How I Failed In My Garden And What I Plan To Do About It

2016 is the year of learning! In early spring we had a crisis at work and I completely neglected planting on time, among other things. Here’s a chance for you to learn from my mistakes!

I planted cucumber, dill, and a few herbs around mid-march. The local planting calendar I use says late February is the best time to sow them. The dill, for instance, didn’t have a chance. Those tiny pumpkin seeds I extracted from the “pumpkin” sprouted and never took off. These were planted in the same container. Later I found out their demise was due to the extremely shallow and dense root system of the Garden Huckleberry that took over that planter. Never assume anything – find out if your soil has enough free space for the roots of your seedlings. The remainder of those pumpkin seeds I will plant early next spring in a large dedicated pot.

Sickly Zucchini

Both zucchini were stunted, and I was able to save one from sickness. All of those were planted in white five gallon buckets. As it turns out, they are not ideal planters. That, and the fact that I laced the soil with vermiculite, led to the soil becoming warm AND moist. This is a fantastic recipe for anaerobic bacterial growth. Plant roots need a buffer from warm temperatures, and from bacteria that can coat the roots and starve them. Look below for dedicated posts all about planters, because there is just too much to discuss there.

Choosing A Planting Container In Hot Climates, Part 1: Plastic

Choosing A Planting Container In Hot Climates, Part 2: Clay/Terra Cotta

More will be posted here as they are available.

Before transplant
After transplant

Today (July 2016) I still want some zucchini out of this.

This was the result of the transplant by the way!!!


The cucumbers ended up as 1 foot tall shrubby looking plants. This variety was supposed to be a bush, and it has those characteristics. At this point, these are growing, and I may get a few more cucumbers out of them. But the plan is to grow them until they can be composted, then plant this variety in the big planters in early October or November.

One cucumber has grown from this, and it was given to the tortoise.
No cucumbers have grown from this, and it’s not faring well from heat stress.


So, cut to now. In mid-July the huckleberry was removed from its planter. Remember how I said these have thick and shallow root systems? I was not at all joking. From now on they will have no place in my containers. Just look at these things.


A close up

If they pop up in the ground, I may leave them. Birds love the berries and in turn help to keep squirrels and other pests out of the yard. If you do not love mockingbirds, get rid of these. Mine haven’t kept me awake, but it’s still a possibility.

Posts to look forward to:

  • Choosing a planting container in zone 9A
  • Saving zucchini from mildew and stress

So be careful how and when you plant. As always, if you have any suggestions or thoughts you are welcome to contribute here!

*The very tip-top picture is a flower, leaf, and tendril of a wild cucumber that never produced.

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