So far, so good in my second year of gardening with Build It Up. Participation in Build It Up the first year taught me the importance of a garden plan and crop rotation, and everything I have planted so far this year seems to be thriving in its location. The program also instilled in me the belief that preventing (as opposed to waiting to react to) diseases and pest infestation should always be on my radar, and I spray routinely.
Once they have invaded the garden, pests can be very difficult to combat. Voles have been my garden’s nemesis. Because last year’s strawberry patch suffered terribly because of them as well as other critters, this year I decided to barricade my strawberry patch by surrounding it with pound-in edging to deter vole entry. I also covered the patch with netting to keep out larger furry pests and birds (photo 1). Berry harvest this year (photo 2) has been much more rewarding than last year.
Various methods of trellising are currently the stand-out feature of my garden. One method is the use of two cattle fence panels installed in an upside-down V shape (photo 3). I’ve planted cucumbers on one pair of these panels and running butter beans on another pair. Pole beans will be growing on a repurposed jungle-gym, and cantaloupes will be climbing up an arch trellis (photo 4). Snap peas are starting to climb a leftover-from-a-deck-project fence rail, and edamame is almost tall enough to grab onto a grid that was once the underside of a twin bunkie board (photo 5).
I’m all set with three different ways to keep my indeterminate
tomatoes off the ground. T-posts are in place for Florida weave trellising for some of the plants, and staking kits surround others. A new method I am trying is a cattle panel installed horizontally about two feet off the ground (photo 6). The idea is for the plants to grow up through the panel and then flop on the panel for easy harvesting. A gardener friend shared this idea with me, and I look forward to seeing if it is a method I’ll wish to repeat.
I have enjoyed growing lettuces this year—something I had never before tried to do. Left to right in photo 7 are buttercrunch, tango, romaine, drunken woman, and gourmet blend varieties. Eating fresh garden salads and Southern “wilted lettuce” has been extremely satisfying! 
I use the no-till method of gardening and add compost each year. Last week when I dug the holes for my tomato plants, the number of worms I saw was astounding (photo 8). Initially, I told myself that this was a good situation, but now I am having second thoughts. I worry that I might have a jumping worm problem. I plan to contact one of the UT Extension Washington County agriculture agents to obtain a verdict. Fingers crossed….