Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poor start to the season

We have already had a few garden sacrifices this growing season. Most of our bean plants have been eaten by pill bugs. Sigh. This has never been an issue before, but we did a few things differently this year and we suspect that these changes are the culprit.

1.) We did not turn the soil. In our attempt to stave off the morning glory infestation we took the lasagna gardening approach and layered either compost or leaf mulch over our beds but didn't turn it into our soil. Bad idea. I don't think lasagna gardening is intended for clay soils. In our big bed, we have had the worst lettuce germination we have ever had. We have reseeded twice but still have only one row of lettuce thriving (pics below). I think the seeds can't get started in the compost/leaf mulch.

More concerning, in our bean bed where we did only compost and no leaf mulch pill bugs have eaten our bean seedlings. They have never bothered our plants before, and I think this is because we usually dig in copious amounts of leaf mulch which becomes pill bug food. This year they have nothing to munch on except our seedlings. Since they are only a nuisance in the bed with no leaf mulch, clearly using leaf mulch (and digging it in) makes a difference.

2.) We've watered...a lot. Historically we are horrible with watering. Horrible. So this year, trying to start the year off right, we've been watering a ton. Turns out we've just softened our bean seeds and made them easy for the pill bugs to chew on.

3.) We started earlier. We had an unseasonably warm winter which allowed us to start plants earlier. Good for lettuce but not good for beans which if planted in cold soil can rot before they germinate according to Carole Turner's Seed Sowing and Saving book (which I just learned after I checked this out of the library). Well damn. 

Happy highlights:

Chamomile is huge and gorgeous. We're planning to move the sun box to a better place in the garden (and eradicate the virginia creeper growing behind it...eek!). Since there is only some opportunistic mint in the sun box, when we remove the box we are going to extend the chamomile bed and make a big "tea" bed to include the mint. 

 Radishes and one mesclun have come up and one lettuce row looks great.

Also we have some rogue asparagus (which we thought we sacrificed to build this bed but I guess nature finds a way):

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