1st time garden: end of season evaluation

There’s but one remaining yellow caterpillar with black spikes (top center of middle leaf above), super destructive to the leaves of the yellow squarrrsh and the spaghetti squarrsh and the cucumbers, but there are still a zillion “lady” bugs, gathering on the last leaves, even more destructive than the caterpillars. Worse than the beasts was the white mildew. It’s like white paint sprayed over everything. It’s soooo humid here all the time. Grrrr….

The squarrrsh were pulled up a couple of weeks back, and I’ve now pulled up the cucumbers (having harvested the last offerings). All the spaghetti squarrrsh were harvested. Six of the ten were good, four having bit the dust to worms that turned them to mush.

The bucket of Sevin purchased in the Spring of the year was never used as the directions say to never use it when there are still flowers on the plants as it will kill all the bees everywhere. Well, well. This is my first time gardening and now I find out that squarrrsh of any kind and cucumbers flower throughout the season, as do the tomatoes, so Sevin can never be used. If I’m wrong on that, please let me know!

The tomatoes were also somewhat plagued by the “lady” bugs and yellow caterpillars, which are now pretty much gone as their main prey was the nearby squarrrsh and cucumbers. However, the tomatoes are now visited by horrible black caterpillars, which munch holes deep into the tomatoes even while they stay on the outside. Grrr….

Having said that, the tomato plants are doing well (the in-ground ones better than the 5 gallon bucket ones). A couple of the plants are over ten feet high, vigorous as ever, lots of tomatoes.

Some have dozens of tomatoes, even after dozens were already havested:

The real tomato plague consists of tiny little what-looks-to-be red aphids. Wherever they are (everywhere) the leaves turn spotty and then yellow and then die. Grrr…

But the tomatoes are growing so fast this late in the season (lots of gentle rain) that they have kept just a step or two in front of these pests and have been putting out an abundance of tomatoes.

Are tomatoes fruits or vegetables? That’s not for a first-time gardener to know, but let it be known that vine-ripened tomatoes are really very tasty. Tomatoes go with just about anything.

My first time gardening (starting up during the most severe lockdowns of Covid-1984), was a welcome way to get outside in God’s good creation, a most wonderful way to get some exercise, the perfect distraction from that which necessitates some distraction (lots of drugs and violence in the neighborhood). Clearing the mind and heart of some of the hell of this world by walking with the Lord in His good creation is exhilarating.

But what about the “lady” bugs and caterpillars and worms and mildew you ask? When I mumble a “Grrr…” it’s much more in the sense of a challenge than in the sense of disappointment or frustration. I’m immediately thinking: What can I do next year to improve? I can’t wait to try!

In summary: gardening is good for the soul.

Oh, I almost forgot: here’s a picture of the asparagus patch in honor of my mom, who was a wonderful gardener and had a veritable forest of asparagus. Some green-thumb parishioners planted this forest for me a few years ago, using store bought roots. They’re fantastic growers. Of course, it’s been quite some time to let them go to seed, so they are now up four and five and seven feet. They will grow taller:

Out front, the lettuce boxes had their last harvesting, many months after they should have been done. The lettuce had no pests at all.

The wild wildflowers in buckets on the steps need to be put down on the ground and off to the side as they are growing a bit too tall. They are getting ready to explode into flowers once again.


Filed under Gardening

7 responses to “1st time garden: end of season evaluation

  1. Anne Maliborski

    Looks like you had more success than disappointments in your garden, Father. ‘A’ for effort! I wouldn’t put Sevin powder on anything with tiny fruits or flowers on it already, unless you like to eat poison. There are so many insect beasts around here- you have some even different than ours, even though we are only a few miles away. I have no idea how to keep all these hungry pests off of the veggies and plants. Seems like once you see them, it is too late. Thankfully it is never too late for us in Jesus’s heart!!

  2. Are tomatoes fruits or vegetables? The round red part of a tomato plant is the plants fruit and the green leafy and stalky stuff is the plants vegetation. Same with the cucumber and squash. I’m trying to think of a plant where one eats both fruit and the rest of the plant. For bugs, some organic gardeners plant certain plants next to each other to reduce bug populations. The idea being certain plants repel certain bugs. Marigolds comes to mind. I don’t know why.

  3. Rory O'Callaghan

    “My first time gardening (starting up during the most severe lockdowns of Covid-1984), was a welcome way to get outside in God’s good creation”. It may have been your first time gardening but I don’t recall a Roman lockdown back in 1984! But our rough hacking, you expertly timbering that soldier-scored conifer, was certainly a way into the gardens of Kalighat and Asha Daan. Glad to see your tomatoes thrive, far better than mine this year, and that you have Mom-inspired asparagus. Mine is Virgin-blue Campanula. I can still see her smile on you over spaghetti carbonara on Via Merulana.

  4. Lioba

    Congratulations on your successful first-year garden! I enjoyed learning along with you. I like that you’re not using the pesticide. One comment about the lady bugs — they are actually named after Our Lady. They’re working hard for her and helping you by eating aphids, which are harming your plants by sucking out the juice in the stems. (Search “lady bugs beneficial”.) Some gardeners pay to get some, but you don’t have to!
    It seems that now we have Asian lady bugs (marked with an “M”) now as well as the regular USA kind, and you might find them coming into the rectory and church when the weather gets cold. The advice I saw is just to scoop them up and put them back outdoors. Take care, and God bless.

  5. Donna

    excellent work Father! Yes marigolds work great, I just don’t know what to do about the rabbits that mowed down my beets and chard. Big fence next year!
    I recommend Gardens Alive for safe products, there is stuff for that powdery mildew.

  6. Joisy Goil

    I agree with Anne Maliborski about Sevin. I wouldn’t put it on anything I plan to eat. You can get rid of aphids by spraying them with diluted dish soap. Just get a spay bottle like window cleaner comes in and put about three squirts of dish soap in and then fill it with tap water. Shake it up a bit to blend and spray the plants, get the undersides of the leaves. The aphids will leave. You might have to repeat this if it rains a lot. My mom used to do this and it never failed. I have used it too – you can use any type of liquid dish soap – even store brand.

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