness buoyed my spirits in the cold damp darkness of spring. This in itself was it’s own reward. Had every one of our seedlings died prior to fruiting, I would still call our first year of growing from seed a success.

But in fact most of our seedlings lived to bear fruit. It’s my custom to meditate on what worked and what didn’t each fall, to make note of what to do differently next season. So here’s my thoughts, that I will most certainly reference for next year.

What worked:

  • The deer defense system vastly improved our harvest and vastly improved the welfare of our blueberry shrubs and raspberry brambles. This year we achieved solid growth, which should get us fruit next season.
  • The black landscaper’s barrier I put down on the berry side of the garden significantly reduced the hours we devoted to weeding this year.
  • Most of the seedlings had a very high germination rate, so planing doubles assuming a high failure to germinate is not necessary with the tomatoes or the squashes.
  • Investment and placing of the soaker hoses worked very well. We didn’t need to manually water anything in the garden this year. We connected the two soakers in the middle of the garden and snaked them out in opposing directions from there

What didn’t work:

  • The deer defense system was easily chewed through by buns. Buns really loved our broccoli. An improvement for next year will be to put chicken wire around the base of the garden to keep the buns at by next year.
  • Some woodland creatures feasted on our squashes. We aren’t sure if buns or squirrels ate 20 acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squashes, but 50 bucks of squash ended up in bellies that are not ours. We already have a bun solution above, but I am planning on bribing the squirrels with a bird feeder next year. I would much rather put out an offering to the fuzzy twittering gods of garden destruction than have them take their due from my plants.
  • Keeping weeds at bay around the margins of the garden was annoying. When we put in the chicken wire at the base, we will also dig out a barrier around the garden edges so we can keep a clean dividing line between what we pass for as grass in our lawn and the garden.
  • Regarding the germination rate above, there was one exception, the bell peppers. Peppers had a high germination failure rate AND a very long lead time to germinate. They should perhaps get their own little green house so they can stay on the heating pad longer than the tomatoes and squashes. And I need to start those earlier than everything else.
  • The winter squashes really need a trellis for next year. They just took over everything including growing up the fence. We need to design and implement a containment system over the winter.

That about covers it. I feel very happy that our blueberry shrubs have rebounded wonderfully from deer monch 2019, and might be ready to bear fruit next year. Of the 10 black raspberry plants I received all have survived, and 8 are thriving. Only two seem to be unhappy with their lot. Our tomatoes have done better this year than they did last, but we really need to get better at both pruning and fertilizing. We ate 20 odd zucchini. We ate our own carrots. We have three small bell peppers that will be ready to pick shortly. We will end up with 7 or 8 beets. We got loads of lettuce this spring. I used tons of carrot and beet greens in homemade beef and chicken broth. There seems to be 4 squashes that the the buns?/squirrels have spared, so we might get to enjoy those yet.

Now I am off to determine placement and gather supplies for my humming bird feeders and my bird (squirrel) feeder.

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