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The Old Guy's Garden Record

May 18, 2024


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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Our Senior Garden - May 18, 2024Castor OilOver the last few days, we've received a bit over two inches of rain. While not the disastrous rains Houston has recently experienced, the squishy ground is enough to make me hold off mowing our lawn another day. It should dry out enough for mowing by tomorrow...or the next day, as it's sunny and 80+°F degrees outside. I wimped out a bit ago and turned on our air conditioning, as the house was both hot and humid.

My main gardening effort for today was sprinkling some dilute castor oil over parts of our raised beds to fend off the moles tunneling under our crops. I read somewhere online that moles hate the smell of castor oil.

I ran across an interesting article today by Barbara Pleasant on GrowVeg, Beat Rabbits and Deer by Growing Milkweed. Our second year buckwheat is up and looking healthy. I didn't know that milkweed deters rabbits and deer.

Dungarees

 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Fertiloizer, lime, and soil inoculant addedFurrows liberally seeded with beansWith more rain on the way this afternoon, I got our green beans planted this morning. After a really disappointing crop last year, I planted two wide rows of beans today. The rows were about six to eight inches wide. After using a rake to make furrows for the beans, I spread a little 12-12-12 fertilizer, lime, and granular soil inoculant down the rows and hoed it all in.

Then I liberally seeded Burpee's Stringless Green Podicon, Bush Blue Lakeicon, Contendericon, Maxibel, Providericon, and Strike down the rows. I think canned green beans taste better with several varieties mixed together.

Our how-to, Growing Beans, tells a bit more about growing green beans.

I moved on to mowing the acre plus field next to us, just barely getting done before the rain arrived.

Hoss Tools

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Pea blooms and pea podsOnions up and a few carrotsAs I walked out to our raised beds this morning to begin mulching our tomatoes and lettuce, I was struck by all the pea pods now on our tall early pea plants. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. You plant peas, they emerge and bloom, and then they set pods. But it still caught me off guard. I'll be picking peas soon!

I moved on to our main raised bed and was pleased to see that our Walla Walla onion plants were doing well. The red and yellow onion sets I'd planted are also sprouting. And if you look closely at the larger version of the photo at right, you'll see some carrots emerging at the very top of the photo. Those eager carrots were from some loose Scarlet Nantes seed. The rest of the carrots seeded were pelletized seed. I'm hoping that they just take a few days longer for soil moisture to dissolve the pelletizing and the seed sprouts. I only planted a single row of carrots this year instead of our usual double row. When our fall carrots come in each year, I end up dumping some leftover spring carrots.

Tomato and lettuce bed mulchedI next mulched our tomato and lettuce plants with a heavy layer of grass clippings. My last mowing produced a lot of grass clippings. And since they'd sat for a few days, there wasn't any danger of them heating up and damaging the plants they went around.

Garlic re-mulchedAnd just a note about mulching: I try not to mulch over dry ground. I'd piled some mulch about a foot deep. As I scooped it up, I saw that the ground under it was bone dry despite our recent rains!

Then came finishing re-mulching our fall planted garlic that I'd first mulched in April. I'm still seeing some yellowing of the garlic leaves. I also noticed two or three of our elephant garlic plants putting up scapes. The scapes are edible, but also may be snapped off to promote larger garlic bulbs.

While it rained off and on yesterday, I worked inside uppotting some plants in the basement, and in a break in the rain, our Earliest Red Sweet pepper plants.

The Home Depot

Monday, May 13, 2024

I looked out our kitchen window this morning and my first gardening job of the day became apparent. I saw a small white cabbage moth flittering around our rows of broccoli and cauliflower. They, along with cabbage loopers, lay their eggs on brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc.). When the eggs hatch, the larva feed voraciously on the plants. Left unchecked, the buggers can destroy a crop.

Fortunately, there's an excellent organic control for the pests. Thuricide, which contains the biological, bacillus thuringiensis (BT), gives the larva or worms the equivalent of fatal stomach cramps. (I'm not sure if the worms actually have stomachs.)

I still had a mix of Thuricide and Not Tonight, Deer in our organic sprayer, so I gave the brassicas a good dose of it even though it will probably get rained off tonight. While out with the sprayer, I gave our row of Earlirouge tomatoes a good covering. One more tomato plant showed leaf damage this morning. While the Thuricide probably won't deter bugs or critters, the nasty smelling (and presumably tasting) Not Tonight, Deer may deter further damage.

A Bit of a Brag

When reading one of my favorite Monday opinion pieces on the New York Times, The Conversation by Gail Collins and Bret Stephens, I was struck by an Indiana University ad. Pictured in the photo was one of our daughters, Samantha Rose.

Samantha

Sam is an experienced nurse practitioner currently teaching nursing at IU. Bright, upbeat, and always helpful, Sam is one of my four stepdaughters I was blessed to get to help raise when I married Annie.

Dogs

When I snapped the splashshot for the top of this page today, I also got shots of all three of our dogs on the back porch. Daisy, our now 72 pound beagle cross, had a cancerous tumor removed last month. She appeared at our house years ago, fully housetrained and fixed.

Daisy Petra Pepper

Petra is a rescue dog from the Princeton Animal Shelter, destined to be euthanized the day after we adopted her. Anne's BFF lives in Princeton and appealed to Anne to save the dog. Petra has turned out to be a wonderful pet.

Pepper is another well behaved dog apparently just dropped off in our area. When awake, his tail is constantly wagging. He likes to lie behind the glider on our back porch with his tail smacking the house siding.

Other

Beyond the spraying and a little uppotting of the last of our tomato plants, I didn't do much gardening today. Several hours of my afternoon were occupied with mowing our front and back yards. It was breezy while mowing, making keeping my hat on a chore. But the wind also kept the blackflies away. Unfortunately, the wind had no effect on the chiggers in the tall grass.

I still have about two acres yet to mow in our side yard and the field next to our property that we take care of. The trade off for caring for the field is the use of an 80' x 80' portion of it for our large East Garden plot. We also get to use the pond in that area, although I still need to throw a line into it to see if my stocking of the pond with minnows, bass, and bluegill two years ago has done any good.

Hummingbird Feeders

Sunday, May 12, 2024 - Mother's Day (U.S.)

Dianthus in bloom
Purple sage

Damaged Earlirouge tomato plantOh no! When I went out to take a few shots of the garden today, I saw that one of our recently transplanted Earlirouge tomato plants had been stripped of its leaves. None of the other five tomato plants in the row, nor the freshly transplanted lettuce were damaged. Fortunately, I have several more Earlirouge plants. While the damaged plant might eventually recover, it will be quicker to just pull and replace it.

The Dianthus plant I pictured here last Tuesday is now in full bloom. Possibly of more importance is the white spots on the landscape timbers. I found that even though I'd used cedar timbers for the bed around our shallow well, the timbers began to rot where the anchoring rebar was pounded in. Slight depressions in the spots of the timbers with rebar held rain water. So I'm trying caulk in those spots.

And that reminds me that I need to get out with my battery powered drill and drill holes in some stumps in our yard to promote decay.

All of our sage plants are now blooming. They're all second year plants, as our old ones in the herb bed and the corner markers in our East Garden plot all grew old and weary and had to be replaced last year. Since sage is easy to grow from seed, that wasn't a problem. Our first sage plants lasted six years!

Peas

Tall early peas in bloomOur tall early peas are adding more blooms by the day. We may begin picking peas sometime later this month. Fresh peas from the garden are a real treat.

One flat of Eclipse peas I started in the basement are up on on their way. Curiously, the flat of peas I started with seed saved last year germinated irregularly. Having germination tested at just 60% last year, I seeded the flat rather heavily but still didn't get much.

Another flat seeded with seed saved in previous years came up great. So I went back and reseeded the mostly failed flat with older seed.

Eclipse peas started

Even with this late start, the mature peas should still be sweet when picked. Once you get Eclipse peas to germinate, not an easy task, they hold up well in warm weather. And...if the heat does get them, they can always be saved as a seed crop.

A2 Web Hosting

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Our Senior Garden - May 11, 2024Lettuce transplantedIt's a rather cool (68°F) and windy (20+ mph) day here this morning. I got out early and transplanted our lettuce into the narrow area I'd left in the raised bed with our Earlirouge tomatoes. There wasn't much room, but I put in four Coastal Star romaines, two Crispino and one Sun Devil head lettuce, one Barbados summer crisp, two Nancy butterheads, one Dark Red Lollo Rossa, and one plant that had no identifying plant tag in its cell.

I was disappointed that none of our favorite romaine, Jericho, had survived nor had any Better Devil. Both were seeded with saved seed.

There are no links above for Sun Devil and Barbados as both varieties have long ago disappeared from seed catalogs.

Getting this late a start at putting in lettuce makes harvesting usable lettuce iffy. I'll take baby romaines and head lettuce as soon as possible before heat makes the plants get bitter and bolt. But I may also be able to save seed from some of the plants.

Our how-to, Growing Lettuce, tells how we get a little nice spring and some good fall lettuce.

When done with the lettuce, I began uppotting our Moira and remaining Earlirouge tomato plants to four inch pots. The move seems to give the plants quite a boost. I still have some Quinte canning tomatoes and Red Pearl grape tomato plants to uppot.

Cold frame plants - May 11, 2024

I also brought our flat of melon and squash from under our plant lights out to the cold frame. While I still have green beans to direct seed and Eclipse peas to transplant into our raised beds, it's getting close to time to transplant tomatoes, squash, and melons into our East Garden plot. And I'm looking forward to getting some sweet corn, potatoes, and kidney beans started in that plot.

Chewy.com

Friday, May 10, 2024

Truck loaded for tomato transplantingTomato plants inI had planned to transplant Moira tomatoes into a narrow garden bed this year instead of our usual Earlirouge tomatoes. But our Earlirouge plants took off after being transplanted into four inch pots and couldn't wait any longer to go into the ground. The Moiras once again will go into our East Garden plot.

Getting ready to plant proved to be quite a chore. I assembled tomato plants, tomato cages, T-posts and the post driver, wires to attach cages to T-posts, a trowel and shovel, my tape measure, starter solution made up of Quick Start fertilizer and Serenade biofungicide, and some nifty tree labels in our truck. Since I was unhappy with how our Earlirouge plants had performed the last few years, I dropped back to plants from seed saved from 2009-2019. I attached the labels with the year of the seed to each tomato cage.

Spinach about ready to pickPineapple Upside Down CakeBecause the tomato plants were so tall, I used a shovel instead of a trowel to make a foot deep and wide hole for each transplant. Each planting hole got a light sprinkle of lime and a heavy sprinkle of ground egg shell to fend off blossom end rot and a handful of 12-12-12 commercial fertilizer worked into the soil. Then a coffee canful of starter solution went into the holes. The tall plants went into the muddy holes and had soil formed around them. And as usual, I made a soil trough around each plant to catch rainwater. As usual, the corners of the raised bed all got a geranium plant in them.

While I had grass clipping mulch on hand, I held off on mulching. With these narrow beds, I can leave a nice space for something like spinach or lettuce down the sunny side edge. Once I get some lettuce in, the bed will be thoroughly mulched. And our spinach along the edge of our other narrow raised bed of early peas looks about ready for a first picking.

And if for no other reason, there's a shot of a pineapple upside down cake I made yesterday.

Terracotta Composting 50-Plant Garden Tower by Garden Tower Project

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Brassicas mulchedWeeds emerging in garlicI'd held off mulching our recently transplanted broccoli and cauliflower plants until we got a good rain.We got around a half inch of rain overnight. So I went ahead and mulched the brassicas. I lucked out this morning in that it was cloudy enough I could forgo my sun blocking gear. It also was windy enough that the black flies weren't a nuisance.

Grass clipping mulch eventually breaks down. There were and still are a few spots in our rows of garlic where the mulch has thinned and weeds have sprouted. I got started pulling weeds in the garlic and adding fresh mulch. This round of mulching may last until I harvest the garlic in early July. The brassicas mulched this morning will need another round of mulch in a month or so.

We have several cool, sunny days predicted before rain returns early next week. I'm hoping to get some serious gardening done in that time.

Botannical Interests

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The onions I started in January pretty much failed. I still don't know what went wrong, although I suspect that I didn't get all the bleach water rinsed off the trays when I cleaned them.

Onions and carrots planted

So I picked up a bundle of Walla Walla onion plants and bags of red and yellow onion sets at our local garden center. The Walla Walla plants made a single fifteen foot row when transplanted. The red and yellow onion sets made a nice double row with a single row of carrots in between. I still have a bunch of onion sets left that I guess our food bank will get.

The carrot varieties planted were Mokumicon, Scarlet Nantes, and Naval. While I usually plant a double row of carrots each spring (and fall), I've ended up dumping spring carrots most years when our fall carrots come in.

I share in a couple of how-to's how we grow this stuff:

True Leaf Market

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Our Senior Garden - May 7, 2024True Leaf MarketIt's our Indiana primary election day today. There's not much happening there on the Democratic side, but Republican candidates have been trashing each other on TV and in mailings for weeks. One day last week, we received ten election advertisements in the mail. It will be a blessing when the primary is over and all the ads and mailings stop for a while.

In other somewhat non-gardening news, it's stormy here today...and possibly in a New York courtroom. Grin

Enough politics and weather. Now it's time to get cleaned up for the day and go vote. Maybe I can get some gardening done tomorrow.

Later

Every time I looked out our kitchen window, an eyesore got me. I needed to trim the grass around our raised herb bed and also weed the bed.

Before trimming After trimming and weeding

Dianthus coming into bloomOreganoA reward for my weeding efforts was uncovering a second year Dianthus coming into bloom. Our Dianthus are typically biennials, although we've had them occasionally last and bloom into a third year. There are also perennial varieties of Dianthus. Our saved seed came from the hybrid Carpet Snowfire variety. Saving seed from that variety over the years has produced an nice array of flower colors.

Keeping spent blooms pinched back allows Dianthus plants to bloom over a full summer. Letting the blooms ripen seed slows blooming somewhat. And pinching off mature blooms full of seeds is rather easy.

 • Gardening Know How: Dianthus Plants: How To Grow Dianthus
 • Johnny's Selected Seeds: Dianthus - Key Growing Information
 • The Spruce: How to Grow Perennial Dianthus by Jamie McIntosh

Cleaning up the herb bed revealed the giant growth of our oregano. It regularly attempts to take over the herb bed, if not the whole world.

Bookshop.org

Monday, May 6, 2024

Peas germinating over heat matsIt was supposed to be rainy all day today, but we didn't get much precipitation. With it misting outside this morning, I turned to starting our Eclipse peas inside. They're a shrunken kernel supersweet pea that doesn't germinate well in cool soil, so I start them from transplants.

I filled two flats of deep sixpack inserts with sterile potting mix. Each of the seventy-two cells got one or two pea seeds, as our seed hasn't germinated very well of late. I used saved seed from 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023. The flats went over a soil heating mat set to 70° F. The pea plants will eventually go into a fifteen foot row supported by a short trellis.

Until recently, the Eclipse variety was a patented PVP variety. Now that it's free to share, I have trouble producing enough seed for replanting...after we enjoy some of the peas for table use.

Tall, early peas bloomingRosemary and sage in bloomWhen I was walking out to pick asparagus this afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to see some of our tall early peas were blooming. The Utah State University site suggests that "Garden peas are ready for harvest about 18-21 days after flowering." That should bring them in just after our annual spring asparagus harvest ends.

Our tall, early peas are a mix or cross of the Champion of England and Maxigolt varieties. We used to grow them separately, but began saving the cross pollinated peas a few years ago, getting an agreeable mix from the saved seed that grows well for us. The peas flavor rivals the supersweet Eclipse variety.

And both our rosemary and sage in our herb garden are in bloom. I had to replace the sage plants last season. The sage plants we use as corner markers in our East Garden plot are also showing signs of blooming.

Park Seed

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Our Senior Garden - May 5, 2024Broccoli and cauliflower transplantedDirect seeded carrots and beets and transplanted onions are usually the first things to go into our garden. But our cauliflower and broccoli transplants had put on enough size that there was danger of them stunting if I held off transplanting them any longer.

The raised bed soil was loose from a recent rototilling. It also was quite dry. Each planting hole got a sprinkle of 12-12-12 fertilizer and lime worked into its base. Then the holes got watered with Quick Start fertilizer before popping a transplant into the muddy hole. I didn't use cutworm collars for this transplanting as the stems of the transplants were pretty tough. I did make a soil trough around each plant to hold in rainwater.

I put in five Amazing, two Fremont, and two Di Sicilia Violetto purple cauliflower in one row. A second row got five Premium Crop and four Castle Dome broccoli. I still have around eighteen Goliath broccoli plants left, but they're for seed saving and will go into our East Garden plot.

While I have plenty of grass clipping mulch on hand, I held off on mulching. We have rain predicted for the next three days and the ground really needs a good soaking before the mulch goes on.

Brassicas seem to be a favorite of area rabbits and deer. Some years we've had a spring or fall crop totally nibbled off. So today, I sprayed the brassicas with a mix of Thuricide to deter cabbage moths and Not Tonight, Deer to frustrate the critters. Then I liberally spread some Repels All around the plants.

I'm probably leaving something out here, but our how-to, Growing Great Broccoli and Cauliflower, gives the full picture of our brassica growing practices.

1800Flowers

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Saturday, May 4, 2024

Well, I got back to gardening today, but I didn't put any seed or plants into the ground. Instead, I started by raking smooth our main raised garden bed, pulling many weeds to the sides of the bed. I also put a couple of pepper cages at the south end of the bed to facilitate measuring where stuff will eventually go. Our pepper transplants are still tiny, so it will be a while before they go into the ground.

After picking asparagus, I moved on to rototilling the narrow raised bed where our Moira tomato plants and possibly some lettuce will go.

And after dumping our kitchen compost bucket on our working compost pile, I found that there was still enough of the old Bonide Fruit Tree Spray in our insecticide sprayer to give our apple trees another spray. I focused the spray on the young apples on the trees. The spray used today was a nasty chemical cocktail of the fungicide Captan and the insecticides Malathion and Carbaryl, with a little sticker spreader thrown in.

Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards

Friday, May 3, 2024

We've had some nice weather of late. I'm still playing catchup with mowing and raking grass clippings. I mowed our lawn on Wednesday and the field yesterday. That's about three acres of high wet grass. Between lots of rain and an equipment breakdown, I got way behind on mowing and the grass was really tall.

John Deere X570 mower and Craftsman lawn sweeper

I'm writing while on a break from collecting grass clippings, as the grass is still a bit wet. I think our old lawn sweeper sensed my wife and I discussing replacing it this morning, as it's started doing a fairly good job where the clippings have dried and aren't piled too high. After over $800 in service and repairs, our seven year old John Deere X570 is doing a good job mowing and also pulling the lawn sweeper. I'm reluctant to move on to a new mower, as the X570 also supports a pull behind rototiller I use to turn our East Garden plot.

I hope to get back to gardening tomorrow.

High Mowing Organic Seeds

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Our Senior Garden - May 1, 2024
Click on images to open larger view in a new tab or window.
Transplants ready to go into the ground
Hover mouse over images to reveal labeling.

It's an exciting time of year for a gardener. The weather has warmed, and we've had lots of precipitation to overcome the seemingly winter drought. Of course, this time of year brings the scourge of blackflies. The tiny biting pests come from an active creek near us and persist until things get really hot out. I've found that an OFF! Clip-On somewhat discourages the bugs.

As you can see at right, we have lots of healthy transplants ready to go into the ground. Our broccoli and cauliflower transplants are getting huge and will probably be the first plants to go into our main raised garden bed. Onion plants and sets, lettuce, and direct seeded carrots and beets will probably be next.

I'll wait just a bit before transplanting tomato plants. Our transplants aren't that big yet, and I've had problems with early transplanted tomatoes in the past. In a change from the past few years, I'll be putting six Moira tomatoes into a narrow raised bed instead of our usual Earlirouge. It will be interesting to see what the Moiras do in some of our best soil. I have a bunch of Earlirouges to go into our large East Garden plot. I've not been satisfied with the varieties' growth and production over the last few years. The Earlirouge transplants include one from 1988 saved seed and lots of others from seed saved over the last eleven years.

My Special Treat for Today

Hopefully, readers of this site find something special and wonderful in each day. I was mowing today (not necessarily a treat) when I observed baby apples on three of our four apple trees. While not all of the apples will mature, it promises far more than the eight or ten apples total we harvested last season.

Baby apple setting on Lots of someday yellow apples setting on
Young apple on our youngest apple tree Baby Staymen Winesap apples

Even our two year old dwarf Stayman Winesap tree has lots of apples set on. With its small limbs, I don't know if they'll be able to support the fruit.

Botanical Interests High Mowing Organic Seeds FTC Required Disclosure Statement: Botanical Interests, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Park Seed, and True Leaf Market are some of our Senior Gardening affiliate advertisers. Clicking through one of our ads or text links and making a purchase will produce a small commission for us from the sale. We're also a consumer member of the Fedco Seeds Cooperative. Park Seed True Leaf Market

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