Wednesday, May 7, 2008

State of the Garden - April 29, 2008

Wow, folks, things are a growing! Yes, we have had casualties on the way and they were mourned, but the good far outweighs the bad.

Let's start with the good stuff.

The Dogwood is in full bloom and it is glorious. For only being a few years old, it is really doing exceptionally well. When I was young we had a big old Dogwood in our front yard and I liked to sit and look out the big picture window at it blowing in the breeze. This brings that memory up and is a pick-me-up after a long day at work.

My blueberries are a combination of good and bad. I dug them up from the place I had them because they just weren't getting the kind of light they needed and because it was low enough to the ground to be rabbit bait.

A good part of the early fruit and blossoms are history, but luckily for me I moved them into giant containers into the light and in full view from my window. It is too high for Mr. Rabbit, old fart that he is, and in a bad spot for the birds to do their swooping thievery. So while I don't have many, I do have some fruit that has set and I may yet get that hard won handful of fruit!

My only other fruity fruit is a grape vine that I really had no expectation for this year. Transplanting is hard on these guys and even though I bought an older vine and so, technically old enough to fruit, it shouldn't have really. But lo and behold, I have a single bunch of what looks like very tiny grapes. Yehaw! I'm going to protect them like an armoured truck if they are, in fact, grapes.

Those blossoms I noted last week on one of my tomatoes plants are still blooming strong! Since it is so early, I sort of expected to lose those first ones but the stem is thickening up and you know what that means!

My peas are going crazy and climbing all over the place. They cling to each other, the poles, other! Yikes. I'm not sure if I was supposed to sucker these or what but they have way more than one little climbing arm.

Oh yes, there are bumps under those beets! They are growing well in the first square planted on 23 March and there are visible humps under the foliage now where the beet is growing. I'm thrilled!

The first square of carrots are doing well. A few of them never came up at all and I think that is a significant issue with square foot gardening. I'll get into that some other time though. If you notice, one of these is not like the other. We don't know what that odd fellow is, but it is exactly where we planted the carrot seed. So either this is one clever weed or there was a funky seed in the carrot packet. Either way, we're letting it grow until we figure out what it is just for fun. It may well be the only intentionally watered and fertilized and weeded weed in existence! LOL

Even the last bed planted, the little one in the side yard, is moving along at a good clip. All things here were planted after the main beds and based on staggering harvests for things like bush beans that go all at once. Notice there are some missing though. Only 3 of the 9 Edamame in the lower right square (Burpee Green Pearl) actually sprouted or passed sprout stage. They were very weak and very poor sprouters. I replanted a couple more but they aren't showing at all yet so maybe those failed too. Also in the middle right column only 5 of the 9 Carnival Pepper Mix, again Burpee, came up. Also a couple of carrots didn't sprout of the 16 in that square. Two of the peas in the middle left column got pecked out by birds right before my eyes but the other 6 are going like gangbusters.

I think it is somewhat ironic that the far more expensive mail-order Burpee seeds did significantly poorer than the ones I bought at Lowe's, regardless of brand. Isn't that supposed to be the opposite?

Now for some of the bad. First off, we had a good rain again and this is the mud in one part of my yard. It is high traffic but it is a natural depression from a tree removal. Nice, huh. Note the ratty state of my Wellies? Those are my absolute favorite ones and until i can find the exact same ones, I'm keeping em!

A few weeks ago I noticed that one of my Stevia plants was wilting and wasn't going to make it. Well I went to chop it down and perhaps save the leaves shortly after I first wrote on it and made a yucky discovery. It has some kind of grayish powder on the base of it. Gross. Totally freaked me out. I think it was either Powdery Mildew or Gray Mold. Either way, I dug it out carefully and all the dirt around it and checked all the others carefully. About a week later I had to prune out a part of another Stevia but so far so good. No others affected. I have fungicide at the ready but am loathe to use it, so I'll save that for a last ditch save if necessary.

And that isn't the end of my pest woes. I was really banking on that whole beginner's luck thing but it was a sucker bet because that just doesn't work. :) Nah, really it isn't too bad. It is just a bit intimidating when you aren't familiar with them.

Here is a cauliflower and my unknown plant (which I still think is a brussel sprout) and you may notice that they have obvious Leaf Miner trails in them. Well, that sent me into a state of panic! I ran like my hair was on fire in for all my books. The first one gave me a great picture to identify the leaf miner, but that wasn't enough. I went through all of them to be absolutely sure that it was. Am I sure? Nope. Novices...aren't we fun?

Anyway, I did what the book said and just clipped off the parts that had the trails. Et voila. No more leaf miner. For now anyway. We'll see.

That same day I saw what I think were aphids and white flies on one of my tomatoes in the side yard. I immediately went to Lowe's and spent a fortune on every organic remedy I could find. I like the pyrethrin stuff. I sprayed and problem gone. Since I go over each plant every day I knew for sure they had to have arrived after I left for work that morning. They hadn't even unpacked, let alone gotten comfortable before I blasted them.

I found 2 rain barrels and ordered the downspout diverter so I'll be ready for summer conservation of water, I think. Combine that with good growth on most and a potentially successful interdiction against my first pest and I'm feeling pretty good! All said, I think thing are going awesome.

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