Gardening Blues

This is my third gardening update and I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to forgive the slightly pessimistic tone of this blogpost because my horticultural endeavours are Not Going Well. I was away for almost the whole of July and despite having some lovely people come round and water the plants/feed the pets while we were on holiday, the garden now seems to be struggling a bit.

I planted out my 4 zucchini plants in between the rows of spring onions in one of the raised beds before we left, but it seems that some hungry bugs have been munching on them because the leaves have all but disappeared on two of them and the other two are also looking a bit disheveled. I had high hopes for these, seeing as they grew so quickly in the pots, but it looks like we might be struggling to get any zucchinis this year. Perhaps if I buy some slug pellets or other type of bug repellent, they might do a bit better, but I’m not feeling terribly optimistic.

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The carrots, on the other hand, are still growing nicely – they seem to be the only outdoor plants that are thriving right now – which is odd, because I thought I had read somewhere that carrots were not ideal veggies for beginners. Having said that, I know from previous experience that they might be green and bushy on top without having much going on below the soil, so there may still be a distinct lack of actual carrots later on!

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The small tub of radishes I planted also didn’t make it, which is rather disheartening, because I had read in several places that radishes are super easy to grow, but it might be that the containers weren’t right and perhaps didn’t have enough soil. I might try them again if I have some seeds left – and this time, lavish a bit more care and attention on them!

The most disappointing of all, however, are my strawberry plants, which seem to have developed a fungal disease called Leaf Scorch. Apparently this can be caused by “overhead watering” which I think is what I’ve been doing, as well as overall damp conditions. The soil hasn’t seemed overly damp, hence me watering them on a regular basis, but perhaps I’ve been watering them too much. Apparently thinning out the plants, ceasing overhead watering and re-planting with new, unaffected plants after the season is finished can help to control the disease, so that’s my plan for now. If anyone has any other tips or suggestions, please let me know! Its a particular disappointment because the poor plants were doing so well up until this point; they were flowering and ready to produce fruit, but now they all seem to be dying. Ah well, this is as much, if not more, of a learning experience as growing healthy plants would be, so I shouldn’t complain too much.

My indoor plants are doing somewhat better – especially the hot peppers, which are now enormous. However, they are now a problem, because I had to re-plant two of them in bigger pots that won’t fit on the windowsill, but I also can’t put them outside because it seems to be too windy, even in the somewhat sheltered porch! I did try it, but after a day the plants were actually losing leaves because of the wind, so I brought them indoors again. I guess I need a mini greenhouse or something, so they can be outside and absorbing sunshine, but protected from the wind.

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My spearmint is also FINALLY growing – still very slowly, but it is at last making progress. So it’s not all doom and gloom!

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My plan for the next couple of weeks is to start again with the radishes (in a more suitable container with lots of decent soil), maybe buy some slug pellets to protect the zucchinis and perhaps remove some of the strawberry plants that look like they’re too sick to recover. Hopefully I’ll have better news in my next update. Onwards and upwards!

 

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4 Responses to Gardening Blues

  1. Zucchini – looking at the pictures I’d say almost certainly slugs and that they’re a bit on the small side to have been planted out into the open. I’d suggest digging up the two that have survived and putting them in a large pot on the windowsill again until they’ve got a bit bigger.

    You can get square flower pots (harder for slugs to hide between than round) that are 9cm square and 9cm deep. They’re usually black for some reason. Large seeds like zucchini can be started off in these and when the roots start poking out of the bottom the plant should be strong enough to cope outside. ‘Harden them off’ for a week first by leaving them in the pots outside and bringing them in at night before planting them in your beds. Try to avoid watering at night as this encourages slugs – better first thing in the morning before the sun’s warm on the back of your neck.

    Carrots look like they’re doing well – but as you say hard to tell.

    Radishes crop within a few weeks so there’s plenty of time to grow more. Sow sparingly, there should be a few hundred seeds in a packet.

    Strawberries – the new growth looks quite healthy to me; they’re definitely not dying. I’d take off all the spotted leaves and any dead leaves/debris under the plants and burn or bin it. They do look a bit crowded – I’d suggest taking out about half of the smaller plants in each bed and planting them elsewhere then putting a good thick layer of fresh compost around the roots, avoiding the leaves.

    When you water take the rose off the end of the watering can and use the spout to direct the water at the roots only, avoiding the leaves as much as possible. Don’t water more than twice a week unless you get a spell of really hot weather.

    They should come back quite quickly; not sure if you’ll get any fruit this year though, but you never know.

    Very healthy pepper plants making a smart house plant!

    Your spearmint looks like basil to me??

    You’re bound to have a blip if you’ve been away at this time of year but things will soon pick up now you’re back.

    Nil desperandum!

    (We’re having an atrocious summer over here; rain, wind and very cool temperatures with only the occasional sunny day. I’ve grown sweet peas for the first time and it’s not a good year to have chosen: we’ve had ‘bud drop’ – where all the developing flower heads suddenly fall off the stems overnight due to temperature fluctuations – three times now.)

    • zanyzigzag says:

      Hi Victoria, thank you again for your hugely helpful comments! My apologies for not responding sooner – this last week’s been quite busy, but I have followed a few of your suggestions – I took out all of the damaged strawberry plants, so about half of them are now gone. Unfortunately the leaf scorch is now spreading among the plants that are left, so I think I still may have to take them all out at the end of the season. No sign of any fruit at all, sadly. My pepper plant on the windowsill is now starting to produce small flowers, none of which are blooming yet. I feel like it might be a bit late in the season to expect any actual peppers, seeing as they apparently like warmth and it’s about to start getting colder – next year I’ll maybe start them a bit earlier. I haven’t removed the one zucchini plant that’s still going – it’s just produced two flowers – again, not open yet and I doubt I’ll actually get any veg, but as with the peppers, I plan to start earlier next year! I’ll upload more pics in my next blogpost so you can see what’s changed. Thanks again very much for your help, I really appreciate it!

      • Sorry to hear about the strawberry plants; you’ll just have to put this year down as a learning year.

        I’d say you’d done pretty well for a first timer, and in an unfamiliar climate, especially since you went away in the middle of the season. (I’m surprised at how short your growing period is! – no wonder fresh fruit and veg are so expensive over there.)

        See if you can get a little cheap-y plastic greenhouse for Christmas from somewhere, about £30 self-assembly, it should make a lot of difference in starting things off earlier. Some things overwinter really well and can be sown in whatever month corresponds to the British September to get a head start in the spring.

        Larkspur seeds are usually put in the freezer for a couple of weeks before sowing as they do better after a cold winter – it sounds like they’d be a doddle in your climate and would be something bright for the front.

        Great hearing all about your gardening adventures – looking forward to next lot of pics!

  2. Aleeha says:

    Ugh, it’s so annoying when pests come and ruin your plants!
    Aleeha xXx
    http://www.halesaaw.com/

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