Welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden! August can become a tricky time for gardeners. It's easy to fall into the late summer slump, feeling unsure of what to do next other than weed and wait. Things like garden pests and intruders can really get you down. Losings plants to disease or even severe weather can start to make you feel frustrated. Then, those dreaded feelings of failure creep in. You start to realize how long it will be until next summer when you can start all over again. It can be hard to see past all of your crops that flopped and enjoy everything you accomplished during the season. The good news is August is the perfect time to renovate and reinvigorate! All you need is some seeds, a shovel and a little motivation! You just have to remind yourself that there are a bunch of crops that love cool weather, and actually do better in it! I'm inspired, and want to remind you that it's not to late to get out there and continue to grow!
I love gardening, but I have to admit I get disillusioned by things that are out of my control. This year, I had trouble with raccoons digging up the bulbs I spent hours planting. I found out they are extremely attracted to the crab fertilizer I used. I spent so much time trying to figure out ways to keep those bulbs in the ground. I ended up replanting them more than once and turning to cloches for some extra help. After that, I had a giant breech in my vegetable garden security. A groundhog that set up a home in my backyard found a way to tunnel under my old chicken wire fence. He feasted on bush beans, lettuce, squash, morning glories and even bit the tops off my peanut plants. I was heartbroken to see all of the devastation he caused in such a small amount of time. I also have a chipmunk that made a home in my vegetable garden. No matter how many times I fill in the tunnel he dug in my raised bed, he comes right back and makes it again. He enjoys the protection of my fenced in garden. I see him bury his peanuts and seeds in different places and scattering them inside different protected containers. I've seen him taking a nap inside his small tunnel/home. I also see the remnants of all the strawberries and tomatoes he steals, eats, then tosses aside for me to find.
It's killed me to see the damage aphids and lily beetles have caused this year. I've tried different methods to get rid of pests, but it's hard to implement them everywhere in your yard. You protect one plant, then they always find another. We are also experiencing one of the worst droughts I've ever seen here in New England. We are at the point where no watering of lawns and gardens is allowed until the ban is lifted. To hear this is a gardeners worst nightmare. My rain barrel is empty and my lawn is pretty much nonexistent. It is brown, dry and crunches under my feet when I walk on it. Containers are struggling, and healthy soil is turning into dust. All of this can really take its toll, and losing plants due to the lack of water can make you feel guilty and sad. I have to remember to give myself a break and constantly remind myself I'm doing the best I can with the circumstances I've been given. It's tough to remember that any amount of work done no matter how small, will help your garden be better than it was before. No effort you put in is for nothing, and it all does pays off!
Caught In The Act!
As I was fixing up some of my potted plants, I noticed some rustling around my peppers. As I looked closer, I saw the chipmunk who has taken up residence in my vegetable garden bed. Here is his tunnel he created to relax and cool off in. I caught him enjoying one of my ripe cherry tomatoes I was just about to pick! It's a chipmunk's world and us humans just live in it!
Reinvigorating The Garden
Time to put this season's garden troubles behind you and keep going! We can't dwell on what didn't work, and there's nothing wrong with trying something more than once. Now is the perfect time to start cool weather crops. Diving right into new crops and garden maintenance in August will bring you a great fall garden. When planning for the colder season, find out your first frost date. I live in USDA zone 6a New England, so my average first frost date is roughly October 1 - October 10. You can find yours here. I've put together a list of crops I am starting from seed for fall harvesting. I might add a few more crops along the way as I go, but this is a basic outline of what I have already.
Arugula - Rocket - 35 days to maturity
Cabbage - Brunswick - 85 days to maturity
Carrot - Danvers 126 Half Long - 75 days to maturity
Carrot - Kaleidoscope Blend - 75 days to maturity
Pea - Dwarf Grey Sugar - 65 days to maturity
Pea - Sugar Snap - 70 days to maturity
Pea - Wando - 69 days to maturity
Radish - Cherry Belle - 24 days to maturity
Rutabaga - American Purple Top - 90 days to maturity
Squash - Black Beauty Zucchini - 48 days to maturity
Squash - Yellow Crookneck - 53 days to maturity
Spinach - Bloomsdale Longstanding - 45 days to maturity
Spinach - Olympia Hybrid - 45 days to maturity
Later in the season, I pay close attention to the average harvesting dates on the seed packages. You want to make sure most veggies can be harvested before the dangers of frost, and that they have plenty of time to grow. Some vegetables like rutabaga and kale do fine with frost, and can continue to mature well into the winter months. It's good to take all of this into consideration when planning. I like to use the Days From Date Calculator when planting my seeds. It makes planting more tangible for me and outlines how long I have to wait. Some other crops you can plant for the fall season include lettuce, kale, swiss chard, broccoli and beans.
It is important not to give up hope because of the crops you may have lost. Keep enjoying the success you do have! My nasturtium blooms are out of this world this year! I have never seen so much vibrant color in such small spaces. I'm getting ready to harvest some beautiful Bright Lights swiss chard for the first time ever. I'm also getting ready to harvest more sage, oregano, lemon balm and chives. My Scarlet runner beans are continuing to produce, as well as my lunch for the chipmunks (cherry tomatoes.) Soon, it will be sweet corn and sunflower season! I'm still looking forward to some late summer bulbs putting on a show. It can really be a challenge focusing on what you do have versus what you don't have. Don't throw in the towel just yet and try never to compare!
People tend to share only the good pictures, so you never truly know what could be going wrong in their own garden. I've had some years where my tomato harvests were huge, then other years where disease and pests really did a number on my plants. Some years of a never ending amount of cucumbers, and other years filled with maybe two if I was lucky. We all struggle, no matter how long we have been growing. You can be the biggest expert, but still fail due to something out of your control ruining your plants. Never stop growing something because you haven't had much luck with it in the past. It will be that much more rewarding when it finally does grow! I haven't grown one batch of decent carrots, but I'm not giving up and will continue to try. Just because another gardener says something is easy to grow, doesn't mean it's easy for everyone. Location, weather, soil and sunlight all have a huge impact on the results. Just know that I have been through most if not all of the downfalls and fiascos you can encounter in the garden world, and it's still all worth the trouble!
Tuesdays In The Garden
Don't forget to hop on over and check out these great posts! Each one will help you get started with your fall garden. You can click on the pictures or links below to read each one! Get some great advice on what kinds of plants to grow from Shell. Learn all about pruning and deadheading for fall color from Jami. Michelle shares easy steps to start a fall garden. Need some advice on fall garden chores? Diane has you covered!
Shell | Frugal Family Home
Jami | An Oregon Cottage
Michelle | Simplify, Live, Love
Diane | Homemade Food Junkie
I'm happy that I have two full months left of gardening before the frost hits! I've restarted the bush beans and lettuce that the groundhog devoured for dinner. My peanut plants are continuing to grow despite being gnawed on. I'm going to file away this year's gardening mishaps and continue planting no matter what comes my way. I'm hoping you have enjoyed a relatively stress free gardening season this year. Remember to keep your hands covered in dirt and continue learning and trying new things. Are you planning on continuing to grow into the fall season? What are you planning on planting in your vegetable garden? Tell me all about it in the comment section below. You can also send me pictures or tweet me @thefreckledrose. Wishing you all many more successful garden harvests before this gardening season comes to a close!
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