Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Getting ready for fall planting.

So, these are what tomatoes look like when you have a July drought and you don't water your tomatoes.

Very Sad.

However, there is a silver lining. I purchased seeds recently to plant a fall garden, and since my tomatoes are dried to a crisp I figured I might as well rip them out today to make room. 

This is a disaster. Early on in the season my three cherry tomato plants fell over and the cages weren't sturdy enough to straighten them, so I left it to become this tangled mess. I NEED to find a better tomato support system. The cages have not worked well for me the past two years. Anyone have any suggestions??

I went to harvest all the tomatoes I could, and the cherry tomato plants had lots of ripe tomatoes! However, they also were covered in creepy looking bugs. I hope you can se them in the picture. I was afraid to get any closer with the camera! I wasn't about to put my hands anywhere near the buggers, tomatoes or not. So, it all went into the compost pile. 

I saved one tomato plant because it had five or six tomatoes on it. I pulled off all the dead leaves hoping it would help the tomatoes ripen more quickly. I call it my charlie brown tomato plant. 

All (but one) of the tomatoes are gone. Now I just have to plant the seeds for my fall garden. I meant to do it today, but after a gazillion mosquito bites I decided to call it a day.

I kept the peppers, basil, and stevia. They are still producing and look healthy. Maybe they will hit a growth spurt with more sun exposure from removing the other plants. 

The final loot. Not bad considering the poor condition of the plants. 

I have realized that I am not a good maintenance gardener. I surprised my Mom the other day when I said I didn't really 'like' gardening all that much. I mostly enjoy the free produce that comes from my garden, along with the increased nutritional value and better taste. What I don't like are the bugs, the time required to water and weed, being outside in the summer (getting attacked by mosquitos every time I go outside kills the gardening mood fast!). Since admitting that I am not good at maintenance, and since I already exhibit more of a 'leave it be and see what comes out' attitude about my garden, I have realized a few things. 

I need to change my approach to growing food. 

It seems an obvious truth in humans that prevention is worth a lot more than treating sickness. A fit and healthy individual with a strong immune system has a much smaller chance of getting sick than someone whose health is compromised. 

Plants are the same way!

I am changing my focus to prevention. I will have far fewer bugs, and far fewer problems in general, if the plants are healthy and thriving. 

I've got my research on, and I have already found a few very interesting ideas. But I want to keep learning. There must be a better way to garden without having to spend so much time weeding, watering, applying organic fertilizers, and dealing with infestations by picking off bugs and squishing them (if it ever gets to that I think I might surrender and declare the bugs victorious, oh wait, that's what happened today).

I am sure there is a way to work with nature and cultivate a sustainable ecosystem in my backyard that doesn't require all the work that normally comes with traditional gardening. So, this is my quest and I will continue to research. I will keep you posted on what I find :).

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