Two Letters Re: How Does Your Garden Grow? (After TSHTF)

We live in a rental property that unfortunately has a lawn that was poisoned by several years of chemicals sprayed on it to kill weeds. So, we have tried to grow a few items in raised beds. One learning experience we had may keep someone else from making the same mistake. We had never heard of black walnut trees causing a toxic effect on tomatoes. They all died because we have three black walnut trees in our yard. Cabbage, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes are sensitive to the toxins plus a few fruit and field crops. We planted the tomatoes this year far away from the walnut trees and they are beautiful plants. This year our zucchini,which was very productive last year, has failed to produce fruit. We suspect no pollination due to no bees around. Next learning experience–learning how to hand pollinate plants that need it. That is something I never thought we would need to know. I hope someone is saved from failed crops do to knowledge from our failures. Thank goodness at this time our lives don’t depend on what we are trying to raise. One day, they might. – B.L.

Hey JWR,
I was a little disturbed by J.W.C.’s comments, as he described plants drying up while he was watering them. There should be no drought for irrigated crops. I would hate for anyone to get discouraged about gardening, especially those who have all the resources on hand. He makes it sound like plants are unreliable, but it is the conditions in which he puts the plants. Don’t give up, don’t blame the plants, go and learn more. You can set up a stronger garden. The good news is people have already figured out how to grow an irrigated garden through heat waves, and it is easy to learn from them.

Is he allowing the sun to hit bare soil? Try some mulch living or dead. Is he watering lightly and often or deeply and less often? The difference could be shallow roots versus deep roots. He mentioned weeding, but does he know that there are many weeds that can help his garden grow (by penetrating the soil, shading the soil, etc.)? He mentioned amending his soil with steer manure. Try adding something bulkier like rotted wood – it can be a great sponge down in the soil. Whatever problems there are there is probably a surprisingly simple solution for each. Don’t give up, get help from other gardeners! There are people growing things under circumstances that many wouldn’t dream possible (even in the desert). Go and learn from them. For example, please go to Youtube and search for Sepp Holzer and see some of his gardening results. – Juan, South of the border.