By Roger Erpelding
Gardening is such a dynamic process. You are always learning. And sometimes the landscape changes—literally. Our neighbor to the south cut two large limbs from a tree this spring; thus, more sun for our garden.
It seems you can never outsmart Nature, although it is fun to try. In the new raised bed on the south side of the house, with excellent soil, and plenty of sunshine, I planted lettuce, radishes and spinach among the eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, and the tomato. I had excellent germination, which is not necessarily a good thing. Not only was the germination great, but the growth rate was as well. As a result, the spring plants choked out the eggplant, which are slower growing. The tomato held its own, but you could tell the peppers didn’t like the competition. So, late last week I pulled every radish, lettuce and spinach plant. The spinach and lettuce produced a fine sack of greens. Usually these are “cut and come again” vegetables, but not this time.
So what is the solution? Succession planting. Since the raised beds are on the south side of the house, lettuce, radishes and spinach can be planted early—possibly as early as late March. We didn’t get the raised bed up until April 19, and I think it was early May before these crops got planted. And to add insult to injury, the radishes were mostly tops. Again, this may be due to the soil being too rich, and the radishes being planted too late. Better luck next year! Live and learn. As a result, I purchased four additional eggplants for this bed. I did find one of the Amadeo eggplant I purchased at the Master Gardener plant sale. The eggplant were replaced on Sunday morning.
This raised bed appears to be mistake prone. While planting the eggplant, I dug out one of the sweet banana peppers. I immediately put it back in, and gave it two gallons of water. Its chances of revival are 50-50.
The second major mistake in gardening I made this year involved my calla lilies. Keep in mind that I am very familiar with this plant. We raised them on the farm, and we moved to town in 1966. I planted them as usual, so I thought, but they weren’t coming up. Beth wanted two of the pots I planted them in for some of her flowers. I told her that if they weren’t up soon, she could have them. In fact, I wondered if the callas had rotted, were slow, or just stubborn. I dug all of them up, and guess what. I’d planted every one of them upside down. Their fibrous roots were sticking up, and their growth points were struggling way under the soil. It was a simple case of turning them all around, and covering them up. They are up now, and one of them is already blooming.
My cherry tomatoes are a little unhappy. They are probably getting too much shade, and are competing with some nearby oriental lilies. They are in pots, so competing soil for nutrients is not a problem. They are tall and lanky, but are beginning to set on fruit. So, they should be an all right crop, but not spectacular.