Gardening Archive

Garden Update

Posted July 19, 2016 By Ruth

Blue Berries tomatoes are ripening

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Black Icicles are getting there too, plus the tallest one just topped the 7foot tall cages:

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There’s at least two more that’ll definitely make the 7foot mark, and a couple more that may or may not.

 

Sugar Baby Watermelon:

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Cantaloupe:

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Melon Pear fruit:

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Note-I didn’t realize till it was to late, but quite a few places recommend caging these plants, like tomatoes, and for much the same reason.  The weight of the fruit flattens the plants out.  Something to keep in mind if we decide to grow them again.

 

Paprika peppers:

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I’ve pulled two zucchini out of the garden, and made a batch of zucchini bread, just cause.

Oh, and this is Friday’s cucumber harvest:

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JUST Friday’s harvest.  Of course I’ve had at least a few almost every day for the last week-plus, which I’ve mostly been eating, cause these are seriously good eating cukes.  So I made two quarts of refrigerator pickles.  Which used up less than half of Friday’s harvest.  Gave away 8 or so to a friend.  Harvested another pile at least that big on Sunday.  Gave away another handful to a neighbor.  Gave away the whole pile to a former co-worker who planned to do a serious batch of pickles.  And between yesterday and today (Tuesday) I refilled the strainer with cucumbers.  I think my cucumber plants are happy.  Time to play around with a wider variety of pickles I think.

 

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Garden update

Posted July 11, 2016 By Ruth

My four rain barrels have come in handy this summer.  I keep saying that I know, but its so true.  Our water bill would be SO HIGHER this summer without them.  I’m planning on how to add 4 more.  It won’t happen this year, or likely next year unless I’m lucky, but it will happen.

My mystery squash plant is thriving:

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I originally assume the vine was cantaloupe, but it clearly isn’t.  The giant leaves look like zucchini leaves, but the zucchini variety I grow doesn’t vine like this clearly is.  The squash itself is marked much like the baby pumpkins (well, the Long Pie Pumpkins I grow anyway), and that would explain the vining habit.  But the insanely quick growth (it was still a baby with bloom attached when I took a picture on the 26th, and is now a good foot long) is more zucchini style.  The Long Pie Pumpkins grow quickly, but not THAT quickly.  So do I treat it like a zucchini?  Or like a pumpkin?  I’m kinda tempted to let it keep growing and see what happens……

For comparison, a zucchini (which I’ll be picking this week, its a good size for it):

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And a baby pumpkin:

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Anyway, the rest of the garden.

The Melon Pears are THRIVING.  And to think I was worried about them.  There’re even baby fruit forming!  And yes, another mystery squash, this one looks straight forward Long Pie Pumpkin though.

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Tomatoes: it turns out the Black Icicle Tomatoes may have had a magnesium deficiency.  They’ve been awfully pale and droopy in comparison to the rest of the tomatoes.   I had a couple people try to assure me that paste tomatoes are always “kinda droopy”, but they just didn’t look right.  After doing some digging around the internet I mixed up a couple gallons of water with some epsom salts and sprayed down the leaves and drenched the soil with it.  About a week and a half later the plants are much more normally colored and far less droopy.  In addition, I was worried that they had blight, they had almost all the symptoms (and so do several other tomato plants), and now almost all those symptoms (on the Black Icicles) are gone.  I’m still going to treat the entire garden with Actinovate, just to be safe (cause I don’t have the space to do proper rotations and I refuse to stop growing tomatoes), but I’m also going to treat all the tomato tires with epsom salts too (and seriously considering doing the entire garden).  A magnesium deficiency wouldn’t be a huge surprise in retrospect.  I’ll have to see if I can arrange some soil testing either this fall or next spring.

Black Icicle tomatoes before epsom salt treatments (and one a few days after treatment):

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And yesterday:

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The difference in color is NOT a trick of the light, I promise!  In addition the tallest plants are pushing 6ft tall now!

All of the tomato plants have baby fruit on them, well, except for the volunteer plants that appeared in two tires, but thats not a surprise since they didn’t get the headstart the rest did.  For that matter, pretty much everything has baby fruit on it!  Possible exception is the habaneros, but they do that to me every year, get thinking I’m not going to get anything and then POOF, hot peppers!

I’ve picked enough cucumbers to do up a good sized batch of refrigerator pickles.  Putting them on a trellis DOES make a difference in how easy it is to find and pick fruit.  But I swear the plants are VERY HAPPY being allowed to sprawl on the ground:

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Or maybe its just the insane summer weather this year, donno…..

 

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Deer repellent

Posted June 23, 2016 By Ruth

I bought a single, small, bottle of Plantskydd from a locally owned place back in 2013.

That first year either I didn’t apply it right, or the insane rains we had that year reduced its effectiveness, not sure which.  But ever since it has worked wonderfully.  As long as I re-apply once a month or so it has done an awesome job of keeping deer and rabbits out of my garden.

Did I mention I’m still using that original bottle?  Plantskydd’s site says once opened they’re only good for 3 months or so.  But if the bottle I have has lost any of its effectiveness I can’t tell.  I was slow getting it out on the garden this year, and something was sure munching, but once I sprayed the Plantskydd all munching stopped.

Oh, and I don’t usually spray it ON the garden plants either, though it’s technically safe to do so.  I generally just spray it in a circle around the garden and it does just fine!

I will warn you, it REEKS until it dries (which is about a day).  Seriously puke worthy reek too.  Not an issue where I am, but if you’re gardening in your urban garden and your neighbor’s bedroom window overlooks your garden they may not appreciate you spraying Plantskydd about, just to warn you.  The dogs do find it quite interesting though, till it dries, so if you have a dog who’s allowed to run loose by your garden you may want to restrain them till its dry, else your dog may smell extra bad for a while.

Plantskydd isn’t available from any of the big box stores, at least by me.  I found it at a locally owned garden place, or you can order it off their website.

note: I bought the Plantskydd with my own money and this review is completely unsolicited, well, by Plantskydd anyway, I had a friend ask me what I used to repel deer!

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Garden update

Posted June 21, 2016 By Ruth

The weather has been insane.  Hot.  Not quite record breaking, but close on more than one occasion.  Dry too, rain barrels are coming in handy.  Then we get a “cold” snap, which drops us to normal seasonal weather for a couple days, then back to hot.

End result, the garden is GROWING FAST.  Since I tend to pick for short season, cool weather tolerant, varieties we’ll have to see how this works in the long run, but most of the plants are growing huge.

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Buena Mulata Peppers

 

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Black Icicle tomatoes, those plants are pushing 4feet tall now

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Volunteer SOMETHING growing in one of the Black Plum Tomato tires.  I was originally figuring cantaloupe, but looking at those leaves I’m wondering if they’re a hybrid with something, time will tell I guess!

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Potatoes

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Miniature White Cucumbers, last two years I put them on a trellis, this year I decided to just let them spread and see if it makes a difference.  So far they’re quite happy as they are.

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Sugar Snap Peas, I grew a bushing variety this year, they might be smaller plants, but so far I’ve gotten far more peas off of them!

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Onions and lettuce.  This is one my bed failure, that white tube is supposed to allow me to feed water into the sub-layer of gravel, and on this one container it has somehow gotten blocked and water isn’t feeding right.  So I’m going to have to dig up the container and figure out what happened.

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Blue Berry Tomatoes.  According to Bakers Creek, where I bought these seeds, this variety came from Wild Boar Farms, not the European GMO variety.  I’m not rabid anti-GMO, but I do like growing different things than what I can get in the stores!

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Long Pie Pumpkins

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Cantaloupe

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Jalapenos

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White CHerry tomatoes

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Tzimbalo Melon Pear, and volunteer something…..

In addition I didn’t get photos of the watermelons, zucchini, okra, sunflowers, carrots, Hot Wax peppers, paprika peppers, habenaro peppers……

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Hostas

Posted June 13, 2016 By Ruth

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All the way to the left, directly infront of the rain barrels is one of the Hibiscus, though you really can’t see it in this.

(yes, I’m aware there was a shooting.  No, this is as close as commenting as I’m going to get for now.  Why?  1: we don’t actually know much of anything yet, 2: really, we don’t know much at all, 3: really, 4: I refuse to blood dance)

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Baby birds! And updates

Posted June 11, 2016 By Ruth

We’ve been watching a pair of Song Sparrows flit around the area by our back deck all spring.  This week, on several occasions I noticed that they appeared to be carrying something in their beaks as they did so, and NOT nesting materials.

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So yesterday, since I had some time, I started the search for the nest.  Partially out of curiosity, but also so I’d know where to avoid with the dogs once the babies were fledging.  I found it:

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It’s hard to tell in that picture, but there’s four babies in that nest.  And it’s about two long steps from our back porch stairs.  Talk about a bad spot for fledglings!  At least it’s in a flower patch we’re not going to mow over…..

Yesterday I finished running the soaker hose throughout the garden.  150ft total.  Two hookups though, one with a 50ft hose and one with the remaining 100.  Both worked perfectly.  Now I shouldn’t have to fiddle with it till either fall or if I can find enough cheap fittings to change out the hose over the pathways.  There’s something addictive about this “being prepared” thing though.  Four 55 gallon barrels should water my garden for a couple weeks no problem, and this area is very unlikely to go without rain for any longer than that.  But I’m finding myself looking at the two unmodified downspouts and debating the addition of more barrels.  Heck, I could add a 3rd barrel to each of the current downspouts no problem!

The Black Icicle tomatoes are now several inches over the top of their tomato cages.  I guess I’m going to have to rig a 2nd layer of some kind.  The Black Plums usually end up over the tops of their cages, but not till closer to August, and then not by more than a foot or so, so I can weave a stake into the cage and tie them to that.  I don’t think that’s going to work for the Icicles!

I hilled the shortest of the potato plants, but most of them were tall enough by yesterday that I didn’t see the point.  I’ll pick up some straw this week and just do a layer of that next.

There’s several very awkwards spots right around the house that are a pain to mow, but for various reasons aren’t prime spots for plantings either.  One of them is in the corner between the bedroom and the living room addition.  Its on the south-east side, so it gets sun till about noon, but up until we put on the gutters it was excessively wet as well.  Now with the gutters on the house it’s just wet.  Former owners had an azalea in the sunniest spot of the corner (the outside edge), and a happy hosta in the middle of it, but that left a 4 or 5 foot wide stretch right in the corner with nothing but weeds.  The azalea wasn’t thrilled either, so last fall I pulled it out and replaced it with a hibiscus.  As for the rest, I have, at various times, tried planting a few different things there with no success.  Nothing thrived.  Even the daylilies had to be transplanted out after half of them disappeared.  Now, with the gutters on the house I started looking closer at the hosta that was there.  I’m not a huge hosta fan.  But if the one is thriving……started looking closer at the hostas for sale at work, and this week came home with 8 pots of 4 different varieties (two pots of each) and planted them around that area.  Cross fingers for me!

 

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Purple Peppers!

Posted June 9, 2016 By Ruth

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We spent the last week babysitting my SIL’s Great Pyr puppy.  5 months old, about 50lbs, and all puppy.  Now we went through that with Apollo, that’s fine.  And we’d introduced our dogs to the pup prior and everyone seemed to get along.  But once he’d actually been in our house for a few hours Arty decided pup was demon spawn and had to die.  And so we ended up having to spend the entire week spending extra time and energy to manage the dogs that we’d not planned on.  Things did get better, and by Monday night Arty was actually willing to play with the pup for a bit.  Plus my SIL is a morning person, pup is used to being up and out by 6am, where we’re a 2nd shift household.  My Husband takes the dogs out at 3am before he goes to bed, and for our dogs, even as pups, that means they’re plenty good till after I get up at 8am.  Not pup, he STILL wanted to go out at 6am every day.  Sigh.  They picked him up yesterday (Tuesday).  The entire household crashed for an all afternoon nap as soon as pup was gone…..

I’m thinking I’m going to go ahead and hill the potatoes again, but I’m not sure it’s not too late for the tallest plants, which are shooting for the sky at an insane rate.  Especially since I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it before Friday thanks to the weather, which is predicted to be quite wet, and I have no desire to get soaked to the skin just to hill the potatoes again.  Maybe I’ll just buy a bale of straw…..

Anyone know a good place to buy cheap garden hose fittings and cheap fittings for a 3/8 ID soaker hose?  Preferably the sort of fittings to connect them to each other as well as standard ends?  Locally it looks like Tractor Supply has the cheapest (plastic) garden hose fittings (replacement male/female ends for $1.99 each), though I’ve not checked Harbor Freight yet.  But the fittings for the soaker hose seem to be a bit harder to come by, Home Depot has them in 2 packs for $3, and everyone else’s prices are quite a bit higher.  No, I’ve not checked the plumbing fittings yet, that’s next.  I’m currently just weaving the soaker hoses through the tires, but I’d really like to stop wasting water on watering the walkways, plus, in order to maximise use of the soaker hoses the hose going over the walkways is several inches up, which is a trip hazard.  I’d really like to piece in a piece of regular hose, which I can dip down and have be less of a trip hazard.  I’m looking at a minimum purchase of 7 of each piece, possibly as many as 15 if the price is right.  Cheap is fine, plastic is fine, I’d rather not spend a fortune till I’m sure that the setup isn’t going to change.

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Garden update (again)

Posted June 5, 2016 By Ruth

Rain barrels are full, and I had to rush out and put in the overflow drains (cause I’d been lazy and not done them) to divert the extra water away the way I wanted.  For proof of concept I bought a 50ft soaker hose, put it on the end of a 25ft regular hose, and wove it around the garden for as far as it would go, and there was enough water pressure from the barrels to push water all the way to the end of it.  I’ll need more length for the rest of the garden, and it’ll take some fiddling to make sure that everything is getting appropriately watered, but as proof of concept, I’ll take it!

For reference, all the tomato cages are made out of 3ft tall welded wire.

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These are the white cherry tomatoes

 

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Blue Berry Tomatoes

 

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Black Plum Tomatoes

 

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Black Icicle Tomatoes.  No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, yes, they are that tall.

 

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Melon Pear.  Not sure these are thriving, but they aren’t dying either, so we’ll see.

 

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My Variegated Japanese Willow bush.  I planted this as a little 2ft tall stick a couple years ago, now its taller and wider than my Husband.  I need to give it a quick trim and even it out, but its survived and thrived through two screwy winters.  The only reason I’ve not planted a ton more of them is cause I’d really prefer either flowering or native or both.

 

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The darkest of my Lupines.  I’ll have to remember to save the seeds from it this year and spread them around.

 

The Hibiscus have sprouted, and are infact a couple inches tall already, no pictures, I forgot.  And we’re going to have a bumper crop of strawberries this year.

Potatoes……last time I tried potatoes despite my attempt at hilling them they only produced more potatoes around the base.  Doing some research it turns out that many short season potatoes will do that.  So I got longer season ones this year…..but do I keep hilling?  I mean sure, I’ve seen those “grow 100lbs of potatoes in 4 square feet) things, that have you hilling and hilling and hilling.  But “conventional wisdom” says hill twice and after that just do a layer of mulch or straw and thats it.  I have enough of the garden bed kit to put at least two more layers on the bed, so in theory I could just keep going up……

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Garden

Posted June 1, 2016 By Ruth

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Buena Mulata Pepper plant, and flower.  Pretty little thing!

 

Arty of course was delighted to help me in the garden:

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He was only interested in the potato bed too, and not for digging either, he just wanted to stand in it.  Go figure….

And there’s a House Wren building a nest inside the pump head for the old manual water well pump.  I know we don’t  use it much, but we DO try to keep it functional……thats going to be a fun one to clean out!

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