Tuesday’s Top Five – The Under-achievers

Note:  Not sure what happened here I though I had published this on Tuesday, but apparently not.  So it’s Thursday’s top five.

Last week I celebrated my top five successes in the garden over this Spring/Summer, now it’s time to fess up about the dismal failures.  No photos is this post, it’s just too depressing photographing the things you barely want to even acknowledge and I’m having computer issues.  I am hopeful however, that some of you more skillful gardeners might be able to point out my shortcomings so that perhaps next time I might be a little more successful.

1. Zucchini – I have grown zucchinis without any trouble whatsoever for the last three or four years.  So much so that I always end up with a glut and madly making zucchini slice, cake, soup and anything else I can think of to use the blessed things up.  This year I probably picked almost as many actual zucchinis, but not one was longer than my index finger and they were generally very skinny and even a little shriveled.  If I left them on the plant any longer they turned yellow and rotted.  The plants were constantly plagued by whitefly infestations and powdery mildew.  I thought the trouble was uneven watering so I started being much more vigilant with this particular bed.  I pruned back all the effected leaves and stalks several times – to the point where the plants were almost bare of leaves – and they would put on new, green healthy growth straight away only for the same thing to happen again.  I tried pyrethrum spray repeatedly with no result, I tried a soapy water spray (with and without metho) and nothing changed.

Today I ripped the darned things out of the ground and binned them – whiteflies filled the air and promptly took up resident in a nearby cucumber plant.  I sprayed immediately!  When I was pulling the plants out it seemed as though the base and roots had started to rot and were very damp, perhaps I ended up over-watering this bed.  The bed I used for the zucchinis has been in high rotation for several seasons now, so I’ve decided to give it a rest, add some organic matter and plant a broad bean crop there later in the year.  I will have to find a new home for the zucchinis next year.

2. Cucumbers – Mr Good’s all-time favourite salad item is cucumber, he loves them.  Baby Good likes nothing better than to chomp of a stick of cuc, scraping the flesh off with those new teeth of hers.  I enjoy them, and Miss Two, well she could take them or leave them, but what’s new there.  Disappointingly we did not harvest many cucumbers this year at all.  I did pick quite an impressive one this morning, and there are another two almost ready to come off as well.  But other than these ones, all I managed was three of the most pathetic looking, mishapen and small specimens you have even seen.  Mum did pick a couple when she watered while we were away though.  What annoys me most is that I planted dozens of seeds most germinated easily, but from these only one seedling survived. The other three plants I bought as seedlings from a certain big green shed (shameful I know!!).  And you know what?  That one seedling I grew from seed DID NOT GROW A SINGLE CUCUMBER!  In fact it’s really only been one of the four plants that produced anything worthwhile.  So what are the cucumber growing tricks that I should be using?  What did I do wrong?

3. Peas – Actually these probably deserve the number one spot when it comes to under-achieving, but as they died and were ripped out so long ago I have sort of banished them from my memory.  These grew easily from seed in little toilet roll pots and once in the ground they climbed and climbed way over the wire I had put up for them to climb on.  Then they starting to flower and set fruit, never in huge quantities, but enough to please me at the time.  I picked a few handfuls of them, which we added to various things, or Miss Two and I ate while pottering in the garden.  Then the new growth started to look funny, the leaves yellowed a bit and went crinkly around the edge, some looked like they had powdery mildew as well.  The tendrils they put out were pathetic and didn’t cling like they should, they stopped flowering, and eventually they died.  Again this is all a mystery to me.  What is it that my peas were trying to tell me?

4. Capsicum – these are quite a different story to my other failings, there was no high germination rate, no thriving seedling stage, but also no mystery disease or pest to destroy my hopes.  Out of the many, many seeds I planted only one ever came through and that one came through very late.  It was about the last thing to go into the garden just after the eggplants.  It is still there, despite being slightly swamped by the drooping potato plants, and is a tall, glossy green plant looking perfectly healthy and happy.  So my questions is, where are all the capsicums, it has not a single fruit on it?  I have noticed a flower or two, but absolute no signs of fruit.  The eggplant next to it has had tonnes of flowers and now lots of baby eggplants.  What’s wrong with the capsicum?

5. Large variety tomatoes – I think my mistakes with the tomatoes were made right at the very beginning.  Firstly I planted the seeds too late, I really need to be onto this one much earlier this year.  Secondly I should have planted them up into bigger pots much earlier as well.  In fact some I put straight into the ground as tiny, tiny seedlings, these really have not done well at all.  Once I finally did figure out that they needed a bigger home, it was really too late and they should have been well established in the garden by then.  The cherrys have not been so badly effected by my tardiness as they don’t take so long to grow and ripen, but the bigger varieties are only now producing fruit of a mature size, but all are still completely green.  My dilemma is, do I pick them green and make pickles or do I hope that they still ripen on the plants?  In all it’s been a kind of disappointing tomato season, although Miss Two always manages to find her fill of cherry tommies to keep her happy when we’re playing outside.

Okay, now hit me with all the advice you have, I need help.

Linking in with Liz, check her post for all things jammy.

This entry was posted in Gardening, Tuesday's Top Five. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tuesday’s Top Five – The Under-achievers

  1. Liz says:

    Oh dear, can I start with last first – the tomatoes should still ripen, I reckon we’ve got another 2 months of tomato ripening weather minimum (possibly more) so I think your despair is definitely premature. Ditto the capsicums, last year I didn’t get ripe capsicums til mid April from memory, my plants from this year (I’ve harvested capsicums but from last years plants) are only just starting to set fruit now. Peas – I think it probably just got too hot for them, I usually see them as a winter crop. Cucumbers – hmmm not sure I have had heaps from mine (also bought as seedlings from the evil empire) – they like a fair bit of both food and water and I do find they don’t seem to like too too much sun (mine get about 5 hours per day). Zucchinis – either they were really not happy in that spot for whatever reason and they were dropping their fruit to show it or the fruit wasn’t being pollinated. Is the later possible?

    • Barbara Good says:

      Okay, the tomatoes are staying put, I’ve been trying to get into to prune back the dead bits but it hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully I’ll get some new growth too if I get that done soon. The caps is starting to show signs of possible fruit, but I’m not quite convinced yet, time will tell if they set and ripen or not.

      Glad to hear your opinion of peas being a winter crop, I’ll try them again.

      Cukes will definitely get more food next year – think the watering was okay. The one doing the best is in the sunniest spot so I don’t think it was a too much sun issue.

      Zukes will be in a new spot next year so we’ll see if that helps. Not a pollination issue, I had absolutely loads of bees everywhere this year and the fruit were definitely past the tiny non-pollination stage.

      Thanks for the words of wisdom, all duly noted.

  2. Phoebe says:

    Crap summer all round for me too! Powdery mildew is ruining everything before it really gets going…
    Is it blossom end rot that you have had with the zukes? Pot ash fixes that. My mum has had trouble with it too…
    What Liz said – keep going with the tomatoes. There’s no way I’m pulling mine out until they are completely dead! I read some where that if pulling them out with fruit that still needs ripening, pulling up the hole bush and ripening in a warm shady place does the trick.

    • Barbara Good says:

      So tell me Phoebe, how do you tackle powdery mildew and why was it so bad this year?

      Zukes could have blossom end rot, though I think it was generally the stem end that yellowed and shrivelled first. As soon as I saw that happening I would pick the zucchini to salvage what I could of the harvest. Sadly, many of my pumpkins are suffering the same thing and I can’t pick them yet. Incidently, they also have powdery mildew, could this be the issue?

      As above tomatoes are staying put.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s