Eary August Update - Hilltop
Before I get going on some Fling posts, I thought I had better do a couple of updates on the garden – the summer is flying by and it will be September before we know it!
This year the hilltop was planted up with most of the root crops – carrots, potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic and shallots – plus the corn and squash.
A new problem, however, emerged this year – voles. In early summer, vole holes appeared in practically every bed. Last year, when this area was created, all of the beds were lined with cardboard (to smother weeds and grass) before they were filled with soil, which is likely why this issue wasn’t apparent. The cardboard would now be decomposed, giving the voles unrestricted access.
In an effort to avoid digging out every bed and laying down hardware cloth, I decided to purchase a “Yard Sentinel” ultrasonic device and so far, it actually seems to be working.
Yard Sentinel Ultrasonic Pest Control
So I know you’re asking….why do I think it’s working? Well, up until I started using it, I was seeing one or two new holes in the carrot bed each week, this bed being the most visible as the others are either covered with netting, straw or large plants. Since setting up the device, however, I’ve not seen any new holes and the carrots (and volunteer potato plants) growing in this bed are doing really well:
Different animals respond to different frequencies and I’ve set the frequency on my gadget to the “rodent” setting. Unfortunately, this has not helped when it comes to keeping the corn muncher out of the corn patch. Remember my corn muncher problems from last year? Well, (s)he is back. Many of the cobs have been munched or broken off:
Well, last year my butternut squash took a while to start running, so I thought that that was the main issue. However, this years munching started just as the squash vines were completely surrounding the corn and there was some munching even afterwards. Also, I highly doubt that my problem is raccoons as there is little damage to the outer row of stalks, even when stalks near the center of the bed are munched. A raccoon would undoubtedly cause a lot more damage just getting to those interior stalks.
Corn/Butternut Squash Bed
|This one looks perfect....so far.|
|This butternut squash has set...happy, happy :)|
|Pitarelli - One of seven garlic varieties harvested|
Most of the garlic looked to be a great size and a couple of the varieties actually produced the biggest bulbs I have ever harvested. The season didn’t get off to a great start, what with all the heat and irregular watering, so I think that the application of organic fertilizer to the bed in the spring must have made all the difference.
The onions, on the other hand, look to be a mixed bag this year with some doing well while others are not.
|Rossa di Milano (foreground) and Ailsa Craigs in the back|
Both of these are bulbing up fairly well
|The Copras are still tiny - most appear to be only 1" or so across|
The leeks are not sizing up that quickly either, likely for the same reason as the onions.
|The leeks still have a long way to go|
|Perennial Bunching Onions|
The shallots were harvested a couple of weeks ago but I kept forgetting to mention them in my Harvest Monday posts.
|Golden shallots on drying rack|
But once I pulled them up, I realized that only one or two bulbs in each clump were bolting (the clumps consisting of 6-7 bulbs), so it looks like I’ll have shallots for both planting and eating this year. The shallots are not large, mind you, but not altogether tiny either. The bolters were discarded and the rest are now curing.
Based on the foliage, the potatoes have done so-so this year. The Yukon Gold foliage has completely died back – and I’ve harvested a few of the potatoes that were right near the surface of the soil – while the other varieties are now starting to fade.
(the empty section on the left is where a couple of the Linzer's didn't come up)
The sweet potatoes are also growing on the hilltop, but these are in containers. They were planted out late – I didn’t get them into their pots until the first week of July - but they have done very well since then.
|After planting up on July 6|
The other two “pots” are grow bags that I purchased from Greenhouse Megastore. These were very inexpensive, costing $6 for 10 of them. They ended up being about the same size as the tubs and I planted each bag up with a couple of slips as well. The plastic is fairly thick, so I may even be able to get two seasons out of them.
|Drip hoses in sweet potato pots|
|Sweet Potatoes (4 slips)|
|August 4th, 2016 (2 slips) looking larger & healthier than last year|
A bit hard to see with all the green behind it
|Newly emerged spear|
The blueberries are NOT looking good.
|Blueberry "bush"...if you can call it that|
The haskaps are doing ok considering they are not on the drip system yet as I’m missing a small part.
|Haskaps (and Virginia Creeper in the background|
that is proving difficult to get rid of)
And then there is the squash. Let’s do a little comparison, shall we? First, the old straw bales from last year that were never properly conditioned, although the plants in these are included in my bi-weekly fish emulsion fertilizer rounds.
|Thai Rai Kaw Tok - Old Bales|
|Thai Rai Kaw Tok - New Bales|
|Patisson Panache Jaune et Vert Scallop Squash|
The winter squash, however, have only produced a few female flowers. So far, I see 3 fruit that have set among all of the winter squash in the bales.
|Zao Feng Winter Squash|
|Busy bees inside squash blossoms|
As for the hilltop itself, I’ve been more or less keeping up with pulling the plethora of weeds and invasives that pop up through the mulch in the pathways and am in the process of applying more cardboard/mulch to the particularly bad areas.
|A thick layer of mulch also protects the drip lines|
that run alongside the beds
Lastly, I was originally planning on planting up some fall crops in the allium beds once they were empty but have since reconsidered. I’ve started some lettuce – as that’s one essential fall crop I would be hard pressed to do without – and will likely get a few brassicas going as well, but that’s about it.
We have been doing a lot of work on other parts of the property but with the heat it’s been rather slow going. Planting up more beds would simply add to an already overflowing workload, especially when the tomato avalanche is just about to start, so I’ve decided to hold back. There’s always next year, right?
*I originally thought that the alliums were being attacked by onion maggots but have subsequently realized that, in fact, I was dealing with leek moths so have adjusted this post accordingly.