I started reading Krista’s blog describing the losses in Hazelton and decided to stop a few sentences in. So I apologize in advance for any reiteration, but I didn’t want my thoughts to be influenced or to think “oh yeah” I forgot about that. If I forgot about it already than it wasn’t bad enough to mention here. However, I did start out by listing all of the things I would consider “losses” for the Jerome garden. It’s a long list. Two things you should know about me…I procrastinate, but function better under pressure (hence the blog that took me 3 weeks to write) and I have incredibly high expectations (hence the long list of what I consider failures). I believe one of the most important things in life is to learn from your mistakes. So although there were plenty of disappointments I am also going to share some insight that we gained that will help us moving forward. So where to start? We could go for a “walk” through the garden but somewhat chronological will be better since my disappointments start before the garden was even planted.
Our plant starts live on the sun porch of my house inside of a small 5x4 ft. greenhouse lined with shelves. We started herbs in January/February this year. For those of you who follow us on FaceBook you know that we sold herb packs on the opening day of the Twin Falls farmers market. This project was really my baby. I had been thinking and planning about this for months if not a year. We literally had hundreds of herbs that I watered and fertilized for months (with a newborn). We spent time starting and later transplanting them into peat pots. Krista spent hours creating stakes for them. We found babysitters for a Saturday and spent the Friday before loading our trucks. Unfortunately, it was a lot of work that didn’t pan out. Confirmation that the market is probably not for us. So, we focus on the CSA and explore other avenues to generate extra revenue.
All gardeners know that along with the plants in the spring come the weeds. And with the weeds this year also came the bugs. The ants and earwigs were expected. But even though I was watching for them, they still caught me by surprise destroying nearly all of the brussel sprouts before I was able to get them contained. I had a few new tactical strategies using cinnamon as a deterrent but similar to my efforts last year instead of leaving the garden they just relocated within the garden. Only time and mature, healthy plants seem to solve this one. After the ants came the aphids. They housed in every nook and cranny of nearly all of the plants in the garden. The most damage was done to the remaining 3 brussel sprout plants, the kale, and the red cabbage. Several rounds of insecticidal soap finally killed them off. To be honest by that time I had already abandoned the sprouts and the kale. And by then the damage was so severe that the cabbage is just now at the end of October finally maturing (at least 6-8 weeks late). To cap off the bug problem, I found several winter squash plants wilting in early July. Squash bugs (or stink bugs). I had already found them in my summer squash but they weren’t killing the plants so I just ignored them. Well they killed some of the winter squash and set most of the rest of it back and I definitely lost some yield. This was by far one of the bigger disappointments with limited numbers of squash and pumpkins and some varieties that didn’t produce anything. After asking around, apparently the best way to control these squash bugs is to hunt them down and squish them individually. Seriously?!? I don’t have time for that. If anybody knows anything better please let me know! I have a feeling it won’t be the last I see of them.
Last year I harvested my garlic too late and kept it too wet. It was ugly and the cloves were brown stained and starting to separate. This year, under drip irrigation it wasn’t over watered and had adequate time to dry out prior to harvest. I got everything harvested and hung to dry. A few weeks later the cloves started to dry and shrink inside their protective skin. A bust the second year. I’m not sure about this one…some research this winter. But I’m not giving up.
To address some comments from our surveys…the cauliflower and broccoli are in the garden. Broccoli has been an issue of maturity in the Jerome garden. I will continue to try some different varieties and planting times. The cauliflower I feel we found a good variety. Unfortunately in 2016 there wasn’t enough for everyone. Next year I feel confident with this one. On a sad note…we started a cauliflower hybrid called Veronica. It is vibrant green and kind of spiky looking. I really wanted to try this one. It had great germination and vigor. Nothing seemed to bother it. Unfortunately as soon as the warm weather hit and it was at peak maturity it bolted and got very bitter. I think it needs to be a fall harvested variety and am definitely trying it again next year! Don’t dismay we are trying!
I have always had trouble with my tomatoes getting blossom end rot. It starts with a black spot at the bottom of the tomato and rots. It is typically from calcium deficiency and a couple of rounds of fertilizer have always done the trick. Well, last year I had trouble with the bell peppers rotting. This year was even worse. Time is of the essence in this situation, and unfortunately that is something I do not have much of. So a lot of peppers went to waste. In this situation it can be an issue of variety as well as water management. There are several factors and some research is in order for this winter.
There’s a magical window for planting fall harvested crops. It’s almost a spring crop do-over as the weather starts to cool down. And if done correctly several of these crops will hold well into the fall and even early winter. What’s on our fall plant list? Carrots, beets, turnips, lots of greens, bunching onions, and radishes. Well, the germination was spotty at best and some things didn’t come up at all. Its easy to place the blame elsewhere. I don’t want to point my finger at myself. Luckily Krista and I have two gardens and had plenty of other veggies to fill the boxes.
The last of my whining and rambling. I promise.
Hopefully, this helped address some of the comments we received on our customer surveys. I hope it doesn’t come across as if we are making excuses for the areas we are lacking. We want everyone to know that we are trying. And luckily for our customers, Krista and I want the veggies as much as you do so keep the challenges coming. Sorry also for no pictures! Krista and I rarely take our phones to the garden but I will try better next year. Please keep up the suggestions and comments!