May 21, 2018

May Garden Update

We finally started planting the garden last week, with the long winter and wet spring it ended up being later than even last year. The tomato plants have been in the ground less than a week but they've put on tons of growth.
The Indigo Blueberries tomato plant has interestingly dark stems. It's been raining every other day with bright sunny days in between and the plants seem to be settling in even with temps around 88 degrees (31 degrees Celsius).
There are two pepper beds mainly planted with sweet peppers except for a few Gigantia Jalapenos and Pablanos.
In the pepper beds are a few melon plants of True Charentais and Tuscany. I couldn't get Ginkaku or Green Nutmeg to germinate, but I'll try again indoors where it isn't as hot as the greenhouse.
The leeks are enjoying being in the ground, but the onions in the bed on the left are still recovering. I started the onion seeds in February so they've been waiting a long time to get planted out.
Cutting celery or leaf celery was planted behind the greenhouse. It's a darker wetter spot which I thought would be a good place for them. Better than growing weeds.
I was only able to get 6 Matador shallot seeds to germinate and live on. Pretty funny, I don't know what I'm going to do with just 6 shallots.
And shockingly enough, 7 Asian leeks/chives are still alive. They're so tiny you can hardly see them in the photo.
There are two leaf celery plants on the right and the rest is Gigante d'Italia Parsley. We have a bed specifically for annual herbs this year. The basil still needs to be planted and I'm having a hard time getting the shisho/perilla to germinate.
Portuguese Cavolo Laciniato kale and Nero de Toscana kale. With the hot weather coming I don't know how long these will last. They'll probably get replaced with New Zealand spinach, amaranth, and chard.
And the bush beans are up in just 5 days. Fresh garden green beans are a favorite in our household.
And both varieties of corn are also up. The Morado/Kulli corn is a 100 day sweet corn and grows around 8-12 feet tall supposedly. But Buhl is supposed to be a 75 day sweet corn, so hopefully I'll be able to save seed from both varieties without danger of crosspollination.

It took 2 days to plant the garden with temps well in the 90s and high humidity.

I still need to seed zucchini, summer squash, pole beans, amaranth, and Brussels sprouts, and then reseed New Zealand spinach and perilla. We had such a late winter, it's odd to think it's almost summer.

I hope everyone's spring is warming up nicely and it's not raining too much wherever you're located. I'm really hoping it'll be a fun and fruitful gardening year.

May 10, 2018

Beneficial Nematodes to Control Flea Beetles

Our garden was infested with flea beetles, the soil was just teaming with them. We had the variety that attacks eggplants as well as the variety that attacks cole crops like cabbage, Asian greens, etc. They were so bad even the tomato plants were badly damaged, normally tomato plants can outgrow the damage caused by their feeding because flea beetles much prefer eggplants.

For the past two years I've been applying beneficial nematodes in the spring because high temperatures during shipping can kill the nematodes. The spring after the first application saw a noticeable reduction in the flea beetle population, especially the one that prefers brassicas/cole crops. The spring after the second application coincided with minimal flea beetle damage to brassicas, although the eggplants were still getting eaten up by flea beetles.

This spring I've noticed no beetle damage on peppers or tomato plants while they've been in the greenhouse or on the front porch, and last fall I had planted the whole garden in greens, turnips, and radishes and there wasn't any damage then either. Another thing I noticed is a lessening in the mosquito population this year, normally they are everywhere in the grass and garden. But it's hard to say whether the diminished number of mosquitoes is due to the cold spring.

Beneficial nematodes prey on larva of insects that live in the soil, so it won't have an affect immediately on the adult beetles, mosquitoes, etc. But they should have an affect on subsequent generations, especially as the beneficial nematode population increases with time.

May 5, 2018

Tomato Blooms and Potatoes Sprouting From The Soil

Pink Berkley Tie-Dye blossom. A few of the large fruited tomato plants are forming blooms already including Granny Cantrell's German Red, Peach Blow Sutton, and Jaune Flamme.
Black Vernissage cherry are very large plants, they're easily the largest in the greenhouse and they're all forming blooms.
Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are starting to form their trusses of blossoms. I also saw blossoms on Be My Baby cherry.
A few of the tomato plants have been showing signs of nutrient deficiency with pale spots that eventually darken. Tomorrow I'll feed them, but a bunch of them will need to be potted up soon.
This Jaune Flamme plant is the worst off for nutrient deficiency. Some of the pepper plants are actually very pale, which tells me they probably need to be fed.
The seed potatoes I just sowed last weekend have emerged.
I love the way potatoes push up the soil and finally break through. I think this must be Adirondak Blue but I can't be sure until the potatoes in the other planter pop up.

The purple sweet potato was a bust, it started showing signs of disease. Aw well, next time. I've begun rooting the Beauregard sweet potato slips.

My husband tilled the garden on Wednesday evening and we were planning to plant everything out the next day. But it dumped rain unexpectedly on Thursday, it was at least an inch and they're now predicting rain for the rest of the weekend. So it's looking like we will probably be planting mid-month just like last year.

Since planting is definitely delayed for a week or two that means the tomato plants will need to be potted up into quart containers the next couple of days.

May 1, 2018

Eggs in the Lawn

My husband was mowing the lawn when he found 4 plastic rocks in the grass. He picked one up to get a closer look and when he dropped it he found it was actually an egg.
We figure a creature got into a bird's nest and dropped the eggs in our backyard. Although there's no sign of a nest anywhere. The eggs were left outside and the unbroken ones disappeared the next day.
The one my husband dropped. They're actually a very pretty pale blue. I have to assume they're robins eggs, there are a few that hang out around the garden.
A group shot of the unbroken eggs. There are lots of critters in our neighborhood. We've found big fat possums that hiss at you when you've got them cornered and I've had a couple rabbits in the garden as well. Our neighbor took a picture of a giant hawk sitting on our fence looking into our backyard last fall, probably hunting voles. And there's at least 3 owls living very close to us. One day my solar powered owl was on the fritz and calling out constantly, it got three other owls to answer it and they all made a nice chorus while I was working in the greenhouse.

We actually had an unexpected frost on Saturday. A friend of mine had planted out her tomatoes and they got zapped. That's an incredibly late frost for this region.

I hope everyone is getting started on the new growing season. My husband says he will till the garden tomorrow. He went and dug a hole out there today and says it is very close, by tomorrow afternoon the ground should be dry enough to work. And since I have Thursday off, I can spend the whole day planting right before the rain.

April 30, 2018

Harvest Monday, 4/30/18

The last harvest of pea shoots from a 48 cell tray. It's much too late to plant peas at this point, we're well on our way to warmer weather this week. They're calling for temperatures in the 80's in the next few days (26.7 degrees Celsius).
I went ahead and planted seed potatoes that were purchased from a big box store a month ago. Poor sad dried up tiny seed potatoes. These are Adirondack Blue. My husband and I had a lengthy discussion on whether the planters he dug out of the attic would be put to better use raising potatoes or carrots.
The seed potatoes from the autumn mix bag were even sadder than the Adirondacks. I do worry that I buried them too deep, will these tiny potatoes have enough energy to send their shoots up through the soil strata? We'll find out.

I have sweet potatoes making slips on the front porch. We were in Nashville last week and I found Japanese Purple sweet potatoes at an Asian/Latin market. Only the small specimens looked any good, hopefully the little Purple will be able to make slips. I do have a Beauregard sweet potato already making slips.

Please join us at Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres, where gardeners are joyfully celebrating this busy time that is spring.