June Garden Update: Found The Culprit To Garden Failure!

by Texas Homesteader ~
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Well guys, my garden was put behind schedule this year. I thought it was due to a colder/wetter than normal spring. There was plenty of water, but no warmth or sunshine! 

But now that it’s starting to dry out a bit & warm up too, things are finally starting to grow.  Still the garden’s lagging behind is a mystery. But I think I may have finally figured it out. Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteader

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Solving The Slow-Growing Puzzle

Two years ago my garden got off to a slow start. But why? Too wet? Too dry? Not enough sun? It finally picked up & did fine later in the season.

Last year was even worse than the year before. But again, why? Thinking the Crape Myrtles and Red-Tip shrubs we planted along the driveway were growing tall enough to cast too much afternoon shade on the garden, I hacked them back ruthlessly. (as in 2-ft tall!) The garden seemed to finally pick up & at least produce a small amount last season.

This year is the worst it’s ever been. The seedlings I planted at Easter died, and the seedlings I replaced them with a month later died too. Seeds I planted at the same time as the replants didn’t even germinate.

Grasping at straws I looked around. Nothing is growing like it should. Yet I’m seeing local friends on FB are harvesting from their garden daily. Why would theirs be so vastly different than mine?

Then I looked up. This tree has been here since before we bought the property. I believe it’s finally just grown large enough that it’s blocking too much sun.

Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteader

You see, it’s situated just barely southwest of my westward-facing garden fenceline. In the winter months the sun moves toward the southerly sky behind this tree. Of course in winter it’s a non issue anyway.

But in the spring as the sun makes its trek back toward the north, well by the time it clears this tree to give my garden the sun it requires, it’s June! From then on it’s just fine of course, but with such a late start on getting the plants growing…

It’s hard enough to get trees to live in our botanical hole of death. But we can’t move the garden either. (for many reasons) I guess we’ll have to hire a professional to cut it down. I’m not gonna lie, this makes me sad in many ways.

Plan For Long Season Supply Of Green Beans

On to happier things. There are a few success stories in our garden. Our favorite fresh veggie to enjoy is green beans. So always plant them in our garden.

The green beans we planted square-foot-garden style in our new galvanized trough raised bed are struggling. But I expected that this first year. Next year the soil is improved a little more & I expect to see more vigorous results.

So I also planted green beans in a garden row and they’re doing great. I’m loving harvesting them and cooking them for supper that very night. Yeah, we can get spoiled to this!

Garden green beans. Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteader

Now that the sun is finally hitting the garden like it’s supposed to, I’ll go ahead & plant another row of green beans next week. Then wait two weeks and plant a third row.

This keeps at least a row in production for most of the summer. I’m certain before long we’ll be having fresh green beans with every meal, and I’m just fine with that!

Luffa Vines Making An Appearance

Several years ago I grew and harvested luffa. It’s true you can eat luffa like squash if you harvest them young. But if you want to grow an actual luffa (like the scrub sponge) you just let them get huge and allow them to dry on the vine.

But for the last few years I haven’t been successful growing luffa. Then a sweet friend offered some of her seeds this year so I planted them. All four seeds sprouted! I think the variegated leaves of the luffa plant are just lovely.

Luffa vine. Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteader

I’ll probably enjoy some of the luffa as a squash substitute since my squash plants didn’t make it either. Then I’ll let several grow into mature luffas too for harvest. How exciting!

Tiny Watermelon Plants

I’m assuming these watermelon seedlings that were massively delayed by the shade issue are getting way too late a start to actually produce a harvest. (sigh…)

Watermelon seedlings. Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteader

But I’m going to allow them to stay anyway and hope for the best. Maybe a fall harvest? If nothing else, they’ll serve as living mulch for my tomato plants.

Tomatoes Lagging Behind

My tomato plants are finally starting to grow. But again due to the repeated failures & late start I’m not sure about any harvest. Maybe this fall if I can squeak them through the hot Texas summer.

I planted several heirloom seedlings in early spring but they succumbed one by one. So I replaced them by planting seeds, but no luck.

Then I found seedlings sprouting from my *Compost Tumbler. I often Get Free Plants that way!

I found tomato seedlings sprouting in my tumbling composter. So I relocated them to my garden.

So I scooped them up and placed them in a temporary location with access to sunlight and kept them watered. Then when the garden’s replants didn’t make it I dug up these tiny seedlings & planted them in my garden. The sunshine is just now finally enough for them so they’re starting to grow.

Tomato seedling. Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteader

I also planted a volunteer basil plant in one of the spaces where my tomato plant didn’t make it. Basil is a great companion plant for tomatoes. And since the basil was a volunteer growing in an unwanted location – why not?

Self-Planting Onions

The onions & garlic have been rocking it as they always do!  My walking onions have already put on their walking shoes and are providing me with next year’s harvest too.  How much I love that I don’t have to replant my onions every year, they replant themselves!

Walking onions. Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteaderPeppers

The peppers I planted never made a showing. The seedlings I transplanted to the garden died in quick order the same as the other seedlings did. And the replanted seed didn’t sprout either due to the shading issue. It’s been a hard gardening year for me, let me tell ya!

I’d planted several poblanos, red bells & anaheim pepper plants. I’m pretty disappointed there are no peppers in our garden this year. I may go out & buy actual plants to place into my garden this year.

Concord Grapevine

The concord grapevine is once again loaded with young grapes. It’s my screaming success every year. It must just love where it’s planted, I really do nothing special to it. Those grapevines grow several inches every day! I may make grape jelly with the ripe grapes.

concord grapevine. Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteader

Fresh Herbs

I make sure to include pollinator-friendly flowers and lots of herbs in my Edible Landscape plan. The herbs are going crazy!

I’m harvesting fresh stevia and using it when making RancherMan’s sweetened sun tea. He loves it and it’s replaced the copious amounts of granulated sugar he used to dump into his tea. (see potential caution regarding sun tea at the bottom of this page)

Harvesting Stevia. Come see my June garden update. I think I've solved the problem of why my garden failed! #TexasHomesteader

And the thyme is looking really good and it’s blooming too, as is the sage, basil and oregano.  All growing like crazy! I’ll be harvesting armloads of them soon to dry for my pantry.

Other than that, not much harvest from the garden yet. The corn I planted is struggling and the cantaloupe & watermelon are just starting to grow.

So yeah, most things are a bust this year. But at least I’ve got a few things going on in the garden. I’m really looking forward to harvesting some fresh home-grown produce soon. 

How’s your garden going?


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Potential Sun Tea Concerns

There are some who have commented that brewing sun tea does not allow it to get hot enough to kill the bacteria in water. It’s said that it must be boiled 3-5 minutes in order to be safe, then refrigerated immediately until consumed. So as I typically do, I went to the experts – my extension agent.

Apparently according to my extension agent (who is an AWESOME resource) the source of potential problem microbes isn’t the water, it’s the actual tea leaves. She recommends bringing the water to 195 degrees and steeping the tea for 3-5 minutes, then pouring into a pitcher over ice & refrigerating.

Of course you’ll want to use your own judgement about making sun tea. If you have concerns about your personal health, your doctor is always your best source of advice. 

For us, sun tea is still king. I continue to make sun tea several times each week, the same as I’ve done for years.


7 thoughts on “June Garden Update: Found The Culprit To Garden Failure!

  1. Nancy

    Hey Tammy,
    As you know last year was my first year in this ‘new” (to us) state. I had a raised bed put in (Thank you Victory Gardens in Milwaukee, WI) and planted. It did okay, but not real well. So this year I decided I was tired of the branch that that I kept running into, even though it was outside my garden area. I’d like to just have the whole tree cut but that’s for another story. So I went out this spring and cut. I cut off the big part next to the trunk and took the whole branch out. This year I have everything going crazy! In the raised bed I have enough lettuce to share. My beans are getting huge and blooming like crazy, The carrots are doing great, as well as the beets. And I have volunteer tomatoes that I’m pulling up and composting (thinning). And that was just from cutting one branch that wasn’t over the garden.
    On the other hand back by my alley I have a spot that I’ve been wrestling with this season. I finally got tired of my nemesis…..thistle. With the pandemic I was getting plenty of boxes from ordering on line during our shut down. I got rid of a little bit of the top soil, to take it down below the paving, put down the boxes and put potting soil on top and that’s where I planted zucchini, cucumbers, raspberries, and a rhubarb plant. Now every time i see a little thistle poke its head out the ground is easy enough to just pull it up. and instead of 20 or 30 thistle everyday I see one or two every two or three days. I put cinder blocks at the edge of the dirt by the pavement so the garbage men don’t run over it or put the garbage can in the garden (they did that once). All the stuff back there is doing great! And it’s big enough for the raspberries to spread out once this season is over and the other stuff is finished.
    This year I also got reusable potato bags. And they are on the extra parking space next to the garage. They are happy and thriving there. I got six different kinds and the blackberry (purple) have just now finished blooming and the vines are starting to die off. I’ll see how they do soon enough. I’ve heard from different people that the potato bags do pretty well….we shall see.
    We get strawberries everyday. I planted them in stackable pots. But next year I’ll have drawers for the new berry plants. We opened up the second floor of our school and they took out the storage cupboards in our old rooms. Since we were moving upstairs we packed things in the drawers, then wrapped them in the plastic wrap. That’s how my garden(s) are going.

  2. Denise Olczak

    If you have livestock then you can have the very best compost ever. Three years ago I stumbled across a gardening process known as Back to Eden. My garden now has over a foot deep of rich dark brown, work with your hands, garden soil. It is lush!
    First I started a brand new garden on top of my lawn. I laid down newspaper and topped it with about a foot of fresh horse manure right out of the stalls. This was topped with about a foot of horse manure compost. I topped this with several inches of wood chips from the tree trimming company that does the power lines. My first-year garden was good. Last year my tomatoes were taller than I am and produced in abundance. Lettuce wintered over. I plant potatoes in the fall and then are up in the spring. Over half of my garden is in shade all morning. I think it’s your soil and not your tree.

  3. jan

    I know you are very thorough but have you had your soil analyzed? We have a very shaded garden and it is growing fine in spite of cool weather. Just curious.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yes ma’am Jan, although it’s been a while – thanks for the reminder! We were working with our extension agent to find out why our yard is the botanical hole of death. Everything on the soil analysis checked out fine but she felt it may be how shallow the topsoil is in our actual yard. It’s on highly erodible land and then when we had our home built we used the ground around it to build up for the foundation, making it even more shallow. But you’re right, a new soil sample is probably due anyway for the garden area. ~TxH~

  4. ColleenB.~Tx.

    I hate to think that you may have to cut down the tree.
    If nothing else, if and when you have a tree trimmer come out, just have him thin out some or alot of the inner branches for the sun to shine through and that may help.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      That was our initial hope Colleen. The different company quotes to do the trimming instead of removal came in between $850 – $1,000 because the tree is 40 – 50 ft tall. But I’d assume that those limbs that were thinned will just regrow over time and the trimming would have to be professionally done over again in subsequent years at that cost (or more) again. It’s just not in our budget. Removal quotes to bring the tree down came in between $750-$1,000 but it’s a one-time thing. I hate to lose it. I love this tree. But we just may not financially have any other option. 🙁 ~TxH~


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