Sunday, September 22, 2019

Lettuce Pray

Let us pray for the well being of my lettuce...

DO you see it?  There are two lettuce plants in this photo
I knew it was being sluggish.  I planted it in Mid-August and it hasn't changed a bit in weeks.  Last week, out of desperation, I transplanted it anyway to see if that would jolt it into growing,  I've been perusing my own blog and found this entry from Sept 18 2016.  Just look at those lettuce seedlings!  What gives?

Lettuce Sept 18 2016

This is what tired out mildewed zucchini looks like.  I had been holding the mildew at bay for several weeks with Safer-Gro Mildew Cure which also worked really well on the pumpkin vies.

Over the past week the growing tip on one vine shriveled and let me know
 there would be no more blooms.

The other growing tip was still viable but sluggish.  But I don't need anymore zucchini.
So out they came.

This is what you get if you ignore Jade Bush Beans for a few weeks.  They're monsters.  I'm using beans from the newer rows but I've still been too lazy to pull these plants out because I want them for compost and the compost tube is too full to accept them.

Yesterday I picked four cucumbers.  This one I'll leave on the vine a couple of days.  These late season cucumbers do not keep in the fridge as long as the summer ones.

Yesterday one bed of corn stalks were removed.  That was a chore!!! 
I cut the stalks and stacked them in a shock to store until I can process them for compost.
The roots I pried out with a fork.  Fun stuff

I removed the last of the tomato vines last weekend but I left the Nasturtiums which are just beginning to bloom again.  I've been collecting the seeds for next year.

Now - I have to get my butt out of bed, make breakfast, and get back to work.   I have a lot of perennials to move, ground cover to plant, shrubs to prune, bulbs to set out, a car to wash.....

Its the last day of Summer.  Make the most of it!

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Dirt Locker

For several years now I have wished that I had a place to store lightly used soil.  Anyone who does a lot of gardening in containers will know what I mean.  Sometimes when you dump a container, there seems to be no soil left in there.  There is nothing but a mass of roots, and the dirt has completely disappeared.  Other times you have a large container half or three quarters full of slightly tired soil.

The Dirt Locker
Now there are a few things you can do with it.  You can dump it into gardening areas to improve the native soil, you can put it into your compost pile or you can leave it in the container for next year.  For my large whiskey barrel planters, of course I leave it in.  They are too big to dump over, and they are large enough to mix in new ingredients.   Before I plant again I will add a balanced fertilizer, and then top it off with fresh potting mix to replace what was removed with the roots as I pulled out the dead plants last year.  

A mass of roots, some empty plastic pots for filler,
but still some usable potting mix to reclaim
But my raised beds cannot take large quantities of new material each year.  Putting it into the compost seems a bit of a waste since it is still light and fluffy and full of peat and vermiculite and perlite.  As for leaving a bunch of half filled pots around - well I like to scrub out my containers and store them away each winter.  We have a lot of autumn leaves to deal with and we need a clean slate.  Stacks of containers everywhere just collects leaves.  And the winter weather will continue to age the planters unnecessarily.

Some of the ingredients that go into mixing your own potting mix
Absent from photo: large quantities of compost and peat or coir
Another plus of saving and reusing potting mix is the cost savings.  Whether you buy it by the bag or mix your own, potting mix can represent a large portion of your gardening budget.  You can go broke pretty quick growing a year's worth of potatoes in containers of brand new medium.  It never hurts to have a quantity of lightweight, clean potting mix on hand.  Often you just need it as a filler at the bottom of a large container.  I also have used straight compost for filler, since we usually have a substantial amount of that cooking, but that could be considered a waste of good compost.  In the cases where I've used compost, I always try to return it to the compost pile when I dump the pot.

So this weekend my husband treated me to a 73 gallon deck box.  Now I can store a useful amount of used potting mix for the filling of large containers.  I will still buy bags of new potting mix for topping off each pot, and those dump neatly into a large Rubbermaid container so I can tote it around and store it temporarily in a dry place instead of having half full opened bags of soil setting about.

My typical potting day set-up
I'm pretty tickled with my dirt locker.  It is just one more step towards getting all of my potting activities in one spot.  Next year the plan is to add a greenhouse where I can have all of my pots and supplies stored together near where I actually keep my plants and pot them up.  Right now I have containers and the potting bench stored way back in a canvas storage building.  My compost pile and messy work area where I store half filled containers is in another spot.  My cold frame for tender plants is up by the garden shed.  And my soil additives and hand tools in the garden shed.  I spend a lot of time in the spring bent over a wheelbarrow filling pots.  In good weather I bring the potting bench up to the garden.  On cold rainy spring days I round up everything and take it back to the potting bench and then haul it all back to the cold frame. I can put in a lot of steps in a work day.  Yet another way that gardening is good for your health!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Autumn in New York

September Status Report

Morning in the garden.   
Everything still looks respectably green and healthy

When I looked at those two photos side by side on my 
desktop it was sort of a cool effect so I stuck them together.
Click photo for larger view

I have several beds with young buckwheat.  These late cucumbers (below), seeded mid-July, are starting to produce a few cucumbers.  

The cukes are smallish, about the size of Italian Sausages, 
but very useful for the occasional dinner salad

The sweet corn is done.  I need to cut the stalks which I plan to use for autumn decor at the doorway.  The yield was fairly low.  I think I crowded them too much.  Next year I will be one more step up the learning curve on that.  But all of the ears were very very sweet.  Last year I heard several people just rave about the taste of the local corn and we never got a good batch.  I got our corn from two different farm stands throughout the season, so several different varieties, and not one was really any good.  I expect to have at least one meal each year that is exceptional, but last year the taste was all below average.  That's why I grew the Gotta Haveit which I've grown in the past and the taste did not disappoint.  I also had enough to put I think ten double portions in the freezer and I am buying some additional from the farm stand to bring my stock back up to twenty which will hold us over.

At the feet of the corn I have a few pumpkin vines.

I still have enough tomatoes coming to keep me in sandwiches.
There are four vines left with very few leaves but several fruit each

The cantaloupes are beginning to ripen.  They are small but tasty.  I don't think I'll bother next year.  Its an awful lot of maintenance and waiting for a few average melons.   Ironically, the yield is higher this year than last, if I can keep the vines going.

My Dunja Zucchini is finally starting to mildew.  It still looks pretty darn good for an aging squash plant.  I have not removed a single leaf.

It is still steadily producing squash.  I have more than enough zucchini bread portions shredded and frozen and I have a face cord of squash stacked up in the kitchen waiting to be used or frozen.

The old bean plants are producing a small amount of rather tough husked beans.  The plants are still healthy and I can see the top growth is preparing to put out new flower buds.  I ought to pull them out, but I just haven't gotten to it.  Since they aren't ugly, it hasn't been high on my list.

The second planting seeded that last week of July is now mature

I found enough young beans in there tonight for supper

As for my other odds and ends.  Below is a Musquee de Provence pumpkin.  I have five nice ones growing and a couple are just beginning to color up.  I've never made pumpkin pie from scratch and these are supposed to be excellent tasting.

I am beginning to use carrots.  These went into the crockpot with potatoes and pork chops.  They are a mixture of A1 and Scarlet Nantes.  I've always liked the A1 because they are long and slender, but when I felt I was getting a poor germination with them I picked up a packet of Scarlet Nantes and over-seeded with those.  I have to say the nice thing about the Nantes is they fill out to a blunt tip that is easy to trim whereas the A1 has a long unfilled root at the end which feels wasteful to trim off.

I've harvested all of my potatoes.  A low yield.  My plants did well but never flowered.  I have to say that the spuds were as near perfect and disease free as I could want.  I did get one too close to the surface so it has a big green spot, and one inexplicably rotted almost completely away but the others are smooth and scab free with no wire-worm holes.  Since I have a hard time storing a large amount anyway, I'm pleased with the result.

Second half of the harvest

In addition to the dozen cauliflower plants I already planted I planted another dozen of spare transplants in the potato bed.  Fall lettuce will be planted under the frame which will hold a frost cover.  The lettuce seedlings are in that flat waiting to be transplanted but they have stubbornly refused to grow at all in the past two weeks.  They are still the size of dimes

So that's the status of the garden.  I have yet to do my Good Bad and Ugly synopsis of this season.  It feels like such a long season that the task is almost insurmountable.  I've had a lot going on in the garden this year, and I still have a lot to pull out and tidy up before leaf blowing season starts, and yet I've just planted two beds, and begun harvesting from two others.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Amazing Sunpatiens

The Sunpatiens in the front landscape are simply amazing.
This is one plant.  It comes up past my knees

This is what it looked like July 29th on the brink of greatness.

And above is what they looked like June 2nd when 
I transplanted them and pruned them back.  You've come a long way baby!
There is one Sunpatien and two Begonias in each 12 inch fiber pot.  The Begonias held their own for a couple months and looked like frilly petticoats under the hem of the Sunpatiens.  But now they have been completely overwhelmed.

Above are two pots side by side.

A whole row.

My fall Cauliflower is growing so much faster than it did in the spring.  
This is two weeks progress.  They have tripled in size.  

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Daylilies and Daffodils

Late summer / Early fall is a good time to makes some changes in perennial beds.  In my case I have a few daylilies and daffodils that are so crowded that they have almost stopped blooming. 

These may look OK to you but I can see their decline over in the past few years


This variety of lily (below) is the worst.  The leaves have gotten narrower and they fall early in the season making a big droopy mess right from the get-go.

Of course in August they all look like a big droopy mess.  
And I hadn't finished trimming the old stems so they are really ugly.

 As with any large potting project, I haul the potting bench out of storage and gather all of my supplies.

It's easiest to make the initial division in the ground.
I use an edging shovel and cut a big X in the middle.
Then I come in from the side and wedge out each quarter, slinging them into a wheelbarrow.

With a really root-bound clump, the only way to proceed is with a large carving knife.
I bought an inexpensive knife block for the garden shed.

With a less root-bound clump you can sometimes break it up by hand.
I was able to work some single plants out of the edges.

I worked up the remaining soil, added some potting mix and fertilizer and replanted three or four small clumps back in their original spot.  This should give them several years of growing room.

From each clump I potted up half a dozen to be used in our new landscape area.
I will leave them in the garden for a few weeks, watering daily with the hose, before I relocate them.
You can see the sifter full of daffodil bulbs there.  I put back seven or eight large bulbs in each spot and now have a lot (a LOT) of leftover bulbs to plant in new areas.

Some of the lilies went directly to a new spot I had prepared.

I did three clumps of lilies and four clumps of daffodil bulbs.  With interruptions and gardening distractions when I would spot something else I would rather be doing, this side took all day.
By 3 o'clock I was tired and my hands were cramping from prying apart root balls.

 Today I had some other garden chores that need attention first (like transplanting more cauliflower and cleaning potatoes for storage) and now its raining so I am indoors doing laundry and some organizing and I can't say I mind at all.  Not only do I have another stint of heavy digging and separating, but in a couple weeks I have to plant all these new divisions.

In other news: Tim finished the horse shoe pits along the one side of the garden.
Just in time for Labor Day Recreation.  If the weather is nice tomorrow...