2008 Garden update—April 29, 2008

The apple orchard and “pot garden”

Our apple orchard

Tomato plants

Squash in earth boxes

Spinach, carrots, lettuce, beets, garlic, radishes and Swiss chard.

Strawberry bed

The garden is quite small in comparison to the land available for planting. As we have large trees that shade most of the back yard, the garden has been planted around the edges.  Each of the raised beds is dedicated to a specific type of plant (strawberry bed—zucchini, squash, melons, beans etc.). The plan is to grow as much as we can and to preserve, using either freezing or drying techniques, what we do not immediately consume.


In 2007 we started the effort and in 2008 it was expanded. If all goes well this year a further expansion is planned for 2009. In addition we will plant cold weather crops and look at building a greenhouse to extend our growing season.

Comment on  5/06/08 -


I like oatmeal in the morning and I love to have fresh fruit with it. Therefore, I have much enjoyed going out in the morning to pick fresh strawberries to have with my breakfast. I shall be sad to see the season end.

I am planning a special book that I shall title “The Zucchini That Ate The garden”. In both the earth boxes and the raised beds, the squash and Zucchini are growing at a tremendous rate. Each have numerous blossoms so I am expecting a good yield.


Update on 5/20/08

Update on June 11, 2008


Despite my best efforts I am loosing several plants for unknown reasons. In some cases I can see “critters” have been in to take a chunk out of a stem which killed the plant. In other cases the plants seemed to just wilt and die for no apparent reason. We have gotten several squash but then the plant died. We have lots of tomatoes and have eaten several. They seem to thrive. Lettuce continues to grow and we eat it on a regular basis. Several of the bean plants have produced a small number of beans but no large quantities as of yet.


To combat the loss of some plants I have started numerous replacements.


The herb garden continues to be prolific and I have dried several containers of mint, basil, parsley and spinach.

Update July 1, 2008


The critters have been identified as “squash bugs”. These little critters like to eat every broad leaf plant they can find and consequently all of my melons, squash (several types), and cucumbers planted in the raised beds have died. While I have started additional plants in earth boxes, the problem of the “critters” remains. Unfortunately I have also had my tomato crop decimated with leaf mold. Although we have gotten a lot of cherry tomatoes and a couple of heirloom tomatoes, the majority of the plants have contracted the mold and are expected to die.


Again, I have planted additional tomatoes in another area of the garden to see if I can overcome this problem.

Update September 2, 2008


Despite lots of effort the garden has been a disappointment. The tomatoes plants have continued to grow but no more tomatoes. I have planted some additional squash plants which have lots of blossoms but no squash. The carrots have matured and shown that I should have planted more of them. The pole beans have produced large plants but no beans. The Swiss chard is growing very nicely and has been a nice addition to our salads. The  herbs have been prolific and I have dried a quantity for the winter.


I have planted a second crop of most vegetables in pots that are located in the shade. The direct sun here in Texas has, I believe, caused most things to either die or not produce. The melons and squash I planted in earth boxes have all died for no apparent reason. The plants in pots seem to be growing well but they may not have time before a frost to produce any fruit. Time will tell.


I have noted the need for an automated watering system. The long hot days here have been a real problem. The soil often cracks it gets so dry despite daily watering. Therefore, a winter project will be to add compost to the garden and to install an automated watering system.


We have very large pepper plants but have only harvested one pepper.


While there is still time for the second round of plantings to mature, it will be several weeks before we know for sure.



Update September 24


The garden continues to disappoint me. While we have had a couple of cucumbers and several more peppers, the squash has totally failed. I attribute this to disease or pests as they all failed in a similar way. The pole beans have been a pleasant surprise and are generating a steady harvest. While I have only two bean plants they have generated about two dozen beans. We have one melon in the offing but it is not very large. The carrots are doing well but it has taken all summer for them to mature. Next year I shall plant a different variety. The herbs are all doing well and I use them every evening when I cook.




I do not know enough about insects, bugs and pests. The garden failed to meet my expectations because I did not know how to protect it.


I have a compost pile that I will turn into the soil after the first frost. I will also add some additional soil to the raised beds and come up with a watering system for next year.

Update October 18, 2008


The peppers are now coming on strong and it looks like we will have plenty of them. The small carrots have not been prolific but they have and continue to produce a good quantity. The tomatoes suffered through the blight and are now producing a small number of cherry tomatoes. We got three cucumbers, and a good quantity of beans from four plants.


This was not the prolific garden I had looked forward to. In large measure the bugs got most of the plants and we got nothing.


The herb garden is doing well and I have preserved a good bit of the bounty. In fact the hers are doing so well that I have built a special plant wall in the kitchen so we can continue with them over the winter.


I have planted a second crop of trombone squash after seeing how prolific the plants of my daughter were. As they have a short growing season I am expecting to get some squash before a freeze. I also put in some lettuce and spinach in my earth boxes. This should produce some nice greens for a late in the season crop.


Lessons learned about growing vegetables in Texas -


Start early and start late but leave the heat of the summer for the birds and the squirrels. Vegetables do not do well in high heat. I also found that partial shade is better for growing the full sun.


I plan to contact the Texas A&M extension for advice on next years crops. The black berries I got from them produced a hand full of fruit this year and are expected to do well next year.

Herb & Barbara our interests and family