Experimenting in the Garden
I'm starting this Saturday morning. Just in from the greenhouse. I had to put all my plants in last night and turn the heat on a bit as the temps here were in the 30's. I uncovered the few plants I'd already set out in the garden and turned off the heat in the greenhouse.
I had a little visitor in the greenhouse this morning. A little snake was coiled up in a hole in a brick. I put the little guy in the bed under a growing table and he seemed pretty happy there. I guess he was looking for a warm place to spend the night too. LOL
Today, maybe we could talk a little about experimenting in the garden. I have some kind of new thing going on every year. Sometimes it works out good, like the year I tried growing Mouse Melons on the porch, that was a good one, and sometimes they don't work out, like trying the upside down tomato growing. Logically you just knew that wouldn't work and yet I tried it anyway just to see. I'm sorry I did that to my tomato plant! LOL
This year, my excellent neighbor Dave and I are trying something that I've read about, no-till gardening. We're trying it in a strip along his fence. Last fall he had piled a layer of leaves along the fence where we grew some squash last year and then he put a layer of grass clippings on top of that. I asked him about trying to just pull back the mulch and plant there without tilling it up and he said ok. So, a few days ago, I planted some tomato plants there.
I pulled back the layer of grass and leaves and it was lively with earthworms! The soil there was nice and soft and moist. I dug down and set in the plants and pulled the mulch back up around them. We'll have to wait and see how it works out but so far so good.
Here we have a big problem with black spot bacterial disease in our tomatoes. If anyone out there has any suggestions for it, we'd love to hear them.
We've tried keeping the plants up off the ground with staking, picking off infected plant material, not getting water on the leaves when we water, etc. and nothing seems to work. I read somewhere that you could add powdered milk to the soil and that would help and will try that one this year.
We always get a lot of tomatoes but I just hate seeing the plants suffer like that.
At any rate, I really wanted to talk about how important it is to try new things every year in your garden. Try a new type of vegetable, or a new growing method. You never know when you will come across something that will work wonderfully for you and it's the best way I know of to gain gardening experience. Don't be afraid to try things. Try small to start with too. You don't want to risk your food supply all at once.
Eventually I'd love to try cross breeding some things. Like tomatoes or cucumbers or melons. I've always wanted to lean more about plant breeding. Heck, maybe I could come up with something that's immune to black spot! LOL
One other thing I'm trying this year is direct seeding tomato plants. I got a new variety to try it with too. Orange Purple Smudge tomatoes. I'm going to start them tomorrow in a special area I've saved just for them. I'm anxious to see if they catch up with the greenhouse started plants and, if maybe they will be more resistant to the black spot.
The other sort of experiment I'm trying is growing kidney beans. We got a package of dried kidney beans from the store, and I'm planting them and harvesting when the beans are mature and dry. Not really an experiment like the others, but it's something new to the garden this year.
Oh, and I'm excited about this one.
I have NEVER been able to grow good watermelons and watermelon is probably my favorite food. Seriously.
So, this year, I'm pulling out all the stops. I got a special bed ready for them, bought Carolina Cross watermelon seed, known for their amazing size, and although I jumped the gun and started 4 seeds in peat pots and set them out already, I'm going to plant a few more tomorrow too.
In the bed, I have put all my flower pot dirt from last year, compost, and I dug several deep holes a couple months ago and planted shovelfulls of chicken manure. It's the richest, most pampered bed in the garden and into it will go the watermelons.
Here are a couple links on growing watermelons if anyone is interested.
Wikihow: How to Grow Watermelons
GardenWeb: Secrets to growing great watermelon (I really like this one, good information I'd not heard before.)
I have a "reach for the stars, grasp for the moon" attitude about it too. I'm going to grow the world's largest watermelon! Ok, probably not, but I figure if I aim high, I should at least get a couple good sized melons out of the effort. LOL
Oh, here's a link to an article about the world's largest watermelon too. It weighed in at 291 lbs.!
World's biggest watermelon
Grown by Janet and Chris Kent from Sevier County TN.
Almost 300 lbs. of sweet melony goodness!