How my Garden Grows

by Nancy Thompson

August 25, 2007

I just came in from the garden in time to turn off the heat under a batch of tomatoes in a water-bath. It has been a hard year for tomatoes here in southwest Iowa. A lady from our church planted over 50 vines and I am wondering how she has fared with the high wind, heat, humidity and rain this year.

White flies are taking over the pole beans and I missed a few pods apparently. A lot of the vines are now using energy to make seed instead of bean pods. I picked the last of the beets of any size yesterday and left the remaining to go to seed or whatever. There are at least two baby cottontails within the fenced garden. Their mother comes and goes, they are still pretty small.

I planted an early variety large red that I can't remember the name of, and a large fruiting yellow tomato named "Sun" next to my walking onions this year. I'm pretty sure that the closeness of the aromatic onions has kept the tomato horn worm moth at bay and I only found blister beetles (a real pest in my garden) either outside the gate or pretty far away from onions. I never noticed this with regular onion plantings.

In between the tomatoes and bell (red and yellow) peppers is a wide row of zinnias. They are really lovely this year and I have taken many bouquets from that one packet of seed. The butterflies and hummingbirds also love them.

Back to the tomatoes, the vines from the store are having a very tough time this year. During several storms I went out and picked the fruit because I knew they would be split and ruined the next day. A lot has been wasted because of this. On the other hand, in the spring I dug out several volunteers from the compost pile and planted them in another area of the garden. These three varieties, a large beefsteak that is just now ripening, another, smaller red tomato and a pear shaped yellow cherry have withstood the high winds and multitude of downpours this summer and, for now, are bug free.

I may have found my answer to my squash bug problem. Last year they demolished every plant and I only harvested a few squash. It was a massacre. This year, I saved an area with plenty of space and planted a few seeds at the end of July. The plants are now beginning to flower and there are no squash bugs or beetles. We shall see.