Growing a vegetable garden at home is a great experience. Whether it’s a full-fledged family plot with a wide variety of crops or just a small patch of peppers, it can teach our kids about how hard work pays off, and it is a much safer way to provide food for our families.
Unfortunately, it can also teach us hard lessons about agriculture, specifically that we sometimes have poor crops. When we’ve invested a lot of time and money in a garden, it is tough to see it failing to live up to expectations. At that point, all we want to do is figure out why things went wrong so that we can correct conditions for next year.
It sounds simple enough, but it is a very complicated process. Pinpointing where things went wrong requires some good background knowledge and the dogged determination of a detective. We can’t cover everything that might wreck your little farm, but we will review some of the most likely suspects.
Bugs are just evil. They wait around for you to do all the work, and then they devour the results. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially if one of your goals is to avoid having pesticide on your food. On top of that, spraying for pests in the garden can affect honeybees, reducing their pollination efforts and lowering yields.
There are a number of ways to address this. A good start can actually be to control the pests in your home. Many of the same species that infest a home can also pay a visit to your garden, impacting your crops. Consult with experts like Moxie, which provides pest control in Oklahoma City. They’ll be able to advise you on how to control home pests that can also infest your garden.
If you’ve never grown a garden in a particular space, you may incorrectly assume that the soil is ready for it. After all, the grass looked healthy last year, right? But the demands of a vegetable garden from its soil are much higher than those of a lawn.
Improper fertility can cause a number of issues. The wrong pH level can lead to poor growth and yield. Insufficient nitrogen leads to pale plants that don’t produce. Low potassium will cut you short on blooms.
You can’t guess at what it needs, and store-bought soil test kits are too inaccurate. Find your local county extension office and see about having a sample run through a university lab for detailed recommendations. The cost is usually just a few dollars, and it will more than pay for itself.
Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it, right? Weather can very easily ruin your garden. Too much rain, not enough rain, rain at the wrong time, high temperatures, low temperatures, you name it.
Educate yourself first. Many people get enthused about their gardens and plant too early, leading to damage from a late frost. Check NOAA’s web site for your area and see what the 50% frost date is each spring. This date is the average of when your area has had its last frost. Before that date, you’re more than likely going to have more frost. After that date, you’ll have another frost less than half the time.
And think about moisture. It’s important to have water on the roots, but not so much on the leaves. Damp foliage is home sweet home for fungus diseases that can ruin your garden, so orient rows to allow wind and sun to dry the leaves.
Growing a garden is often equal parts heartbreak and triumph. It can be very easy to let the bad years discourage you, but you can’t let that happen. Remember that a good year is a good year, but a bad year is a learning year that will help you make more good years later. In time, your accumulated experience will make your thumb and your garden greener every year.