I’ve been an avid gardener now for two months, and although I’ve endured a couple minor setbacks, I’ve mostly seen positive progress. Woohoo! I water it daily and I’ve applied an organic fertilizer called Jobe’s Organics Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer twice. I should fertilize more often, but this stuff smells like poop (probably because it’s got poop in it), so I’m not a big fan of it. I’m trying to keep this garden organic, so I’m probably just going to have to learn to live with the poop smell.
After talking to a gardening expert, I also should be maintaining the pH of the soil, but I’ll get there in time. For now, here’s an update on how everything is growing with my amateur techniques, complete with a Garden Grade indicating each plant’s success.
Our two strawberry plants each came with a couple nearly ripe berries. A few days after planting them the underside of the berries that touched the dirt became soggy and moldy. I thought about the strawberry fields I see off I-4 in Plant City and how there is some type of black ground cover around the plants. I figured that must be a necessity and considered looking into purchasing some until I tasted two of the ripened strawberries that were fairly unscathed. They were bitter and nasty. They didn’t resemble Plant City strawberries in the slightest. After talking to a neighbor whose hanging basket of strawberries also produced ill-tasting fruit, I called it quits and dug them out. Garden Grade – F 😦
I know tomatoes are finicky. They easily attract pests and require specific temperature fluctuations. I thought if I kept our plant on our pool deck, it would have a good shot at surviving and producing fruit because the screen would prevents pests. Initially it seemed to be doing fantastic. We had 30 or so tomatoes start to grow. One ripened and was a tasty addition to my pasta sauce. I thought we were on the right path, but then I noticed the leaves getting droopy and brown. I wasn’t sure whether it was getting too much or too little water. Then I started noticing holes in the tomatoes, which signaled some type of bug infestation. I’d check it for bugs but never saw anything until one day I saw two ginormous brown caterpillars on the plant. I screamed and had Robert carry the plant straight to the trash can in the garage. I just can’t handle bugs. Garden Grade – D (that one ripe tomato saved it from getting an F)
This plant had a single small pepper on it when we bought it and I can happily report that it’s still there and growing. That being said, the plant does not appear healthy. There are holes in the leaves, and the buds it grew shortly after planting have fallen off. I need to figure out what this plant needs because clearly something is lacking. Garden Grade – D
This was just a tiny little plant when we bought it. It didn’t have a single bud, but today it has tons of flowers and squash growing! It appears to be thriving and the little squash are so cute! I am seeing bugs flying around it, but nothing I can’t handle. Even though we haven’t harvested anything from it, I’m very hopeful based on the progress it’s made. Garden Grade – A
These seem to be growing well and some are flowering. They have these curly vines shooting off of them which will supposedly grab onto neighboring plants to form a support system. Some of them are flopped over, and some have browning leaves, but I’m hoping as they get bigger, they will get stronger and survive. Garden Grade – B
My five green bean plants all seem a little weak. Their leaves are not as green as the other plants in the garden and they appear to need some external support that I’ve yet to install. I’m seeing some buds and growth but I think I need to do some more work to make sure they have the support they need to be healthy. Garden Grade – C
I am SO glad I listened to Luke and got the pumpkin seeds. This has by far been the most amazing plant to watch grow. These plants are massive. They are taking over the garden bed and growing over the edges. There’s also a huge disparity in the size of these plants. Some of the leaves are the size of my head while others are the size of a quarter. They just started flowering and if all of these flowers turn into pumpkins, we’ll have our own pumpkin patch this fall. Garden Grade – A
We planted onions where the strawberries initially were. They haven’t made much progress yet, merely poking through the dirt like grass. The fact that they are sprouting is all I can go by for grading, so I’ll give it a Garden Grade of an A.
I’m happy with my progress, but I undoubtedly could be doing more to keep my plants healthier. Looking back at my tomato plant, I could have simply sprayed an organic insecticide on the catepillars and saved the plant. And I’m probably in over my head with the pumpkins since I recently learned that each plant needs 50-100 square feet to sprawl. That’s not possible in the current layout. But you live and you learn! Next time hopefully I’ll be posting some veggie pics!
Thanks for reading and sharing your tips after my last post. I welcome more suggestions as I still feel like a rather clueless gardener!