Every year I learn a good bit about myself and about myself and gardening...I love trying to grow new things and experiment. Unfortunately, with my husband's help, my experiment with egg plant didn't go so well, as my husband thought it was a weed and pulled it. :( Oh well, we'll try again this year with that one.
Last summer gave my zone 7 loads of rain! Everything seemed to bloom and grow like crazy! It really helped me to see how very important water is and how different quantities of water affect what I'm trying to grow. Depending on what our prediction for rain is this summer, I intend to make sure my garden gets lots more water than I've given in the past. I might even have to get a water line out there with soaker hoses to make sure my garden gets what it needs.
In planning my garden last year, I decided to try potatoes, onions, scallions, and garlic. I really lucked out and found all of these on clearance at Lowes at the end of May. I got it all in the garden and what I discovered was this: onions, scallions and garlic make GREAT border plants. Honestly, they take up so little room, that they could have bordered my garden in the back or sides and I could have planted something else in the spot I laid them. However, they grew very well, even with all the rain we got and after being trampled on a time or two and also being covered up by some lone ranger tomatoes that unassumingly sprouted and I just didn't have the heart to pull them. I ended up with loads! I chopped the scallions, froze them in little snack size baggies and I shared and shared and shared bunches and bunches with my friends! They were wonderful and a definite keeper for this year!
Let's talk about pests for a minute. I have always struggled with powdery mildew on my squash. If I grew pumpkins, it jumped on those, too. Last summer a dear friend of mine shared with me an item that helped significantly keep my squash growing longer than usual because it helped keep the powdery mildew at bay. Here it is: Copper Fungicide. I found a large bag of it at Big Lots for about $9. I used it, maybe twice, on my squash and my squash lasted longer than it has in a couple of years.
Another helper in my garden with pests was Neem Oil. I have to say that I really noticed a difference with my tomato plants. Pests are just that, whether you're talking about aphids, stink bugs, squash bugs or the Japanese beetles that swarm in June and can be the bane of a gardener's life. Neem Oil seemed to help keep these bugs at bay for a while.
So, what can we take away from this today? Water, and lots of it! Try something new! Onions, scallions and garlic take up little space when planted as a border! Neem Oil and Copper Fungicide can help with pests and mildew, and even better news is that both of these helpers can be used in organic gardening without negative affects.
I'd love to see hear what you use to keep pests out of your garden!