A mixed bed in all it's late summer glory

A mixed bed in all it's late summer glory

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A slug fest, and hedging my bets

This blog post is a prime example of the better being the enemy of the good. I wrote it in June and got side tracked before it was done. I will publish it anyway, because in all its imperfections, this is how I keep track of the garden.

The slug fest: I planted a dozen  beautiful brassicas out just before the weather changed. Straw mulch was lovingly tucked around them to keep their feet damp. The rain came and they were beaming, looking big and strong and healthy. Visions of broccoli, cauliflower and early cabbage were dancing in my head.
Then Arion Ater, the dreaded black slug, made its move. The poor plants were just shredded. One broccoli had its growing tip chewed off. The lacinato kale will recover, the early cabbage may, but cauliflower must keep moving. And in spite of plans I forgot to start a fresh batch of all the above within weeks of the first. Grrrrrr. Thank goodness good old reliable kale volunteers are popping up all over to fill in the gaps. It must have been the mulch. The Brussels Sprouts have a bed to themselves and they have been unaffected so far.

Today I spent most of the garden day in the greenhouse. Once I am in there I seem to get stuck. In my usual putzing way I manage to create chaos by putting things away 'just for now', till the table by the potting sink is a towering jumble of mismatched pots and I can barely walk around without tripping over pails and pots, with or without content. Today I took the time to sort it all out. It is coming together nicely. There is a heap of plastic pots outside the door, to be taken to the barn entrance up the hill for storage.

We are shifting gears in there: From early greens to heat lovers. From a collection of potted up babies to plants in the ground and in permanent tubs. The weather has shifted to a common June pattern, cool and wet. There is just enough sunshine to warm the greenhouse. As mentioned before, all it takes is an hour of watery sunshine a day. It continues to amaze me. The last few years late spring/early summer has been like this, with a sudden shift to warm and dry some time in July. But what if the shift doesn't come? What if it stays like this? It has happened. I am trying to hedge my bets and be prepared for either. It is always a dilemma. Do I spare outside space for tomatoes or devote it all to hardier stuff like cabbages?

The poles are all ready for climbing beans, but the soil still feels quite cool. With this and the slugs in mind I have finally planted some in containers. Now I wish I had done that earlier. The bed for zucchini is all ready, and covered with black plastic for warmth. But it is also right next to the damaged cabbage bed, so we'll let the babies get a bit bigger in the greenhouse first. I planted two of the parthenocarpic hybrid ones in big pots inside the greenhouse. They're all girls and will set fruit even when there are no bees around.

Otherwise the waiting is for a dry spell so I can start ---interrupted. Meanwhile it is August 1st and I have no idea what I was planning to start back then....

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