Cauliflower


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’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.

I’m not going to use peat pots anymore. They dry out so quickly that I keep losing plants from lack of water, even though I check them every day and water accordingly. Within 24 hours my peat potted plants went from looking okay to looking dead. Most of them sprung back to life overnight but one pepper and one eggplant are beyond hope.

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Everything I have grown in peat pots has had one problem or another. But everything that went into plastic containers is great. This makes an even stronger case for getting block makers next year. The tomatoes in the plastic cups are going like gangbusters!

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Outside, the peas I planted last weekend have all sprouted and are looking pretty strong so far.

Kentucky Blue pole beans and Golden Rocky Wax beans

Kentucky Blue pole beans and Golden Rocky Wax beans

Provider bush bean

Provider bush bean

And some other updates…

Sugar Snap peas and Harmony spinach

Sugar Snap peas and Harmony spinach

Sweet Salad carrots

Sweet Salad carrots

Clear Dawn and Dakota Tears onions (the newly planted onions don't look too great but I think they need more time to establish themselves)

Clear Dawn and Dakota Tears onions (the newly planted onions don't look too great but I think they need more time to establish themselves)

Valmaine lettuce

Valmaine lettuce

Packman broccoli

Packman broccoli

Snow Crown cauliflower

Snow Crown cauliflower

Marvin checking out the camera

Marvin checking out the camera

Well okay, before I start getting into the problems, let’s look at some things that are going well.

Let’s start outside, shall we?

It was a very foggy evening tonight…the yard looked so serene. Except for the PVC obstacle course!

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On Saturday I planted more seeds: a second round of spinach (2 varieties), a second round of lettuce (4 varieties), a second round of carrots (first round sprouting now), and leeks (already sprouting). I planted the second round of broccoli and cauliflower plants as well.

The peas are starting to send out their tendrils! It won’t be long now before they’re climbing the trellis.

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The spinach is progressing slowly, but I do see some growth from day to day.

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The garlic is growing like gangbusters! I think there has been a burst of activity since I hit it with some seaweed fertilizer last week. The forsythia bloomed overnight as well.

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Not everything looks so good though…..

…..am I the only person in the world whose lettuce isn’t showing any sign of growth after surfacing two weeks go? I mean, all four varieties…nothing!

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And the cauliflower has some red leaves. After some reading I think this is a boron deficiency. Here is one of the affected Cassius plants:

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This started happening inside to both cauliflower and broccoli. I doused the younger seedlings with seaweed fertilizer before it started affecting them and I think it might have done the trick. Here is a younger Snow Crown cauliflower:

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Has this happened to anyone else? The plants are still strong. I hope the newer growth will look healthier and that this won’t affect the heads when/if they develop.

Let’s venture into the basement….

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Here is one of 3 Orient Express eggplants that germinated:

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The tomatoes are all looking really good, if a little short. I’m keeping the lights so close on them, I think they’re building up their stems and spreading out their leaves instead of growing leggy. I’m really pleased with the stockiness of the plants so far.

Sungold:

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Brandywine:

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Now here’s the 64K question. What is happening with my pepper plants? They are strong and healthy, and yet they’re developing purple leaves!

Here’s an unaffected Marconi:

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But then here’s a California:

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And a Jimmy Nardello:

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See the veiny purple sections on some of the leaves? They are much more purple than the pictures show…..Wordpress sure does desaturate the hell out of pictures. They look so nice before I upload them. Anyway, there are a few more affected plants as well. It doesn’t seem to be bothering the plants, I just can’t figure out what it is! I read one website that said not to put peppers on a heat mat, which they are, but another site said to keep them warm. One site said it could be a phosphorus deficiency and another site said it’s stress and it happens sometimes but it’s nothing to worry about. I’m sure if I dig around the internet long enough I’ll find someone who thinks aliens sneak in during the night and inject the leaves with a purple radioactive dye. Can anyone give me any insight? I don’t want to blindly fertilize without knowing for sure that they need it for fear that I’ll overfertilize them and stress them even more.

Ah well, as the garden turns….

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