Monday, August 26, 2013

Just when I'm about to give up altogether....

Lately, every time I go out to water the garden, I'm disappointed.  The spider mites have taken over my beautiful tomato plants.  They are skeletons of what they used to be.  The last two zukes have succumbed to blossom rot, and the crookneck squash never produced a single fruit.  Everything is burned from the intense heat of the California summer, and when I'm not fighting bugs, I'm fighting powdery mildew.  It has been a very frustrating month. 

Some days, I have been about ready to pull it all up, sanitize everything, and start planning my fall garden.  Other days, I have been ready to pull it all up and just give up on gardening. 

Until today. 

Photo credit to the 4-year old Pipsqueak.  I had to teach her to use my camera. 
There was no way anyone else was posing with this baby!

This is the one and only spaghetti squash that my plant produced.  I know it's a little green on this side, but when I read up on it, I saw that you pick it when the vine turns brown... and today, the vine gave it up.   So I'm going to eat it, and I'm going to thank it for giving me hope in my garden again. 

On the bright side:

I picked a 4 1/2 oz lemon cucumber, the first tomato since the spider mite infestation, and 12 1/2 oz of green beans today.  All is not lost. 

I also found two green bean plants that have found there way out of the pots and into the soil.  Must have been a stray bean that got away from me.  So I cleaned up the area around them and I'm wishing them luck. 

Wanna see the other little surprise I found near the potting bench today? 

Holy Halloween, Batman!

It's a baby pumpkin!  There are actually two.  This one is the size of a golf ball, the other one is about the size of a pea.  When I bought this little plant, all I hoped for was one pumpkin to carve for Halloween.  I'm not sure if we'll get it, but this is a good start.  I'm just hoping it's not too early.  That spaghetti squash took at least two months to grow, so I'm hoping that the timing is right for this little guy... and that the bugs and/or the heat don't get Jack...  my little Jack-O-Lantern in training. 

As if that wasn't enough JOY for the day, I had one more little ray of hope for the future of my garden....
One of my bowls of strawberry plants has been shooting out runners.  I decided to give rooting them a try, rather than letting them do their own thing in the ground.  That could prove to be difficult, since I have such limited space on the side yard. 

I saw an expert gardener that planted strawberries in rain gutters, and I thought that was a great idea.  I'm hoping to get some hung on the wall next season.  If I can propagate my own, that would be so much better. 

So, I was about to give up on it all, and now I've decided that all is not lost, and much of my struggle might just be the life of a Southern California gardener.  Heat and pests are the reality, and if I can just keep working at it, I might just succeed.

That's one of the reasons I wanted to keep this blog... so that next summer, when I'm feeling low, I can go back and remember these little glimpses of success! 

I'm still learning, and that's ok.  I've pulled more than 50 pounds of produce from my garden this year, that's 50 pounds of produce that I didn't have to buy. 

Take care, all... 
Green thumb (and  yes, I'm still considering it green, for now) out.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The black plague of gardening

It's such a shame...  I don't know how it happened, but my tomatoes are struggling for life.  Remember those gorgeous TREES I had?  They are nearly gone.  It's all because I have so much to learn. 
Spider mites.  I'm calling them the black plague of gardening.  I didn't realize what they were, and before I knew it, my tomatoes were infested.  The foliage was so thick that they ran rampant between plants (that's a mistake that won't happen again!)
I started by cutting off the infected foliage, but unfortunately it pretty much decimated them.
Then I sprayed, using Ortho bug killer.  I waited too long to do this, and by the time I sprayed, it was almost too late.  I hate using chemicals on my plants, but I didn't know what to do.  This is the kind that once you use it, you can't harvest anything for a week. 
Nothing happened.  It didn't kill the spider mites, and it didn't even kill the caterpillars.  Frustration. 

So I talked to my mom, who had just talked to a guy at the garden center about  her plants.  He recommended Captain Jack's Dead bug Brew,  Ut's organic, which is good.  You spray, and you can pick the next day.  I soaked my plants in it yesterday, and I am sure hoping that they start to come back.
I have them separated so they don't touch, and they are cut WAAAAY back, so they are going to have to work for it.  Tomatoes are divas, and they don't really like the hot weather.  Well, it's August in Ontario, CA... and it's nothing but hot.  The low is 65 in the dead of night. 
Wish them luck, they are going to need it.
The good news is - - the lemon cuke is going to make it, and it's producing cukes now.  yay!
Sad green thumb out.