Tell me about your failures - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 30 Old 04-16-2009, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And make me feel better!!

This is my first year really attempting a garden. It will be our second summer in our house, but last year I was pregnant and on bedrest, and then had a newborn.

I tried starting some seeds indoors. My broccolli and pumpkins sprouted, but then dried out and died. I still have one type of tomatoes that seem to still be alive. My peppers, watermelon and onions never sprouted at all. I am a bad seedling mommy

I have some more seeds that we will direct plant in time. I am Zone 3, so it will still be a few weeks. We will also be buying some plants from the nursery so we have a chance of actually harvesting something.

I know this is all a learning process, but I still feel like a crappy gardener. Please make me feel better by telling me about your failures along the way.

Wife to DH (06/10) and Mummy to DD (07/08).

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#2 of 30 Old 04-16-2009, 12:29 PM
 
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The first year I started seedlings inside, I started them wayyyyyyyyyyy to early. I'm zone 2b so I can't plant out tender plants until June. I started my tomatoes in February. That's 4 months for those poor things growing inside. That wouldn't have been so bad if I had a good light set up but in my little window, they were really leggy, yellow and sad by the time I could plant them out. Then I didn't harden them off properly and they died anyway.

Then there was the year I had beautiful little cucumber starts growing in a flat. When I separated them it shocked there roots and they died. Now I start them in individual containers and they transplant better.

And to this day, I just can not seem to grow corn. I try every year and every year I get one or two scrawny inedible ears. I really should give up and stop wasting space but I keep thinking about the corn my mom used to grow and how fantastic it tasted fresh.

The good thing is that I've learned something from each failure. Every year my garden is a little better. One day I might even have a garden like my moms, or-dare to dream-like my grandmothers.

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#3 of 30 Old 04-16-2009, 01:12 PM
 
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I have tried cauliflower and they never got bigger than about 2in diameter, never tried again.
Last year we started our seedling indoors the first time in peatmoss. It was a desaster, they sprouted, but never got bigger and died very quickly. So, this year we are back to just regular plain old garden dirt and all of our seedlings are doing great.

Mom since Oct'09. Wife to a loving husband. Expecting a little bean in May'12

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#4 of 30 Old 04-16-2009, 01:52 PM
 
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I'm a complete failure with broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I've given up after 5+ years of disasters. It's either the bugs or the deer and if I deter them they just grown a little and then bolt. I'll be counting on the farmer's market for those crops

\m/

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#5 of 30 Old 04-16-2009, 04:30 PM
 
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Last year, my first at gardening, I somehow managed to screw up summer squash. You know, the plant everyone says is care-free and will give you an overabundance, be careful not to plant too much, lock your doors if you live in the country so neighbors won't unload excess on you? My 10 plants grew a total of zero squashes. Yes they had flowers, male and female, yes they had bees pollinating. My tomatoes I tried to start inside never grew, I pitched them and their soil in the garden and 3 yellow cherry tomato plants came up and went wild, growing lots of lot of little tomatoes. I didn't like them, they weren't that sweet, but my son and other kids loved them. So, my one huge success was an accident. We bought 2 or 3 tomato plants from Lowes so we'd have something. They were scrawny half dead looking things all summer and grew a few tomatoes each. I tried to do the 3 sisters thing: corn, beans, and squash. The corn grew short and didn't really mature or something. The pole beans grew, but had nowhere to go since the corn didn't get tall. I dug through a tangled mess of bean vines to get a handful of green beans to go with dinner once a week.

Oh my sunflowers were nice, attracted lots of pretty finches and hummingbirds and were just as enchanting as I thought they'd be. This variety has smallish seeds so nothing to eat though.
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#6 of 30 Old 04-16-2009, 10:22 PM
 
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Oh geez... what *haven't* I done...

I've had a May baby and a June baby. Hubby's had to work 60-80 hours a week lately - meaning my rototiller guy has very little time to get things ready for me.

I used store-bought seedling mix one year. Freaking damped off all my seedlings - they were spindly, sad, and green stuff started growing on the top.

Another year I used yogurt cups and milk jugs to start seeds in the pantry. At least half the roots literally stuck/glued themselves to the sides/bottoms of those containers, leading to virtually zero tomatoes or peppers that year.

Last year we had 3 weeks of torrential rain. On the baby tomato/pepper/basil/everything else plants. They weren't fond of that since I don't live anywhere near the Amazon. Not under my control, but still sucked.

Last year I spent like 2 hours planting all my potato seeds (like 3.5lbs of seed?). And hubby didn't get the drip irrigation set up, and being 38-42 weeks pregnant and then having a newborn, they didn't get watered so much. I dug up almost exactly as many (if not less) potatoes as I planted. That was a waste of time.

Last year I planted garlic. Total success, which was great. The downside? I forgot green beans and garlic don't like each other. Those 2-3 rows of pole beans were just, beyond sad.

Tried cucumbers in a different spot last year. Uh, they don't do well under the shade of a maple tree. I think we got 1-2 cucumbers from half a dozen plants.

Basil. I forgot to yank the plants before we got a soft freeze. No basil to throw in the freezer.

Forgot to plant turnips last year. I only use 'em for vegetable broth, but still.

I yanked up my rosemary and sage plants last year just before our hard frost. Only to be told that it's possible one, maybe both, might've actually lived to tell another tale this year. C'est la vie.

I keep trying to get celery to germinate. Just.

Mulching. Weeding. Bermuda grass. Need I say more?

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#7 of 30 Old 04-17-2009, 10:31 AM
 
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I can grow just about anything in the dirt-except okra and peas. For some reason, I just destroy these things without trying! I can grow anything else in the dirt really really well.

That being said, if I put anything in a pot I somehow kill it. Bamboo? You know, just sit it in water and ignore it? I kill it. Herbs? gotta go in the ground. I once spent a lot of money on about 5 gorgeous bonsai trees...within two months I had what my husband called 'the haunted bonsai cemetery'. Seriously.

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#8 of 30 Old 04-17-2009, 11:58 AM
 
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The only melon I've ever gotten to grow was a volunteer watermelon over by the compost (not even in the garden). Every year I try and fail.

I have also had bad luck with summer squash--poor pollination and pickleworm caterpillars. NEVER had a huge abundance.

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#9 of 30 Old 04-17-2009, 03:07 PM
 
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I've never been able to grow anything from seed purposely. It happens on accident all the time, but whenever I try it on purpose, everything just dies.

So instead I just buy 4 inch plants or 6-packs. It's more expensive, yes, but less frustrating.

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#10 of 30 Old 04-18-2009, 12:38 AM
 
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I tried a container garden last year. Starting late August / Early September, mostly with summer plants (corn, squash, watermelon, beans, eggplant, cherry tomato, bell pepper). On the north-facing covered patio to our apartment. It didn't work so well. Got a few sprouts we could put in vegetable stock, about 3 beans (only one of which made it into a cookpot), a lot of leaf and vine, maybe some flowers, but no fruits. No flowers on the marigolds, either. But since the point was to give me some practice, I didn't consider it a failure.

This year, my brand new raised bed lasagna garden, with cardboard laid over the sod, is already full of grass. I put out my seedlings about early to mid-March (zone 7), but we got some late frosts in April. Some things have survived, others are struggling.

Since the plants were sprouted in peat-pots and set into the (compost-fertilized) straw with a handful of potting soil, I think I might be able to perform a "surgery" to remove the plants, the lasagna layers, dig up the sod, replace the straw/compost, and replace the plants.

I also figure I'll plant more seeds over the next month.

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#11 of 30 Old 04-18-2009, 01:23 PM
 
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Last year I got my kids all excited about planting sunflowers. About 20 minutes after we planted them, the squirrels had a feast. Der...maybe I'll start them indoors this year.

DS1 requested that we plant pumpkins and watermelon. I swear they were EXACTLY the same size in the fall as they were the day we planted them. Maybe I should water this year?

Lastly, I kill rhubarb whereever I plant it. Everyone else in my neighborhood has huge plants their kids tromp through and still lots of pies to eat. Me: dead rhubarb, maybe one spindly stalk. I am very sad about this, but trying again this year after a year off.

OP, gardening is a learning process like everything else. Keep trying and Good luck!!

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#12 of 30 Old 04-18-2009, 04:08 PM
 
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The first summer I had my own small garden outside, slugs ate all my lettuce. I was out there at night pulling slugs out of my garden but it didn't help. I probably shouldn't have started a garden next to all the ivy. I had 2 zucchini plants that produced a single zucchini.

Last summer I had a few containers on my balcony and I planted corn, carrots, broccoli and I forget what the 4th was, maybe tomatoes. They were old seeds and I wasn't sure they would sprout so I planted them in 6" and 8" pots. Then I left them in those pots, I never transferred them to larger pots. Obviously I never was able to eat anything out of the pots.

I had basil and rosemary on my kitchen windowsill and I can't even keep plants alive.

But I bought soil and a large window box today for some lettuce seeds! I think playing in dirt is still fun even if unsuccessful.

Melissa- mom to a boy 9/06 and a new boy 11/10 and married to my best friend 7/02
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#13 of 30 Old 04-19-2009, 12:25 AM
 
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My gosh, I think I have killed just about everything at one point or another. For years I killed every houseplant I had except a Pothos I got in college (still have the darn thing!).

The first year I grew anything outside, it was in a tiny little plot where the sidewalk had been ripped up in front of my apartment. I didn't do a thing aside from plug the starts in. I think I got one tomato and a tiny hot pepper. It was beyond tragic. Then there was the year I planted watermelons next to a hole that should have drawn my attention. Imagine how surprised I was when the groundhog ate the plants down to nothing. : Last year I spent a week wondering what on earth was wrong with my corn only to discover the dog was cropping it neatly as he walked by. This year not ONE garlic came up from the .5 pound I planted. However, some store bought garlic that had sprouted and DD planted in a corner came up and looks beautiful.

ETA; I quit with broccoli too. Every year I grow it and we get one meal before it bolts. I have to remember to plant it in the summer for a fall harvest!

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#14 of 30 Old 04-19-2009, 01:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lmonter View Post
Oh geez... what *haven't* I done...

I've had a May baby and a June baby. Hubby's had to work 60-80 hours a week lately - meaning my rototiller guy has very little time to get things ready for me.

I used store-bought seedling mix one year. Freaking damped off all my seedlings - they were spindly, sad, and green stuff started growing on the top.

Another year I used yogurt cups and milk jugs to start seeds in the pantry. At least half the roots literally stuck/glued themselves to the sides/bottoms of those containers, leading to virtually zero tomatoes or peppers that year.

Last year we had 3 weeks of torrential rain. On the baby tomato/pepper/basil/everything else plants. They weren't fond of that since I don't live anywhere near the Amazon. Not under my control, but still sucked.

Last year I spent like 2 hours planting all my potato seeds (like 3.5lbs of seed?). And hubby didn't get the drip irrigation set up, and being 38-42 weeks pregnant and then having a newborn, they didn't get watered so much. I dug up almost exactly as many (if not less) potatoes as I planted. That was a waste of time.

Last year I planted garlic. Total success, which was great. The downside? I forgot green beans and garlic don't like each other. Those 2-3 rows of pole beans were just, beyond sad.

Tried cucumbers in a different spot last year. Uh, they don't do well under the shade of a maple tree. I think we got 1-2 cucumbers from half a dozen plants.

Basil. I forgot to yank the plants before we got a soft freeze. No basil to throw in the freezer.

Forgot to plant turnips last year. I only use 'em for vegetable broth, but still.

I yanked up my rosemary and sage plants last year just before our hard frost. Only to be told that it's possible one, maybe both, might've actually lived to tell another tale this year. C'est la vie.

I keep trying to get celery to germinate. Just.

Mulching. Weeding. Bermuda grass. Need I say more?
lmonter, I'd trade my successes for your failures.

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#15 of 30 Old 04-19-2009, 04:21 PM
 
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lmonter, I'd trade my successes for your failures.
Oh, you'll get there at some point. These were all years in the making for me. We'll see what I screw up this year - it's just a comedy of errors over here. This weekend's fun? My fully stuffed fridge/freezer in the kitchen up and died. Just died. Raur.

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#16 of 30 Old 04-19-2009, 07:35 PM
 
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I can't grow flowers. Every flowering plant I have either 1) came with the house or 2) was given to me by a neighbor or 3) may not make it yet (that would be my hibiscus). I even killed a star jasmine and am working on 4 agapanthus (aka lily of the nile).

Flowers from seed? hahahahaha. Poppies--Shirley, CA golden, or poppy seed poppies. They get to be 3" tall and die. Sunflowers? All germinate, out of 10 maybe 2 will make flowers. And then tip over when a squirrel? Possum? climbs them in the middle of the night and munches away. I have even tried alyssum (which I am allergic to!) and killed it.

The morning glories that seed companies won't ship here to CA because they are so invasive? I kill them.

Nasturtiums? Kill them.

The roses that came with the house? Killed them back to the rootstock. Even I couldn't kill that.

I can grow chard, leeks, garlic, peas, lettuce, carrots, summer squash, pole and bush beans, a variety of herbs, peaches, lemons....you get the picture.

I would love to have a cut flower garden. :
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#17 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 01:49 AM
 
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I would love to have a cut flower garden. :
Day lily?
My sister got me a solitary lily from Home Depot of all places, like 3 years ago. I ignore it, it's in a partially shaded spot, I forget to water it half the time, and now? It started out as a single stem. Now, I've got like 36+ stems/blooms that come up. I'm just too lazy to cut 'em, and have the best intentions about dividing them up and sharing them with friends and family, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

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#18 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 02:55 AM
 
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I am gardening by trial and error. I buy seeds and plants and have about a 50% success rate, which means I also have about a 50% failure rate.

Apparently it is a little too cool at our altitude for tomatoes and cukes, so they never did very well. They grew and grew, but they didn't produce.

All of my squash and melons went kaput.

I grew a gazillion tree tomatoes and I only have 2 plants left, one of which had something come up in the middle of the night and eat all the leaves off...so I may be down to 1.

I have a miracle berry plant that may be dying.

I've brought home countless plants that have died. I killed my lilikoi vine. I grew a bunch of lilikoi from seeds and they looked great, then one morning I came outside and they all were starting to turn a funny color and wilt. Within a week they were all dead.

I've killed countless cactus plants that started coming up from seed, and I've planted a bunch of seeds that just never came up. I planted 3 packets of dragon fruit seeds but I only had about 6 plants survive.

I have 3 coleus plants and one of them just suddenly dropped all its leaves and looks terrible. All of my kiwis were growing like crazy and then one day they started turning brown and within a few days they were dead. I think we're a little too cool up here for them, too.

We've got a row of pineapples that look really good, and then we have a row of a different variety of pineapples that look like they're dying. I have 2 bougainvilleas that something ate all the leaves off, and 1 that still looks good. About half of my bromeliads have survived and the others look like shriveled dry sticks.

My mint looked like cr@p until I started ignoring it, now it looks great.

We've got some really scraggly looking geraniums that stubbornly refuse to die but won't flourish either.

My plantains never came up, my angel's trumpet seeds never came up, my lion's tail never came up, I've killed 2 avocado trees that I started from seed, my miracle fruit seeds that I bought never came up, my guava seeds sprouted but didn't make it long enough to transplant.....

Right now there are 3 plants on death row outside looking like they aren't going to make it.

and I'm fairly confident I could kill an air fern if you gave me enough time


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#19 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 03:17 AM
 
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Last year we bought organic potting soil for our container garden. I guess it wasn't pre-fertilized or whatever like normal potting soil is, because nothing really grew past starter stage. My peas did start to fruit but they died when the pods were tiny.

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#20 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 04:10 AM
 
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Oh yeah, that reminded me, my peas and green beans died too.

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#21 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 04:43 AM
 
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I've killed cilantro from seed and plant in every state that I've lived in.Its my favorite herb to cook with.
My avacado tree never grew after I planted it and my Meyer lemon tree has only produced 3 lemons in the 2 years i've had it.I keep seeing on the internet that they are so prolific.
My apple bananas haven't produced anything either yet I see all my neighbor's growing and producing like weeds.
I'm in HI in a super fertile area but half my yard is stunted.One side grows big huge ginger plants the other half looks like I just plnated it even though its been two years.
Last year I planted seedlings and seeds for bell peppers.The seedlings all died/were eaten and the seeds pooped thier heads up and died.This year i bought two pepper plants from Walmart that already had buds.It had two itty bitty peppers and then the slugs got to it in the night.
I can't grow lavender here and my mint keeps trying to die.
The myna birds keep attacking my strawberries.
I had the kids grow some sunflowers for fun and to see what kind of light that part of the yard could handle.They grew and then got eaten up by those nasty furry, white mealy bugs.
I'm not supposed to have a garden according to the HOA rules but I really would like to not have to run to the store for every last thing especially since I can't always get what I want since a lot is shipped here.

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#22 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 11:47 AM
 
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I had some failures over the years, some of which were due to poor planning.

Last year I had a few strawberry crowns die. I did not plant them immediately. This year they went into the pots upon arrival, and they look great.

I had a pumpkin plant catch a serious case of powdery mildew.

I've had plants that wouldn't germinate. This is the first year I've had basil plants germinate.

I've had peas die b/c I didn't put them in bigger pots.

I had a collard green baby die recently b/c I tried to transplant too soon. From now on I'll wait til they have a few of the larger leaves before I transplant.

I had a fig tree die after I put it in the ground. Next time I will considering hiring a pro to put my trees in the ground.
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#23 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 02:21 PM
 
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I had a fig tree die after I put it in the ground. Next time I will considering hiring a pro to put my trees in the ground.
I read up on my fig tree and it said they actually like to be root bound in pots. I thought this was weird. So far, so good. :

We also grew peppers last year that all looked great, but when we cut them up they had no taste to them at all. I have no idea what that was about.

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#24 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 04:51 PM
 
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I am gardening by trial and error. I buy seeds and plants and have about a 50% success rate, which means I also have about a 50% failure rate.

Apparently it is a little too cool at our altitude for tomatoes and cukes, so they never did very well. They grew and grew, but they didn't produce.

We've got a row of pineapples that look really good, and then we have a row of a different variety of pineapples that look like they're dying. I have 2 bougainvilleas that something ate all the leaves off, and 1 that still looks good. About half of my bromeliads have survived and the others look like shriveled dry sticks.
I'm confused... you can grow pineapples but it's too cold for tomatoes? What am I missing?
I don't get a huge harvest, but still usually manage to get some tomatoes here where my growing season is basically late May to early September... (and snow in June isn't unheard of)

Honestly, it sounds like your soil doesn't have many nutrients in it... kinda like the over-sprayed soil of the town where I grew up. I always thought I had a black thumb until we moved up here (just 2 hours away from where I grew up!). Here, they don't crop dust like they do down there.

Maybe a bunch of compost (and maybe some fish emulsion to add to the fun?) just thrown into your garden spots would help? I honestly don't think there's such a thing as too much (aged) compost, although I'm sure some folks would disagree with me.

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#25 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 05:18 PM
 
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I've killed cilantro from seed and plant in every state that I've lived in.Its my favorite herb to cook with.
My avacado tree never grew after I planted it and my Meyer lemon tree has only produced 3 lemons in the 2 years i've had it.I keep seeing on the internet that they are so prolific.
Cilantro is easy to diagnose... it is a water hog. It's one of those plants that you put under a perpetually dripping faucet rather than repairing the faucet. In your tropical climate, it's may need twice daily watering. I'd probably mix a water retainer (like coir) into the hole before planting the cilantro, too. It will also bolt during hot weather, so you may have better luck growing it as a fall-spring plant.

As for the meyer lemons, those are really picky about where they're planted. Once you find the right spot for it, it will be extremely prolific. Since it's been in the same spot for 2 years, I'd suggest transplanting it somewhere else. I know my grandparents moved a (single) meyer tree from house to house and spot to spot for something like 10 years before they found the perfect spot for it, and after that they had lemons coming out of their ears. My grandma was really bummed when they sold that house because the tree was too big to transplant to the new house. One of the first things grandpa did was go buy her a new one.

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I'm confused... you can grow pineapples but it's too cold for tomatoes? What am I missing?
I was wondering that too. If you can grow bananas and pineapples, then heat isn't what you're missing for the tomatoes. It may be nutrients - but honestly I'm wondering how your pollinator population is. Did the plant flower?

I just got my garden planted - during the middle of a heat wave, of course. But my little 4 inch tomato had shot up to over a foot tall, so I figured it was time. The only thing I have left to add to my planned garden this year is a basil plant, which won't be good for this area until around Mother's Day.

It's usually too cold here for peppers or melons, which are two things I'd love to grow, and I don't have room for corn or any fruit trees. So my garden this year is restricted to 3 tomatoes, 2 strawberries (one red, one white - to restart my colony that died last year), and a wild arugula. Along with the mint and rosemary that survived the neglect last year, and what appears to be a volunteer sweet potato. Everything else either died or I gave to my BFF after last summer's fiasco. And with me being pregnant, I know that I won't have the energy during the height of the season to pay a lot of attention to a huge garden.

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#26 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 05:56 PM
 
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It's usually too cold here for peppers or melons, which are two things I'd love to grow, and I don't have room for corn or any fruit trees. So my garden this year is restricted to 3 tomatoes, 2 strawberries (one red, one white - to restart my colony that died last year), and a wild arugula. Along with the mint and rosemary that survived the neglect last year, and what appears to be a volunteer sweet potato. Everything else either died or I gave to my BFF after last summer's fiasco. And with me being pregnant, I know that I won't have the energy during the height of the season to pay a lot of attention to a huge garden.
Have you tried any of the shorter season melons like supposedly Blacktail or Siberian or Sasketewan something-or-other? I'm playing around with those this year...

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#27 of 30 Old 04-20-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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I'm confused... you can grow pineapples but it's too cold for tomatoes? What am I missing?
I don't get a huge harvest, but still usually manage to get some tomatoes here where my growing season is basically late May to early September... (and snow in June isn't unheard of)

Honestly, it sounds like your soil doesn't have many nutrients in it... kinda like the over-sprayed soil of the town where I grew up. I always thought I had a black thumb until we moved up here (just 2 hours away from where I grew up!). Here, they don't crop dust like they do down there.

Maybe a bunch of compost (and maybe some fish emulsion to add to the fun?) just thrown into your garden spots would help? I honestly don't think there's such a thing as too much (aged) compost, although I'm sure some folks would disagree with me.
It's weird here, we average in the 70s year round, though last year we had a couple of days where we hit 90 and some in the 80s, but it's predominantly 70ish year round in my area. Everyone around us grows pineapples, but you don't see tomatoes in anybody's yard and my local plant place told me I would need a greenhouse for tomatoes or cukes after I told them all mine did so badly. We're at about 2000-2500 feet altitude, I think. The temps are so steady we don't need heat or A/C.

We've added compost and a lot of things that were not doing so well before look better, but I'm still leery of tomatoes.

All we have is lava rock and crushed lava rock, we have to bring in compost and stuff for everything we plant. Most of my trees look good, and except for the stuff that has gotten eaten by bugs and critters, most things I've planted since we started seriously composting has done well. Except the lilikoi. : And my one coleus. And those bromeliads that seem to pick and choose which ones want to live and which ones want to die.

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#28 of 30 Old 04-21-2009, 12:15 AM
 
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I read up on my fig tree and it said they actually like to be root bound in pots. I thought this was weird. So far, so good. :

We also grew peppers last year that all looked great, but when we cut them up they had no taste to them at all. I have no idea what that was about.

Fair enough, I'll just put it in a bigger pot!!! My strawberries are in a bigger pot than my fig tree.
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#29 of 30 Old 04-21-2009, 12:21 AM
 
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Fair enough, I'll just put it in a bigger pot!!! My strawberries are in a bigger pot than my fig tree.
do you know what variety it is?

I google everything I get now for growing directions and to see what other people are saying about it online, just to see if anything weird that happens to me is happening to anyone else.

So far I have not found an explanation for the lilikoi die off or the tasteless peppers.

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#30 of 30 Old 04-25-2009, 06:04 PM
 
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Add quinoa to the list, I just killled a few. Next year I will know to start them in February or March, not late April.
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