Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In the Garden: An Epic Fail

So maybe it's not epic, but it sure feels that way. This year's vegetable garden was a disaster.

It got off to a promising start. I got excited when my first zucchini came in, expecting a summer of fresh-from-the-garden squash, tomatoes and herbs. Here's what it looked like in May:

But the tomatoes never took off, and the zucchini and crook neck starting dying before they matured. The fruit would grow to a few inches long, then dry out and shrivel up.

I looked around online for a possible explanation and discovered that the problem could be caused by a lack of pollination. So following the recommendations from cyberspace, I spent weeks hand pollinating the squash. I took pollen from the male flowers and rubbed it on the female blooms—initiating plant sex, as I jokingly called it.

I thought it was working—the plants initially got bigger—but they still died! And the tomato plant never grew, producing just one fruit. (Keep in mind it was a cherry tomato, so that didn't go very far!)

Frustration combined with a 100-plus-degree heat wave caused me to give up. I didn't so much as look at the veggie patch for at least a month. Here's what it looks like now:

Sad, isn't it? Even the herbs took a beating.

I'm baffled. I've never had trouble growing herbs (except cilantro, for some reason), and last year's tomato plant was out of control! (I used the same variety this year and planted it in the exact same spot.) I fed everything, and the plot gets plenty of water and a good dose of sunlight.

Well, I'll have the winter to try to figure out what went wrong so I can try again in the spring. And if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

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