Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blight 2010

So, the tomatoes are showing blight. I went out right away before we left to visit family for the 4th of July. We were gone from the 30th-5th. My neighbor kindly kept everything watered through an extremely warm spell.
tpray for organic gardening. I removed all diseased leaves and sprayed everything. I used the whole container, so I needed something more to treat them again this week. I picked up some copper sulfate from the hardware store, but when I read the label, realized I really didn't want to use it. The copper spray, though it doesn't say it kills bees like the powder, really didn't appear much better with regard to its safety around living things. So, after a little more research, I found The Dirt Doctor. There is a 24.95 a year subscription fee, but I've been searching the site, and it appears lots of good info is available for free!

According to his website, horticultural cornmeal is a good soil amendment to fight fungal disease, and it can also be made into a tea and sprayed on the plants. Tonight, feeling the need to get something on them again, I mixed up a baking soda and molasses mix (I had those items on hand) and sprayed the plants with it. I am hopeful. There are other sprays reccomended for --milk (!), compost tea, potassium bicarbonate (I guess this might be preferrable to the baking soda). I'm anxious to do more research and gather ingredients to give these things a try. I'm especially interested in the natural herbicide recipes since some dreaded Roundup has managed to make its way into our household.

What's going on?

Er, yeah, not so good this year with the blogging. The garden is growing well. We're beginning to have a cuke or two and a handful of cherry tomatoes every day. The cukes will likely overwhelm us soon. We've got some baby melons and baby pumpkins and some beautiful peppers growing. It appears that due to a labeling snafu, we largely managed only to get some variety hot peppers into the ground. No jalapenos. We have couple of mini-bells, several Thais, a couple of one plant hasn't bloomed yet, so I have no idea what it actually is. I don't think any of the Big Bertha bells actually came up w. hen we started plants. The peppers in the containers are doing well, the ones in the bed don't look very good. The best-looking ones are planted in a bed (of our own amended soil) up on the hill.

A massive rainstorm (about 7 inches in 24 hours) on Memorial Day washed out a bunch of flower seeds I planted, so some of our beds are pretty bare. I'm trying to do some mid-summer plantings in those spots. May as well put the space to use!

We harvested a lovely crop of carrots, around two pounds, which made me wish I had planted more. We were just getting some purple green beans(not their official name), when what was likely a vole came and ate every one of the plants to the ground over a period of about a week. He's now working his way through my runner beans, which really annoys me. The kale I planted up front has gone untouched by any critters.

Sadly, our tomatoes are showing blight. I am going to try to treat it organically, and will post about that separately.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First Harvest!

Tonight, I harvested 6 Easter Egg Radishes! Yum! I have picked another two, each at different times, but this was the first "big" bunch.

We received a UPS shipment from Raintree Nursery today. 1 Munstead Lavender, 1 Rosemary, 1 highbush cranberry, 1 rugosa rose, 2 hardy bamboo plants. Unfortunately, the horseradish we ordered was not available because of a mold problem. I guess even the professionals are faced with unfortunate mishaps along the way.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Most of the plants appear to be recovering. It will set them back, sadly, but they are doing OK. There are a few that will need to be replaced, and I have some extras I potted, so we won't have to buy plants to replace them.

I want to dig a new bed to plant popping sorghum this week.

Also planting the last of our flower seeds and will plant some more carrots and radishes and another flat of container salad greens

Friday, May 21, 2010

Stupid Garden Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Seriously. It was cold and rainy and yucky the week after Mother's Day. Finally, on Friday, the sun came out. I put the seedlings out for a few (very mild) days (and nights), and didn't even think about the fact that that might not be enough to harden them off. Saturday, I spent the entire day outside, mowing the lawn in addition to getting all the plants in the ground. My focus, actually, was getting them into the ground because they were starting to look iffy in their cups and such, and I was concerned that after all the time babying them that they were going to die just because we hadn't put them in the ground in time.

This was our first time raising seedlings. Well, actually our second, but the first time, Killian was born right when they needed to go in the ground (on May 10, Mother's Day, actually). Recovering from his birth and caring for our first baby was an undertaking that enveloped us fully that spring, LOL. So, the seedlings didn't fare so well.

Unfortunately, the current seedlings aren't faring so well, either, despite going into the ground. They are all looking pretty sad. Some worse than others. I am hopeful that today's rain will give them a boost.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Lots and lots of planting! Most of our plants are in, and I've potted our leftovers hoping to give them a bit longer so that hopefully we can share them with someone who will use them.

I also have seeds that still need planting, and I am slowly getting those done (after the long haul planting on Saturday).

We have about 15 self-watering containers now, 6 or 7 of which we put together on Sunday. We did about 3 1 gallon containers, which are good for smaller pepper (Thai peppers and/or jalepenos) plants and basil (they would also be good for other things too, but we are using them for these).

Our other containers are in the 5 gallon range, some a bit smaller (they are made from bakery/icing buckets, and not all of them are a full five gallons). Many of them are labeled by weight, and so I haven't figured out exactly what they hold volume-wise. ;)

In our bigger containers:
cherry tomatoes
Minnesota Midget melons
Alibi cukes
Muncher cukes
Mexican Gherkins
Basil (regular and purple ruffle)

There was a labeling snafu with the peppers, and I have no clue what's what, so we're in for a surprise later....

Last year, we did strawberries, tomatoes, and basil in the containers, so we are trying some new things this year. Because the cukes are space-hogs, I am curious to see how these work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reclaimed craft project!

It is cold and gray here today. I have plants ready to go into the ground, but we're holding off a little longer for fear of frost. Today, I found a cute idea online for a welcome sign. I went out to my garage and came across a ratty piece of wood that was perfect for this purpose. It really is not something usable as lumber anymore, and it is a wonder that in the nearly eight years we've lived here that we did not just toss it out or burn it, but now I am glad we did not!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Do I need to justify hostas and bleeding hearts?

No, they're not food. But I do love them. They make me smile.


Ben and I headed out today to clean up the beds in front of our house. They are fairly overgrown and have been well-neglected. Ben started with the raspberry bushes that have overtaken our flowers in the north bed. It seems like a shame to be pulling up raspberry bushes, but last year the berries they produced appeared to be diseased. In addition, they are simply not in an ideal location. We may later add raspberries here, but I would like them to be in a place where they can be well-trained. Next on the list was to remove the last of the myrtle planted in the bed in front of my kitchen.

As I was getting ready to go outside, Molly brought in the mail. In it was a box of perennials from Jung! I had initially planned on putting these plants in the the bed on the other side, but since this one was ready, and it is likely the shadiest of the two, I decided to put the plants there. So, in place of the myrtle and in addition to a bleeding heart plant and the few lipstick strawberry plants that survived the winter, we have two more bleeding hearts, two hostas, and some Astible Spinell. I also sprinkled some kale and rainbow chard to fill in some spaces. We'll see if they survive up front. They might just end up rabbit food.

Also in the box were Jerusalem Artichoke tubers. I planted some in the north bed and a couple in the back yard in the bed along the house.

We dumped some new soil here a week or so ago, so it probably looks better than it did originally. The big patch there is myrtle. And there's a big green fuzzy thing growing on the corner of the porch that looks like it belongs there, but it does not!

There are tulips and and some other flower that I have not yet identified that has basically naturalized here. After they are done blooming, I will move them and dig up the last of that sneaky myrtle. See the plant growing out of the bricks? Mint. Another very sneaky plant. I need to contend with it in the bed on the other side, but that will be another day...

OK, so it's not a spectacular "after." Give it a few months. The straw is where I planted half a dozen lipstick strawberries last fall. I think about three survived. Hopefully they'll be prolific. ;)

New seedlings started

It's about time for the next round of seedlings. Ben has become the resident seed-starter this year (at least indoors). This time, because we were starting some things that are harder to transplant, we started with some handy peat pots. He found a flat of them for $5 at (shhh) Walmart.

So, more seeds started. He also smartly reminded me that I want to record where the seed was from in addition to the variety name for later reference, so I added company names to my garden journal. Yeah, I didn't put it down because I could remember it right now, but, of course, that's rather silly, because I may forget by lunch.

New starts (in addition to previous listed under What We're Growing):
Burpee Organic Cucumber (Lemon)
Jung Yellow Doll Watermelon
PineTree Minnesota Midget Melon
Basil--Sweet (I think that was Bountiful Gardens/have to double check)
Basil--Purple Ruffles Territorial
Territorial Mexican Sour Gherkins
Mixed Evening Sunflower (random grocery store seeds, LOL)
Jung Belstar Broccoli
Pinetree Muncher Cukes
Pinetree Alibi Cukes
Gourney Miss Pickler Pioneer Cukes
Gourney Burpless II Cukes
Territorial Starburst Sunflower
Territorial Golden Cheer Sunflower
Gourney Terracotta Sunflower
Chinese Forget-Me-Nots (seed packet given to Liam by his 2nd grade teacher last year)
Pinetree Red Cosmos
Territorial Cosmos Mix
Select Seeds Sweet William Catchfly (freebee)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring AT LAST!

Well, the weather has been great for awhile now, but I've been distracted with dealing with the chaos that ensues when one leaves eggs to boil on the stove for slightly over an hour while she drops off recycling and goes grocery shopping, remembering that she did so while reaching for a carton of eggs. The house was filled with eggy smoke, fortunately no fire, but a cleaning crew came in and cleaned (and moved around) all of our belongings, all of the clothing and other fabric items were removed from the house, cleaned, and delivered back to us in dry cleaning bags on hangers and in boxes, and, ultimately, our kitchen was repainted completely while much of its usual contents sat in boxes on our living room floor. That said, it could have been much, much worse, and our kitchen looks awesome.

Anyway, so not much gardening has taken place, even on beautiful sunny days, I did not find (or make) time to venture out. It's rather unfortunate, really, because it probably would have done me good.

So, today, on one of the colder, cloudier days in recent memory, we had 4 yards of garden soil mix delivered. With it, we re-filled the raised bed that housed tomatoes last summer, topped off the second raised bed we built late last summer, and expanded our "original" garden bed (in-ground). We also added lots of fresh soil to the small, long beds I put in at the top of our hill along the fence and to our "flower" beds in the front of the house.

The expansion portion of the bed was not dug out. I laid out cardboard, and we mounded soil on top of that. We will see how that works out.

Little baby seedlings are growing in a flat inside. We have a variety of tomatoes and peppers. Ben took the job of seed-starter, and I took notes on how much of what varieties we started and where they were planted. We will start another bunch of seeds in another week or two (melons and a couple of others that are to be started a little later)We wound up germinating seeds twice because of the crazy that settled on our household. We just did not get the first bunch moved into the flats quickly enough. Hopefully, we didn't lose too much time. We hope to avoid buying tomatoes retail this year the interest of trying to avoid the blight that plagued
us (well, our tomatoes, actually) last year.

There were a few things that overwintered in the bed along the house, which doesn't get as much sun as the main garden beds. We have several kale plants, rainbow chard, two broccoli plants and one cabbage. The broccoli and cabbage were eaten up by some seemingly invisible pests last summer, so, perhaps we'll actually have more luck with them while the weather is still cool. I assume we had cabbage worms. All I found were holes and little wet green piles of masticated (and, I assume, digested) leaves.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gardening Supplies

Ben picked up 2-2 packs of 50 ft. length soaker hoses for 12.99 at Costco yesterday. Total with tax: 27.54

Thursday, February 25, 2010


We are still in the throes of winter here. Yesterday, my dad, a few hours south of me, posted this picture, saying this is what he saw out his window.

After I sputtered with jealousy, he emailed again, letting me in on his joke:

A ghostly old John Deere. There is some grass peeking through the snow, though. We don't have that here...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First Seed Order of 2010

We have committed ourselves to starting tomatoes from seed to help avoid the blight this year. My dad graciously has detailed his seed-starting methods and even shared an empty flat he had stored in his barn for us to use. I think it would hold something like 96 plants. We won't be starting 96 plants right now, but I suppose we have the option! I have to ask him if I can share it here, because perhaps it is privileged information he hopes to copyright or patent and sell someday. We got some suggestions from a longtime gardening friend of Ben's on tomato varieties that he has had good luck with in this area. I added some peppers. We haven't had great luck with peppers, so didn't even try any last year, but I'm hoping for better luck this year. I plan to do at least some of them in self-watering containers. I went ahead and copied and pasted the whole invoice. Last year, I did not keep track of what we spent, but figure it wouldn't be a bad idea this year. As I told someone else who was feeling guilty about spending on her garden because it didn't end up producing much in the way of food, I think the cost can also be expensed as education, entertainment, and exercise. ;)

00112aBrandywine TomatoPacket 1$2.1000415aKelloggs Breakfast TomatoPacket 1$2.3500418aKentucky Beefsteak TomatoPacket 1$2.2500711aSunsugar Hybrid TomatoPacket 1$2.2503052aMitla Hybrid PepperPacket 1$2.7503093aThai Hot PepperPacket 1$2.3503129AChablis Hybrid PepperPacket 1$2.2503187aMini Belle Mix PepperPacket 1$1.95Subtotal:$18.25Shipping:$4.95Tax:$0.00Total:$23.20

Friday, January 22, 2010

Coming this spring!

Raintree sent an invoice.

We have the following (some I ordered, some were bonuses) coming in the spring:
10 crowns of Jersy Knight asparagus
1 Rosa Rugosa Alba
1 P. aureosulcata Bamboo
1. Rosemary-4 inch pot
1True Grosso Lavender
1 Horsradish
1Fred Boutin Lavender
1 Highbush cranberry

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dirty Laundry

Well, clean, actually. I've been intending since Labor Day to sum up my Clothesline Challenge. From May 29-Labor Day Weekend, I did 108 loads of laundry. Forty-eight of them were line-dried. I didn't quite make my goal of 50%. It was cold and rainy at the end of this summer, and I thought I'd get out and improve my percentage after Labor Day, but, honestly, I didn't. I may have dried 2 or 3 more loads before the weather got yucky.

Other laundry--
I did not count, in these totals, 4 outdoor furniture cushions that I washed in the washer and were dried outside, 4 loads of laundry that Ben did, nor 2 loads of laundry I did at my mother-in-law's house while we were on vacation.

I love laundry dried on the line. I love seeing the clothes flapping in the breeze. I love seeing the different sizes of my kids clothes all lined up. I love the smell of clothes dried on the line. Tried doing towels, but, yeah, prefer not to. Usually dried those with underwear, etc. in the dryer. I did hang kitchen towels and beach towels. I made my line bigger(it's not attractive) part way into the summer. I have a large-capacity front loader, so a load included a lot of laundry. I would like to get a better line, but what I have works, although I would need a different system in order to really up my percentages. I can't generally dry more than one load at a time, and with 6 people in my house, being able to dry more than one load would be advantageous. Benefits? Yummy-smelling clothes, fewer wrinkles, cooler house, cheaper electric bill, an excuse to be outside.

Pouring through the seed catalogs...

Working to make a realistic plan and not overdo the seed purchases...Everything looks lovely.

On the list, but not specifics yet--

Early season tomatoes in addition to some later ones--we're hoping to start these from seeds this year because it is our understanding that the blight came from the nursery tomatoes.

pickling cukes


>>I need to do some research and we need to take some precautionary measures regarding disease with these due to last year's problems. This will include some new soil.

In self-watering containers--
bush cukes
mini eggplants
mini melons
mini bell peppers

pumpkins of some sort (have a couple of different types of seeds already)
onions, particularly scallions
broccoli--probably a couple different varieties

snap peas
---again need to do research here--we've never had good luck with peas or peppers. I'm hoping a self-watering container will help with the peppers.

flowers/herbs (some for companion planting)
poppies (a couple varieties--we love these)

Hoping our perennials come back strong this spring.

We also have some other things coming this spring that I ordered back in July from Raintree. I have an email in to them to confirm what's coming, because I can't remember anymore, LOL.