There’s trouble in paradise. No, it’s not my potato plant again. Since I’ve added the rocks and followed my own darn advice, squirrels have left my soil alone.
The trouble I am referring to isn’t as easy to fix. You see, it looks like I won’t be enjoying a big steaming plate of homegrown broccoli anytime soon. Allow me to take some time and pull back the folds on this messy story…
We’ve been having some strange weather here in Niagara. The growing season started out quite nice and a bit warm (not surprising since winter was unseasonably warm). Suddenly it has become intolerably hot for cool-weather vegetables. My lettuce has bolted and is now too bitter to eat.
As the days were growing warmer, I noticed that my broccoli heads were forming. However, their growth seems stunted. That’s when I started to keep a real eye on them. Day by day I began to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be having any mature broccoli this season. The signs of flowering were beginning.
I honestly couldn’t blame the plant for giving up; my camera lens fogged up the moment I stepped from the air-conditioned house and out into the humidity. As I was taking pictures of the small broccoli heads, I noticed several holes in the leaves had suddenly appeared and began to capture photographic evidence. Armed with a bunch of pictures of leaf damage and some strange worm I had noticed, I went inside to investigate. Any seasoned gardener knows already what I had to look up. I had cabbage worms. Well, my broccoli did anyway.
Shrugging my shoulders since the plant was already doomed from the heat, I just pulled the broccoli containers far away from the group and hoped that any other pests might attack the broccoli and ignore the other veggies. So now they are my decoy plants.
Later on I got a bit frustrated when I saw that yellow jackets were hanging around the broccoli too. I was thinking that I really should start charging for this buffet. I didn’t even know that yellow jackets pollinated broccoli. I thought the only thing they pollinated was hate.
Something caught my eye about their movement though and it became clear that they were definitely the meat eaters I always knew them to be. A yellow jacket was cutting up a cabbage worm and eating each portion individually. My broccoli plants were their hunting grounds for the next several days. I have not seen a cabbage worm since.
I have incredibly mixed feelings about this whole thing. I feel like I’ve let down the broccoli plants in some way and should’ve done more. I’m mad at the cabbage worms for eating my broccoli but I’m also sad that they were so brutally murdered by yellow jackets. I hate yellow jackets but I’m impressed by their swift pest control. Argh!
On to more pleasant topics…
The cucumbers are astounding. I had no idea their growth would be so fast and furious. First I notice a few flowers, then more and the flowers begin to shoot off the vine followed by a tiny pickle. Now they look like certified cucumbers, albeit small ones, that will be edible very soon. It’s a good thing the cucumber plant is beginning to mature since I have run out of cage to support its height.
The tomatoes are doing very well. Still alive and still growing. I have been meticulous about fertilizing every week to help with their growth. I’ve also been very careful to keep a steady water supply. With the hot weather and the fact they are in containers, they need more water than your standard in-ground tomatoes. If I let the plant dry out, the tomatoes are liable to split on me and I really don’t want that.
The herbs are boring to watch since I am harvesting about as much as they are growing so there really isn’t a visual difference.
After my lettuce bolted I was left staring at two empty containers and that was driving me nuts. I had the soil, the containers and I was already keeping a watering schedule so it was a natural choice to get something else to fill them.
I have strawberries! Well, I plan to but in the meantime I have strawberry plants. This makes me a bit nervous only because I have so many rodents that would love to eat a juicy strawberry. Our trees are populated by squirrels and we have a family of chipmunks living under our deck (directly beneath these strawberry plants). The only saving grace is that they are in reasonably tall containers so I am likely only dealing with hungry squirrels.
Now I am left waiting for food. The edible lettuce is gone, the cucumbers are too prickly to eat, the tomatoes are green and the strawberries are too young. Aside from the broccoli, all plants are doing really well and there haven’t been any signs of pests so far. Stay tuned for Part 4 which hopefully will have some fully grown cucumbers and ripe tomatoes!
I’m off to conduct a cabbage worm funeral now…