This spring I steeled myself for the worst and hoped for the best. Yes, once more unto the breach! More container gardening!
With some heirloom seeds passed around at a local church and some commercial organic seeds, I planted carrots, beets, corn salad (mache), red romaine, Italian parsley, sage, and Genovese basil. I also attempted some starts using the root end of an organic celery bunch, the same of organic green leaf lettuce, and some gourmet variety organic fingerling potatoes, as suggested on many web sites. I chose organic not only because I prefer organic vegetables, but because conventionally-grown produce is said to be sprayed with a growth inhibitor. This was an experiment, done because we liked the potatoes and a few had started to develop eyes.
But, really, all gardening is an experiment. It’s important to remember that, because, as this blog has shown, if nothing else, results are never guaranteed. You never know what will grow in any particular season, or what will do poorly. When we grow tomatoes, we know to plant several different varieties, because invariably 1 or 2 varieties may do really well, while the rest produce very little or even no fruit. And this year my container garden has proven this once again.
Results so far are mixed: the beets never amounted to much. In fact, I got one tiny beet about the size of a marble. It was good, but not very filling. The other beet seeds sprouted and seemed to grow well for several weeks, but apparently not much was going on under the surface. I haven’t harvested the carrots yet, but the greens seem to have stopped growing, so I will likely do that soon. The corn salad basically disappeared. I think something was eating it, but I could never figure out what. After our spring rains came, late this year, two surviving sprouts developed very well. I’ve never had it before, so I’m not sure how big it is supposed to get; however, it, too, seems to have tapered off in growth, so I’m eyeing them for part of a salad. Similarly, the parsley did nothing for weeks: 1 sprout no more than an inch high struggled along until the rain came. It is now several inches high, although it is not a big plant, useful for much beyond adding a little color or flavor to any dish. The basil has been a fairly slow-grower, as well as the sage, although both have looked healthy. We warmed up fast this spring–I think getting into the 90s in late April just after the last frost–and the lettuce, plagued by little caterpillars at first, soon bolted. The celery grew several inches with the rain water, but, as with the other plants, seems to have stopped growing. I think it just got too fast too soon.
This past winter was a cold one for this area–we had several hard freezes–and I for one looked forward to having fewer mosquitos, fleas, and other pests this spring and summer. However, conditions were apparently also just perfect for another problem we don’t usually have–grasshoppers! They are all over the horseradish and spearmint in the ground, and they are starting to get into my pot! I am not happy about this development. All of my crops, such as they are, are starting to show signs of trouble from these pests. I tried diatomaceous earth and an old garlic oil spray leftover from last year, but neither worked. The latter was too old, I suspect. Today I just set a trap by sinking a glass jar half-filled with molasses water in the soil. I hope it works. I do not want to lose my crops or have to resort to chemical pesticides or poisons.
Vigilance, as every gardener knows, is the key to any garden’s success. I will stay vigilant.