Monday 28 June 2021

Perfect garden and perfect plants?

Not every plant grows exactly the way you want it to, even in a Planty Garden. Not even in ours. But that's no big deal. 

This is what a Planty Garden can look like after a month - if the weather cooperates a little:

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Our garden box in early June: sown on May 1
"That's it, Jelle. I've had it."

What?

"No, I've had enough. Why does it all work out for you and not for me?"

Oh?

"You always have such beautiful pictures. Mine look nothing like that." 

Let me see?

She grabs her phone and shows me her garden box: it's jam-packed with beautiful plants. And sure, some leaves have a few spots and one plant is a little chewed up.

"You see? How is this possible? What am I doing wrong?"

Okay, let's take a closer look.

This is my Planty Garden now. I sowed and planted the boxes on June 1:
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Our MM-Hero garden boxes in June - 3.5 weeks later
Nice, right?

"Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying: your garden looks great. But I can't do that."

Hang on a second. Let's zoom in:
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There used to be 9 cilantro plants here
I swear, there were 9 at the beginning of the week. Then there was that heavy rain and a snail showed up. Grrr.

Just look at my beautiful tomato plant. See that weird leaf at the bottom?
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Curling leaves on the bush tomato
That's probably because the weather's gone back and forth between heavy rain and lots of sun. But the rest of the plant looks great, so I'm not worried about that one leaf. 

And look at my radishes. This one doesn't look so good:
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This one has couple serious holes
See? No plant is 100% perfect.

It's impossible for everything to always work out in a vegetable garden. Not even in ours.

But doesn't that bum you out?

Sure, sometimes. If a seedling comes up one day and is gone the next - eaten by snails or whatever - I'm not thrilled, no.

But bugs here and there aren't bad. They won't make you sick. A leaf with a hole in it is just as tasty as one without. They taste better than store-bought too.

So?

"Yeah, you're right. If I look at it that way, it's not so bad. Thanks, Jelle - I'm looking forward to getting back in the garden again."

Back to the big picture

When I started growing vegetables, I noticed that people were making it way harder than it needed to be.

I wanted to change that. And I guess I have: we've had a lot of success with the Planty way of doing things. The combination of our method, materials, seeds, and the help of the app gives you a great result 95% of the time.

That success rate is a lot higher than what you get from a regular vegetable garden. For and for beginners, it's unimaginable. 

95% success - 5% failure

The 5% that goes wrong is insignificant. 

If a seed doesn't sprout, if a plant doesn't survive the transition from indoors to outdoors, if something eats the leaves: it's all part of the game. That's nature. You don't have to worry because the remaining 95% will produce more than enough.

Just check out my strawberry plants. I harvest from them every day and they look great. 

Except for the little one on the far left: the strawberries are small and not nearly as tasty.
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Healthy strawberry plants and 1 failure
You know what? I actually like the fact that sometimes things go wrong. 

Because let's face it, we hardly come into contact with nature these days. This is just a part of it.

Perfect supermarket vegetables

The lettuce, radishes, and beets in the store come from greenhouses with controlled climates. Mishaps still happen, but we never see them: the ugly produce doesn't get selected and won't make it on the shelves.

We're used to perfect products. Anything that doesn't fit that standard can seem dirty, scary, or unacceptable.

Pretty much every beginner experiences this. But nine out of ten times there's nothing really wrong.

It's not as bad as you think

Bugs? Sure, they're annoying. But they can also be fascinating.

Just look at my mom's broad beans:
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Black aphids and an ant on a bean plant

Milking ants

Aphids feed on plant sap. The sap contains a lot of sugar, and whatever sugar the aphids don't need gets turned into a sweet liquid called honeydew.

Ants love it. So they encourage aphids to produce more honeydew. That's called milking. Like farmers do with cows, kind of. Isn't that nuts?

What do you do if something goes wrong?

Sure, you can take steps to limit mishaps, but you don't have to go overboard.

If you come across snails or other insects, check out the tips in the Planty Library.

There are things you can do - although snails and rainy weather are going to be a challenge.
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What can you do to fight of snails?
Dead plant? That's too bad, better luck next time. Believe me: it'll probably work out if your grow again.

Withered or discolored leaves?

Easy:
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Just cut off any ugly leaves
Discolored leaves like these don't serve your plant anymore. It won't miss that one leaf.

Other than that, just keep a close eye on your plants, water regularly, and follow the advice in the app.

That's it.

It comes down to this:

Enjoy your vegetable garden and everything in it.

Don't worry about the few things that go wrong. Before you know it, you'll be laughing about it and see it as just another part of the garden experience. 

One last tip: harvest on time.
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Harvesting on time prevents problems
The vegetables in the photo are actually a little too big already. Because the earlier you harvest, the tastier they are.

And the less that can go wrong 😉

That's all for now. Enjoy!
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