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PNW: August 2014

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/15/2014, 2:27 am

I will post some more in the next few days. These were of the limited and shady space back home. I also grow in two more places, one pretty great, one not so much.

I had originally thought it so weird when you said you lined your pots with weed fabric. I thought you did it to keep weeds out, when the gap between pots/planters and the soil served to assure that weeds couldn't get in anyway. I thought you were weed-paranoid, not realizing you did it to keep the soil from running out. Well, once I understood, I lined the white fence-top planters with weed barrier and they are doing much better and losing much less oil than the black one that I didn't put any liner in. The coir lining on that one is comically stretched out from the strain of different saturation levels in the soil, and has lost a great deal of soil over time. When it's done with its crop, I'll dump out its soil and add weed barrier for sure, and it would probably best if I refresh the coir lining, which was never very thick or strong to begin with.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/16/2014, 8:50 pm

Okay, this is gonna get picture heavy indeed ... pics of the two other places I garden in.  I'll break it up into a few posts in a row.  I'm lucky to be given the space by neighbors in both of them.  One has much better soil, etc., and one I have to really struggle in.  First up, the tough one that hasn't given me much love this year.  Most of the stuff there has been stunted.

Cucumber bed with Armenian, Bush, and Lemon cukes ...





Buckweat cover crop just starting to peep up. Hoping it will help this soil begin to regain its health.





At least some things are growing okay -- some squash:




A tale of two soils, heavily amended vs. existing poor soil lightly amended with extremely woody compost.  The ones on the left were planted a few days AFTER the ones on the right.




Dragon Tongue and Royal Burgundy beans.  They looked great until one day they lost a lot of their tops to sun scald, especially the DT's. Killed off a lot of growth, and since then they've given almost no beans.




Here's a pepper two months after planting it:




We're also getting a lot of these, which I had read were benign.




One of the better tomatoes there, and two Purple Ruffles basils:




Okay, next post will be onto the next garden, which isn't giving such dire results.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/16/2014, 9:22 pm

This next place, I'm growing in either great compost (the bed) or very good MM.  There are still some problems, though.  The space was made available to me a little late, so I planted a little late, and there has been a huge flea beetle infestation and a lot of physiological leaf roll.  Still, we've got a month and more of summer temps left, and I'm optimistic.

My neighbor's tomatoes, planted a four-pack at a time right next to each other.  Way too crowded of course, and led to lots of disease, but with 16 tomato plants in a small space and a thick layer of great fresh compost on top of last year's great fresh compost, he's still getting a lot of tomatoes. 



The planter we built in some spare space in his garden, which he offered to let me use:



It's growing four beefsteak tomato plants, plus a small sucker I planted, two Purple Ruffles basils, and four banana peppers.

The Purple Ruffles basils.  I've decided to let them bolt, to attract bees.



The tomato plant below was the hardest hit by flea beetles and physiological leaf roll. It came from the same four-pack as the others, but is much paler now, and its top got so stunted and withered that I chopped most of it off.  Today I've continued to trim a lot of lower leaves to try to keep ahead of disease and open the plants up for a little air circulation.



Pretty small beefsteaks!



But there's plenty of hope for the future still, in the other three full-size tomatoes in this planter.



Here at the bottom are a couple trying to overrun my banana peppers(and succeeding):



I've decided to let them do as they like, since peppers like a little shade on their fruits, and sun scald tends to be a problem here.  

My banana peppers aren't too fat, but they taste great.



Broccoli raab has germinated and is on the verge of being thinned.



Next post is the bucket brigade in the same garden.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/16/2014, 10:05 pm

The bucket brigade.  Mostly the tomato and tomatillo part is visible here.  Great MM in the buckets and every part of the garden here gets full sun all day long. Again, most of this was planted a little late, but it's doing nicely overall.



Here's the greens part of the bucket brigade, with some basils and malabar spinach:



A bucket basil:



The oldest two malabar spinaches.  Look how oddly shaped their leaves are.  They take at least three shapes on the same leaf -- they start out like a spearhead, broaden into more of a spade, and then get all wavy and their sides grow out randomly.  And unlike all the pictures I see of malabar being a big climber with widely spaced leaves, these are stacked on each other like pancakes.



Here's another one where you can see all three shape types:



Green zebra tomatoes.  This plant has got physio leaf curl on almost every leaf.



Romas:



My pineapple tomatillo.  Two months without a tomatillo yet, though the bees are always swarming this thing.





One of my green tomatillo with the smallish fruit I'm used to:



And another with far fewer but much larger fruit:


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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  sanderson on 8/16/2014, 11:08 pm

Marc, So good to see your garden(s). Such a difference between the health of the plants, depending on the beds.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  FamilyGardening on 8/16/2014, 11:41 pm

love the photos Marc  Very Happy looks as though you have quite the space for gardening between all the gardens...its great to here and see your neighbors gardening area and his sharing space! Your Banana peppers look to be the size I get excited about and pick!....your pineapple tomatillo is there a second one to help with pollination? I read that there needs to be 2 maybe that's why you are not getting any fruit?  looks as though you are also going to get some more tomatoes....that little beef steak I hope will taste great even if its tiny!

it took us a couple of years to get our beds nutrition to where it needed to be, as we used bagged compost in the beginning and there was way to much tiny woodchips in it so our mix was off.....this is our best year so far, but its also the second year to use our local mushroom compost and the plants seem to love it!

thanks again for the great pictures we enjoyed looking at your gardens!
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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/17/2014, 1:03 am

Thanks sanderson and Rose!

Rose, I have two green tomatillo plants, which look from the size and amount of their fruit to be different types of green tomatillos, and one pineapple tomatillo.  I don't think the pineapple tomatillo would need another pineapple tomatillo to pollinate, but I could be wrong.  Last year, my purple and green tomatillo pollinated each other, and this year, my two greens both have fruit.  But I dunno, perhaps it's a special case?  Being in the nightshade family, I wouldn't think it would, but maybe.

I agree how important the soil is.  I think one of Mel's book's said the average person says it takes seven years to get their soil right, but that in seven years, the average person moves to a different home anyway!  One of the motivating factors to getting good MM going in the first place, I guess.  Besides, none of us are going to live forever, and a poor or wasted gardening year can be quite a loss.

I don't think I'm going to garden at all at the neighbor's place with the poor soil next year.  The place has too many things that need fixing, the soil and many other things, ultimately requiring spending significant money to fix, which isn't appropriate to do at someone else's house.  Especially considering my income level versus his, it would be pretty comical my paying to fix up his place.  I'm glad he was nice enough to let me use it, but it's time to move on.

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Great pics

Post  Judy McConnell on 8/17/2014, 7:43 am

Really enjoyed seeing your puppy pics and especially your gardens.

Yes, the various soils and mixes really,really make a difference.  My garden is proof positive!

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  sanderson on 8/17/2014, 11:57 am

Marc, I take it that the poor looking plants were at the neighbor's? Where is the groomed, graveled area? Your tomatoes make me jealous!  Very Happy 

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/18/2014, 4:30 pm

sanderson, the area with all the rocks is our small backyard right up against the retaining wall and hillside. There's some afternoon sun there, more this year than last, since we chopped down some trees. That's also where the kennel is, which I'm using the back half of for plants. It's a very small area, with only partial sun, but clearing even the few small trees and bushes nearby seems to have helped a ton. Still, I wouldn't grow tomatoes or anything that needs full sun there. I used it to grow my plant starts for this year(twice, after the first set failed), and my peas and flowers and such. Now I've got beans there and some lettuce and odds and ends that can either benefit from shade or don't need too much sun or that I can position perfectly to get what sun we do have. I'm crossing my fingers on the beans here at home; they look great so far!

The good/soil bad soil area, the one with all the poor looking plants, was in the biggest area I garden in, a nearby neighbor's house. Good sun on most beds, but the beds were built by terracing the soil from one height into beds put lower down, so the soil in many of them is full of rocks and decomposed granite, and tree roots from the nearby trees leaning over the fence have snaked their way through the open-bottomed beds pretty much throughout the garden, making the soil very hard to work and keep moist. Additionally, the garden is fenced in a way that lets small critters in easy, so plants are open to pretty much any predator.

The watering system was forgotten about by the owner and then messed with by his friend so it doesn't work anymore, so I have to water everything by hand there -- takes about an hour and a half when you're watering each plant one by one and doing normal daily maintenance. This season I've gotten virtually nothing out of the garden food-wise. It's just a waste of time to garden there, I've concluded, without heavily amending the soil and installing a soaker hose system. Even so, many of the beds are breaking down and should be replaced. It's just more a project in need of a lot of time and money rather than a worthwhile garden spot at this point.

I told the owners, after growing there last year, that I couldn't afford to grow there this year. The soil needed too much amending, the fence needed fixing, etc., and I wasn't in an economic position to do any of that. They said don't worry about it, we'll take care of it and get you plenty of compost. They didn't wind up getting all that much compost and it was such poor quality the other person who they let garden there said he'd rather get his own. Very woody, some pieces six inches long. More like mulch. Nitrogen supplementation isn't enough to turn that into soil anytime soon, but I did what I could, in multiple rounds of planting. The result is as you see it. I should have just skipped it, but I didn't want to seem ungrateful, and I still harbored some reluctant optimism.

The other neighbor's garden, the guy who uses cinderblock planters and where my bucket brigade is, is the only place that is growing typical summer veggies well(exception,my beans and compost pile squash at home). It has full sun all day, minimal disease, insect, and other critter problems compared to the other neighbor's yard (though we all got late blight last year), either rich pure compost in the planters or great fresh MM in the buckets, and a nice sturdy fence to trellis/string my tomatoes and such from. Super nice guy and wife, too. The only fresh tomatoes I've been eating from the three garden spaces I garden is are the ones from his own plants. Mine there were planted later and have only given off a few ripe fruits so far. Though the peppers are doing very well.

Amazing to hear someone jealous of my tomatoes! Thanks, my ego needed it! Very Happy But I do think I'll get an okay crop this year from the "good" garden. The tomatoes are slowly starting to set now that it's not as hot anymore, just like they did last year. Thank goodness, or this would be by far the worst out of the last three years. Except for the peas at home, and the flowers, it's been almost a full year of terrible results. For instance:

Latest update on the red brussels sprouts planted last fall: Nothing. Very Happy

I'm just leaving them in their containers out of pure obstinacy.



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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/18/2014, 5:37 pm

Oh, and thanks Judy.

What's going on with your gardens and what's their story?

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  quiltbea on 8/19/2014, 4:38 pm

I love seeing the dogs at work and at play.  Fun.

As for the garden, I've found that this summer is cool here in the northeast, cooler than most summers, and my warm-weather crops are hanging back and not being very productive.  My tomatoes were very slow to get started and then got hit by blight so I'm happy with whatever I can harvest this year.  The  asparagus and sugar snap peas were tremendous this spring and early summer tho.
The cukes, melons, and peppers are so slow I doubt my harvest will be very good by end of season.  The nites here have been too darn cold, usually in the 50s but last nite it hit 46*F. 
So maybe your problem is cool temps as well.  In that case, all we can do is hope for a better year next year.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  llama momma on 8/19/2014, 6:19 pm

@quiltbea wrote:I love seeing the dogs at work and at play.  Fun.

The nites here have been too darn cold, usually in the 50s but last nite it hit 46*F. 
So maybe your problem is cool temps as well.  In that case, all we can do is hope for a better year next year.

Even down here in central Ohio there were two nights of 48 degrees and a bunch in the 50's.
 I think a Fall garden will be the best season this year.  Right now it seems things are limping along.  The usual robust ground cherry plants don't look as vigorous. They don't seem to care how they look and still throw cherries on the ground every day.  Over a half gallon so far and the two plants show no sign of quitting.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/20/2014, 1:00 am

At the small home container garden, a young mustard plant has four of its five leaves disappeared on it, probably by an imported cabbage worm. Shotgun holes on the beans, and downy mildew popped up on a squash again. Of course cucumber beetles pop up every day or two, as well. So tomorrow is a big spraying day. I hope I can save the greens ... this temperature drop has made my new plantings really take off and do more in a week than most of my greens did in two months.

Also gonna pick up a baggie of redworms from a master gardening mentor at the local office tomorrow. That should be cool. I'll divide them between two places -- a huge compost pile I'm building at a neighbor's place, and an area I've slowly been building up and trying to enrich behind our retaining wall out back. Both will likely have enough food and shelter for the earthworms, but there is always the possibility of moles coming to eat them. Unfortunately, in-house or in-garage worm factories are verboten. So we'll see how they do outside. I add kitchen scraps and such to both areas regularly, and the monster pile is mostly horsepoop, so they shouldn't starve.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/20/2014, 7:10 pm

I've got worms! Razz

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  sanderson on 8/21/2014, 10:21 pm

Best of luck with them. They're fun when you finally have their growing needs met. I feel bad when even one dies! I think open bottom homes, like your piles, give them a really good chance to thrive.  Very Happy 

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/21/2014, 10:47 pm

Thanks! I sure hope so!

I only got a couple of tablespoons worth, so I decided not to split them up too thinly. I put them in only one place -- a slowly growing pile between the retaining wall out back and the outer wire fence. That will keep out at least the above-ground predators. I didn't want to leave the worms outside in either of my big unprotected compost piles because I can't control against predation at all there.

So I'm continuing to build a mound in that fenced in-section that I started there last season, of newspaper, veggie scraps, and cardboard and coffee grounds, under a layer of wood bark chips. Some water every so often to penetrate the pile a few inches should help, and the volume of bark chips should moderate the water level from getting too low or too saturated, and additionally do a lot to stabilize the temperature. I'll add a few tubs of horse manure to stretch out the pile sideways, and if they're the least bit adventuresome, they should be able to find multiple sources of food and reasonable temperatures.

If I start to get a noticeable supply of worms there, I'll split some off into various compost piles and other places so I don't have all my eggs in one basket, so to speak.


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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  sanderson on 8/22/2014, 2:50 am

You can also feed them kitchen trimmings.  Move some material aside and bury the trimmings.  Next time move over 6" or so.  Or install a worm tube (a la Josh) to feed them. I have 3" pipes with matching PVC caps. A great way to dispose of waste. I fed my worms before the cruise and it was so neat to look under the lids and see them feeding this evening.


Last edited by sanderson on 8/22/2014, 2:53 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Add)

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Judy McConnell on 8/22/2014, 8:38 am

Thanks, Marc for asking. 

There were 16 tomato plants started back in the spring - different varieties and in either 5 gal containers, MM, or garden soil - an experiment if you will.  The two (I can't remember variety and the label is covered up by leaves) that are doing best are in garden soil and they are producing nice big tomatoes.

The bush beans did OK but those in one box covered up carrots and beets so these are finally uncovered and growing.

Scarlet runner beans were planted for their flowers (more than for the beans) and they did/are doing great.  More pole beans for next year are planned because the SR did so well.

In short - my garden produced some, but like everyone else - diseases were present and I haven't had the greatest year. 

Fall will see kale and turnips going into a new TT bed and garlic and potato onions going into the current tomato bed.  Winter will see changes in the boxes - either moving a couple because of light (trees growing more in last few years = more shading).

Loving TTs (new this year), I'm hoping to build a couple this winter - filling them with MM in the spring - hope springs eternal for any gardener!!

2014 was a season of experimentation, 2015 will see lots of changes made.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/22/2014, 1:38 pm

@sanderson wrote:You can also feed them kitchen trimmings.  Move some material aside and bury the trimmings.  Next time move over 6" or so.  Or install a worm tube (a la Josh) to feed them. I have 3" pipes with matching PVC caps. A great way to dispose of waste. I fed my worms before the cruise and it was so neat to look under the lids and see them feeding this evening.

Kitchen trimmings is almost the entirety of the green I bury there. They'll get lots of those.

This pile doesn't have to be 100% neat, so I'm not sure I need a worm tube, but it would make it easier to collect worm poop than if I just bury food randomly in the pile. Before I was burying pots in the ground and covering them for my ultra-cheapo version of a worm tube, but I'm raising the level of that area a foot or more, and am not sure how or when I'll do that this time.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  sanderson on 8/22/2014, 6:10 pm

Marc, If you use a worm tube, I would recommend the 4" PVC for a man.

Judy, I'm loving my TTs, also!

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/22/2014, 6:21 pm

@Judy McConnell wrote:Thanks, Marc for asking. 

There were 16 tomato plants started back in the spring - different varieties and in either 5 gal containers, MM, or garden soil - an experiment if you will.  The two (I can't remember variety and the label is covered up by leaves) that are doing best are in garden soil and they are producing nice big tomatoes.

Always nice to hear someone's tomatoes are doing well. Even if I were to get nothing but a good tomato crop from a full four seasons of gardening, I would feel pretty good about my results.


Scarlet runner beans were planted for their flowers (more than for the beans) and they did/are doing great.  More pole beans for next year are planned because the SR did so well.

I saw those growing in the school garden I volunteer in, and wow was I impressed. They can get huge leaves, and grow very tall and look impressive. Pretty cool plants. I wouldn't mind planting some, someday.


In short - my garden produced some, but like everyone else - diseases were present and I haven't had the greatest year. 

Good luck on the diseases. It's still a bit of a mystery to me why some diseases manifest so much more in some years, or not at all in others. Glad you got some goodies, at least.


Fall will see kale and turnips going into a new TT bed and garlic and potato onions going into the current tomato bed.  Winter will see changes in the boxes - either moving a couple because of light (trees growing more in last few years = more shading).

Loving TTs (new this year), I'm hoping to build a couple this winter - filling them with MM in the spring - hope springs eternal for any gardener!!

2014 was a season of experimentation, 2015 will see lots of changes made.

Yay extra beds! I like fresh veggies so much that it's hard to imagine ever having too many raised beds or tabletops.

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  FamilyGardening on 8/24/2014, 10:55 pm

Shocked  Todays harvest  Shocked  




16 Lemon cucumbers, 5 Straight cucumbers, 4 Painted Corn,
1 Pepper, 3 zucchini and 20 TOMATOES..........WOW!

happy gardening
rose ......who is blessed to be having such a great gardening year!!

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/24/2014, 11:11 pm

That really does look wonderful, Rose.

Latest update on brussels sprouts planted last year: nothing.

But the mustards and broccoli raab are sprouting nicely and getting some nice leaves at least. The redbor kale has germinated nicely and sent up some true leaves. And I've probably got 60 tomatoes of one size or another on my plants in the "good" garden now. Two of them are real laggards though; not even a single fruit. I'll give them some phosphorous.

The lobelia, tiny little things that they are, are finally lifting their leaves above the soil too. I hope they have time to flower at least a bit before frost. But we do have another month of summer and fall temps, with some 100+ days this week supposedly. So the heat lovers should be doing okay for a while. I hope that doesn't mean my tomatoes will have all their blossoms drop again! It's a little late for summer crops to try to go through that cycle anymore and replace those dropped flowers with fruit.

On another note, my big ole zucchini plant keeps getting powdery mildew bad, and I keep getting it under control again, but the few fruits I have on it seem to have stalled. Weird. Maybe the leaves that nourish them are getting too shaded out by the other later-growing leaves further down the vine? Dunno. I've had zucchini do that with me elsewhere, though ... get maybe four inches long and then just stop for a while.

Marc Iverson

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Re: PNW: August 2014

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/31/2014, 8:25 pm

Hooray for fall!  It didn't hit more than 70 degrees until almost 11 a.m. today ... wow what sweet relief.  Just this week it had hit 100 again with 80 degrees well into the evening, but today was so nice ...



Feather fetching a toy.



Did I do it right, Master?

Broccoli raab coming along real nicely, though something took a few big chunks out of some of the leaves ... uh oh.  BT sprayed them today.



One of my little kales coming up.  



Tomatoes looking better and better ...



Except for one on the far right that's been chopped short and heavily trimmed, that's all from three plants.  I counted over 115 tomatoes of various sizes on them, all hastily popping onto those three plants in the last week or so since the weather started rapidly cooling.  I've noticed the daytime sun is very quickly changing where it falls upon in the backyard too, so have begun to move some pots around to get them back in the sun.

Lots of guys hiding in the jungle here ...





Window box lettuce ...



... and red giant mustards ...



... are coming along very nicely. The weather cooling has made such a huge difference.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ... at home, that is ... the royal burgundy beans are starting to come in, in some pots back by the hillside ... cucumber beetles damaging some leaves though ...



... my first lemon cucumber from a plant that's thrown off countless dozens of flowers ... still looking decent after the puppy got it ... it's been a miserable year for cukes ...



"Speedy" bush beans starting to fill in, though hard to see in this photo.  Their pods get long very quickly, but don't get very big before the seeds start to fill in, kinda like filet beans. They taste like Kentucky Wonders.



Today's odds and ends.


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Re: PNW: August 2014

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