Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 24-06-2011

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I’m back from my trip to visit my sister in NC and found the garden had been in good hands.  Chris had turned the water on earlier in the day and I turned it off at 6:30 right before the rain came.  Davis emailed me and told me that the netting by the Kentucky Wonders that we placed to ward off the deer had ensnared two snakes.  I will check them in the morning but I believe they will be dead.  I am hoping that they are not black racers but I fear they will be.  We will raise the bottom of the nets up off the ground to avoid killing any other snakes.  We have had bad luck with our wildlife as four small birds were electrocuted on our electrified fence before we raised the “live” wire up higher to keep it away from the ground wire.  I feel badly that several wild animals have been harmed by our efforts to grow a garden.

I received an email sent to all of us by Peggy while I was gone.  In the email she suggested that we water the garden in the evenings to avoid the sun damage that often occurs when the water droplets act as lenses and burn the leaves of our plants.  This does happen, especially in the kind of heat that we have been experiencing.  However, if we water in the evenings, there is an increased chance that we will encourage the growth of fungi and virus deceases because both like a damp environment which would exist until the following morning when the sun would dry the plants.  The best time to water the garden is early in the mornings anytime from 6:30 to 10:30.  The sun would then dry the plants before the “lens effect” occurs and the plants would have good water pressure for the heat of the day.  This is going to require an early “turn on” and mid morning “turn off”.  We will have to work this out with our schedules.  The most important consideration is that we water at some point.  The fungi  and burned leaves will mean nothing if the plants are dead from the lack of water.

I checked the first planting of squash and found it to be struggling with the bore.  Several stems are showing symptoms of bore infestation.  Peggy said she was going to try to remove the bores from these stems but I don’t know if she had the time to do so as yet.  I am hoping the the additional dirt that Davis and I placed on the stems will provide for additional root growth and healthier plants.  The new planting of winter squash in the old potato bed looks good.  I am going to plant more winter squash as space becomes available.   I think the broccoli is finally done so we  need to remove the plants (roots and all).  The first planting of corn is looking very good.  I have learned that this extra sweet variety is very hard to sprout and get started – a fact that we can attest to.  Next year we will stick to the standard garden varieties like silver queen.  The last planting of corn has not come up well so I think we need to get some silver queen seed and plant again.  We have the time as it is ready in 80 days.  Usually corn is grown early because of the summer heat but with our watering schedule, we should be able to grow it through the heat.  I hope the decreasing light hours does not effect its growth.

I noticed that the “big tomato” plants are yellowing at the bottom.  This is a virus (I have forgotten the name) but I don’t want to spray anything on the plants so let’s pull the yellowing leaves and remove them from the garden.  Place them in plastic bags and take them to the burn pile or dump.  I will continue to follar feed them and hope they can keep ahead of the virus and continue to produce those huge tomatoes.  The first area of the melon patch is yellowing also and it shows evidence of a virus disease  (little yellow spots on the leaves that are still green).  Chris picked one of the small melons from this plant as it was changing color as it does when it ripens.   I will check with her and see if it was ripe.  The rest of the varieties look OK.  These are all heirloom types and don’t have the resistance to these diseases that hybrids do.  When researching the melon culture directions, I found in The American Horticultural Societies Encyclopedia of Gardening the recommendation to  pinch the growing tips of the melon vines after the fifth leaf following a set fruit.  This encourages lateral vines and increases the yield.  Our watermelons are setting fruit well but the cantelopes are not so I think it is wise to not pinch the tips out of the cantelopes.   All the melon vines are spreading into the grass outside the bed as are the sweet potato vines.  I will just not mow there until the harvest is complete.  By-the-way, I read that the sweet potato vine leaf is edible.  We need to confirm this as we may be wasting another vegetable.

The Malabar Spinach cuttings are rooting beautifully in a glass of water.  Kathy, you need to cut several 6 inch tips and root them for your home garden.  I’m still looking for the Italian squash: Zucchetta rampicante.  Help Peggy!  It is time for Davis and I to tie the berries again.  We have cane running everywhere.  Okra has to be re-planted as does some of the Kentucky Wonders.  We seem to be having difficulty with our beans this year.

We lost one of our keets last week but we still have 11 and they are getting big.   I will release them into the chicken run next week and probably into the open free range in four weeks.





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