…and the garden is winding down.
This summer, in southeastern PA, has been a weather rollercoaster. A pleasant but dry June was followed by a HOT and even drier July. August brought some cooler temperatures and rain. Lots of rain. And flooding – especially with the arrival of Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Depression Lee. Philadelphia recorded its wettest month EVER in August! My garden is looking a little unkept now – to say the least – since I haven’t been tending it in the rain.
I had several firsts this year in my veggie garden! I harvested my 1st asparagus from the bed I started last year. I tried growing tomatoes from seed planted directly into the ground. I didn’t spray any insecticide (I only use 100% natural sprays when I need to use them). I also saw my 1st lacewing in my garden!
Last year I planted 10 asparagus crowns and only 2 didn’t make it. The other 8 began sending up spears in April and I was able to harvest a few during a 2-3 week window. New research has shown that you don’t have to wait till the 3rd year before harvesting, and harvesting the 1st year after planting actually increases the buds that are formed by the crown. For more information on growing asparagus, click here.
For the 2nd year in a row my seedlings didn’t grow more than 2 inches. Although I haven’t figured out the cause yet, I tried planting my tomato seeds outside at our last frost date (for our zone 6 garden, it’s May 15th). I heard someone say that they regularly do this and harvest tomatoes the same time as their neighbor who uses started plants. I must say I was a little skeptical, but my seeds sprouted and grew. I trellised and pruned them, and they began to produce fruit. I ended up harvesting tomatoes the same week my father-in-law, who used started plants, did!
This summer I didn’t spray my garden at all with pesticide. I usually use an all-natural product called Pyola from a company called Garden’s Alive. It’s a concentrate made of pyrethrins and canola oil that you dilute with water and apply as needed. I did use diatomaceous earth on my eggplant to try to control the flea beetles that were attacking it, but after seeing my 1st lacewing in my garden I decided to try to do without spraying the entire garden. In addition to the lacewing, my Garden Patrol also included Wheel Bugs,
adult wheel bug eating a bumblebee
hatchling wheel bugs and eggs
wheel bug nymphs
praying mantis on a tomato plant
various spiders, native and Asian Ladybugs,
pink spotted ladybug
frogs, American Toads,
various songbirds and Milk Snakes .
juvenile milk snake
I truly enjoyed all of the life in the garden this year and always wondered what I’d see each time I worked in it. I have big plans for next year and I’m anxious to start on them. We’re going to finish putting mulch down in between the beds to eliminate the need to mow the garden. I’m also adding a perennial herb bed with rocky areas for snakes and toads to hide. The birdbath will move to the center of this bed. Lastly, we’re going to plant 2 organically grown blueberry bushes next spring.
Stay tuned for updates along the way!