Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mother Nature Hates Me: My continued struggle with gardening

When I tell other gardeners all the problems I have had this season, their reaction is laughter mixed with amazement.  No one can believe that I could encounter so many problems with one garden in one season.

When I talk to my mother, it has become a big of a saga.  Every conversation starts with, "What happened to your garden THIS week?"

I think my soil must have been treated with radiation.

The last time we approached this topic, I was optimistic that things would turn around.  If by turn around you mean my plants haven't died, then yes, we've had quite a turnaround.  Otherwise, it's still one thing after another.

We'll start with the tomatoes.  Forget that I've still had two tomatoes come up with end rot since I treated them (quite an improvement I might add).  Last week I had several tomatoes start to turn red.  I watched them slowly ripen all week.  Then, on the morning that one was finally ready to be picked, I went outside and discovered this:
What I can only assume was a squirrel, helped himself to a heaping hunk of my large, beautiful, roma tomato.

How did he get inside do you ask?  I mean, I have a protective fence around the whole plot and my tomato plant is caged.  Well, it looks like he chewed threw the wire here:

and used his acrobatics to climb into the middle of my tomato plant and devour the biggest tomato on my plant.  At least have the decency to carry the tomato off with you or eat more than just one corner.  Don't leave it hanging there for me to discover in horror the next day.  Good for nothin' squirrels.

But that's not it.  Remember that cucumber I showed you in my last gardening post?  I was so excited to have a cucumber that actually made it past the blossoming stage.  And then it grew like this:

Apparently this is caused by poor pollination, aka not enough bees.  Another thing that is completely out of my control.

I remained optimistic though as I had started to see clusters of itty bitty cucumbers pop up.

Then... I went out of town on a business trip.  For four days.  And I didn't remind my husband to water the garden.  He certainly didn't think to do it himself.  Did I mention it was over 100 degrees everyday?  The result is me coming home to an almost dead garden.

 I was able to somewhat revive the plants with a good soaking, but the clusters of itty bitty cucumbers had long shriveled up and died.

 I am seriously beginning to wonder if my money would have been better spent at the farmer's market.  To date, between soil, plants, seeds, fertilizer, and end rot spray I have spent over $60 on this garden.  This doesn't count any sweat equity or what watering in this dreadful heat has done to my water bill.  And what do I have to show for it?  So far, 4 tomatoes, 2 peppers, and 1 deformed cucumber.  Well, there was the lettuce and the herbs, those turned out pretty good.  Maybe next year I'll only plant things that are idiot proof, like herbs and lettuce.  Yah, that sounds like a plan.


  1. I had a problem with my lily bulbs being dug up and eaten by a squirrel and a chipmunk that were in cahoots together. I tried everything to keep them away and the ONLY thing that worked was sprinkling some used kitty litter (which we have plenty of) underneath the top layer of mulch. I know that you can also buy fox urine online which is stinky, but amazing at keeping those annoying animals away.

  2. Katie, I'm having the same issues with my plants this summer too. Mine aren't effected by animals b/c their in containers on my balcony. But the tomatoes have bottom rot, all of them. And so far, everyone I've talked to around here, has the same problem. I"m sure you know this, but I guess it's a calcium deficiency. I'm hesitant to use the spray to correct it because I'm pregnant and not sure what other chemicals are in it. Do you know more about the spray? I hate that I'm losing all my tomatoes for the season. I have just one cucumber and one green pepper so far. I had much better luck last summer. Oh well...
    p.s. I have no idea how to comment by my Google Account. Grrr.
    Katie Esposito

  3. I used the spray. It is literally just calcium chloride and nothing else (maybe water to dilute it). It stopped the end rot almost completely, but it also burned some of my foliage, so I have mixed feelings about it.

  4. But Klink, the experience and the life lessons, those are PRICELESS. Really though. I know a girl who had the same bee shortage issue. They told her to take a Q-tip and pollinate them herself or to put some honey down in the garden to attract bees...

    Okay loves you. And I think that cucumber is still plenty big to eat at your desk banana style.

  5. Look at the educational opportunity you have been blessed with! You have learned more in one summer...it would take other gardeners years. I have been gardening for decades and you have taught me alot. You'll be a seasoned gardener next year and you will have an awesome garden. Hang in there.