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Old 08-23-2019, 10:50 AM
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Back in the saddle after a little jaunt away. 5th Gear and I did an overnight up in Cherokee, NC. It was nice to get away. It's funny how when you get home from just an overnight it feels like you've been away longer than that. A nice break.

The excitement happened on the way home. We were cruising along a dual highway at 60 mph when a *turkey* flew at low level across the highway and hit my car in the upper right corner of the windshield on the passenger side! I only saw it at the last minute as it was coming over the median and I thought it would clear the car. Bam! A big old hen turkey. We made a planned stop for gas a few miles down the road and I wanted to see what kind of damage was done. None! No crack in the windshield, just a slight smear where the bird hit. No dent in the car roof or frame along the side of the window. Amazing. Good old Subaru! Too bad we couldn't stop and bring the bird home for dinner. LOL!

Meanwhile, back in the garden...

I started the onion seed last night, originally intending to do just Australian Brown. There will be 18' of onions this fall, just one side of a bed planted, not two sides. Then I got to thinking about trying some of the onion seed saved in '17 and stored in the freezer just to see if it will germinate so I started some of that Red Creole. If it germinates there will be 6' of the red and 12' of the Aussies planted. If not, there will be plenty of Aussie seedlings to finish the row. Knowing how I hate to toss stuff, if there are extra seedlings I'll probably find room for them somewhere! Plant out will be around mid October.

Last night I shelled out dried Lady pea pods for maybe planting next year. A friend gave me the seed for this year. "You gotta try these. They're so good!" And they're so small! Little 5-6" pods about 3/8" wide and seed maybe a bit bigger then BB's.



I planted them because I couldn't fib and tell her I did when I didn't. There's a lot of shelling involved to get enough to make a couple of servings but they really are good. Hmmm, a dilemma. They're a summer crop so not taking up needed space. So I'll save the seed and decide later. And I'm shelling enough seed so I can send her some back if she wants some.

Lots of stuff on the garden "to do" list, basically spring/summer clean up and fall bed prep. I'd better get to work!
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Old 08-23-2019, 11:45 AM
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[quote=Weedinhoe;19730300][quote=Wryter;19728896]

Ah, but the Red Rippers aren't green peas (some call those English peas). Those were done here mid-May. The Rippers are field peas, also known as southern peas or cow peas. Definitely a hot weather grower (they're laughing at upper 90's) and I bet they'd do well where you are. I sow them every year in the rows I pulled the corn out of so that's like early-mid July. Great eaten fresh or canned or they can be stored as dried peas.

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This year I set out two more cuke and squash plants on July 24 and last night I noted that there are two baby squash coming and some 1" long cukes on the vines. There's still a gap between the end of spring cukes and squash and the first new ones so next year I'll start them two weeks earlier. Most of the rest of the fall stuff will go in mid-late September, soil temps permitting. There are a lot of babies under the lights right now.
About the peas--thanks for the explanation. Oh, my zucchini made a liar out of me. This past week when I was too busy to pay attention they got infested with white flies. That, along with too little water (I was out of town and my Uncle didn't turn on the irrigation system) did them in. I'll add some compost to the bed and replant. Since it doesn't start getting cold here until November (at the earliest) I should get a good fall crop.
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Old 08-25-2019, 03:35 PM
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Boy, it's been a loooong time since I was able to write about a soggy morning. Last night it cooled off with a nice northeast breeze so windows were opened. I fell asleep to the sounds of a soft rain coming down and it was still raining like that in the wee hours. Just 4/10" in the gauge this morning but it was a nice soaker that continued until mid morning. Woo hoo! But the sun has just broken through so I imagine the temps and humidity will climb a bit.

Yesterday I picked the first yellow squash and first cuke from the fall planting. Both were seeded 7/12 so that’s 54 days from seeding for both. They‘re planted on the side of the garden that’s got morning shade and I think they like that.



The fall tomatoes were started on June 4, transplanted to buckets on June 28 and I picked the first cherry tomato two days ago. In the garden are one each of Creole, Golden Girl, Large Red Cherry and Early Girl (left to righ).



The Knucklehull and Lady peas are about finished. All they’re producing now are new generations of leaffooted and stink bugs and they’ll get pulled out tomorrow. They and their bugs need to go away before the Rippers start making. These are the Knucklehulls. All those little sticks poking up are where pods were picked. Lots of new flowers are ready to open but I’m done with them.



The six okra plants had taken a break but they’re now setting a new round of flowers. I really like the Choppee and it seems to be outproducing the Jing Orange. Next spring I’ll probably do the three Choppee again and three of something new. I’m always looking to add members to the A Team of veggies!



The first planting window for the fall bush green beans is a week from tomorrow so I’m really hoping we’ll have weather like we’re having today. No 90’s allowed! Yeah, right!
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Old 08-25-2019, 10:55 PM
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Looks great! Since you use raised beds and containers, can you easily use row cover to extend your harvest? Or, is it too much hassle?
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Old 08-26-2019, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by LindaLou View Post
Looks great! Since you use raised beds and containers, can you easily use row cover to extend your harvest? Or, is it too much hassle?
I do protect the beds since I have something out there year round. Here's a shot of one of the beds in spring. The protection is so simple and quick to set up.



I use 3/4" PVC pipe for anchors because the black irrigation pipe used for the hoops fits perfectly inside the 3/4" pipe. The anchor pipes are cut 17" long to give me 7 anchors per 10' length of pipe. I have netting over this bed held in place with clips made to do that; deer like to nibble. Four hoops for netting because it's so light. I use four or five hoops for row cover or plastic; it's rare but it happens that both cover and plastic are used together on one bed. Five hoops to prevent sagging!



And you can make them any size:



I've not had anything in containers but will be playing with some this fall for stuff like lettuce, baby bok choy, etc. Protection will probably involve plastic wrapped tomato cages. This is one I made for protecting a very early tomato I had going one spring. Plastic and duct tape!

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Old 08-26-2019, 03:56 PM
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It’s one of those jobs where you pass by it on your way to doing something else and you say, “I really need to take care of that”. Then you go about your planned business and the thought just flits away until the next time you pass by that job… rinse and repeat about ten times.

The muscadine grape fence is L-shaped and about 60’ long total. It runs along the top of the garden.



All kinds of stuff has been growing up from the base of the fence and through the grape vines. Crape myrtle and chinaberry seedlings, baby oaks, honeysuckle, Carolina jasmine, wild euonymus and now the dreaded smilax vine. What a mess! And all my fault.



Well, yesterday was mostly cloudy and an amazing 81 following some overnight rain. How did we get so lucky? It was the perfect day to tackle the grape vines. It took about two hours because care had to be taken not to knock of the grapes that are almost ready but with 5th Gear's help it’s mostly done.




I still have to pull some grape vines out of the crape myrtles that are on each end of the fence but I’ll wait until the grapes on those are picked. And this winter when the grape leaves are gone and the vines are pruned so I can see what I’m doing, I will cut to the ground the 6” sapling stubs I left and paint the fresh stubs with pure RoundUp. And promise myself once more that I won’t let it go so long again. Uh huh….
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Old 08-27-2019, 09:04 AM
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Oh I hear you! I was out mowing my lawn on Friday when I looked at my lilac tree and saw a horrible grape vine infestation. That stuff is sneaky! So I spent some time pulling it down. Weeding is forever.

With respect to covering plants in containers, you're on the right track. I've done similarly many times, using old bed sheets rather than plastic. Just wrap it around the container, covered on top, and secure. Just as you've done. Protection is good.
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Old 08-30-2019, 05:15 PM
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It's been a long week. The Lady peas have been ripped out. I got two more beds broadforked and weeded so now I have the two beds for bush beans and one bed for peas ready to go. Planting is scheduled for Monday but that might depend on which way Hurricane Dorian is going to go. Regardless, we'll probably get rain out of it. The question is how much.

The garden has looked the most frowsy it has looked in ages with weeds all up in the unused beds and the pathway grass growing long. Yesterday the garden got mowed and that helped a lot.

After the peas and beans go in the plan is for putting in the brassicas mid month. That will require forking and prepping six more beds between now and then.

The brassica plants and onions are coming along nicely under the lights. They were seeded 20 days ago.



The exceptions are two of the four kinds of cabbage I started. The one on the left is Red Acre. Someone gave me an unopened pack of seed from last year and I sowed three seeds per cell but only one came up. I sowed three more in the empty three cells and of those only one came up. The Stonehead on the right is just being slower than the other two cabbage varieties. Only three of those were started and all came up.



I think this is spiny cucumber, grown from seeds given to me. I've never met one before and they took a long time to come up so when they did, there was other strange stuff coming up too. That's been happening this year, probably coming from the bulk compost I bought. I waited until it was evident that the two plants were vines and then pulled the rest of the stuff. We'll see!



Chicken leg quarters were on sale so I got ten pounds today. They've finished simmering on the stove so I need to pull the meat out, reduce/can up the stock this evening and freeze the meat in portions for future casseroles. Tomorrow I'll render the skins and fat for schmaltz and cracklins. Lots of good stuff for $5.37!
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Old 09-03-2019, 01:08 PM
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Default The Popcorn Experiment

Every year I have a few "toys" I play with in the garden. This year it was aspabroc (generic broccolini) grown for a friend, Small Sugar Pumpkin, Thai Red Roselle and Japanese White Hulless Popcorn. The first three grew pretty good but the popcorn lagged.

I grew it in a 4 x 18' bed, something I've done successfully with corn before. The problem came when it didn't all germinate at once. There were a lot of skips and by the time I reseeded them and they finally came up, I had a feeling there was gong to be a pollination problem at the other end of the line.



But the stalks eventually grew up and I was amazed at seeing up to five ears per stalk with pretty red silks!



Eventually about two thirds of the tassels were starting to release pollen and the others weren't ready yet. Houston, we have a problem. Later when the stalks and ears had dried down I pulled a few sample ears. With the shucks still on it felt like there was hardly anything in there but they are just small, about 5" or so long and maybe 1" wide. And it was evident there was a pollination problem.



I had about given up on it and put it all aside until last week when I went through the bed to pull whatever ears there were. The bugs had gotten to a lot and a few had remains of smut but I got about fifteen ears that were mostly filled out. Two days ago I shelled off the good kernels, got about 2 cups of kernels and last night we gave it a test pop.

Well, whaddaya know... GOOD STUFF!



It was really tender with good flavor and, as advertised, no hulls to dig out of your teeth! I'm definitely going to do this again next spring and this time I will overseed so there are no skips to interfere with good pollination. And I will probably pick the ears off earlier and dry them down in the shed away from the bugs. It turned out to be a good experiment after all!
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Old 09-04-2019, 04:33 PM
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Too bad about the skips in pollination but what popped looks great !

I had a great aunt that used to eat popcorn with syrup for breakfast as that breakfast dish was common in her part of the country. Yet another way to enjoy popcorn - yum !!
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Old 09-05-2019, 06:51 PM
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The peas and beans are in, planted this past Sunday. One bean bed is all Contender while the other bean bed has Strike down one side and Jade down the other. I've never planted Jade before but it was a free pack of seed from a friend. The pea bed is planted with double rows of Wando down each side.

Two days ago I started some lettuce seed in two window boxes and four pots each of two kinds of mini bok choy. The Toy Choy is already up today as are two of the four Toy Choy! Under the lights they need to go. Meanwhile, the brassica sets are doing great so most were moved to the porch this evening to start hardening off and to free up some space under the lights.



I'm late getting rid of the Knucklehull field peas that are full of leaffooted bugs. Tons of them all procreating the next generation! Before pulling the vines out I wanted to spray them with pyrethrin and that has to be done just before dark after pollinators have gone home. Things have interfered with that but Shiva the Destroyer got it done last night so out the vines come tomorrow.

Next week the sweet potatoes will be dug.
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:35 AM
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The porch tables are now cleared of accumulated spring and summer "stuff"; dead pots, empty pots and trays, etc. They are ready for fall plantings. The parsley, oregano and rosemary (these last two at the far end with a camellia to be planted out this fall) do well out here. The thyme doesn't like it at all and has died so it's time to start more thyme and grow it indoors. That's old Callie cat on the left side, checking to see if I've left her some room on that lower shelf. It's her favorite morning "sleep in the sun" spot.



Callie is now 17 years old and is still healthy and pretty spry for her age. Being the oldest she used to keep the other cats in line, earning her the nick name of "Swimbo", SWMBO, "She Who Must Be Obeyed". This pic was taken five years ago:



To make room under the lights for the new stuff I had to bump some of the earlier started brassicas out to the front porch to start hardening them off. Plants harden off pretty nicely on the lower shelf of the porch table because of the shadows created by the railing spindles. I just have to remember to keep them watered and turn them around daily so they don't lean towards the sun too much.



There's one more window box of mixed lettuce that has popped up this morning and I need to do some rearranging to get it under the lights too, at least for a little while.
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:54 PM
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Looks like a good start on the autumn garden!
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:20 PM
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It's time to get the fall beds forked up and ready for planting. The brassicas are scheduled to go out Sep 17th if this heat wave breaks. 108 heat factor this afternoon. Carrots, turnips and daikon radishes as well.

I started on the worst bed yesterday. It's near the grape fence and a crape myrtle so fibrous roots of both creep in under the bed sideboards and it needs to be dug up every spring and fall without fail. It was done this spring but every forkful was still a challenge and I ended up with a big 15 gallon bucket 3/4 of this stuff after a long hard slog.



Last Sunday two beds of beans and one of peas were planted. That's about two weeks earlier than I usually plant but I was rolling the dice, hoping that Dorian would bring rain. Nope. Just heat. The bean beds:



So I kept the beds wet down to help cool them off and help germination. It took about 8 days and I was getting worried but this is what I found yesterday, a very welcome sight!



Meanwhile the Red Ripper field peas are going nuts! They were planted right in the old corn rows which had a lot of fertilizer input when they were growing so I sure didn't add any at pea planting. I hope they'll actually produce peas and not be just all vine. That's happened before when there was too much fertilizer.



And finally, we know fall is coming when the grapes get ready. Time to make muscadine jelly.

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Old 09-10-2019, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by sonya1 View Post
How large is your garden?
For some reason this popped into my head this morning and I remembered I was going to dig out a pic of the whole garden. I never got around to it this year or last so this pic is from 2017.



That small grassy area halfway down on the right side of the garden is where the potted tomatoes grew on pallets this year. The corn flips back and forth between sides so it's just a one year rotation but it'll just have to do as those are the only two open areas.

That's part of the grape fence at the bottom of the photo. I took the pic standing on a step ladder.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:42 AM
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Today I picked the first handful of little spiny cucumbers, West Indian Gherkins. Someone gave me the seed so I sowed some in an unused bed. He said they'd go everywhere and he sure was right! Little thin vines that sprout more little thin vines at right angles to the main vine. Then *they* sprout more of the same and so on. Good ground cover! LOL! Itty bitty yellow flowers maybe 1/4-3/8" wide. And the cukes themselves are about 1 3/4" long and 1 1/4" wide.



As you can see, they're mostly seed but these little things sure are crunchy and you really don't notice the seeds. Great in salads. Originally from Africa, they are drought tolerant, a big plus here. I can see them growing in the summer to fill the gap between the end of spring cukes and the start of fall cukes. The seed donor said they make great pickles! I'll try that once I get enough to try a jar.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:09 PM
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If these vines are hardy, would they spread well enough to provide erosion protection on that large bare area? Wouldn't need to eat the fruits necessarily, just use the spreading roots to hold the soil.

FWIW
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:42 AM
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If these vines are hardy, would they spread well enough to provide erosion protection on that large bare area? Wouldn't need to eat the fruits necessarily, just use the spreading roots to hold the soil.

FWIW
From what I understand they are annual like other cukes and squash and the frost will do them in. And that area is way too shady to grow them. That's why regular grass doesn't grow there in the first place. But thank you for thinking about that.
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Old 09-13-2019, 11:04 AM
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Today I discovered Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars happily and busily munching on the parsley. It happens every year. Last year they munched every plant in the windowbox down to nothing. Heavy sigh. BUT... closer inspection a week later showed the slightest bit of green coming from the crowns of the plants. YES! It all grew back. Yayyyyy! But I'll probably have to buy parsley for a little while.



Took this one late in the afternoon after the sun had gone around and had to use a flashlight. There's lots of 'em in that windowbox!

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Old 09-16-2019, 10:30 AM
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Default Sweet Surprise!

Back in May when I planted five or six hills of sweet potatoes (cutting back this year) I had one slip left over. I didn't have the heart to toss it (packrat syndrome) so I stuck it in the end of another bed and put a trellis there for the vines to climb. Just a toy. The trellis on the far end of the bed, Aug 25th.



Two weeks ago I noticed what looked like a sweet potato trying to push up.



Yesterday I got curious so I cut down the vines, removed the trellis and started brushing soil away from the sweet potato which became several sweet potatoes!



After the fork was used to loosen everything up, it turned out there were five potatoes in there, including two huge ones!



This is the largest one, 2 lb 5 oz. The other biggie is just 2 oz less and the third biggest one is a bit over a pound.



They are now in in the shed, in a peach basket which is inside a plastic trash bag to cure for two weeks. There are several holes punched in the plastic to let excess humidity escape as the sweets cure.

I'm glad I didn't toss that slip!
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