It feels strange to go days and weeks without writing a garden entry once spring arrives but in all honesty, once the seeds are planted there isn't much you can do except weed and feed. That is exactly what we've been doing this week. When it isn't to hot out we spend 1/2 hr each afternoon weeding the garden or watering it if it has been dry.
This week I have at least an update on how the garden grows. With the heat and the rain of late, the tomatoes are really starting to bush out. As are the potatoes. The peas and spinach like the rain but not so much the heat. They have grown quite a bit in the last week, and it looks like a proper garden instead of raised beds of dirt.
The lettuce is, well sitting there. We have one plant that is several inches tall. We have a whole row of plants that are the same size they have been for over a month. They are barely past the sprout stage, half the size of the spinach. I think it has to do with the heat so I have placed a row cover over the lettuce and one row of spinach. The sides are pushed up so it gets plenty of light but no direct sun. I'm crossing my fingers this solves the problem and the lettuce begins to grow soon.
I do have a contingency plan, in case the lettuce decides it is to much trouble to grow. We have three containers by the garage that get only 3 or 4 hours of sun a day. Today, while it was still cool and the boxes were still on the shade, I planted Prizehead and Grand Rapids varieties of loose leaf lettuce along with a few radishes in each box. The loose leaf lettuce matures faster than the head lettuce I planted in the garden and is a little more heat tolerant. If luck prevails we'll be eating our own home grown lettuce in 45 days.
The rest of the plants all seem to be doing pretty well. The herbs are starting to put out new growths and I have only lost one planting of Sweet Basil. Of the three butternut squash we planted, one has died and another was broken during a high wind. The broken plant was propped with with some dirt and is putting out new leaves, but it is only half the size of the final plant. This last plant seems to be growing very well indeed and I look forward to our own squash this fall.
The thunderstorm doesn't appear to have caused any damage to the garden at all. There is a little dirt splashed up on the lower leaves but otherwise everyone has pulled through. Considering how much all the plants have grown in the last few days I suspect they enjoyed the heavy rain as it penetrated the layers of mulch and dirt to feed their little root systems.
Speaking of mulch. We tried a new kind of mulch this year that I had high hopes for. The shredded pine has a tendency to not hold the moisture in as well as I would prefer. The new mulch, Cocoa Shells, has done a great job of that. The soil is very moist underneath. The only problem is the sour smell the shells give off when disturbed and the white mold inside the mulch layer. It doesn't seem to be affecting the plants any at all but it is definitely something that has to be put on only after all digging and planting has been completed.
One final note. I have added a link in the sidebar to a website that allows you to diagnose tomato plant diseases by choosing the appropriate picture. I found it very useful and not only does it tell you what is wrong with the plant but it also gives you a treatment. Unfortunately, the treatments are all non-organic in nature. But, in my experience knowing what is wrong is half the battle to solving the problem.