I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Inventory time, and lessons learned


Besides the obvious answer to the question, "What vegetables can you grow in the shade?" (not many), this season brought a few surprises/ successes, and had the gardener been a little more attentive, the success rate would probably have been a smidge bit better.

Insufficient sun is not going to net you big honkin veggies. However, more modestly sized varieties, such as the Pizza My Heart pepper, as well as many hot peppers, may struggle along and produce an acceptable yield. The Pizza My Hearts shown here are probably destined for a veggie sausage-and-peppers combo, as they are sweet but can occasionally zing you with a little spiciness.

I had scads of JalapeƱos and Cascabellas (well scads for me anyway). Basil, parsley, and the other herbs did OK. The African marigolds went nuts, and the French Dwarfs got nice and bushy with a little time. The Swiss Chard is even growing moderately well, and the lettuce would have done better if it hadn't gotten eaten by the Trombetta di Albenga squash vines, which only made one damn decent squash, but I didn't find it until after ripping up the vines in disgust. The Trombetta had gorgeous, enormous leaves by the way, and made gillions of flowers (which I didn't use- idiot!), and was certainly not the one at fault for being so stingy with the fruit. Trying to grow it with only an hour or so of direct sun a day is cruel and unusual punishment, so it gave me leaves and flowers instead of fruit.

Which brings me to lesson number 1. You can grow leaves in the shade. Most leaves don't care. It's fruit that cares, and will snub you unmercifully by not showing up to your party. Herbs and greens are the mainstay of the kitchen shade garden.

Then lesson number 2. Forget mammoth tomatoes and put your bets on golf ball sized fruits, if you insist on trying to grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and the like in shade. I got a few smallish cucumbers and eggplants this season, so next year, if I am unfortunately still here, the plan is to grow only midget varieties.

Lesson number 3. Once the funds are available again (with salary freezes things are pretty tight, like everybody on the planet didn't know that already), hire an arborist and limb up/down whatever I can get away with on the trees on the property.

Lesson number 4. A fall garden may be the best bet for a shaded yard, as the canopy is decreasing and the light increasing, even though the sun is at at a lower angle.

Lesson number 5. Tear up the front yard and put the garden there. It gets a whole THREE hours of sun a day.

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