How Does My Garden Grow – Not


Pretty Pathetic Pumpkin Plants

The pumpkin plant above should be far larger by now. Almost all of our beans, peas, corn and sunflower seeds rotted in the ground. The tomatoes look like transplants. My father told me this weekend that his garden is also doing poorly this year. I’m glad we are not dependent on just vegetables. The gardens are horrible this year, much like the crop failures of the mid-1800’s that cause emigration from Ireland (Potato Famin) and from our area westward.

I think that a lot of the problem is the soil didn’t warm up. This let the seeds rot rather than germinate. Even those that I pre-soaked didn’t do well. The lack of sun also probably didn’t help with warm up this spring. I stopped measuring the ground soil temperature in mid-June when it was still below 50°F – discouraging. Interestingly, the plants that are in tubs around the cottage are all thriving. They’re drier and the soil is warmer. Possibly the warm stone walls of the cottage and cliff also helped to create a micro-climate for them. A lesson. Eventually I plan to make raised beds around the cottage.


Lili with Burdock Leaves

The wild things are doing well. The burdock and thistles seem to thrive on this wet, cool weather. I’m seeing lots of wild berries including blueberries, raspberries and thimble berries. Lili poses above to show how large the leaves are.

Burdock are a disaster around sheep. If you are ever incline to frustration, run your flock through a patch of the sticky burdock fruits after they’re dry and ripe. They are virtually impossible to get out of the wool.

On the other hand, Pigs love thistles and burdocks so there are none in our pastures. I wish I could turn the pigs loose along the roads to clean out the ditches too. With their deep roots they bring up moisture and minerals from far down in the soil making them an excellent forage even in the dry years.


Field Turnips

The turnips and beets we planted in the fields are also doing poorly. This past week with more sunshine they’ve started to perk up so there is hope. We have several acres of them. Most will go to the livestock after we harvest what we need.

Without long distance transportation and pill popping a vegan or vegetarian diet isn’t sustainable in our climate. One can’t count on vegetable crops every year. Winter’s a long, hard six months until the next growing season even with canned and cellared foods. Successive years of crop failure were a disaster in the past that caused mass emigrations and deaths.

Livestock, animals are able to graze the pastures, turning sunshine into high quality lipids (fats) and protein. They’re are what would get us through a year like this if we didn’t have stores to run to. While the gardens are soggy from all the rain and not growing from the lack of sunshine the pigs, chickens, ducks and geese are thriving. With meat and eggs plus some wild foraging one could make it through many years like this until the harvests improve.

Still, I have hope. With a long indian summer, what they now refer to as global warming, perhaps we’ll get a few extra months of growing season. I keep planting more every week – maybe it will grow and save the season.

Outdoors: 76°F/51°F Partially Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 75°F/69°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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12 Responses to How Does My Garden Grow – Not

  1. Deb says:

    Walter, I'm feeling your garden pain here in Minnesota! I mean, light frost in July? To add insult to injury, a deer has been treating my garden as a buffet. Never had problems with deer before, especially eating tomato plants!

  2. karl says:

    our garden has been far too much work this year with only modest results. fingers crossed for your native american summer;)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well — you are ahead of me. My seeds i planted early and they rotted in the rain. Then it was cloudy. I gave up figuring I am all too late now. But you give me hope. I will plant some more and hope for indian summer. Last fall was warm.

  4. Deb, I think if we didn't have so many dogs we would have deer issues. I see lots of spore out in the woods but they seem to stay out of our fields. I did train the dogs to not bark at the moose and as a result I see their manure and sometimes them out in the fields or along the road. They go clip-clop down the road in the early morning or evening light.

  5. Aimee says:

    Pigs love thistles? Are you serious? Will they only eat them when they are small and flat or will they also eat them after they are tall and form balls? I have the MOST SERIOUS thistle problem on my land and I was thinking seriously of getting a donkey… but I'd much rather get pigs and then eat them after they devastate my thistles. Would this work?

  6. Aimee says:

    Pigs love thistles? Are you serious? Will they only eat them when they are small and flat or will they also eat them after they are tall and form balls? I have the MOST SERIOUS thistle problem on my land and I was thinking seriously of getting a donkey… but I'd much rather get pigs and then eat them after they devastate my thistles. Would this work?

  7. Jerry says:

    Here in Alberta Canada, the garden situation is very similar. I've been meaning to post about that myself. Things are finally picking up a bit now that we got some heat and some rain (last year saw no rain at all between May and August), but there will be little in the way of stores. At least the fresh lettuces, spinach and chard have been available.

    We also have a small greenhouse this year, for the first time. Anything that can be done to keep one of these operating as long as possible through the year will do a lot for survivability through a bad growing year. Where one has the sunlight, like here in Alberta, I highly recommend a well constructed geodesic dome greenhouse designed for year round use. There is a company in Colorado, called Growing Spaces, which has a great range of kits.

  8. Here in Central Illinois the same scene. The upside…peas continue to produce, slow tomato growth gave me time to actually get them mulched, and like you my constant replanting is turning into my first ever fall garden.Global warming me arse !

  9. Lorraine says:

    Walter, our garden hasn’t done well this year, either. Our green bell peppers are just now starting to produce.
    Interestingly enough, our Scottish Blackface sheep love the thistle!

  10. You may disdain your weather, but to me here in SE Texas it sounds like Heaven. We’re still recording 90+ deg F. temps, and almost 100% humidity!

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