Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

The Garden Chronicles - Man Against Nature

Gardening, Critters, Outdoors

Any other frustrated gardeners out there?

I know that I am.

Hours of preparation and labor out the window. This year the business of gardening has been a textbook exercise in frustration.

Planting began on May 2nd with three rows of onion sets – Texas Super Sweet along with Walla Walla and Candy Hybrid.  Spuds went in – Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold.   Peas, radishes, Swiss chard, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, beets, and three kinds of lettuce too.

For a spell vegetable gardening was going well. Everything sprouted and was growing.

Then it turned cold and wet.

May 15th - Planted green beans, an additional row of peas and mixed carrots and radishes.

This was followed by more rain and cold.

What? Me worry?

The rains continued and the cold got colder. And not your routine cold. I’m talking about lows of 39 and highs of 49. With scattered frosts too.

Most of the emerging beets, spinach and lettuce were washed-way. The survivors were so soaked and chilled that virtually all had perished by the end of the month.

Remarkably the cabbages, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, peas and broccoli survived. They were struggling but hanging-tough.

The potatoes seemed to thrive. 

No sign of the green beans. Fingers were crossed.

May 22nd - Things were looking-up. The green beans were beginning to peek-through.  Same for the carrots and radishes. And the torrential rain with cold seemed to abate. Four kinds of tomato plants along with the green peppers have led sheltered lives in the garage for the last week - only coming out periodically for some fresh air and exercise and to harden-off. The turkey hunting was good – with a second gobbler in the freezer.

May 25th - Four varieties of squash were planted along with the first two rows of sweet corn.

It turned cold again. No rain. The fishing was good though.

June 6th - Radishes, spinach and beets were replanted along with salad cukes, pickles, two more rows of sweet corn, and cantaloupe as well. With much trepidation the tomato and pepper plants were planted. Cold and wind continued and they assumed a ghastly yellow pallor and looked wilty. The potatoes continued to thrive and were mounded. 

June 12th – Eater pumpkin, Jack-o-Lantern, watermelon and gourds planted. The weather was perfect – with hot sunny days and scattered showers.

The garden began to come to life. The long dormant squash seeds sprouted and grew by the day. The green beans and sweet corn did the same. The tomato plants began to green-up and stiffen in their resolve against the wind. In just one week the gourds, pumpkins and watermelon sprouted and put on noticeable daily growth. The potatoes had to be mounded again.

On Friday I meticulously hoed my garden. On Saturday I proudly showed it-off to my visiting friends.

They were impressed for sure. Tom, you are going to have a truckload of produce!

On Sunday disaster struck.

Cucumber beetles!

 University of Minnesota photo

In less than 24 hours they materialized out of nowhere and decimated my pie pumpkin and watermelon plants. They had advanced to the green beans, the cukes, the gourds, the Jack-o-Lanterns and the radishes. My squash plants were crawling with them. Plants that had sprouted in just the last few days were gone!


What to do? It was Sunday afternoon and the garden’s future hung in the balance.

I ran to the garage and perused my deadly stockpile of tree farm chemicals.

There it was - Carbaryl.  Liquid concentrate. Checking the label less than an ounce or so per gallon of water should do the job.  The beetles were small. Charging-up a backpack sprayer I inoculated all of the troubled plants and an hour later all the bugs were nuked.

The pie pumpkins and most of the squash may not likely survive the feasting of the beetles so I replanted. With no back-up seed my hopes for watermelon have been dashed.

And for the first time I have violated the first rule of organic gardening - no chemical inputs.


What was I to do?

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