Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crop Failure

My grandfather had a saying, "Seed your wild oats on Saturday and pray for a crop failure on Sunday." I never turned out to be that kind of kid but my most recent seeding, navy beans in this case, were an utter failure even if there were no prayers involved.

I think the biggest culprit in their failure was bad seed to begin with. From what I dug up, only one in five seeds ever germinated. Another culprit was that the wet weather and my hectic schedule meant that they got planted in fairly wet conditions, wetter than I normally would even consider planting them. The final straw that broke the camel's back was that because I had lots of good leaf mulch from last fall on my garden but not enough space to rake it back when planting the rows, it collapsed back over the rows with every little breeze and rain we got. I dug them out a few times but I just couldn't keep up. When I dug them out again last night, the few seeds that had sprouted had sprouts nearly five inches long that had been futively looking for light but unable to get above the leaves. The poor little guys just never stood a chance.

So rather than just live with a poor stand that will give me perhaps a double handful of beans in the end, I am going to go to plan B and pick up some tomato and pepper plants on my way home tonight and stick them in the ground. It's better than nothing but dang, I had my heart set on some navy bean soup this winter.

As Ron from Hickory Hills always does, I hope I have learned a valuable lesson from this failure and next year will be better. My learned lesson is that while the leaf mulch is good, I can't store all of it on my tiny garden over winter. It doesn't dry out fast enough in the spring and I have no place to move it when planting. So this fall, I think I will bag it up and put in in the shed until spring and the plants are already up before redepositing it on the garden. Now if plan B works out....

8 comments:

R. Sherman said...

I always thought grass mulch was better than leaf mulch for the reason you cite. It takes too long to get suitable.

Cheers.

Ed Abbey said...

R. Sherman - I started thinking about that too after reading Karl's blog, Pile of O'Melays. He uses grass mulch, you have it when you need it normally as your garden gets planted. I have a bagger on my mower so catching the clipping would be no extra cost or work for me.

sage said...

No wild oats on Saturday? Peppers and tomatoes are the most logical thing (in my opinion) to raise at home (on a screened porched away from the gnawing teeth of the deer and rabbits, in my case)

TC said...

I'm not a fan of bean soup, but I do love tomatoes and peppers so that sounds better to me anyway :)

The Real Mother Hen said...

whatever your plan is, don't forget the prayers ;)

Ron said...

I have paths in my garden, and raked the mulch into them to let the soil warm up and dry out, then put it back on the beds once the seedlings are big enough to outgrow them. Works ok, I guess. I might shred the leaves this year so they don't blow around as much.

One thing I've done, that might work for you, is to lay tall weeds on the leaf mulch... it helps to hold it in place until the seedlings grow big enough.

Grass clippings work fine as mulch too... heck, use whatever you've got! I lay junk mail, feed bags, and cardboard over some of the tenacious weeds. Course, I don't live next to the Jonses out here. :)

Good luck with the peppers and tomatoes!

Ron

Beau said...

Tomatoes are a good idea... and I love cucumbers. They're easy to grow just about anywhere, and you can make a lot of salad fixin's with them.

PhilippinesPhil said...

From your gramp's wild oats saying that has absolutely nothing to do with growing plants of any kind, you took me on a hard left to growing navy beans. Took me a second to catch up. We used to have a huge truck garden but I don't think we ever planted navy beans. I think because they are so cheap to buy the dried little white beans by the sack. We grew lots of other types of beans though, snap beans, yellow beans, green beans, the kind you eat fresh. We canned and froze those kinds of beans, fairly well filling two freezers and several shelves. I miss those days.