The wet weather this spring and early summer has not been great for many gardens, and the Community Garden in Rhinelander has had it share of successes and failures as well. Master gardener Tom Jerow said gardeners should not lose hope, though.
"It's not too late to replant," he said. "Things like bush beans only have a 60-day growing season, so we've replanted some of those that rotted out, and the ones we replanted are growing already."
The garden also had problems with some tomato plants due to the wet weather. While some fared better than others, a few tomato plants looked as though they would not make it.
While it is getting a little late to replant tomatoes, Jerow said they will often "catch up." They may not produce as much as plants planted earlier in the year, but gardeners should still get tomatoes by replanting now.
The Master Gardeners are growing peppers in their greenhouse next to the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry, where all of the vegetables are donated upon harvest. Peppers, Jerow said, do not like nights with temperatures 40 degrees or below. If peppers experience those chilling nights, they will abort their blossoms. From there, they must start anew, growing new blossoms and essentially starting the process of growing the vegetables over again. For gardeners who do not have access to their own greenhouse, keeping pepper plants in pots earlier in the year is a good option.
"They can keep peppers in pots on the deck and just bring them inside or in the garage at night when it gets cooler out," Jerow said. "That will help keep them warm enough to keep their blossoms."
Other vegetable varieties have done better with the wet weather. The kohlrabi, broccoli and cabbage at the community garden are growing very well.
"We'll be planting our fall broccoli crop soon," said master gardener Jan Sarkauskas. Both broccoli and spinach do well grown later in the summer, she said, as a fall crop. Jerow said the volunteers would be harvesting garlic soon and the fall broccoli crop would then take up that space. Some of the broccoli was ready to harvest this week as well.
The major pests the volunteers are seeing at the community garden, Jerow said, are slugs and earwigs. The wet weather is perfect for these pests.
Jerow picked up some organic bait to help combat the garden invaders. The organic bait he found contains iron phosphate as its active ingredient, which is essentially fertilizer for plants also, he said. It kills slugs by disrupting their digestive system. The community garden is a completely organic garden, so it was important to Jerow to know he was getting a product certified organic.
"I go to the farmer's market here in town and ask some of those people," he said. "They are great resources and can help people choose organic products for their gardens."
Another pest he said the garden is dealing with currently are some type of rodent. The group was not sure exactly what they were, but had an idea they may be dealing with 13-banded ground squirrels, and had set out traps in an attempt to get that problem under control.
All of the produce harvested at the Rhinelander Community Garden is donated to the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry. The garden is worked by volunteers from the Master Gardeners of the North group. Volunteers can be seen working in the garden many mornings, tending their plants, harvesting crops and ridding the garden of pests. On a regular basis, Jerow says, gardening is just one big experiment. He encourages gardeners to try new things and to not be afraid to fail.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.