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Another month has passed in the life of my garden and I am starting to be all but a little disappointed this year. There are certainly some high points so far. Mainly my green beans and peppers which are doing great so far. I have managed to collect around 4 heads of broccoli and quite few green beans. The radishes i planted came and went pretty quick but they were tasty. I have been having problems with my Zucchini this year. It appears my poor soil this year is causing a phenomenon known as blossom end rot. I have unfortunately not had the time to try to rectify this issue so unless just plain old miracle grow will fix it I am probably going to have to chock the zuchini up as a loss this year.

In addition to my failing zucchini harvest I have completely lost my slicing tomato. I don’t know what happened but the thing shriveled up and died pretty damn quick. I will tell myself i bought a bad plant from the store but more likely there was a disease or fungus that was in the soil from the year before that took hold and reeked havoc. I may need to build out a third vegetable bed next year for tomatoes so I can better rotate my crops. My Cherry tomato is like 5 feet tall but starting to show signs of disease. I hope to get a few good handfuls off of it before it also goes the way of the dodo.

In addition to the diseases i have been fighting back a number of pests this year. Most notably has been the infamous cabbage worm. These little green buggers take up shop on your broccoli and eat the crap out of it. The worst part is they get in on the crowns and when you cut a crown off to eat you are surprised by several dozen icky green caterpillars. I treated with Sevin and it seems to have helped but I am not a big fan of dousing everything with poison. On top of the cabbage worms the local bird population has made a mental note of the location of my blueberry bush. Fortunately my harvest has been saved by a Halloween decoration (see the photo below).

I still have some hope for my peaches this year, it is remote but far better than years past. My blackberry crop is looking better everyday. With both wild and cultivated varieties well on their way to becoming edible. My cantaloupe still alive, albeit tiny. Hopefully as the summer months drone on it will continue to grow, and if I am lucky, make me a melon or two.

blueberry bush

Broccoli Side Crown

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It has been just about a month now since I started my garden. I think I have gone wrong in a couple of places but things are moving along pretty well, just not as well as I would probably like. Last year I bought top soil for my garden and I cut it with some compost from the store. This year I further cut it with compost and turned the soil pretty well with a shovel before I planted anything. I most have done something wrong because my dirt gets crusty now after it sits out for a day without rain. I am afraid the crustiness is keeping the dirt from getting the proper amount of nutrients to the roots/seeds and keeping them from being all they can be. I am currently researching organic (i.e. quickly compostable) mulch options for a vegetable garden. It looks like the best bet is to use straw, not HAY, straw. Straw doesn’t contain weed seeds and composts well in the garden. I should be able to just till it into the beds or rake it up for the compost heap at the end of the season.

I have had some additions to my garden layout so I have the updated diagrams below:

Since last month I have added two HOT banana pepper plants, 32 radish plants,an additional 16 carrots, and some onions I got from the neighbor. I am sorely disappointed in my green bean plants. Out of the 24 plants I was hoping for, I only got 6. I am not sure but I think it is because the seeds were around 1 year old. I went out and picked up a new bag of a slightly dffferent kind of bean to try out where I have holes. Radishes are one of my favorite “snack” veggies and it turns out they grow like lightning. Anyone with some dirt and some water can make these babies grow. With only 28 days to harvest it is super fast growing too.

Here is the photo update for this month:

You can sort of see the crusty dirt here on the left garden. The giant leafy things in the middle left are the Broccoli that have started to grow like mad. The front half of the left garden doesn’t look like much because I have had a hard time getting my seeds to start. I think, like my green beans, they were just old seeds. I also only planted one seed in each space so I didn’t exactly increase my chances of success.

On the above left picture you can see the beans on the backside of the left garden. There is one whole square with no bean plants that sprouted, I tried my new seeds there. The other photo is of my cantaloupe plant. I am hoping I can get some nice melons, I have tried to grow a melon before so it will be an experience.

Above left is the zucchini plant, you can see why they say you need 9 square feet to grow it. It is already reaching out of the 1 foot square and it is no where near mature yet. In the upper right you can see some of my blueberries starting to plump up so they can ripen. I have two blueberry bushes, this one is its third full year in the backyard. The other one is a slightly different variety and will be its first full year in my yard. The good thing about having two varieties is one is an earlier bloomer than the other.

I plan on providing these monthly growing/harvest updates as the growing season continues so make sure you subscribe to the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter so you don’t miss out on future updates. Do you have your own garden? Leave me a comment and let me know how yours is doing, or give me some advice on keeping up with mine.

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Sensationalism is something the news media is known for. They take the most miniscule tidbdsits of information and make it into something that sounds like it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. One of the most recent things to be taken by the media and run to the ground has been the DOW breaking the 11,000 mark.  Personally I think it is nice to see my 401k go up but what does it really matter to me?

I like to think of my retirement accounts like a tree that has taken root. Trees grow slowly but steadily with little care or attention. Planting the tree is like getting started with your investing for retirement. You have to figure out where you want it go, plant the tree, and water it well that first year. As you nail down the allocation that you are most comfortable with you just keep feeding it regularly.

Just like a good tree you can’t just leave it alone forever and hope it comes out ok.  About once a year you step back and take a good look at it then prune it to make sure the tree is even growing the way you want it to. Similarly you should reassess your retirement accounts and redistribute it to get you to that magic allocation you are looking for.

The opposite of this approach is to treat your retirement like a vegetable garden. Vegetable gardens require fairly regular attention getting out there and pulling weeds, watering daily, and harvesting regularly. This kind of constant attention works great for a garden but isn’t so great for your retirement accounts. If you start worrying about every drop in the market like you do a wilted seedling then you are in for a rough ride.

When it comes to retirement savings it is about picking the right tree to grow in your area and then taking care of it but not obsessing over it. Make the environment for your tree the best you can then just clip off the dead branches each year and even things out. You have time before you retire, 100ft oak trees didn’t grow in a day and neither will your retirement.

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Suburban Garden Experiment – Year Two

April 6, 2010
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Some of you may remember my failed attempt at a successful garden from last year. This year I am aiming sites on a good harvest and a better experience all around. This year I am trying out true square foot gardening as outlined in the book All New Square Foot Gardening ($11.69 Amazon). Using the […]

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Why My Garden Was a Bust

September 30, 2009

Back in April I built two garden beds with dreams of free produce and delusions of grandeur. In May I planted what I thought would be the perfect mix of greens and fresh vegetables. In June I had some beautiful pictures of my garden and still I thought I could handle it. We live and […]

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