Spring 2013 Lessons Learned

It’s been an eventful 2013 spring for the Snarky Gardener.  He has learned humility and patience, especially since it’s taking forever for everyone to know how wonderful he truly is.  Mother nature has given many lessons this year, and it’s possible the Snarky Gardener won’t make the same mistakes next year.  Here’s the summary of highlights and lowlights (is that really a word?) for this spring.

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Fenced Back Yard Garden – 6/13/2013

Starting my own plants

This year started with much (probably too much) enthusiasm as January can make a gardener in Ohio a little nuts.  Overall it went well, with lots of tomatoes, and basil plants to plant and trade.  I do need to improve on starting dates, labeling, and hardening off.  All of these issues come down to one thing – patience.  I tend to want to start seeds earlier than they should be, forget to label and/or record properly, and to rush plants outside too soon.

Spinach was a little hard to get germinated (maybe one in two seeds actually sprouted).  I used the AeroGarden starter kit, so maybe spinach just doesn’t do very well with that system.  I’ve done some research on soil cubes and could go that direction for spinach and others next year.

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Frosts and freezes

Last year we in Northeast Ohio got spoiled with an early spring with warm weather in March and April.  This year we had freezes and frosts into late May and I lost quite a few tomatoes and peppers.  I’ll make a concerted effort not put out the majority of my frost intolerant plant until late May next year.

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Frosted tomatoes – 5/25/2013

Groundhogs

This is the second year I’ve had issues with groundhogs in my garden.  Last year in July, a little guy (named him Woody) terrorized my garden for a week or two until I finally caught him in the act of trespassing and theft.  He took out half my early corn and green beans before I was able to finally capture him.  Let’s just say that he’s in a better place now.

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Woody – 7/15/2012

This year the fun started earlier in late May as a momma and her little one moved into Woody’s old house, which is a burrow under a stacked pile of pine trees 5 feet behind my garden. It began with a few carrot tops missing and culminated with the loss of spinach, peas, kale, broccoli, and even Jerusalem artichokes. I called in the experts this time as my own trapping efforts were getting me nowhere. First morning we had a raccoon, who had been stealing my trap bait of corn and apples. My trap is obviously cheap and worthless. Since the raccoon, we caught two more raccoons, Mama and another baby groundhog.  On July 4th, I added some 3 foot chicken fencing to the north side with 1 1/2 feet on the ground and 1 1/2 feet attached to the current fence. This will keep future groundhogs (there will be more) from digging under (crossing my fingers).

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Bucky – 6/20/2013
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Mama caught fleeing the scene outside my garden – 6/21/2013

My long-term plan is to remove the wood either by having the landlord move it or by acquiring a chain saw.  The cleared area will make a good place to expand my composting efforts.

Overwintering and collecting seeds

I overwintered several different plants this year, mostly because I wanted early spring produce.  Carrots, kale, onions, mache, and turnips all made it back for 2013.  I let the kale, mache, and turnips go to seed with a concerted effort to collect the Seven Top turnip green seeds.  I ended up with a giant bag of turnip green seeds on 7/14 (more than I’ll ever use), so if you want some, just let me know and I’ll figure out a way to get them to you.  I’m still planning to collect tomato and bean seeds for sure, with a possibility of collecting peppers and eggplants this year too.

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Seven Top turnip greens flowering with plans to go to seed later.

 

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