It seems every year I come up with a new garden experiment. It's the process with everyone who gardens. At the end of each season you analyze what you need to change and set about figuring a way to do it. Last year my experiment was green beans. Every year I had fought to control Mexican bean beetles, but was losing the battle. Those little buggers would strip my plants clean. There was no chance of succession planting working. The new set of plants would pop out of the ground only to be eaten before they had a chance to grow much. I really try to stay away from pesticides if possible, but it seemed the only way to control them even a little was to use Sevin, a common garden pesticide. Last year I hypothesized that maybe if I planted my beans, all of my beans, early and all at one time, maybe they would have a chance to produce before the beetles could get to them. So I did, and they did. My plants had a chance to produce beautiful green beans before the beetles could get them.
Just as I was pulling the plants up, I noticed a few beetles starting to arrive. The plants were pulled and tossed into the compost pile and any beetle scragglers were rounded up. It was my best bean harvest in years.
This year I'm addressing another common problem I have. We have some pretty hot summers here in the Georgia area. Once the temp get above 95 degrees, my tomato plants stop blooming (so do I quite frankly), and begin to wilt. By the time the "Dog Days of summer" end, my plants look dead. If I leave them there, I've found, once the temps cool a little in August, I will begin to see new growth. By October I have lush green tomato plants with huge green tomatoes that never have a chance to ripen before the first frost. My experiment this year is to plant larger tomato plants in the early spring and see if I get a better harvest before it gets so hot. I started seeds the end of December 2016. I had 50 seedlings, but you guys remember the "Great fall of 2017" where I tripped carrying them out for some sun and plants flew everywhere. Well 10 survived that ordeal. They are my experimental group (cause that's all I have left). I replanted more seedlings in the normal time frame for zone 7. They are my control group. See how scientific I sound? My experimental plants are about 18 inches tall right now. in fact one plant has the beginnings of blooms. There really was no waiting longer to put them in the ground. They were hard enough to get in the ground at the size they are now. Yesterday was a cloudy day with the promise of rain overnight. No better time. I checked the 10 day forecast and saw no really cold temps, so I took the plunge. Now it's a wait and see if they can make it thru any weird April chills, and if they produce a better harvest. I now have cucumbers, pumpkins, and yellow squash plants in the ground, and have planted my bean, zucchini seeds, and onion sets in the ground as well. Now we wait.