Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Plants-1 Gardner-6 Undecided-4

The fight for the paths is on in my garden. Certain paths like this one is still undecided. The sweet potatoes are trying to take over, but I can still get though.

This is a huge 3' path in the garden. Or was. But again I can walk down it all the way to the shed.

Though this battle looks lost, if you look closely you can see the path down there.I can get to all the herbs on the left in the circle garden. The sweet potatoes have been cut back just enough to make it accessible. I wanted to pull that dill as it is all in the path. But I can't. My regular dill patch died this year so the volunteer dill was left to grow where it could. Even in very inconvenient places. But this and the matching path on the other side is still a draw.

This battle however is lost. And yes there is supposed to be a path right down the middle there. The squash got away from me. I usually turn the squash runners into the middle of the bed when they try to escape. But if you ignore it for a couple of weeks you lose the battle.

That plant has escaped over the flowers and over the fence and has set its mind on driveway domination. I just can't bear to cut it back since it is setting squash. Who needs a driveway? I don't own a car. My husband is getting worried though as it is his car that gets parked there. He mentioned it to me I think so that I would cut it back and deal with it. But I didn't. I left it there. Frankly I'm rooting for the squash.

This Godzilla of a plant is one of my butternuts. I'm guessing it is a Waltham Butternut, but that side was an Early Butternut, which has more of a bush habit. The other side was the Waltham. But I wouldn't put it past the Waltham to travel 16' to the end of the bed and then escape out the fence. As you can see the squash is part of one of my two sisters beds. Squash is perfect to run under the corn. It needs space, but I'm not going to give it space just to run. That wouldn't be productive. I let the corn grow and set on top of it.

Sadly I mistimed this bed. I usually plant the corn and the squash at the same time. This gives the corn time to get tall enough to be above the squash. But I was doing four blocks of corn each 2 1/2 weeks apart (May 1st, May 17th, June 4th, June 21st). The problem with this bed was it was the later bed and I planted the squash on the June 4th planting time with the first set of corn in the bed. The corn didn't come up. It finally came up with the last planting date of June 21st after several tries. This gave the Waltham way too much time and a lot of the corn was swamped by the squash. On the other end I planted the Early Butternut at the same time as the Waltham. I figured it was not as aggressive so the corn would have a chance. That worked out better. Some stalks did get swamped, but not most of the bed. Right now that set of corn has most of the silks just starting to dry out. So hopefully they pollinated well.

This is the other three sisters bed. As you can see the corn is gone. It had the earliest planted corn. I had germination problems here too. But the squash was all planted in mid May so I had time for resowings before the squash took over. I got about 25 ears of corn out of what ought to have been 40 plants. I didn't have that many as some never came up and a few didn't set any corn. A few got taken out by the microburst. But 25 is better than I've done in the past, so I'm going to count it a success. And as you can see here, I can get down those paths. The leaves might be reaching for the paths, but the vines are contained (mostly) in the bed.

The saddest part about that bed is the Tetsukabuko squash. It set one squash really early and is maybe 6" in diameter. Then it never set another one again. It had lots of female flowers, but they never set squashes. And it isn't resistant to wilt. The plant is dying from it now. So I won't ever grow that one again. The butternuts all seem resistant to wilt and immune to the borers, so butternuts will be my only squash next year. I'm only complaining a little about that. I do love butternuts, but sometimes variety is nice.

This year I gave the third sister - beans - its own bed. I've found that bush beans get mowed down by the squash. Pole beans overwhelm the corn. So I've quit growing a three sisters bed. I keep thinking though that if I plant pole beans really late it might work. I might try one bed that way. I don't know if we would have enough time to get the beans to crop, but it would be fun to try. I always love to experiment.

One thing I didn't like about giving the beans their own bed is that I had to plant bush beans so the beans wouldn't get shaded by themselves. I don't like bush beans nearly as much. They are hard to harvest and I lose some of the beans to mildew as the pods sit in the damp earth. The pole beans are easy to see to harvest and they don't mildew nearly as easily. Next year I'd like to see if I can grow pole beans in the whole bed. I would also like to see if I can find a rotation with the bush Tiger Eye beans. They are such an early bean that I could harvest by pulling the whole plant out. And they could be in the rotation with the spring and fall crops. I could grow the first one early in the summer and they would be out by August. And I could grow the second after the spring crops get out at the end of June. I'd have to experiment to see if I could grow them near the fence or they would always need to be in the better sun by the path. But it would be good to grow beans in a bed before my heavy feeders the brassicas. I'll have to think about what goes where this winter.


  1. Such a battle! Enjoy the butternuts, they are incredibly expensive here at the moment so there isn't much pumpkin on the dinner table.

  2. We were just talking about how hard having bush beans can be on gardener's backs... Thanks for posting great pix of your garden beds. I'm always a little bit embarrassed at how intensively we plant, but it is a way to produce more if you have limited space. It does take more work and plant wrangling though...

  3. Wow, what a battle! 'Plants vs Zombies' comes to mind here! I think You win in the long run, though! Have a nice week! :) Mia

  4. it looks like you are winning for the most part...maybe...LOL

  5. Your Waltham butternuts certainly can travel more than 16' and over the fence. From where mine are planted, on center, they travel both ways for 18-20 feet, and then I'm chopping off the vines to keep them from going any farther, so they could easily go way over 40' all together. I can keep track of the lengths, as they run along a fence with posts set at 8' apart. Width wise, I'm constantly moving the vines to stay in a 12' wide bed, but they do often grow over or through the fence, so those vines also have to be lopped off. I hate to do it, but husband would mow over them anyway.

  6. I vote for the squash in the driveway too!!!!! Nancy

  7. I'm pulling for that driveway squash too. :D One has to admire and love a plant with that much ambition to take over the universe. Now that I think of it... I seem to have a brother to it - a sugar pie pumpkin that has grown up and over our fence and is now climbing into a near by tree. It is making access to the back part of my raspberry patch very challenging but I can't bring myself to whack it back... it's setting fruit there. :D We have our priorities.

  8. Such a great post! The only reason I'm finding any access to major parts of my garden is that we happened to harvest a row of this or that (celery between the corn for example) earlier in the year and failed to fill it with something new. Now I'm glad we didn't. otherwise we'd not be able to harvest anything!

  9. I've planted both bush and pole beans...and the thing that had me planting bush beans again was the Japanese Beetles seem to like the pole beans a lot more, so...in my continuing battle with those crazy guys, I broke my back for the bush beans again. lol

    I had lots of squash blossoms on my butternuts, but only wound up with about 14 decent squashes. I usually harvest at least 2 dozen or more. We love them. I'm getting pickier about what I use my garden space for. And personally--I let the garden run where it will. The squash and the sweet potatoes are the biggest travelers....lol

  10. Its great to see how things have grown! I remember when you first planted that circle garden; now I can't even see the circle anymore. My sweet potatoes have taken over the path on both sides. I lost a few battles now that I think about it; but most have been pulled in favor of fall plantings that will start soon.