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August for the N&C Midwest..

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August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/1/2011, 2:30 pm

How hot is it? Where'd the water go? These are pertinent questions for people down in the southern reaches of our region this month. However, those of you up north would likely love to send some of your storms our way. That big dome of high pressure over most of the country has us all cussing in one way or another as August jumps on our backs today. Usually, August is a repeat of July. So, there won't likely be much to add this month.



I can tell you that insects are at their peak right now. Stay vigilant! I would rather fight bugs than shovel snow, personally. The snow will be here soon enough.



While most of us still fight heat and humidity, the northern 1/3 of our region can follow this tip: The last date to sow sweet corn for the year is Aug. 1. For late crops of beets, bush beans, carrots, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, kohlrabi and onion sets, continue sowing seeds until Aug. 15. Peas and collards can be seeded again now, too.



This is also a great month for family vacations and swimming pools. I hope you all got yours in this year. The kids will be back in school soon, and those of us with children in the house will be getting back to a normalized routine in the next couple of weeks. After all, it's not ALWAYS about the gardens. Months like these, and the concept of SFG creating less work, allows us to balance our lives well with our hobby.



Now, let's see some updated pictures!

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  unmadecastle on 8/2/2011, 1:07 pm

We had a storm come through during the night. We had 1 inch of rain and a lot of wind. My gardens came through just great. The trellis's held up with no problem. My bee balm which is about 5 ft tall was laying down and my holly hocks (about 8-10 ft tall) were all bent over so if any one is wondering about using conduit trellis's they work. My cherry tomato is over 5 ft tall and was not even fazed by the wind.





We have been getting lots of cucs now.



Our peppers are starting to produce.









We have several empty squares that I have been waiting to plant. It has finaly cooled off here. Right now it is 77 and cloudy so I think I might plant some radishes and maybe some peas today.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  HouseofWool on 8/2/2011, 3:01 pm

We are still ridiculously hot around here. Today is much cooler at only 86 (with an equally high humidity level). The zuchs are growing like crazy and I am harvesting several a day. This round will be shredded to use for bread once the weather cools off.

Yesterday I picked the cauliflower. Now I am just waiting for a break in the weather to plant a fall crop of broccoli.

I noticed this week that the butternut squash is ripening! It is losing the spotty pale green color. Now I just have to figure out when to harvest and how to store it. There are roughly 10 fruit that have made it this far. I'm disappointed at how many fruit have not set properly. I have hand pollinated many of them, so I don't really think that is the issue. I am seeing it with all of the vining plants (squash, zuch, watermelon, cantaloupe).

So far I have one watermelon (for which I need to create a sling) and one cantaloupe.

The tomatoes are going crazy. A few a day are ready to pick. I rather wish we would get a big batch so I could can it rather than having just a few more than we can eat at any one time. I work from home, so I don't even have co-workers with whom I can share the bounty.

I picked a few onions as well because the greens had died back. They are small, but flavorful. And I noticed that one of the garbage cans of potatoes had died back, so I am hoping to dump that and see what I can find. I don't have a particularly good feeling about it. Each time I have stuck my hand in there I can't find a single potato... Hopefully they are all clustered down in the bottom.

I am moving my compost heap and am hoping to use the old spot for ground crops like taters next year and possibly some sweet corn which takes up more room than I feel I can spare in the beds. I have a feeling that the soil simply got to warm for the potatoes to produce. While this year has been abnormally hot, it is only about 5 degrees above average. I don't think that would make such a huge difference when the taters don't have the cooling power of surrounding ground.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  nancy on 8/2/2011, 7:17 pm

I have completely lost control. I can barely even find my boxes!







I'm now trying to figure out if there is any way to fit boxes in my backyard. Carrying water and dealing with the heat and weeds has just taken it out of me this year. The first cool Saturday morning we get... until then I'm enjoying the cardinals, goldfinches, and tufted titmice at the feeders. Very Happy

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/2/2011, 9:43 pm

Good stuff, guys.



Sorry, Nancy.....I laughed. (But, I know what you've gone through this year down there. Whatchagonnado?)

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  HouseofWool on 8/4/2011, 8:31 pm

I'm totally bummed out. I dumped the first of 2 garbage cans growing potatoes and it was a complete bust. There were only a few, roughly 1" in diameter and then there were a few at the bottom there were completely rotten.

I don't hold out any more hope for the other one either.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  madnicmom on 8/7/2011, 2:27 pm

I, too, houseofwool, lost all pototoes this year. I grew mine in containers.



BBG - question: with all this heat, when I look at the Fall planting schedule and the germination chart for the things that need to start from seed. I'm torn! Carrots/peas/beets will most likely NOT germinate in this heat. I guess I'm gonna need that hoop house! LOL



It's 90 with a heat index of 100 today! Sad I'm so sick of this weather!

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  nancy on 8/7/2011, 8:14 pm

with a little luck, today was the last of the really hot stuff. (fingers crossed) i picked another dozen or so tomatoes today and finally got brave enough to pull a few carrots. i cut them up and steamed them, then tossed them in butter and added some brown sugar. holy canolli were they good! i will certainly pull more tomorrow. Cool



with the cooler temperatures this week, i'm going to plant sugar snaps, carrots, and broccoli. these i will plant here at the house where i can keep a better eye on them. i have a bunch of bind weed to clear from here, but that should be easy enough (fingers crossed again).



am i allowed to say i'm ready for september?

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  Goosegirl on 8/7/2011, 9:27 pm

Our weather is cooling this week as well, so I am going to put out some carrot and maybe some broccoli seeds. I am anxiously waiting for my first tomatoes and my first watermelon to ripen.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/7/2011, 10:29 pm

So far, it looks like you Ohioans are in the same boat as me. Heat, heat, heat! Well, it looks like our heat has broken. This looks to be a "pattern shift," too. Which means that we should be done with the super hot stuff, maybe even be below normal, for the next couple of weeks. Once this time passes, it may be too late for the real summer heat to return, climatologically speaking. Let's hope so!

BBG - question: with all this heat, when I look at the Fall planting schedule and the germination chart for the things that need to start from seed. I'm torn! Carrots/peas/beets will most likely NOT germinate in this heat. I guess I'm gonna need that hoop house! LOL

I know what you mean! I am in the same boat, too. However, I plan to start things indoors where it's cool. I started a "fall gardening" thread if you haven't seen it. I plan to update it when I do anything significant in the garden. Right now, I have lettuces sprouted inside where it's cooler. In another week, I'll pop them in the garden....maybe late this week if we get the high of only 81F they are talking about. I did put my potatoes in the ground on a "flyer" to see if I can get lucky. But, carrots and spinaches will just have to wait awhile longer. I can't really keep them inside too long to dodge the heat. I will likely start peas, cauliflower, and broccoli really soon (early this week) AND another round of lettuce as soon as those hit the garden.

(edit: One thing I forgot to add is that I don't know how long it takes soil to cool off. I know mine was running in the mid-90s just last week. Water didn't do much to bring the temps down, either. However, with temps supposed to drop into the upper 60s at night, that has to be helpful. Maybe a little water early in the morning will drop those temps, or hold them low, long enough to get some plants to germinate if you don't have anything set up inside to sprout seeds.)

In a nutshell, there are things we can do to dodge the heat, but it's also still a crapshoot. No doubt unusually long, hot summers affect fall gardening. But, don't worry too much about shorter to harvest crops like radishes, spinaches, and lettuces. We have plenty of time to get those in no matter what happens with the remainder of summer or even an early onset of winter.

Stay vigilant! I hope I answered your question. If not, ask me again, and I'll go until we get it answered.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 8/8/2011, 12:02 am

BackyardBirdGardner wrote:
(edit: One thing I forgot to add is that I don't know how long it takes soil to cool off. I know mine was running in the mid-90s just last week. Water didn't do much to bring the temps down, either. However, with temps supposed to drop into the upper 60s at night, that has to be helpful. Maybe a little water early in the morning will drop those temps, or hold them low, long enough to get some plants to germinate if you don't have anything set up inside to sprout seeds.)

BBG - after your 90+ meat thermometer reading, I went looking for soil temps online and found this site...of course as folks were just commenting on another thread, everyone's mini-climates are different, but thought this might be of interest...

http://www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/soiltemp.asp

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/8/2011, 12:26 am

^^ That was very cool. Thank you for passing it along.



Notice that under bare soil, like our unplanted squares, the temps vary through the day quite a bit. However, under 8 inches of sod, the temps only varied about 2°.

I wonder what they will look like in a week after our cooler weather?

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 8/8/2011, 12:51 am

I did notice the difference in bare soil vs sod and thought to myself that the "mulchers" are probably on to something Smile - I've been trying to watch it a bit - they do list the past few days temps - for bare soil, the max in the past few days was August 2 in my area, where it got up to 94.5. However, yesterday (Aug 6) the max for bare soil was only 86.5 so it has dropped 8 degrees in 4 days, so maybe that means there is some relief in sight for germination! I hope! Smile

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  madnicmom on 8/8/2011, 5:14 am

BBG - you answered my question. Thank you! Now I'm going to take my soil temp, just to see.... LOL

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/8/2011, 10:36 am

Boy, I hope so, too, guys. Just like lakes of water, though, I'm sure there is a "turnover point" in which the soils up top will be cooler than the 8" temps. Sod/mulch will also modify things a bit. I wonder if the same will happen between bare soil and sod?

It's fascinating to watch imo. But, I'm a huge science nerd when it comes to certain things...lol.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/8/2011, 6:09 pm

So, I went outside late this afternoon with the meat thermometer again. I wanted to test how much water cooled the soil down.

My first reading was in full sun and dry MM...about 2 inches down. I got 86° and 88°. I, then, went into the shaded, moist section of beans I have growing and had already watered early this morning. 81° there. Not a bad differential....after 4 or 5 hours to boot. I stuck the thermometer back in the dry MM and then watered the square really good. It almost immediately went down to 82°. I wasn't impressed until I took the thermometer out and just held it in the running tap water. 82°!!! LOL. I thought for sure our water ran colder than that. Shocked But, the beauty of this little experiment is that the water does cool things off, and if kept in the shade, the moist soil holds the temps lower than the air temps for quite awhile.

This is exactly what I read, though. Water requires heat to evaporate. So, the result is a cooling effect on the soils since daytime heating of wet soil goes more into evaporating water content than heating up the soil's temperature.

For those of you wondering about lettuces bolting and whatnot, do you water every day? If you don't, that may be a factor in why your lettuce bolts faster than mine. Lettuce is quite the water hog anyway. So, I water mine pretty much everyday out of habit. After all, you can't overwater MM! Hope that shed some light on something for someone.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/11/2011, 11:12 pm

Thought I'd share a random finding that I can't seem to find a place to post. So, I thought I'd stick it in here...

Today, I am poking around the garden, prepping for fall plantings. As I am mixing in compost, I stick the trowel in the ground and start stirring/refluffing my MM. Suddenly, out pops a toad! A decent sized toad at that....a little bigger than a golf ball. He had buried himself in the moist soil.

I think nothing of it and move on...hoping he hops across the garden and hides instead of hopping out and into the sun. Sure enough, he hops into the super tall bush beans I have been holding onto for a couple weeks since it's been so hot. I move on around to another side of the garden, and I see TWO more toads trying to hop into the garden! Sure, boys, you're all welcome here I think as I trowel-lift them right into the MM.

Then, it dawns on me.... These toads have the perfect habitat. Moist soils that get watered frequently, shade to hide under, loose soil to bury into when the weather gets really hot, and LOTS of bugs and worms to eat. What toad would leave that subdivision? I can only imagine they sit under the bean plants, or in the lettuce, and just pick anything off that flies in. I just thought that was cool enough to share.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  westie42 on 8/12/2011, 12:01 am

I always consider toads a compliment and a sign of approval just like the wrens spending most of the day in my gardens. I feed them they serenade me.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  HouseofWool on 8/12/2011, 7:04 am

BBG - that is pretty neat. I'm so lazy about watering, so I doubt toads would be happy in my garden. But, we have several bird feeders that are standing empty right now (the price of sunflower seeds has more than doubled recently) but my gardens are pretty much pest free.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  Goosegirl on 8/12/2011, 7:13 am

I am lazy about watering as well. I have watered twice in the last month, the rest of it taken care of by the Thunder Bumpers that we have had almost continuously this year. We are currently under another one, so watering will not be necessary for the weekend as well! Fortunately I must have some natural predators out there under some leaves because my garden has been relatively pest-free except for Bugs & Babs Bunny. I am starting to see crickets and grasshoppers, which means the end of the season is nearing. Now, if only my 'maters would ripen!

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/12/2011, 9:49 am

I've also let my feeders run dry. Just laziness on my part, though. Everyone needs breaks from their routines to keep them from feeling like routines. I also let parts of the garden go this summer, too. Once it got so hot, I didn't want to fight it. I chose to fall a little lax and let myself recharge for fall.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  HouseofWool on 8/12/2011, 10:09 am

GG - The bunnies demolished my beans and peas this year. I haven't had a single bean harvest this year. I finally just yanked them all because it was so disappointing. I also put up a scraggly looking fence made from 3' chicken wire. I used landscaping staples along the bottom edge to make it more bunny resistant. So far so good, everything seems to be escaping their destruction.

I had hoped to put in a second crop of cooler weather plants, but it had been so hot that I couldn't be bothered and now I fear it is too late. I might plant some lettuce this weekend, but that is about the end of it for me.

Now I am just waiting on pins and needles for the melons and squash to ripen. There are 17 butternut squash (not that I am counting) in varying stages of ripeness. Some have started to get their typical tan color! I have 3 watermelon that I am excited to try - again just waiting for them to ripen.

The cantaloupe? Holy melons, Batman! When we had the horrible hot spell last month no fruit was setting. I had one lone melon growing. Then I found 2 more hiding under leaves. Now? We will have enough to open some sort of fruit stand if they all ripen. I even found a set of "twins", two melons growing from the same stem. There must be close to 30 fruit on the one plant! Here's hoping they are tasty...

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  laurainwinona on 8/12/2011, 12:47 pm

That's neat about the toads, BBG. I wish we had some, here, but I don't know if they come into town or stay out in the country. I've heard that half-burying clay pots on their sides to make a "toad house" and providing a water source help to attract them. maybe I'll try it.



I have seen a few ladybugs, too (the real red ones, not the annoying orange look-alikes). I hope they stay.



My cukes are growing well, or they were until we had an invasion of cucumber beetles (I posted separately about that)! My watermelon has two big ones and some babies on it, and the cantaloupe has three fruits plus a few more babies. My tomato has two huge ones and a bunch of little ones...I'm impatiently waiting for them to ripen! The bush beans are going crazy (I've gotten a couple of gallon-size bags already, and more are ready every day). The potatoes are dying back, and I pulled most of the onions. Carrots did nothing this year. Neither did my peppers. The plants look nice, but have no flowers. Same thing last year. What gives?



Everyones' pics are so beautiful!



I need to hurry up and plant fall stuff, too!

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/12/2011, 2:20 pm

I put some pictures in the "Prepping the Fall Garden" thread. But, over here I will tell you all that I put the bird netting back on the garden to keep my Murphy the Chipmunk out of the SFG for awhile. He tends to notice when I play with a square...and digs it up that night.

I need him to lay off the garden for a few weeks until I have most of my stuff in. Then, he can go back to roaming around in there with Tummy the Toad.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

Post  madnicmom on 8/12/2011, 3:35 pm

i am FINALLY seeing the Roma tomatoes ripen, haven't been able to pick any yet but they are slowly turning. No fall planting yet, broccoli plants ( yeah, i''m going to buy them) are not ready in our area. I'm loving the weather this week and next. Cincy has rain coming tomorrow night and most of the day on Sunday. High's have been 85 with lows in the 50's. Windows open, A/C off!!!!! Our hydroponics pumpkin has a baby pumpkin on it! Spagetti Squash has 3 coming along and has taken over the trellis.LOL



I have to go check the matthewcast thread to see how correct he was.

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Re: August for the N&C Midwest..

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