Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Beginning and an End




The peas are nearly done; in a few days we will eat the few that are left and then pull the vines to add to the compost pile. However, the dwarf runner beans are making big red flowers! They don't show in the picture, but some very short, very new beans are also on those plants.

I just read today, in the newest issue (June/July 2009) of Mother Earth News, that runner beans do not do well in areas that have hot summers. This information makes me even more curious how this variety, Hestia, will do. I've not grown it before, but I was entranced by the thought of such short runner beans (20 inch vines!) with such big, beautiful flowers.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wilting in Wet Weather




Two of my tomato plants have a problem. They are being affected by either fusarium or verticillium wilt. Both of these conditions are caused by soil-borne fungi, and it is hard to distinguish between the two. The photo above of the main stem of one of the affected plants shows a collapsed vessel running up the stem, an early indicator of the infection.

The fact sheet on “Fusarium and Verticillium Wilts of Tomato, Potato, Pepper, and Eggplant” from Ohio State University Extension shows a very similar photo that features the collapsed vessel. It also shows pictures of affected leaves from a plant that is showing the additional (and usual) signs of infection.

When I pulled the two plants out and cut the stems open, the brown streaking described in the Ohio State fact sheet was also apparent, so I am extra-glad that I decided to trust my prior experience and remove those plants now, instead of waiting for the more standard signs.

Usually, the first symptom a gardener notices is some yellowing and/or wilted leaves on one side of the plant. However, we have had so much rain and so many cloudy days that the wilting hasn’t yet manifested. I only noticed the affected stems because a few weeds had popped up through the mulch in the tomato area, and I sat down to pull them out.

The affected plants are both Mortgage Lifters, grown from the same seed packet I have been using for three years now. This is the first year the Mortgage Lifters have had this problem. I am a little puzzled by the change, but it is possible that the cool and very wet weather—the previous two years were drought years!— has made the fungus especially vigorous.

To replace the diseased plants, I have purchased a couple of Better Boys. These are, like the Mortgage Lifters, indeterminate plants that produce large tomatoes. Hopefully, though, the Better Boys will resist the fungus. This variety has been officially declared VFN resistant, so their chances are good.

Luckily, the two new-to-me tomato varieties, Wuhib and Amish, that are planted in that same bed still look fine. However, I won’t declare them to be essentially resistant to whichever fungus in my yard is ruining the Mortgage Lifters for a few more weeks.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Critter Trouble

Between the rabbits and the rain, it is probably a minor miracle that my garden is as far along as it is, but at the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry garden where I volunteer, the trouble is worse. We've had to replant the half-runner beans and the cucumbers twice, the yellow squash, zucchetta, and corn once each, and re-insert the sweet potatoes into their hills once.

There are additional problems with the cucumbers and beans, but something is pulling nearly every other seedling right out of the ground, and we suspect that the something is crows.

I was talking yesterday with a gardening friend who comes from a long line of farmers and gardeners in this area. He told me that "crows" sounded like a good guess, and that they have been plaguing gardens and farms in this area for a very long time.

His grandfather, back when using firearms on your own property was allowed and when crows were not protected by law, used to shoot one crow at the beginning of the garden season and hang it by its feet from a post in the middle of the garden. Apparently, this was enough to ward off all the other crows until the plants were big enough that crows were no longer so interested in them.

I am pretty sure that, if the crow problem continues, this old-timey solution will sound a lot less gruesome and considerably more like good sense. However, I think we are more likely to use row-covers, instead of a rotting crow, to protect the little plants.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gardening in Georgia; Lasagna Garden

One of my neighbors is in this episode, explaining and demonstrating how to create a lasagna garden.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peas and a Radio Show

On Saturday I got to talk as a phone-in guest for about 15 minutes on the show America's Home Grown Veggies Hour on Sandy Springs Radio (at the top, select programs, then weekly, then Saturday to find an archived copy). I enjoyed talking about my garden with Kate Copley, the host, who also had Chef Anna as a guest. After my 15 minutes, Anna and Kate talked for a while about cooking with food from farmers’ markets and from gardens. The food segment was great to listen to, but it made me hungry!

One crop I had mentioned as doing well in this cool weather was peas. After I hung up, there was some speculation as to what, exactly, kind of peas I was growing. It was mentioned that the sensible choice would be to grow edible-pod peas like sugar snaps or snow peas, because this would provide the most food for the least work.

This strategy makes excellent sense and would definitely be a smart thing to do. However, there are all kinds of sense in the world, and in one version of “making sense” I have managed to rationalize the growing of English peas in my little garden, which is currently home to a six foot row of them. It produces about half to three-quarters of a cup of shelled peas every two or three days. This will continue for two or three weeks, and then pea season will be over.

The question, then, is what do I do with my tiny harvest of peas? So far this year, they have been added to pasta salad, curried vegetables, and a stir-fry (getting them from bowl to mouth with chopsticks was a challenge!). I’ve also had a half-cup serving just plain, with lunch, because I really like garden-fresh English peas.

If I have picked peas in the morning, I shell them right away and just blanch them in a little boiling water for a minute or two to preserve the sweetness and flavor. If they are going to be added to something for supper, the peas then get stored in the fridge until cooking time and then tossed into the main dish at the last minute. If the peas are to be eaten plain, they don’t get cooked any more unless I want them hot, and then they just get re-heated, which I think doesn’t really count as cooking.

The small quantities mean that I never have a big serving of just peas, but they also mean that I don’t have to sit for hours shelling them out. My family gets a little more variety in their diets, and I get the emotional boost of having my garden produce one more kind of vegetable at a time of year when the seasons are changing over. I know, I would get all these benefits from sugar snaps or snow peas, but (one more time!) I really like garden-fresh English peas!

This is one of the greatest features of gardening: every garden reflects the tastes (or idiosyncrasies?) of the gardener. Other people will love those sugar snaps or snow peas and, planting them, have the bigger harvest. I don’t worry about the possible waste of my limited garden space for English peas, though, partly because the trellis they are currently climbing will soon be overtaken by the slicing cucumbers that are planted about a foot away.

For the last three years, I have been growing the variety Miragreen, purchased from Fedco Seeds. For the last two years, the seed growers who provide Miragreen to Fedco have had some problems with the crop, so new seed has been unavailable. I used up the last of the seed in my packet this Spring, but if it isn’t available again in 2010, I won’t panic. I’ve grown the variety Wando before, and it worked just fine. Wando is available from many sources and shouldn’t be hard to find again.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tomato Grafting Update

I wrote back in January about grafting tomatoes, a technique described in a gardening book I had read. This Spring I grew extra seedlings so I could give the technique a try. When the plants seemed big enough, I followed the directions as well as I could, wishing the whole time that I had a couple of extra hands.

The instructions said that regular clear tape (“Sellotape”) could be used to hold the stems of the two tomato plants together, but this turned out to be a less than ideal tool for the job. The tape was too flexible and did not hold the plant stems together firmly enough.

Of the three pairs of plants that I tried to graft together, two died pretty quickly. The third, a Glacier grafted onto a Rutgers rootstock, is still alive, but the graft is less than perfect.

I spoke last week with another gardener who, it turns out, also tried grafting tomatoes for the first time this year, but he used special grafting clips to hold his plants together. His success rate was better: all three of his tomato pairs grafted successfully.

When we were talking, he couldn’t remember where his clips came from, but I have poked around online and found a source, hydro-gardens.com, and I have ordered grafting clips to try again.

I think this technique is worth perfecting because so many excellent (as described by others) tomatoes won’t survive the fungal spores (the VF in the initials VFN) that live in my yard. Using VFN-resistant rootstock, I should be able to grow more kinds of tomatoes.

I have started some more tomato seedlings so that I will be able to try grafting again. The plants will be big enough in just a few weeks, so they might even produce some tomatoes, if the grafting works, before the first frost in October. With that goal in mind, I have started Wuhib, a determinate paste tomato, and Rutgers, a determinate non-paste canning tomato.

Both are open-pollinated (heirloom), and I know that Rutgers produces well in my yard. Wuhib is still a bit of a question mark. I am growing it this year for the first time, and have planted in the ground only one plant so I won’t lose too much if it dies.

I plan to use Wuhib as the fruiting part of the graft and Rutgers as the rootstock. These are just seeds that I have plenty of. If the grafting clips work well, I will look for more tomato varieties to try the technique on next year.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Okra

Okra is a great vegetable for Georgia gardens. It has beautiful hibiscus-like flowers, loves the heat that comes in July, August, and September, and produces almost until the first frost in October. Okra needs full sun to do its best, and prefers (like most vegetables) that ideal, well-drained, high-in-organic-matter soil that occurs naturally in almost no yard in NW Georgia, but it seems to grow just fine in the clay that we have.

At the Plant-a-Row –for-the-Hungry garden where I volunteer, we will be planting the okra next week. We grow the variety Clemson Spineless, which is very productive but not as uncomfortable to harvest as some varieties.

UGA’s publication on Growing Okra in the Home Garden lists Clemson Spineless as growing only 4-5 feet tall, but our experience is that it gets more than seven feet high. When we harvest, a short person usually follows a tall person through the okra jungle to improve the odds of finding it all.

At my house, I have grown a much shorter okra variety, Cajun Jewel (not the same as Cajun Delight!), which produces full-sized pods but doesn't breach the three foot mark in my yard. However, at seed-ordering time this year, I ordered the variety Louisianna Short. It seemed like time to try a new variety, and this one should also be a good height for a front-yard garden while still producing full-sized okra pods.

I’ve already planted my okra. The seedlings have pushed up, spread their little seed-leaves (cotyledons), and made a start on the first true leaf. But anyone who has had trouble finding a dry day in between the rainy ones to finish planting the garden should not worry too much about the okra. In Cobb County, okra can be planted right through early June.

A Clemson University publication on okra describes some additional varieties that would be great in a front yard garden:

“The red-leafed okra varieties, such as ‘Red Velvet’, ‘Royal Burgundy’ (a 1988 All-America Selection winner) and others, are especially attractive as focal points or backdrops in flower borders. Numerous other varieties – often with red in the name - have deep red pods and bright green leaves. Red okra seeds are often shared between gardeners as “passalong” plants, and many of these have red pods and stems, but green leaves. ‘Little Lucy’, a 1998 All-America Selection winner, is a truly dwarf, red okra that grows to only 2 feet tall. It has red leaves and stems. The 3-inch-wide peachy yellow flowers are veined with red. ‘Little Lucy’ okra is terrific used either in flower borders or containers. ‘Silver Queen’ okra has pale lime-green pods that contrast with the deep green leaves. Red or purple okra pods turn green when cooked and are not startling on the plate.”

Friday, May 22, 2009

Berries

When the Heritage raspberries that we planted more than 15 years ago seemed to be in decline last summer, I decided to renovate the bed and order some new berry bushes. Even though the new berries probably shouldn't go where the old berries were, I figured that amending the soil with plenty of compost and adding some new soil from the local landscape supply company would allow the new plants to do well enough in that spot (this is a good example of rationalizing---amending an old bed is a lot easier than digging a new one).

When I bought new berries for this year, I ordered three wineberry plants and a Black Jewel raspberry plant. These wouldn’t completely fill the bed, but they would be a start. I chose these because, when we lived on the Eastern Shore, wineberries and black raspberries grew wild near our home, and they worked up into the best jam that I have ever made. I am hoping to replicate that jam in a year or two.

Anyway, the new plants arrived in good shape several weeks ago, but they are not yet in the ground. The Heritage raspberries seem to have recovered from whatever their problem was last year (two years of drought?), so I haven't pulled them up. That means I still need to find a place to plant the new berry bushes.

The new bushes have been bumped up into bigger pots for now, and as I spend more time working in the yard, I keep thinking that (surely!) I will find a good place for them. For now, though, I will just have to wait for the yard---and my brain---to identify that good place.

These new bushes all make very long canes and should be trellised, unlike the Heritage raspberries, and that will have to be taken into account when the final planting spot is chosen. Of course, I could just let them run riot like they did on the Eastern Shore. Those all seemed healthy and were certainly productive, but in some spots the thickets were nearly impenetrable and were home to numerous ticks.

In spite of the scratches and the ticks, we all really enjoyed picking and eating those berries---even our dog, Badger. She would eat, right off the prickly canes, all the berries that were in her reach.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

We are having an unusually late cool spell, with lows in the forties and highs in the low seventies. The lettuces, peas, and radishes are very happy. Normally at this time of year, highs are in the high eighties, lows are in the sixties, and the last of the lettuce is crammed into the fridge to keep it from turning bitter out in the heat.

This week, we quit cutting the asparagus, we pulled and ate the last of the carrots, and we started harvesting the peas. It looks as though this year we might actually eat all the cool-weather lettuce (except for the few heads of Tom Thumb that I am letting go to seed) before the cool weather ends. The spinach is all eaten---by us, not bugs or bunnies. We may have too many radishes.

Just before the start of the last big rain, my youngest son helped transplant the cucumbers and melons out to the garden. Actually, the rain started before we were quite finished, but, because of his help, most of the summer garden is finally planted. The popcorn is coming up, and so is the okra.

I still have sweet potatoes to plant, and the cool weather vegetables will need to be replaced as they finish. Dwarf runner beans will replace the radishes and some of the onions, (more)chard will replace the lettuce, and tomatoes will replace the garlic and the rest of the onions.

When the zucchini are killed off by the squash vine borers, they will be replaced by southern peas.

It's always good to have a plan!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stinkhorns!

Walking the dogs around the yard this morning I saw a clump of my favorite fungus, stinkhorns. I like these because they remind me of a line in that old TV show, Wings.

The line is spoken by the ditzy lady (Faye) behind the ticket counter. She is entertaining the waiting passengers with fun facts, and one is something like, “the pressure from a whale’s blowhole can shoot a baby 23 feet in the air” (I know the height number isn’t right, but the idea is). Then she says, “Isn’t mother nature a hoot?”

When I see stinkhorns, I think that line.

Sometimes the taxonomists do a good job of assigning helpful names, and the family name of the stinkhorns, Phallaceae, is an excellent example; they are all a bit phallic in appearance. Of course, the stinkhorn family contains many species, but I’m pretty sure the stinkhorns that pop up in my yard are Mutinus caninus (also called the dog stinkhorn; they aren't as tapered as M. elegans).

My 1979 copy of Ian Ross’s book Biology of the Fungi includes a little stinkhorn-related story from a 1959 text by Wasson and Wasson, about Charles Darwin’s aunt. The story is that she “used to seek out and destroy such horrible growths from the neighboring woods, so that when the maids of the household went out for walks, their morals would not be impaired.”

The commentary that follows the story is also interesting: “One assumes, of course, that Darwin’s aunt was, as are all censors, incapable of being affected by such gross objects.”

According to Kerry's Garden, the dog stinkhorn is edible. A comment under the post by Jim Krupnik adds that it is also considered a delicacy by the Chinese. It is possible that stinkhorns are the plant world's version of Limberger cheese. My in-laws used to say that the trick is getting it past your nose---then, it is pretty good. Needless to say, I never got that stinky cheese past my nose. I think the stinkhorns are going to stay out of my kitchen, but it is good to know that they aren't at all dangerous.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This Fungus is Food

Today, I got an inoculated shiitake log from my friend Eddie Rhoades of Bittersweet Gardens in Marietta. The log is dogwood, and it has little wax spots that show on the outside where holes were drilled to admit the purchased spore plugs.

I will need to soak the log in non-chlorinated water for a while, to get the log plenty damp inside, then sink one end of it into soil in a shady place. The log will be standing vertically. In a year or less, I should be able to harvest some shiitake mushrooms from the log. According to Eddie, the log will produce for at least two years, and possibly three.

One really great aspect of this endeavor is that the log should provide more food from the shady backyard. None of my backyard is sunny enough for tomatoes, but parts of it are sunny enough (barely) for some fruits, like raspberries. The plants would make more fruit if more sun hit those bushes, but for the shiitake mushrooms, more sun is not needed. In fact, it could be detrimental.

Plenty of yards in the Atlanta area don't have enough sun for a vegetable garden, but they could probably grow excellent gourmet mushrooms on logs.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What To Do about Those Tomato Suckers

The only tomato plants I remember having seen pruned (other than in catalogues and magazines) were on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. They were grown by a guy named Dave, who trained his tomatoes up stakes.

They looked odd to me, but I am the gardener who let her tomato plants sprawl on the ground back then, so my view was a bit uninformed. Regardless of how they looked, those skinny plants did produce tomatoes.

Since my plants are (since moving to Georgia) always in cages, I have never pruned the suckers off my tomato plants, but recently someone asked about pruning, so I looked it up. Most of what I read mentioned that pruning off the lower suckers helped prevent disease-causing, soil-borne spores from splashing up from the soil onto lower leaves. That makes sense, but mulching immediately after planting can serve the same purpose.

However, an article on Tomato Pruning from the Fine Gardening website explains some additional benefits. Besides the avoidance of disease, pruning can increase the size of tomatoes produced, but the numbers might be lower. Essentially, the goal is larger fruits produced until frost, and this is achieved partly by pruning off all suckers below the first flower cluster and partly by pruning off all flower buds that form within a month or so of the first frost date in Autumn.

The tomatoes planted in my garden are already mulched, and they are all (I think) disease resistant varieties, so blocking soil-borne spores is not a big concern for me right now. The two tomato plants that might not be resistant are new to me: Wuhib (a plum type) and Amish (given to me by the Tomato Man of Kennesaw). The Yellow Marble tomato is in a pot, so its disease resistance is not an issue. It is not in my yard’s soil.

I am not 100% convinced that fewer/bigger tomatoes (pruned plants) is better than more/smaller tomatoes (unpruned plants). However, I am willing (as always) to experiment.

Two Rutgers tomatoes are planted side by side in this year’s tomato bed, and I plan to prune one, following directions in the Fine Gardening article, and compare its production to the un-pruned Rutgers plant. Two plants will not really be enough for a definitive answer, but they might help determine whether further experimentation is worth the effort.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hail Damage

Two weeks ago, on Thursday, 23 Apr 09, we had hail. This was just little hail, smaller than regular marbles at my house, but there was a LOT of hail (the ground was white with it).

A couple of my tomato plants were snapped in half, so I replaced those with a couple of my “back-up” plants (I usually grow a few spares, for emergencies). Figs were knocked off my fig tree, but there isn’t anything I can do about that except heave a big sigh and resign myself to a longer wait for figs, when the next crop sets later in the summer.

The Hosta leaves have holes where the little hailstones went right through, and the leaves on my Bigleaf Magnolia are absolutely shredded. Luckily, not all the leaves on the magnolia, or even all the Hosta leaves, were completely unfurled, so the leaves that have emerged since the storm aren’t in such bad shape. In other words, in my yard, the damage was fairly minimal.

This Monday, though, a friend asked about damage to the beefsteak tomato plants she had grown from seed. Hers were planted out at a much larger size than mine, and they have white spots on the stems where they were bruised by hailstones.

The article “Farm Photo: Hail Damage to Local Farms” discussing crop damage from a 2008 hailstorm in North Carolina mentions the possibility of lowered production and the increased risk of disease resulting from mechanical damage to the tomato stems where they were hit by hail.

This makes sense because tomato plants will seal off vascular tissue at areas that have been damaged; this means they won’t get good nutrient flow, and the tissue at those bruised sites could die. Dead tissue is always a treat for bacteria, so any resulting disease wouldn’t be a big surprise.

However, I remember a couple of years back, seeing Grandpa Bill’s tomato plants in Choctaw, Oklahoma, that had been through a spectacular hailstorm. That hailstorm was later in the season; the plants were loaded with tomatoes, and most of those were damaged beyond usability. In addition, the plants were very battered, and the bruised places all turned black. Not pretty. Recently, when I asked Grandpa Bill about how those plants did after the storm, he said that they produced plenty of good tomatoes before the end of the season.

Since the Oklahoma hailstorm was later in the season, replacing them after the storm, if they had been totally flattened, probably wouldn’t have been a realistic option. Now, though, in Georgia, it is still early enough to plant out larger-sized transplants and expect an abundant harvest. If any tomato plants were battered beyond recovery, the likelihood of good production, just a bit later than hoped-for, from new transplants, is high.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Two Crops Doing Well Enough




The lettuces, mostly Oakleaf, with Tom Thumb in front, are doing well, thanks to relief from the heat that accompanied some overly-abundant rain in the last several days. The yellow onions are starting to make bulbs, which is a good sign for the future of my pantry.

Once again, the yard is squishy, but I am very glad to actually have rain this spring, unlike the last couple of springs. I will even accept (without too much fussing) the slugs and snails that come with it.

The Timing of Good Food

We are still eating asparagus from the garden, but I will need to stop harvesting pretty soon so it can work on storing up energy for next year’s harvest. We still have lettuce and spinach in the garden, even though we have been eating it as salad and on sandwiches. (I made pseudo-Schlotzsky’s sandwiches on this bread last night for supper, and they were a big hit. It takes a lot of lettuce to shred enough for a big sandwich.)

This weekend, I plan to harvest rhubarb for a birthday pie, but I think the lone plant isn’t robust enough for more than one harvest.

Hopefully, the Slobolt lettuce will still be good for harvesting into late May and early June, even as the weather warms, but if the reality of Slobolt doesn’t match its advertised description, the chard will be good, and big enough for harvesting, when the other spring greens are gone or bolted into bitterness.

In just a few days, we’ll start to get some peas, but not tons—the row of peas is only six feet long. There are radishes, too, in various stages of development, and we should be bringing those in to eat for a couple of weeks.

After that, though, except for the chard, parsley, and possibly the Slobolt lettuce, we will be in a vegetable-garden void—a time when nothing is really ready for eating. The bush beans will start producing surprisingly soon—likely mid-June; they always do, but I really don’t like that two or three week lack of production. It’s part of why I plant chard—it is harvestable in that in-between time of late May and early June when the spring crops are done and summer crops aren’t yet producing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pest Control: Cucumber Pickleworms

Planting time is a good time to think about pest control, so I looked up the UGA fact-sheet on growing cucumbers and found a warning about cucumber beetles—keep them under control (through unspecified means) because they spread disease. That could be a useful warning, but I am pretty sure I have never had a problem with cucumber beetles. My pest problem in cucumbers is cucumber pickleworms .

Last year, the cucumber pickleworms had a very good year, and my cucumbers had a correspondingly bad year. Almost all of my cucumbers had the little shot-holes that show where a larva has eaten its way into the fruit. The little pests were also worse than usual at the Plant a Row for the Hungry garden where I volunteer, so I know the problem was not just in my yard.

I have a copy of The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control , and when I realized the cucumber harvest was in serious jeopardy I checked the pickleworm section for advice. One suggestion was to plant a “trap crop” of yellow squash, since the pickleworm likes those even better than it likes cucumbers. The other advice was to plant early maturing varieties of cucumbers so that a good harvest could be brought in before the pickleworms totally demolished the crop.

This advice might have been useful a couple of months earlier (at planting time!), but it didn’t help much at the time. However, spring has come around again, and I have another chance. I am not changing my cucumber varieties, though, because they already are varieties that mature fairly early, and I don’t really have the space for trap-crops, other than the zucchini that usually keels over before the onslaught of the pickleworm, so I am hoping for a different solution.

The Pickleworm Management page from North Carolina State University, recommends the use of Sevin (carbaryl) to manage pickleworms. People who are averse to using pesticides (even this one which is a relatively safe chemical for home gardeners to use), are going to hope for another option.

According to the fact sheet Cucumber, Squash, Melon & Other Cucurbit Insect Pests from Clemson University, pickleworms don’t survive winter freezing, and the adults fly up from Florida each year:


“In South Carolina, pickleworms starve or freeze to death during the winter. They overwinter in Florida and spread northward each spring. Severe damage usually does not occur before summer in South Carolina. Heavy populations generally do not build up before the first flower buds open; however, late crops may be destroyed before blossoming.”


It seems reasonable that when the Southeast has an early or unusually warm spring, or early, strong winds heading north out of Florida, the pickleworm damage might start earlier than usual, like it did last year.

A couple of those linked resources also mention that the parent of the pickleworm is a night-flying moth. This seems like information that could be used to thwart those pickleworms. I am thinking about covering some of my plants at night, to keep the moths from laying eggs on my plants, then uncovering the plants in the morning, so bees and other pollinators can get to the flowers.

This sounds like work, I know, and some of my cucumbers will be trellised and a serious hassle to cover up each night. So, I will leave the trellised vines uncovered and only cover the pickling cucumbers that will be sprawling on the ground this year. This way I will have both an experimental plot--covered-- and a control plot--uncovered-- (ignoring that they are different kinds of cucumbers), so the experiment may be able to tell me whether the nighttime covering makes a difference in pickleworm infestation.

I’ll let you know how the experiment turns out.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Butler Did It

...or maybe it was that rabbit. Either way, there are no squash plants out in my yard, and there should be. Last night I filled little pots with potting soil to re-start the squash. Since melons and cucumbers are probably equally tempting to whatever ate the squash plants, I've started those in pots, too.

When I plant them out, I will have to cover them all with netting until they are big enough to be less tasty. Luckily, I have a coupon for a nearby fabric store that I can use when purchasing more tulle netting. Tulle seems to work just fine as a substitute for the (more expensive) row-cover fabric sold through the seed catalogues that come to the house.
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