Friday, May 25, 2018

Goings On


Hmmm...what's new and exciting?  Well, we transitioned from winter to summer in 3 weeks for one.  We've been getting highs in the upper 20's (80F+) for the past few days, so I'm trying to get into the garden in the mornings and evenings which, unfortunately, is also when the mosquitoes are out.  I'm not a fan of mosquito spray, as is evidenced by the lack of an expiry date on the can - THAT'S how old it is, 'cause everything has an expiry date on it these days, doesn't it?  The spray has come out a couple of times in the past week though as, in order to keep working into the evening, a little spritz on the arms & neck is a necessary evil.  I don't mind wearing pants (and actually prefer that when I'm constantly kneeling on the mulch), but a long sleeve shirt in this heat is a no-go.

I'm a bit behind when it comes to transplanting, but by the end of this weekend I'll be more or less caught up.  The cucumber, melons, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are all hardening off and will be in the ground by Sunday.

Final stages of hardening off - don't mind the blur....it was a bit windy today

The beans will also be sown, this being the last of the large plantings.  Other than that, there are a few odds and sods to go in here and there, such as the basil, chard and a few ornamentals, but that's about it.

Speaking of ornamentals, I've learned my lesson on that one - last year most of my annuals, including my beloved zinnias, ended up as rabbit chow.  This time round, I've decided to grow them on the INSIDE of the chicken wire fencing, the benefit of which is two-fold.  (1) The flower chomping bunnies will not be able to get at them and (2) the veg garden will be surrounded by pollinator attracting floriferous gorgeousness instead of the functional but admittedly hideous chicken wire.

Zinnia seedlings next to the chicken wire fencing

Other than half a dozen varieties of zinnia, the veg garden border also includes calendula, tithonia and cosmos.  The seedlings were planted right into the ground and the mulch pushed back around them which will cut down on manual watering - a big benefit as this is usually where I fall short on these types of plantings.

In other news, there will be no straw bales this year - it all came down to timing.   When using straw bales, timing is critical especially when it comes to long season crops like melons and squash.  Since I condition the bales organically, they take longer to get going than those conditioned with chemical fertilizers.  In addition, the conditioning process requires daily attention, either in terms of fertilizing or watering.  In a perfect world, the bales would have been ready to plant by now, but with our late spring and then going away at the beginning of May, I simply couldn't fit it in.

Thai Rai Kaw & Jing Orange from 2016 -
two varieties of squash that won't be grown this year

What to do with my seedlings?  Well, not much as it turns out.  This year I'm giving melons a try for the first time and I was so focused on getting those seeded that I completely forgot about the winter squash.  So, with the exception of the butternuts which I direct seeded in one of the regular raised beds, I don't have any winter squash seedlings needing a home.

Straw Bales - Staying in the shed this year

I did, however, need to find a spot for the melons - and that will be the old blueberry bed which was going to be planted up with ornamentals.  I'm not sure how this will work out since the bed is out in the open (i.e. not protected from the resident family of rabbits), so we'll see.

I'll finish off with a surprise.  You may recall I was doing a bit of an experiment this year on sowing onions, specifically with regards to timing.  The main lot of onions was sown in early March, but I also sowed a few cells of Copra in both February and April.  The surprise?  They have been in the ground for only 3 weeks and you would be hard pressed to tell which is which:

Look at the two rows going down the middle of the photo -
the April sown seedlings are on the left, the February are on the right.
As for the March?  They looked basically the same as these.

I know...it's a shocker.  When I took the netting off to weed the bed, I literally stood there like this: 😯.  I am, however, reserving final judgement until the harvest since in the end, it's all about the size of the bulbs.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

14 comments:

  1. That is interesting about the onions! Well, good! It sounds like your weather is similar to ours--not much spring. We'll be in the 90sF/32C+ this weekend! Even Minneapolis, which is pretty far north will be into the mid 90s. So, I'm doing the same thing--gardening in the morning and late evening. Don't work too hard, and do drink plenty of fluids!

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    1. Thanks Beth - the water is a-flowin' :) I'm rather unimpressed with this jump to summer. You know me - I'm rather a weather wimp, be it too hot or too cold. When it comes to working outside, you can't beat those moderate spring and fall temps.

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  2. After the end of winter being so cold here we more or less jumped straight into summer, we've had some gorgeous weather in May but it does make it rather warm to do anything outdoors during the afternoon. It's cooled down a bit though now and we had quite a bit of rain yesterday which I'm sure the plants will be thankful for. It will be interesting to see how your melons do, which varieties are you trying?

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    1. I'm really looking forward to a bit of a cool, down - or even a cloudy day! I find it's the sun that really gets me - I quite enjoy working in the shade, but once that blazing sun hits, I melt. I'm growing 3 short season melon varieties: Hales Best 45, Minnesota Midget and Melemon. I'll be getting them into the ground tomorrow and I'm sure at least they will enjoy the heat (once they settle in, that is!)

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  3. I hate mosquitoes too but they tend to think of me as a fast food outlet. Things just move so quickly at this tome of ear that fitting everything in is a challenge. Good Luck with the melons.

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    1. Thanks Sue - you are so right, and this year it has seemed doubly difficult since the warm weather pushed the fast forward button on so many plants (and weeds!).

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  4. Your seedlings are looking so healthy and happy, especially the eggplants and peppers considering how slow growing they are. We're mainly growing melons as well, although I might grow cushaw winter squash in the corn patch.

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    1. Thanks Phuong - I'm getting eggplant and peppers into the ground tomorrow. Won't be the best day for transplanting as it's supposed to hit 31C (89F), but they need to get into the ground.

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  5. Hi Margaret, Mosquitoes and heat sometimes take the pleasure out of gardening but us dedicated ones plod on! Sounds like you will be reaping a wonderful harvest and a great idea to put the flowers inside the fence both for pollinating and keeping them from the bunnies. We have bunnies in this community but so far they have not made it into my yard! Nancy

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    1. So true Nancy - we do plod on! I can't wait for the floral display, if my plantings make it through this torrid heat, that is - I have the watering can on standby :) Fingers crossed the rabbits don't find your garden!

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  6. Biting bugs, yech! Mosquitos aren't such a big problem here but the no-see-ums love me and the best solution I've found is "bugsaway" clothing. I used to use Picaridin bug repellent but all it takes is forgetting to use it one time and I end up with super itchy bites and the no-see-ums get inside my clothing and even my undies. Bleah! Awful!

    Good luck with your bunny battles. Those turned out to be one of the easier pests to deal with, all it took was enough hardware cloth to surround the garden. And I have to give credit to the bobcats that hung out in the neighborhood for a while!

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    1. Well, I had to look that one up - I had never heard of no-see-ums...they sound even worse than mosquitoes. A couple of years ago I heard about chiggers for the first time from a friend living down in Georgia. Well, wouldn't you know that when I was in Texas, I had my first experience with them...the itch lasted over 2 weeks!

      Hurray for bobcats and, in our case, coyotes. We are actually rather lucky when it comes to the rabbits - our population is rather lazy and they don't bother digging or expending any extra effort to get into the fenced areas. So long as any gaps are plugged up, the veg beds stay safe. Its just too bad that I can't fence my entire garden!

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  7. I also don't like mosquito spray, though the mosquitoes seem to think my blood is especially tasty. Good luck with your melons - don't they need a really long growing season?

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    1. I'm growing three short season varieties - we'll see how well they get on but I have a good feeling as this summer is supposed to be a hot one.

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