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MASTER GARDENERS: Hits and misses out in the garden

Gardening is a new adventure every year, and like all adventures, not everything works out as planned.

There are so many variables in growing. Rarely will a gardener have success with every plant you are trying to grow. Here are some problems (some self-imposed) that I have had while gardening.

Thin most of your seeds that you plant; it is expected that some seeds will not germinate: Last year, I planted a second crop of beets and carrots, but I forgot to thin them. This second crop did not develop fully and desirably. Many garden vegetables planted from seed need to be thinned at least once.

Diseases: (One of several problems I have had) A few years ago, my carrots developed aster yellows. This is a bacterium commonly spread by the aster leafhopper. One of the symptoms of this can be a "witch's broom" set of stems and leaves. I have since found a variety of carrots that is somewhat resistant to this, and have had only relatively mild problems with the disease.

Read the label: A couple of years ago, I had a problem with my tomatoes called late season blight. I then tried a variety of tomato that said that it was resistant to this disease. Unfortunately, these plants developed the blight also. It was only then that I read the full information on the package, which said that you should not plant them near tomato plants that are not resistant to the late blight. I had unfortunately planted the somewhat resistant tomato plants next to the ones that were not.

Wildlife problems: Last year, we had a problem with crows eating a moderate portion of our strawberry crop. I had heard that painting small rocks red and distributing them in you strawberry bed just before they ripen would make birds think that what would follow was just as hard as the rocks, so they would not come back. This did not work for me! I ended up putting bird netting over a hoop over the strawberries, which worked fairly well this year. A side problem with the bird netting was that we had to release three birds that became entangled in the netting. Thankfully, all of them readily flew away.

Unknown: We have grown swiss chard as a replacement for spinach for several years, and have been very happy with it. Unfortunately, this year it has survived, but not thrived and tastes bitter. Not sure if it was seeds admittedly past their "packaged for date", or another problem.

Too much shade/ poor soil: My first attempt at gardening at a different location many years ago was a major disappointment. The soil was too sandy (not easily corrected), and there were too many trees around the site. I have since moved to a location that has better soil, and fewer trees in the garden area.

Gardening has major upsides as well as the occasional problem along the way. Persistence is generally rewarding. I hope that you can enjoy your many successes as well as I have mine.

The University of Minnesota Extension website has been updated to make finding information like this much easier. Simply type your subject in the search box when you open the Extension page, www.extension.umn.edu. For broader information go to "Learn About," and click on "Yard and Garden."

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