Thursday, April 3, 2014

With a Little Help From My Blogger Friends, A Do-Over Vegetable Patch

Every spring the vegetable garden story begins the same way, with great promise.  Like a good book, the observer hopes for a Victory Garden ending later in the summer.  The Victory Garden ending always seems to be in question though.  It wouldn't be a well appreciated tale if it weren't without its conflicts along the way, now would it?

Let's take my previous spring edition of this same story.  Last year, I struggled to grow tomatoes.  My educated guess was lousy soil and my primary protagonist, the bee, failed at making an appearance to complete my story.  Enter the antagonist, a mystery thief who was never fingered, took my only two tomatoes from the season. Thanks a bunch possum, squirrel or whoever you are.  You gave me a bummer ending to my kitchen garden tale.  I must rework the story this season.

Not wanting a fairy tale or wishful thinking garden, I researched as any decent author would do.

Starting with the soil, it's is all about nutrients.  Unhealthy soil will give you very little in return.  Wanting an organic approach, having a healthy compost amended in the beds will act as a superhero fertilizer warding off pests and disease.  A Way to has an excellent tutorial on composting  if you are in need of help too.

Foxglove, a welcoming sentry
How do I make an alluring environment for my lead character, the sadly ever elusive bee?  The Honeybee Conservancy has an excellent guide on planting a bee garden  that provides food and habitat.  Bees like showy flowers just as much as humans.  They have spectacular vision and seem to be especially drawn to blue, purple, white and yellow flowers.  Aim for blooming flowers each season if your gardening zone allows; it will provide them a constant source of food.  Ideally, single petal blossoms are best since they have the most pollen and nectar to snack on.

Purple Salvia beckons the bees

Psst, hey Mr. Honeybee...over here and pollinate me so I can make a glorious, juicy tomato!

Tomato flower shows early promise
Tomatoes can use the help of a wing man.  The Back to the Basics blog, clued me in on the merits of companion planting. Marigolds, for example, fend off the nematodes and insects with it's not so heady perfume.

Marigold, the great defender of Tomatoes
The last twist in this version of the tale is time and weather.   We will have to wait to see how this version of the summertime garden story ends.
Meyer Lemon in hiding
As for spring, I'm proud to report, my matchmaking bee efforts paid dividends around my Meyer Lemon tree!  With a little help from my friends, I hope I've helped you too!


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