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Speaking of Downsizing…

strawberries0808I know it’s totally the wrong time of year to move strawberries, but nevertheless, here I am. I am moving some of my garden beds around and have dug up a bunch of June-bearing plants (variety is ‘Honeyloe’). They need to get in the ground ASAP. Please shoot me an email if you can take them off my hands quickly.

UPDATE: My dug-up plants found a home with a friend and some of her friends, but if you’re desperate for strawberries, let me know. I have 2 more people lined up to take some, but I have a feeling I’ll still have some extras.

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Looking Ahead

mintI know that there is still probably enough time to get a quick lettuce or spinach crop in, but it feels like the end of the season to me. Most likely, it’s because I am trying to fit in the monumental task of shuffling my garden beds to accomodate a new, smaller version of my garden for next year. I want to get the move done now, so in the spring, I can stroll blithely out to my garden and just plant away.

In light of that, I have been compiling a mental list of things I learned this year, and before they evaporate from my brain, I thought I’d get them down here:

Next year, I will:

  • put only one tomato in a tomato cage (ok…maybe two, but definitely NOT three)
  • plant only cherry tomatoes
  • grow ‘blue lake’ green beans again
  • remember to use legume innoculant on peas and green beans
  • thin early and brutally
  • put out wasp traps in May, and replenish them all summer
  • remember that squash, zuchini and pumpkin plants get huge
  • cut back the pumpkin plants when they even hint at exceeding their bounds (that is, if I grow them again)
  • try birdhouse gourds again

Next year, I won’t:

  • start anything from seed
  • plant corn
  • plant more than 3 zuchini or squash seeds
  • let the volunteer sunflowers grow in the middle of my (soon-to-be) strawberry bed
  • forget to harvest my herbs

Side note: just how late can you start lettuce, carrots and spinach seeds?

Of Pests and Parasites

I may just have to stop reading my gardening literature. Twice in the last few weeks, I have read about a garden problem and then stumbled across it in my own plot just days later.

It started with the fall issue of Zone 4 magazine, where I read an article about raspberries. The berry expert profiled in the article mentioned that yellowjackets can be quite troublesome in raspberry patches, burrowing into the fruit and sucking it dry. “Note to self,” I thought, since my raspberries are coming along nicely and should produce well next year. I filed the tidbit away for future use. Not two days later, I wandered out to my strawberry patch, to find it literally buzzing with yellowjackets, sucking the life out of my STRAWBERRIES!! Ugh. I bought a trap, which has since accumulated quite a collection of corpses. But not before they laid waste to just about every beautiful berry on the plants. Damn, damn, damn!

dodder1A few days later, I was perusing my “Weeds of the West” reference book, trying to figure out if what was growing in one of my perennial beds was yarrow (it was common tansy). While flipping through the book, I came across a yucky-looking weed called Dodder. It looks like thin yakisoba noodles, draped all over the host plant. “Ick,” I thought, and quickly turned the page. This weekend, while weeding my garden with the help of my sister and her husband, we discovered the nasty stuff draped all over my corn! I was so mad….like irrationally mad. This weed is a parasitic annual, which explains why my corn had been looking a little iffy. We pulled it out and stuffed it in a garbage can, but I haven’t had the chance to go back out to inspect the damage. Here’s the thing though…further research this evening shows that corn is supposed to be resistant to dodder. Something’s not adding up. Anyone have any ideas? My next step is to go pull out all my corn, just as it’s setting ears….

A Little Payoff and Some Meandering

squashDepsite one of the most persistent stomach bugs I’ve had the misfortune to encounter, I did manage to wander out to the garden for a few minutes this weekend to hunt for the zuchinis that I knew would be out there. Sure ’nuff, I nabbed 4 good-sized beauties plus a couple of summer squash. Last year, I started both of these veggies indoors, and didn’t have much luck with the summer squash. This year, I threw ’em right in the ground and they are doing quite well.

Other updates: I have some green tomatoes but not a ton. I was so excited to get eggplant in the ground AND to see 4 or 5 blossoms, but I don’t think they’re going to do anything. The plants are looking a little yellow and wilty. I’ve been having a really hard time thinning my carrots…I just hate pulling out plants and tossing them. I get tough with them every few days though, and they’re starting to actually look like carrots when I thin them now.

I was so excited to have a bunch of volunteer sunflowers from last year, but it turns out they have invited along a big, fat infestation of aphids. I’ve tried not to be too freaked out about it…the ladybugs are plentiful. Unfortunately, so are the ants. I’ve picked off a few of the worst infested leaves, but have left the ladybugs to their work. They’ve always been my favorite bug…actually the only one I like. Except for worms. And bees.

Watering Follow-up

I was asked to provide more details of my soaker-system setup, and better pics. The pics will be added to this post this weekend, but in case anyone was really waiting for this info, here it is:

I got my inspiration at the Mr. Drip website. Laugh if you will, but there are some good graphics of different systems. I based mine on the Split-T system (scroll down on the page link above and you’ll see the pic labeled ‘For Rows and Gardens.’ Then I just went to Home Depot and cobbled together whatever I could find.

gardenMap Here’s an illustration of my gardens and soaker system. This is not to scale, and under no circumstances did I do this at work. You’ll see for the big bed, I assembled one long pipeline of shorter threaded pieces interspersed with threaded Ts, which I fitted with a connector that I then shoved the hose onto. It wasn’t easy, and my wrists were sore for days. For the most part, all of them are working fine. I had one piece of hose that split every day…not sure if the connector was too big or what. I finally gave up on continually trimming past the split, and just wrapped the end of the soaker in duct tape and shoved it right into the connector. I’m nothing if not…well…lazy.

For the smaller beds, I just wound soakers around them, and connected them to either a hose, or a T-connection fashioned from the same pipe-and-connector assembly.

timerI bought a basic timer for about $40 at Lowes, and ran a 4-valve manifold off of that. I have 3 garden hoses connected, and an extra valve to fill up buckets or rinse stuff off. My spigot post looks a bit like some kind of octopus, but we are going to relocate it to the back of the garden this fall, so it should be a bit tidier.

I will take more detailed photos of the individual pieces this weekend, and track down the brands of the stuff I used.

If y’all have suggestions for brands/equipment you’ve used, I would love to hear them!

The Livin’ is Easy

hoses--bigbedI had a vision of gardening this year, and it didn’t involve dragging the hose around, or cursing at the oscillating sprinkler that would stick on one side or the other if the water pressure changed. I spent most of January researching drip setups, but only got my setup completed a couple of weeks ago before we headed out of town. I have to say that I was shocked it worked. It’s composed of soaker hoses, threaded pipe that I think is supposed to be used for ‘real’ sprinkler systems, and some threaded PVC connectors. I also got a timer. I have a bunch of soakers coming off a main line in the big bed, a looped 50′ soaker in my raspberry/squash patch, and a split 75-footer covering two 7×7 beds. It goes off every day at 8 am, after our lawn sprinklers have run, and we’re all done with our morning showers. I have to say I’m feeling bit smug about my garden this year, and that surely means something horrible is about to happen. Just don’t tell the deer what they’re missing.

Anyone else got any soaker hose or timer success stories to share?hoses--rasp

hoses--split

 

Note: I got hoses from both Home Depot and Lowe’s, and the ones from Lowes are better. Anyone know where you can buy bulk soaker hose, other than online?

Wanna trade?

As I stumbled around messing with hoses this morning, I was happy to note tiny pods on my peas! Hooray! The carrots are looking fine, as are the summer squash, beans, zuchini and pumpkins. I threw in some birdhouse gourd seeds, after the transplants withered away…and those seed took FOREVER to germinate. Two weeks maybe? But now a new one is popping up every day. I’m going to have to thin out the summer squash and zukes before I head out on vacation next week…anyone willing to claim them? I’ve read that they don’t really like to have their roots disturbed, but if we’re real careful, we might get them moved before they notice. If you have watermelon or canteloupe seedlings you need to thin, I’d be happy to trade. They probably won’t like it either, but it’s worth a shot!

Anyone else’s spinach about to bolt? I can see the seed heads forming. I’m thinking about yanking it and moving my artichokes over there, so I stop stepping on them.

We are eating strawberries with almost every meal. I am going to pick some more tomorrow morning, in hopes that I can get some freezer jam made before we head out on Tuesday.

Cross your fingers that my sister (who will be house-sitting) remembers to water! Or that I get my timer installed before we leave!