Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Little Good, A Little Bad


We've had a mixed bag of "good news, bed news" when it comes to the garden in the past couple of weeks.  The good news is that we enjoyed the seasons first salad fixins...and oh what a treat they were.


While lettuce and greens in general may seem rather lowly in comparison to hyped up crops such as tomatoes, let me tell you, the difference between freshly picked and shop bought is just as awe-inspiring.  I always say that skipping the salad section of the grocery store is up there when it comes to things I look forward to each season.

The mixture in my bowl included kale, mizuna, baby leaf lettuce and claytonia.  While the first three form part of this years salad bed, the claytonia self-seeded from last years crop & made itself at home in the tomato bed.

My favourite type of crop - the kind that comes up all by itself 😃

Speaking of the tomato bed, it was planted up only last week - one full week after they would  normally be transplanted.

Our average last frost date is May 10th.  This year, from May 5th - 13th, we had sub-zero temperatures.  Every. Single. Day. 😮

Temperatures remained fairly low for another week after that, with a couple of nights that were just a hair above freezing.  One week later, we experienced a bit of whiplash when scorching temps in the 30's (high 80F's) hit.

Tomatoes ready for transplanting....
and you can see the claytonia on the top left corner of the bed

And while I'm not growing any beans this year (as I'm cutting way back in preparation for a garden restoration project - details to follow on a later post), I am growing Chinese Red Noodle beans on a couple of bamboo pole teepees in the side garden.  I secured the poles by attaching them to rebar that I hammered into the ground.  They seem secure enough, but since I've never done this before, I'm not sure whether they will hold up to the winds we sometimes get, especially when they are covered with vines.

Chinese Red Noodle bean seeds sown,
then topped with a bit of soil and mulch spread over top

So that's some of the good.  Now to the bad.

This season started off with a healthy harvest of asparagus - about 10 lbs. in the first week.  But then I noticed that the first 2 beds looked unusually sparse when it came to the number of spears coming up.  Last year, there were easily 3-4x this many spears at the beginning of the season.

Bed #1 has significantly less spears coming up than in the past

The 3rd bed is nowhere near as sparse (forgot to get a photo of that one).  The difference between the beds is telling and lead me to an educated guess as to what is happening.  Asparagus beetle damage.

Asparagus Beetle Larva on last years ferns

In the past couple of years, I've had a losing battle with asparagus beetles, and they were especially prevalent on the ferns in the first two beds for some reason.  There were hordes of them - much too many to hand pick, which is the usual method suggested for dealing with them.

This year, I'm going to try something different - worm castings.  I read (can't seem to recall where) that worm castings may help - so I've purchased a couple of large bags and plan to top the beds with them, then see what happens.  Even if they don't help with the beetles, at the very least, they will provide a bit of added fertility and condition the soil.

And then the final "ugh" moment of the week.  I looked towards the hilltop one morning and noticed the netting on the onion bed was ripped to shreds.


Thankfully, the seedlings, which were only recently transplanted & still rather fragile, were ok, for the most part.

Seedlings were a bit trampled but ok &
golden shallots on the far right were just fine
(and yes, the bed has received a good weeding since then 😜)

My guess as to who the culprit was?  A skunk.  We had seen one in that area last week and apparently they are good climbers, so getting over the short fencing is not a problem.  I've since replaced the netting and it's been a week with no issues - hopefully it stays that way!

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

12 comments:

  1. Oh no, another blooming pest! I know how much you look forward to your asparagus, planting up the beds are a long term investment so it's galling to find that asparagus beetles have got to the crop first. I'm glad they haven't affected all the beds, that would have been even worse. My tomatoes aren't in their final positions yet. I've only got four plants this year and they'll be grown in grow bags or containers, but I was later than usual sowing them and they've been transplanted an extra time this year too to make larger plants than they usually are when I plant up for the final time. Saying that, the plants look especially healthy this year, I just hope that they're not too far behind to catch up and provide as good a harvest as usual.

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    1. I'm sure your tomatoes will do just fine - perhaps even better with that extra potting up as it will give them more roots from which to draw in nutrients. You may just end up getting a bumper crop (and discovered a new, better way of starting your tomatoes!).

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  2. I wouldn't have expected that behavior from a skunk but then I tend to blame most garden travesties on the local raccoons, or more recently on the gopher. Pests of all kinds are frustrating - I hope the worm castings work. Thanks for the introduction to Claytonia.

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    1. I've never had this issue before and since we were at the only entrance/exit to the hilltop garden & the skunk "disappeared", I'm assuming it climbed over the fence, so has easy access. In all the years we've lived here, we fortunately haven't had any issues issues with raccoons or gophers (knock on wood!)

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  3. At least we don’t have skunks to contend with. We were preparing our allotment greenhouse today for tomato planting as over winter it doubles as a shed!

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    1. Lucky you! I'm sure you know a greenhouse is on my wish list :)

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  4. Greens are never lowly here for sure! And asparagus beetles - what a pest. I spray with pyrethins and neem oil if they get too bad, which seems to help. Our asparagus yields were down this year, and I'm not sure if the beds are getting old or the weather was the cause.

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    1. We can't get either of those here, but I am thinking of trying nematodes as well. It would be very disheartening if we had to start all over again (or worse, give up as I can't see them just magically disappearing, esp. as we do have wild asparagus around our area).

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  5. A beetle that eats asparagus seems like a particularly evil varmint. You are right about the superiority of home-grown greens! We grew some salad greens in containers on the roof (to preempt the rabbits) and the difference in taste was amazing!

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    1. I always enjoy seeing peoples reaction when they take a bite of fresh lettuce - it's usually nothing like what they expect :)

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  6. I'll bet you're really busy in that incredible, edible garden of yours. I agree: the fresh veggies, of all types but especially greens, are so much tastier. I rarely grown lettuce outside of early spring and late fall, because we get so much from our CSA food share, which is almost as good as just cut. Chinese red noodle beans sound delicious!

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    1. I have to learn to hold back on my lettuce plantings during the summer as so many other veg are ripening - tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. - that we end up eating fewer lettuce salads overall. Am trying the "less is more" summer lettuce planting this year - we'll see how it goes!

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