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Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/29/2017, 12:09 am

Thanks, TD. I thought about you when I considered taking some of my seedlings with me -- but time/space limitations made it impractical. But somewhat reverse of that, I have one of my grandmother's Dieffenbachia plants that I adopted when she first had to move to assisted living. I sent her a photo of how well it was doing a few years back, so she knew it was in good hands.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/29/2017, 8:28 am

Condolences Beetles, on the passing of your grandma.  Sad
 99...wow.   I bet it made her happy to see how you are taking such good care of her plant.

I was amazed after coming back from  surgery to see how well my garden did without me, too. I guess we don't have to be helicopter mom's after all. Wink
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  sanderson on 4/29/2017, 1:58 pm

Beetles, I am so sorry about your Grandma. Sad

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/6/2017, 1:34 am

Thanks, CC, and Sanderson. I hope I can can some of my grandma's chutney recipe in her memory this summer. I should have the tomatoes for it.

As requested by Sanderson, here is 5/21/15 - before I got my ANSFG book and my first three 4x8 raised boxes put up in that same year (there are tomato plants under the buckets):


And here's today, 5/5/17 - front, followed by back (left and right from my perspective up on the deck):



Things are growing pretty well this year. Outside: I got my peas, chickpeas, and favas all in earlier than last year, I'm getting carrots to germinate, I have radish, spinach and mustard seedlings, and transplanted lettuces/escarole/endives/arugula. The onions, leeks, and first scallions are all transplanted. The garlic is doing great. The Jerusalem and Chinese artichokes are just coming up. Most of the first round of large brassicas are in, and there aren't many cabbage butterflies yet, but the flea beetles are starting, and the sow bugs are numerous. The medium brassicas (turnips, kohlrabi, etc.) are having germination issues, but I have indoor backups to harden off and put out for the gaps. The stuff that I overwintered is starting to feel overwhelming (how am I going to eat all this is time to plant the next squares?!) My wild arugula is definitely a perennial. I don't know how I want to incorporate that into my ANSFG beds/plans - it's awkward because I try to rotate everything.

Inside: The squash and cukes just came up, and the melons will pop up very soon. The basil seedlings look much better than last year. I FINALLY have shiso seedlings. (But still no catnip.) The tomatoes are getting too tall inside. Between life and the weather I haven't a good semi-dry opportunity to go fetch my annual allotment of composted horse manure that amends the tomato squares before they go in - so even though I have my WallOWaters in the garage, the tomatoes are stuck inside for now. The peppers and eggplants seem to be the right size. The tomatillos and ground cherries seem a little behind where I want them.

I'm out of room with my indoor lighting for seedlings. The half-hardened seedlings (mostly celeriac) haven't been getting much light because it's been too cold and/or windy/rainy to put them out. And even if I had the room, I don't want to risk bringing fungus gnats and whatnot into the grow room via the outdoor-exposed/potentially-contaminated plants. I saw the first two fungus gnats in the grow room this week - I've had big problems with them in previous years and this year was really the first I was able to see how much better plants grow without fungus gnat maggots eating their roots!  Shocked

The other day I took what I've been saving up since someone posted a video on here about the Jora composters, and ordered a weather station, a Jora composter, a compost thermometer, the SFG-High Value Veggies book, a second Victorinox bird's beak knife, and Bt for fungus gnats.

Tomorrow is the open house for a new local garden/hydroponics store, my fav farm/CSA store, and the native plant sale.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/6/2017, 11:34 pm

Wow, nice beds!  In your words, you have got a lot going on there!  
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  CapeCoddess on 5/7/2017, 5:48 am

Looking good! It's amazing how far along you are already. Do you get enough of a harvest from the legumes to keep you supplied through the year?
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  countrynaturals on 5/7/2017, 11:41 am

Ooo, Beetles. I love your setup. I love you I can just see myself wandering your paths and marveling at all your beautiful plants.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/7/2017, 7:45 pm

Thanks, SR!

CC -There's a frost warning** tonight, but the temperatures are expected to above 28*F -- and I might not get hit at all based on the forecast wind. Even if I do, all the stuff I have out is light-frost tolerant... I think... except maybe the parsley root. I have a cover on that. I haven't grown it before so I'm feeling my way along and maybe started it too soon. The winter growing really gave me a better feel for what the plants will cope with and I'm trying to take advantage of that. (**The fact that there's a warning is more surprising to me that then possibility of frost. I didn't think the area was past the last expected frost date yet. I use the 11th of this month. I wonder when they stop assuming it's winter and start thinking it's late spring and worth warning people about frosts.)

CN - right now you'd take a few steps in and marvel at how muddy my paths are! Razz

Yesterday was differently busy. First I went to the main, local, native plant sale. Next year I should reserve plants instead of trying to bring a shopping list. It was too chaotic for me (introvert here hiding ) I got two turtlehead plants for down by the creek (for checkerspot butterflies, maybe!), 2 swamp milkweeds (also for down by the creek), 2 common milkweeds for the garden, and a pair of aromatic aster plants for my flower bed. The sweet fern (not really a fern) was too expensive, and I couldn't find the trout lilies, nor the New-England asters.

Next up was my favorite local farm store, whom I used to have CSA-share with. Less chaotic, but all four of the people who work the outdoor area were there. Usually it's just one. But this time I had all four serially engaging me in garden chat and all trying to help me! I got tarragon and Thai basil for a friend. I got replacement plants for 3 of my peppers that I gave up trying to start myself. I'm also shy 2 eggplants, so I got a Little Finger, and they will email once the Orient Express seedlings are ready. And I picked up two rau ram ("Vietnamese coriander") plants, because no one sells seed for it. I also impulse purchased some "Wasabi arugula" seedlings. I wanted to try that one before buying seeds.

After that I went to the grand opening for the new local store complex that includes a hydroponics/garden shop, a meadery, winery, and several more. I purchased more plant labels - and considered a whole bunch of other items ...but I was really just overwhelmed at that point. As I was leaving I flubbed interacting with someone trying to compliment my garden, out of context, while they were on their phone. Comments on my garden always catch me off guard! I'm surprised people can notice it when they drive by at 45mph. I splurged on coffee on the way home and then nursed a headache for about a hour before making dinner and delivering a serving to a friend who was trying to survive working in the restaurant industry during graduation weekend.

I got some potting mix for the tomatoes this morning. It wasn't the kind I wanted, but they are getting pot-bound. I was happy to spend the rest of the day at home. I up-potted my shiso seedlings, and dabbled in the garden a little in the late afternoon while harvesting some salad greens. It's cold out, especially with the wind - slightly buzzy hands after coming in, but not fingers-stopped-working cold.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  countrynaturals on 5/7/2017, 8:08 pm

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:The other day I took what I've been saving up since someone posted a video on here about the Jora composters, and ordered a weather station, a Jora composter, a compost thermometer, the SFG-High Value Veggies book, a second Victorinox bird's beak knife, and Bt for fungus gnats. 
High Value Veggies? I'm off to look that one up. geek
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/7/2017, 9:25 pm

CapeCoddess wrote:Do you get enough of a harvest from the legumes to keep you supplied through the year?
I didn't last year, but I eat a lot of beans, and a number of things didn't do well, for different reasons. I'm not doing limas, long beans, and black-eyed peas again this year - I think they need more sun than my garden gets, and/or an indoor start.
I got my peas and favas and chickpeas sown much later last year; being earlier this year may increase my yield.
I get about one "serves 4-6" meal using edamame out of each pair of soy squares.
I got about a store bag of dry beans out of 8 squares of Marfax (a dry bush bean.)
I got about a store bag worth of dry Alaska peas, I think I planted 4 squares or 8 depending on how you think about it: trellis between two columns of 4 squares, 8-12 peas sown in the half square on each side of the trellis.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  sanderson on 5/8/2017, 4:11 am

Thank you for the beautiful photos! You have done so much in 2 years. I can even see the grids!

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/9/2017, 3:24 pm

sanderson wrote:Thank you for the beautiful photos!  You have done so much in 2 years.  I can even see the grids!  
I've been thinking of it as three years, but you're right, it's two. Shocked Putting it into the correct perspective sort of explains some things...

Yesterday a cat invited itself up onto my deck to torment my nesting robins. The babies just hatched a few days ago, and I can hear cute baby bird noises when the parents drop off food. The adults were making a bit of a racket, but I don't always investigate because it's mostly been them squabbling with other birds. Their nesting location is not cat-proof, though the cat was fortunately going about things the wrong way - so far. As soon as I saw the cat from the kitchen window, I flew out the side door onto the deck making myself look as big as I could while making frightening noises and charged it. It actually jumped off the deck (onto soft squishy grass) rather than taking the stairs and it did not look back as it ran off. My intent was to scare it enough that it doesn't come back. I like cats. But the deck is out of bounds and they don't get to mess with my robins. One of the robins followed the running cat and landed on the fence post at the edge of the yard to say what clearly translated to "And stay out!"

Last night was a freeze watch for the area. I left the parsley root still covered from the last frost warning, and switched the covers on the parsnip seedlings from plastic yogurt lids that they were touching (no plastic touching during a freeze!) to single-serve apple sauce dishes that I'd been hoarding, and happened to be the perfect height to give them a little protected space. The temperature got to about 30*F, but I don't think it got to 28*F. Things looked a little sad in the morning, but by this afternoon the only evidence there was a freeze is that the tallest pea plants look like they might have gotten a little bit of frost nip.

Today I finally got my partially composted manure for the tomato beds! I also got a catnip volunteer to replace the one I lost since I've had no luck with starting that from seed. And a lemon balm (I know, invasive - it's in the OSFG herb bed and I'll keep an eye on it.)

Between a little after 11am and a little before 2pm something devoured my ailing Hungarian Winter Pink lettuce seedling. In Broad Daylight! The scoundrel! Evil or Very Mad No evidence of what did it.  I replaced it with an offspring-of-Flashy-Butteroak volunteer.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/9/2017, 8:56 pm

At least one of the robins, I think it's the female, finally believes I might not be trying to eat them. (I talk to them, and it's my running joke when they yell at me, and I say back: "Knock it off! How many times have I actually eaten you?")

The robin asked me to move while I was adding the composted horse manure to by beds because she saw I worm I'd dug up. I obliged, walked out of the garden a several feet, and she grabbed the worm. Next I set aside what I think was a cutworm moth pupa, and she snagged it while I was just a little ways outside the garden, on the other side of the fence from her, refilling my smaller bucket with another batch of manure. There was a hiatus while the grackles noisily dealt with a crow in the neighbor's sickly maple, and she stayed away. Meanwhile, I found, one by one, nearly a dozen wire worms and set them aside in a plant tray (pressed down in to the MM so it wouldn't flip if she landed on the rim). She came back to the garden, beak already full, and managed to stuff all but one those wire worms in her beak! She fed the babies, and came back for the one last wire worm and was only four feet from me. That's the closest she's ever gotten without one or the other of us doing so by accident and startling each-other. cheers  Happy robins! Fewer garden pests!
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/9/2017, 10:17 pm

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:At least one of the robins, I think it's the female, finally believes I might not be trying to eat them. (I talk to them, and it's my running joke when they yell at me, and I say back: "Knock it off! How many times have I actually eaten you?")

The robin asked me to move while I was adding the composted horse manure to by beds because she saw I worm I'd dug up. I obliged, walked out of the garden a several feet, and she grabbed the worm. Next I set aside what I think was a cutworm moth pupa, and she snagged it while I was just a little ways outside the garden, on the other side of the fence from her, refilling my smaller bucket with another batch of manure. There was a hiatus while the grackles noisily dealt with a crow in the neighbor's sickly maple, and she stayed away. Meanwhile, I found, one by one, nearly a dozen wire worms and set them aside in a plant tray (pressed down in to the MM so it wouldn't flip if she landed on the rim). She came back to the garden, beak already full, and managed to stuff all but one those wire worms in her beak! She fed the babies, and came back for the one last wire worm and was only four feet from me. That's the closest she's ever gotten without one or the other of us doing so by accident and startling each-other. cheers  Happy robins! Fewer garden pests!
Cool!  I love my birds!  robins are like feathered killers in that department.  I have had robins basically stalk me when digging in the dirt out front...

The flashy Butter Oak is so beautiful!  I think I will get enough this weekend to make a big salad with the kale, spinach, chard and lettuces!
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  sanderson on 5/11/2017, 2:44 am

I love the robin story. I love you Can you add it to the "Birds of the Garden" thread?

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/13/2017, 12:08 am

sanderson wrote:I love the robin story. I love you  Can you add it to the "Birds of the Garden" thread?
Will do (probably with photos of da babies.)
But right now I'm somewhere between Sad and because I apparently my alliums are being attacked by a new to the area pest, the allium leaf miner fly. My garlic and walking onions have been marked by feeding adults. I can't find photos of eggs, not sure if it would even help if I knew what they looked like or if they are inserted 'invisibly' inside the leaves such that there's nothing I can do to save this year's crop.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  sanderson on 5/13/2017, 2:48 am

Can you spray with a Neem oil solution? (in the evening of course, after the bees have gone to bed)

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 6/7/2017, 7:15 pm

sanderson wrote:Can you spray with a Neem oil solution?  (in the evening of course, after the bees have gone to bed)
Neem oil isn't listed on any of the suggested treatment options. The problem is that the larvae are inside the interior leaves, so I'm guessing effective pesticides would need to be systemic (taken up through the roots and distributed through the whole plant) ...is neem absorbed that way? If it is, wouldn't the larvae dying inside the bulbs still result in bulbs that wouldn't store well?

I did get my suspicions officially confirmed about the pest being in my county. I'm going to see what happens, assume some losses, and going forward, plan on covering all the alliums during the critical months when the adult flies are laying eggs. I probably won't be able to overwinter my leeks this year. The chives will be the most difficult to deal with because they are perennial. Maybe yellow sticky bug traps under the covers to try to catch the adults as they emerge, to try to reduce the re-infection occurring under the cover...? Not sure how to handle the walking onions... 'Starting over' from some of the bulbils may be the safest route, even though I just got them established.
---
Yesterday I "reset my fence" - I moved almost all the edging pieces, carefully pulled the deer netting out of the sod/weeds where it was embedded, pulled weeds/trimmed the grass, replaced the cardboard, moved/adjusted a few fence stakes, and put the fencing and edge stones back. The cardboard gives a grass/weed-free border around the fence, so that the lawn service (included with rent, non-optional) doesn't try to shred my fence with a weed whacker again. (Reminder to self: I found some more holes I need to fix.) I have a section that will have to wait until after pea season because I didn't get my trellis up in time, so the peas climbed the fence instead. Fortunately that's a separate section of fencing; the process needs to be done all at once per contiguous section so that the garden isn't left unprotected.
Here's a view from the back of my garden:


This is a closeup of one of my new OSFG beds, that backs up to one of my raised beds. The ground slopes rather badly in this section, so this wall was my solution for trying to get a level bed without overthinking it. The rocks were ones I dug out as I went, and the logs and lumber piece were free from someone's curb. I targeted the dirt chunks that seemed clay-heavy for the dirt portion of the walls.


Next up, reset the Earthtainer SIP for the melon transplants, finish erecting bean poles and sprout my bean seeds, and transplant the hardened off tomatoes and basils.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/8/2017, 1:59 pm

You moved all those edgings??? Wow, you must be tired. Looks great tho!
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 6/8/2017, 11:15 pm

CapeCoddess wrote:You moved all those edgings??? Wow, you must be tired.  Looks great tho!
Yup. Moved them all. I was definitely tired, and sore, but yes, it will look good for a while! But I've got evidence of a small hole-digger (vole?) inside the garden. ARgh.

Today I got my Earthtainer SIP reset, and transplanted my watermelon seedlings into it -- Blacktail (thanks, ScorpioRising!) and Moon Sugar (home-made cross between Sugar Baby female and Moon&Stars male.)

I also put in a new awkwardly-sized (not an even number of feet) OSFG bed, and erected a bamboo teepee style trellis in it for tomatoes.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  sanderson on 6/9/2017, 2:12 pm

Nice!

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Turan on 6/9/2017, 4:09 pm

I just read your whole thread in one sitting. Nice journey and I look forward to seeing it further develop.

Have you come to a preference for 3x8 beds or 4x8 beds? I thought I saw both. I wish mine would switch magically according to my wants of the moment......

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 6/9/2017, 9:20 pm

Turan wrote:I just read your whole thread in one sitting.  Nice journey and I look forward to seeing it further develop.

Have you come to a preference for 3x8 beds or 4x8 beds?  I thought I saw both.  I wish mine would switch magically according to my wants of the moment......
You do see mostly 4x8s and two 3x8s. And there's also a 1x8 (it makes sense for the space, but I wouldn't do that again), a box that's effectively 4x12, and a tall 4x4.

While I love the space-efficiency of 4x8 over the 3x8, the 3x8 are much better for my height/reach. I'd probably still have both in my next garden, but have more of them be 3x8. If you find magic auto-switching boxes, let me know! Razz
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 6/9/2017, 9:44 pm

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:
Turan wrote:I just read your whole thread in one sitting.  Nice journey and I look forward to seeing it further develop.

Have you come to a preference for 3x8 beds or 4x8 beds?  I thought I saw both.  I wish mine would switch magically according to my wants of the moment......
You do see mostly 4x8s and two 3x8s. And there's also a 1x8 (it makes sense for the space, but I wouldn't do that again), a box that's effectively 4x12, and a tall 4x4.

While I love the space-efficiency of 4x8 over the 3x8, the 3x8 are much better for my height/reach. I'd probably still have both in my next garden, but have more of them be 3x8. If you find magic auto-switching boxes, let me know! Razz
Yep.  Me too.  I put a 3x7 in this year, where my tomatoes and one squash are living...will never go back to anything more than 3 feet deep....honestly, my faves are 1.5' deep by 5-6-7 feet....my old window boxes!  So accessible!  And nothing oin the dark.
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Scorpio Rising

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 6/16/2017, 12:05 am

I've gotten a lot of gardening done this week - trying to stay on top of the cabbage butterfly eggs (hand-picking, my netting is *somewhere* in the basement) and beet leaf-miners (poor beets, I feel bad removing pieces of their leaves, even though the miners are effectively doing the same thing) and eggplant flea beetles (the brassica flea beetles are too fast, they have racing stripes.) Watered the garden twice.

I've harvested a pile of Grazia arugula (sown last year plus volunteers, because I needed the bed back), three handfuls of strawberries, two fistfuls of volunteer parsley (rearranged my plan to leave 2 squares because a swallowtail laid an egg on it right in front of me), salvaged some bolting heads of lettuce, a heap of volunteer lamb's quarters (grows so much better than spinach and makes a mean Florentine), and cleared out bolting spinach, some of the bolting radishes, and all but one of the over-wintered kale plants.  Oh, and a broccoli that I should have harvested a little sooner and want to post a photo of. I still don't get how to tell when a broccoli head is done getting bigger and switching to flowering!

I transplanted more of the celeriac, most of the tomatoes, all of the basils, all of the red shiso, the remaining radicchio, all but the last before-summer succession of lettuce. And I started humidifying my multitude of bean seeds.

I picked a bok choy, some snow peas, a green onion, some Tokyo Bekana, and a few garlic scapes to make a stirfry for dinner. But by the time I got in, it was already quite late and I had no energy left for cooking (and no light left for garden photos.) Doh. Severe thunderstorm were on the radar with the possibility of hail. I couldn't bring myself to stick around for potentially watching the garden get hail. So I told myself I'd do better tomorrow, and went out to eat in town. It's dark now, so I have no idea how bad things were or weren't.
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BeetlesPerSqFt

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

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