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One of the Joys of Maturity


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July 18, 2019

One of the joys of getting a bit older is having the time to putter around in the garden. Below is my garden blog. This site also contains sections of recipes and features about specific, and often obscure, gardening lore.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

When cleaning and relabeling sprayers this afternoon, I discovered that I'd probably used our Roundup sprayer instead of our organics sprayer last week. That would explain our dead cucumber vines and tomato plants. Interestingly, the butternut vines that were sprayed last are still alive with some noticeable leaf yellowing. Possibly the Roundup was heavier than the Captain Jack's and Pyrethrin mix I added to what was already in the sprayer and came out first (sprayer intake is at the bottom of the tank). At any rate, I'm further embarrassed by my carelessness. Much like closing the barn door after the horses get out, I'm carefully relabeling all of our sprayers.

Dead vines cleared and trellis raised on one sideI cleared the dead cucumber vines from the trellis this morning before it got too hot. I found a few spotted cucumber beetles still on the dead vines. With the vines pulled, I raised one side of the double trellis and worked some lime, fertilizer, and granular soil inoculant into the soil. Then I used a garden rake to open a wide furrow (about 8-10") down most of the bed for a planting of Sugar Snap peas. Having retrieved our Sugar Snap seed from the garage freezer several hours earlier, I began soaking the seed before moving on to another task.

Watering soil around cukes from rain barrelI gathered my transplanting supplies and transplanted six Japanese Long Pickling cucumber plants into the last three or four feet of the bed. The transplants got well watered deep planting holes. Whether these rather old cucumber plants will make it or not is iffy. Some of the plant vines are two feet long. The cucumber plants got what water was left in our rain barrel.

Peas seeded heavily in wide rowThen it was back to planting peas. Since I'd soaked the pea seed in water for a half hour or so, I went ahead and watered the furrow where the seed was to go. I sowed the seed rather heavily, as it was some rather old seed (2015) that had so-so germination in the past.

I used a rake to push an inch or so of soil over the peas and tamped the soil down with the head of my hoe. After lowering the trellis and tightening the wires holding it that had stretched considerably in the sun, I was done.

You may notice the pea seed was red. Dried peas are generally green, tan, or brown, so I assume the seed with treated with something, probably a fungicide. The seed packet, however, carried no warning about a seed treatment. Although I'd initially reached for a cereal bowl in which to soak the seed, I chose a disposable paper bowl after seeing the color of the pea seed. At any rate, the red coloring made the pea seed easy to see in the row.

I finished working outside at around 12:30 P.M.. It was 87 degrees when I came in with a heat index of 96. It only got hotter as the day went on. There are excessive heat warnings out for a good bit of the nation this weekend. If you have to work outside in the heat of the day, remember to take frequent breaks and hydrate.

Finished seeding of peas and transplanting of cucumbers

I haven't decided what to do about the dead or nearly dead tomato plants. They have lots of nearly ripe fruit on them, but will it be safe to eat if it was sprayed with Roundup? And if the tomatoes redden, will they produce viable seed?

Other

We were having a birthday dinner at a restaurant on Saturday when I heard the birthday girl say, "Orientation is on July 31." I thought, "Oh, my! That's early!" My next emotion was one of relief, as I'm retired and don't have to go back to the classroom this fall. I loved teaching, but with where it's gone over the last decade or so, I'm glad I'm out. And I'm too old for that stuff anyway. About half of my friends on Facebook are former students who have kids and grandkids of their own! I have the upmost respect for those still in the classroom.

REI Outlet

 
 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - Oh, No!

Dead cucumber vinesDead tomato plantsOur Japanese Long Pickling cucumber vines collapsed a couple of days ago. Then our Earlirouge tomato plants started yellowing.

At first, I attributed the problems to the soil drying out. But watering didn't help. I also wondered about herbicide drift from a recent spraying of the field next to our raised beds, but only the cukes, the tomatoes, and a couple of Earliest Red Sweet pepper plants were adversely affected.

But when I looked at our Waltham Butternut squash vines showing leaves with large yellow patches, I realized what I'd done.

Damaged butternut squash vines

When I sprayed the cucumbers, tomatoes, and butternuts for bugs, I failed to empty the sprayer tank, thinking I knew what was in it. I did, but apparently by adding more chemical to what had sat in the sun for a couple of days made it toxic to our cucumbers and tomatoes. The butternut vines may survive, but it appears that I've killed our cucumber vines, tomato plants, and a couple of pepper plants.

Fairly healthy tomato plants in East GardenFortunately, we still have other tomato plants doing fairly well in our East Garden. There's even one Earlirouge, our favorite variety, although the plant was grown from the first Earlirouge seed we saved...in 1988!

I still have a few Japanese Long Pickling transplants I left on the back porch and forgot, so I may pop them in at one end of our double trellis, once I get the dead vines cleared off. I'm really not satisfied with having one helping of cucumbers with ranch dressing and a salad with cucumbers. And of course, I'd still like to save some seed from the cucumber variety.

I had thought a few weeks ago about cutting our cucumber harvest short, only using the cukes for seed saving and then trying to grow some Sugar Snapicon peas. With approximately 90 days left in our growing season, I just might be able to get a crop of the 60-70 days-to-maturity Sugar Snaps. It might work, but one has to add at least 7-14 days for late maturing fall crops to account for the shorter day length in the fall.

Red Pearl grape tomatoesCorn tasseling and putting on earsThis experience is obviously disappointing. It's doubly so and frustrating because I did it to myself by not following normal procedures such as dumping out old sprays, rinsing the spray tank, and starting with carefully measured fresh spray.

It's been a tough gardening season so far. We had mechanical breakdowns, long periods of wet weather, my eye surgery, and then a tear of a shoulder muscle that has limited me the last three weeks. I'd begun to get depressed about gardening in general.

But as I left our East Garden plot this evening, I popped a ripe Red Pearl grape tomato in my mouth. The tomato exploded with real tomato flavor. Then I looked at our transplanted Silver Queen sweet corn that is trying to make a crop. Its tassels and silks are a mess, but there are actually ears showing on the stalks growing in near waist high weeds.

I also saw that the Sugar Cube muskmelon and a Blacktail Mountain watermelon I'd transplanted a few days ago were still alive. I'd picked the two varieties, as they were the earliest maturing of their type. The rest of our melon transplants are now dying in seed flats on our back porch.

A final perk to my spirits was seeing how lovely our row of zinnias look.

Butterfly on zinnias

This year's zinnias were grown from seed we'd saved in years past.

Botanical Interests Burpee Gardening Required Disclosure Statement: Botanical Interests, Burpee, and True Leaf Market are Senior Gardening affiliate advertisers. Clicking through one of our ads or text links and making a purchase will produce a small commission for us from the sale. We're also a consumer member of the Fedco Seeds Cooperative. True Leaf Market Fedco Seeds

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Our Senior Garden - July 14, 2019Gloxinia, cucumbers, and tomatoesI picked tomatoes and three cucumbers (surprise!) in our main garden this morning. The ripe Earlirouge tomatoes are beginning to be bigger and less irregular in shape. My wife, Annie, and I enjoyed our traditional celebration of first ripe tomatoes by having bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches for lunch.

When I walked to our East Garden plot, I found that our Silver Queen sweet corn has tasselled and silked despite being severely pressured by weeds. We may yet get a little sweet corn from our garden this year. Most of the tomato plants in the East Garden are just beginning to ripen fruit. A couple of exceptions are one Earlirouge that had four ripe tomatoes on it and the Honey Bunch grape tomato plant that had previously given us our first ripe tomatoes of the season.

While there are lots of things that need doing outside today, I came back inside pretty quickly. The noon temperature was 86° F, but the heat index was already 95° F! I've become a real wimp about working outdoors in the heat of the day.

Even though I used an image of the gloxinia with purple and white bicolor blooms last week, I decided to include the plant in the image at right today. I actually intended for the image to show a ruler at the bottom showing the increased size of the tomatoes. The ruler doesn't show at right, obscured by the copyright notice. It does show in the larger version of the shot.

The gloxinia is dropping two or three blooms each day, but is also filled with new blooms. This is probably a five-year-old plant, thus the heavy production of blooms.

David's Cookies

Saturday, July 13, 2019 - Planting Fall Carrots

I started our fall carrots today. The varieties were Bolero (75), Napoli (58+), Naval (72), and Scarlet Nantesicon (65-70). I've listed the varieties' days-to-maturity figures in parentheses. Adding seven to fourteen days to each of those figures to allow for the shorter amount of daylight in the fall should bring in the carrots well before our first frost.

I'd prepared the bed for the carrots a week or so ago. I loosened the soil with my garden fork and then hoed in some Muriate of Potash (0-0-60) fertilizer. I'd scuffle hoed the area yesterday and did so again this morning to discourage any germinating weed seed.

After stringing my double rows four inches apart, I used a piece of one inch scrap lumber to make a shallow furrow for each row. I had to work around a Sun Devil lettuce plant I'm trying to get to go to seed at one end of the rows. And the carrot rows run down the middle of the bed with established rows of onions on either side of the carrot rows.

Rows strung, making furrows with one inch lumber Walking board down to hold in soil moisture and suppress weeds Hose from rain barrel beginning to dribble water on planting

I use non-pelletized carrot seed mainly because it's cheaper than the pelletized stuff and seems to last longer in frozen storage. Getting the loose carrot seed spaced in the row is always difficult. I aim for one seed per inch, but often end up dropping clumps of two or three seeds in a spot.

Once the seed is in the row, I use my fingers to pinch soil over the seed and pat the soil with my hand to firm the soil.

The toughest thing I find about starting fall carrots is keeping the soil damp enough for the seed to germinate. Today, I first used a sprinkling can to water the planting. Then I laid a walking board over the planted rows. The board will deny weed seed the light most of it needs to germinate. The board will also hold in soil moisture. As a final step, I ran a hose from our rain barrel and let it drip water onto the walking board.

The planting will need to be watered every day it doesn't rain until the seed germinates. Carrot seed can take anywhere between five to ten days to come up.

Other than watering some porch plants, I limited my gardening today to planting the carrots, picking a few tomatoes, and running the scuffle hoe down the sides of our rows of green beans. I'm still trying to decide whether or not to mulch the green beans. Mulching saves a lot of weeding, holds in soil moisture, and gives one cleaner low growing bean pods. The big drawback to using mulch is that it always seems to get into ones picked beans, making cleaning and snapping a more difficult chore. Mulch also provides good hiding spots for insects.

Since I planted our bean rows pretty far apart (36"), probably too far apart for the beans to effectively canopy to prevent weed growth, I'll probably mulch the beans.

Habitat for Humanity

Friday, July 12, 2019 - Lots of Tomatoes Coming

I checked our tomato plants again this morning for hornworms but found none. The search was prompted by finding three hornworms feeding on the tops of the carrots I dug yesterday. Since our cucumber vines are showing signs of insect damage, I'll spray the tomatoes, cucumber vines, and our butternuts with a combination of Captain Jack's and Pyrethrin this evening after the bees have gone to bed.

Tomatoes almost ripe More tomatoes showing red Lots of tomatoes coming

Our Earlirouge tomatoes, normally a dependable 65 days-to-maturity from transplant variety, are running a good bit behind this year. The plants are absolutely loaded with tomatoes. A semi-determinate variety, Earlirouges typically produce a first heavy picking, followed by a more spaced out production of good tomatoes the rest of the season.

After our traditional first bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich feast, we'll can the heavy pickings of tomatoes. While I prefer to can multiple varieties of tomatoes for future use, we're down to our last quart of canned tomatoes from last year.

Target

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Green bean rows cleaned up with scuffle hoeSpring carrots ready to digWith our green beans now up, I took the time to scuffle hoe close to the bean rows and between them. Doing so even with not many weeds showing helps deter weed germination. I also poked bean seed into the ground in a few gaps in the rows. There weren't many gaps, as we had excellent germination from our bean seed. I still need to go back and hand pull seedling weeds in the bean rows.

After an inch of rain overnight, any hope disappeared of tilling our East Garden soon and starting a crop of sh2 sweet corn. There just won't be enough growing days left in the season to mature a crop. So when I took our bean seed back to the freezer in our garage, the sweet corn seed also went back in the freezer.

My next task was digging (lifting) our spring carrots. I cut back our spring planting from fifteen foot double rows to a six foot double row this year. I'm always mad at myself when we bring in a nice fall crop of carrots and have to discard a bunch of spring carrots. The five and a half pounds of carrots dug should easily last us until our fall crop comes in.

The carrots were an interesting assortment of sizes. We grew six different varieties, all with roughly similar days-to-maturity dates. We had a good many small carrots and a lot of big ones as well. We had several bifurcated (split) carrots and some with rot or bug damage, but not too many.

Carrots trimmed and cleaned

Amazon - Debbie Meyer Large Green BagsOnce the carrots were washed and dried, they went into the fridge in Debbie Meyer Green Bags. We've had excellent results storing carrots in the green bags.

I found several hornworms feasting on our carrot tops, something I've not seen before. I checked our nearby tomatoes, finding some damage characteristic of hornworms, but couldn't find the culprits.

How We Grow Our Carrots tells how we grow our carrots in intensive plantings, both spring and fall. We'll be seeding our fall carrots in the next week or so.

Other Stuff

First tomatoesI mentioned yesterday that I'd picked our first tomatoes. Our usual practice is to celebrate the occasion by having BLTs for supper. The tomatoes picked yesterday just weren't quite large enough for BLTs, so we had them on our salad and in a beef and tortellini dish.

Pea germination testsI again looked at our pea seed germination tests today. It's just been four days since I started the tests, but found the two pea varieties germinating at 50-70%. I'll make a final read of the tests in a few days. What I see so far relieves any fears I had about a bad seed crop.

We ended up getting a bit over a half pound each of saved Eclipse and Encore pea seed. I still have the seed spread out and drying on cookie sheets on top of a high bookcase. Once I'm sure the seed is thoroughly dried, I'll bag and freeze it for long-term storage.

Garden Tower Project

Tuesday, July 10, 2019

I mowed our lawn yesterday. In the process, I hit several ruts in the ground pretty hard and woke up this morning with muscle spasms in my back. That ruled out any serious gardening today.

Another thing I got done yesterday was to bring a lovely purple with white tips blooming gloxinia upstairs. It was loaded with blooms.

Lovely gloxinia with purple blooms with white tips

By noon today, the plant had dropped about ten of the blooms! I should have moved the plant weeks ago, as I think the shock of moving it made it drop the blooms.

Even though we have lots of saved gloxinia seed from last and previous years, I began hand pollinating our gloxinias. I do the job with a Q-Tip, moving the pollen from plant to plant. Our feature story, Saving Gloxinia Seed, gives step-by-step directions on how to pollinate gloxinias and save their seed.

First Tomatoes

I'd noticed that our Honey Bunch grape tomato plant had fruit showing some red yesterday. Today, I picked four ripe grape tomatoes. When getting a green pepper from our regular garden, I spotted some ripe tomatoes one on of our Earlirouge plants. I picked three small, irregularly shaped tomatoes there. As time goes on, the Earlirouge tomatoes will normalize in shape. We had fresh tomatoes on our salad for supper this evening.

Other

I noticed while mowing that the green beans I planted on Friday are beginning to come up. In years where the field next to our main garden is planted to corn, we grow our green beans as a succession crop. The late Jim Crockett wrote that late planted beans were always sweeter and more tender than early beans.

I finished rubbing the seed off the Abundant Bloomsdale spinach plants I'd pulled two weeks ago. Spinach seed grows in firm clusters that have to be rubbed apart. While I got the seed off the stems, there's still a lot of leaf and stem trash in the seed that will have to be winnowed out at some point.

I also did a first read of a couple of germination tests I started several days ago with our Eclipse and Encore saved pea seed. While too early to put a percentage on the tests, both tests showed several seeds sprouting.

The Home Depot

Sunday, July 7, 2019 - Gloxinias

Gloxinias on dining room table in JulyGloxinias on dining room table in late JuneOn a sultry Sunday afternoon, I decided to stay inside and care for our gloxinias. I've grown these plants as a hobby for many years. Our current plants are all fairly young, as we lost all of our gloxinias to the INSV virus in 2013-2014. Restarting from saved seed, we once again have lots of wonderful plants.

We began enjoying plants in bloom this year in February from a seeding last fall. Soon after, we began seeing lots of lovely blooms from older plants that had emerged from dormancy. Some of the plants are four or five years old with corms capable of producing lots of blooms at once.

Since these are open pollinated plants produced from saved seed, we never really know what we're going to get from first year plants. I try to note the bloom color and bloom type on the plants' labels, but don't always get that job done.

Today's care included trimming off spent blossoms and damaged leaves and a good watering. Several plants that had finished their bloom cycle got a little fertilizer and were moved to our sunroom. I also moved a few plants from our plant room in the basement to our dining room table.

We've had a nice range of bloom types and colors as shown here. Not shown are any of the velvety, deep purple blooms. I find trying to get a good shot of them like photographing a black cat at midnight.

Magenta double blooms Pink double blooms Purple with white tipped blooms

I moved the last of our dormant plants back under our plant lights a week or so ago. A few corms, as usual, didn't survive dormancy. With the last of the plants breaking dormancy now, we should have gloxinias in bloom well into fall.

REI Outlet

Saturday, July 6, 2019 - Garlic

Digging garlicRenee's GardenAs I planted our green beans yesterday, I realized that the garlic growing next to the bean planting had to come out soon. Despite being lightly fertilized and mulched over the last month, the leaves were browning and falling over. I'd held off digging the garlic until today as a couple of test digs had produced mature but slightly smaller garlics than usual.

Digging today was pretty easy as the soil was moist from recent rains. I used our garden fork, driving the twelve inch heavy tines fully into the soil beside each garlic before pushing on the handle to lift the garlic. I usually got a soil and root ball the size of a soccer ball with each garlic. After carefully lifting the garlic, I bopped the root ball against the handle of the garden fork to knock off most of the soil. Note that pulling the garlic by the leaves, even after lifting with the garden fork, would have just broken the leaves off the bulb, making curing the garlic much harder.

Since I'd planted four fifteen foot rows of garlic last November, we got a lot of garlic today. Most of our standard garlic was of decent size. I was pleased to see most of the wrappers around the bulbs were not split. A split wrapper can cause early rotting and makes the garlic a cull for early use only. Our elephant garlic was much smaller than usual. The bulbs were only slightly larger than our standard garlics. Since I planted the garlic late in November, I'm pretty happy with what we got.

Garlic and onions on curing tableDeWalt SawhorseI'd set up our drying/curing table a week or so ago when I picked onions. The only change I made to that setup today was a nice one. Some heavy duty sawhorses my wife had ordered for my birthday were delivered early, spoiling her surprise but making my day.

I slipped the new sawhorses under the ends of the plywood table, still leaving a cheap pair of plastic sawhorses in the middle of the table for extra support. I'd pretty well destroyed the plastic pair over the last ten years of use. The new sawhorses should be quite usable long after I'm gone!

The garlic ended up taking up every bit of the sheet of 4x8 plywood "table" that wasn't occupied by onions. I tried to leave air space between the garlics, but settled for none getting piled on top of other garlics. I also set up an old fan we use to help in the curing process.

Our how-to, Growing Garlic, tells from planting to storage how we grow our garlic. The piece begins, "Garlic is one of the easiest, most trouble free and productive crops one can grow in a home garden." And it is. If you've not grown garlic before, I'd suggest trying it. If you're going to mail order garlic for planting, plan to do so sometime this month as vendors quickly sell out of many varieties.

Botannical Interests

Friday, July 5, 2019 - Planting Green Beans

My job of planting green beans this morning was fairly easy, as I'd previously done a good bit of the soil preparation. After removing our spring broccoli and cauliflower plants weeks ago, I was able to rototill the area during one of our rare, dryer spells. Over the next few days, I used a scuffle hoe, a garden rake, and good old fashioned hand weeding to keep the area fairly free of weeds.

Today, I first staked my two rows for the green beans leaving a generous thirty-six inches between the bean rows. One can plant bean rows much closer (twenty-four inches), but that makes picking the beans a bit more difficult. I now plant my beans in narrow rows, as that makes weeding and picking easier. One can also plant beans in six to eight inch wide rows for increased production. The trade-off is that weeding and picking wide rows is more difficult than with narrow rows. When we had lots of hungry children growing up in our house, we always planted our beans in wide rows!

Working feretilizer, lime, and inoculant into the soil

Although I plant our beans in a narrow row, I open a furrow for them a hoe-width wide about one to one and a half inches deep. That allows me to sprinkle a very little 12-12-12 commercial fertilizer, lime, and granular soil inoculant down the prospective rows and hoe them into the soil. Getting these soil additions under the seeding has them available when the beans will need them without interfering with seed germination.

One needs to be careful not to over fertilize a green bean planting. Too much nitrogen encourages excessive vegetative growth not necessary for the production of bean pods. The lime adds some calcium to the soil while slightly raising the soil pH. And the inoculant encourages the bean plants to suck free nitrogen out of the air and store it in nodules on the plants' roots. The beans will use a lot of that stored nitrogen in producing a crop, but there will be some leftover to enrich ones soil.

Rows seeded

I make a final shallow furrow by dragging the head of the hoe handle down the row. Then I space our seed down the row about one to two inches apart. Using a garden rake, I pull soil back over the seed and use the rake or hoe head to tamp the soil down to ensure good seed to soil contact. Note that I sometimes soak seed to be planted or water the furrow before seeding. With fairly good soil moisture and rain predicted, I skipped those tricks today.

I usually plant our seed in alphabetical order to make remembering what was planted where and recording it easier. This year, I grouped our plantings by days-to-maturity figures. One row was of Contendericon (40-50), Burpee's Stringless Green Podicon (50), and Providericon (50). The second row contained Strike (53), Bush Blue Lakeicon (57), and Maxibel (61). Those six varieties are our tried and true best tasting and producing green bean varieties over the years on our ground.

Petunias resplace row marker stakesHow We Grow Our BeansLet me add a note here that I find canned green beans much more flavorful with a mix of bean varieties.

I finished up by top dressing the area with a sprinkle of Milky Spore to discourage cutworms and Repels All to keep our dogs from digging in the planting. I also replaced my row marker stakes on one end of the planting with petunias.

For years, I was a little shy about putting up a how-to on growing beans. It seemed that everybody knew how to grow them. But for completeness of this site and for a book my wife keeps pushing me to publish, I finally got around to putting up our version of How to Grow Beans last year.

Conveniently as I write this evening, it's raining.

Basil

It took a lot longer to dry our basil this time than I remember. Of course, it's been a few years since I last dried basil. I ended up letting our dehydrator run overnight at its lowest setting. When I got up this morning, the basil was quite dry, but not burnt. It crushed quite easily and filled a small, repurposed garlic jar.

Rukaten Camera

Thursday, July 4, 2019 - Independence Day (U.S.)

Drying basil in food dehydratorBasil before being cut for dryingOur house is alive with the aroma of basil drying in our food dehydrator. Our plants were on the verge of blooming, making it time to pick and dry before the blooming cycle makes the basil bitter.

I got out and cut a bucket of basil this morning before the dew had dried off the plants. I've read that one should pick herbs early in the day when the oil in the plant leaves is most pungent.

After a quick rinse in the picking bucket, I picked leaves off the stems and laid them out on the four trays of the dehydrator. I started the drying at 105° F, but will back it off to 95° F after a few hours to make sure I don't burn the basil.

Parades and Fireworks?

Amazon

My wife, Annie, is on call this week for the banking corporation she works for. So we'll be staying home this holiday close to the phone with her laptop running and logged in for any technical support she has to render.

We likely will once again pull out a couple of our favorite Fourth of July themed films on DVD today. The 1972 musical, 1776, is always entertaining. We may also start watching the HBO John Adams miniseries, although there's a lot of hours involved with that one. Both titles are quality entertainment.

Before things got really hot outside, I raked out the area I'd tilled for our green beans. I may seed them this evening.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - Seed Pea Harvest Finished

2019 Eclipse Seed Peas drying
Some very green Encore pea pods drying in tray

A2 Web HostingWhile I wrote on Monday that I thought our short, supersweet pea vines might take a week or so to dry down, I found that our Eclipse vines were browned out by this morning. Our Encore pea vines still had some almost table usable peas on them. Even so, I went ahead and took out all of the pea vines this morning.

After letting the Eclipse pea pods sit in a tray in the sun for a few hours, I shelled them. From that task, I decided to let the Encore pea pods dry down a day or so in a tray (inside) before shelling them.

Our experience with the Eclipse and Encore pea varieties began around 2005. We were thrilled with the sweetness of the peas from the two varieties. The Eclipse pea, a shrunken seed variety, was billed by seed houses as a "supersweet pea." A bonus was that both varieties were developed via natural breeding instead of being genetically modified.

When both varieties disappeared from seed vendor offerings in 2012, I began saving seed. Sadly, I found that both varieties were protected by plant patents (PVP). While I could grow peas for our table use and save seed for future plantings, I couldn't (and can't) share any seed with other gardeners!

I'm getting a little old, but hope to live long enough to share some of our Eclipse and Encore seed with other gardeners when the plant patents run out in 2021.

I tell about our journey with saving Eclipse peas in Working to Save a Pea Variety.

East Garden

I gritted my teeth and did something today that I really didn't want to do. I did what was called in my farming days of the 1980s, "killing a field." I sprayed the unplanted part of our East Garden intended for melons and sweet corn with Roundup herbicide. Since I haven't been able to till the ground since early spring and with more rain on the way, killing the field was about the only way to get a planting done.

Mostly unplanted East Garden plot

The Roundup should knock down the grass covering the area, much like a no-till planting. I'll still try to give each of our melon transplants a deluxe hole and mulch around them with grass clippings for weed control. This late in the season with very old transplants makes this path really chancy. But the only other option seemed to me to be just giving up on the planting.

Some of the trade-offs with this approach are that any drift from the Roundup spray that reaches our other crops could kill them. Also, not tilling the area really limits the melons root growth through some rather compacted clay soil. And of course, there could be some carryover from the Roundup in the future, making it hard to start other crops next season in the areas that were sprayed.

We have some nice stuff going in our East Garden.

Hungarian Spice paprika pepper Earlirouge tomatoes in East Garden Immature butternut squash

Our eight Hungarian Spice paprika plants are doing better after I weeded, re-mulched and watered them. The one shown above is a bit shaky, but has a ripening pepper on it. Others of the plants are full and bushy. I popped in one Earlirouge tomato in the East Garden, and it is way ahead of almost all of the other tomato varieties, excepting the grape tomato plants. And while hunting squash bugs today, I found some nice immature butter nut squash.

Zinnias, broccoli, sweet corn, and kidney beans

Beyond that, we have a nice row of zinnias, a few broccoli for seed, some really iffy looking sweet corn, and some kidney beans blooming like crazy in a drier portion of the East Garden.

As I walked back to the house after taking pictures of our East Garden, I saw dark clouds moving in...an all to frequent occurrence this spring. But it did make for a colorful photo.

Dark clouds approaching our Senior Garden

Hummingbird Feeders

Monday, July 1, 2019

Celery bagged to go to the food bank
Click on images to open larger view in new tab or window.
Pepper wearing the "collar of shame"
Hover mouse over images to reveal labeling.

Despite a weather forecast that had predicted dry weather until midweek, we received an inch of rain overnight. With that rain, all chance of tilling our East Garden any time soon went out the window. I may still try to mud in some melons, but things don't look good for our planned crops of melons and sh2 sweet corn.

I didn't get our usual monthly intro written this time. Discouragement with the weather and an injury to one of our dogs pretty well took away my desire and time to write. Pepper, a lovely black dog who adopted us a year or so ago got a five to six inch gash on his chest. We discovered it on Saturday, but the vet couldn't see him in until today. I held him off with shots of penicillin Saturday and Sunday, as I've kept the drug, syringes, and needles on hand since my farming days for pet disasters such as this one.

I picked up Pepper from the vet this afternoon. He, of course, will have to wear the "cone of shame" until his stitches come out. On the way home, I dropped off some celery at our local food bank that I'd dug this morning. I was amazed at the size of the plants' root balls, as I dug the celery with our garden fork. The root balls cut off pretty easily with a sharp kitchen knife.

Not expecting the heavy rain we got, I mowed the buckwheat in our East Garden plot Sunday morning. I had planned to turn it under when I tilled the part of our East Garden that was planned for melons and sweet corn.

I also pulled weeds, watered, and re-mulched paprika pepper plants on Saturday. Some of the Hungarian Spice Paprikas were looking pretty sad from weeds that had emerged inside their cages despite a good layer of grass clipping mulch.

I waited until this evening to pick more pea pods for seed saving from our Eclipse and Encore peas. There are still fairly new peas on the vines, so I expect it to be a week or so before I can pull the vines and trellis and move on to a succession crop in the area.

Burpee Herb Seeds & Plants

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