In the Vegetable Garden, September 8th, 2011

It takes time for plants to grow and set fruit, but my trips to the garden showed progress. The green beans were starting to look great; lots and lots of flowers being pollinated by bees and flies promised a bumper crop of runner beans. Tomatoes were ripening and the first tiny green peppers started to appear. Now the fun was starting. Then it started raining again.

 At first our plot was doing ok; not great, but ok. Some of the plants were waterlogged for days on end and started wilting. I was able to harvest some tomatoes and a few handfuls of green beans. The peas were growing up their trellis, but flowers were few and far between. The onions that were planted first in the garden struggled in the wet heavy soil, then called it a day and expired.

Wet garden before the big storm.small

 Oh well, not everything will grow as expected. But the rain continued and tropical storm Irene waterlogged our plot thoroughly and caused havoc to the region.

A trip to the garden the following day showed sad plants and completely defoliated runner beans. All that was left were runners twinning up the trellis with a few beans dangling off the occasional side shoot. All the flowers were gone too so there would be no additional beans. What the heck happened?  Mexican bean beetles can do some serious damage to leaves, but I had not noticed any beetles at my previous visits. Late-planted beans (and ours certainly were due to the late opening of the garden and the cool, wet weather in spring) can be bothered by red spider mites that can defoliate the plants. Last, but not least, rust can attack the leaves and cause them to drop off. However, one week the plants looked great and healthy and the next week they were at death’s door.

Not a week later and the remnants of tropical storm Lee dumped more rain on our region day after day. A quick trip to the garden this morning showed a very sad sight; our garden is completely waterlogged and it is doubtful any of the plants still standing will make it much longer.

after tropical storm Lee

I will probably pick as many tomatoes as I can and harvest the few peppers still developing that haven’t fallen off. I will pull out the plants and clean up most of the plot. We will have to wait and see if the five pounds of seed potatoes planted in late fall will produce any spuds. Right now the plants are in standing water and developing potatoes are probably rotting in the soil as we speak.

Hopefully as we are going into fall we will not be experiencing any additional record rainfalls. With luck, the plot will dry out and maybe, just maybe, we can plant some fast maturing fall crops ready for picking before the garden shuts down.

It is important to keep in mind that gardening is a journey and sometimes you hit a detour. A drought, as experienced last year, or this year’s record rains require you to adjust and sometimes just accept. In the vegetable garden I had perfect gardening moments; perfect tomatoes and peppers and delectable green beans. One can only hope for better results in the future, when Nature doles out sun and rain in more equal proportions.

Marty Oostveen, Gardener, The Dutch Touch, LLC