Garden update – July 18

Things are growing well. It’s always rewarding to see your efforts amounting to something.

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I think it is obvious, though, that the back left section of the garden is doing best. It is the part that gets the most sun, and I guess it shows. I was reading that root crops will do okay in partial sun but that they will take longer to mature and will perhaps be smaller. That would work well for my beets if that is true.

The summer squash is really coming along now. It has a lot of blossoms on it and I’m sure will be fruiting in no time –

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The cucumbers are doing pretty good, too. Even though they are not real big and bushy, they are putting out flowers so the prospects of a cucumber crop are looking good. Love those bread and butter pickles!

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The tomatoes have been growing steadily and putting out blossoms, some of which you can see in this picture –

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There are multiple tomatoes growing, too. Pretty soon I’ll need to stack another tomato cage on top of the existing one to keep the plants from growing all over the place.

And finally, the green beans are putting out flowers –

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They are pretty little purple blossoms which you can most easily see on the larger plants on the right. I think these green beans really show the effect of more and less sunlight. Maybe I can find a section of the yard that has more sunlight during the day. Have you ever done a sun/shade survey of your yard? I haven’t done it here but I have elsewhere. It sure helps to know what the growing conditions are over your whole property at any time of day and any day of the year, or at least during the growing season. Unfortunately, my main growing condition on this property is shade.

I’m happy so far with the results. Though not as good as I would like them to be, they are pretty much what I thought they might be.

New tool – scuffle/Dutch/action hoe

My new hoe has an identity crisis. I’ve heard of the three names mentioned above for this type of hoe, but Wikipedia also lists “oscillating”, “swivel”, “stirrup” and “Hula-Ho.” The original Dutch hoe is a flat piece of steel typically attached to a long handle on each side in a u-shaped fashion.

DutchHoe

The flat piece of steel is angled to the shaft and usually both the front and back edges are sharpened so that the hoe will cut weeds on both the forward and backward stroke, thus the alternate name “scuffle hoe,” as you scuffle it forward and back. It’s meant to cut just below the surface of the soil. It seems that some of these hoes are only sharpened on the front edge, but I think that would limit it’s usefulness.

There is also a version with a narrow blade that is attached to a shaft in the middle of the blade. It can be used with the same action, only it wouldn’t cut in the middle on the pull stroke. I think that some people would claim that that is a real Dutch hoe and the others aren’t, but from what’s on the Internet I don’t think many people see it that way.

The modern incarnation of this hoe is described by all the other names. Essentially it is a U-shaped piece of steel attached to a handle, either through a solid attachment or some kind of attachment that allows a bit of a swivel motion. Here’s some pictures of mine –

ScuffleHoeAScuffleHoeBScuffleHoeC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oddly enough I have never had a hoe like this as I have always used a regular Dego hoe, with a typical broad, flat blade, or a Warren hoe, with a triangular, pointed blade.

I took it out for a spin in the garden and it worked really well. I only got a row and a half weeded with the hoe before I suddenly realized the head was coming off the handle. One of the nuts holding it on had also fallen off, but luckily I was able to find it. All it needed was for the nuts to be tightened, which I did. By that time, though, I was ready to quit. This is a nice addition to the garden tool collection.

Garden update – July 7

Still wet –

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I have been able to get into the garden occasionally to do a little weeding now and then, and I have the beets thinned out. I replanted the missing part of the row of green beans, as well as planting in a few other bare sections, but it just doesn’t seem to be doing well. I don’t know if there is something in the soil there that is causing problems (like a root?) or what, but it is disappointing. I think I may try to fill in the area with some bunching onions.

The summer squash is doing quite well –

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I think it will probably provide me with more than I can eat. The beets, as I said, have been thinned, though they are looking a little scraggly. Then again, they usually do when they are young –

Garden070713BThe cucumbers are growing –

Garden070713CThe tomatoes are looking good and I have to keep coralling them in the cages –

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And best of all, they have tomatoes!!

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Unless something goes unexpectedly bad, I should be having tomatoes in a few weeks.

So that’s where it’s at today. Slower growing, I think, than it would be if it were in the full sun. I don’t have that option, but at least it looks like I should be able to grow at least a little produce this year.

If anyone is reading this, what are you growing this year?

Garden update – June 30

Things are growing, though not as well as I would have hoped. Here’s an overall view –

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It is wet! There is a big gap in the row of green beans on the right and I had to replant one hill of cucumbers as they just didn’t show up at all. The cuke seedlings in that hill have sprouted and the other two hills are growing their true leaves now –

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The summer squash – at the bottom of the next picture – is doing well, as are the tomatoes, though the tomatoes aren’t taking off like I thought they should.

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The beets are doing well, but they need thinning badly –

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I need to get in there and do some weeding, too. There are scads of little maple trees (surprise!) growing everywhere. It is just too wet to go in there though. I would just make a mess trying to do anything right now.

For the record, these are the varieties I planted this year –

Beets – Detroit Dark Red
Cucumber – Picklebush
Green Beans – ContenderSummer Squash – Early Prolific Straightneck
Tomatoes – Supersauce Hybrid

All except the tomatoes were seeds (Burpee), and the tomatoes were purchased from Burpee as plants. I bought way more green bean seeds than I needed to and I had leftover seeds of everything in varying quantities. Altogether I spent $13.10 on seeds and $11.96 on the tomato plants, which I managed to get on sale and with free shipping.

Rain rain go away

I heard on the news that as of today we have had as much rain so far this year as we had in all of last year. I believe it. A garden needs rain, but it also needs sun and needs to dry out a bit now and then. All that rain makes crusty soil, too, and yes I know mulch would help with that. With my luck it will stop raining and then not rain again til October.

The rest of the gang shows up

Here it is the next day and I find that the green beans are popping up –

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And I don’t know if I just didn’t see them yesterday or if they just showed up today – the beets –

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You can tell from these pictures that after I planted the garden it rained like mad and then dried out. I’m surprised the seeds can push through the hard crust that forms, but push they do.  We have been getting a lot of rain this month. You would tend to think it’s good for the garden, but not if it drowns everything. Let’s hope for better conditions.

First sprouts

There is nothing exciting here (at least to most everyone except me) and these update posts are really to help me remember what happened when. Today I found the first seedlings coming up. The summer squash –

Garden061513A-SSand the cucumbers –

Garden061513B-CukeI only see plants in two of the cucumber hills. Hopefully they will show up in the third one soon. Odd, too, because the missing sprouts are in the position most likely to get more sun.

All planted

I was finally able to get the green beans in. There are three rows in the middle of the garden. Yes, I like green beans, and I particularly like to can them. If they grow well I should have enough to be able to do that. I also planted two rows of beets in the lower right corner. I’m not sure if the shade is going to be too much for them or not, but I’ll find out.

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So, let’s see how the garden grows. We are supposed to get more rain, so that’s good. Now it’s up to ol’ Mother Nature.

Planting started

I was finally able to get out and get the first part of the garden planted. I would like to have finished it but it’s a workday night and after a whole day of work this was all I had the oomph to get done. Here’s an overall view –

Garden060413AYou can see how I left the fence end rolled up and not cut off. The roll at the near end is serving as my fence gate. I pull it aside to open the closest left side of the fence to get into the garden. You always hate to walk on your freshly turned garden soil, but you can’t plant it if you don’t. I don’t usually put down any kind of mulch or anything, as I rely on a hoe to keep things weed free.

The main part of the garden is not planted yet. Everything is planted around the edges right now. Down at the far end are the tomatoes.

Garden060413BThe white things are plastic milk carton rings. I don’t know that they were necessary but as I spent good money on buying special tomato plants this year, I wanted to put up a barrier to anything that might want to cut them off at the base. You can see that I also put the tomato cages in place, too. Next to the tomatoes is a hill of summer squash.

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The summer squash is at the front of this picture, with the tomatoes just to the right. I hope the squash is a bush variety (the package doesn’t say one way or the other) but even if not I think I can manage. I only have one hill planted because I won’t eat more than that and have nothing else I would do with them, other than the usual giving away of excess garden produce.

Going forward from the summer squash, I have three hills of pickling bush cucumbers planted. You can barely see the three little white markers that show where I planted them. This is on the shadier side of the garden and I know cukes like sun, so I’m not sure how well they will do.

That’s it for right now. I’ll have to get the green beans and beets planted another day. For right now, though, I’m very happy that I was finally able to get the tomato plants in the ground.

Final pass and fence up

I finally got a chance to do the final tilling of the garden. It’s looking pretty good right now. I also took the time to pound the fence posts in and string the garden fencing. It’s not a tall fence, but it should work well enough to keep the rabbits out. Normally I would bury the bottom few inches in the dirt and use wire to attach the fence to the posts, but I guess I’m getting lazy in my old age. That, or I am misplacing my trust in the rabbits not to go digging.

As long as there was no gap at the bottom of the fence, I figured it would be okay. I also just tied the fence to the fence posts with twine. I didn’t even cut the fence to exact length. I bought two fifty foot rolls and there was a little left after fencing two sides of the garden. Rather than cut it off, though, I decided just to let it wrap up a little at the end and leave it. If I make the garden a couple of feet longer next year, I’ll have enough fence for it.

I plan on pulling the fence out at the end of the year. I want to use it again next year and don’t want it to go through the winter weather. It’s also a lot easier to till the garden in the spring without the fence posts in the way. I’m planning on planting tomorrow, weather permitting. Please weather, permit it.