Monday, August 18, 2008

Status Report: Situation Critical

It's been two-and-a-half weeks since our plants went into the deathtrap that we call a garden and I thought you'd be interested in a status report. I will say that although I was apprehensive about starting a garden with no prior gardening skills, I was also naive enough that I expected at least 50% of our plants to grow so that I could call it a success. I can honestly say that I'm disappointed in our results because I plain don't know how to fix them. When we started the garden and carried on about how hard this was going to be, we kept hearing that all you need to do is stick plants in the ground and water them… that it's not that hard… that I'm making this seem more difficult than it is… Well all of these people obviously assumed we knew what we were doing. The photos below show how little we know. The worst part for us is not the dead plants, but the realization that we have no idea what went wrong, how to fix it, or how to prevent it from happening again. Take a look for yourself at the carnage. If you have any suggestions as to what we did wrong, please leave a comment or email us - we're desperate.

If you have small children or have a weak stomach, please do not scroll down. This is not for the faint of heart. (And these photos were taken around lunchtime - it had rained a lot the night before...so although they all appear to need water, they had just received a lot of rain).

Bell Peppers
We started out with a handful of green, orange and red bell pepper plants. All of these came from plants we purchased and transplanted into the yard. One of the green pepper plants actually grew a little green bell pepper. You can see it on the end of the green stick that used to have leaves on it. All of the leaves have fallen off or died or are drooping.

String beans
We grew these from seeds and they have sprouted up quite nicely. A few have completely died off, but the row looks quite good. I need to research online if I am supposed to thin these - and see when I put in the sticks for them to climb up. So far though, these are alive, which is huge!

Cantaloupe
Oh dear. Well… what can I say? Brown, wilted, dead stumps formerly known as cantaloupe plants. There are two green leaves on one of the plants, so we're clinging to hope with that one.

Cucumbers
We bought these a week after we started the garden and transplanted them into our deathtrap. They were vibrant green lil' things until their roots stepped foot into our vegetable grave. They are completely wilted, floppy dead things now. Both are history.

Peanuts
We planted these from seeds from raw peanuts we bought from the grocery store. They are getting larger and are green and leafy, so we're optimistic - about 15 look great. Two have completely withered and died, so we're hoping that whatever killed those two isn't going to kill off the rest. Again, I need to research if these need to be thinned.

Pumpkin
We planted these from seeds that we purchased and they are our best-looking plants so far. A couple have completely withered and died, but the row looks great. Add this to the list of plants that we need to research about thinning.

Tomatoes
I got about 6 beautiful healthy strong tomato plants and transplanted them into the garden. One is doing quite well (not pictured) and is in a tomato cage. Its bottom leaves are yellowed and withered, but the rest look strong. The rest of the tomato plantss are very withered, yellowed and droopy and I fear their days are numbered.

Watermelon
I'm particularly sad about the watermelon plants because the boys were so excited about growing them. What can I say? The picture says it all. Droopy. Dried. Dead.

Zucchini/Squash/Banana Pepper
These are lumped in together because I can't tell which dead lump is which at this point. They are all dead brown lumps formerly known as plants.

Herbs/Broccoli/Carrots
Not pictured. The lavender is dead. The mint and cilantro are withered, but the basil is doing well. The broccoli has sprouted and surprisingly so have the carrots - both are very small and aren't big enough for me to make a judgment yet.

I really don't know what to say about it. We thought we did everything right. We bought fancy organic soil - we tilled it into our soil - we tested the soil (ourselves) - we tilled the soil again - we left the soil for several weeks before planting - we put down lime and fertilizer. We watered that garden any day that it didn't rain. We added fertilizer around the bottom of the plants at the recommendation of The Doctor at our local nursery. We bought gardening books and organic pest control books. We sprayed with a safe pesticide. We released ladybugs. We even hired a good luck gnome for pete's sake. We're just sad that we have such a big failure and no idea how to prevent it from happening again. I fear that buying more little plants and putting them in the ground will just kill them too. If we haven't learned anything from this failure, then how can we proceed?

The worst part of it? About 1.5 miles away there is a man who has grown an enormous new garden in the front yard of his house. The plants are huge and leafy-green. He started his late spring-early summer and it's beautiful. We picked all the plants listed for August planting in our zone, so it wasn't his early start that gave him the advantage. I have to drive past this garden at least twice a day and it taunts me with its lusciousness.

We are low on luscious. Very low.

1 comment:

ConnieK said...

Hi there... I just started reading your blog and noticed this post. I am a new gardener myself but am blessed with a neighbor who is Mother Nature incarnate. Here are some tips that I learned from her this summer: make MiracleGro your friend, weed often, water at night, use storebought soil from a garden center when you plant, cover it with mulch when you are done planting (keeps the weeds out and moisture in), sing to your plants (she swears by this), and keep neighborhood animals like dogs and cats away from the garden.
I know that we live in different planting zones, but these seem to be universal rules.
Don't give up and here are some plants that are pretty hardy and will give you good results: Strawberries, sunflowers, cosmos, english daisies, snapdragons, blackeyed susans.
Hope this helps, sorry for the novel!!

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