The wet weather this spring and early summer has not been great for many gardens. 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 if they replant 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 if grown later in the summer, she said. Jerow said the volunteers will harvest 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 are slugs and ear wigs. According to Jerow, 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, 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 farmers 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."
Some type of rodent has also been in the garden. The group is not sure exactly what they were, but the theory is they are 13-banded ground squirrels.
Volunteers set out traps in an attempt to get the rodent 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 at email@example.com.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce