I’m going to round out the blog posts of this year with identifying problems I had in my garden.
Part of the reason that my garden harvest was a huge fail this year, is because of how I set it up. The reasons I set it up this way, is to maximize the things it needs to do, so I won’t be changing much of it. I just want to outline the problems, so I can find solutions that work with what we already have. (In all honesty though, I am chalking most of the failures on the weird and horrible year that 2016 was)
All the beds are in-ground. I want it this way for a few reasons:
- Watering – I wanted everything to be able to sink its roots down as far as they wanted to. This should help with both drainage (for too much water), and during dry times (if we have a drought and end up with a water ban).
- Cost- If we had put in raised beds everywhere, we would have had to spend a ton on dirt. I would probably have really awesome dirt, but we wouldn’t have any money for food.
- Ease – When I was digging out the beds, I could work on one part at a time and everything got less overwhelming. It has also been beneficial for weeding in the same way. Its much easier to look at it piece by piece, than to see a big square of dirt that needs weeding.
- As long as I take care of the nutrients in the soil, I should be able to plant a little more intensively than if I had to put everything in rows.
And now some of the Problems:
- Sun/Shade – In working with this garden for a few years, and rotating crops, I have to compromise how much sun they will get, and when they will get it. If I had just kept to containers, I could still rotate the soil but I could also move the container to a more light favorable spot.
- Dogs – My big dog is pretty good at staying out of the garden in the summer, but in the winter, all bets are off. Not that she digs, but she wanders in the dirt, and then I have muddy foot prints to clean up inside. Same with the Little dog, only he comes with additional (and bigger) problem… he pees on EVERYTHING. This is not appetizing. I was putting lettuces up near the front of the beds, and then harvesting them before other things got big, but it was nearly impossible to wash that horrible smell off. Going to bite into your burger with fresh-from-the-garden lettuce, and all you can smell is dog urine… Its just not appetizing. The bigger things, he doesn’t hit, they are farther away and don’t catch his spray (thankfully, hes little).
- Trees – The neighbors behind us have these really pretty willow trees. They block out a bunch of sun (blessing and a curse). But the biggest challenge I have with them is their unrelenting roots. They form a blanket under one of my beds, and every spring I dig it out. These make a great addition to my compost pile, but I wish I could tell them to keep their roots out of this one little area.
- Squirrels – Freakin’ assholes this year. Those little bastards took almost everything. They stole all the peppers except the Habaneros (those were the only ones by my back door). They stole all the tomatoes, except Tiny Tim and Sub Arctic Plenty. They stole some cucumbers, and peas and all of my radish seed pods. They got almost all the strawberries… And they keep using my soil (and digging poor unsuspecting seedlings out in the process) to store their damn peanuts that someone is feeding them.
This is a good time of year to identify the good and bad things about your garden. Come Spring, you will be prepared to address the problems and the ever hopeful spring gardener brain will be backed up with a plan. If you wait, the “PLANT ALL THE THINGS” part of your brain will kick in (like mine always does), and you’ll just repeat the problems.
A few thoughts I have for my 2017 goals:
- I will have more focus on adding perennial flowers to less vegetable-useful areas.
- I won’t let myself go overboard on the tomatoes
- I need to find a safe way to keep the squirrels away.
- Maybe cayenne pepper on things? Do you have any helpful tips for me?
- Add rain barrels if I can get my hands on some that are affordable.
- I need to up my lady bug game. I have enough of an aphid problem that they have food to eat… And we find tons of them in the leaves and little bug hotels I have around in the fall, but I hardly see them around in the summer. Any tips here? More Flowers?
- I want to grow Morning Glories again. They were wonderful, But I may need to give them more of a head start inside first. I didn’t have blooms until August. Maybe that was just because of the weird weather we had?
- Also Sweet Peas, and maybe some Nasturtiums.
- Any Shade plant suggestions for me?