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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:06 pm 
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This blog has been going for several years, the photos of tons of tomatoes are from at least 2 years ago. My best crops usually come from Super Fantastic and various cherry tomatoes.

I'm barely getting a tomato a week now, the heat is clobbering everything in the yard except the eggplant, cantaloupe, peppers and most of the herbs.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:45 pm 
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As of July 28, 2011 we have had 27 days in a row at 100 degrees or higher, and no rain. Most of June was in the high
90s, with a week or so of 100+ degrees days then as well. At this point there are no tomatoes, but the eggplants are
coming along. One of my okra plants has been attacked by aphids, mealy bugs and ants, so I'll do foliar feeding and
include orange oil and plant wash in the mix first thing tomorrow, and look at the moisture level around the plant. The
rest are looking fine (but I only plant a few - even two plants provided more than enough okra last year so I must have
been greedy to plant a half dozen this year).

The eggplant have ants working them and I'm using diatomaceous earth and I'll spray the orange oil mix also. Again, as with
the okra, the ants seem to be going for aphids. I'll try simply knocking them off with a heavy spray, and then use the orange
oil mix.

Welcome to the summer from hell! Keeping the garden alive until fall when hopefully things will start to produce is my main
goal right now.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:59 am 
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My last post in the end of July was only the early stages of our hot summer drought misery. Documenting the struggle
wasn't of interest, but I'm happy to report that the garden is redoubling its effort to produce this fall and I'm busy
harvesting okra, peppers, herbs, squash, and my tomatoes are finally coming back full-size. Green, but full-size. They
started returning in September as marble-sized little lumps but I poured Garrett Juice compost tea and Thrive soil
stimulator around the garden and it has kicked production back to normal sized fruits.

Here are a few photos of the garden. It's full of weeds - this summer as I watered grass crept in but the soil was
generally so hard that I couldn't pull out the grass and roots. My crops are taller than the grass so I don't worry about
it except to trim in walking areas (I found there were some chiggers in that tall grass a few weeks ago).

Okra was a dense short crop for much of the summer but when the rain finally came and temperatures cooled a bit it
took off.

Image

The tomatoes are leggy and sprawled around the garden now. I managed to keep the plants alive and didn't cut them
back when they got big because I was holding out hope for just this thing, a fall growth spurt.

Image

Last winter I collected seeds from a particularly delicious acorn squash and left them to dry on the window sill. By this summer
I couldn't remember what the seeds were from but planted them out of curiosity. I'm happy to report I've harvested a few
squash.

Image

This is my favorite view of the photos this morning. It's simply filled with the garden coming and going - in the back is
the evergreen rosemary and next to it is the fluffy first-year's growth of asparagus. Out of sight behind the basil is the
new bay leaf shrub and in front of the basil is a robust eggplant. Between and under the eggplant and okra (large
leaves at the front right) is a sprawling patch of thyme. In the foreground is oregano (a great groundcover - I regularly
trim it way back to a couple of square yards of space) with fresh shoots of garlic shooting up through it. In the middle
of it all are a few broccoli. Once the frost knocks out the eggplant, okra, and the rest, the broccoli will be the big
feature in the garden.

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Finally, my largest recycling effort this summer has been to dismantle and move a plastic greenhouse from a friend's
house to my back yard. He was a victim of the banking industry - when his house was foreclosed we decided that the
bank didn't need to inherit this cute building. It's well designed and relatively easy to assemble, though the roof became
a small community effort as my ex-husband and I did the lifting and pushing and three friends with poles directed the
seating of the molded edges. These are no longer made (anticipating the question).

Image



Note: I linked back to this on facebook and twitter, but in general I keep this going as a running garden diary - you don't need to leave remarks (I'd prefer your remarks be on facebook or twitter). I'm trying to keep it a fairly cohesive running discussion about the gardens in my yard. --m

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:02 am 
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I am doing a garage sale this weekend, and I didn't think of posting it here until I heard Howard this morning on the radio.
I'll post the link to my Craig's List ad and remove it after the sale is over this afternoon.

I have a few barrels that can be used for rain barrels. They don't have the kits, they're just the barrels. They come from
a friend who works in an industry that uses large barrels and he only brought home the ones that had harmless materials
in them (because he was using them for his own yard. Alas, the bank foreclosed, so I rescued these barrels).

Edit: The sale ended so I've removed the link. I still have the barrels for the time being.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:42 pm 
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No calls came for the rain barrels, but a friend from West Texas, around the Davis Mountains (whose high elevation desert garden photos I've posted on the Dirt Doctor site) filled the back of his pickup with them. He will drill holes in a couple and use them as compost barrels, and others for traditional water barrels. If he sends me any photos I'll post them. I kept several for myself and am particularly interested in how he creates a compost barrel. (I could use something like that if it would keep the dogs away from the kitchen scraps).

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:26 pm 
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This has been an unusually busy winter. My best friend was struck by a car in a parking lot at work on January 12 and
is now in rehab after some major injuries. Her dog is living with my pack so I'm running around doing stuff for her family
and my work and it seems every nice day lands in the middle of the week when I can't afford to take a day off to garden.
But have no fear, my potatoes are sprouting, even if they aren't in the ground. Perhaps next weekend I'll get started.

Meanwhile, I was recently reminded of what it is that has often helped my garden do so well - mulching with hay.
Ruth Stout's gardening method. I'm going to go ahead and use more hay this year - in the past I've used it just around plants,
but I'll try covering the surface of part of the garden and compare results with other garden spots.

I love it - the asparagus told her she didn't need to plow, "just go ahead and plant." :)

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:42 am 
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This year I have learned about cutworms. The hard way.

I don't recall ever seeing them in my garden before. When seedlings were lopped off it was usually snails doing the damage to my bean sprouts. This year I saw the gray-black muscular caterpillars when I worked the soil but I didn't know what they were. Until my tomato bedding plants started falling over like trees being logged in the night.

I am planting much earlier than usual. My neighbor has always insisted that tomatoes won't grow if you plant before Easter, and in previous years, it was still cool enough that they didn't thrive when placed in cool soil. Perhaps the worms were there and I never saw them because they stopped munching before I planted. I realize in hindsight that I spotted both the moth and the worm when I put out beer to get rid of snails in mid-March.

Image

I'll post this on my blog as well, where I can control the photo size and post more within the body of the essay.

I consulted a tomato thread at Dirt Doctor and they were identified. I've tried several things, with some success. Good thing I got the tomatoes for cheap, so I can afford to replant. I took a dilute mix of orange oil in water and sprayed around some plants, and the next day found a dead worm near one of my tomatoes. I dropped citrus peel and segments (from some dried out clementines) and that seems to have repelled the worms near a couple of plants. Meanwhile, I've found more damage. They have chewed major chunks out of some of my iris and have leveled a couple of small Swiss chard. I suspect some onions have also been tasted by these culprits.

Last weekend when I was doing some serious weeding and digging, I found several per square foot of garden soil, just under the surface. These in the photo were accumulated in about 15 minutes of weeding.

Tonight I will water then put out beneficial nematodes. I will use some BT very close around the plants (no broadcast, I don't want to harm butterflies). I found a couple of the stages of the insect, both moth and worm, in my bowls of beer (set out to catch snails) in early March, but they aren't so consistently drawn to beer that it is worth trying to lure them in, and I don't think these worms climb well. I am having success by sinking plastic containers into the soil around my tomatoes - they don't seem to be interested in burrowing under the plastic or climbing over.

I'll replant tomatoes this weekend. I've been digging around in my recycle bin to pull out various cylindrical plastic containers to cut up and use to protect the base of the plants until they're bigger and hardened. And I'll wait on a few of the other plants in this family - eggplant and peppers - until I have these cutworms under control.

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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 8:03 pm 
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I just returned from 8 days away and was glad to see the robust growth of the crops in my garden. Of course the weed
growth was also robust. I thought I had it pretty well cleared out when I left, but they're all crowding around now.

There will be photos soon, I've been busy taking them but haven't downloaded them from the camera yet. It might have been
a more leisurely arrival home if I didn't happen to have three huge limbs down in the yard (from a Tuesday night wind, apparently)
from the old relic hackberry tree in the next door neighbor's yard. The neighbors are having the limbs removed for me, very nice of
them (I had to remove one of my tree limbs from their yard a few years ago - not nearly so huge, so I did it myself. This is a lot of
work!) I wish I had a chipper to get some good mulch out of all of this, but it's not in the cards with this batch of limbs. There will
be more storms, more wood down in the yard, and more opportunities to generate my own
native hardwood mulch.

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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 1:44 pm 
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Today is my first of serious picking in my garden this year. Some potatoes under a defunct plant, not many, but I
planted them late. This is a white variety, none of my red lasota that I kept from last summer (in a bin of peat moss)
were able to muster the energy to grow. Probably too small, though it was an odd kind of transformation with them. I
planted older red Lasotas the size of a tennis ball and when I looked back later I had several small new potatoes
in the spot. :)

I did my final application of spinosad for a while. I was having a terrible time with biting flies - they have tormented the
dogs since earlier this spring. They had a boom after a couple of weeks of wet weather when I didn't mow or police the
dog droppings. As a result, a whole bunch of flies. I finally got smart and solved another problem as I worked on the dog
waste/fly problem. I used to use bins to put kitchen waste into and after a while pour the stinky slurry into the middle of
my backyard compost heaps. To keep the dogs out I collected a bucket of droppings, added water, and poured this
smelly "tea" over the compost. Now every couple of days I dump the kitchen waste into the bottom of the bucket that I
use for dog droppings, then go police the yard and deposit the mixture into the compost. The flies typically bite the dogs
then rest on the wall or ironwork on the porch, so I sprayed some of those surfaces lightly, but I mostly sprayed around
the yard on the turf. I stayed away from any blooming plant. I also found and sprayed any fresh droppings, figuring that
is how I'll get the most flies at one time. It's a distasteful topic, perhaps, but needs to be addressed and I suspect it is
too easy for many to simply nuke the yard with chemicals to spare the dogs' ears.

Meanwhile, here is some of this year's garden activity in my organic edible estate.

Image


Most of the onions will be picked by this weekend, clearing that bed for several plants waiting in pots on the patio. Here
I've set my box of stuff next to the Swiss chard that is planted in a shady area. It gets morning sun and is well-established
so I should be able to keep eating it all summer. I have varying ages of plants, due to staggered planting. These plants were
hit very hard by the cutworms this spring. I had to go through the mulch by hand and pick the worms out, and I used both
beneficial nematodes and BP to finally get rid of them. I think that battle early-on helped my squash last a bit better this year.
Usually the borers clobber the zucchini stems right away and I get a squash or two before the plant dies. The plants don't
look great but they are producing. Photos of those later.

Image

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:46 pm 
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I have had my best year for tomatoes so far on this property, though 2009 was pretty good. With the heat I expect tomato production to slack off, but okra and eggplant are just getting started. Photos in the next few days.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:22 am 
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Every summer seems to bring a new pest that does the most damage. I might recognize what the insect is, but don't always
realize that all of the damage can be attributed to this particular pest until I get in real close and have an "ah ha!" moment.
There was an earlier "ah ha!" moment with the cutworm - so the flea beetle is a bonus epiphany this year.

I've always known there are some of these tiny beetles out there and they usually poke holes in my eggplant leaves, but
this year they are so active it's like they're making lace and they've moved into the tomatoes. Here's an eggplant leaf that
is as bad as it gets before it is completely dead:

Image

The culprit in this damage is the flea beetle, and last winter's mild weather seems to have allowed more than usual to survive
the winter. They have several hatches a year, so now I'm doing a soil drench with neem and I'll be spraying it on the leaves as
well.

Image

The lace bug (I've already posted a fair amount about them in this blog) is very active this year also. In many plants the lacebug and the flea beetles
are working side by side to damage the plants.

Image

There are some helpers in the garden. This week I found a group of assassin bug nymphs running around on the okra:

Image

I have a trick for pulling pests off of plants, also illustrated earlier in the blog, that of using a band of masking tape to roll
gently across the back of the leaf to pick up the pests present. I picked up a lot of flea beetles, but they are so mobile with
their hopping skills that it doesn't clear the problem from a plant, new ones can easily occupy the space the tape just emptied.
I'll be spraying and drenching neem for the rest of the summer, to kill the beetles on the plants and hopefully impact the
life cycles in the soil.

Image

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:05 pm 
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My employer has kept me very busy lately, so busy that I was unable to get my garden in early. The good thing about
how I garden is that there is a lot of year round stuff, so I was not without food resources. Lots of herbs, Swiss chard
lasted all winter, the garlic is big and happy, and the flower and shrub end of things pretty well takes care of itself. My
across the street neighbor swears by never planting tomatoes until Easter, so I'm running right on schedule according
to him!

Last year's horrible cut worm invasion was nipped in the bud by beneficial nematodes, and they continued to do their work
over the last year. A friend dug and weeded my garden, and when I asked him if he'd seen any cut worms, he indicated
that one end of the garden might have had some. I put out beneficial nematodes again this year and concentrated more
heavily on that end.

Image

Since I was paying to have someone work in the garden I asked him to level it - don't leave the raised beds in place.
They were beveled piles of dirt, no hard edges, so it wasn't difficult. This month I've been reshaping and planting along
a different orientation. It's always a challenge to keep excellent drainage and on the same end where he thought he saw
some cut worms I had some drainage issues last summer. The only tomatoes to be hit by mealy bugs were in that area.
With new beds, different orientation, and put in a little taller on the lower end of the garden, I hope to have healthier soil
to keep plants looking good all summer.

Image


I've sprinkled a mix of rock powders to improve the soil and some dry molasses to boost the biological activity. This will get
worked in when I plant. I also have my homemade compost that will be going on and in the garden (it was getting late as I
took these photos and I hadn't shoveled up any of my compost yet. I've since mixed it with the rock powder combination).

Image

In the "waste not want not" category of organic gardening, last year I identified some cans of fish in my pantry that were
past their shelf date. Rather than throw them away I kept them till now, when I was going to be putting in bedding plants.
I emptied a couple of cans at a time into the food processor and made a paste that I added some water to for consistency.

Image

The resulting mix did make my kitchen smell rather fishy but was easy and inexpensive fertilizer, considering I was going
to discard the old fish.

Image

A couple of dollops in each hole, a little dirt over the top so I wasn't setting the plants directly on fish, and then cover it up
as usual. I've made a note of which plants in the garden got the fish so I can compare growth (or harm) later. Fingers
crossed that the fish doesn't attract scavengers.

Image

Barely getting going, no mulch in there yet. I'm going to try mulching with some leaves I've been bagging this spring. The
plants were all standing this morning, so the cutworm problem does seem to have been taken care of. Last year the
morning after I planted it was like a little lumberjack had gone around and felled each plant.

More reporting on the yard and garden this year hopefully - the last couple of years were occupied with the colossal waste
of time of dealing with an Internet troll stalker. Several of his victims banned together to take down the fake sites and he
seems to have moved on. Perhaps to jail. That's all I'm going to say about this here, he arose from an unrelated forum, and
I'd much rather be in the garden than looking for fake versions of myself on the Internet!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:13 pm 
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My work here has been relatively inactive because I have been so busy with my employment. A reorganization is about to
give me some more free time, and I will begin to document The Summer Of The Grasshopper. In particular, the damage
they have done with all of this rainy weather. I had Surround WP on the garden and was beginning to push them back,
but then the rain started on Sunday and has continued through Monday night (so far) and washed off the clay barrier. I
saw huge 'hoppers on the eggplant and the hibiscus when I got home this evening. If it will stop raining before the plants
are completely gone I'll reapply and hope for a fall crop.

Be careful what you wish for - you might get it. This much rain this time of year is not doing my garden any good. To the
contrary. I just now walked out to the garden and pointed my camera at the eggplant in the dark. This little guy is
cropped from one corner of a photo that contains a lot of skeletal eggplant leaves.

Image

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:46 am 
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I found some unusual hornworms in the garden this weekend. Call me a garden geek, but they had fatter heads, had mouths that looked more like a lamprey (a predatory sucking eel-like fish), they were fatter and a bit shorter, and different colors. some kind of brownish gray, others bright green.



Image

Don't you just love this guy? (Yes, I pulled them off of the pentas and tossed them into a different part of the garden, I didn't have the heart to crush them or hit them with Bt.)

Image

My gloved hand and the camera lens cap for scale.

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Last edited by northwesterner on Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:56 am 
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Great stories about your garden!


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