Garden Challenges

All gardens have their challenges.  From year to year you learn from experience.  It really parallels with life.  No matter what anyone says problems and issues will arise.  You have to learn that this is part of having a garden.  

You can most certainly be successful and really enjoy the process but first you have to learn to relinquish control.  If you want every plant to be perfect and nothing to go wrong then I suggest not attempting in the first place.  If you are up for the challenge and want to learn from the challenges and rise above them then you won't be disappointed.

In the last week we have started to see some "challenges" in our garden.  Below I am going to share with you our reality!  

CHALLENGE #1: RABBITS in the beneficial flower beds
Rabbit appearing to be innocent
Two years ago rabbits invaded our plastic chicken wire fence and attacked our carrots.  This year however, they can't get into the main part of the garden.  However, they have been chewing away at the beneficial flowers in the front of the garden! 

LESSON LEARNED: Next year the support wire for the Zinnias needs to go all the way around the 2 beneficial flower beds so they can't get in!

Beneficial flowers in front of garden
 CHALLENGE #2: JAPANESE BEETLES in the beneficial flower beds
Japanese beetles on Zinnias
Damage to leaves from Japanese Beetles
The Japanese Beetles are alive and well.  They have been eating the leaves of the Zinnias.  They basically eat all the foliage on your plants and you just find slivers of leaves.  I look for them and when I find them I pick them off and smash them. 

LESSON LEARNED: Next year I want to try to plant some more natural repellents for these pests which include: catnip, chives, garlic and tansy.
CHALLENGE #3: ASPARAGUS BEETLES continue to attack!
Asparagus Beetle Larvae
This year the Asparagus Beetles have been on the plants daily.  I find at least 2 or 3 of the adult beetles and then 10 or so of the larvae.  Its a daily battle that is really getting tedious.  

LESSON LEARNED: Next year we will make the row covers taller and keep them on the Asparagus all season! 

Powdery Mildew on Zucchini leaves
Powdery Mildew has already attacked the Zucchini leaves!  Last year it got the Summer Squash before I knew what it was.  This year I should have taken more preventative measures.  However, now I can only try to keep it minimized.  It won't go away at this point but maybe we can keep it from spreading.

I am going to try a solution of 1 tsp. baking soda to 1 quart of water.  Then I will spray it on the leaves.  The baking soda is supposed to raise the PH which creates an environment that Powdery Mildew doesn't enjoy.

LESSON LEARNED:  Next year I am going to be preventative and spray the leaves with the baking soda solution BEFORE this happens!

CHALLENGE #5: Inadequately pollinated Winter Squash
Inadequately pollinated Burgess Squash
Inadequately pollinated Butternut Squash
I have been trying to hand pollinate some of our squash this year.  This is because last year I noticed that some of the baby squash started to form and then turned yellow and were brown on the end and dropped off the vine.  I thought maybe they just had some disease, however when I researched I found out this was not the case!

When I researched this I found that it was because more than one bee visit needs to happen to each fruit in order for the fruit to have enough pollen to properly form.  So these inadequately pollinated squash have had at least 1 bee visit but they are not getting the extra visit!  

I have read that there has been a decline in pollinators in recent years and this has been a common complaint of gardeners.   I was hoping that when we planted the beneficial flowers that they would draw more bees to the garden.  I know that I have seen more bees than in the past, however somehow they are still missing some of our squash!

LESSON LEARNED: I have tried (sort of) to get up early and hand pollinate.  I have only been successful a few times (with getting up early that is).  Next year (or this week) I have to wake up early every morning for a couple of weeks when the Squash flowers open up.

KEY POINT: (I just learned this) they only open in the morning and stay open for one day! Its important to hand pollinate as soon as you can after the flowers open up. 

Onions, Parsley, Broccoli, Basil and Zucchini
I continue to find it very worthwhile and fun to garden!  To end on a more positive note that same day I was able to harvest all of the vegetables above to use on July 4th for our cookout!  We enjoyed it all and its amazing how good vegetables taste fresh from the garden to your table. 

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