Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vegetable Garden Misfires

My last post covered what I liked about my vegetable garden this past summer but there were also things that didn't work well at all.  Luckily there's always next year.

My first big disappointment was spinach.  I planted Tortoiseshell Spinach which is supposed to have a slow rate of growth and therefore is less susceptible to bolting.  Well the plants certainly didn't grow much but they bolted just as quick.  They were only a couple inches high when they began to bolt and I hadn't been able to pick anything from them at all.
Spinach bolted and then died
To make matters worse the leaves developed white patches making the spinach inedible.  I've never been entirely certain what this disease was but anthracnose is a likely suspect.  This disease results from crowding and wet conditions.  The square foot planting method encourages tight planting, which I did, so this may be the problem.  Another possibility is the soil mixture.  The square foot gardening method recommends a soil mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and compost.  While the peat makes the soil loose and retains water it is also very acidic.  This could be a problem for some plants so I'm thinking of altering my soil mix a bit next year by adding more vermiculite and compost and easing off the peat.  I will also leave more space between plantings.

Another victim of the tight planting regime was the lettuce.  This was partly my fault as I planted the mesclun mix very thickly and didn't bother to thin it.  However, I did follow the square foot gardening plan for my plato romaine and simpson elite lettuce and it still wasn't enough room.  I didn't pick a single leaf of romaine this year because the plants were far too tightly packed and the leaves were wet and mouldy.  A big disappointment.  I also didn't like the Zesty mesclun mix I planted.  It contained a lot of simpson elite lettuce which I already have and the other lettuces weren't that interesting.  Next year I'll be buying lettuce individually and making my own mix.
Simpson Elite lettuce is yummy but needs more space

My last disappointment was the First Crop Beets.  This variety advertised extra early maturity of 45 days and good eating tops.  I planted these out in the beginning of June and harvested beets this past week.  3 months later!!!  That is not early.  On the plus side the beets are very sweet and tasty but miniscule in size.  And a lot of them simply didn't develop at all.  I can't figure out what went wrong here.  My only guess is that they were hiding behind the carrots and didn't get enough light.  I'll try again next year and put these guys right up the front hoping that a good shot of light helps them.

Overall this has been a good year but a few improvements could be made and we'll try again next year!


  1. my garden disappointments are almost the same as yours . Bolting spinach after only a few leaves developed, miniscule beets and I'm with you on the mesclun I mix my own too.

  2. When plants are cramped, growing is tough. Probably some has to go, or volunteer to go. ~bangchik

  3. Melanie - any ideas on those beets, such a weird thing to happen.

    Bangchik - very good observation. You're definitely right. This was a bit of an experiment and I think it's just proven that veggies require lots of space!