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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Late Summer Garden Layout

So I decided to create a diagram of the garden's layout. This is to clarify what I mean by the Three-Sister-Planting and companion planting.

I saw a black bug on my peas last night; I gave him a good thumbing. Other than that, all looks well. No chewing and growing well. We accidentally watered for 1.5 hours on Saturday, so we hope to not have to water for at least a week. So far, the soil is still moist on top.

The pepper transplants have all dissappeared. Not sure why. I am still taking care of them, hoping the roots are still alive and they'll come to. Perhaps the transplanting didn't go well, so they'll take a little longer to come to. Hopefully an insect didn't get to them.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spring Garden Recap

So, this blog was started after the Spring's harvest. But I feel that I should recap how spring gardening went.

All vegetables were started indoors using Burpee seeds purchased at Lowes. We planted Celebrity and Roma tomatoes, Spinach, Broccoli, Banana Peppers, and Onion.

The garden was a raised bed made of cedar boards and covered in cedar mulch.

The spinach was ready in no time. We harvested two basket fulls before it got to hot for them.

The tomatoes did wonderfully! We harvested several baskets full.

We blanched and froze each harvest. We had minor issues with the hornworm, a very few fruitworms, sporatic blossom end rot, some cat-scalding, and lots of cracking. We had spiders that set up several webs, so we left them alone and they seems to help keep the worm population at a minimum. We never had to spray for insects; as the spiders showed up shortly after the hornworms came. Only pulled 3 tomatoes with fruitworm damage.

We fought some type of fungus the whole time. But it never seems to affect our fruit or production. Once the summer heat took over, things got ugly. The fungus took over and the plants were too old to fight it off. We finally decided to pull them late-July. The production had all but stopped and the fungus was about 100% coverage and the last few fruits got sunscald because the fungus had so damaged the fruits.

If anybody can identify the fungi that got my old tomato plants, I would appreciate it!

The broccoli made for some beautiful plants, but from 6-7 plants; I only got one head! What happened!? They never flowered either. When I finally gave up and pulled thr broccoli. I found that it was coevered with these small worms that I have ID'd as cabbage worms. Did they prevent the broccoli from coming to a head?

The broccoli is on the far end of the bed (the tomatos are closest to the camera)
My only broccoli head
Banana Peppers
Well, the pepper plants look good, but didn't produce the way I am accustomed to peppers producing. I know realize that I treated them like step children. This was my first year doing tomatoes and I babied the tomato plants to the detriment of the peppers. I mean, I just now fertilized them three months after transplanting! My bad, but they spoiled me. In the past, I could ignore peppers and I got more than I cared for. Well, they are still healthy looking and I just hope that I can make up with them and they'll give me a nice late-summer harvest. I have recently added more peppers where the broccoli once was.
I should also mention that one broccoli plant got planted a little too close to the tomato. Well, it looked like a beautiful relationship in the beginning. It helped the unsupported tomato plant grow upright. But the tomato plant may have blocked too much sun and I am sure that this pepper plant was affected by the tomato plants fungi. However, the pepper plant has not succumb to it at all. Its holding its own. Its my biggest pepper plant, but it is producing the least....I think because the tomato crowded it out. I mean its literally on top of and intertwining the pepper plant.

Last Summer Garden Planted

So this weekend (7/22) I planted our late summer garden. The goal for this garden is to begin harvesting mid-late September. We hope to complete harvesting by the end of October and then plant a fall garden.

For the late summer garden, we've planted:

Started Indoors (All Burpee Seeds from Home Depot)
Burpee Hybrid Eggplants (sulfur mixed with compost in the hole), , Jalapeno Early Peppers (sulfur), Red Roster Hybrid Red Bell Peppers(sulfur), , Bi-Licious Corn, Butterstick Hybrid Yellow Squash, Burpee's Fordhock Zucchini Squash

Started Outdoors (All Burpee Seeds from Home Depot)
Ruby Queen Hybrid Corn, Pinkeye Purple Hull Cowpeas (inoculant in the hole), Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans (two weeks after corn; inoculant in the hole)

Planted for Companionship
Radish, Nasturium, Marigold, Borage, Cilantro -- all planted to repel insects.

Since I was planting transplants that were started indoors. I also fertilized everything with 4 cups alfalfa pellets, 1/2 cup bone meal, 1/4 cup blood meal, 1/2 cup epsom salt. I did not add any lime because my soil's ph is 7.0, so it can use a little extra sulfur. I just sprinkled this above the compost (ground) and watered everything. I also used blood meal because my soil tested as low in nitrogen; otherwise, it is not needed.
Here are some pics of the new garden:

So here is the Late Summer garden bed. It extends just past my spring bed (where the spring tomatoes have stopped producing, the spinach has been long gone, the broccoli never came to a head, but the onions are still perked upright. The peppers are just beyond the tomato plants you see in the old (further) bed).

This late summer garden is employing the three sisters technique. The 1st 4 rows are squash, corn, and beans. The last (closest to camera) three rows are peas and eggplant...incorporating the same three sister type of alternating setup.

Until the transplants get a little taller, I have left them unmulched. So the mulch that you see is in the walking rows. The dirt you see is where the food is planted and I don't want to lose them under the mulch yet. The mulch is newspaper covered by straw hay.

New Pepper Bed (in old bed beyond the tomatos, next to spring planted banana peppers that are still slowly producing).

Bi-Licious Corn planted in a diamond....beans will be planted between each corn plant two weeks after the corn was planted. Borage is planted in the center....may not sprout, may be too hot for it.
Squash - planted in a triangle; marigold planted in the center, nasturium just outside the triangle...hope they emerge.
Purple Hull Cow Peas; radish planted in the center

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Welcome to our family gardening blog! We are so excited to share our gardening adventures with everyone. This is not our first garden. We have had several over the years. BUT, this is the first year that we have been serious about gardening....mainly because food prices are getting outrageous. But we also realized how good food from our garden tastes. Its nothing like getting fresh food from the garden.

After so many food recalls in 2009-2010, I decided to learn more about the food that I was buying in grocery stores and at restaurants. Let me just tell you that what I discovered was disgusting, appauling, and disgraceful. Imagine going to a restuarant and ordering a meal that costs you at least $15 and they make portions of it from powder. I WANT REAL FOOD. The things they feed the animals that are butchered.....cows are natural vegetarians, so why feed them anything else! And the chemicals that they ruthlessly spray on the food that I prepare for my family. Anyone who has kept a farm has felt the devestation of losing a crop to a disease or insect infestation. Well, imagine if that crop was your livelihood. What corners would you cut, what chemicals would you spray to save your crop which in turns saves your income, your house, your family's livelihood? And the chances of it being traced back to your farm....have they figured out where the last salmonella outbreak came from?

So of course, we are organic farmers and our ultimate goal is to -- eventually -- raise almost all of our vegetables and most of our fruit. We hope to raise extra to donate to local food shelters. We hope to become skilled enough so that once we retire, we can supplement our income by growing most of our food!