GARDEN UPDATE – 8/10/2011

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 10-08-2011

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WHAT’S GOING ON

August is living up to its expectation.  We have been in the upper 90s to over 100 degrees with the heat index often over 115 degrees.  Few vegetable crops can withstand this heat so much of the garden is grinding down and will only resurrect after we spend time planting the fall and winter garden.  There are a few notable exceptions.  The sweet peppers are still growing as are the sweet potatos and the peanuts.  Okra seems to thrive in the heat as long as it gets water.  So there are a few things giving their all.  The black berries continue to climb the supports and promise a good crop next year.  And the Jerusalem Artichokes are doing well but have still not bloomed.  I plan to harvest the tubers this fall and replant them in the same bed.  They are doing well where they are and by extending the bed, we will get a good harvest next year.  The Okra and Zinnias do well in this bed also so that is what we will plant here next spring.  No more Kentucky Wonders here as the deer successfully tore the netting down to get to the beans.

You may notice that under the distressed Malimar Spinach that there are a hundred or so new seedlings that we can transplant to their new bed for the fall and spring garden.  I am going to create a raised bed over by the fence by the corn where the cucumbers and peas were this spring.  That is where the Malimar Spinach will go.  It can climb up the fence for support there.  We only had four plants this year so we should really increase the crop at this new location with the new plants.  I have rooted 10 cuttings off the original plants but the seedlings look like they will do fine.

Davis and Kathy have returned from their vacation to Canada and are really working hard in the garden – something the heat does not allow me to do.  They have removed the remaining tomatoes and weeded several of the beds.  I asked them to tie the blackberries up on the supports which they have done and now plan to pull the melon bed.  It is here where I plan to plant the tomatoes nest spring.  the bed is heavily composted and has drip hoses providing water so a 25 plant collection of those great heirlooms should do well here.

NEW GARDEN AREA

We will extend the garden into the area to the south towards the pear tree this winter and be ready to plant several crops that need support in long narrow (16″ x 35′ x 6″) raised beds that Davis and I will build this winter and fill with composed horse manure.  I plan to line the bottoms with weed cloth to discourage the tree roots from invading from the bottom.  We will place them far enough apart to allow the riding lawn mower to cut the centipede grass that is growing there now.  It should make for a very neat garden.  I think we can get five rows in the space.  Here we will grow the Kentucky Wonders and edible pod peas on wire supports as well as the cucumbers and swiss chard.  I will also use two of the beds to grow my daylily hybrid seedlings.  I have 256 new cultivars from last years crosses that are about a foot high in the seedling bed.  They will need to be lined out and grown for two years so as to see what has been created.  I will select those I like and give the rest away or add them to the daylily row for vegetable consumption.   I have approximately another 250 seeds from this years crosses that I will place in the seedling bed when I transplant the 2010 seedlings to the garden.

OLD GARDEN AREA

This will leave the existing garden area for the other crops.  With rotation in mind, we can plant the peppers along the chicken fence where the cabbage was.  I would like to plant a lot more egg plant next year.  I don’t think the potatoes and corn are worth the effort.  What do you think?  The spring mix is a good return crop as is the Romain type (leaf) lettuce.  I want to plant a smaller crop of cabbage next spring but would like to add collards.  We have to increase the broccoli crop as it did very well and we all consumed it.   I am hoping to plant the summer squash early enough so that we can get a decent harvest before the bore gets us.  We will have to fertilize the asparagus bed with compost and fertilizer this winter and we should start to get a heavy crop next year.  I will transplant the young figs from the garden this winter so we will have two additional beds for food crops.

 

The fall garden should be even better than the spring garden and we should start putting it in late next month.  This is the garden that I enjoy the most because it grows all winter and the fresh vegetables are a special treat.  Let’s try some oak leaf lettuce this time.  Everyone needs to think about something they want to include in the plan.

 

MILKWEED BUG (Oncopeltus fasciatus)

Last year, I went to Lowes and and found a milkweed plant (tropical milkweed – Asclepias curassauica) to place up by the house because I wanted to provide a food source for the Monarch Butterfly.  The plant grew well and indeed I spotted several striped Monarch larva eating the leaves before the birds got them.  I was surprised because they are supposed to taste bad (the poisonous sap of the milkweed plant is bitter).  At any rate, I decided that I needed to purchase more plants to create a thicket of milkweed to ensure that I would have larva that made it to adulthood.  To my surprise, I found that the plant had propagated itself from seed and I had several hundred new plants growing amongst the daylilies.  They are available to any of you to take to your gardens and to start a butterfly support crop.  An added benefit is that they make a nice addition to the perennial boarder with their colorful blooms.  I am told that they are not invasive here in Beaufort.  One of the reasons is because there is an insect, a true bug (Hemiptera) that control its spread because it eats the seeds as well as the nectar.  I had not noticed anything on the plants last year but this year i noticed the animal on the plants.  It is the milkweed bug.  It apparently does not damage anything but does help control the spread of the milkweed plant.  It is quite colorful as the photos show and has been used as an educational insect in schools because it is easy to raise and is a good dissection animal. I am going to encourage Keegan to place a couple into a jar with a moist cotton ball and shelled sunflower seeds and let him raise a batch.

Mating pair of milkweed bugs

 

Milkweed bug nymphs.

Newly emeraged milkweed adult (note lighter color and instar case.

Milkweed bloom.

Gordon

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