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Tag: vegetable garden

  • Seed Fall Veggies Now! Before It’s too Late.

    September 21, 2012
    Fall Vegetable Seed Sprouts

    Fall vegetable seeds grown in the greenhouse will be transplanted into beds and moved into larger pots in the greenhouse for fresh winter forage.

    There’s still have time to plant some cool season crops in the PacNW for your fall vegetable garden. But do it fast or your window will close soon. September is winding down fast afterall.

    Not sure what will work?

    There’s no guarantee with any seed, but if you want to give some a try, consider these:

    • Radish: direct sow and keep those seeds and seedlings consistently moist. The faster they come to harvest, the better they’ll be. More info here.
    • Lettuce: direct sow or sow in start trays to thin later.
    • Spinach: direct sow and keep moist
    • Snow & Snap peas: Have some seed leftover? Roll the dice. Depending on how fall goes, you may get a late harvest — or at least some pea greens to toss into a salad. More info here.

    If your planting beds need a rest, get out there and sow your cover crops now. Most nurseries and seed vendors offer selections of seed to work well in your location and replenish your beds over the winter.

    If seeds aren’t your thing, be on the lookout at nurseries for chard, kale, leeks and other pre-started crops to pop into your winter beds.

    And, don’t forget to order your garlic seed soon. October is the month to get that planted and vendors are shipping seed now!

  • Harvest Carrots & Avoid Sawfly Infestations

    September 17, 2012
    Carrot Crop

    Although leaving carrots in the ground to sweeten after a first freeze sounds great, getting them out earlier is a good idea if you have a sawfly larvae infestation. This helps break the pest insect lifecycle by taking away the larvae’s food source.

    Growing carrots? If so, carrot sawfly may have found your garden. While these flying insects can be great pollinators for your cilantro, their larvae can destroy emerging carrot, fennel, dill, parsley & cilantro crops, and they can do some serious damage to your carrot root crops as well. And, yep we’ve got’m in one bed – dammit!

    This pest insect is a hard one to keep off your crops. The adults — tiny flying wasp insects that look more like black ants than true flies — love to feed on everything in the carrot family. And, they look a lot like many other tiny, black wasps. I’m no entomologist, so I won’t even begin to try to tell you exactly what they look like. But, I do know what their larvae’s damage looks like, and in one bed, my carrots had it, so we’ve pulled them and won’t be planting them or their cousins plants in that area again anytime soon.  (Actually, we’re planning a big renovation for this area, so stay tuned for updates on that in the months ahead.)

    Oh, and yes, we have practiced crop rotation here, but when even one tiny wasp makes its way to the crop, the larvae may thrive. And those wasps are small and sneaky little buggers! (more…)

  • Blight, Mildew, Aphids & Other Garden Pests & Disease Demystified

    September 12, 2012
    Female Butternut Squash Flower Open & Ready for Pollination

    This female butternut squash opened last week. I hand pollinated it, and it is now beginning to mature the fruit despite the late date of the growing season.

    This has been one of our worst vegetable gardening years ever for garden pests and disease (and other annoying issues).

    How’s that saying go? “If you’re not killing plants, you’re not growing as a gardener.” Something like that anyway, and my apologies for not knowing who to credit. I think I read this first on a magnet on a fellow gardener’s fridge years ago.

    There are a number of reasons for our crap year:

    I’ve been traveling a lot this growing season, so my timing’s been off and my ability to monitor crops daily hasn’t been possible.

    For a number of personal reasons, last fall we didn’t give our soil the careful attendance we have in years past.

    Despite our efforts at crop rotation, pests and disease still found their way to many of our crops. It happens.

    So we’re rolling with the punches, savoring what we’re actually harvesting, disposing of disease as we see it, and planning to do better next year. We’ve sown some cover crops already and will be pulling soil soon for testing and amending properly over the dormant months.

    Here’s a brief photo rundown of the pests, damage and disease we’ve had in over-abundance this edible gardening year. (more…)

  • Onions Ready for Harvest

    August 17, 2012
    Walla Walla Sweet Onions

    Walla Walla Sweet Onions

    Last year I neglected to plant any onions, and I regretted it – a lot. This year, no regrets. We planted several in March, and now the harvest is rolling in.

    I chose Walla Walla Sweets because they taste so fantastic. They aren’t the best storage onions, but I find they keep fairly well for most of the summer and early autumn in the ground even after the top growth has fizzled. I do continue to water them (and their companion plants), and those roots continue to drink up the moisture and keep those bulbs sweet and tasty.

    If I forget a few in the garden and over-winter them, they tend to come back the following year for harvest. That being said, note that we have very sandy, well-drained soil. In heavier soils in our wet, cool climate they would likely rot.

    Missing out on onions for your salsa now that peppers, tomatoes, garlic and late planting of cilantro are rolling in? Mark your calender now to plant next spring. Here’s how.

  • Growing Eggplant Successfully in Cooler Climates

    August 16, 2012
    Fairy Tale Eggplants

    Fairy Tale Eggplants

    Here in the PacNW growing eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and other nightshades successfully can be tricky. These crops thrive in hot climates, which we really don’t have. Instead, we enjoy relatively mild weather year-round, and summer doesn’t seem to really arrive until the middle of July (if it decides to really show up at all). So, with a shortened period of heat, getting these crops to cooperate isn’t always possible.

    Over the years, I’ve managed to fine-tune our tomato growing techniques to produce even in the coolest summers. Details on tomato tricks here. Potatoes seem to perform pretty darn well so long as they aren’t planted and left to rot in really wet, cold soil. We aren’t a big pepper eating household, so not having those isn’t a big bother to me. That being said, I have found a jalapeno that produces fairly well for us — but that’s a post for another day. Today, it’s about the eggplants!

    In years past, we’ve gotten some okay Globe eggplant harvests. We purchased plant starts and kept those plants going for most of the summer in pots, in the greenhouse. We got a few dwarfed “globes” that year, and until this year, we pretty much chose not to grow them. Instead, we looked forward to a few in our CSA box.

    Fairy Tale Eggplants in Container

    Fairy Tale Eggplants in Container

    This year, however, I gave it another shot, and I think I’ve found the perfect variety for our cool seasons and small garden spaces. A local nursery was offering starts of ‘Fairy Tale’. This diminutive plant is perfect for container growing. It grows copious flowers and appears to pollinate readily. The cream and purple-striped, elongated fruits only get to about 3″-4″ long. They look like colorful earrings dangling from the plant, and there are a lot of them, which makes up for how small they are.

    We have two plants growing and have harvested about six or so fruits already this summer. (Remember: our summer heat didn’t arrive until much later than when others got theirs). And, the plants are laden with several more yet to mature. And, yes, the pretty little purple flowers keep right on blooming.

    No. The plants aren’t in the greenhouse. They’re outside and have been since about mid-June. One plant is growing in a simple 1-gallon size nursery container. The other is planted in a slightly larger ceramic pot. Both work great!

    So, if you’re short on room or short on summer, consider pretty little ‘Fairy Tale’ eggplants and odds are you’ll enjoy a bountiful harvest no matter what Mother Nature may bring.

  • Cabbage Butterfly on the Fly

    May 31, 2012
    Cabbage Butterflies

    Cabbage Butterflies at Tricycle Gardens in Richmond, VA

    The pesky cabbage butterfly is invading all over gardens everywhere right now. Last week, I was 3000 miles away from my own garden, but I saw these butterflies (not moths) in action. When I got home, there they were flying through my garden too.

    Fortunately, my brassica crops (cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc…) are well protected from them. Plastic-sheeted hoop houses keep out the egg-laying adult butterflies. Though, it is time for me to exchange the plastic for floating row cover, which is more ideal in warmer temperatures. But that’s another post for another day.

    For now, take a close look at these adult butterflies I found at Tricycle Gardens in Richmond, Virginia. And, if you’ve seen these flying around in your garden, be sure to read more in our earlier post that shows photos of their caterpillar phase and the damage those green, wormy creatures do so very fast in a brassica patch. And, yes, we’ve shared tips for keeping them out of your crops without a drop of ‘cide!

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