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Monday, Apr. 21, 2014

Garden gleanings

Posted Monday, July 27, 2009, at 8:59 AM

(Photo)
Bolivian Rainbow Peppers (borrowed from Tomato Growers Supply)
The upcoming week looks GREAT. A Chance of showers ever day and my garden looks terrible. It looks terrible because it is growing out of bounds and while I love a nice orderly garden, a wildly growing garden is just as nice. I know, I need some counseling, but when plants are growing so well that I have to re-direct them, make more room, or even cut back, I know things are going well.

One big plus is the occasional rains we are getting. The figs are starting to fill out, tomatoes being given out every other day and Deb has her okra. One okra plant is OK with me but to get a meal we needed several so...we have about 12. Pretty flowers, but I doubt I will ever add it to my favorite list.

We ate fresh soybeans this weekend and my overzealous re-seeding is doing well, so the problem I had with germinating previously must have been trying to start them in seed trays. It has worked in the past, but not this time. Maybe the extra woody starting mix did not give good soil to seed contact.

We had the most delicious serving of fresh carrots last night. Simple boiling with a little butter, but I swore Deb must have put some sugar in there. I expected that I left them in the ground too long and they might be tough and strong flavored, but just the opposite. These were left-over from when we had a bunny, so I planted them more as a clean-up effort more than expecting a meal. I think I will plant more!

The beets are tonight. Funny how the smallest plant above ground provided the biggest beat below ground.

I need to pick the second picking of green beans today. When the first crop was picked I pulled have the plants to make room for some later plantings of a different kind, but left the other have to re-bloom and produce. They've done their job but I have not done mine with the new planting. Aah, more round to-its.

Mike brought some pumpkins, datura and Bolivian Rainbow hot (hot) peppers to last meeting. I can not wait to get a large container to plant the pepper, since he was mentioned over-wintering it for another beautiful year. I could use one of out cat litter buckets, but the somehow that image does not compute well in my mind.

I have been wanting to put some moisture retaining product in my pots and the diaper idea has never gained popularity in my mind but someone at the meeting gave us tip of planting raw oatmeal in the soil. The swelling action must work similar to the more expensive water beads and eventually decomposes into the soil. At least my plants should be able to lower their cholesterol.


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So far, in researching oatmeal in soil I found references for healthy soil bacteria growth and feeding earthworms. Since many potted plants do not feed earthworms, I guess the benefit is for good soil bacteria.

I will keep looking, but if anyone knows why oatmeal is suggested for potted plants, just jump in here.

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 11:38 AM

Steve I would guess the oatmeal expands as it absorbs moisture and gives it back as it dries out so the soil stays damp longer.

Well I had a good tomato season, but one drawback to starting early is ending early. I started removing some of my tomato stalks today. And I'm gonna rebuild my hay bale frames and the PVC rails. Those really worked well. Think I will add a watering system to it next year. I am starting a new crop of cucumbers this year. They grow so fast, hopefully I can get another crop in (if the critters leave them alone).

-- Posted by cherokee2 on Fri, Jul 31, 2009, at 6:39 PM

I need to pull three, maybe four tomato plants to make room for some fall crops. What critters are getting your cucumbers?

Your original pictures have motivated me to try some straw bale gardening with a twist.

I have three garden beds that are sitting on rock about a foot down and never does very well. I am thinking of tilling the soil, removing it to a plastic sheet, then placing straw bales (two wide) in the trench and shoveling the soil back on the bales.

By spring I hope the soil will have worked down into the bales and the microbes will do their work composting the bales. After I see the results, I will decide if I will box it in or grow for a year that way.

It should not hurt anything and maybe give me enough organic matter to hold moisture. I may use the same straw bale technique to rebuild a long narrow garden bed in front of our greenhouse.

I planned to dig it all out this past Spring but health issues got in the way. It has a fair amount of nuisance weeds that need to go. Now if other Fall projects don't get in the way.....

My Cypress vines are just starting to flower. Just a few, but I can see them now. The hummers should go crazy! I also hope my pineapple sage will flower soon. It is growing well Mike, just slow to flower.

Speaking of hummers, one just looked in my window as if to tell me the closest feeder is empty. Guess better go check.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jul 31, 2009, at 7:30 PM

Steve, I didn't know the pineapple sage bloomed. Maybe get some seeds?

Mine is barely surviving. It had way too much water due to a faulty drain hole in the pot it was in. It got waterlogged, but is slowly recovering.

Just had some purple bean hyacinth bean pods in a stirfry last night. I guess they aren't poisonous.

-- Posted by espoontoon on Mon, Aug 3, 2009, at 6:48 AM

Pineapple sage kicks out a nice, tubular red flower. Never tried saving the seeds so sure! I am going to take some cuttings before frost to root over the winter as well.

I had heard the hyacinth bean was edible, but was not going to try it. I guess your "test" confirms it. How ya feelin'? Oh yeh, how does it taste too?

I ended up pulling 5 tomato plants yesterday to make way for some fall carrots, beets, snow and sugar snap peas. Grasshoppers and birds are starting to eat holes in them anyway.

Plus, I still have four more to keep our supply going to fall, and have to get some more corn in.

I know some of you are thinking "only 9 tomato plants"? I tend to plant a lot of variety and work in relatively small raised beds so 9 plants was a real commitment to me, especially since we give most of them away.

After the rains, the soil was so nice I did not have to use any man-made tools to loosen it and plant. I used my hands and a stick instead. It made me think about our EARLY ancestors and their first gardens.

Anyone know about spoiled square bales of hay or straw? To minimize weeds I want the straw but I think the hay might have more nutrients.

I could use the round ones but don't have a way to pick them up. I have a trailer to carry them and could roll them off. Come to think of it though, once they got to rollin' on our hill, I might have to compost them in the woods.

Besides, Cherokee's plan is so much neater. Even without the retaining walls the twine should hold them together for a while. I don't have to worry about how it looks, except for my wife, so maybe I could at least get away with it for a season or two.

I have some extra sliding glass doors in the shed and have always wanted to make some cold-frames using the bales as insulated sides. We have a natural angle to our yard. Hmmmm, I can start to see them now.

BUT, I need to sell the idea to Debbi first. Maybe I can use the fact that it would be cheaper than trying to build a greenhouse over one whole section of garden. Or............

Most people watch their Cypress Vines, Morning Glories, Hyacinth Vines grow UP their poles or trellises this time of year. I get to watch them slide down as our our youngest cats climb up instead.

Speaking of cats, last night we had an eBay customer ask to cancel an order that had just popped up. First time we have had this one, but their cat placed the order! Since I have seen our cats do things amazing things on the computer keyboard, I believed him. I know some in our gardening club can identify with that. Right?

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Aug 3, 2009, at 9:00 AM

Ohhhh yes...

Right now,ours think they need to nap on the keyboard so *we* can't do amazing things.

They used to prefer to doze on the CPU but our tabby fell off the top one too many times to suit her and the other two didn't want to be on the receiving end of the kind of smirks they gave her.

If they want to watch an eBay item as a guest,that's fine.

But,they're not allowed to bid or do a Buy It Now.

We have to be firm with our pets or they'd squander all their allowance on junk or try to purchase a people condo thinking it was the kind covered with sisal or scrap carpet.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Mon, Aug 3, 2009, at 3:02 PM

Steve,

The hyacinth beans were OK. Nothing special in the taste department. Interesting fact: They changed color to green when heated. Go figure.

I can't believe you pulled tomatos. Mine usually do better in the fall when the weather is cooler.

I'll send you some pictures of the straw planter I made for my parents. Not a great picture, but it does show the lettuce crop they got. After planting the seeds, the lettuce had to endure 100% humidity, 100 degree weather, AND a hail storm. It's a wonder they survived at all. I just ordered some of the same summer blend lettuce seeds for myself. The ones I got from an Ebay customer were worthless. I'm sending them an email about that one. You can't send a negative feedback on something like seeds, because you just assume they will germinate...

I'll also send you a picture of the Datura that I gave my Mom. I don't know how she does it, but it is HUGE, and has about ten blooms on it...

-- Posted by espoontoon on Tue, Aug 4, 2009, at 6:34 AM

The Datura you gave last meeting is doing much better than the first, but it is also not being attacked by flea beetles like the first one. I see blooms starting to come out now.

I usually can not brag about tomatoes, but when Debbi starts moaning as I come in the door with more bags, it is time to cut back. I was letting a volunteer grow to see what it was, but it went the way of the others. We still have one plant of each plus the Hillbilly that Kay shared.

My zukes, cukes and yellow squash have given up and so have I. We have enough Chinese squash coming in that we don't need them anyway.

espoontoon, glad you tummy is well. I researched those beans again and they say that they are poison raw but cooked they are fine. Since you say they are nothing special in taste, I think I will just enjoy them from afar.

I am going to start another blog about our meeting this Friday. See you there.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Aug 4, 2009, at 10:58 AM


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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.