April was a joke. I transplanted everything I could think of before I remembered to harden off the plants first. Now they all look sunburned. I left the garden gate open for an hour and a half while my chickens tossed my seedlings around the yard. That didn't help the sunburn.
My amazing zucchini plant turned yellow and started to die. My butterhead lettuce turned yellow just as it was on the verge of perfection. My tomato plant in the greenhouse started to turn yellow. My arugula all went to seed. It wasn't an inspiring month.
I visited the local nursery where they told me that fresh potting soil, even organic potting soil, isn't made with enough nutrients in it to support much plant life. This is disappointing to say the least. So I bought two boxes of E.B. Stone's organic vegetable fertilizer and doused my entire garden. It's been a week, and things are already looking greener.
My zucchini were suffering from blossom end rot, which occurs when there isn't enough calcium in the soil for the plants to form correctly.
The next discovery came when I compared my tomato plants. The first tomato plant on the left was planted in amended potting soil. The tomato plants on the right were planted some time later in a raised bed that I had filled halfway with unfinished compost to save money on organic potting soil. As you can see, they don't even look like the same kind of plant.
Below is a side-by-side example from another raised bed. The tomato plant on the left was planted over chicken bedding (fresh, completely un-composted), and the one on the right was planted in organic potting soil and amended with lots of plant food.
The next time I cleaned out the chicken coop, dug holes in my raised beds and buried the bedding directly there since I'll be filling in with more tomatoes and peppers soon. It seems weird not to compost it first, but so far no harm has come from it. If my family all dies from some kind of weird food poisoning, at least you'll know better than to try it.
It turns out that nearly every vegetable you grow in the summer requires lots and lots of rich soil to grow well. Rich soil never meant anything to me now, but I suppose it's code for being full of lots of rotten decomposed former plant life- compost and rotten manure. Corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, summer squash, cucumbers and peppers all require a lot to grow.
The other interesting thing has been the enormous number of aphids in the garden. I noticed them on the roses first, but shortly thereafter I realized that the tree next to the roses was dripping with ladybugs. I decided to let them all duke it out on their own. I've had a jalapeño in the greenhouse since last summer that I couldn't keep the aphids off of, and so I went and put it under the ladybug tree. First the aphids circled, then the ladybugs. The plant seems to be fine. I'm not sure that there's a huge takeaway from all this, but it's interesting to me.
A few years ago my dad planted a few tomatoes in the greenhouse. He felt that the ones outside grew better, but the plant in the greenhouse that survived went on to produce tomatoes for another year. It was a monster. I named him Seymour. So I am trying to grow another Seymour, but I think it might be necessary to prune at some point. Next time I will try this with a grow bag since they air-prune the roots, and maybe I'll have a perennial tomato.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!