Garlic


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!

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. 🙂

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

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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….

I have been very busy outside over the last week, not just in the garden but around the yard. I took a vacation day today to give me a four day weekend and really focus on cleaning up and preparing for the garden to take off. OK, so maybe my busiest week can’t hold a candle to my friend EG’s slowest, but I feel pretty accomplished!

Let’s start with last weekend. I planted the first round of broccoli plants outside; two Packman and two Fiesta. Those yellow leaves are dying off, but the plants seem to be okay otherwise.

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I’ve got two more younger plants of each under the lights for second planting next week, along with Snow Crown and Cassius cauliflower plants.

I’m happy to say that I see most of my seeds sprouting out there. I was concerned about the possibility of the squirrels having moved them around, but they seem to be coming up where I planted them for the most part. Here are some Harmony spinach seedlings:

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I can also see seedlings emerging of Space spinach, and Valmaine, Little Caesar, Victoria, and Buttercrunch lettuce. I’m still waiting for American Flag leeks, Evergreen Scallions, and Sweet Salad and Sugar Snax carrots to emerge.

The Sugar Snap and Blizard Snow peas have set deep roots and are starting to break the surface. I expect they’ll really start taking off this week.

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After getting all of these things in the ground we set our sights on setting up the PVC/string trellises for the peas and beans, and the metal trellises for the vining plants that will go in later. We also *borrowed* the idea to construct a PVC frame to hold bird netting and anything else we need to prop up over the plants. It looks like a boot camp training course out there now, but everything will eventually serve a purpose.

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Now on to this weekend. I started some zucchini seeds, and I have to high tail it to the store to get some yellow squash seeds, since I seem to have missed them when I placed my seed orders. I’ve potted up some more tomatoes and peppers, and now the only seedlings left to pot up are some small Orient Express eggplants and a couple Black Cherry Tomatoes that I had to start over after poor germination. There is absolutely no more room under the lights right now, so I’ll have to wait until I get the second batch of broccoli and cauliflower out into the garden to make room for the others.
I hate having to throw away perfectly good plants but I had too many tomatoes that germinated, so I had to thin things out. They all looked healthy too. It’s a shame.

The crappy plastic two tier 4×8 bed that I bought last year has 40 garlic plants in traditional soil on one side which are doing extremely well. I hit them with some liquid seaweed fertilizer today.

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Today, I cleared out the other side that I used last year for zucchini. I amended the soil with compost, and it is now waiting for the onslaught of onion plants I should be getting next week from Dixondale Farms.

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It’s hard to do much during the week after work, so next weekend the plan is to do some more yard maintenance and fine tune the bird netting setup, as right now it’s pretty hard to get access to the plants. I think what we’ll do is attach the netting on the long sides to 8′ 1×2 boards so we can easily lift up an entire side all at once. I also plan on planting the second round of broccoli, all the cauliflower, more carrot and spinach seeds.

Spring is in swing!!!

Well, this has been, hands down, the busiest couple of work weeks I’ve ever had. I’ve barely had the time or energy to look at my plants, let alone play with them. They managed to survive, despite my neglect, and now that things have calmed down (at least temporarily), I had the time this weekend to pot up and start some new seeds. I’m about two weeks behind the schedule I created earlier this year, but at least I won’t be pushing the envelope as much as I was going to. It’s tough to say whether the worst of winter is over here, and it’s probably better to put things out a little later instead of taking the risk with the cold.

I potted up the oldest broccoli, cauliflower, and onion plants, all of which are about 5 weeks old. I moved them from the seedling tray into 3″ peat pots to make some more room for the plethora of tomato seeds I was starting today. I’m going to need to fertilize them….forgot about that! I’ll use a liquid seaweed fertilizer at 1/4 strenth. Maybe tonight.

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All of my pepper seeds have sprouted…including a 3-leaved Jimmy Nardello! I think someone on Garden Web brought up this phenomenon recently, but I haven’t checked in over there for quite a while, so I’m not sure what the verdict is…is this very a common occurrence?

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I started some more eggplant seeds today, after 0% germination of the last round. I know it was because I didn’t cover the cells with plastic to warm the starting mix properly. At least, that’s what I think happened. I got a little haphazard with the plantings in the seedling tray and put them in a precarious spot. This time I’ve got all new seeds on the bottom half of the tray so I could easily cover them all over at once. Hopefully it was user error and not a bad batch of seeds.

Along with the new eggplant seeds, I also started my tomatoes. Black Cherry, Sun Gold Cherry, Pink Grapefruit, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Bloody Butcher, Paul Robeson, and Brandywine Red. I chose the Pink Grapefruit just because I think they look cool. We’ll see how they taste! I added Paul Robeson because he used to live in my hometown. I feel like I’m supposed to grow them. 🙂

Doesnt it look like a pink grapefruit with its yellow skin and pink center?

Doesn't it look like a pink grapefruit with its yellow skin and pink center?

I also got a third light last week. I think I have finally optimized my planting space. I could use a second heat mat, but with some finagling I may be able to fit everything onto the one.

Finally, I didn’t have a chance to report that last week I took most of the mulch off the garlic bed, and to my surprise they were already growing under there!

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Since then, the cold nights have yellowed them a bit, but I have read in numerous places that it’s better to lose the top growth in the early months than to keep them smothered with mulch for too long. I’m trusting the people who know what they’re doing! Ah, isn’t experimenting fun?

I’m going out of town this week, but the plan for next weekend is to put the strings on the boxes to divide them up into square feet, construct the string trellis, and plant lettuce and pea seeds. I’m thinking I’ll put some plastic down on the beds tomorrow before I go so the warm weather this week can heat up the beds before next weekend.

All in all, I feel pretty good about where I am at this stage!

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