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Trying to figure out my garden :)

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Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby SueMonette » Aug 29, 2012 7:56 am

Hi There,

I'm hoping someone here might be able to help me figure out what's going on in my garden. I've been gardening for about 5 years now and I'd say only one of them has been really successful!

Our garden started as an "old garden gone to weed" patch in the back yard. We decided to reclaim it and yanked out all the weeds and brought in a load of topsoil that we tilled into our very very clay soil. That first year I had loads of produce. Big pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes! It was awesome!

The following year was not so great. Very little production. We thought it might be because the garden was too wet. It gets sopping - puddle - wet in the spring. The first year we brought in the soil and planted everything after wet season - middle to late June. We wanted to get an early jump on things the next year but nothing happened.

So, we decided to do a raised garden and build boxes. We brought in another load of top soil since the soil was very clayish again. I also added a bag of compost to each container. That year absolutely nothing grew! Pumpkins had a few leaves then turned yellow and died. I had a couple onions that made it but otherwise nothing. It was the same thing the following year. Another bag of compost in each container but nothing really grew. I'll be the first to admit I probably didn't water the garden enough so that surely didn't help.

Now this year I was determined. I tested the soil for nutrients and it seemed fine. I added two bags of compost to each one and broke down and purchased a liquid fertilizer. I planted early and fertilized every two weeks and hooray things grew!! Things seemed to take a while but once the heat of July hit they went crazy! Nice leafy plants and lots of flowers.

Now something's happening and I've no clue what it is. :) I've had a good number of little tomatoes, but from my 6 non-baby tomato plants only have 6 smallish to medium sized tomatoes. There were lots of flowers at one point but they never fruited. I also have loads of flowers on my cucumbers, but only a handful of small cukes and those that get big enough to pickle are round in shape - like an egg! My pumpkins seemed to be doing great, now they've stopped growing and no new female flowers are showing up. Some that had started to grow turned yellow, wilted and fell off the vine.

We had a lot of heat this summer and I watered my garden well. Not sopping - but enough that they shouldn't have been water deprived. I stopped fertilizing once everything took off and I ran out of it. Was this my mistake? Is this why everything bloomed like crazy but stopped producing fruit this month?

I'm going to get another soil test kit to see what's up, but am hoping for some advice on how to get even more out of my garden next year. I'd like to not have to buy fertilizer and do everything organically - but I'm wondering if there's something wrong with the second load of soil we got?

Any advice or tips would be great!

Thanks!
Sue
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby Eeyore » Aug 29, 2012 10:21 am

You may have some residual chemicals in the topsoil but lets discuss the plants first.

When the tomatoes flower shake the plants or run your hand over them so that the flowers fertilize themselves. If wind is low or there are no pollinators around they may not fertilize. It's also possible that it got too cool or too wet for the fruit to develop.

As far as the other squash go, you may need to manually fertilize the flowers so that the fruit sets. Again lack of pollinators may be to blame. Unfertilized fruit will naturally abort from the plant. I have found that my squash are now producing mainly male flowers but it is time to stop new fruit production for this year so I am actively pruning any new fruit.

Regarding the cukes, is it possible that you planted a round variety?
Lyn
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby SueMonette » Aug 29, 2012 7:03 pm

Thanks Lyn,

We had a really hot summer and until this past week the evenings have been hot too. There's the chance I watered them too much though. :)

For the pumpkin, I did think to fertilize the female flowers, when one got big enough to open up. Many stayed very small and turned yellow within a day or two of showing up. Only 6 got big enough to open and I think I fertilized 3 or 4 of those. One pumpkin is growing well the I noticed today one little one is already turning orange and the other really little one isn't getting any bigger. The fourth one is smallish but again not growing. There have been no more new female flowers for weeks. My husband did mow the end of the vines off but i noticed many have started growing back out. The base of the pumpkin vines are looking not the greatest. All the leaves are gone.

As for the cukes, I picked an english cuke variety (the long ones) and a pickling cuke. Neither package had round cukes pictures on them. :) Leave it to me to mess up cukes!!

Sue
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby Dumbo » Aug 29, 2012 8:13 pm

In regards to the cukes. If I do a quick search the first things I see are the seeds have been crossed with another plant. That is, it's a cross breed. So in other words, the seeds are no good when you bought them.

But, I call BS on this. It wasn't the seed I planted. Has to be something else causing it.

I planted one row of Lebanese cukes and they were fine all spring/summer. Then all of a sudden they started to grow round lebanese cukes. All of them turned like this, and only the Lebanese ones. The english cukes continued to grow normal.

This past spring I was looking up what causes strange looking veggies. You know... like tomatoes that grow a "nose". Or Twin tomatoes, or funny looking carrots. I'm not 100% sure if I'm recalling this right, but I seem to recall that too much potassium can cause freaky veggies and it tends to happen late in the season.

But if I had too much, why would it only happen to a certain type and not all of them? But yup, I had the round cukes as well. They started growing like hand-grenades around the first week of Aug.

Maybe OGrubber has an answer to this one. Has me stumped.
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby SueMonette » Aug 30, 2012 5:59 am

Yup that's what I found when I googled it too and like you I don't think it's a hybrid. I suppose there's always the potential - I did get store bought seeds this year.

I do think there's something funky with my soil, even though the test I did came out fine - twice.

At least I'm getting some veggies this year!

Sue
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby Dumbo » Aug 30, 2012 8:29 am

Yeah not a hybrid issue.

I checked into it fast again last night and couldn't put a finger on any one chemical imbalance, but it did say improper watering will give this as well when the cuke is just developing.

My cukes are at the end of a double run of soaker hoses. It does get the least amount of water and I had to take a spray nozzle to them... when I remembered to do so, or when I felt like it.

The only thing I added to that area of the garden was some left over bone meal I used for something else and just tossed the rest of the bucket on them to get rid of it.

So I had:
-Excess calcium
-Excess phos
-a lack of water

Result: Only the Lebanese cukes grew like hand-grenades mid to near-end of season.

The above are the only things I did.

So if we compare stories, I'm leaning on a watering issue, or lack of.
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby SueMonette » Aug 30, 2012 8:01 pm

That could very well be it. The cukes are at the end of my watering cycle. At the beginning of the year they were in shade more often than not - until my husband cut down the huge shrub shading that box. I didn't water them too much then because they seemed to be damp all the time. My first round of seeds didn't even take so these are a late planting.

I thought I'd been watering them enough, but maybe not! I'll try to be more consistent with my waterings next year and see what happens!

Thanks for the info. :)

Sue
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby Dumbo » Aug 31, 2012 2:03 pm

SueMonette wrote:My first round of seeds didn't even take so these are a late planting.

I saw a lot of people state this here. Many people here stated their cukes didn't take this year after the first planting. Not sure why though. Wonder if the extreme heat this year had something to do with it or they just planted old seeds that were no longer good? You are not the first to state this...

In regards to the soil for next year... I would go with a triple mix instead of just topsoil. More pricey, but better results. Unless you can make your own in the right proportions.

Clay isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is when it's packed solid, but when broken up and worked in with some triple mix or other it's good. Clay has a lot of nutrients in it, and also hold nutrients better than anything else that the roots can draw upon when given enough water.

BTW, what plant zone are you in?
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby Jersm » Aug 31, 2012 3:03 pm

for our pumkins they flower and hopefully thy get potilated. then the flower falls off and is replaced by a small ball that keeps on getting bigger till its a full sized pumkin.

for me it seems the majority grow on the ends of the pumkin vines. When tomatos, cucumbers and pumkins start to make cruit they need more water then any other stage. Some of your plants could possibly have not been polinated is another theory.
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Re: Trying to figure out my garden :)

Postby SueMonette » Sep 06, 2012 1:55 pm

Hi Lyn,

I'm thinking for us it was an old bag of seeds. The new ones took right away. I'm still getting very round cucumbers. I planted three kinds - though I can only remember two now! - english and pickling. I think it's the pickling cukes that are going almost completely round! I'll keep an eye one the english cukes to see if they do the same.

I'll give some triple mix a go next year. It would be nice if I could get away with just an organic fertilizer. :)

We're in zone 5-6 (depending on which map you look at and it's scale).

Sue
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