Friday, July 30, 2010

What I have learned

Today's Weather: Perfect. Earlier in the week it was getting hot and muggy again. Today, the humidity is low, the high for today is the mid-70's and it's supposed to be like this throughout the weekend. I'm feeling better today (I've been fighting allergies and a mild summer cold) so tomorrow I plan to get the garden into shape. The weeds are popping up and I hear whispers of a coup.

But today, I'm going to focus on what I've learned so far this gardening season. Every year I learn new things and I try to keep these lessons in my sometimes addled brain so that I can do better by the garden in the following years. For instance, after my first garden I learned that one pumpkin vine can produce more than one pumpkin. I also learned that pumpkin vines are long. Very long.

This year, I've learned that Buttercup Squash vines are long. Very long. I didn't give them nearly enough room and I have them going up over trellises originally intended for cucumbers (the cucumbers had to stay on the ground this year, but they're doing fine).

Lots of Squash
I have also learned that crookneck squash plants can grow much taller than two feet.

One lesson I keep learning but never retaining - cucumbers vines produce tons of cucumbers. I over-planted - again - and now my kitchen is full of more cucumbers than I can possibly eat. Yes, I have friends and family to share with but there's more than even they can handle. I don't know why, but I always plant more than I need.

Another lesson learned: Bird Baths are good.

I can't attest that this is the cause, but since I've added the bird bath to the vegetable garden, I've had much fewer problems with harmful bugs. I've seen Japanese Beetles, but the only thing they've really damaged is the wild rose bush next to the house. Also, I have still not seen any hornworms. Of course, I might just be looking for them too early. But given the fact that I haven't had problems with other bugs, I'm hopeful I'll win that little war this year.

I might have to find a different spot for the bird bath next year, though. I like Squash and they take up more room than I thought they would. I'm going to need that planting space back.

I've learned that it really bothers me when my gardens don't have clearly defined borders.

Every year something has always felt missing or undone in regards to my gardens. This year, I added rock borders and liners to the beds that didn't already have them and they just 'feel' right to me. I've seen some beautiful gardens with no definitive boundary markers that are absolutely gorgeous, but for some reason, when it comes to my own gardens, I need those defined boundaries.

Boundaries are good...for gardens
If I ever have the resources I would love to actually make a mowing strip around my gardens - foot wide paths of in-ground rocks, gravel, etc.. I really like the way they look.

But you see how the mulch just comes down to the strip? I don't like that. I'd still have to put in some kind of border. Yes, I am a bit obsessive-compulsive about some things. When I colored (heck, who am I kidding - I still color) it was always inside the lines. :)

I'm sure I'll learn even more before the season is over but the last thing I'll mention today is that I don't think I'll ever be happy with the way my front flower gardens look. I want them to be full and lush but they always end up looking sparse and scraggly. Yes, it's better this year - bushes are good - but still not anything like I want.

I'll just have to 'learn' how to get that done one of these years.

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