FATALISTIC GARDENING PRACTICES
"Fatalistic gardening" is a prophetic
term which describes a gardening experience doomed to miserable
production due to ignorance, confusion, neglect, misinformation,
carelessness and, generally, inept horticulture. If you know
the ingredients and practices which often lead to the gardening
fatality, maybe you can avoid being a victim.
Twenty key ingredients and practices of "fatalistic
1. Leaving old plant residue in a new garden
so that an adequate innoculum of insects and disease will exist
to begin again on newly established plants.
2. Practicing shade gardening. Plants will grow
long and lanky, drop blooms profusely and will be easily contaminated
with insects and disease. To grow good crops of tomatoes and
peppers, plants should receive 8-10 hours of direct sun DAILY.
3. Putting ashes from the fireplace on your garden
site in enormous amounts to make the already-too-alkaline soil
even more alkaline and causing plants to be even more susceptible
to minor element deficiencies such as iron chlorosis.
4. Planting slow-maturing, non-heat-setting varieties
to insure that fall frosts will kill plants before tomato and
pepper fruit have the opportunity to ripen. The fastest ripening,
most reliable fall tomato variety named Surefire is now available
in local nurseries.
5. Disregarding instructions for fertilizer frequencies,
rates and kinds (for initial applications use 2-3 pounds of
a slow-release formulation such as 19-5-9 then use more of the
same fertilizer every 3 weeks at the rate of one tablespoon,
sprinkled around each tomato and pepper plant and watered in
thoroughly. This is also extremely important when growing the
greens crops such as broccoli and spinach since all greens crops
require an abundance of nitrogen to grow at an optimum rate.
6. Not fencing the garden site so that all animals
can have easy access. Deer love fall gardens!
7. Planting seed too deep, "sprinkle irrigating
seed up" which causes soil crusting (hardening) to the
point that seedlings will need jackhammers to break out, and
planting seed which will only germinate in cool soils such as
spinach, lettuce and carrots in the hot soils of August will
provide you a lot of needed practice in sowing seed since most
will not germinate.
8. Locating your garden site in the area most
traveled by children and pets. Gardens must be protected from
dears as well as deer!
9. Avoiding organic and/or chemical control of
insects on the plants when needed. Insects are very nutritious
and increase your protein intake. In addition the bodies of
insects which have devoured certain crops actually begin to
taste like the crop on which they fed so bug bodies collected
from the vegetable to be served make excellent condiments which
will enhance the dish and intrigue your dining guests.
10. Harvesting your vegetables when they are
over-mature. You may increase the volume of the garden yield
by harvesting oversized produce such as squash which is large
enough from which to make a canoe but you may also increase
dental bills from trying to chew the tough stuff. If you need
a size comparison for proper harvest, check the size of produce
at your local supermarket. Also, see the harvest recommendations
11. Providing plants with too much TLC (tender
loving care) such as rotor-tilling around plants weekly which
cuts developing root systems, spraying pesticides daily which
can damage and stunt plants, and becoming anxious-impatient
about harvesting and removing produce prematurely.
12. Not weeding the garden so that it can be
disguised as a herb planting and hidden from thieves and robbers.
Weeds can also "shade" what few vegetables are produced
and keep them from sunburning. Such a weedy growing area can
also endear you to neighbors and get free publicity when you
are hauled into court for visual contamination of the neighborhood.
13. Not using fungicide until you see the spots
on the leaves. How else can the disease get a fair start? The
recommendation made when tomato plants have set an abundance
of marble-sized fruit, is to begin a preventative, prophylactic
fungicide spray every 7 days with a product containing chlorothanol
such as Ortho Daconil. This application should be judicially
applied during periods of wet (rain or heavy morning dews) weather.
Once the symptoms (plant foliage yellowing and dying from the
bottom of the plant upward) begin, leaf surface, and consequently
plant production, has been damaged.
14. "Hardening" your garden soil by
not incorporating an abundance of organic material and using
mulch. Stomping around plants and pacing in the garden unnecessarily
can cause hardened soil in which roots can not expand easily.
15. Ignoring sprawl control of tomatoes creates
a difficult to harvest mass of vines which allow fruit to make
soil contact and consequently rot. Sprawling vines are a haven
in which insects can harbor and breed and disease organisms
can proliferate without the danger of pesticide applications
to control their damage.
16. Overcrowding vegetable plants by either transplanting
too closely or not thinning seeded plants properly causes reduced
production and/or less-than-optimum quality produce. Overcrowding
vegetable plants can cause the same detrimental effects as planting
vegetables in a shaded location. See the spacing recommendations
17. Overwatering plants is just as bad and probably
more commonly done than not watering enough. Plants with a rotted
root system caused by overwatering obviously does not produce
as abundantly as do plants which have been kept moist, not wet,
not dry. Probe the top several inches of the soil with your
finger; if you feel moisture, DON'T WATER!
18. Keeping and trying to "clean up"
old, contaminated plants. Knowing when to terminate a crop is
critical to gardening success. Gardeners tend to "fall
in love" with plants which they have raised from "a
baby". Old plant "babies" tend to become diseased
and spread that disease to healthy plants. Old plants are also
a breeding ground for insects which can then spread to other
19. Planting everything and anything you see
in the seed catalog. Plant ONLY what you, your loved ones and
your neighbors will eat. Plant ONLY what you have a use for
and know what to do with. Spending a lot of time and effort
growing something that you don't know what to do with or something
that you will have to beat your family to eat doesn't make good
20. Growing plants which are too large for your
garden space or is uneconomical can be discouraging. In small
gardens, grow plants which provide a multi-harvest opportunity
such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash and broccoli rather
than once harvest crops such as cauliflower. In small gardens
grow compact vegetable crops rather than large plants such as