Time was one problem, which is no surprise because of our kitchen remodel. In retrospect, I probably should have foregone a garden this year. Most of our house repair and remodel projects are reserved for winter months, when it's too wet and cold to do anything outside. But, when you don't have a floor or a sink, you press on no matter what time of year it is. No regrets about doing that. ;)
Weather too has been a problem. We usually have a drought-like dry spell every summer. This year, in addition to a very wet spring which delayed planting, we've had a very wet July (9 inches), and August has started off the same (6.65 inches so far). August has also had cooler temperatures, which are welcome, but that means the ground isn't drying out as fast. Going to pick tomatoes has meant walking on paths squishy with mud. It's also why my tomato cages fell over....
|Staked & caged tomatoes fell over due to rain & wind|
They looked better after being retied...
The empty bed in the above photo was where I planted an experimental patch of beardless barley. Obviously it didn't make it. Disappointing, but I'll try again next year.
|Knee highs as tomato ties|
I used my volunteer broom corn here for the stakes.
I have to say I'm pleased with this year's variety, Amish Paste.
|Amish Paste tomatoes in all shapes & sizes|
Prolific and tasty for both fresh eating and sauce, I think I have a new favorite. Canned pizza sauce is my preservation priority. After that I'd like to can more tomato and okra gumbo. I made it with chicken last year and with rice it made the tastiest lunch! This year I'd like to try it with chevon, but that will depend on how much okra I get...
|Late planted okra in front, 4 o'clocks in the back|
Like everything else, I was late getting it planted. Still, it usually produces too much, so hopefully I can get enough for a batch or two of gumbo. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind canning more pickled okra too. Once it starts producing, it will continue until first frost, usually around the middle of October for us.
My other (and perpetual) problem, is wire grass.
|Wiregrass taking over my strawberry bed &|
spreading to the cucumbers & bush beans.
Wiregrass is another name for Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) aka couch grass. It's promoted in the US as a cover crop, and for pasture, hay, lawn, sports turf, and erosion control. Gardeners don't like nor want it, and nobody seems to have much success in permanently getting rid of it. "Respectable" cultivars include costal bermuda and the tiftons, all sold as hay around here. Actually the goats will eat it, a bite here and there. Unfortunately it chokes everything else out and spreads where it isn't wanted. Plus being prostrate, it's not easy to cut with a scythe for hay.
We've found that smothering works the best. Not just a 6 to 12 inch layer of mulch, but several layers of cardboard or a 4 foot tall pile of leaves, sticks, and branches. For now, I covered one empty bed with a tarp, and mulched the aisle with feedbags and leaves. I tried to weed and mulch the bed, but if it can find even a smidge of light, it grows.
|A month or so after weeding and tarping. The covered wiregrass is|
still under control. What I weeded grew right back.
Honestly, this stuff has me so discouraged that I hardly have the heart to battle it. It's everywhere and is taking over everything. Cardboard works best for the the aisles and even lasts awhile.
|Main path in cardboard mulch (mostly)|
Dan's objection to cardboard mulch is that it looks, well, ugly. Still, it does the trick and lasts for the season. The next year, it starts to look unkempt ....
|Remnants of 2011's cardboard mulch.|
Some things are looking good however, like my sweet potatoes...
|2 beds of Vardaman sweet potatoes|
These are Vardamans. I grew them last year and was very pleased with how well they stored in the pantry. My problem with them this year has been deer. These have been the deers' snack of choice this year. In fact they almost wiped out one bed. To try to save the harvest, Dan made me a scaredeer...
|My scaredeer. Get it? A scarecrow for deer?|
The deer come out of the woods at night, right up this path. Happily our scaredeer has worked and the sweet potatoes have recovered. I just have to remember to move it every couple of days so the deer don't get used to seeing it.
Last year their snack of choice was buckwheat.
|A bed of volunteer buckwheat, blooming|
I didn't mind them eating this so much and considered it a distraction from things I wanted to harvest. They ate it down to nothing but it reseeded anyway and I have a bedfull of volunteer buckwheat.
I know this has been a long post but I've had two months to catch up on. And now it's time to start planting the fall garden. Amazing how quickly the summer has flown by, isn't it?