May 2009


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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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

I’ve been sick in bed, wishing I could get outside to take pictures of the bean seedling explosion taking place today. I decided to check up on the blogs I follow, and I was stunned to find that my friend, Annie’s Granny, has chosen me as one of her picks to receive this beautiful award!

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Thank you so much, Granny! I don’t get to update as much as I’d like to, and I’m new to the blogging game, so I’m very honored that you have chosen me. I will pass it along with pleasure! Of course, everyone that I read has I think been given one already. I’ll have to hand out awards when I’m feeling more coherent.

Since I don’t have any new garden photos (maybe tomorrow if I feel better and it’s not pouring outside), here’s a special one just for Granny, and her Annie.

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That’s Marvelous Marvin, Annie’s long distance boyfriend, enjoying his favorite Harley Davidson blanket. And don’t ask me why we have that blanket in the first place…..we don’t have a motorcycle nor the desire to ever own one.