Growth is vital for healthy people and plants alike. Writing blogs helps me grow as a writer. Some days, the words pour out onto the page in just the right order. On other days, they come in fits and spurts, here, there, and yonder, and it’s all I can do to wrangle them into some semblance of sense. The latter is likely where I learn the most, with an added dose of patience and persistence, all good skills to have for gardening.
Some readers may remember that I’m no vegetable gardening expert. However, with the help of the Clemson Home and Garden Information Center, I have grown and improved my skills. Doing is often one of the best ways to learn new skills. Learning from other people’s mistakes is also helpful. Let’s look at what worked and what didn’t in my vegetable garden over the past year.
I was content with what I got from these pitiful beds last year. They weren’t perfect, but it was an effort.
What a difference a year can make! Thanks to Paul Thompson’s game-changing trellis idea, a sufficient trellis dramatically kept everything high and dry this year while freeing up space and helping to control plant diseases.
My tomato plants are still going strong. I’ve lost count of how many tomatoes I’ve pulled from these vines this year. But, as we near the end of summer, the white flies are overtaking my garden. I plan to give the plants a good spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil to hold off the whiteflies for a few more weeks. (FYI – I’ve sprayed zero pesticides since planting in April. The plants were healthy enough to withstand minor nuisance pests. I avoid spraying chemicals to protect my beneficial pollinator and predatory insects. If I must use something more potent than insecticidal soap or neem oil to control insects on a plant, I’d just as soon not grow it.)
I have green, leafy hope for a respectable sweet potato haul this season. My ‘Beauregard’ sweet potato plants look pretty good, and I’ll harvest them soon. I’ve learned I need to add fertilizer at planting in the future. (I added no fertilizer at planting and only used a 2-4-2 water-soluble fish fertilizer three or four times the entire season.)
Growing cucumbers doesn’t seem to be a problem. Two vines are more than enough; one vine may be enough next year.
The cucumber, squash, and zucchini crops have more room for improvement. Whiteflies have infested the plants, causing sooty mold on the leaves. It’s past time to remove them.
Unfortunately, I allowed powdery mildew, squash beetles, squash vine borer, and whiteflies to enjoy these plants for too long this year. Next year may be time for a break from these crops.
A few weeks from now, I’ll put the vegetables to rest and sow a cover crop to begin building the soil for next year. The best part of planting a cover crop? I don’t have to think about the garden again until next spring.
Everything needed for a garden attempt is here. It just takes a willingness to learn, make some mistakes, and grow. Isn’t that true of anything worth doing in life?
For more information about growing a vegetable garden, visit the links below.
- HGIC 1256, Planning a Garden
- HGIC 1257, Raised Beds
- HGIC 1652, Soil Testing
- Watering the Vegetable Garden
- HGIC 1604, Mulch
A special ‘Thank you!’ to Vicki Landreth for putting my blog post together with all these photos! Vicki is a precious team member who, along with other duties, works behind the scenes to ensure our blogs and fact sheets get published each week.