Sunday, October 4, 2009

Early Fall Review by Heirloom Fan

This summer certainly posed its challenges in my garden and for many of you as well. We had the cold, wet spring. Then things warmed up and the flea beetles and aphids began chewing on everything. And of course the devastating hailstorm in July.

After the storm, I took time to prune what I could and found that most of my heirloom tomatoes sprung back. I did what I could to help them along – kept them under walls of water and fed them at least once a week. Right now, my tomatoes are still blooming and setting fruit but most are still small, green and I wonder if I can squeeze out enough mild weather from Mother Nature to even see one of them become ripe.

I did replant some things and was surprised that even at the relatively late stage of the growing season, so many of these restarts came up quickly. It did teach me that it is probably worth it to get some things going early and do a second planting later on. I had one surviving pumpkin plant for example and planted a couple more pumpkin seeds and they all are now at about the same stage. Like the tomatoes, they are blooming and producing little pumpkins and I know that in order to get one to even the small and ripe stage is going to take some dedication to protection from the frosts and other weather conditions.

I also planted some nasturtiums and Thai Basil in a planter box, and they are doing great. I had wondered if I would see any flowers because it seemed the nasturtiums were spending a lot of time growing and producing big plants but within the past week or two there is finally there is a burst of bright orange and red orange flowers.

My purple asters recovered from the hailstorm and are now blooming to the delight of the visiting bees. As I took the picture of them this morning, I noticed a praying mantis quietly waiting on the bush above the asters. Hopefully he is out hunting for any pests in the area.

I did notice that the squirrels are very aggressive this year and several gardening friends have told me that they are having the same problem. It is probably due to some of their food source being damaged or destroyed in the hailstorm, but I have so far lost several things in the garden including green tomatoes, small pumpkins and sunflowers. The corn that came up under our birdfeeder was also recently robbed of all its small ears. So after all of this replanting and recovery, it seems that one of my efforts as the growing season winds down is to try to keep what I have left in the garden protected from the raiding squirrels. This has been a challenging and an educational growing season to say the least