About 5 years ago, my tomatoes and squash began to wilt, and eventually die. They looked to be suffering from thirst, and watering them helped, but did not reverse the wilting. I sent soil and plant samples to the extension office at OSU and was told there was nothing harmful in the soil and that the walnut tree that is approximately 100 feet from the garden was to blame.
I created another garden space further from the walnut tree, and the first year was a success, but the same issue surfaced the second year.
After much research and many failed attempts to rectify the issue, a friend who gardens told me of beneficial nematodes, a type of organism that feeds on soil-based pests.
Within one week of the first application, the problem began to reverse itself. Now I apply these “probiotics” to my garden every spring.
My sleepy spring garden, and the greenhouse built last year that I’ve not yet started using…
Come to find out, in Ohio, a greenhouse without a heat source is not warm enough at night for seedlings until about the time that it’s warm enough to plant them in the ground. And during the day, it gets much too hot without ventilation.
Every time I think I’m going to start saving money gardening, I can’t help remembering the book “The $64 Tomato”.
And yet, I garden.
I garden because sometimes it helps me empty my mind and feel connected to something much larger than my everyday stressors. I garden because I love to feel connected to the food I eat, and to know, without a doubt, that it is organic, and that the soil my food grows in has been properly cared for and nourished, so it may, in turn, nourish the plants that nourish my food, that nourish me and those I share it with.
Introducing a new favorite of mine – wild geranium or geranium maculatum. Thank you, Linda Johnson from Scioto Gardens for helping me put a name to this little woodland face!
I actually purchased this plant at Scioto Gardens AND dug it up from a spot in the woods when I was out for a hike. I never realized they were the same plant until they were both blooming together this spring!
My seedlings this year are the best I’ve ever conjured. Every year, I save seeds from my favorite tomatoes and peppers and start them indoors in mid-April. I have a nice seedling cart for this purpose that has adjustable hanging lights and a nice zippered plastic covering that holds the heat and moisture in and speeds plant growth.
What has always happened until this year is that the plants get very leggy and weak as they grow toward the light. I’ve tried putting the light practically on top of the plants in case their stretch to reach the light is the cause. Thinking they lacked nutrients, I’ve tried compost tea, worm castings, watering with water left in the bottom of my vegetable steamer, more water, less water (I refuse to use Miracle Grow).
Despite all of my best efforts, they never looked anywhere near as healthy and sturdy as the ones at the local nursery (though once planted in the ground, they grew and produced well). This year as I was standing in the greenhouse at Miller’s Country Store, I noticed they had a fan blowing a gentle breeze over their plants and I remembered having read somewhere that it’s good to brush your hands back and forth over your plants to stimulate stronger stem growth. This advice suddenly made sense – clearly no one at the nursery was doing this (which was why I had originally rejected this notion), but the fan was providing the same type of stimulation for the plants to stabilize themselves.
That very day I began a regular regimen of brushing my hands back and forth over the seedlings once daily or every other day at least.
That was the missing piece!
This year, my plants are strong and sturdy and I’m not embarrassed to pass along the extras to friends and family.
Is there a lesson in here somewhere? Do our own challenges and hardships stimulate stronger growth?
I live in the middle of 15 acres of mostly woods. With a medium-ish pond. The house is, frankly, mostly a place to sleep because I’m obsessed with everything outdoors. Neither cat is declawed and they can go in and out as they wish. There are two vegetable gardens, numerous flower gardens, two compost bins, and a small greenhouse made of 2x4s and heavy plastic.
I haven’t started using the greenhouse yet because I didn’t realize we would need a heat source at night as well as ventilation during the day (part of my gardening fascination is to SAVE money on food, after all – I’ll make peace eventually with the need to invest MORE $$ but for now, I am internally processing this – ok and maybe cursing a little).
I think of this place as a small wildlife preserve, and it’s amazing to me how many close encounters I have with wildlife, as well as how many really neat things happen in the gardens in any given season.
This blog series is meant as a way of sharing these stories for those who are interested. It seems to me that living a healthy lifestyle must include an appreciation of, and connection with, nature.
Stay tuned for more posts on my retreat and how other Leaves of Life staff recharge!