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Joy! Joy! Joy!

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Happy 1-Month Birthday!

Post  MasonGarden on 5/31/2011, 12:48 pm

We survived month-1! Despite the buckets of rain (which seem to be washing my MM out of the bottom of my boxes ), and the sudden onslaught of heat, my babies seem to be thriving in some cases, surviving in others, and barely hanging on in others! It's not lush like those that have been posted by others, but we're getting there. My son says that I am obsessed with my garden, but I keep telling him that I'm just trying to make sure that everything survives long enough to become food! Otherwise, this big investment will be just a waste! No

Here is the update at the end of month 1:

Box 1 is covered with bird netting so we have a chance to get at the berries before the birds do! Tribute Strawberries starting to flower and spinach is shaded so that perhaps some of it makes it into a salad - not hopeful though. It's really hot here in Cincinnati (upper 80's/low 90's):


Box 2 is a mix of Bulls Blood Beets (in the five squares that look empty but too small to see in this pic), Ancho Chili, Ethnic Sweet Peppers and Lemon Cucumber transplants, and Better Sweet Cucumbers sown on May 21:


My Lemon Cucumbers have a few flying visitors. Some with black & yellow stripes (tiny bees of some sort?) and these (I am hoping this is a "friend" not a foe!). Finally figured out today how to tell female flowers from male flowers, so if these aren't pollinators, I'll need to get a soft paintbrush to helpout!


Box 3 Beans, Kale, Collards, and Lettuces. The heat may take the leaf lettuces and spinach, but we'll cross our fingers! If they don't make it, we'll try again in the fall.


Salad Mix-to-Be:





Box 4 home of the Sugar Baby watermelons! Decided to give them their own box and planted in 9 squares. Hoping to get a least a few of these!


10-day Old Sugar Baby


Box 5 residents include tomatoes (Yellow Pear, Cherokee Purple, San Marzano, Beefsteak, Matt's Wild Cherry, Sweet Cherry, Sweet Yummy Mix, Basil and Champion Radishes:


Box 6 Onions, Garlic, Parisienne Carrots and Scarlet Nantes. I can finally tell the difference between carrot seedlings and weeds, but I may have ditched a few carrots in the process! Oops!


Since we're probably past the heavy rains and free water, I'll get my irrigation system in soon, and try to find a solution for the muddy mess from my "leaking" boxes after heavy rains. Ahhh, the joys of garden parenthood! cheers
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Mason Beds

Post  mijejo on 6/8/2011, 9:22 pm

I think your beds look great! Do you have tiles surrounding the beds?

I live close to you. I am in West Chester. My cold weather greens are still hanging in there. We are having huge salads every day and I still have enough greens left over to give away! However, the heavy rains and/or the frost may have killed some of the warm weather plants (I planted them late April). The eggplants are dying and some of the peppers are stunted.
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  MasonGarden on 6/8/2011, 10:16 pm

Hi Mijejo! I'm glad to know there is a fellow SFG'er in the area. wave smile The tiles are made of heavy duty plastic and I got them from Menards. I put them there to keep the grass trimmer far away so it doesn't cut into the sides of my boxes. They are not ideal but they serve the purpose and when I'm weeding I can easily set a lidded 5-gallon bucket on them and use it for a seat.

I'm so jealous that you have been eating salads from your garden! I would love to know how you managed that. Did you plant your lettuces from seeds or transplants? When did you plant them? My lettuces are so tiny, and I haven't harvested anything from them yet. I'm still hoping though. I have a feeling that I didn't give them enough water once the rains stopped, but I've been doing so every other day this week.

I hope that your eggplants get their second wind. I've also read on another thread that sometimes peppers can be slow and then they go through a growth spurt. Don't give up just yet!
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  shannon1 on 6/9/2011, 2:52 am

MasonGarden wrote:We survived month-1! Despite the buckets of rain (which seem to be washing my MM out of the bottom of my boxes ), and the sudden onslaught of heat, my babies seem to be thriving in some cases, surviving in others, and barely hanging on in others! It's not lush like those that have been posted by others, but we're getting there. My son says that I am obsessed with my garden, but I keep telling him that I'm just trying to make sure that everything survives long enough to become food! Otherwise, this big investment will be just a waste! No

Here is the update at the end of month 1:

Box 1 is covered with bird netting so we have a chance to get at the berries before the birds do! Tribute Strawberries starting to flower and spinach is shaded so that perhaps some of it makes it into a salad - not hopeful though. It's really hot here in Cincinnati (upper 80's/low 90's):


Box 2 is a mix of Bulls Blood Beets (in the five squares that look empty but too small to see in this pic), Ancho Chili, Ethnic Sweet Peppers and Lemon Cucumber transplants, and Better Sweet Cucumbers sown on May 21:


My Lemon Cucumbers have a few flying visitors. Some with black & yellow stripes (tiny bees of some sort?) and these (I am hoping this is a "friend" not a foe!). Finally figured out today how to tell female flowers from male flowers, so if these aren't pollinators, I'll need to get a soft paintbrush to helpout!


Box 3 Beans, Kale, Collards, and Lettuces. The heat may take the leaf lettuces and spinach, but we'll cross our fingers! If they don't make it, we'll try again in the fall.


Salad Mix-to-Be:





Box 4 home of the Sugar Baby watermelons! Decided to give them their own box and planted in 9 squares. Hoping to get a least a few of these!


10-day Old Sugar Baby


Box 5 residents include tomatoes (Yellow Pear, Cherokee Purple, San Marzano, Beefsteak, Matt's Wild Cherry, Sweet Cherry, Sweet Yummy Mix, Basil and Champion Radishes:


Box 6 Onions, Garlic, Parisienne Carrots and Scarlet Nantes. I can finally tell the difference between carrot seedlings and weeds, but I may have ditched a few carrots in the process! Oops!


Since we're probably past the heavy rains and free water, I'll get my irrigation system in soon, and try to find a solution for the muddy mess from my "leaking" boxes after heavy rains. Ahhh, the joys of garden parenthood! cheers
I think your tiny striped visitors could be hover flies they do pollinate and better still their larva kill and eat small pest insects. The larva look like green inch worms don't take them out by mistake like I did Embarassed . They look like this.
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West Chester Garden

Post  mijejo on 6/9/2011, 3:58 am

I do not remember the exact date(s), but I know I planted the salad greens early. Buttercrunch (Bibb), Romaine, Simpson Black Seed, Summercrisp, Arugula, Mesclun, and a number of other green and red lettuces were directly sown in the soil - perhaps early to mid-April. I had a few transplants from seeds I started indoors (I think I started them sometime in February and moved them outside around mid-April). They included spinach, pok choi, swiss chard, etc. I purchased a few other transplants such as Chinese Cabbage. All of these survivied and thrived during our rainy season.

My first harvests were results of carefully removing a few leaves from each plant - just enough to make a small dinner salad for each of us. Over the weeks, the plants grew quickly. The lettuces can now take a true "cut and come again" harvest. With kitchen scissors, I can basically give the loose-leaf lettuces a hair-cut. With a small crown left, they are able to grow again. For the larger lettuces, I remove all but a few tiny internal leafs. So far, everyone bounces back quickly.

Another thing, I do not follow the spacing suggestions in Mel's book. I sow thickly and my harvesting technique(s) seem to give the plants the spacing they need. I view them as a short-term crop and if I have to pull a few out to thin them, I do not care. I can use the thinnings in my salads. In addition, I have heard that lettuce seeds do not germinate well after they are a year old. Therefore, I am trying to use them up before they "expire."

The pok choi, spinach, and arugula are trying to bolt. I keep pinching off any beginning signs of blossums. That seems to be keeping the leaves from becoming bitter - so far! However, I do not expect for them to last much longer.

As an experiment, I have sown more seeds of the above type in a bed that is in the shade. I hope I can continue to harvest greens from it until fall.

I suggest that you keep your greens well watered. If they are in direct sun, and especially during this hot spell that we are having, you may want to provide them partial shade during the hottest period of the day.

Yes, I am pleased to have found another SFGer so close to home. Please, let's conntinue to exchange garden updates, successes, and failures.
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  martha on 6/9/2011, 12:45 pm

They are gorgeous! (I'm a little jealous - I was happy with my Home Depot boxes, but I think I like yours better!)

Congratulations on being able to get going during your brief dry spell!
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  MasonGarden on 6/9/2011, 3:32 pm

Thanks, Martha. I love everyone's boxes no matter what materials they are made of, especially when they are overrun with food! The only reason I got the boxes that I did was to try to avoid any HOA complaints. :tsk: Plus, they won't be deteriorate for quite some time!

Mijejo - Timing is everything. It looks like I planted my spinach and lettuces a full month after you did, because I couldn't bear the though of setting up six boxes in the torrential rains we were having, and I couldn't get the garden center to deliver my bulk compost because it was too wet. So that explains why I really don't expect any spinach harvest, but I am holding out for the lettuces which I am keeping under shade cloth (also known as green tulle/netting!). Thanks too for the heads up on the hover fly larvae because I DEFINITELY would have sent them packing if I saw them! get that pesky wabbi
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  CindiLou on 6/9/2011, 4:02 pm

MasonGarden wrote:We survived month-1! Despite the buckets of rain (which seem to be washing my MM out of the bottom of my boxes ),

You may have to put landscape fabric in the bottom of the box and run it up the sides a ways. I have to do that this fall with my wooden basket. Mix is coming out between the logs. Evil or Very Mad
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  MasonGarden on 6/9/2011, 4:09 pm

I have landscape fabric at the bottom of my boxes, but I didn't run it up the sides! silly me I shudder to think about emptying out all six 18" high boxes, but I might have to do that in the late-fall/early-winter and set them back up again before snow falls! Sigh! The bad news is that it will be a CHORE! The good news is that next spring, I'll be all set to go with just seeds and transplants. I'm looking for the silver-lining here! okay
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  CindiLou on 6/9/2011, 4:14 pm

Humm maybe there is a way of blocking the outside of the bottoms? Maybe someone has a suggestion for something like that.
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  MasonGarden on 7/13/2011, 5:50 pm

Well, my first SFG has survived its 2nd month! I've been on the road, so I am about a week and a half late on my update, but here it is!

There are six boxes total:


Lots of growth over the past month and great tasting harvests here and there. Comparison of pairs of boxes End of Month 1 vs. End of Month 2

Still harvesting Simpson Elite, Tango, Flame and Buttercrunch lettuces (how much longer will that last in +90-degree heat?), collards, and kale. Lost the spinach a few weeks ago and was never able to harvest anything. Will try again in the late-summer/fall.

Bush beans seem to be growing a bit slowly, but the Jacob's Cattle beans are ahead of the Tenderpod, Bountifuls, and Limas. Have to figure out when to harvest these.


Tomatoes are beginning to put out a fair amount of fruit, as are the sweet peppers, but none have ripened yet. Had to cut basil way back because it was growing too tall and shading my Yellow Pear Tomatoes. I probably need to harvest basil more often! See today's harvest of basil (along with a couple of Pickling Cucumbers, as Better Sweet Cucumber, a Lemon Cucumber, and a Banana Pepper) below. Hot peppers are offering up a 1-2 peppers per week so far, but there are now lots of blossoms on them.
[

The watermelons are spreading like wildfire (Sugar Babies - can't wait til August!. I'm thinking that I may need to go on ahead and trellis them though because they are starting to invade three other adjacent boxes.
golly gee whiz


The Walla Walla Sweet Onions are holding steady and we should be able to start harvesting next week according to the calendar, plus the green leaves are starting to fall over.

Three varieties of carrots are continuing to grow but I haven't seen any peeking out from underground yet, so I guess they are not ready to harvest(?).

My three varieties of cucumbers (Lemon, Pickling, and Better Sweet) are growing well. I had been hand pollinating, but I saw some bumblebees visiting them today - cheers


I've been picking the blossoms off of both of my strawberry varieties as instructed by experienced SFG'ers. The plants are growing very well and putting out lots of shooters! Noticed a few leaves with a ton of tiny holes and found a white insect with "white fuzzy stuff" around it, so I cut off that leaf and disposed of the bug and fuzzy stuff. I haven't used any insecticides on my SFG so far, but I will if I have to - Organic of course!
get that pesky wabbi

On the downside (aka "learning opportunities"):
Radishes were very small and somewhat bitter, so not much success there, or with the beets (haven't grown anything but roots so far). Looks like I'll have to pull these all up and try something else in those seven squares.

Rookie Questions :scratch:
What is the best way to harvest lettuce? Time of day? Wash right away and refrigerate or put in fridge and wash when ready to eat it? Harvest right before we eat it? Seems to wilt before we can eat it for lunch or dinner.

In general, should I only harvest in the early morning? Should veggies be washed before storing/refrigerating? Stored in bags in the refrigerator? (I know I shouldn't refrigerate tomatoes though)

I don't get enough cucumbers at a time to make a whole batch of pickles, so how long can they keep until I harvest enough to "put up" a jar? Same with hot peppers.

Will my red and gold sweet bell peppers change from green to the right color on the vine, or should they be harvested while still green, and ripened in the house?

How can you tell when root vegetables (Carrots, Radishes, Beets, etc) are ready to harvest?

I hope everyone else is seeing great progress in their SFG's! Thanks for checking in and for your help!
thanks
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  MasonGarden on 7/22/2011, 12:21 pm

Should have known better than to utter the words "I haven't had to use any chemicals on my SFG" when talking about pests. Today I discovered a green horned worm on my heirloom Yellow Pear tomato plant, evidence that something has been eating my young tomatoes and peppers (from one plant), and these fat little guys that I believe are Monarch caterpillars since I've seen a Monarch butterfly hanging around over the past couple of weeks. They were enjoying a breakfast of "carrot greens":



I couldn't bear to squish the caterpillars and the worm, so I banished them to another part of the yard far away from my SFG.
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  unmadecastle on 7/22/2011, 12:49 pm

MasonGarden wrote:Should have known better than to utter the words "I haven't had to use any chemicals on my SFG" when talking about pests. Today I discovered a green horned worm on my heirloom Yellow Pear tomato plant, evidence that something has been eating my young tomatoes and peppers (from one plant), and these fat little guys that I believe are Monarch caterpillars since I've seen a Monarch butterfly hanging around over the past couple of weeks. They were enjoying a breakfast of "carrot greens":



I couldn't bear to squish the caterpillars and the worm, so I banished them to another part of the yard far away from my SFG.

They look like the ones I found in my garden a couple of days ago. They were eating my carrots too! Smile I was told that the carrrots would be ok and would grow new leaves. Who knew that these guys could eat so much!! I couldn't bear to dispose of them either.
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  camprn on 7/22/2011, 1:59 pm

the green, yellow and black striped ones turn into swallowtail butterflies. You are luck and I am so glad they were banished to the other side of the yard. Well done! What a Face
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  FamilyGardening on 7/22/2011, 2:09 pm

wow those things are huge Shocked

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rose
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  MasonGarden on 7/22/2011, 3:08 pm

Camprn - You're right! They are swallowtail caterpillars. I mixed up the images that I googled. I checked on them in their new home in the yard and they seemed to have moved onto a bush. Hope they'll make it to adulthood!



My kids (15 and 19 years old) were horrified at the thought of squashing them AND none of us wanted to do it. So, they were spared. Maybe I'll follow Nancy's lead and get a butterfly cage and give them shelter next time, so we can watch them go through their change.
:butter:


Last edited by MasonGarden on 7/22/2011, 3:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  Tril on 7/22/2011, 3:09 pm

Monarch caterpillars are yellow, black and white... no green. They only eat milkweed, too. So you won't find them in your veggie gardens.

Here's an Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar... looks similar to what you have.

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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  camprn on 7/22/2011, 3:12 pm

Tril wrote:Monarch caterpillars are yellow, black and white... no green. They only eat milkweed, too. So you won't find them in your veggie gardens.

Here's an Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar... looks similar to what you have.
Thank you for the clarification!you are absolutely correct. What a Face I was referring to the caterpillars in the photo MG posted as opposed to the tomato horn worm that was mentioned.
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  MasonGarden on 7/23/2011, 11:57 am

Plucked another green horn worm off one of my tomato plants again this morning! Banished him to the back of the yard as along with the green horn worm and swallowtail caterpillars that I found yesterday. Also found some inch long green worm/caterpillar bugaboos along with a bunch of things that looked like "green slimy eggs" affraid on my kale. It was so humid my camera lens fogged up so I couldn't get a good picture for you. I went on ahead and pulled up the kale and collards because whatever those things are, they were having a feast on my greens!

I guess this is what the heat brings out. I'll be spraying everything down tonight with an organic pesticide.
get that pesky wabbi
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

Post  shannon1 on 7/24/2011, 12:38 am

If you see green slug-like worm looking things just let them stay in the garden. They are hover fly larvae and eat aphids. Here is a photo, from above they look more worm like.
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Re: Joy! Joy! Joy!

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