5-28-16 Blog

I’m taking a short breather now, but I’ve had a very productive morning so far.  I finished thinning out my turnip/radish/beet/carrot combination row.  That was a chore but I’m glad it’s done.  What remains should have plenty of space now in order to mature properly.  I’m really hoping my red beets take off at this point as I have an order for them as soon as they are ready.

As I was thinning,  I was able to harvest some good looking radishes. About four handfuls to be precise.   I also noticed that some of my green onions appeared to be close so I plucked the four largest ones.  My hunch was correct as they are the perfect size for eating.  Unfortunately, I do not care for green onions, so these will be dropped off for my father to enjoy.

I plan on getting the tiller out now.  In between rows, I’ve noticed that the ground is getting hard underneath and weeds are beginning to show themselves on top.  I figured I can kill two birds with one stone yet before it gets too hot this afternoon.  If things go well, I’ll try to post a picture or two when I’m done today.

5-23-16 Blog

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As you can see, everything is coming along very well now that it’s warm again.  So much so that I’m beginning to have a difficult time keeping up with the weeding and thinning that needs to be done soon.  I’ve been able to harvest a few radishes and some strawberries already.  The radishes tend to go to my mother, but the strawberries usually don’t leave the office if you catch my drift.  Outside of that, I’m waiting on the remainder of the sweet corn and watermelon to emerge.  It should be a warm start to the week, so I’m hoping they begin to show themselves in the next day or so.  I’ll try to report back sometime toward the weeks’ end.  I have to move now as the first mosquitoes of the year are finding me as I type.

5-19-16 Blog.

As you can tell, I decided to take a short hiatus once everything was planted even though I was beginning to get potatoes to come up through the ground.  Once again, the up and down weather patterns haven’t helped much.  However, I am happy to report that outside of the sweet corn- which I’ve had to replant, everything has emerged and is doing just OK.   I’ve got a little discoloration on the leaves of my kidney beans, kohlrabi and cucumbers due to the cold. I’m sure they will come around quickly if we can get some consistent warmth.  With that said, one thing is certain, it’s difficult to grow anything in cold soil.  I’m still hoping that changes soon.

It’s Grow Time!

Now that the vegetables in my plot have been set to earth and are establishing their new residences for the year, it’s time to turn my focus toward the growing phase.   The upcoming weeks and months are crucial not only for long term plant health but overall garden appearance as well. Over the years, I’ve always taken the approach that I just don’t want to show up. I want to have something to show at the end.  Therefore, I’d like to share a list of summertime duties that I try to accomplish each year in order to achieve my year end goals.

Pest and Rodent Control

Based upon my location and surroundings, the local rabbits, raccoons and groundhogs pose the most immediate threat to my plants.  I’ve had instances where they have destroyed entire rows in just a day’s time.  In addition, any gardener who’s had to deal with them can attest to the damage a few raccoons can do to a sweet corn patch overnight.  I’ve tried subtle ways of keeping them out but to little or no avail.   In response, I have chosen to install an electric fence barrier around my entire garden. This has proven itself to be very effective in keeping unwanted visitors out.  I usually try to get the fence up and running within a week of finalizing the planting stage in order to minimize any costly damage.

Fertilization and Dusting

Once my seedlings become established, the need for feeding and dusting soon arises for me.  In my case, it seems that I get annual visits from nearly every creepy, crawly garden bugger imaginable. I believe this is due mainly to the overall size of and diversity within my garden. With so many mouths to feed so to speak, I generally stick to basic all purpose fertilizer and dusts. This helps to keep my costs in check and minimizes leftovers while providing the best possible care for my vegetables.

I usually try to feed in late May that way the plants have all season to use what they need when they need it.  Dusting, on the other hand, begins as soon as the need arises and continues throughout the entire season.  This holds true especially after any showers we may receive as they tend to wash the previous application away.

Tilling and Weed Control

In between everything else, the task of aeration and weed control is never ending.   This used to be a torturous job for me due to the undersized tiller and the lack of help I had.   Fortunately, this has changed for the better recently with the purchase of a larger rear tine rototiller and the addition of numerous nieces and nephews who always seem eager to lend a helping hand.

As a general rule of thumb,  I try to keep up with the in-between-the- row maintenance on a daily basis.  I’ve found that weeding a row or two each day keeps me busy and on a two week cycle.   Then, once the weekend arrives and the help become available,  I’ll do the more detailed work in the rows and around the plants.

Watering

In the event that little or no rain presents itself in the foreast for an extended period of time, supplemental watering may be needed.  I like to water on either a weekly or as needed basis in the springtime.  However, I’ll increase this to every other evening during the dog days of summer.

I’m fortunate to have a great setup that works very well for my large area. I simply run a hose from a spigot in our barn to my garden and attach a watering wand.  The wand has multiple settings which enables me to reach all four corners with a simple adjustment and minimal movement.

Summary

If you’re like me, the work doesn’t end once everything emerges and sets roots.  If you desire an end result that not only makes you proud but also provides for others, garden upkeep must continue all season long. Hopefully, the tidbits of information I’ve provided can help you improve your garden in some way.

2016 Spring Planting – Everything Else.

Today will be the last installment of the 2016 Spring Planting series because I was able to finish up my final five rows this afternoon.  I concluded this year’s garden with 4 jalapeño peppers, 4 green peppers, 8 more broccoli, 3 cucumbers and 3 zucchini plants.  In addition, I got a third row of potatoes in for the first time ever  (something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple years now ), a row of 8 tomato plants, 3 hills of pumpkins and finally 4 hills of watermelons.   I finished this year with 19 rows roughly 30 feet long.

I am super excited to be done today for a couple of reasons.  First, there is another good chance of rain moving in later.  At this point, any decent amount of precipitation would probably keep me out of the garden until the weekend.  Also, it keeps me about a week to ten days ahead of schedule.  I like finishing early since it usually seems to aid in getting better early vegetables before it gets too hot in July and August.

Now it’s on to the growing season and a new set of duties that need to be addressed in a timely manner in order to jumpstart and maintain growth throughout the summer months.  Once everything emerges, I’ll post more pictures of my progress.

 

2016 Spring Planting – Strawberries, Sunflowers and Beans.

Today turned out much better than expected.  I didn’t foresee myself being able to get any gardening done after the rain that lasted all day yesterday.   However, when Toby and I checked on it late today, we discovered that the soil was dry enough to do some planting.   I’m glad that I brought the strawberry plants and sunflower and bean seeds with me.  We were able to get all three rows in the ground in just over an hour. The garden is now 2/3 done and with any luck over the next 24 to 48 hours, I’ll get some watermelons, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes and pumpkins into the remaining rows.