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.
Glad you seem to have got the voles under control, I've heard mixed reviews about these kind of pest controls so it's good to hear that one's working for you. It's a shame about your sweet corn though, I wonder who the culprit is. The patty pan squash behaves the same way as courgettes, once they get going you end up with a glut. I'm really missing them this year, they're a favourite round here.ReplyDelete
I'm really hoping that the device works as I dread the thought of digging up 6 beds plus the asparagus (which may not survive being dug up and replanted) to put the hardware cloth in. I guess I'll know for sure next year when I position it properly and have it in place for the entire season. And I've never had a courgette glut - ever! - so this is quite exciting!Delete
You squash in the hay bales are doing amazing. And your garlic looks so good and so does the carrot bed. Have you decided how you're going to process your tomatoes this year? I think I'm going to oven roast them with basil and olive oil and then freeze the blended sauce.ReplyDelete
Thanks Phuong - I think that is EXACTLY what I am going to do. August looks like it's going to be a super busy month this year as we are behind on a lot of outdoor projects due to the insufferable heat, so I'm thinking simple is best. I'll probably do some sauces but the majority will be peeled, chopped tomatoes, frozen into 1 or 1.5 cup portions as that's how I generally use them. And if things get really hectic, I'll just fill up a zip lock bag with washed, whole tomatoes & deal with the peeling & chopping as I need them. I did a couple of bags like that last year and it worked out really well.Delete
Glad you have your vole problem solved and hope you get the corn problem figured out. I miss Daphne's posts also. Did you start your sweet potato plants from slips of your own? I bought sweet potato plants and put them in a pot and a barrel. I think I probably planted too many in a pot. The plants were expensive and I had to dump the one in the pot in the driveway because it was too heavy to move but the one in the barrel I left so wonder if they will get some as with packing to move I stopped watering. Wonderful garden! NancyReplyDelete
Yes, I did grow the slips myself from last years crop. I had such a small harvest last year but was still impressed with them considering the neglect they experienced. I have a feeling that so long as the plants don't die outright from lack of water, they may produce some sweet potatoes just like mine did, even when my watering left a lot to be desired.Delete
Oh my, there's so much going on in your garden now! I'm actually quite amazed that the sonic devices are working, I doubt that the rats around here would take any notice. The difference between the conditioned bales and the others is remarkable. I wonder what it is that is attacking your corn, I know how frustrating it is to suffer such losses. Do you think you could wrap the ears in something? I did that with some of the ears on my corn last year when the rats started to munch on the end of the cobs that were popping out of the husks, I just tied pieces of Agribon fabric around the ears. Of course they were already pollinated at that point.ReplyDelete
I guess my corn muncher is as immune to the ultrasonic frequencies as your rats! So far, the pepper spray seems to be working - the only good part about the lack of rain is that I've only had to re-apply it once & no damage since I've been using it. That Agribon trick is a good one - my muncher is a bit too anxious and he seems to chew up cobs at all stages of maturity, although I've never gotten one all the way to the finish line. Last year it was a real mystery as "it" was chewing & severing the stalks but leaving the immature cobs intact!Delete
I hope your device works and you find out what his munching your corn and find a device that works on that one too. Your garden seems to be thriving in spite of being under attack.ReplyDelete
Thanks Sue - I have my fingers crossed that my impression on how well the device is working on the voles is correct and I won't have a nasty surprise once I pull up the potatoes and carrots (which I may have even if it is working as I didn't get the device until halfway through the season).Delete
Hi Margaret-I'm glad the ultrasonic device seems to be doing it's job. I'm not having any problems in the veg garden this year with voles, but the yard is a different story.ReplyDelete
The corn problem might be RATS. Yes, rats. This is the first year I have been catching RATS in our traps. And looking at your corn and the problem I had last year, that might be something to consider. I had no idea I even had any of those around here---never seen them before, but we've caught 7 so far this year!!!
As for the Copras, got a bit of bad news on that one for you. I NEVER water my copras and we've been dry as toast , hot as , well, you know, and mine are HUGE. Could you have gotten another variety by mistake??? I know you grow yours from seed--I've had TWO different things come up wrong this year from seed, like it was a packing error or something. I just mentioned my onions because this might be a possibility.
Anywho, enough of my novel. Loved the update. Have a great weekend
Yikes! I've never seen rats around here either, but that doesn't mean they aren't around. Ugh!! Now you've got me thinking....after the corn attack, I did move the device to the opposite end of the corn bed - and since it's on the rodent setting, that means it "should" work on rats as well as the voles. So now the question is - does the lack of damage in the past couple of weeks has to do with that or the pepper sprayDelete
Oh....your Copra's are huge?? Now I'm really stymied - I do grow them from seed and we've all had situations where a packet contains the wrong seeds. Only thing is that I've noticed the other onions in that bed - can't recall the variety now, perhaps Red Wing - also don't look to be doing that well. Maybe it's something to do with the bed itself? Maybe the voles got to the roots? A mystery - and I think a bit of research is in order....
I hope your sentinel works out for you. My own devices haven't although it maybe a bit early.ReplyDelete
Nice garden. Have you any over view photos as I'd like to see more. Perhaps they're on another post? Looks like a very interesting garden :)
Thanks Andy! To give you an idea about the garden, it is divided into 3 areas since the "prime" flat area of our backyard is a septic bed which has to remain grass, so I've had to work around that.Delete
Area #1 is the closest to the house, area #2 is also in the main backyard, but further back and holds only 4 beds and then there is the hilltop which was added last year.
I did a Garden Plan post back in March which gives a pretty good idea about the layout of the garden: http://homegrown-adventuresinmygarden.blogspot.ca/2016/03/2016-garden-plan.html.
And I've got my fingers crossed that this device works, at the very least for those voles - what a pain it would be if I had to dig out all of the beds!
Wow, look at all that garlic! And onions! Yum! Sorry to hear about the corn. I've only grown it once in a previous garden and I didn't have much luck. I'm having a bit of an issue with crows munching my tomatoes this year. So, I read about encasing the almost-ripe fruits in old pantyhose (LOL), since they keep growing but the crows (and other critters) don't like to much through the nylon. It seems to be working--we shall see. ;) Your weekly harvest always amazes me!ReplyDelete
Thanks Beth! That's so funny about the pantyhose - I can just see all those hole covered tomatoes and visitors wondering..."what on earth is growing on those plants?" :)Delete
I've actually heard of covering apples with pantyhose footies to keep the pests off and am planning on doing that once my trees start to produce. I'm sure THAT will make the neighbours talk ;)
Good luck with the vole problem. They were the bane of my existence for years until we replaced our raised beds and, during that process, lined the bottoms with hardware cloth. Not one vole problem since doing that! I tell everyone who asks me about gardening nowadays to line their beds with hardware cloth. It's a pain in the butt while you're doing it, but pays off for years.ReplyDelete
It's always so interesting to see what people way up north are doing. You're a t least 2 months behind us in North Carolina. Nice harvests!
Thanks! I really hope that I don't have to dig up the beds - what a lot of work that would be! If my luck holds out, my Sentinel gadget will be enough to keep the critters at bay. If not, then I'll be wielding that shovel sooner rather than later.Delete
Well, that is a truly amazing array of veggies! Shame about the voles though - but defence against animals and insects seems to be the top subject on most of the blogs I follow. I wonder if the corn-munchers are rats? But I suppose if you have your ultrasonic thingy set to "Rodents" then it should deter rats as well as voles...ReplyDelete
Thanks Mark - I would think it would deter rats, if it works. So far so good - no munching on the corn since I moved the gadget near that bed & sprayed it with pepper spray and they are almost ready for harvest.Delete