How does my garden grow?


It seems to me that it’s about time for a gardening update.

Several readers have commented that they like to hear about my difficulties and successes because they too have similar ones and can relate to my reports. In particular, I’ve had inquiries about my attempts to thwart those ravenous rabbits that have munched their way through my green beans in years past and about my success or failure in defeating tomato blight. So here’s a quick overview.

I’m starting with my green and yellow bean patch. Some readers may recall that last year I designed and installed a fence around the plot. I made it “transportable,” that is, I could take it down at the end of the growing season, store it over the winter, and reuse it the next year. Well, that’s what I did this year, but I added a few improvements to make it sturdier. I also changed the positioning of the “shepherd crooks” — I use those to tie strings to, with the other end tied to pegs in the ground. These strings plus the crooks themselves provide support for the climbing bean vines and make harvesting easier.

Well, the fence and re-positioned crooks have done the job. The bean plants have grown to the top of those seven foot high crooks and not a trace of any voracious varmints nibbling on the plants — the fence has held. I’ve started harvesting beans and if the profusion of blossoms is any indicator, I’ll have a bumper crop with plenty for the table, freezing, and sharing with neighbors.

My sweet banana peppers are also doing quite nicely. I lost a few plants but the remainder are growing straight and tall — I have to stake and tie them to make sure they don’t fall or get blown over with some of these strong winds we’ve been having. Plenty for the table so far, and I have given some away.

Moving on to my tomatoes. The good news is that there is no sign of the blight that has devastated tomatoes in past years. I’ve used an anti-fungus spray and that may have helped. My patio container plants are sturdy and have had lots of blossoms and small green tomatoes, but so far not a single ripe one. Furthermore, I noticed that tomatoes were “disappearing,” that is, were there one day and gone the next. I finally found the reason — half eaten green tomatoes.

Yep, it sure looks like the squirrels are getting to them — and that presents a problem of how to prevent these ravenous rodents from spoiling my enjoyment of homegrown tomatoes. I have some fencing left over from doing my bean patch, but it’s not long enough to completely surround the patio tomato containers. I’m not sure what to do.

Interestingly enough my in-ground tomato plants, although not doing as well as my patio ones, also have green tomatoes — no ripe ones yet — but I’ve seen no evidence of the squirrels noshing on any of those. Perhaps there’s some of that “Vamoose, Varmint” stuff I applied last year still hanging around.

OK, moving on to flowers. My 5-year-old red Geranium has survived the move from inside to outside once again. It’s the last of four I was successful for years in transplanting between inside and outside containers so I could enjoy freshly blooming flowers all year. I bought a container of pink Geraniums this spring which survived the re-potting and now provide a nice contrast to the red ones.

My patio Petunias are probably the most colorful this year of any for some time. Keeps me busy with “deadheading” as do my hanging baskets and a front yard container of these showy flowers. The pots of Moss Roses and Marigolds on our front stoop add to the flowery scene.

Our perennial garden is also doing well although I may have over planted. Some of those plants that were so small have now spread more than I had anticipated. I may have to rethink about whether to either move around or remove some permanently. The border of Marigolds I put around the perimeter doesn’t appear affected by the larger plants and provide a colorful contrast.

Well, there you have it — a quick overview of my gardening efforts so far this season in response to readers’ inquiries. As any backyard gardener will share, this activity takes lotsa energy, time, resources — and optimism. Yep, confidence in the outcome, combined with enthusiasm, make what may appear to be work turn into a pleasurable experience.

At least that’s how it seems to me.

Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at [email protected].

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