My last post was full of disappointment and discouragement. I'm back to say I'm down not out. I made a decision several days ago to not fight the vine borers at the moment. My plants were covered with eggs and having fought a losing battle last year, I decided to pull up everything and maybe start fresh later in the season. Any eggs that may have fallen in the soil when I removed the plants should hatch out soon and since they won't have anything to eat, their life cycle should end. I did manage to trap and kill one borer, which is always a thrill for me. Though I did see another one hovering over my Upper Ground Sweet Potato plant yesterday. I wanted to try to catch her as well, but she didn't really show any interest in the plant and didn't land. I'm not really finding any eggs on it, so I'm assuming it's safe. The Zucchino Rampicante that I was so excited about and that is supposed to be vine borer resistant is not resistant to the borers in my neck of the woods. I do still have several watermelon and Charentais melon plants that are so far safe. I'll go with these for now. I really need some row cover material but haven't been able to find any locally so I may have to go online. I would be willing to hand-pollinate a few squash plants for the reward of finally having squash. Since we have a pretty long growing season, I still have time to work on my squash issues.
Last year, I also had a huge problem with flea beetles. They did some damage to my tomatoes but devoured my eggplants to the point where I had to go buy transplants from the nursery. This year I noticed damage early on my seedlings, so I moved them to my upper deck table instead of leaving them on the lower part of my deck. This definitely helped as I didn't see any new damage once I moved them. Also, I let them get a little larger before I put them out. I'm happy to say this year the flea beetles seem to be in check, and while I've seen some new damage since planting, my tomatoes and eggplants are doing well. I also suspect the additional sunlight is helping everything grow faster and making it easier to sustain and overcome what damage there is.
I had a terrible time last year with pepper plants being chewed off at the base. I think it was due to grasshoppers, but whatever it was caused me to lose all of my pepper starts just as I was about to harvest my first peppers. That really set me back time-wise since I had to start over with nursery transplants. So far everything is fine this year. I've seen some grasshoppers, but not as many as last year.
I had a hard time getting peppers to sprout this year, so I had to buy transplants. But with the exception of the peppers, everything else in the garden was started from seed. That's quite an accomplishment for me.
Two varieties I grew last year but decided not to bring forward into 2012 are garden huckleberries and ground cherries. The garden huckleberries were very productive and easy to grow; however, we don't really like them. The ground cherries, on the other hand, are a different story. We loved them, but so did the cardinals. I had to fight the cardinals for the pleasure of eating them. Plus, they spread like ground cover and if I decided to grow them in the future, I would need some good ground space and bird protection.
Overall, I think my garden is off to a great start, and I'm looking forward to a plentiful harvest. Now if I can just overcome those vine borers.
Dan's Workshop: Making the Bents
2 days ago