Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
My watermelons and pumpkins are growing quite well, and I actually have flowers on the pumpkin plants. Not sure if this is a good thing as I thought the pumpkins would vine a bit more before flowering. Have to read up on that.

The Bad
Everything else in the garden is not doing so hot. Nothing is growing as fast as I think it should. However, I have to admit that I did not amend my soil for this garden until after the fact (mostly because of budgetary reasons). Also, we had some pine trees taken down before I planted, and the machinery had to run through part the garden plot to get to some of them. This, in the process, compacted much of the soil. I had given the tiller back to my father-in-law, so I was unable to re-till that part of the garden (where I have my cow peas, okra, and now corn). So my conclusion is that the combination of weak, compacted soil is reducing the production. If I don't see much more progress in the next week, I will most likely pull everything up (except the watermelons and pumpkins) and prepare the soil for the Spring.

The Ugly
I try to check all my plants for critters that may damage them. Again, as this is an experimental garden, and I am still learning and looking into organic methods, I have not used any pesticides as I want to do this as "green" as possible. Well, I found what you see in the photo below. Obviously, you can see ants, which I don;t think harm the plants (cow peas in this photo), but there are other bugs, which appear to have hollowed out the stem much like a wooden canoe would be. I don't know if the ants are eating these other bugs, or if they are in cahoots with the ants in taking over this plant. They look like aphids, but my inexperienced eyes can't tell. Click on the photo for a larger view, and if you know what these are, leave me a comment.

Two of my corn seedlings have been killed by caterpillars, and out of all the merrigold seeds I planted, only 2 have come up.

No regrets in doing this this fall, as it is all a learning process. I hope to see great results next year because of it.


Carol said...

Hey Tom, Thanks for the comments on my post Chickens, Eggs and Industrial Farming! I think you should definitely start thinking now about those chickens. We got ours in February when we could keep them in the garage during cold weather. By March, they were in our NE Florida yard in their tractor. They will be a huge help in your garden. Make a tractor (which can be moved) and keep them over your fallow beds. They will enrich the soil and remove ALL pests and unwanted seeds. Talk to that wife of yours! They will cost you $1-2 each as little chicks. She will love them, I bet.

Carol said...

Those are definitely aphids getting herded by ants. I would recommend a gardening calendar. If you are in NE Florida, the Times Union puts one out every January. Here is a link to this year's 2010 Gardening Calendar. I am all gung-ho too but funny how my failures correspond to things that should not be planted now. Good luck!