First tomatoes!

amunk01May 21, 2014

Finally got to harvest the first few tomatoes! A lemon boy, Tomande, and a couple husky cherry reds! I have desperately missed garden-fresh tomatoes!

How are everyone's peppers doing? Mine are just barely growing. My cukes and squash seem to be stalling too. But maybe the coming rain will help? I think they all want it a bit warmer maybe?

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I'm glad you brought it up. My peppers are halted, too. Thought it was just me. My soil temperatures are not exactly "warm", yet. Hard to believe. But it is dry!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 2:19AM
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TotemWolf(7 SWOK-Greer County)

No ripe tomatoes yet but plenty of green ones.
My peppers are doing real well. They bounced back from the cool weather and some even have a few blossoms. My squash is taking off. I should get the first harvest just in time for grilling this Monday, if not before.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 8:02AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Congrats on the tomatoes! Happy for you and also proud to see you and your garden doing so well in what is really a tough weather year.

We started harvesting tomatoes about 3 weeks ago and really have been enjoying them. It amazes me how good they taste after months without a fresh homegrown tomato.

My peppers are doing alright. I planted pepper plants over a very long period of time ranging from about the second week in April thru last week, so how well any given plant is doing largely hinges on when it went into the ground. The plants that went into the ground earliest are blooming and have small fruit on them. The ones that went into the ground last week? They've had nothing but heat and strong winds, so they are pouting and sulking and keep asking me to move them back to the greenhouse where the wind was blocked, they had 50% shade cloth and I watered them as needed. I think they're acting like spoiled brats.

Robert, My squash has their first blooms formed but nothing has opened yet. It seems slow to me this year, but then again, we were very close to freezing temps on May 1st and that was just three weeks ago so I should just be happy to have plants at this point.

Alexis, I planted cucumbers late, and they are not doing much yet. I know for sure mine need more moisture than they're getting. I watered them yesterday. We'll see if the water they got pushes them to grow a bit. In my garden, everything is being nibbled daily by the constantly-hatching grasshoppers, and I hope the cukes can outgrow the damage. I put Semaspore in the garden (at times, literally dropping it on top of hoppers sitting on top of foliage) a couple of days ago but with the way the wind is blowing, there's no telling if the grasshoppers managed to eat it before it blew clear to another state.

I think it is the lack of moisture more than a lack of heat. We're plenty warm here every day, although the nights still are pleasantly cool. Cukes and summer squash like heat but grow just fine with moderately warm temperatures. Winter squash can stall in cooler temps though.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 3:28PM
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Robert- im envious of your squash! Mine are just sitting with two true leaves. I probably need to feed them. Last year the vine borers destroyed my summer squash, not this year! Im prepared to hand pollinate and have built a cover that slides up and down pvc. Im going to win this year! (Well, im gonna give it a big effort! Lol)

Thanks Dawn! You're so sweet! Im so thankful i dont have the hordes of grasshoppers ive heard so much about, but im sorry you and so many others have to deal with that. What a pain. I have a ridiculous amount of june bugs im battling, last night i squashed over 200 in my yard! And the grubs have done a number on my beets which has been really frustrating. If we are still living here next year i may spray beneficial nematodes, thoughts?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 10:56PM
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Yes the right kind of nematodes work wonders! I used to find a grub in every shovel of dirt and now I rarely ever see them. No cutworms or slugs this year either. I ordered 2 years ago from Gardens Alive.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 12:36AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Alexis, I live in what is essentially sparsely-populated prairie or grassland, with wooded areas along/around creeks, ponds, lakes and rivers, so grasshoppers are a fact of life here that never really go away. Their population cycles up and down but even in a down year there are tons of them. It is just that in an up year there are even more and more tons of them. I am pretty good at dealing with them, but never happy to see them. I have one good organic control that works in cooler weather, but not so well in hot weather, and then in hot weather we just grin and bear it as much as we can. If things get really desperate, I can use Eco-Bran, a targeted bait which is wheat bran infused with 2% Sevin dust, which is not organic, but which is formulated in such a way that I don't mind using it in my garden because it will harm only the plant-eating bugs who eat it. I don't like using the Eco-Bran but it is a necessary evil at times. In 2003 the grasshoppers ate everything green they could find, including all the leaves, fruit and bark on the young fruit trees, everything in my garden, what little green we had in the pastures in extreme or worse drought, our fiberglass window screens on the house, and even the cotton pillows on the porch swing and the cotton rag rugs on the wraparound porch. I felt like I was living in a horror movie called "The Grasshoppers Devour Southern Oklahoma". If you stood still long enough (and you didn't have to stand still very long) the big hoppers would land on you and cling to your clothing. It was a nightmare, and I am working hard to avoid having the sequel to that movie here in 2013.

The thing that makes grasshoppers so difficult is that they are highly mobile and they migrate long distances in huge numbers. A person might have the hoppers more or less controlled on their own property, but on any given day, hordes of them then fly in from elsewhere. Normally, as spring gives way to summer and the fields begin to dry down and their plants turn that dormant color that is somewhere between tan and wheat colored, the hoppers then migrate into irrigated farm fields, yards and gardens---wherever someone is watering the plants enough to keep them green. That means the hoppers usually are at their worst in July and August. Since rainfall has been so scarce and the fields already have a lot of brown in them, the hoppers are migrating into the irrigated areas already. I keep thinking it is too soon for that and too early, but the grasshoppers are here in large numbers now anyway.

Now, about the grubs and the June bugs. I've already been down this path this year because my June bugs hatched out mostly in March although occasionally I'll see one or two around the place here and there even this late in spring. There would be hundreds of them congregating on the porch when the porch lights were on. I used that to my advantage. I put a container of water out underneath the security light that lights up the driveway and parking area. (Could have put it on the porch underneath the porch light, but didn't want to have those June bugs attracted to the water and present on the porch in even greater numbers.) I used plain water most of the time and it worked fine, but if they aren't attracted to plain water you can make compost or alfalfa tea or just stir in some liquid molasses or syrup to sweeten the water. Every morning, there were dozens of June bugs floating in the water, mostly dead. I then were squirt a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid in there and add a little more water so the dish detergent would coat all the June bugs and help the ones swimming in the water to cross over to June Bug Heaven, wherever it may be. In the evening, after dinner time, I'd pour out all the dead June bugs and water and start with new clean water. Over a period of a couple of weeks I killed hundreds and hundreds that way. At times, they disappeared after a cold night, likely sheltering from the cold but hopefully also freezing to death. That's how I deal with them every year. I use a black, flat concrete-mixing tub I bought at Lowe's (picture an extra, extra large but shallow cat litter box type thing) because, unlike yellow cat litter buckets, the black container doesn't attract and drown nearly as many beneficial insects. If I start seeing bees and other beneficials in my black tub of water, I stop using it or I empty it first thing every morning before the bees are active and refill it around sunset after the bees are back in their hives.

For the grubs, you have to proceed with caution. Not all grubs are bad. There are many grubs in the ground that hatch out into ground beetles and ground beetles eat all kinds of pest insects, making ground beetles very reliable beneficial insects that are desirable in every garden and yard. I'm not saying not to use beneficial nematodes (I used them our first or second year here, but only in the lawn, not in the garden), but just be aware that there's good grubs and bad grubs so you don't want to use a scorched earth policy that kills everything that exists in the soil. When you use beneficial nematodes, timing is everything because they are most effective at precise temperatures and less effective when the soil temperatures get too hot. You need to use them soon after receiving them because they do not survive unrefrigerated for long and, even in a refrigerator, their shelf time is limited so buy only as many as you need for the current treatment.

You also can use milky spore powder if you have Japanese beetles, which I felt helped our grub problem in the yard even more than the beneficial nematodes did. You apply milky spore powder in the summer, and I only applied it one summer, a couple of months after I applied the beneficial nematodes. We don't have a Japanese beetle problem here. If we see 2 JBs in one year, that's a big JB year here.

I'll link a page from Arbico Organics that talks about the types of nematodes available and normally it tells you somewhere on the pages for the individual types exactly what soil temperatures are best for them. You can apply them at higher temperatures, but they won't work as well as they do at lower temperatures.


Here is a link that might be useful: Beneficial Nematodes

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 7:52AM
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Thanks Dawn, ill check that link!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:04AM
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