Super Excited

lizgyrl(7)June 14, 2012

This is my second garden attempt. I was fairly discouraged due to last year. It started off rocky this season, I lost my first garden from rain and had to level the entire garden and used cinder blocks as a retainer wall. I have lost all my onions :( I planted most of my herbs in the cinder block holes. I have 3 types of basil growing like crazy and am in love with the smell and taste. I also have sage, feverfew, mint, rosemary, & chives. My strawberry plant is, so far, just a plant no strawberries. I also have various lettuces that went crazy, garlic, dill, and giant southern curled mustard did great (the mustard mysteriously died) all in a cold frame. My tomatoes, watermelons, squash, jalapenos, sugar peas, and cucumbers are just starting to make vegetables. I am struggling with grasshoppers though :( I also have 4 dill's giant pumpkin plants that look great. Super excited that its going so much better!!

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

lizgyrl,

I'm glad you didn't let last year get you down. It was a terrible year for gardening here.

I'm happy for you that it is going so much better this year.

If El Nino returns as they are forecasting, next year ought to be a half-decent year too or maybe even a good to great year. Most El Nino years we will get adequate rainfall, and often too much of it at once, but for those whose gardens aren't flooded, the moisture helps give a plentiful harvest.

It seems like we never have a nice, moderate gardening year any more. We just swing from one extreme to the other, weatherwise. You have to be really resilient and very determined(as in stubborn and pig-headed) to garden here because you have to just keep fighting back against whatever obstacles Mother Nature throws at you. I think if a person can garden in Oklahoma, they can garden anywhere.

Dawn

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:25PM
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lizgyrl(7)

I was curious about straw bale gardening. Might anyone know if that is better than traditional gardening? It is crazy how as a child I hated rainy days, now I look forward to them haha.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 5:22PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

With straw bale gardening, I wouldn't say it is better than traditional gardening done in the ground. Soil contains nutrients and beneficial microbes that you will not necessarily find in a bale of straw, even if it is partially decomposed in the center.

I think you would just have to try straw bale gardening to see if it works for you. Sometimes there are issues with straw bale gardening in our climate, but it depends on your average weather. In a persistently dry and windy area, you may find it hard to keep the straw wet enough. In a persistently wet area that often has a combination of high temperatures and very high humidity in spring and summer, you may have fungal issues from diseases that start growing on/in wet straw. Also, success with straw bale gardening depends on whether field mice, meadow voles, rats, etc. are a problem outdoors where you live. If you are in a rural area, where little varmints are plentiful, you may find they like to live in the straw and eat your plants.

I mulch my traditional in-ground garden very heavily with hay and I like doing it because it aids so much in soil improvement over time. The hay mulch decomposes into lovely compost every year so it is continually enriching the soil, but snakes love to get in, on, and underneath the mulch, including some venomous snakes, so there's no way I'd attempt to garden in straw bales. I already have about 3 heart attacks a day when I find snakes in/on/under my mulch.

I like rainy days as long as there's no thunder and lightning. If there's thunder and lightning, you cannot safely work out in the rain, but on days when it is just a light, gentle rain with no thunder/lightning, it is a wonderful time to pull weeds from the rain-softened ground. Lately, every time I pick tomatoes, it seems like a thunderstorm brews up out of nowhere and the thunder and lightning send me scurrying indoors with only half the harvesting work completed. That happened to me last week and again this week. Apparently, at least in my garden, picking tomatoes causes thunderstorms. : )

Dawn

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:12AM
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lizgyrl(7)

Wow so many things I had not considered. We do have field mice and snakes everywhere. There is also a ton of wind where I am. I am not a fan of snakes, one slithered across my foot earlier today. I wouldn't have noticed but I had on flip flops 8( I guess I might just try the lasagna gardening. Thanks for responding!!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 7:07PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

You're welcome.

I didn't mention what would be the key factor for me, which is a big issue since I live in a county with tons of grasslands prone to grassfires and wildfires, and it is this: We have a lot of fires every year that start when hay is baled too wet, and the wet hay on the interior of the bale heats up as decomposition begins, very similar to what can happen inside a compost pile. The hay bale begins burning, and then the fire spreads to the surrounding pasture or, if the hay is already stacked in a barn, it spreads to the barn. You wouldn't believe how often this happens. Burning bales are almost impossible to extinguish, and require a lot of time and tons of water. So for me, the last thing I want is a bale of hay or straw that I'm constantly wetting down in the interior of the bale, because it just might decompose enough to start burning. You aren't turning the bale the way you turn a compost pile. It might never be an issue in a garden or lawn surrounded by green grass where a fire is unlikely to spread much even if it starts in a bale, but my garden is surrounded by woodland and grassland that aren't very green in summer, so I don't want to encourage anything that might burn for fear it quickly would spread.

And, on a snake note, I have a snake tale from today too. I went down into the tornado shelter to get some canning jars stored there, and as I reached the bottom step, I saw a snake skin on a folding camp chair about 3 or 4' away. Since our tornado shelter stays closed almost all the time and we have screening on the inside so insects and snakes cannot come down the air vents, I knew that whatever snake shed that skin was in the tornado shelter with me. I grabbed a dozen jars and hightailed it out of there, taking great care not to disturb a thing...for fear the snake was hiding behind or underneath something. A couple of hours later, Tim went down into the cellar, found a black and green racer, and tossed it out of the cellar. The snake probably crawled down into the shelter one day a few weeks ago when Tim was airing it out. I sure wasn't happy to see that snakeskin, and am grateful it happened today, and not on a day when a storm sent me fleeing to the shelter. This is the first time we've ever had a snake in there as far as we know. I'll never be a fan of snakes, but at least it was a non-venomous one. Our son stepped on a copperhead once and it didn't bite him, and I just consider him extremely lucky. If one had slithered over my foot, you would have heard me screaming all over the state.

I know snakes fill an important niche in the ecosystem and we'd be overrun with rodents if we didn't have them, but I still don't like them.

Dawn

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 8:23PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

lizgyrl - congrats on your gardening efforts this year and the rewards they are bringing to you! This is my 2nd year attempting tomatos, and 1st year with other veggies like Cucumbers, Squash, Peppers, Okra, dwarf pumpkins, dwarf watermelon, and dwarf muskmelon. I just got the baby pumpkins, watermelon and muskmelon in the ground this morning. After planting them, I turned around for a moment to do something else, and when I looked back at the garden, the baby muskmelon had disappeared. What???? I noticed a mound of dirt pushed to the side where it was planted. The neighborhood cat had visited and left me a "deposit"....grrrrrr. I cleaned it up, unearthed the melon plant, and now have to figure out how to keep the cats out of there.

The Cucumbers are producing very well and I'm getting lots of them, both slicing and picklers. Foliage has gotten huge and it's climbing all over its trellis like crazy.

I am also getting, of the tomatos, SunSugars, Black Cherries, and Juliets. I have lots of big tomatos waiting to ripen on Better Boy, Big Beef, Cherokee Purple, and Bush Goliath. Have Indian Stripe, SunGold, Top Sirloin, a couple more Black Cherry, and New Big Dwarf, waiting in the wings. I can barely wait for Cherokee Purple to ripen! I've heard it is the best flavored.

My best producing peppers are the regular Jalapeno, and regular Green Pepper from Bonnie's. The others are not doing so hot - Spicy Jalapeno, Mucho Nacho, Orange Bell. I think they have some kind of bacterial or fungal disease.

Okra 'Little Lucy' is doing FANTASTIC! Really loves this heat, very attractive plants and fruit.

I hsve a small gardening area for veggies, as most of my garden is full of butterfly larval host plants and nectar plants for them, the sphinx moths, the hummingbirds, and bees.

Dawn, my German chamomile died. This makes the 3rd time I've killed it. What is your secret? Of course, it has had to battle probably too much moisture and a weed eater.

Still haven't planted the beans...sigh...... No time. DD is in the hospital again since last Tuesday. She suffered pulmonary emboli in both lungs. So, I don't know yet if I will get to maintain the garden thru the summer or not. Taking it one day at a time.

Anyway, I'm so loving the production and beautiful veggies I'm growing this year.

Susan

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:51PM
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soonergrandmom

Susan, I'm so proud of you. You are now an official vegetable gardener. Someday maybe I will be a good butterfly gardener.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 12:08AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Thank you, Carol! I am thinking the veggies are more difficult to grow. Butterfly plants seem so easy in comparison. I have a great appreciation now for those who grow them. I can't imagine caring for a big vegetable garden, lol!

Susan

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 7:10AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Susan, I keep my cats away from tiny seedlings by randomly sticking toothpicks in the soil around them, with some close to the plants and some farther away. If a cat is more persistent, it may require bamboo skewers, usually available on one of the kitchen aisles (with measuring cups and hand utensils and such) at Wal-Mart for about a dollar. Cats don't like stepping on the toothpicks. I leave about an inch or so of toothpick sticking up out of the ground.

It sounds like most everything is doing well.

With the chamomile, don't feed it and don't water it and it should grow fine. Mine grows in the gravel driveway, the hard-packed clay pathways, the beds with enriched, loamy clay, etc. but it does not like high fertility or high water. I have to cut it back very hard in the loamy beds because they are so rich in nutrients that it gets too big and takes over. Try planting some somewhere and then ignore it. Just scatter sow seeds on the ground, and forget it is there.

Sorry to hear about your daughter. Hope she is going to be alright. I'm guessing you're spending a lot of time taking care of your two granddaughters.

Keep up the gardening as time allows. Even veggie plants that look sickly or that are ignored because you're too busy often do produce very well.

Dawn

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 12:04PM
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