Absentee Gardening and Lucky Weather

May 26 2011 Published by under Biology & Environment

One of the advantages of living in an area with a warm dry climate is the long growing season. I normally start my vegetable garden with seeds and seedlings in the last week of March, and finish harvesting peppers and tomatoes around Thanksgiving.

This year, though, March flew by before I knew it. That actually turned out to be a stroke of luck, because a freak snowstorm dumped a couple inches of snow on April 9th, which is well after temperatures are normally hitting the 70s.

So it wasn't until almost the last week of April that I finally planted this year's vegetables. I don't have a good patch of dirt, so I grow them in large pots on my patio, following the recommendations in my dog-eared copy of Square Foot Gardening for growing vegetables in small spaces.

I like to grow a variety of vegetables that are either taste best home grown, are expensive or are hard to find in the supermarket, or grow easily.  This year I planted tomatoes (Early Girl, Sweet 100 and Black Cherry), Japanese eggplant, lemon cucumbers, floral gem peppers, tatuma squash (aka Mexican zucchini), and Blue Lake bush beans.

I started with small plants (except for the lemon cukes, which I started from seed), watered and fertilized them. And then I got sick. For several weeks my garden sat untended. Last weekend I finally got around to some serious gardening again and found that it had done just fine without me.

The tomatoes are thriving, the peppers are blooming, and there are already squash that are a couple of inches long. The eggplant was munched on by some kind of hungry bug, but it survived. And the cucumber seedlings are still small but growing.

Some of that was again luck - the weather has continued to be mostly cool and rainy, interspersed with some sunny but not-too-hot days. But it also made me realize that my usual frequent fussing over the newly planted vegetables (and tendency to overwater) might actually do them more harm than good.

I also joined MyFolia.com to track my progress. It's not perfect - I'd like to upload photos directly, rather than posting them on Flickr or Picasa first - and several of the nicer features aren't available with the free version I'm using. But so far it seems better than my usual method of jotting notes on loose pieces of paper that end up jumbled and a bit illegible by the end of the year. I like the idea of being able to easily keep track of when the plants sprouted and flowered and when the veggies were first harvested each year.

I'm hoping that all of this bodes well for a bumper crop this summer!

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