Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Trials and Hardships of Gardening in Central Wisconsin

Nasturtiums growing out of cement block

Garden blogs can be informative to others or simply a record keeping method for the gardener.  Generally, I turn to the blogs I follow to be amused or inspired.   Some bloggers are all over the humor and melodrama of gardening, others natives, sustainability, and birding, still others collecting, growing, and propagating the rare and unusual.  Some bloggers write about their gardens in far away places I'll never have a chance to visit. Blogs are the horticulture magazines for the digital age.   (A little I fear as YouTube is standing in for the great gardening television shows of past decades.)  So I was saddened to pull up this blog and see towel thrown in.

We all want our happy endings.  We want solutions, fixes, answers.  I followed this particular blog because she, like me, struggles with weather and gardening conditions in Zone 4 in the Upper Midwest.   She is in particular a vegetable gardener in my zone.  There are quite a few vegetable gardeners in my area or gardeners who grow vegetable also, but in limited ways.  There is NOT however, a lot of shared knowledge.  I think that makes for a lot of pain for gardeners here. 

There are people trying to grow food who are not seriously involved growing those vegetables.  Not all of us have the time or inclination.  Even those who do not, want to know how to harvest basil, how to store it, how to preserve cucumbers, or how to freeze tomatoes.  The internet is that first source of information for many, especially those of us not just throwing money at our pain.

The half-completed cement block planting wall and vegetable garden/potager planting area beautification plan called for something like this.  I have had a hard time sourcing cement block, however.  Ace Hardware has cement block at nearly $3.00 a block.  Say what?  Just so you know cement block typically sells for about a dollar around here, and sometimes you can find it at the local (state of WI) home improvement chain, Menard's, for 88 cents.  My closest source for that sort of thing, though has been sold out three separate times, this year.  So my project is uncompleted.

It is a project in which there was a lot of interest during my recent Garden Walk.  I wished I had been able to finish it because it is a solution for many gardeners' problems.  It is an organic pest deterrent.  Rabbits can not reach the eggplant, lettuce, basil, or whatever grown in the top tier.  It can be a means of re-purposing cement block (there seems to be a lot of gardeners with a few stray blocks laying around from building projects or whatever).  It also is a heat sink, which may be just the thing for tomatoes, eggplant, or peppers, especially in cool and wet  growing years.  It can be an inexpensive decorative element and add structure to a garden.  And, we haven't even talked about weed control!

Eggplant 'Millionaire' also growing out of cement block, the earliest I am ever going to get an eggplant, days from transplant to harvest.
My potager started a lot of conversations about problems gardeners are having; like, Colorado potato beetle devouring everything.  CPB do not like basil (go figure!) or 'All Blue' potatoes.  Intermingling basil and eggplant is an incredible organic deterrent.  They (CPB ) also seem to leave the 'All Blue' and even to a lesser extent 'Red Gold' alone, versus 'Red Norlands' and 'Red Pontiac' which they simply devour.

Or the conversation with another gardener about why her hanging basket with nasturtiums intermingled with other plants with dissimilar growing requirements weren't looking so nice now, in mid-July.  (Nasturtiums do not bloom well in nutrient rich environments.)

So in addition to garden art you can make, I see a lot of people looking for which blueberries to grow, how to prune a dappled willow, how to prune grapes or how to stop fungal diseases organically.  When you come up with solutions, bloggers, share!

And, when I actually finish this cement block project I will share.

1 comment:

  1. I infer a lot of pain with that blogger throwing in the towel. Maybe she'll pick it up again in the spring. I don't do much with vegetables, that's what God created farmers' markets for.