We went to a library sale a couple weeks ago (yes, it has been that long since I’ve been able to set aside time to write an update!) and I thought I’d share my haul with you. A grocery bag of books for $3 makes you forget to edit your selections before you buy.

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The most….well….unusual book would be “Unusual Vegetables”. There are 79 suggestions of uncommon veggies to grow if you get tired of tomatoes and peppers. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but there are some interesting suggestions with in depth descriptions of nutritional advantages over more common varieties and instructions of how to grow them successfully.

I also picked up a book called “Carpet Gardening”, which I thought was about low growing alternatives for grass, but it turns out it’s about how to use actual carpets in your garden as mulch. Uh, I don’t think so.

The same day I picked up an extra large garlic roaster and a couple of old ball jars with their seals for $2 at a church sale!

I just received a timely blog posting from the UCONN extension blog about floating row covers that I thought some people may find useful.

Hello, ladies and gentlemen! I’m back after a bit of a hiatus. I’ve been preoccupied with some personal issues that have taken a toll on my physical and mental energy levels for a few weeks. I’ve been reading the comments I’ve received on some older posts, and I thank you for all of your input. Never fear, I’ve been more or less keeping up with the garden, I just haven’t had the desire to sit down and report on it. No reflection on you, of course….I’m sure all five of you are waiting with bated breath to find out how my peppers are. And the answer to that hot button question is, they’re doing beautifully!

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I got them in the ground a couple days ago, after the 3 month long struggle to keep them alive in the P-E-A-T pots. Shhhh…..I refuse to say that four letter word again. Ones I transferred them to the large plastic cups that I had my tomatoes in they absolutely flourished. I hate to think how much bigger they’d be if I hadn’t lost so much time in the beginning.

I’ve finally started harvesting lettuce too. Yay!

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I’m only grabbing enough for the two of us at a time, so my harvest weight isn’t too big, but it sure is nice to walk outside and grab a handful of greens, walk inside and serve them. I made a caesar salad for myself yesterday.

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I’m not having such good luck with my brassicas. None of the cauliflower has started to form heads yet, and I’m assuming they won’t. I know they’re very finicky, and they need ideal conditions to grow, which we absolutely have not had this year. Massive temperature swings, tons of rain…..the leaves look beautiful, but you can’t eat the leaves! And I was so proud of myself for saving the one that flopped over on its side using a drinking straw around the stem. Watch out, MacGyver! I don’t have anything else to put in their place so I guess I’ll just leave them and see what happens. I also have small broccoli heads that are already starting to separate due to the hotter temperatures we’ve been having. And only one of the two varieties is forming heads at all. I guess I know which one to focus on next year. Packman all the way.

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All of my tomato plants are either in the SWCs or have been given away to friends. I’m so pleased with the way they’re turning out. They were doing very well inside and didn’t seem to be screaming for more room, but once they went out they really started to take off.

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I’ve even got a few babies on the Mortgage Lifter. I know I should probably take them off so the plant can gain some more height first but I just can’t!!!
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In the bulb bed, the garlic just keeps growing and growing! The plants are so beautiful I think I’m going to stick some in other parts of the yard this fall.

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And the onions from Dixondale Farms are still plugging along. I really need to get in there and do some weeding.

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The cukes have sprouted! I hope they do well, I’m anxious to try to make pickles.

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The squash seeds didn’t take very long at all to germinate. I had started some inside a couple weeks ahead of the direct sown seeds but the seeds quickly outgrew the starts. I don’t think I was too late in direct planting so I’m just going to stick with those. I had row covers over everything because I had read that it was a good approach to keeping the squash bugs away for as long as possible. I read to only remove the covers for a brief period while the flowers are in bloom to let the bees have a go at them, and then to cover them right back up. However, with the rain we’ve had I think the row covers might be doing more harm than good. Is this Powdery Mildew?

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It doesn’t scrape off, and I don’t see the spots I had last year when it devastated my crop. But it does have that powdery look, although it seems to be starting on the veins. I’m really not sure.

I’ll have to come back for a second post later tonight to show off some flea market finds!

I hope everyone is well and enjoying a plentiful harvest. :)

I need some help with identifying a problem. In the past couple of days a few of my bean plants have developed curling leaves, and I noticed tonight that one of the plants has what looks like bulging veins. I looked up the leaf curl, and I see that aphids are a potential culprit, but I don’t see any and we have a gazillion ants in the beds, so I’d be surprised if they weren’t taking care of aphids. Any ideas? Could it be a simple case of getting too cold at night?

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Also, one of my cauliflower plants was leaning over on its side, but still attached. I can’t tell if there are nibble marks at the base or if they’re just stress marks from it bending over. We had very high winds here yesterday, so I’m not ruling out natural causes. It’s just weird that it’s in between other plants and none of the surrounding ones look affected. I cut a straw and put it around the stem to support it and keep it upright, just in case there’s any possibility of it healing itself.

But here’s the big news……wait for it……

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….the first flower bud! Actually, THREE flower buds clustered on a Bloody Butcher! I’ve been trying to start the hardening off process but even though our daytime temps are in the 60s and 70s it has been dropping down to the high 30s at night. That is supposed to end in the middle of the week, so I need to construct something to contain the plants and be able to leave them outside. I’m thinking just making a “tomato pen” out of plywood and laying something with holes in it across the top so it gets partial sun and partial shade. I have to think about what we have in the garage to use.

In other news, the peat pots have killed my remaining crookneck plants. I swear it’s those pots!!! I check everything every day, I make sure to water deeply so the pots get wet, and then the next morning they’re bone dry and the plants are dead. Against the popular advice about peppers not appreciating transplanting, I decided not to leave them in those blasted pots anymore, and I VERY CAREFULLY moved them into plastic cups like the tomatoes. I only did this on Saturday and, maybe it’s my imagination, but they already look so much better! The purple veining has vastly improved since my fish/seaweed fertilizer application too.

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I’ve managed to keep my last two eggplants alive in the peat pots but they’re not even growing.

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At least the cucumbers seem to be okay. I think the round peat pots were much more prone to drying out than the square ones, so the things that were grown in the squares have fared better.

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I actually went out yesterday and direct sowed the last bed, even seeding for the squash and cuke plants I have growing inside. I just don’t trust those pots! I hope I can keep everything that’s still surviving alive and I don’t have to be set back by starting seeds outside weeks after I started them inside, but at least there will be some kind of backup if these peat pot plants fail. I’m already looking forward to next year when I can live a peat-pot free existence!

I’m calling this post the Daytime Update because since I took the pictures I’m posting below, there have been new developments that I need to capture when I get home tonight!

These pics were taken on Saturday, 5/9.

There has been some notable growth this week on most fronts.

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I don’t have to baby the peas anymore, as they’ve found their own way to the next tier of the netting. It’s so amazing to see how each plant curls its little tendrils around anything it finds on its way up. Nature is amazing.

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The spinach leaves are starting to get bigger and bigger, and the lettuce is taking off too….if things keep going at this rate we’ll be having greens sooner than I thought.

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I’m going to have to thin out the carrots a bit….I tried dropping one seed at a time but it’s next to impossible! I’d say I did pretty well considering the size of those things. There are only a few places where there are double sprouts growing.

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I’m starting to question the “pole” designation on the Kentucky Blue beans I got. They’re looking awfully similar to the bush beans planted in front of them. In fact the bush beans are taller right now. Do pole beans start off the same way as bush beans and then start to climb eventually? I’m seeing online that there may be a bush and a pole variety of Kentucky Blue, which doesn’t make sense to me. But the seeds from Fedco clearly say “Pole Beans”.

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The broccoli and cauliflower continue to look awesome, but still no heads forming. I’m getting impatient! I haven’t seen any evidence of insect damage yet. I did find a tiny worm on one of the pea leaves yesterday, but I’m pretty sure he blew from a tree in the high winds we had yesterday. I picked him off and I’ll keep an eye out to make sure he was a loner. If not, I’ll be spraying some BT on the nearby brassicas.

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Here is the first public glimpse of the onion plants I got from Dixondale Farms a few weeks ago. They’ve let their old leaves die off and new ones are sprouting up now. I was a little worried about these guys dislodging from the soil because they didn’t have long root systems, but they established new roots and have their feet firmly planted now. I’m still questioning this 4 per square recommendation but I’ll leave them alone until I have reason to think they’re crowding each other out.

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Now on to non-veggie related topics. We’ve been focussing on the interior of the house since we moved in a few years ago, and now we’re trying desperately to fix our neglected lawn, which has erupted in moss over the last couple years. Where there isn’t moss, there’s patchy, ugly grass. There is a clearly defined line between our lawn and our neighbor’s. I attribute that to their use of chemicals, which we don’t want to use. So we did a lot of research starting with Garden Web, and set up a plan of action. I so wish we were closer to some farming areas because we can’t seem to find a source for corn gluten or alfalfa meal. Both are excellent natural fertilizers. I don’t think we looked hard enough, honestly. The farms aren’t THAT far away. We managed to find some other kind of organic lawn fertilizer at Ace and picked it up along with the appropriate seed and lots of lime. We also bought an aerator, despite my husband’s insistence that he can just “do it with a pointy stick”. Sure you can! Now let’s get real and put the aerator in the cart.

I came home from work last night to find that something got through the barbed wire (OK, bird netting) and chewed one of the broccoli plants right at the stem. My first thought was “Oh no, I have cutworms!” but then I realized that the leaves laying at the base of the stem were actually chewed off a cauliflower plant in the next square, and the broccoli was 3 squares over. There were also some digging marks, thankfully in unplanted squares. I knew I was bound to lose some plants, but I didn’t think anything would want to eat broccoli! Apparently, they realized they don’t like broccoli anyway because they didn’t actually eat the plant, they just decapitated it. Meanwhile they left the lettuce and peas alone. Very strange.

Rows left to right: Kilarney Red, Inchelium Red, Music, German Extra Hardy

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