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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back from Vacation

Well we went on vacation, we were fairly nervous about this because we had just planeted our late summer garden. We installed a drip irrigation system the week before we left...I'll do a post on how we did that later. But this allowed us to set the timer to water while we were away.

When we left, the garden looked like this:

And, when we returned, it looked like this:

Today (a week later) it looks like this:

Things look great so far! The squash are starting to bloom.

We tried to time things to keep insect problems minimized and you'll see in the pictures, that has worked for the most part. We timed it based on what we were planting (squash, corn, eggplant, peas) and the life cycle of their main pests (squash bugs, vine borers, beetles, worms, etc..). We figure that by now, most of these pests are already in the adult stage: getting ready to die off, or go dormant soon. We know there may be another generation of squash bugs, but they haven't shown so far. We'll see how this works; we expect better results than spring when all the eggs hatch and the bugs come out hungry! Its just an experiment.

Our corn has been attacked by Thrips.

We sprayed with Neem Oil. This helped a lot. The damage stopped getting worse and the corn responded with great growth. Then it rained (first time all summer) and the Thrips have returned. So this weekend, I expect to spray with Neem Oil and fertilize with Bone Meal.

Last weekend we side dressed the corn with compost.

So how is the Three Sisters planting working? (Corn - center front, climbed by peas/beans - small plant right front, flanked by squash to cover the ground - larger plants on outer edges of photo)
Well, I think it is working beautifully even with the two things that I will change next time.

What would I change?
1 - I would change the timing in which I planted. I planted the corn first along with the squash and then planted the peas two weeks later. As you can see the squash has outgrown everything. So I should have waited and planted the squash a few week after the corn. But for the most part, the corn is holding its own and the peas are coming in nicely and should be able to climb the corn.

In the following picture, you can see the squash growing over the peas. The corn is doing well and I will soon train the peas to climb the corn. Unfortunately the other corn stalks didn't make it----I probably pulled them with the weeds :(.

2 - Row Spacing. I got my spacing off. As you can see, the squash is also taking up the space in between the rows; where I am supposed to be able to walk for harvesting and maintenance. You can also see that the squash is smoothering some of the peas and corn....but had I planted the squash later, they would be growing under the peas and corn as intended....not over them. Hopefully the peas and corn will still reach their height and push the squash under them soon.

See below, there is no room to walk! I am supposed to be able to walk on either side of the outer two corn stalks. Oh well, live and learn.

So how is this working beautifully?
I love this interplanting because it seems to be confusing the insects or at least helping avoid infestations. There was only one section of corn suffering from thrips before the rain. After the rain, a different section has some minor Thrip damage. I believe that had my corn been planted in a traditional row, all of the corn would be affected. It would be so easy for the thrips to move down the row and infest the whole crop. This is true for the other insects as well.

This shows the thrip damage to the new section of corn (after the rain). As you can see, this damage is very minimal and the corn is alot bigger now to withstand their attack. Just waiting on the silks now...got my pepper and vegetable oil ready!

The eggplants and peas are doing well. My eggplants stunted slightly after transplant, but now they have rebounded and have started to take off.


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