July has to mean better things for my garden

I realized during the past week that I need a New Year’s resolution of sorts for July. It’s time I pay better attention to my garden. That is, of course, if I want anything to come of it this summer.

The weeds I wrote about almost two weeks ago were the least of my problems. While I was watching soccer and basketball games during the month of June, I also was neglecting several other crops, which dearly paid the price. By the time I got around to caging the tomatoes, most were too big for the cages I had. The rain and wind (and a bit of hail) on June 18 had battered two of them pretty badly, leaving the stems of one split to the ground (photo at right). When I tried to cage a second one, I broke off at least 4 of the bigger branches — some which had lots of flowers.

As I moved from plant to plant, my heart pounded harder and harder. My first major mistake of the summer and it had to be with my favorite veggie — the biggest reason why I plant a garden. I couldn’t believe it – I wanted to cry. I eventually stopped trying to cage them for fear I would break off too many more branches.

While lamenting my predicament with neighbor Jack (who of course had his tomatoes caged weeks before), he suggested I try the cages he had recently bought. They were much bigger at the base than mine and probably would allow me to get the branches in without breaking off too many. It gave me hope that all was not lost.

I couldn’t find the exact cages Jack had, but I did find some square cages that not only were bigger at the base, but all the way up, too. And they were much more solid than the wiry ones I had been using. It was much easier to guide the branches on both the tomatoes with split stems and the bigger, bushier plants. Again, I was somewhat hopeful that they had been saved from my stupidity and lack of attention.

My second major mistake of the summer was neglecting my beans. Several weeks ago, I had been excited to see them flowering, thinking it wouldn’t be long before we’d have fresh green beans for supper. Apparently, either the local rabbits or deer thought the same thing, because the next time I looked at them, something had chewed off all the shoots. A few of the peas had been chewed on, too, but not as many. Whatever varmints are at fault (I haven’t been able to see tracks of any kind), they’ve left everything else alone — the lettuce, carrots, onion, beans, tomatoes. I’ve since spread out some of my marigolds around the outside of the garden and between rows/crops, with the hopes their pungent odor will keep critters away. I’ve also started spraying a deer repellent around the border of the garden. It’s a recipe my sister gave me and seems to have helped in the past. It’s easy and inexpensive to make, too: Beat 1 egg with a 1/2 cup milk, then add 1 tablespoon each dish detergent (like Dawn) and cooking oil. Put it all in an empty gallon milk jug and fill up with water. Once it’s all mixed, I usually fill a spray bottle then spray where I need it.

So, with the weeds (mostly) under control and the tomatoes and beans back on track, here’s my promise:

As Mother Nature as my witness — and gardening bloggers everywhere — I’m going to attend to the garden at least every other day during the month of July. Even if it’s just pulling a handful of weeds or picking a few cucumbers, I’m going to make sure I’m paying much more attention to it in July than I did in June. In addition, I’m going to take a photo from the same spots several times a week to post on Garden Booyah. The post might not be much more than two photos with captions some days, but it should be interesting to track the garden’s progress — and keep the weeds and the varmints in check.

This is a June 25 photo of the garden looking west — tomatoes in the front, in the far back, from left: lettuce, peas, beans and potatoes. Onions, carrots and cukes in between.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. […] the tomato cages would be knocked over and other plants would be flattened. The new, sturdier tomato cages (tomato plants, too) didn’t appear to be affected by the wind. I think those cages were my […]

  2. Posted by Cindy on July 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Where did you get the cages? They look like they might work for some of my larger flowers that are toppling over. Looks like you guys need rain like we do. Too hot and too dry by us. Thank goodness for the shade we have–it helps alot.

    • Stein’s. They weren’t cheap – I think they were $15 each, but they’re so sturdy that I think they’ll last quite awhile. And they won’t bend like others.

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