I would like to hear from people in or around hardiness zone 7 (Maryland). What varieties of vegetables have you had good luck with? I'm fairly new to vegetable gardening.
I had a little luck this year, but also problems. I tried growing watermelon they started out as adorable miniature watermelons about the size of a golf ball, but then turned black and shriveled up. My tomatoes were okay, but did not get very big. What variety grows well here, and gets big? My cucumbers did well, but fizzled out kind of early I thought or maybe that is normal for them, I don't know. My green peppers never got very big either. I had lots of squash, and zucchini, but they have been finished for awhile (is that normal?).
I bought very good soil and tried to water consistently. I am trying to plan my garden now for next year, and hope to do better. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By RDLaure from North East, MD
One thing you will learn as a gardener no two years are ever the same. I have not had a very productive year in Mass. I don't know if your summer was as rainy and cloudy as ours. One thing is some plants require successive plantings as the first crop fades the next crop is getting ready for harvest. Gardening is an adventure and hopefully mother nature will cooperate more next year.
First, easy veggies:
I've had an easy time with cherry tomatoes and potatoes, both of which accept a lot of benign neglect. The next easy plant I am trying is garlic, which is apparently quite easy, many varieties overwinter well in zone 7.
There are three essentials which you do can under or overdo: sun, fertilizer, and water.
Sun - This does not sound like a sun overdose, though if the watermelon plants seemed dried out or scorched, I would consider it. However, the small fruits on your other plants could easily be a sign of too little sun. Were they in a shaded position? Did they have trellises they could climb to get more sun?
Fertilizer - This could easily be your problem, and there's an easy solution to consider now. Fall is a great time to start a compost heap for next year's plants.
Fertilizing chemicals are to soil like spices are to food. Too little, the results are bland and lackluster.. too much, and the plant won't react well.
Strong spices without lingering flavor can be a problem on both fronts... and soil sold by the fertilizer company is likely to have these issues. It's useful, better than no spice at all.. but if you do go with an artificial fertilizer next summer, either mix it 50/50 with a slow release organic, such as good compost, or try to add small doses several times in the season. Also, make sure it is for veggies, or you won't get good fruit.
Water - All your fruit is very water intensive, so a lack of steady supply could have thrown them off. Slow watering solutions, such as plant nanny stakes, aren't a bad idea. My mother's cheap solution is to cut the bottom off a soda bottle, take off the cap, and plant it spout down in the dirt near the a sensitive or extra thirsty plant. The water will slowly seep out into the dirt.
Third, the short fruiting season:
I would also suggest looking up the breed of the veggie you are planting next spring. Short 15 - 20 day fruiting seasons are perfectly normal for many vegetables. You can instead buy seeds for plants that have an extended fruiting season, or re-bear (such as re-bearing strawberries that produce a crop in early June and late July). Of course, if you don't normally start your garden late, you can just start a second batch of plants a week or two later than the first.
As a last note:
I didn't hear any mention of frosts, or infestations of bugs or mildew, but I would keep an eye out for attacks on your plants next year. Watermelons and tomatoes both have their weaknesses. Normally, I check davesgarden.com for information on a bug or discoloration I'm worried about.
Thank you for the feedback. I have the garden in a location that gets full sun most of the day, but part of the problem with the small fruit may have been overcrowding. I think I underestimated the amount of space needed and tried to have too many plants in too small a space. As for the watermelons, do they get blossom end rot like tomatoes?
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