July 14, 2022
One of the many joys of gardening is that we are always learning.
We study and anticipate issues as best we can but each garden and season has its own lessons to teach us. Learning by trial and error, otherwise known as the hard way, seems inevitable.
Here we are with our lima bean harvest and I do mean bean, singular.
This season our beans bloomed and bloomed but never got around to setting fruit. Blooms may drop due to inadequate water and bean set may also be limited by high temperatures.
We had excellent production from our cantaloupes but the seedlings were planted a bit too closely together. We created a wonderful resort, spa, and restaurant from the rat and squirrel perspective. The accommodations had privacy and shade with convenient access to food and water.
When the creatures began to chew into the metal mesh vole cages that were protecting the fruit, we conceded defeat and removed the vines. Fortunately there were only about 35 pounds of fruit left. We are giving it some time to see if it will ripen indoors. Meanwhile, we trust we have removed our support of the rodent population.
I was looking forward to trying a pepper variety that is new to us called Ashe County Pimento. The plants were loaded with immature peppers when I checked them one afternoon. By the next morning the peppers were gone except for what appeared to be neatly diced salsa ingredients on the ground.
Thinking that rabbits had developed a taste for peppers, we placed cages made of rabbit fencing around all of the pepper plants. The devastation continued on to the aji dulce peppers despite the cages. The plan now is to try hardware cloth as a barrier against smaller rodents.
Our strategy for preventing the animals from taking the tomatoes (harvesting at full size and 10-30% of color) was not as successful this year as last. Judging by the half eaten unripened tomatoes scattered around the garden, the animals are saying, “No worries, we will eat them green.”
It is clear we must stay alert because other creatures are learning too!
Beverly Allen, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2018
Picture by Don Heaberlin, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2021