Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vegetable Patch Dilemma

The new raised vegetable patch is full of seedlings but the growth of the veges seems to be very slow! I think there is something wrong with the soil that Mr. Gadget filled the patch with. The soil was a special soil for new turf and with the excess we filled the raised vegetable patch. I also added compost, blood and bone and fish fertiliser too. I was so excited to have a dedicated vegetable patch that I went out and brought seedlings from the nursery and planted into the garden bed.
And some of the plants have something that has been eating them. I have applied snail bait which has seemed to have helped. I have some sugar cane mulch that I will mulch around the seedlings tomorrow. I don't know what else to do so for now will just hope that with time the veges start growing.

There is only one plant growing well - a zucchini plant. I planted about 8 seeds and while they all came up only this one has thrived. The others are tiny with just a few little leaves. You can see the other little plants overshadowed by this larger one. I think I will transplant them out of this garden and into the no dig garden and see how they grow there.

Else where in the yard vegetables are growing well. I have the first beans on the climbing beans and celery and silverbeet growing well. All my herbs are growing at great guns. Four out of eight gourd seedlings I have planted are growing really well and tomatoes, eggplants and okra are all going fine. But I have such high hopes fro the raised vegetable patch. Ahh, the dilemmas of growing veges!

M xx


Anonymous said...

I am sorry to here about your gardens.
Have you tested the soil pH? If the pH is to low or too high nutrients become affected and plants will have trouble growing.

Maybe you could remove the plants (I would put them in containers for now) and add manures and compost to build up the organic matter in the soil. Leave it to rest for a few weeks and then replant.

As they say at Path to Freedom, 'take care of your soil and your soil will take care of you'

Chris and Dave said...

I'm gradually building up our veg bed as well, but given it is my first year at growing this sort of stuff, I've decided to be kind on myself.

Firstly, I'm going with the easy and hardy veg. Stuff like zucchini (as you mentioned) pumpkins, corn, radish, tomatoes and gourds too! Seed is a great way to get started. Seedlings can be expensive and pampered in the nursery, then end up in a novices garden. Story of my former vegie growing attempts!

I'm having fun with seeds this year though. Some come up, some don't - so I try it a little differently next time. It's great training for understanding how your seedlings respond to their environment.

With soil as well, I've read that seedlings often get a heap of added fertiliser which overwhelms the tender roots. As a result it struggles to take in all that extra stuff added for their benefit.

I put compost on the soil and stuff like blood and bone too. This way, the worms or whatever insect life there is underground, work it into the soil for me.

But here is the worst part - I wait! Yes, I have to wait for the nutrients to break down a little before adding tender seedlings. A week is my standard waiting time if I'm impatient. Longer if I'm lucky.

But the main thing is don't become discouraged. I totally expect my first few seasons of vegie growing to encounter more failures than successes. Firstly, I have to take into account my lack of knowledge but secondly, the virgin environment I'm setting up for what can be some demanding plants.

That's why it's more ambitious to start with some of the hardier veg. It gives the soil opportunity to build up beneficial microbes and insect life to take care of pests and diseases. By adding stuff like sail bait, you could also be killing other insects that eat the snails - like lizards and frogs.

The hardest part about growing successful vegies, is waiting. You have to wait for the predators to build up so that you see less pests attacking your vegetables next year.

Beer traps may be a better way of catching snails. Easier still, sprinkle some crushed eggshells or sawdust around each seedling. The snails and slugs won't cross it, or will die trying.

I see your vegie bed and see wonderful potential - even though there are a few trials to work through at the moment. Use your first planting attempt to learn what seedlings like and don't like. Try different things.

I suspect as we're coming into Christmas Beetle season, what you're experiencing is beetle damage on your leaves too. If you have an outside light on at night (near the veg patch) switch it off. They'll head for the other lights that are hopefully further away.

Also, if you're watering from overhead, try doing it in the early morning or late afternoon. You don't want excessive moisture around during temperature hikes. It will cause mildew and start advertising to the pests to attack the weakened seedling.

Emily's idea about the PH test kit is also a good idea. The soil you put in your veg patch is for turf. It contains an excessive amount of nitrogen fertilisers designed to kickstart growth in the newly laid turf. Grass is tough and can cope with the fertilisers, seedlings are not however and it will burn their tender roots.

I'm not sure what the additives are (there is Dolomite and Lime) but I'm not sure if that's for an acid or alkaline soil. Where you buy the PH test kit from however, be sure to ask the staff if you can come back in with the results, so they can recommend the additives to counteract your soil type.

Sorry, I didn't mean it to be that long. I enjoy reading your blog though and keep up the good work!

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