Garden Party: Reality Check

Week 4

We have a very mild climate here, and so our growing season is very long. Nevertheless, it is not possible to grow just anything at any time of year. Starting a vegetable garden in July will meet with some failure, but I still expect to have some success.

The zucchini, for example, are coming along but they are nowhere near where they should be at this time of year:

Zucchini shown with inverted 24 oz plastic bottles. The bottles are to hold the netting up off the plants.

Zucchini shown with inverted 24 oz plastic bottles. The bottles are to hold the netting up off the plants.

One of the reasons I started this project, aside from wanting to clean up a mess, is that some zucchini seeds had taken root in the cow pasture in the spot where we dump our yard clippings. Since I discovered them about a month ago, I have been giving them a bucket of water once a day. They have produced some small, rough looking squash for us that was very tasty. Inspired by their industry, I figured I could do this thing even late in the year. They show where zucchini should be in August:

Wild zucchini plants with two gallon bucket for size comparison.

Wild zucchini plants with two gallon bucket for size comparison.

The melons are also proving educational. I started trying to plant melons in February, but the turkeys thwarted my attempts. Even planting seeds in window pots did not work. Finally, I built a wire cage to start them under, but they did not sprout until early June, if I recall correctly. Here are my original melon plants, grown from seeds planted in May I think:

The melons I planted in May look like this now.

The melons I planted in May look like this now. That fence in the background is about 4 1/2 feet high.

Note the dahlias competing with them. The pink blooms are still small but the plants are doing just fine keeping above the melon shade. The flowers are from seeds I planted in April, mostly eaten by the turkeys. I don’t have the heart to pull them out. I hope they don’t do something very strange to the melons.

The transplanted cantaloupe from that bed demonstrate something my mother explained to me yesterday: do not plant things where the side of the planter will shade them. Plant them with as much exposure to the sun as possible. Case in point: the first transplants were set too deep in the trough:

First transplants

First transplants

They are surviving but not growing as fast as the second group of transplants, an afterthought to fill an empty spot in the flower bed. They were smaller than the first group a couple of weeks ago but now they have caught up. I think they might have even overtaken the first group:

Transplant group 2

Transplant group 2

In other news, I think we have some onions on the way, but it is hard to tell. They look so much like grass!

Onions?

Onions?

And carrots… I know they are there but it is hard to identify them. Apparently they start out looking like grass and then morph into the lacy thing we recognize as carrot tops?

There be carrots in thar.

There be carrots in thar.

Finally, I think the lettuce is a bust. I can’t see anything but weeds in here. I wonder if they need more water or less water or more of something I don’t know how to give…

Everything that starts out looking like it could be lettuce is turning into thistles!

Everything that starts out looking like it could be lettuce is turning into thorny weeds!

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