Things I’ve Learned This Year – Part 1

Every year I find it helpful to write about the things I’ve learned in the garden so that I can make sure I avoid the same mistakes next year. Plus it helps teach all of you the obstacles I’ve faced so that you can learn what to avoid. So here’s what I’ve learned this year so far.

1. Late rains cause all sorts of problems. Splitting fruit and a deluge of powder mildew, slugs, snails and other diseases and pests. The powdery mildew is the worst I’ve ever seen it actually. It’s attacked my tomatillos, which I’ve always considered bombproof. We’re also seeing a lot of it on our squash, and it’s greatly reduced the productivity of our zucchini. Yes, apparently zucchini isn’t always throwing fruit at you.

2. Purple beans are not easier to find in the foliage than green beans. Well, at least at first. However, what I do like about them is that they don’t make my arms itch when I harvest them. I also find they are more productive so next year we’ll be planting them again – just not so many.

3. Potato FAIL. We had a miserable potato harvest this year. We’ve decided that we’re going to take them out of the ground and create pallet boxes to grow them in. That way they won’t be competing with weeds, particularly bindweed, which can reduce yields by over 30% and we can control the soil texture. The bonus of the pallet boxes is that it will be easier for us to label the varieties and keep the separate – especially the yellow potatoes.

4. Our two smaller beds need a makeover. The bindweed in them is completely uncontrollable and I’ve pretty much given up on them. So we’re going to suck it up and build raised beds in their location with hardware cloth and weedblock underneath them and clean topsoil in them.

5. Apple tree and cherry tree FAIL. Our Fuji apple tree was hit this year with Bacterial Blossom Blast. Over half of it was affected. One of our cherry trees was hit with Verticillium wilt which is even more serious and we’ll have to remove that tree. I’m bummed out because it’s such a big beautiful tree – or at least it was. We’re going to keep the cherry tree because they do sometimes recover spontaneously and it currently has live buds on it. The apple tree, however, is going to need to come out and be replaced with something else. I’m just not sure by what yet.

6. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If a system or variety is working out for us I need to stop screwing around with it. The corn is a prime example. Bloody Butcher, a heirloom variety, has always treated us well, but for a couple of years I was looking for a better variety. Nothing ever did as well as Bloody Butcher so we finally started growing it again and will focus on that variety for years to come. We also had attempted in previous years to grow the corn with beans. It just doesn’t work well for us so I won’t be doing that anymore either.

This is what I have for now. I’m sure I’ll be learning more as the season progresses.

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