Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens Gardening Symposium

The 14th Annual Gardening Symposium, Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens, is this coming Saturday!
I attended last year and it was great!  I am looking forward to it so much! Why? 
An entire day to myself, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.  
An entire day about gardening.
What could be better?

There are four sessions, two in the morning, two after lunch.  The lunch last year was delicious.  Full of fresh produce too! There were turkey or veggie wraps, salads, carrot cake, locally grown apples...just lots of yummy stuff! 

The registration form asks for our top two class choices in each session.  I had a hard time narrowing my choices down to only two per session, they are offering so many helpful classes.

I settled on:

Session I
1) Enjoy Garden Produce All Year Long (food preservation)
2) Square Foot Gardening (I know how to do it, but I don't seem to do it well)

Session II
1) From Radicchio to Romaine and Beyond: Growing Fall and Winter Harvested Vegetables
2) The Wonders of Pollination

Session III (nothing in this session really fired me up!)

1) Pretty as a Picture (photography of flowers)
2) To Till or Not to Till

Session IV
1) Maintaining the Home Orchard: From Planting to Pests (I need this one!)
2) Month-by-Month Calendar of Insects (I need this one too, but can't take both...)

My teeny turban gourd's parent was from last year's event.  It was a table decoration.  I may have only harvested one gourd, but it is so cute it was worth it!  I still have some of the seeds for next spring's planting.

My Tiny Turban Gourd!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cabbage Aphids

OK, I am not sure I want to bother with cole crops.  I threw out two broccoli plants today.  They were covered with loppers, some as large as a regular butterfly caterpillar.  Several cauliflower and Brussels sprout plants have large populations of aphids.  The leaves are thick and waxy, and from researching the aphids, I see they are too! So, any sprays roll right off.  I didn't want to use poisons today, as the praying mantis was still there, green today. Some days he's (or she's) brown.

I want more carefree vegetables!  I threw in the towel on squash.  Now this...  I don't even like Brussels sprouts!  

Cabbage Aphid Damage on Brussels Sprout Leaf
Cabbage Aphids

Friday, October 26, 2012

Garden Miscellaneous and a Decision to Make

It has been raining for most of the past week.  Great for the rye seeds in the far back, they are up lush and green.  Some of them may be weeds of course!  But, so long as they keep the mud away, that's fine.

The cole crops (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli) are growing well.  No more cabbage loppers.  There were are few white flies and what looked to be aphids, but there was also a nice fat brown praying mantis, so that should take care of it!

Cole Crop Bed - October 23 - holes in leaves from cabbage loppers a few weeks ago

Chard, lettuce, and bok choy (which isn't recognizable as bok choy) are all doing fine.

Chard, Bok Choy, Lettuces - October 23

Pretty sure there will be no more tomatoes.  Ace is hanging in there, but it has been too cold and wet for the fruits to ripen.  I will try the old trick of pulling the plant out and hanging it upside down.  I have seen that work to ripen a last few tomatoes before.

Ace - October 19
I cut off the sunflower heads and they're on  a covered table drying.  I left the stems for peas to climb in the spring.


The strawberries are mulched with a bit of straw. This last bale of straw had viable seeds in it.  So, I have grass growing in some of the areas I laid down straw.  The iris I stuck in the strawberry bed, and the old tomato pot, have all got new growth.  I need to prepare a permanent bed for them soon!

New Iris Growth

A decision needs to be made.

Do we put in a pear tree or a red raspberry patch?

The pear would be in a cinder block raised box like our apple tree.  It should grow well, as this is a well-known historic pear growing community.  Harry and David is based here, and this is where they grow their pears. In the spring the hills are beautiful, covered with white blossoming trees.  They grow a special type of Comice pear, so perhaps I should plant a Comice myself.  My nursery carries them, as well as red Bartlett.  I need to talk to the owner about planting one, or if I need two for pollination. I read that I need two, but my mother had a pear tree, one pear tree, that produced more than we could eat year after year.  None of the neighbors had pear trees, so it must have been self-pollinating.  I really do not have the desire to plant two of them.

Raspberries on the other hand... they would need a raised bed as well.  Not deep, but fairly long, as I would want to plant at least 10-12 plants. I have one Meeker in a large pot, but will go with bare root when I plant an entire bed. I want the kind that you just cut down to the ground after harvest, no bother telling new growth from old.  Just cut them all down!  So, these would be fall-bearers, while Meeker is summer.  I could manage a bed with a single cinder block depth, or even a cedar or redwood 4x10, 6" deep.  Could I make it? Probably, if I cut the length in half to get it home.  

Meeker Raspberry
My children are voting on which they want first (I hope to eventually have both).  If they agree, there is no need for me to throw in my two cents.  What do you think?  Pear or raspberry patch? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Preparing for Winter

Winter sneaks up on me.  So does rainy weather.  That's why the shed is still not sealed against the rain!  My son and I started to do it a few days ago, found we bought the wrong product (we wanted something paint-able, not the consistency of black marshmallow whip).  Then the next day it rained.  One outside wall of the shed is down to nearly all bare particle board.  Who puts particle board on an exterior wall?  Even painted, it just isn't for that.  This is as far as we got...

Shed "Repairs" are ongoing - October 11
I did finish putting in new "bender board" and bark to separate two areas in the far back. 

Not actual bender board, but I like how it turned out. I don't have a saw, so I used cedar fence boards and stakes.  I hope this will help keep the bark in place when it floods back there later in the season. 
I need to get a few more sacks of bark.  I used to criticize my mother (oh, not to her face!) for using bark, but now I see it does have its place and uses. 

My son and I seeded a cover crop of rye (perennial this year, last year we used annual) in the far back.  After watering it is very green back there, but I am not sure how much of that is rye and how much is weeds.  It doesn't really matter to me, anything green keeps the mud down and the dog's feet cleaner!

My Cover Crop - for some reason it is from Denmark!

Far Back Greening Up - October 13
What isn't working, that I can tell, is the lawn patch I bought.  Scotts PatchMaster.  

Seed, fertilizer, and mulch all in one, I tried it on a small bare patch of lawn.  Nothing has germinated as yet after a few weeks. Just a wet mash of what looks to be paper pulp.  When dry it resembled our rat's bedding. 

Lawn Seeding Experiment - October 8 (tomato cage to keep dogs off!)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The First Autumn Rains and Last of the Summer Produce

It rained yesterday!  I can't remember the last time it rained.  Not during the summer, that's for sure.  There are usually a few summer rain days, but not this year.  Plants just seem to like rain water better than water out of the hose, even though our water is good quality, without chemicals.

You can't really tell how pretty the rain drops were on the asparagus (I'm still waiting for it to die back) by the photos.  The asparagus is so pretty and lacy itself.

Rain on the Asparagus - October 13
Last of the Summer Produce

I have one Lemon Cucumber left.  I grew four plants this year, not  nearly enough!  This last one is the plant from the Garden Fair at the County Fairgrounds.  I pulled out the FFA plants last week. 

Last Lemon Cucumber - October 13
I cut back the remaining three tomato plants so they will produce no new flowers.  Mr. Stripey has two fruits left.  I may pull the plant before they are ripe.  It wasn't a very productive variety.

Mr. Stripey - October 13 - not much left of him
Mr. Stripey does produce pretty striped fruits.  The taste is nothing to "write home about," as my mother used to say!  He's a "no go" for next spring.

Mr. Stripey and two Ace Tomatoes - October 8
 Yellow Brandywine is producing lots of big, juicy yellow fruits.  I have taken to sucking the juice out of them as I work in the garden.  Very refreshing!  A few have split in the rain.  The plant wants to continue to grow, but with nights in the 40s it won't last much longer.  I will definitely plant Yellow Brandywine again!  I will not save seeds though.  Growing from seed is too time consuming, and not worth the cost involved. I can get a plant for $3.00, and save myself months of effort.

Yellow Brandywine - October 13 - still going strong
Ace is a winner too.  Such a small, stocky plant, but full-size, nice round tomatoes.  It produced well, even planted in a fairly small pot. 

Ace - October 13
I picked the last of the peppers (Wonder Bell and red Quadrato D'Asti Rosso) and pulled out the plants.  I picked the sweet red peppers green, and they were delicious.  Next year I will stick to just the Bells though.

I will let the tomatoes go on as long as they are able.  I have no plans for their growing areas right now.
More lettuce perhaps.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cabbage White Butterflies

Cabbage whites.  Those pretty little butterflies you see flitting about the garden.  Harmless, I used to think.  That was before I planted "cabbage" in the form of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli! 

I went out the other morning to this:

Cabbage Lopper Damage - the larvae of the Cabbage White Butterfly - October 8
The culprit hides on the undersides of the leaves:

Cabbage Lopper - so small for so many holes!

Since I am not an "organic" gardener (meaning I try not to use chemicals, but when insects threaten, out comes the Sevin!), I sprayed the leaf tops and bottoms.  The "organic" solution is Bacillus thuringiensis, but I am not sure I like that idea any better than the poisons I currently use.  Something about introducing a bacterium into my soil that just doesn't seem right!  Sort of like introducing rabbits to Australia.  If they weren't there to begin with, there is a reason for it. 

If we ignore the holes, the plants are doing well!  I am not sure which this  is, my labels got mixed up.  This may be a broccoli.  Or not.  The photo was taken a few days before the major caterpillar damage.

Broccoli/Cauliflower/Brussels Sprout - October 4
Hero bugs appeared a few days too early.  They are so creepy, yet so beneficial!  This one looks like it is pointing at something. 

Praying Mantis on Cole Crop - October 4

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Strawberries and Iris

You know how I love Craigslist.  Friday it was a source for free bearded iris rhizomes!  They are deep mauve and yellow.  Or, they will be, hopefully next spring. The problem is, I had nowhere to put them!  I couldn't pass up the offer though, so for now they are stuck in the old Sungold tomato pot, and the overflow are in the end of the new strawberry bed.

Not "new" bed as in newly built.  "New" as in new to the strawberries.  The old pumpkin/cantaloupe bed has been refurbished into the strawberries' home.  I dug in potting soil, steer manure, and a bit of bagged garden soil.  The fertility tested fine, and the pH is alright, a bit on the high side, closer to 7 than 6, but it will do.

I didn't realize just how many strawberries I had!  Not only did they produce "daughter" plants via runners, but they divided in the original containers!  Some plants divided into three large plants.  So, I originally thought I would have trouble filling the 4 x 8 bed with one plant per square foot, or 36.  I lost track of the squares, but believe I transplanted 44.  After I move the iris, there is room for a few more.  I added four to the end of the cinder block bed, and still have about twenty left, not including the small ones I divided off the main clumps.  I did break down and give away my potted "daughters" on Craigslist yesterday.  That was twenty plants.

"Daughter" plants I gave away on Craigslist - Oct. 1

New Strawberry Patch - September 30 (with a few overflow iris waiting for a permanent planting area)
My original strawberry plants were Craigslist finds.  I bought twenty (I think I got 25 with the "daughters" still attached) and they at least tripled in number!  I hope they do better now that they have a real bed to grow in.

This is what they looked like back in October 2011!