Thursday, June 23, 2022

I Can Always Buy Water

 I have always said that given the choice between unrelenting heat and sun or rain I will take the unrelenting heat and sun because I can always buy water.  And that's where we are today.  It hasn't rained in a few weeks.  It has been 90 or close to it for days on end.  We have the AC on in the house.   There is no dew to speak of and I am watering most of the vegetables every morning.  And so, I have run my 500 gallon rainwater tank dry.  This means today was water tank maintenance day.  My husband has to get into the tank, scrape the sides and rinse out the sludge.  We have to take the opportunity to do this every time it runs down.  We didn't do that last year because I never got below half a tank.  The last time it was done was Solstice 2020.  We also replaced the leaky hose from the sump pump to the outlet so I should have a lot better water pressure.  Then we filled it up from the house spigot which will be reflected in this month's water bill.  But that doesn't happen very often and at least I have that option.

The garden is loving the sun and heat as long as I make sure it has plenty of water.


Sweet Corn

Speaking of sweet corn.  Remember back on the 8th when I reseeded the second planting of sweet corn because I thought the birds got it?  I don't think it was birds after all.  I waited eight days and when nothing came up I went looking for my seeds again and found only fragments of the treated pink shells.  Total annihilation.  You know, its one thing to lose some or even most of a crop.  But every last one?  Twice?  I could only assume at that point that it was mice.  Well, blocking out mice is much more difficult than blocking out birds.  But I gave it a try.  I put the row cover down on the surface and pinned it down on the sides with both gravel and t-posts.  I put bricks across each end.  I clipped the corners tight. I obsessed about it for days. 

At night I also laid the polycarbonate panels down on it in case that helped.  At least it kept the soil warmer.  Nothing about that mess says "get your free nibbles here".  I mean how would they even know there was corn seed in there?  Except for the fact they'd found it there twice...

But it worked and yesterday, there were shoots.  Not just a few.  A pretty good percentage.  I feel so much better now.  But they are a LONG way from tasseling... so I still have to keep an eye on things.  I put the hoops back under the row cover to lift it up off of them.  They are still bird proof, but no longer mouse proof.  I hope they make it.

Reseeded June 17th

The pole beans are looking very good and reaching for the trellis. 
Bush beans in the other bed are sprouting but sluggish


I have three heads of broccoli just about big enough to harvest
and the cabbage heads are large and firm.  It isn't as much fun taking pictures if you have to uncover Tent City and these hoops are the hardest to deal with.  So I get a little lazy.

Summer Squashes

Hot Peppers




Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
In addition to watering, we have been working in the heat on the next step to solve our wet lawn problem.  We're easing into it.  We have a large corner that needs to be turned into a rock garden like the last two areas.  We're starting at the garden shed deck.  When we don't really know what to do, flagstones are always a start.

We started by stripping the sod and laid down road mat.

At this point we were wishing for some sort of computer program to scan this pile and arrange it for us....

It turned out pretty well.  The large, flat stones are very stable.

It dresses up that corner nicely and I have been walking all the way to it to step up on the deck.  In the wet spring I avoid that corner completely.

Now to get rid of the rest of this muck mess

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Heat Waves and Watering

 We are at the end of a 90+ degree heat wave waiting for it to break and cool back down to the 70s tomorrow.  It was 93 degrees in the shade yesterday, and this morning at 9:30 it is already 90 degrees with 60% humidity.

 During an unseasonable heat wave, you have to keep an eye on your water.  You don't want to over water because you can kill a plant quicker with too much water than you can by underwatering. It is hard to take water away once you realize you over did it.  When the forecast shows heat coming, and we have not just had rain, I will go through and do a deep watering so everything is hydrated ahead of time.

 I like to check the condition of my plants in the late afternoon.  If any are showing stress at that point, I will know they need water the next morning to prepare for the next hot day.  I prefer to water in the morning so the sun can dry the leaves and the water is readily available for the coming sun. If I have let it go too long and they are very wilty in the afternoon, I may decide to water right then to rescue them (especially container plants that will not have the resources to recover over night).  But the idea is to know what is happening so you can time your watering for the next day.

This is what I am watering today.

Early peas flowering and filling out pods.
These are showing heat stress (yellowing) so I have watered them deeply the past two mornings.
The soil is moist today so I just watered lightly to cool the lettuce.

Later peas showing no stress but filling out pods so we want those pods to be nice and plump.  I am watering enough to keep the soil consistently moist.

Pole beans just putting out new climbing growth.  People will dismiss the water sun scald as a myth.  In most cases it is.  If you water these broad leafed beans in the sun, they WILL scald.  But that won't hurt them much.

Water scalded leaves from watering yesterday. 
I think that laying on steamy, moist soil does most of the damage.

Strawberry plants showing heat stress (curling leaves)
They were watered two days ago and got water again today.

I made sure the tomato reservoirs were filled two days ago (bottom watering), but this plant gets a little extra water because it is setting blooms today and has a wide leaf more susceptible to heat wilt. 

Potato grow bags.  These dry out quick.  They were deeply watered the past two days.
I will check them mid day and water any one that is starting to wilt.

Not watering today.  I watered them deeply two days ago and the soil still feels moist.

Not watering Dahlias.  They will wilt a little but will recover.
This will encourage them to dig a little deeper for moisture and strengthen their roots.  Watering today would likely scald the broad lower leaves and do more damage than dryness.

Plants in small pots need water every day and sometimes twice a day.

I watered my large containers deeply the first morning and they should be fine

Everything should be prepared to survive day two of ninety degrees and high humidity.  At some point, the humidity becomes a bigger problem because it promotes mildew.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Tent City

 I have row covers set up everywhere.  Its not exactly a quaint, picturesque, potager.  Things look much more ~ industrial.  But I'm tired of messing around with a few things.  And once you figure things out, you repeat the process.  My first planting of sweet corn came up fine and dandy.  The second planting, not at all.  I think the mourning doves found it.  I saw Mr. Mourning Dove roosting on the garden shed overnight.  He probably had baby corn sprouts for breakfast each morning before I got out there.  I had already reordered the corn seed and since it was showing "out for delivery" today, I attacked the bed with a rake and did not find a single. solitary. corn seed.  Sunofah...  I replanted it and I covered it well with hoops and a floating row cover.

Bed #1:  Cole Crops growing (set out 4/15)
Bed #2: Replacement Strawberries growing and room for extra Cukes
A spare tomato plant and Ranunculus flowers blooming

Bed #3: Summer Squash transplanted 06/06 and 06/08
Bed #4: Cantaloupe transplanted today 06/08

Bed #5: two rows of Bush Beans coming up slowly
Bed #6: Pole Beans planted around 06/03
Center treated with pre-emergent corn gluten experiment to keep down weeds

Bed #7: Peas planted with Lettuce (4/15 and 4/29)

Bed #8: Peas planted with Lettuce (3/15 and 4/1) 
Peas flowering and lettuce harvesting

Bed #9: Sweet Corn planted 5/20
Some fill in seeds protected from Mr. Dove with baskets

Last year I had great luck protecting my second cucumbers with a row cover.  Last year's first planting was defeated by cucumber beetles and died before they really had a chance to flower.  This year I went straight to the covers.  I have a row down each side.  Two varieties of slicers and two varieties of pickling cucumbers.  I need to make sweet pickles this year.

Bed #10: Slicing and Pickling Cucumbers transplanted 06/08

Bed #11: Sweet Corn replanted today 06/08

Bed #12:Soil warming for Bush Cucumbers (seeded in pots 5/22)

Example of tomatoes

Peppers really greening up and flowering

some Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

Today was entirely taken up by transplanting and engineering protection from current and potential threats.  You can't get complacent.  You never know when a new bird or insect will discover the goodies and have a feast in the early morning before you even leave the house.  You have to observe the signs and come up with a plan tout de suite.  Unless we can somehow cover the whole thing with a bio-dome I will have to cover things one bed at a time.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Warm Soil

When making planting schedules, too many gardeners look at the last frost date or the daytime temperatures for the coming week.  What we really need to be looking at is the soil temperatures and the night time temperatures.  I've done a lot of extra soil warming this year and I'm seeing the difference right away.

Cucumber and Squash plants under a row cover

I typically seed my cucurbits in pots where I can keep an eye on them instead of putting them directly in the ground where they are at the mercy of rains and clay based soil sealing over them and pushing them too deep.  This year I added a square of row cover just to keep busy birds off of them.  The warmer microclimate created by the little "greenhouse" made an immediate, noticeable difference in speed and percentages of germination.

This year I am going to try covering the cantaloupe vines with a heavy frost cover.  It will be open on the ends to let in pollinators and the vines will be able to push under the sides.  I have not put a thermometer in there, but any day if you put your hand under there, the air temperature is noticeably warmer.  That will help a lot considering that our forecasted temperatures right now are only in the low 70s during the day.  The seedlings are just forming their first true leaves now,

Two of the three varieties of summer squash had already put out their first leaves and were transplanted yesterday.  I put a basket over them to protect them from birds and give them a little transition from the row cover to direct sun,  I am also going to try caging them again this year because I liked how it worked out last year.

My pole beans were planted a few days ago and germinated right away.  Below is the bed warming with the polycarbonate panels.  I have never bothered to warm the soil for beans, but when I moved the panels off of the bed to plant the second bed sweet corn it was just easier to put them on the bean bed rather than lug them back into storage.  Once again, laziness scores an accidental success.

Pole Bean Bed warming

Even the older seed germinated right away.  Which is better than I can say for the Jade bush beans I planted a week earlier in the next bed without warming the soil.  I am still waiting on those to germinate.  There are half a dozen plants up but that is a very small percentage of what was planted.  From here on out, I will always warm the bed for beans.  Right now the panels are on the cucumber bed warming it for transplants.

Old Monte Gusto seed (packaged for 2020) germinating very well.

This is my first lesson learned from the 2022 growing season:  Soil Temperature is even more important than you thought it was.  Yes, having raised beds gives you warmer, drier soil than an in ground garden but even that can be boosted a bit.
Sorbet Peony in full bloom