Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Farming Woes and Raptures

I don't know that there has ever been a farmer who has had complete success with his garden.  There are always trials and woes mixed in among joys and raptures.

Just in case you think I've had it pretty easy, or my garden is self-maintaining, I'll put your mind at ease.

Many of my plants did well this year, thanks to a bit more rain and no sign of a drought as we had last summer.  My tomatoes despite many pesky setbacks, have done quite well.  I have harvested enough right now, to put some up, however, I am sure I would have harvested twice as much if it weren't for the squirrels and those nasty leaf-legged bugs.  I now know that if I intend to have enough tomatoes to keep through the winter, we have to plant about four times as many plants next year.  Which means four times as many pests.  Blah.

Next year....a fence.

My orange mint was looking beautiful just a few weeks ago, but when I came home from my trip, I found it to be mostly dead.  I was sure I had lost it, but I noticed yesterday, that there are a few leaves making a comeback!  Word to the wise, make sure your mints get plenty of water and, if you're in the lower bowels of Texas, they need to stay out of the sun!

Orange Mint Before
Orange Mint After

My cucumbers were doing GREAT this year, that is until I found the cucumber beetles.  By the way, this may be a "duh" moment, but I discovered that they don't just like cucumbers, they like melons and beans too.  I lost a couple of watermelon and cantaloupe vines to those critters.

Cucumbers Before

Cucumbers After (half my plants are gone)

The fig tree is beautiful as always.  We have been blessed with several jars of preserves already.  I can't take any credit for this wonderful tree, my husband takes great pains in nurturing its growth and production.

The only watermelon I have left.  Between bugs and squirrels, I don't have much to be proud of.  I wish I had paid better attention earlier on and maybe I could have stopped any progress of infestation.  I took so much effort in hand-pollinating and helping fruit to set, I'm disappointed that I don't have more to show for it!  According to our planting schedule, I still have time to plant some more seeds, so I may try again for a fall harvest.

Our onions have always done well, that is until I decided to raise the soil in our raised bed.  My onions did not care for the adjustment and every one of them died off.  However, I was so thankful to see new growth this week!  I'm grateful for the rain and milder temperatures, which I'm sure encouraged my onions to readjust and apply themselves to sprouting up again.

I also planted corn, which grew a couple of feet and then died.  I am not sure if it was the soil, not enough sun, or too much water.  I suppose I need more room, anyway, if I intend to have much of a crop.  Corn may be best left for future planting on a larger homestead.

My biggest embarrassment was garden peas.  I have never attempted to plant them before, I followed instructions, but they never include how to plant in the armpit of the Gulf.  I didn't even pay attention enough to realize they are a cool-weather crop and planting them here, means they don't stand too much of a chance, even in the spring.  It's just too warm, too fast.  The good news is I have a second chance in the fall.  Supposedly we can plant in September here and, due to our mild winters, they actually grow well.  My sister-in-law was just here from Wyoming and she brought the most wonderful tasting peas straight from her garden!  We couldn't stop eating them, pod and all.  I still have that glorious taste in my mouth...


~Kristin~ said...

Take heart...I know how this feels!
This is only my 3d year at gardening and preserving and between the heat and lack of water on our land, I have no idea sometimes where it goes all wrong.
How do you estimate how much tomatoes or product that you need?
Also, Quinn at Reformation Acres posted about using duct tape to get the bugs and eggs of those pesky bugs.
We too, need a fence if we will succeed with any melons, pumpkins, or squash. The coons are the enemy.
And finally, unless your corn was in standing can't over water it. :0)
Something may have gotten the roots though.
In my humble and sweet country opinion.
Good luck!

Homestead Journey said...

Thanks for the advice, Kristin! I planted my corn in an area that I've never used for farming before, so it may have been that something affected the roots, or maybe the soil was just crummy. That tends to happen around here.

As for food production, this year we just made the decision to plant what we could, where we could. Although I have a large lot, I am limited on space. However, in the book The Backyard Homestead, there is a garden planning chart which lists several vegetables, how many seeds or plants per row, and the amount of seeds, plants, or rows per person.

Also, my husband's grandmother kept a one-acre garden for her family of seven, plus a couple more acres of grains, melons, and corn. That's my goal, once we get out to more land. To be as productive and adventurous as Grandma F. :)

Thank you for your sweet input, I truly value it!!!

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