Garden 2020

Submitted by Matt on Fri, 07/31/2020 - 14:05

I planted a garden in our back alley in 2019. Last year I made a lot of amateur mistakes, this year I got of to a way better start. Still made some mistakes though many were out of my control.

Overall it is very much worth it, especially during this pandemic.

Is started everything from seeds in red solo cups. Initially I started bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, corn, basil, parsley and oregano.

Tomatoes Basil'

I mixed in compost, manure and peat moss into the bed. I also periodically fertilized. At first the garden was wildly successful.

garden

garden

garden

Initially had a very good harvest from the tomatoes and squash. Then the bugs decided to ruin my plans.

The worst among these were the squash vine borers. If you live in an area that other people grow squash you probably will have to deal with them at some point. They are moths that lay up to 200-300 eggs on the stem of your plants. After about a week they hatch into larvae that immediately burrow in to the squash. From there they gradually grow larger as they eat eventually exiting the vine and wintering in the soil. Next season you then have more moths.

There is no effective topical pesticide unless you are willing to spray your plants every few days. If you notice one in the vine you can inject a BT mixture, but you definitely will miss some and end up with a squash plant that is basically dead or useless at best. Plucking the eggs off every day kinda works for a while but all it takes is being out of town for a few days and you completely lose control of the situation.

Squash Borer Eggs
Squash Borer Eggs
Squash Borer
Squash borer damage. You can see the entry point and the corresponding damage in its early stages.
Injecting Pesticide
Injecting BT Pesticide to kill borers
Pruned Squash
You may also try to prune infected areas of the plant but ultimately its a losing battle.

Farmers have countermeasures against these things because they generally control all the nearby land. All you theoretically have to do is plow the soil below 6 inches every year to kill the grubs but I cannot (and will not) do that to everyone nearby that is growing squash. I will not be planting these next year because of this.

My squash also had a mildew(?) issue. I think the plant can normally fight this off or at least not have it spread fast but if you have borers then it weakens the plant enough for this stuff to really take hold.

squash mildew

Also we had aphid looking things pay a visit. These respond favorably to neem oil but you have to be consistent in your spraying. They multiply rapidly if you are not paying attention.

Aphids

Aphids

Some ladybugs eventually moved in and helped out.

lady bug

And finally the caterpillars that can literally eat your entire tomato plant in one week if you do nothing about them

caterpillar

I hope this experience helps someone. 

Next year I will be more prepared.