Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer of pests!

I planned this summer’s vegetable garden carefully last spring.  I've mostly grown vegetables in pots before but made a raised bed this year on the side of the house where it gets a lot of summer sun, and even ordered some different seed varieties from a Burpee catalog.  And after reading some books about organic gardening I tried to go easy on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but the results were disappointing.  Apparently I'm not the only one who wants to eat what I'm growing!  Here's the run-down of what I grew and the problems I had.

Burpee calls the "Oasis hybrid turnip" a "salad turnip," and they taste like radishes only milder.  Jamie liked them better than I did (I thought they had a bit of an aftertaste) but maybe I'll try them again this fall.

Some carrots and parsnips from spring were very slow growing and still ended up small, but they were delicious oven-roasted with rosemary fresh from the garden and store-bought potatoes and red onions.  This fall I'll try a shorter parsnip (and plant earlier) and see if that works any better.

I was really looking forward to the "Purple Dragon" carrots.  The picture in the catalog shows the purple color almost into the center, but mine only had purple skin and were either orange or yellow inside.  They tasted kind of bitter when eaten raw, but were better steamed.

I forgot to take a picture of the "Sweet Zuke” zucchini.  They tasted good (roasted, above) but weren't as slender as what I've grown before.  I might include one "Sweet Zuke" plant next year, but I'll probably go back to planting a couple of the regular zucchini.

I was also looking forward to the "Fortex" green beans.  They grow about 8" long, are fatter and meatier, and have a really good flavor.  I don't think they bear as heavily as some newer varieties but unfortunately the pests beat me to them most of the time.

The Fortex beans are the bigger ones on the left.  I also planted some tricolor bush beans from a Renee's Garden packet.

Although they didn't eat the actual beans, caterpillars were out of control.  I'm definitely picking up a Bt spray before my fall garden gets growing.

Lot's of these little worms...

... and a few of these monsters.
Maddie and I fed the caterpillars we found to the 'blue-belly' lizards.

This 'alligator' lizard was missing part of his tail.  Some had really pretty red markings.
The worst pest turned out to be rats!  Not only did they eat a LOT of beans but ALL the tomatoes!  They're not the big Norway rats but a smaller (and cuter) variety I've heard called "tree rats."  I killed 7 or 8 but the snap traps only worked for a little while, and the Rat Zapper was a total failure – except as a rat feeder!  I don't want to use poison because of the neighbor's dog (and the owls we sometimes see), so I'm open to suggestions.

I love you Remy, but Emile and the others are NOT welcome!

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