Gardening Update. We didn't fail.
We learned what not to do next year!

The first year you start gardening is a big learning experience. Frustrated with the low yield and blossoms falling off the tomatoes, we sought guidance from my brother-in-law (expert gardener) and two of the local nurseries in our area. As we learn what to do (and what not to do) our harvest should increase next year. As one fellow at a local nursery told me, the first year you learn and if you don’t give up, the second year you do much better.

We do have several cantaloupes. See...they are looking good.

We learned that squash and some other vegetables need a lime calcium fertilization. So, we have bought a bag of that and laced it around the fruit and vegetables as needed. It’s probably too late for this season but maybe we will see improvement. Next year we will be ready to start with it so the plants are properly nourished.

We learned the cuts on our pepper plants were caused by cut worms (not squirrels as one person told us) and we need a spray for that. It looked as if someone had actually clean cut the stems coming off plants. I asked someone at one nursery and they said it was squirrels. Seriously. It's not little Redwall squirrels cutting....we have cut worms.

Trying to keep this as natural and organic as possible we never sought out sprays or poisons to keep pests away. Sometimes you just need a little help though. I was wondering why the rabbits never attacked our garden. Could it be it’s such a sorry offering even the rabbits don’t want it?!

As for the tomatoes, we didn’t embed enough of the plant into the soil. I suspect lots of beginners do this – just dig out a small enough amount of soil and pop the plant into the hole. Nope……we were meant to prune the lower branches off and plant about 1/3 of base into the ground. They will develop a deep root system.

Behold the scrawny tomatoes. The ones we have gotten have been sweet and delicious though.

Also, we live in a very hot part of the state and our tomatoes never had a chance to rest from the heat. That’s why our blossoms would shrivel up and fall off. It’s called blossom drop and here is some info about that below. In case it helps anyone else.

From University of Nevada:

The most frequent cause of tomato blossom drop is temperature.
High daytime temperatures (above 85 F / 29 C)
High Nighttime Temperatures (above 70 / 21 C)
Low Nighttime Temperatures (below 55 / 13 C)

Tomatoes grow best if daytime temperatures range between 70 F / 21 C and 85 F / 29 C. While tomato plants can tolerate more extreme temperatures for short periods, several days or nights with temps outside the ideal range will cause the plant to abort fruit set and focus on survival. According to the University of NV, "...temperatures over 104 F / 40 C for only four hours can cause the flowers to abort."

Gardeners in cooler climates should not rush to get their tomatoes planted in the spring. Wait until nighttime temperatures are reliably above 55 F /13 C or protect them with a cover at night. You won't gain any advantage by setting them out too early. Choose early maturing tomato varieties for spring growing in cooler climates. (Early Girl, Legend, Matina, Oregon Spring, Polar Baby, Silvery Fir Tree)

Select heat a heat-tolerant ("heat set") tomato variety for areas with long periods of hot or humid weather. High nighttime temps are even worse than high daytime temperatures because the tomato plant never gets to rest. (Florasette, Heat Wave, Solar Set, Sunchaser, Sunmaster, Sunpride, Surfire)


On Sunday we decided to go ahead and purchase a heat tolerant tomato bush called Phoenix. We shall see how that goes. That’s probably what we will do next year; plant heat tolerant varieties. Another thing we are trying is using a seed tray and starting as much from seed as possible. On pay day we will buy a T-5 growing light to help the little seedlings along.

Here is the Phoenix plant. It's already bigger as I write; we planted it 2 weeks ago.

From Drop Box

It’s a fun “hobby” we can do together and it’s a learning experience. It’s always great to learn something new. Also, we gain knowledge about what works well in our area and how to care for plants, we’ll see the fruits of our labor. We’re not giving up just because we aren’t getting copious amounts of veggies as we had thought.

On the plus side, we have gotten lots of strawberries early I the season and the cherry tomato plant is producing well. The herbs have also been flourishing. See the little cherry tomato plant below? It produces well.

I did state this was our beginning year of gardening. That's not completely true as we had a flourishing garden about 20 years when we lived in town and tilled up most of our tiny yard. But....we took a long break. Ha!

We had some good advice on what to plant in this unrelenting heat so, updates on that soon.

I hope anyone gardening this year is having much success!


Catherine said...

My garden has been slow at coming up this y ear, though I learn with each passing year what not to do and what to do. By the time I am very old I should have it down pat!
Your garden looks wonderful.
Blessings, Catherine

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Tina,

Personally, I think you're doing GREAT for a beginning gardener, or one that has jumped back into the plot, lol...

Darn those cut worms, they'll do it every time! I don't like using pesticides either Tina. I've found if you put a paper cup or a tuna can at the bottom of the young plant they will pretty much leave them alone. Or, a bit of gravel or limestone will deter any kind of worms from venturing across the bumpy "road." They don't like the feel on their bellies:) There is also an organic bacteria that you can buy at the garden store. I can't remember the name of it but it is a good bacteria healthwise but not good for any kind of worms, including tomato horn worms which you should watch for. it makes the worms belly feel full and puffy.

I too am growing a veggie garden this year for the first time in many, many years. I showed Bill, the young man who has been mowing my lawn while I'm out of commision, how to remove the suckwers on the tomato plants so they grow stronger. I've also had him picking off the flowers until they get stronger too. We'll see how that goes.

The best thing to do is to keep a garden diary. I'd be lost without mine.

Thanks so much for sharing, Tina...the Picnic Game is in full swing beginning today, I hope you will be playing:)

Janel Gradowski said...

It's been quite a while since I've gardened. Got annoyed when the neighbors chickens decided my garden was their ticket to a free meal. Now I'm happy with my crop of strawberries and herbs this year.

Have you ever looked at the lasagne gardening technique? Neat way to build up good soil using layers of newspaper, etc.

Joanne said...

I know absolutely nothing about gardening, so it would be a learning experience for me as well. Good luck!

Emily said...

I love your garden! Everything looks great. I bet you can't wait for that cantaloupe!

Tina said...

Thank you Catherine. It's so awfully hot here we are having troubles with the plants but, as you said, trial and error.

Louise, please let me know how your veggie garden is doing. You are a n expert gardener with those lovely flowers. I did start a garden journal and am figuring some things out. Wish I could join in on the Picnic game.

Strawberries and herbs work for me, Janel, I loved the tiny berries we had earlier in the season. Will try the lasagna method.

Thanks, Joanne!

Thank you Emily, I sure hope it's a good cantaloupe!

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