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The Old Guy's Garden Record

September 16, 2019

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Wow! Where has the time gone? We have only 45-60 days left in the growing season, and daylight is steadily getting shorter.

We have fall crops of carrots and spinach planted and doing well. They should easily beat our first frost. Not so secure is our still unseeded planting of fall kale. I waited and waited for our lima beans to put on pods before giving up and clearing that area for the kale. Fortunately, kale can usually handle a light frost rather well.

Cauliflower and lettuce transplantsAlmost certainly doomed are some small cauliflower transplants on our back porch. For whatever reason, the cauliflowers took forever to grow into something I could put on the porch to harden off. They are rather spindly. I'll still transplant them and hope for a miracle, but we probably don't have enough growing days left for them to mature.

Not so threatened are some lovely lettuce transplants ready to go into the ground. We've been growing spectacular lettuce both spring and fall for several years. It turned out to be just a matter of finding lettuce varieties that grow well in our climate zone.

We'll continue harvesting tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and butternut squash as long as we can. I picked our first yellow squash today. And we have a promising planting of Sugar Snap peas that may begin to yield pods in a week or so.

Young garter snake in lettuce blooms

Lettuce seed spikes now tied up with two strands of soft cotton stringI decided our blooming lettuce spikes needed to be tied up again today. When I went out to the lettuce, I found a young garter snake perched among the blooms. I went ahead and tied up the plant. The snake didn't seem to mind too much. The lettuce plant is now dropping a good bit of seed, so I'll soon need to cut the first two seed spikes and hang them in a paper grocery bag to dry.

Broccoli for seedOne of our Goliath broccoli plants has put on a head. This one and its nearby siblings will never make it to our dinner table, though. This broccoli is for seed production, something I've not done before. We have lots of broccoli frozen from our spring crop, although some fresh broccoli does sound good.

My first attempt this spring at growing this apparently discontinued variety for seed failed miserably. The plants stalled out in the poor soil of our East Garden plot and eventually got overgrown with weeds.

My main focus the last few days has been cleaning up a weedy mess I let occur in our main raised garden bed. Last year, the same area got overgrown with weeds when I damaged my knees and couldn't garden for a month or so. This year it was cataract eye surgery followed by some shoulder problems. Letting weeds grow and go to seed will make keeping that area weed free a problem for years to come.

Removing weeds Weeds pulled, trash raked out
Pulling weeds took three days! Weeds pulled, trash raked out
Fertilizer, peat moss, and lime added Soil amendments tilled in, surface raked smooth
Fertilizer, peat moss, and lime added Soil amendments tilled in, surface raked smooth

Letting areas get away from you and grow up in weeds is the kind of thing that defeats gardeners, especially new ones. I always suggest to folks starting their first garden to start small so they can keep up with the necessary weeding and such.

The newly renovated area will get our cauliflower transplants and two rows of kale. Our lettuce transplants will get squeezed in around our hill of yellow squash.

Burpee Herb Seeds & Plants


Monday, September 2, 2019 - Labor Day (U.S.)

Large holes dug for transplantingCauliflower transplantedI transplanted cauliflower into the newly renovated section of our main raised garden bed today. Because I thought the soil was a tad dry, I used a shovel to open up large holes for the transplants. Then before anything else, each hole got a gallon or two of water. Then I backfilled the holes with a mix of native soil, peat moss, lime, and fertilizer...and gave the holes another shot of water.

The actual transplanting was just a matter of pushing a used, cut down paper cup as a cutworm collar into the soil, popping in a transplant, adding a little dirt to the cup and firming it. And of course, I then added a bit more water. (There's nary a hint of rain in our weather forecast for the rest of this week.)

The trick with the paper cup cutworm collars is to keep the top of them an inch to and inch and a half above the surrounding soil level. That pretty well prevents cutworms from getting to the plant above ground. Of course, a trade-off with using the cutworm collars is that they somewhat restrict lateral root growth of the plants.

I also formed a dirt trough around each planting to hold in rainwater or waterings I'll almost certainly have to do for a while.

Two final steps to the planting will be to mulch the cauliflower as soon as possible and removing the cutworm collars after a week or so.

The cauliflower transplanted included two Fremonts and six Amazings. I'd have gone half and half, but when I started the transplants, I ran out of Fremont seed.

Cauliflower transplanted, kale direct seeded

I filled out the rest of the newly renovated area direct seeding two rows of kale into it. One row was all Vates (also known as Dwarf Blue Scotch), while the other was seeded to Red Ursa, Rainbow Lacinato, and a little Tronchuda or Portuguese Kale.

I finished off the planting by adding flowers to replace the wooden row marker stakes, with a few more flowers here and there. Oh, and I also spread some Repels All to ward off transplant eating rabbits and hole digging dogs and cats.

While I put away my gardening tools, my lovely wife picked green beans. There weren't all that many ready, but I'm writing tonight with the aroma of green beans boiling with sweet onions and ham wafting upstairs to my office. (I did sneak a bean or two earlier. They were delicious.)


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Cauliflower mulchedMelons mulchedI'm coming off a couple of days of mowing, raking, and mulching, plus a "recovery day." Our grass had gotten pretty high. It mowed well, but raking it up with our lawn sweeper was difficult because the clippings were thick and often wet. I'm finding that I need a day or two to recover after mowing, as the jostling over rough ground and ruts is hard on my aging body.

The good news is that I got our cauliflower plants mulched. I also added a foot or two of mulch around our one hill each of cantaloupe and watermelon. The melons also got a couple of gallons of water each.

Our row of Earliest Red Sweet peppers needed their mulch thickened and repaired. All season crops such at this one usually require three mulchings in a season to keep weeds down. The peppers also got a thorough watering with some Maxicrop fertilizer mixed in. Hopefully, that will get the plants blooming again. Like our tomato plants, the peppers quit blooming during our hot and dry spell.

A head of Goliath broccoliOn the row north of the pepper plants, a head of Goliath broccoli was at the perfect picking stage today. Of course, I left the head alone, as this crop of Goliath is for seed saving.

The rest of the row of broccoli are stair stepped in size down the row from the headed plant. Although I started all the transplants at the same time, some did better than others. When I transplanted them, I went with the healthiest plants first, creating the stair stepped effect. That may work to my advantage, as I've not saved seed from broccoli and have some learning to do about it.

I finally harvested several seed producing stalks from a Sun Devil lettuce plant. The stalks are drying in a large, paper grocery bag in our dining room. I bang the stalks around a little each day which causes some seed to drop to the bottom of the bag along with a lot of trash and fluff.

I started hand pollinating some of our gloxinia plants today. I'll continue to use a Q-tip for several days, transferring pollen from the anthers to the stigma of blooms. While I've already saved a good bit of gloxinia seed this season and have more seed heads about to mature, I've never thought to write down the date I started hand pollinating to determine how many days it takes for a seed head to mature!

Finally, we've been enjoying things from the garden with our evening meals. Fresh green beans cooked with sweet onions and ham chunks and battered, deep fried yellow squash are the most recent feasts we've enjoyed. In a week or so, I may be writing about enjoying Sugar Snap peas, followed by spinach, kale, and lettuce from our garden as the season winds down.

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Friday, September 6, 2019 - One of those Days

Our Senior Garden - September 6, 2019Yellow squash plant fills half of bedI'd hoped to transplant lettuce this morning around our yellow squash in one of our narrow raised garden beds. Unfortunately, a hill of Slick Pik plants had totally filled the half of the raised bed I'd planned to use for fall lettuce. I'd put in the yellow squash on a whim, hoping to have room around it for the lettuce. With the plants currently producing lots of lovely yellow squash, there was no way I was going to pull them out.

Moving on to a quickly conceived plan B, I looked at our rows of green beans to see if the row of early plants might be ready to come out, hopefully making room for the lettuce. The earlier variety plants were just about played out with some good beans but almost no blooms on them.

So I pulled the row of early beans, stripping the good bean pods off the plants and putting the plants in our garden cart to be composted later. Then I went ahead and picked our second row of beans that are finally producing lots of good beans. That row of plants has lots of blooms on it, so it should produce at least one more light picking.

One bean row pulled, one left

Of course, with the beans picked and moving into the heat of the day, the lettuce didn't get transplanted. I had beans to wash, snap, and can.

The beans snapped out to produce five and a half pints of canned green beans. Unfortunately, today was the day for the seal on our pressure canner to fail! So after many tries at getting the seal to work and reluctantly ordering a replacement, I let the beans cool and eventually dumped them into a gallon Ziplock freezer bag. Funny! All six jars sealed properly, but I wasn't going to take a chance on giving us or others botulism. The bag is now in our fridge but will be moved to our big freezer tomorrow. I'm guessing that we'll be taking green beans to some family gathering such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Kale emerging with lots of grass weedsREI OutletI hope to transplant lettuce tomorrow into the area opened up by pulling the row of beans. That end of our main raised bed has some drawbacks. It seems to dry out faster than the rest of the bed. It is shaded through part of the day. And it's closer to a den of rabbits living in the nearby woods that have previously reeked havoc with our garden. Fortunately, our current crew of dogs are pretty tough on rabbits.

The kale I seeded on Labor Day is beginning to emerge already. Sadly, there are also lots of grass weeds germinating in the row, a by product of my letting the area go to weeds earlier this season. Interestingly, only the kale rows that have been watered show any weed emergence. The area between the rows that didn't get watered has nothing germinating. Our soil is just that dry. But I'm happy to see the kale coming up and plan to diligently weed the rows.

My replanting of Abundant Bloomsdale spinach is also showing some germination.

When I was out picking some paprika peppers this morning, I was pleased to see that our one remaining Earlirouge tomato plant had put on lots of new blooms. We currently really have to hunt to find a usable ripe tomato in our remaining plants. The peppers were a fill in for a recipe for Spanish rice that called for a red bell pepper. They worked out fine, and the Spanish rice was a hit with my wife. Unfortunately, I burnt the pollo loco chicken on the grill, but it was still just barely edible. I'll have to try that one again, as El Pollo Loco is one of my favorites when we dine at Mexican restaurants.


Saturday, September 7, 2019 - Fall Lettuce

I transplanted our fall lettuce this morning. The lettuce varieties planted were Sun Devil and Crispino head lettuce, Coastal Star, Jericho, and Better Devil romaines, and some Nancy butterhead.

Transplanting fall lettuce

Our transplants ran a little on the large side. I'd started them indoors August 3.

The transplanting was pretty easy. I dug four or five holes at a time, watered the holes, and popped in a lettuce transplant. I did make a small trough around each plant as I'll need to water the plants until they get established.

Not quite Thomas Jefferson's admonition "to sow a thimble full of lettuce every Monday morning from Feb 1 to Sept 1," but I started a sixpack each of Coastal Star, Jericho, and Majestic Red romaine lettuce today. If we have a late fall, we might just be able to harvest lettuce later than usual.

If you can't tell from the photo above, let me say that I had a lovely, cool morning to work in the garden.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - Watering and Waiting

We're into another hot, dry spell here. So far this month, we've received just 0.03 inches of rain. We're also in a stretch of ninety degree days. That makes watering a near daily priority. Today, it seemed that almost everything needed watering.

I started in our raised garden beds in our back yard, watering spinach, carrots, yellow squash, cauliflower, kale, and lettuce. When I was done watering the veggies, I watered the geraniums at the corners of our raised beds.

Biologicals and organics sprayerYellow squashWhile watering our lovely yellow squash plant, I found five leaves infected with powdery mildew. I pulled those leaves and thoroughly sprayed the plant with a mix of Serenade biofungicide and Neem Oil. While most garden authorities say there isn't much one can do about powdery mildew once it sets in, I've had good luck using Serenade or Fungonil to control early infections. Once powdery mildew really sets in, though, the show's usually over. Note that I was careful to use our newly relabeled sprayer for biologicals, thoroughly washing it out before using it.

The last two evenings, my wife and I have enjoyed carrots, green beans, and yellow squash cooked in chicken broth, with lots of garlic powder, butter, and seasoned salt.

With our organics sprayer still out, I added some Thuricide to the mix, as I saw a white cabbage moth fluttering around the garden. We've found their worms in our lettuce seed stalks and carrot tops as well as on broccoli and cauliflower. I sprayed our rows of cauliflower, kale, the broccoli for seed, and our peas and cucumbers with the mix. Cabbage moths aren't too picky about where they lay their eggs.

I'd watered our peas, cucumbers, broccoli, and peppers yesterday, so they got skipped in today's watering. Even though I'd watered our lettuce yesterday, it got another shot of water today. Yesterday, the plants had wilted some from the heat, but also suffered from a dog or cat digging around them. One plant had gotten completely buried, but by today, it looked pretty good.

ERS pepper plant with peppers set onBegonia in farm watering panOur row of Earliest Red Sweet peppers are blooming and setting peppers once again. They, along with our tomato plants, had flat out quit blooming and setting fruit during an earlier hot and dry spell. One reason I like the ERS pepper variety is that they almost always overwhelm us with red peppers each fall. I'm hoping that our current hot stretch of weather doesn't stunt the plants fruit production again.

Besides watering the veggies and flowers in our raised beds, our hanging basket plants all got a drink today. Since some of the plants seem to shed top watering through their drainage holes when their soil is very dry, we keep a big, livestock feed/watering pan on our back porch to place our hanging baskets in to let them soak up water for a few hours up to a day or so.

And yes, our dogs will walk right around a pan of fresh, cool water to drink dirty water from the farm watering pan!

Our row of fall cauliflowerKale rowsI need to get the cutworm collars off our cauliflower plants. The plants have toughened up enough that cutworms shouldn't be a danger. While the paper cup collars prevent cutworm damage pretty well, they also restrict lateral root growth of the plants. Frequent waterings have negated the lateral root growth problem up to now, but it's definitely time to pull the collars.

Our two rows of kale have germinated, although they haven't yet put on their first true leaves. I've been scratching out grass weeds with my fingers and with a soil scratcher for days, as this is an area where a lot of grass went to seed both last and this year.

Once the kale is big enough, I'll need to transplant some of it into a few bare spots. I've not had a lot of luck transplanting kale in the past. I'll also need to do a thorough weeding of the rows before I mulch them.

Our main raised garden bed is once again fully planted. Everything except the pepper row is a succession crop of one sort or another. I've added more flowers to the edges of the bed and will be adding a few more in the next few days. Also, I have new lettuce transplants up under our plant lights that I'll use to complete the lettuce area when the plants are big enough (and the last row of green beans comes out).

Main raised garden bed on September 11, 2019

I had a note in my compose file to add something about singer Carly Simon and her Anticipation song. (Remember the old Heinz ketchup commercials?) It had something to do with waiting on our Sugar Snap peas to mature. The plants have put on small pods with bumps in them, but nothing big enough to excite my taste buds. "Anticipation...Is keepin' me waitin'."

Loading up buckets of waterOdd collection of bucketsI moved on to watering some plants in our East Garden. That involved filling six buckets with water and hauling them to our East Garden plot in our truck. I also took along a couple of our galvanized picking buckets.

I watered our hills of melons, some tomato plants, and a few pepper plants. Each got a couple of gallons of water.

Only one of the picking buckets was needed. There weren't any good, ripe tomatoes today.

But our Hungarian Spice Paprika Peppers had lots of ripe peppers on them. I haven't given the plants a lot of special care, but several of them are going nuts producing good peppers. The Hungarian variety is a long pepper slightly spicier than a normal bell pepper but nowhere close to a hot pepper.

Hungarian Spice Paprika Peppers

Garden cart filled with trays, pots, and bleach waterGloxinia seed head about to shed seedAfter putting away most of my gardening toys, I moved several Permanest trays and some square pots into our garden cart. I half filled the cart with water and a cup of bleach. I'll let the trays and pots soak for a day before rinsing, drying, and storing them for next season. Doing so now gives me a head start on some of my End of Season Gardening Chores. The soaking in bleach helps kill off any harmful organisms that might be clinging to the pots. Obviously, removing any organic matter still in the trays and pots also helps prevent plant diseases getting carried over to the next season.

When I got back inside and cooled down a bit, I was rewarded with a gloxinia seed head about to completely split open and shed seed. This seed head will stay on the plant until it opens a bit more. When picked and squeezed, it should shed hundreds of gloxinia seeds.

Finally, it appears that our summer hummingbirds have begun their migration south. I had a couple of days where our feeders saw little action. Then a whole new group of migrants arrived with voracious appetites. We'll leave feeders hung through early October for stragglers that come along.

Our, actually the birds' favorite feeder, the Birdscapes 279 Feeder, appears to be no longer available. We're down to our last one. These feeders are hard to clean and a bit fragile, but the hummingbirds gravitate to them over several other types of feeders we offer. To cut down on the fighting at our feeders, I bought a real cheapie feeder at Walmart this week. The First Nature Hummingbird Feeder was under six bucks, but also is all plastic and probably won't last all that long. Our current bunch of hummingbirds like it second or third of the four feeders we currently have hung.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Washing trays and pots1020 flats andd inserts soakingI pulled the cutworm collars from our row of cauliflower plants this morning. I tell about the process in our how-to, Cutworm Collars. The cauliflower plants got their mulch improved a bit and a good watering after the collars came out. The rest of my watering bucket went on our Sugar Snap peas.

I moved on to cleaning and rinsing the trays and pots I started soaking in bleach water yesterday. The Permanest trays took a good bit of scrubbing with both a stiff brush and a scrubbie to come clean. The plastic pots came clean fairly easily. I just spread the trays and pots out on the grass to dry in the sun.

Our garden cart of bleach water got refilled with standard 1020 plastic seed flats and inserts. They'll soak for 24 hours before being scrubbed, rinsed and dried.

We lost all of our gloxinia plants several years ago to the INSV virus. I'm not sure if I brought in the virus on dirty pots or trays or from purchased plants. But since that time, I've quit bringing outdoor plants back inside for the winter to our plant room. I sometimes overwinter such plants in our sunroom. I also have become careful to thoroughly clean hanging baskets, pots, and trays before reusing them. Besides preventing disease, cleaning and reusing trays and pots saves a few bucks.

Garden Tower Project Contest

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - Lettuce

Lettuce starts
Pots of lettuce and snapdragon seeds under lights for germination test
Saved Sun Devil seed germinating

Lettuce - September 17, 2019Our hot, dry weather continues with a lot of stuff in our garden just hanging on. I chose to go with my wife on a tech service call today to help switch out a heavy printer. While time with my wife is always nice, the offer of a free lunch at The Beef House outside Covington, Indiana, was the real draw. Their food is delicious.

By the time I got home, it was mid-afternoon, and I feared for our lettuce plants that hadn't looked too good last night. But when I went out to water them, I was surprised at how well they were doing. I think the partial shade over that section of the garden may have saved them.

While I usually give plant starts more time under our plant lights, I've already moved the lettuce I started just ten days ago outside. During their first couple of days on the back porch, the plants got moved into the shade for part of each day.

I had started a couple of pots of germination tests of saved seed last week. The pot of Sun Devil lettuce seed has begun to sprout, while a pot of snapdragon seed hasn't shown any action as yet. If we have a very late fall, the Sun Devil sprouts just might get to go into the garden.

Anthracnose on Watermelon

Watermelon vines infected with anthracnoseI never knew anthracnose could infect watermelon. But I discovered it on our watermelon vines last week. I first sprayed the vines with Serenade biofungicide and with Fungonil the next day. Sadly, anthracnose is hard to stamp out. And it can hide in the soil or soil trash for years. Since we've had anthracnose in our nearby row of tomato plants, I'm guessing that's where the infection came from. In all likelihood, our vines will collapse before they ripen the melons on them, although the infection isn't showing as yet on the melons.

Broccoli for Seed Crop

I've mentioned here before that our Goliath broccoli plants were stairstepped even though they were seeded all at the same time. I transplanted the broccoli plants down the row from large to small.

Stairstepped broccoli plants

Three of the plants currently have heads on them. The first one is filled with yellow blooms to the point that it's hard to tell it's a head of broccoli going to seed. The second plant has produced a huge head, much like the first plant. And the third plant has a tennis to softball sized head on it.

Head of broccoli blooming Huge head of slightly overripe Goliath broccoli Third head of Goliath broccoli

It appears that we may be on our way to growing a seed crop of broccoli. Since this is only my second try at it (first try this spring failed), I'm still unsure of whether we'll be successful. What prompted this experiment was Stokes Seeds dropping their excellent strain of Goliath broccoli. We found that strain of the variety to produce large, tasty heads and many good sideshoots. With our favorite broccoli variety having been discontinued, trying to preserve our second favorite became a goal. I still have lots of seed from our favorite, Premium Crop, but it's a hybrid, probably not suitable for seed saving. Stokes' variety of Goliath is open pollinated.


Friday, September 20, 2019

Green beans in the pot with bacon, ham, and onions for seasoningBotannical InterestsWhile doing my morning watering chores, I realized that our last row of green beans needed to come out. The beans had come into production irregularly, and I wasn't very good at keeping them picked. So, I ended up pitching a lot of overripe beans and picking a lot of, shall we say, thin gourmet beans. The picking made up enough for dinner for the next few nights.

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Note that Botannical Interests is offering 30% off on all their seed packets through September 26.


Kale rowsMain bed with bean row outAfter picking the beans, I moved on to weeding our two rows of kale. I'd direct seeded the kale, and lots of grass weeds had come up in the row with the kale plants. While I'd messed around pulling weeds in the rows a couple of times, it was time today for a thorough weeding. So I got on my hands and knees (with kneepads on, of course) and hand pulled the offending weeds. After weeding, the kale and our rows of cauliflower and broccoli got a good spraying with Thuricide, as I've seen a few white cabbage moths fluttering around.


Most of our hummingbirds are gone now. The hummingbirds that spent the summer here appeared to begin leaving in August. A large group of migrants replaced them, keeping me filling our feeders twice a day through early September. Then early this week, I suddenly had a day when I didn't have to fill a feeder. Only a couple of hummingbirds remained at one of our feeders.

I pulled three of our four hummingbird feeders this morning. We still have some stragglers visiting the remaining feeder I left out. With just one feeder available now, they're putting on quite a show of competing for a spot at the feeder. We'll keep that one feeder hung the rest of this month for stragglers coming through.


If you're planning to plant garlic this fall and haven't yet obtained your sets, it's time to place an order. Seed houses often begin running out of many varieties by this time. We'll be using all saved garlic for our planting next month.


A very snow pea looking Sugar Snap peaRed blooms on Sugar Snap peas?While updating a couple of our web pages (Growing Garlic, End of the Season Gardening Chores), I somehow got off track and searched for Sugar Snap pea seed. Our Sugar Snap vines this year are suffering from a lack of soil moisture, but also are producing what look to be snow peas. I already knew our purchased seed (from Mountain Valley Seed Company, now part of True Leaf Market) wasn't true to variety, as it produced our favorite photo of the year in 2015 of red blooms on supposedly Sugar Snap pea vines. (Sugar Snaps produce white blooms.)

To my surprise, I found the following message on the Johnny's Selected Seeds site:

Over the years, we have noticed a deterioration of the commercially available strains of 'Sugar Snap,' with most seed lots containing some shell or snow peas. Rather than offering one of these inferior strains, we are painstakingly re-selecting 'Sugar Snap.' This process takes time — often years. We appreciate your patience as we work hard to produce a superior strain.

That statement explains a lot of what we've experienced. And it's really refreshing for a seed vendor to note problems with a seed variety. I think I'll wait until Johnny's offers the variety again before ordering more seed.

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

Saturday, September 21, 2019 - A Broccoli Bouquet?

I ran a smaller image here of our Goliath broccoli in full bloom on Tuesday. Below is a larger version of the same shot.

Broccoli in bloom

I thought this morning to back out a bit for the shot with the original broccoli still in bloom and a large head next to it getting close to blooming.

Goliath broccoli in bloom and another large head

Again, my interest in producing broccoli seed was brought on by the vendor who previously carried the broccoli variety dropping it this year. Having a good bit of broccoli in our freezer from our spring crop also makes it a bit easier to not cut and use fresh the current crop of broccoli.

Sugar Snap or Snow Pea?

To improve upon the so-so shot of our Sugar Snap pea vines producing snow peas from yesterday, I grabbed a better shot of one of the peas being produced this morning.

Sugar Snap vines producing snow peas

I'm still not sure if we got bad seed with lots of snow pea seed in it or whether our dry weather conditions are causing the unusual peas on our supposedly Sugar Snap vines. Either way, it's a disappointment. I'm now doubly glad we froze a lot of shell peas this spring.


Common sage in herb bed

If everything we plant grew as well as the perennial sage plants in our herb bed, I'd be a super gardener. Of course, the sage grows by our shallow well, so it gets the runoff from the well whenever I'm priming the pump or drawing water. I actually had to cut back the sage a bit as the plants were crowding out a couple of parsley plants in between them.


Precipitation (Inches)1




7.23 1.70 4.59 3.76 2.88
3.00 2.01 1.28 5.63 3.61
3.92 4.14 1.48 3.62 3.03
39.81 42.36 47.58 54.03 65.17 25.50 46.22 40.94

1Data averaged from several nearby weather stations, or from our own rain gauge during non-freezing weather
2 Average precipitation for Indianapolis, IN
3 to date for 2019

When driving back home from town yesterday, I had to turn on the truck's windshield wipers...for all of sixty seconds. Everything here is still really dry. This is one of those times when raised garden beds without an adequate irrigation system works against you.

I've pushed both our deep and shallow wells pretty hard this year. The deep well can run dry for short periods if pushed too hard. The shallow well now requires priming more often as the level of ground water has dropped. But so far, we haven't run the wells dry and had to haul water from the pond for watering.

We've actually had lots of rain this growing season. Unfortunately, the rainfall has been concentrated in heavy rains followed by very dry periods. Typically, we're now in a time when rainfall usually returns to break our annual late July and August mini-drought. With just 0.03" of rain so far this month, that obviously isn't happening this year.

We do have a chance for rain on Sunday night. And while hoping for rain, I also try to remember to offer a prayer or two for all the folks who've experienced hurricanes and flooding.

A check of the U.S. Drought Monitor map didn't show us as being in a drought, but it sure is dry here.

Drought Information
U.S. Drought Monitor
United States Weekly Drought Monitor
U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook
United States Monthly Drought Outlook
U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook
United States Seasonal Drought Outlook
Click on the title or the graphic (above) to access the
U.S. Weekly Drought Monitor
Click on the title or the graphic (above) to access the
U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook
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U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

The Home Depot

Monday, September 23, 2019 - Pumpkins

PumpkinsPumpkins ripeningI harvested three pumpkins this morning. After having them pose atop our cistern, I moved them to the garage to cure a bit. Eventually, the pumpkins will go to grandkids to live close by.

I direct seeded six Howden pumpkin seeds on June 22 on the site of a previous compost pile. Since Howden is a 110 day variety, I'm pretty pleased to get mature pumpkins this early. We should have more pumpkins ripen from the planting, although some of the leaves on the vines are looking pretty rough.

I started out using grass clipping mulch around the pumpkins to hold back weeds and hold in soil moisture. The pumpkins grew faster than I could mulch, so I just kept training the vines back into a circle around the planting. So far, it's turned out the the pumpkin leaves form a pretty good canopy for holding back weeds.

Our pumpkin patch

Our pumpkin patch is well outside our East Garden. A bad experience about ten years ago of having pumpkin vines crowd out almost all of our melons got pumpkins banished from our East Garden plot.

Sam’s Club

Friday, September 27, 2019

We've enjoyed a lovely period of fall weather for almost a week. Daytime highs have been in the 70s, and overnight lows in the 50s. Sadly, that ended today with a high of 91° F. The warm spell is predicted to last until late next week.

My gardening efforts are now shifting to cleaning up our garden plots and preparing them for next season. I took out some failing tomato and pepper plants in our East Garden early this week. I dug our fall carrots on Wednesday and also pulled our cucumber vines. I was going to pull our Sugar Snap pea vines yesterday, but was greeted when I got to them by a bunch of new blooms and a few good pods. A recent rain, cooler temperatures, and some watering may have corrected the vines previous production of what looked like disfigured snow peas.

Our fall carrots produced just two pounds, twelve ounces of good carrots. It's a good thing we had a good spring crop. There also were a pound and a half of cull carrots, about two-thirds of which we've used in recent days. We separate carrots with insect damage or splits (bifurcated carrots) as they aren't likely to store as well as our other carrots.

A Personal Note

I went to the eye doctor on Tuesday. He confirmed what the folks at Eye Specialists of Indiana had told me just after my cataract surgery. My distance vision has returned to 20-20! Of course, reading fine print is another matter. One eye is still considerably weaker than the other. I'll still be wearing glasses to balance my eyes and for reading fine print, but the cataract surgery greatly improved the brightness and clarity of what I now see.

Rukaten Camera

Monday, September 30, 2019 - September Wrap-up

September, 2019, animated GIF of our Senior GardenIt's been an interesting month in our garden plots. Receiving just a little over a half inch of rain this month has kept me busy watering. But even with frequent waterings, many of our crops suffered. But then, some did well.

We filled our pantry with canned green beans, enjoyed lots of yellow squash, dug our fall carrots, and harvested our first three pumpkins, with many more yet to mature.

Defying the dry soil conditions, I got our cauliflower and fall lettuce transplanted and our kale direct seeded. Whether the cauliflower will produce good heads before a frost is still pretty iffy, but we should get some nice lettuce fairly soon. With lettuce, I can cover it with a floating row cover to protect it from a mild frost (28° F and above). Kale is somewhat frost hardy, thankfully.

We also have a hill of Sugar Cube cantaloupes ripening melons in our East Garden. We'll probably get a few melons next month. Unfortunately, our hill of Blacktail Mountain watermelon has pretty much succumbed to anthracnose. Some vines are still alive though, so I haven't pulled the vines and immature melons yet.

Leaving the infected vines in the field is taking a chance on further soil contamination. Fortunately, I ran across an unopened quart of Serenade biofungicide in our plant room while storing our cured butternut squash today. That should allow me to treat the watermelon area and our tomato row in the East Garden with a Serenade soil drench this fall. We'll still need to rotate around those areas next season.

Dying Sugar Snap pea vinesAnother disappointment this month was our Sugar Snap peas. Dry weather left them producing twisted pods that looked like sad snow peas instead of fat Sugar Snap pods. After pulling our cucumber vines on the same trellis, I left the peas for a few more days, but saw the vines browning out and finally cleared them as well.

I learned something this month about saving broccoli seed. I featured a few photos of a huge Goliath broccoli head going to seed. It appears that the broccoli is self sterile and needs to be pollinated by another plant of the same variety to produce pure seed. I'm lucky that we now have a few more plants blooming at the same time, so maybe we'll get some good seed yet.

We did save viable seed this month from a Sun Devil lettuce plant, some snapdragon seed, and from our collection of gloxinia plants. All of those seeds have tested positive for germination. Seed saved from our Hungarian Spice Paprika Peppers hasn't done well in germination tests. I'm letting the last of those peppers get really ripe, to the point of rotting, before saving seed from them.

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