I am not one to read manuals. My thought is that manuals, guidebooks, etc. are meant as fail safes. Should I put a thing together, and find that it does not function as advertized I will then check the manual. This method has worked reliably for me in the past and I don’t see a big need to change things. Except perhaps where the garden is concerned…
I have used both seeds and transplants to start my garden. All of them worked reasonably well, and I have posted many photos of the bountiful harvest that resulted from my efforts, a little water, and freshly broken soil. The corn was sweet, the tomatoes prolific, the zucchini large enough to float my dogs out should a flood arise. I now have carrots, pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash growing nicely.
Then there are the, ahem, peppers. I love bell peppers! I use them in most of my savory cooking, eat them raw as snacks, get enjoyment out of the sheer wonder of their shape and neat God-ordained packaging. Bell peppers, quite simply, ROCK. So of course, I planted them in several places in my garden. I planted a rainbow of colors. I watered them, provided supports for th heavy vegetables they would produce, made sure they had enough sun. I babied them as no other plants in my garden.
And in return, my peppers sulked. They are the spoiled children of my garden. Perhaps, I thought, they get too much attention – the yellow leaves might indicate too much water, for instance. Maybe some benign neglect is in order. I put them on a decreased watering schedule, gave them some fertilizer and set out to ignore the little dears.
Behold! The plants did indeed begin to turn a lovely shade of green. Tiny white blossoms formed, followed by miniature peppers suitable for a Barbie feast. Hurrah! Problem solved, yes? NO.
True, the little ping pong ball sized veggies held all kinds of promise. But as soon as they attained a more “pick me” size they would shrivel. They developed black patches, the skin would dissolve leaving a round yellow crater that seemed to have been sucked dry. One out of ten actually made it to the table, the rest apparently destined to enrich my compost and nothing more.
My dreams of homegrown stuffed peppers smashed, I realize that it is now time to turn my thoughts to the winter garden. Time to plant spinach and beets, time to forget about peppers. Or time, at last, to admit that I need to consult the garden books I keep around mostly for the lush photographs. Time to PLAN for next year’s summer garden. Time to admit that I may need a manual.