An Early Start to a Year Cut Short
I tried new plants and techniques in the garden. Last year I utilized the 3 sisters’ method and grew corn, pumpkin, and beans in the same raised bed. It produced a fair amount of food but maintenance was difficult. I had a hard time reaching through the corn stalks to prune the beans and train the advancing pumpkins. This year, I tried the same setup but in containers. The goal was to have 1 corn plant and 1 bean plant in a 5-gallon container, and pumpkins in their own container of the same size. I saw someone online grow corn in a 5-gallon container, so I believed it was possible. Perhaps it is, but my luck was poor. Most of the corn didn’t germinate (I direct sowed it), the beans haven’t grown very tall so far, and the pumpkins started strong but now most look sick and 1 is dead. I believe the problem with the beans and pumpkins is the heat. I have a west-facing growing area with no shade, temperatures are already consistently in the 90s, and clouds are usually absent. When I planted beans and pumpkins in the ground they did fine but it’s likely that they’re getting too hot in the containers.
Not everything in containers has had issues with the heat. I have gourds which are filling in their trellises nicely. I figured that if the trellises can hold gourds then they might be able to hold fruit, too, so I have containers of muskmelons in the same area. The melons have not produced fruit yet, but there are a lot of flowers and plenty of leaves.
I kept some things basic and once again planted peppers and tomatoes. I tried most of the peppers from seeds collected from last season, but 1 Thai pepper was overwintered. I’m pleased with how the overwintered plant has progressed. It already has a pepper that is red and should be ready to pick soon. Another group that has done better than expected has been the tomatillos. I had so much trouble last year getting any of the plants to live long enough to bear fruit. I was able to get 2, but I didn’t eat or even preserve them in any way. I just left them in a dark drawer all winter long, and late February I cut them in half and put them in a starter pod. It turns out two survivors were all that was necessary. The seeds germinated like crazy and the section where I planted them is now thriving. If I could stay until the end of the season, I’d expect to have a large haul of them.
But I can’t stay until the end of the season. Like many people my age I don’t own the house I live in; I rent it. Every time I’ve signed a lease, I’ve seen the same language: either party can terminate this lease agreement at any time with adequate notice. I never paid much attention to that phrase because no landlord I’ve ever had has done it. Until now. It was a shock to find a letter taped to my door telling me that I had to pack up everything and leave the premises. It wasn’t malicious in any way. It was formal and the leasing agency has already been helpful in finding a new place for me to move into. I’m not fighting them in any way. I realize they have their reasons, I’m grateful for the help they’ve provided so far, and when the time comes I’ll have all my stuff ready to go. It’s just the things I can’t take with me that will be tough to leave behind. It’s a good thing I put so many plants in containers since it will make them easier to load into a car. But the tomatillos are in the bed and can’t be moved. I could try to dig them up, but I’m too worried about damaging the roots or giving them transplant shock. The overwintered pepper will also have to be left behind, along with a bunch of grains that are also in the raised bed. I haven’t heard from the leasing agency about when the house will be inhabited again. It’s possible that I’ll be able to come back before another owner moves in and continue caring for the plants I can’t take with me. An ideal scenario would be if the next owners allow me to visit them for the sake of looking after the raised beds. Whatever happens, I can at least find comfort in knowing that until recently this was shaping up to be a bountiful growing season.
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