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Quick garden brag

The squash is mildewing later than usual this year, although it hasn't been drier than usual. I put this down to soil improvements; the composting and sheet mulching made the plants stronger and better able to resist disease.

Also, I haven't had to water them at all. The sheet mulch is great at trapping rainfall.

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Submitted by Lex on

Those will help, but more likely it's factors beyond your control like the dewpoint. Mold spores (and that's what powdery mildew is) are always around; they strike, like austerity mongers, when conditions are right.

My squash is struggling, but i've given up on caring about it.

Other than that, look out. When your soil gets readings of 5-5-5, and sunshine on the garden is abundant things get out of hand. My late start this year means that tomatoes are just getting into ripening now...but i'll start speeding that up by cutting off a great many of the leaves. If i get them all, i'll have days dedicated to preservation. I'm probably looking at 70+ pounds of tomatoes. I have no idea what i'll do with them all.

Corn has been a rousing success this year, and i might actually get a few cantaloupe. Too many cukes to eat, and this week will be heavy on making kimchi with the few remaining Napa cabbages (few being like ~15 pounds) and the pickling cuke plant that went all out of control. Pickled beets and Borscht are on the agenda if i didn't let the beets go too long in this crazy summer.

Pulled potatoes from like a tenth of potato bed yesterday for dinner and brought in more than two people should really eat in a sitting.

Lots of beans and broccoli in the freezer already, and the side florets on my harvested broccoli plants are looking like they'll want to be nearly full-sized heads. Of course the beans are going to keep going.

I'm giving up on cauliflower. Didn't get one usable head out of six plants. I either couldn't keep them blanched, or when i did the leaves would rot against the heads and bugs would lay eggs inside. Fuck it, i'll just buy it.

My smuggled Gonchu pepper seeds worked and all five plants i put in are booming. That's my great success, because i looked hard for those seeds and couldn't find them anywhere. So they had to be shipped from a friend in Korea.

When i get the cold frames up and figure out proper rotation, timing, etc. my garden is going to be drop-dead productive, especially for it's total size.

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Submitted by caseyOR on

given me lots of tomatoes, but none ripening. Should I start cutting off all the leaves on my plants? Will that encourage them to ripen?

I read an article that advised cutting the roots on tomato plants to push them to ripen.The article said to take a pruning saw, or even an 8 inch chefs knife, and push it into the ground about 6-8 inches out from the tomato stalk. Then just cut in a circle all the way around the plant. Have you ever heard doing this?

Submitted by Lex on

More sun will help the tomatoes ripen. My plants are heavily leafed and i don't train to a single stem so there's quite a bit of shading. I don't feel too bad, most of the local farmers are waiting for their tomatoes to ripen too.

Cutting the roots seems counter-intuitive to me as part of the ripening process involves bringing lots of nutrients up to the fruit. The theory may be stressing the plant heavily to force ripening, but it just feels like that's a fair bit of over stressing to me.

Maybe if you've got multiple plants you could try it on one and see what happens?

Submitted by lambert on

which sounds hokey, but there it is. To me, then, cutting round the roots would be incredibly painful to the plant, so I wouldn't do it. Cutting back shoots? Not so much, happens all the time. The root cutting idea seems very industrial.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm betting the sheet mulch helped, though. The sheet mulch covers the soil with the newspaper layer, and so the spores in the ground stay there. I had exactly the same result with the tomatos.

Maybe I should start cutting leaves off, too. I got good production. The reason I don't touch them, though, is that sap transmits TMV, so if I break one stem and then touch plants, I could spread the TMV all over.

Submitted by Lex on

I was just saying that a great many factors in mold/mildew pathogens are completely out of our control. I don't do the sheet mulching because it's too much work, but i know it works.

Do you have TMV present this year? I don't know much about dealing with it because it's not a problem in the area.

I'm shocked that none of my tomatoes have shown any leaf yellowing. No sign of pest or disease all season, even though the artichokes next to one of them were aphid covered for a while. My biggest problem with them is that most of them waaay overgrew 54" cages, which now have to be staked up themselves to hold the plant weight and stems have doubled over and fallen across the top ring.

Submitted by lambert on

The sheet mulch is a one time thing. I do it at the start of the season, and after that, no watering and no weeding. A great investment!

Submitted by Lex on

I found that my close planting meant weeding early in the season, but now i haven't pulled more than a random weed here and there in weeks and weeks. I'm sure i'll find a few when i clean out the beds, but that's not a big deal.

I'd have to water regularly anyhow, as my soil drains fast and all my beds get hit with a solid 12 hours of baking sun. Deep rooted plants seem to do fine, but some of the shallow rooters need almost daily water. I'm good with it though as it's part of my time puttering around in the garden and checking on things.

And mostly i really don't want straw in the beds. It breaks down way too slowly in that situation and is pretty much just carbon when it does. I'm strongly against no-till methods in home gardens. (Or, i should say that it's the last method i would use or recommend.) Yields drop as the soil compacts and plants can't root deeply, easily. When they can, you can plant closer, get more food from the same amount of square footage and get most of the benefits of a mulch because sunlight isn't hitting the soil.

Double dug, French intensive FTW.

Submitted by lambert on

... but up here we can get late blight (and various other forms of blight) and the spores for it are windborne. My prevailing wind comes from the north, and therefore (I reasoned) so the blight spores. I saw a little patch of blight making inroads and I promptly put up hay bales as a wind fence. Whether it worked, or was coincidence, the blight stopped spreading.

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Submitted by gizzardboy on

I did a sheet compost under the corn and I think it was a haven for earwigs. It turns out that they really go for the corn silks when they are trying to get pollinated. I found them resting up during the day in corn leave whorls and went out at night to find many many all over the corn. Yesterday I bought a bag of diatomacious earth and used an empty spice container as a shaker. I was back out last night with shaker and flashlight putting the powder directly on a bunch of earwigs. Turns out that they were the mystery bug turning my turnip tops into green lace, also. They got dusted, too. I think I fed up a good crop of the earwigs on turnip tops so there was an army of them ready to go when the corn got big. I'll be back out tonight to see how well it's working.

Most other things did or are doing well. A big surprise is that my snow pea plants are still putting out the pods this late. Shade part of the day may be the reason. Raspberries are doing well and still producing with shade all afternoon. I plan on starting more in other afternoon shade locations.

Swiss chard beats the hell out of spinach for greens. Use fresh in salads and cooked as spinach-like greens. Even the stems and midribs can be cooked like asparagus (sorry about all the cooking, CD). I'm also told that they will survive well into winter. I'm sold on them.

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Submitted by caseyOR on

slammed with hungry leaf miners every year. Pretty much all I find on the toobz about leaf miners is a lot of sighing about how destructive they are and how there isn't all that much one can do about them once they appear, especially if chemicals are to be avoided.

My strategy this year is to patrol the chard daily, snipping off any leaves that show signs of LM infestation. My hope is that by being vigilant i can slowdown, or maybe stop, these critters from eating my chard. They also go after the kale, by the way.

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Submitted by gizzardboy on

A lot of well meaning but busy gardeners end up with weed patches, or they have to leave big wide rows wasting space so they can mechanically cultivate. Straw alone is probably not all that good in sheet composting, but other kinds of organic litter will promote and protect earthworms and they will keep the soil loose. Straw on top adds to the insulation. And any weeds that manage to make it up through the cover are very easy to pull.

In cooler climates, I think that pulling back the litter in the spring for warming and cultivation is a good idea. Then I would re-cover with the old litter and add new on top. So it's not really No Till, but sorta.

By the way, the diatomaceous earth got most of the earwigs.