What a weird year this has been. As Mike wrote last week, disappointments have far outnumbered triumphs in this year’s vegetable paradise. We’ve blamed the weather for much of this, and rightly so.
But if we’re being honest, the weather can’t be held responsible for everything. Sometimes–much as I hate to admit it–the culpability lies glaringly at my own feet.
So what follows, ladies and gentlemen, is a run-down of this year’s sins, under the heading of My Own Stupid Fault.
Roma tomatoes–Yes, it did get too hot for fruit to set for quite a while in July, and part of me was grateful. That way, I could hide behind the evil heat wave and never admit the dumbest gardening mistake I’ve made in quite a few years.
It happened back in the spring, when I was transplanting seedlings to the outdoors. I draw out my garden every year on a piece of gridded paper and use that as my plan. When I got to the end of transplanting that day, I had a mystery. Too much space was left over elsewhere.
This never happens. After staring at my garden, then down at the paper, then back at the garden for a while like an idiot, I finally realized that I’d skipped my extra two feet of walkway between two of the tomato rows. Instead, I had three rows of tomatoes adjacent to each other, making the middle row very hard to get at.
This is also very bad for air circulation and can promote the spread of fungus–so bad that I preached against it in our book.
But by then, there were 30 some plants in the ground. I wasn’t about to go back and dig them all out. I figured we’d just live with it this year.
Result: Leaf fungus during one of the wetter springs we’ve had.
Roma tomatoes II: Did I mention there was another stupid thing I did regarding tomatoes? No?
This had to do with the seed saving. Romas are not hybrids, so the seed is savable. But the trouble is, if you have other tomatoes too close, there can be some cross-contamination of the gene pool. So I try to throw out the seeds every 3 or 4 years and buy new. This year, though, I was trying to save money so I thought we could go another year on 4th-generation seed.
Result: Several plants bore tiny round fruit akin to cherry tomatoes–but without all the overproducing clusters. As such, they were next to useless.
Strawberries: If you keep growing strawberries in the same plot year after year, you’re asking for trouble. The various diseases that can affect them will collect in the soil and make them weaker by the year. This is true of most plants and is the reason we rotate crops.
I had, in fact, seen trouble coming in the strawberry bed. But in my hubris, I thought I could get berries for one more year by encouraging runners to start new plants. This way I would avoid having to spend the money on the new plants.
Result: The bed is now completely wiped out. We had hardly any berries at all this year.
Cauliflower: I vowed two seasons ago never again to plant the variety “Amazing” because it took soooo looong to get a developed head. So this year I ordered another kind.
But I put off making the seed order too long, apparently. When time came to plant my seeds in the basement, my order was nowhere to be found. In desperation, I planted the only seeds I had on hand, which were leftover Amazing.
A week later, my order cam in and I also planted the other variety. But by the time April and transplanting came along, those Amazing seedlings just looked so good….
Result: We got two heads before early hot weather struck. Then nothing. But here’s where laziness sometimes pays off. Instead of tearing out the headless plants in the blazing heat, we left them. Two of them actually produced heads a week ago. And they tasted fine.
No matter how long you garden, there are always plenty of mistakes to be made. But repeat after me:
I’ll never, ever do that again.
Next year’s going to be much, much better.
Posted by: Roxie
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