Kasey – Week 3

I’ve become one of them. Yes, it’s true: I’ve become a gardener.

Here are the symptoms:

  • Constantly calculating the amount of rain you’ve gotten in the last week.
  • Researching bugs after seeing them in your yard.

    Which did I need to water?

  • Lingering in the outdoor section of the home improvement store.
  • Buying a knee pad.
  • Talking to everyone you know that shows passing interest about your garden.

 

Yes, it’s true. I’ve been watching and watering and fertilizing and researching. Have I made missteps? Definitely. My mint pots do not have

drainage, so it is hard to know how much water them sometimes. (I have heard that too much moisture can often lead to rot and diseases in the roots.) One of them was suffering from my inexperience. However, there is one thing I have learned about

plants: they are resilient! It perked up almost immediately after I gave it some H2O.

In general, I try to stick to the following guidelines:

 

Watering

This is a task that I try to squeeze in even when I am at my busiest. Afterall, it is essential to the process. We have had a hot April, so I have been watering every other day and checking my potted plants often for any dryness. The soil in containers and pots tends to lose moisture much faster than if it was in the ground because it has much less insulation.

I watered in the late evening (around 7pm) because as any gardener  will tell you, plants should not be given water in the heat of the day. It will evaporate, but more importantly, the water can form a lens that will scorch the foliage in the sun.

 

Herbs growing.

Fertilizer

I was unsure on what was the best for my large variety of plants, so I picked up the first organic food fertilizer I saw. It was a nice (and very smelly) granular mix that was to be spread in the soil surrounding the plants about once a week. My plants are healthy and strong, so it must have been good enough to do the trick.

I have heard often that liquid fertilizer is a good idea for tomatoes since it provides immediate nutrients straight to the fruit. This is something I am eager to try later when I run out of my current mix.

 

 

Insects

Bug damage.

I had some bugs having a buffet on my mint and pepper leaves. I found some aphids that seemed to be the culprit, but I could tell for sure that beetles weren’t praying on the peppers at night. After losing a few leaves, I decided to do something about the free food I was providing to hungry bugs.

My plan was to avoid using chemicals if at all possible, so I did some research and found instructions for a simple repellent that I could make without taking a special trip to the store. Using a few drops of natural dish soap, a sprayer, and some water, I coated my leaves with a heavily diluted solution of soap. This seems to keep them at bay. It must be reapplied if the plants get wet, so I usually use a soaker in the planter to water. Then, I reply the solution after rain. I try whenever possible to avoid spraying the fruit. I researched to make sure the soap wold be harmless, but I don’t want anything extra in my salad.

I hear that Dr. Bronner’s mint soaps are especially good for this task and might be picking some up next time I am in Whole Foods.

 

Pruning

I don’t! I worked so hard on getting these things to grow, I hate to remove anything. I am aware that proper pruning makes for stronger fruit, but I’m not sure where to start.

Looking good.

That’s it. Things are going very well! The plants are much bigger now than I imagined they would be.

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adventures in urban gardening