Well, the June garden turned out to be a … learning experience. My father built this wonderful box for me, but well, it needs some refining before it will work as we had hoped. The box didn’t have a bottom; it sat on the cement, and I don’t think that worked well. I think the roots essentially got cooked. Plants would start growing easily and quickly, but at a certain point, things (mostly) stopped growing. The climbing beans — which I probably shouldn’t have planted anyway — only had a small handful of stunted beans. My lettuce and onions and radishes never grew beyond two or three inches tall. My beets never really grew much either, although they did the best of anything in that box. We had one lovely round beet, and lots of teeny tiny beets. However, we ate them this week with our supper (along with some “standard” beets bought from the Farmer’s Market). Having the standard beets and the home-grown beets served side by side allowed for JJ and I to compare taste, and the home-grown beets from my garden tasted markedly sweeter, despite their tiny size.
My zucchini grew great and was full of blossoms, but I never got a single zucchini. I think the blossoms never got pollinated. However, I found that this is a common problem, and I found this blog post that talked about how to hand-“mate” zucchini. I may try that next year. I had the same problem with the pumpkin I planted — grew well with blossoms, but no blossoms turned into plants. I also had mildew on my zucchini and pumpkin plants; I’m not sure if that was because the plant wasn’t putting it’s energy into making vegetables or what, but it was also a problem.
My pear tomatoes plants (sort of like cherry tomatoes) that I planted did great. With two plants, I got a nice crop of small delicious tomatoes off of them. However, I only got a few small carrots (that got added to a batch of homemade chicken soup), and the peas never grew past three inches high either (although I don’t think they got staked properly).
My late planting at Labor Day has fared much better. I bought two containers: a 2 foot rectangular one in which I planted bush beans, and a circular one in which I planted onions. I also replanted the peas. All of these containers have bottoms. Wow! What a difference! These beans are doing fantastically. I picked 27 full-grown beans off the plants just this afternoon, and the onions look like real onions. They look great!
So, in my first year of container gardening, I’ve learned that containers, when they are sitting on concrete, must have a bottom, otherwise the roots cook and don’t grow. I’ve learned not to overwater plants. I’ve learned that blossom plants need to be pollinated in some way. I’ve learned that plants in containers need to be fertilized more regularly.
Hopefully before I plant a garden again next year, Dad will be able to come out for a visit again, and we can figure out some way to put bottoms onto the boxes he built me. I’m making an attempt to compost a little bit in the soil in the boxes over the winter; hopefully that will impart some “juice” back into the soil for next year. One can hope! If anyone (Ruth? Kirsten?) has any composting tips for me, I’d be delighted to hear them.
I’m looking forward to eating my home-grown beans in the next day or two, and there will be more beans in the future. I’ve got onions to look forward to. And, I almost forgot to mention! I don’t know if they’ll actually amount to anything, but my tomato plant which is at the end of it’s rope — has a few new blossoms on it!!! Go figure! We’ll have to see what happens with them. The weather has cooled down considerably lately, and a person can tell that we’re moving closer to winter, but who knows?