The Beginning of the End: Some Lessons Learned

The beginning of the end of gardening season has begun, and I have to say that I have run into some serious troubles compared to the minor troubles I had at the start of the season. I am still marking this first growing season as a success, but I have a few things that I definitely need to change for next season. I also have to figure a few things out in light of a new issue that has cropped up just this week that I never expected to have to deal with.

First thing’s first: I need to work on my watering practices. For the most part they are okay. However, I ran into some serious trouble with my tomato plant. I was under the impression it was going to be a complete success as we had four fruit form on the plant. Unfortunately all four ended up succumbing to blossom end rot which according to some research is very common. It’s usually a result of erratic watering practices. I figured out that while my watering practices were no erratic, I just plain wasn’t watering enough even though I was watering daily. My tomato plant was apparently bone-dry or very close to it for the majority of the season. It is a lesson learned. It seems I just had no concept of how much water the tomato actually needed. Having learned all this now, I have high hopes for a much more successful tomato crop for next year.

Lettuce was a relative success this year in that we were able to use it in a few salads. It was planted early and as a result we were able to use it early. Unfortunately, because it was planted so early, it also went to flower or “bolted” early. Bolting makes the lettuce go really bitter and makes it essentially inedible once the process has begun, so we had to pull the lettuce up about two weeks ago now. Turns out that high humidity and lots of heat, as well as a lot of direct sunlight will cause this to happen more quickly than it usually would. It has been a very hot summer and my balcony does get a lot of sun on the side where I keep the garden. I think next year I will be planting the lettuce later and keeping it in a different area on the balcony that receives a bit less direct sunlight. Lettuce fresh from my own garden was just amazing and I can’t wait to try it again next year. With all the new information I have learned I can only hope that it will be an even greater success next year.

All my herbs have just done swimmingly and I have no complaints about them. I think I will in slightly larger pots next year and plant them at about the same time. I have no complaints about how the parsley, sage, basil and chives turned out. I did struggle a bit with the oregano, having to plant it that second time. I had all but given up on it and it is coming back now. I will do some more research over the winter to see if there is anything I can do differently to help the oregano along a bit more next year. It seems everything else worked out just perfectly!

Considering I went in almost completely blind with this garden I am very happy with how everything has turned out in general. I can only imagine that next year will be even better.

The most serious issue I have encountered though is one that I have only just discovered earlier this week. I planted a second crop of green onions a few weeks ago because we enjoyed them so much only to find that they have been disappearing. One early morning this past week I discovered the culprit. SQUIRRELS have been eating them!

Squirrels
Squirrels in the garden – My new arch-nemesis!

I managed to save a few, but there will be nowhere near as many as we had hoped. Thankfully they haven’t been eating the herbs, but I will have to devise something to keep them away next year! Who knew squirrels really could scale walls! Needless to say, this was a very frustrating discovery for me to make. I have had a couple of suggestions from co-workers and friends, and I am sure I will be trying each one of them next year in hopes that one of them will succeed and keep the squirrels away.

All-in-all this garden season consisted of a lot of learning for me. I am sure it will be much the same next year. I can only hope things will continue to improve in the coming years.

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2 thoughts on “The Beginning of the End: Some Lessons Learned

  1. I too live in an apartment and keep a container garden on the balcony. It’s done pretty well, but I’ve had the biggest problem with squirrels! They’ve destroyed so much and they do eat the strawberries and tomatoes. Last year my containers would dry out too fast too…I was watering 2-3 times a day, but I changed up my soil mixture this year and it’s holding in moisture much better this year…really happy with it so far.

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