Our 1st SFG - from 70 to 35.....

brownliMarch 28, 2009

I know, I know, I know....I live in Texas and every single year I somehow seemed amazed at the drastic temp/weather changes...in single days....whatever.....here was my garden yesterday in the sunny 70's...... From Square Foot Gardening

And here it is, today, in the windy, cold and cloudy 30's.... From Square Foot Gardening From Square Foot Gardening

And yes, I do understand that the popcorn containers have zero thermal properties....but hoping that some heat from the soil will help and that the containers will serve as windbreakers....ugh....obviously, I wasn't prepared...

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anniesgranny(6b)

That's one thing nice about starting your own seeds. I have about four times as many plants as I need, so I can just plant and replace as needed ;-)

No kidding, the weather has been awful so far this year. I really am looking at two different planting times for tender crops. I'll try my usual May 1, but have replacements ready just in case.

I left my first batch of brassicas and lettuce out last night, with nothing more than a plastic tent to shelter them from a possible hard rain (didn't happen). It's only 37F right now, so they were subjected to a much colder period than they are used to. I haven't had the heart to go out and look at them yet.

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 11:14AM
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brownli

Ok, do not laugh at my ignorance....I still have my makeshift covers on my plants - it's about 1pm here. The sun popped out a bit ago and the temp is trying to cross over from 49 to 50....do I uncover my plants now or wait for it to warm some more, if so to what?

And yes, Anniesgranny - I'm hoping if I can learn some about the vegetables I've planted this year that for next spring I can start from seeds...right now I basically can identify a summer squash leaf - when compared to a basil leaf....yea, now you can laugh...

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 1:51PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Definitely remove the covers when the threat is over. And using what you have on hand when necessary is no laughing matter. It's creative.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 1:57PM
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brownli

Thanks sinfonian, - I bravely uncovered my plants and surprisingly - they are all super perky...I guess time will tell if my popcorn covers were sufficient. I'll let them soak up as much sun/warmth as possible, but we are due another night of low-mid 30's here so now I need to decide on using the same covers or trying for something a bit more. Obviously, my goal is low-cost so I guess I'll get some more plastic for additional cover tonight.

Again, thanks and here's crossing my fingers for Granny's brassicas and lettuce.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 2:36PM
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sb158(9a)

I know from personal experience that Christmas lights under the plastic but not touching the plants helps quite a bit. Used to have to do that in San Antonio and Austin from time to time.

It actually hit 100 degrees here yesterday. That's just wrong in March! Today it's much cooler, thank goodness. I feel your pain, been there, done that! LOL...

Here is a link that might be useful: sb158's Valley Garden

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 4:17PM
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brownli

Oh thanks sb158 - I guess in hindsight I should have let my husband buy those chilipepper shaped party lights...so for now we'll settle on the Christmas lights! Wow 100! That is wrong....

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 6:36PM
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rlkennerly(8)

Beautiful garden, brownli! We got hit with the cold snap too. I covered up my tomato plants, but they still didn't like it. They're kinda brown. I really hope they'll bounce back. How long should I give them to recover, or should I just go ahead and buy some replacements?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 10:10PM
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brownli

rlkennerly - sorry about your toms - I truly don't have any advice for you as I'm brand new to gardening. I think all my plants made it - I did remove a few leaves from one tom that had - well - wilted/darkened. I guess time will tell if the plant was otherwise affected. Here's hoping it's a sunny and warm spring throughout!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 10:43PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

It's gonna be 33 here tonight, but my cole crops will laugh at that! Ha! I think I will, too... Anyway, my toms and peppers are ready to get out there, but the weather is not cooperating! The last average frost date for my area is April 10th, and hopefully I can get them transplanted next weekend. I'll have my eye on the 10 day forecast, though!

EG

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 11:05PM
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rlkennerly(8)

Here's a photo of my tomato plants from today.

I was hoping they'd snap back after this weekend's cold spell, but no luck. I think I'm gonna pull these up and replant this weekend.

Rachel

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 10:01PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

rachel - bummer....yeah, i'd pull those plants, and start new.

EG

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 10:50PM
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carolynp(z7)

I think your beds are just lovely though. It'll be good for me to see more tips on gardening in the heat.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 12:03AM
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ribbit32004

rachel...it depends on your patience. I've learned that tom plants are AMAZINGLY resiliant. Our dog took the top off one and I was too upset and too lazy to empty the potting soil and plant at the moment so I moved it in my garage. When I got around to it two full weeks later the darn thing had new green growth for suckers. This is after two weeks in a dark, cold garage! One of those suckers has taken over as the new main branch and it's got flowers now. If you have the time....especially if you're expecting another cold snap soon so as not to damage more plants...let them hang around.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 5:40AM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)

Sorry to see your tomatoes gotten frosted!

The brassicas should have no trouble with the temps you are experiencing...they are very cold tolerant...unfortunately tomatoes are not.

When is your frost free date?

An option to try potentially next year to help with the problem would be to construct some sort of portable cold frame to protect your tomatoes from cold spells.

I made some cold frames this year from old windows and recycled wood pallets. They can be a little heavy, but lighter materials are ok too. I just did it on the cheap (aka free!). Something as simple as a carboard box with some plastic film over the top can work (be sure to weight it down with something!), cut the box down so that it is higher on the north side than the south, and away you go! Completely cover the box with the plastic during a rain storm, and the box should last long enough for the cold snap to pass. Open the box up (remove the plastic) if the temp is over 45 and sunny.

Just a thought. Since you are new to gardening, don't feel bad. Just chalk it up to experience and learn from it. Mistakes happen and we have all made them before! The best teacher is experience. Just be a good student and don't make the same mistake twice!!!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 2:52PM
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brownli

ok - I think that last comment goes to rlkennerly having problems with the tomatoes - all of my plants amazingly surprised. I don't think my Popcorn containers :) were the saving grace as much as the fact that our boxes sat in a 70 degree, bright sunshine all during the day before it turned cold.

rlkennerly - how low was your temp this past weekend?

Ours hit 33 with some frost on the ground so I am surprised all my plants survived the 2 frosty nights we had here in Nor.Cen. Tx, and then again survived the quarter size hail and heavy rains we had Monday night. I'm really being tested, because now we are experiencing winds gusting at 40+ and my toms are thrashing about...I guess this is where having some better covers would help out...

...well I guess before it's too late and yet another act of nature tries to snap my plants - here's a picture of my toms/broccoli after the cold and hail/rain... From Square Foot Gardening

And I'm gushing with pride over my seeds - that decided to pop out this morning to say 'we survived'!!!! In addition to this lettuce, also sprouting now: spinach, radishes and marigolds:
From Square Foot Gardening

And here's a little baby...tucked in ever so sweet...awwwhh so cute....
From Square Foot Gardening

Now with all this said ....I think I have something munching on my tom and broc plants....but I guess that's for another post....

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 4:07PM
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anniesgranny(6b)

Brownli, the garden is looking beautiful! Better get some BT for those munchers. Watch for tomato horn worms, they can strip a plant down to bare stems in no time. Just follow the trail of little brown poops. Or, on a quiet day, you can actually find them by listening! Yes, they munch away quite noisily.

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 6:39PM
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brownli

Oh wow thanks anniesgranny! I'm so excited to see each and every little new growth.

What is BT? Is this the bacillus thuringiensis (see I'm so smart 'cause of the Crockett book)?

I keep looking at all the leaves - underside/top/stems and I don't see anything...but I really don't know what I'm looking for...ya know - unless a worm sits up and burps for me, I'm clueless. Do they prefer feasting during the day/night or all the time? Something is definitely making the rounds on all my leaves - toms, peppers and broccoli, but I can find no visible trail of critters or 'output' - that said I could be staring at it and just not realize what I'm looking at....here is a broccoli leaf with little holes/tears...I have similar tears/holes with the other leafy goods....please do give me any direction/advice on what to do... From Square Foot Gardening

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 7:01PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

brownli - I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but I do know what is doing that damage. Cabbage worm....It's a small green worm that feeds on the undersides of the leaves, and chews right thru to the other side. Your answer on the BT is correct, and you'll need to spray all leafy vegetables once per week, on both sides. The moth that lays the eggs for them is small, and will always be out at night. If you see dammage to the outer edge of the leaves, it will be a different worm or pest doing the damage, most likely. Be on the lookout for a light brown caterpillar with black spots running along the length of it's back. It's a tomato fruit worm.

EG

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 8:14PM
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rlkennerly(8)

Thanks for the advice folks. Average frost free date for this area if 3/15. I don't have much patience so I bought some more plants today and replaced the old ones. I hope for better results with these.

Sorry to hijack your thread, brownli. I am super jealous of how neat your garden is. Mine is in a box too, but it's nowhere near that tidy! Did you paint your boxes brown, or did you use a dark lumber?

Rachel

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 8:47PM
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brownli

Hey no problem rlkennerly - I'll share space! Thanks on the compliments of our garden - we painted the outside and tops only of the boxes.

EG - oh thank you - I'm looking to all advice. I will find some BT tomorrow and start spraying. Should I spray all leafy's regardless of condition - meaning some have not been munched on - others have. Is BT the choice for all pests/all leaf plants or is this a 1:1 depending on the pest/plant? And then on the cabbage worm - should I be able to find this worm, see it? I've tried to look on, under and such and haven't seen anything...guess I better get my daughters 'I Spy' glasses out.....this could actually turn out fun....for her...

Where do I find BT and will it be by that name?

Please keep all advice coming. Thanks all.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 9:48PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

brownli - completely drench all surfaces of each leafy vegetable, whether it's damaged or not. The BT is a microbial pesticide that targets most leaf chewing varieties of worms. When they ingest enough of it, it attacks the inner lining of their stomach. This makes them not eat anything, and they starve to death. You will find them on the undersides of the leaves. If you can't find any, it may be something else doing the damage. Typically, the pests to watch out for on cole crops are: grasshoppers, cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, tomato fruit worms, earwigs, and slugs/snails.

EG

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 9:46PM
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rlkennerly(8)

yegads! More freezing temps tonight. brownli you better get those popcorn boxes back out. :)

Rachel

Here is a link that might be useful: LookMaNoWeeds

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:16AM
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brownli

OMG - I can't believe this - 2 more nights of near freezing...and yes, rlkennerly, both nights I've covered my plants...however, last night was a bit colder - and I can see some damage on two of my tomato plants - not sure what do about it - the top most of these 2 plants have 2-3 leaves each that are darkened and wimpy....I wonder what I can expect now for the rest of the plant?

I guess on the positive...it doesn't look as if any more leaves on any of the plants have been chomped on...of course, now I don't know if that's because of the Bt I sprayed or because of the cold....

...ya know...this gardening stuff is a lot more complicated than just throwing some seeds in the ground....lol!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:24PM
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rlkennerly(8)

I'm with ya, brownli. My stuff looked really good this a.m. before I went to work, and since temps were supposed to get up to the mid 60's I went ahead and uncovered. Big mistake!! This evening everything looks terrible. I guess it didn't warm up fast enough.

Do potato plants recover from frosts? They are the worst hit, because I made the horrible mistake of not covering them. I read they would tolerate a light frost, so I thought they'd be okay last night. And they looked very good this morning. Now they're all shriveled and drooping over to the ground. So much for that....

I think I'm gonna have to rename my blog to Look Ma No Weeds or Vegetables.

Rachel

Here is a link that might be useful: LookMaNoWeeds

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 8:36PM
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