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What's up in the veggie garden?

Posted by paulaj z5 ME (My Page) on
Thu, May 11, 06 at 10:01

My garden has peas up, maybe 6", tiny brassicas, onion from seed and set, lots of lettuce&mesclun, okra from seed and corn, tiny pretty shoots. Also sunflowers are coming in on the borders. Oh, and a big volunteer squash is growing between the rows.
The tomatoes and peppers are doing well inside. I never rigged lights this year, I just bring them outside when it is sunny, and they are nice and stout.
It seems like a different, warmer spring to me. Anyone else think so?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Paula,

I did rig some lights this spring. I haven't set anything into the garden yet. My Tomatilloes are in bloom. Their descriptions said that they take 100 days to mature so I thought they would need an extra early start. I have pepper plants that are also in bloom. My eggplants have buds but no blooms yet. My onions are a foot tall. None of this stuff is set out yet because I think we still have a pretty good chance of a killing frost here. I plan to plant tomatoes, corn, okra, squash, watermelons, pole beans and some other things in the next day or two.

MM


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

MM, how do you use tomatilloes? I've never grown them. Also, do you always have such mature peppers this time of year? When do they bear for you? My peppers worry me every year, but I get a nice harvest in August.
It's been a while since I tried eggplant. If the cold didn't get them, the flea beetles did.
I replanted some corn because the dern cat used the corn row as her litter box this morning. I placed a cotton mesh I happened to have over the row to keep her out. The corn is a couple inches high. I am thrilled, because I have never grown it before.
That reminds me, I'd better put plastic bottles over the okra to keep them warm.
I think I'll keep the tomatoes inside until just before the holiday. I've had a couple frosts since the peas and lettuces have been up, none have been harmed. But the soil feels cool to me now, we just haven't had the sun in the last few days. And the tomatoes are healthy but small-I got started late. Still, I am tempted to start from seed as an experiment. I have read they catch up, no transplant shock.
My onions from seed are just starting out of the ground. The shoots on the sets are just a couple inches tall.


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Paula,

This is the first year I tried tomatilloes, so this is new for me. Their primary use is in making salsa. There may be other culinary uses, but I haven't researched that. I am rather worried because they appear to be determinate and have fully bloomed indoors. I have tried hand pollinating a few blooms, but I don't see the beginnings of any fruit yet. This tomatillo experiment may turn out to be unsuccessful. Time will tell.

My eggplants are blooming now. I won't set them out until after Memorial Day. We always get a few holes in their leaves from flea beetles, but not enough damage to stunt the plants. It's just a minor cosmetic problem. A few Japanese Beetles usually appear, but they are easily picked off and destroyed. We always see a few Tortoise Beetles on our eggplants, but we hand-pick them as well. We just ignore the grasshoppers, because they don't eat enough leaves to be harmful. Earwigs can become too numerous if you mulch the eggplants, so we no longer mulch them. Our only serious threat last year was from a tomato horn worm, which severely damaged two adjacent eggplant plants before we noticed what was happening and dispatched him.

Last year was the first year I started peppers extra early indoors under lights. In the past our store-bought peppers seemed to grow rather slowly and produced rather late. Now, by starting them extra early ourselves, we can set out peppers with fruit already set on them, which gives them a month or two of head start. That solves their slow maturity problem. Some of my pepper plants now have blooms, so they are on schedule for early production.

Transplanting shock has not been a problem for me. I grow seedlings in relatively large pots made from the bottom parts of 2-liter and 3-liter soft drink bottles. That gives them a lot of root volume, but they always become rootbound anyway by the time I set them out.

That turns out to be a good thing because the root ball is almost like a big peat pot or Jiffy pot, only the walls are made of roots instead of peat or fibers. The pop-bottle pots are flexible, so I can just "kneed" them a little and the root ball falls out structurally intact, so that I can plant them with no root disturbance at all. That technique lets me routinely set out plants with no transplanting shock that traditionally suffer severe transplanting shock.

MM


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Well, I think I will try earlier sowing of eggplant and pepper next year! I love both.

It sounds like you have a good method with the soft drink bottles. Do you spread the roots when you plant?

I've read that soil blocks provide the least transplant shock. But why buy something expensive when you have something free that works for you. I've given up on peat pots. Too expensive, and many times the roots do not break free unless I do it for them, so what is the point.

I used cardboard milk cartons this year for the tomato transplants, half-filled with dirt so they can be filled as the tomato grows. And it will be easy to rip or cut the carton and discard it when I plant out.

My peppers are very slow-growing. I am going to put them back on the heat mat for a while to see if they like that. It is cool in my house.


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Paula,

I don't spread the roots or disturb them in any way when I set them out. That keeps root disturbance to essentially zero and the roots can grow rapidly from the root mass into the surrounding soil without any help from me.

I carefully considered soil blocks, but for the time being I have rejected the technique because it requires me to compress the growing medium more than I would like. I like to keep my growing medium as loose and "airy" as possible, to get oxygen to the plant roots.

Also, the soil blocks are rather fragile, if you need to handle them much. I can pick up my pop bottle pots and move them about and rearrange them as much as I need to with no fear of disturbing the growing medium. I would need to keep soil blocks on some sort of little pallets or platforms so I could move them without disintegrating them. I would also need to be careful how I watered them to avoid "melting" them.

I have to admit that the soil block making devices seem like interesting gadgets. Some are a bit expensive and presumably they would last a lifetime. But the fact that their purpose is to compress growing medium into blocks doesn't appeal to me. I don't want to compress my growing medium.

MM


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Paula,

I left a message here early this morning but some sort of system problem on these forums appears to have lost it. I won't be able to reproduce it, but I did want to show a picture of one of my pepper plants in one of the pop-bottle pots, to show how advanced they can get and how root-bound they can get. The pot was sitting on top of an inverted translucent plastic bucket next to my fluorescent fixtures, so the lighting in the picture is a bit unusual.

You can see the roots through the transparent sides of the pot. They don't show too well in the picture, but there are at least three peppers already set. This is one of my Sweet Carmen F1 hybrid peppers that were introduced by Johnny's this year. Tomorrow I am going to start setting out my tender plants in the garden. My onions have been out for the last few weeks.

MM


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Maineman,

That's a well-grown pepper plant!

Great minds think alike. I set out my peppers today, and prepped the ground for tomatoes. But my peppers are nursery-grown this year. My own seedlings grew to the two first leaves and sat there, so they are compost now.

In the garden, peas are climbing, onions from sets are tall, leeks are happy, corn is fine. Brassicas are doing well, lettuce has contributed to salads. Swiss chard, cilantro, sunflowers, beets-it's lovely to see them out. Okra has gotten eaten by something, so I planted more and put plastic bottles over the seedlings to protect them.


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

I'm not a vegetable gardener--yet. But this year I was lured by one pkg. of FedCo seeds, Pruden's Purple (Beefstake tomatoes). These healthy little plants are ready to go in the ground, and I am in the process of farming them out. Last night, I found a home for three in a friend's garden. He was glad to add them among his numerous and diverse rows of tomatoes.

Each Memorial Day, a group of friends and family members collect to plant this garden, the produce of which is shared with friends, family, and neighbors. After the planting, for the most part, he tends it on his own. "The kids aren't nearly as interested in weeding it as they are in planting it," he says with a smile. Me, I can't seem to get enough of weeding; so I offered to drop by to help him with the weeding. My experience with hoes is limited to using a Mason's hoe (to mix cement), so this will be a new experience for me. I have but one reservation.

When I asked about his need for and methods of pest management, he said that aside from deer, flea beetles were the early garden's only real threat. And then he said the "R" word: Rotenone. I melted, and not in a good way. I've since read a few Garden Web discussions of organic flea beetle control--floating row covers, sticky traps, and hydrated lime were a few of the suggestions.

Has anyone been successful in deterring flea beetles by dusting around their cukes, etc. with hydrated lime? I think that the floating row covers are out of the question, and the sticky traps would have to be homemade, a task I might be willing to take on if someone convinced me it would be worthwhile. Finally, should I not be so concerned about his use of Rotenone? The little I read on it said its toxicity was short-lived in the environment. But it also made some mention about Parkinson's disease...

What do others use to defend young plants?

Thank you--

--Maureen


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Maureen,

Flea beetles always make a few holes in the leaves of my eggplants, but the damage is merely cosmetic. Not enough leaf material is removed to affect the growth or production of the eggplants. Handpicking them isn't feasible because of their jumping ability, so I just ignore the flea beetle "problem."

I hand-pick the few tortoise beetles that always seem to show up on the eggplants. The same for a few Japanese Beetles. I also ignore the grasshoppers, because they don't do a lot of damage. I think they do the majority of their actual eating in the lawn.

Rotenone has always been around and we actually used some on our home garden way back on the farm when I was a kid. We applied it as a dust. We weren't very conscious of pesticide hazards back then. Like pyrethrum and Black Leaf 40, rotenone is a natural material. I have no idea how safe or unsafe any of those materials are.

Since we moved to Maine a little over four years ago I haven't used any pesticides here. Years previously in Fort Worth, I used quite a bit of Sevin in a vain attempt to control squash bugs (I handpick them here.) Sevin loses its toxicity in a few hours in the hot Texas sun. That is great if you are harvesting squash the next day. That is not so great when fresh squash bugs fly in that afternoon to a newly unprotected squash crop.

I'm definitely not an organic gardener, but I don't like the idea of applying toxic pest management controls to food items. For the time being I am relying on handpicking and non-toxic biologicals like Bacillus thuringiensis (BT).

MM


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Tiny turnips peeking up this am, lettuce, radish & beets. Potatoes are way up and looking good.

I cheated on peppers, tomatoes and broccoli they are all doing great.

Waiting on beans, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, squash and cukes.

For flowers, the columbine and monks hood are about ready to pop, the poppies are popping already so are the for-get-me-nots and bachelor buttons, bleeding hearts and jack in the pulpits. Maltese cross, day lilies, peony, blue bells, foxglove, yellow loose strife and hosta about ready. Some unidentified blues, and purples are not far behind.

Cosmos and a whole bunch of a wild flower seed mix are peeking up not sure what Ill get.

Leasa
Eastport


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Maureen,

It's easy to catch some flea beetles with paper and Elmer's glue. Wet a sheet of scrap paper with water, spread glue on it, take it out to the plants and hold it under the leaves as you shake the plant.

I use Rotenone sometimes but am wary of it, never breathe it in. Pyrethrum sounds benign, it's made from pretty flowers and all that, but if it kills bugs it can harm you, so be careful or don't use it.

I got a hoe for $8.99 at Ocean State Job Lot. Its blade is not as wide as a mason's hoe, it sharpened easily, and the blade is set at a good angle. I also experimented by bending a grass whip into the right angle for weeding, but the handle is too short, so it is a funny-looking grass whip again.

My lettuce is growing like weeds, eating salad every day. Everything else; brassicas, corn, tomatoes, peppers, leeks, onions, peas, cilantro, okra, chard, beets, are very happy.

Isn't the rain wonderful? The plants are loving it. And I have an excuse to be inside, not gardening!


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

All this rain may be too much of a good thing. During a break in the rain yesterday, I went out to get our wheelbarrow to distribute some compost. The wheelbarrow was brimming full of water! We must have had nearly a foot of rain.

I dumped the water and got a dozen or so wheelbarrow loads of compost and dumped it in a strip where I plan to put our tomatoes. I used a rake to spread it out a bit and shape the strip. I figured some more rain wouldn't hurt the compost any and might even help.

That soil is rather sandy and needs the compost. As soon as things dry out a bit, I will mix that compost into the soil with my tiller. I will then set my tomato plants into that enriched area. The tomato plants are already sitting in the garden in the pots they started in. A bit rain drenched.

MM


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

The only thing saving my tomatoes now are the raised rows. This is much too much rain now.

But, that said, things are growing like mad. The potatoes look great. This year I again used them to open up new garden space. I set down newspaper on top of lawn, then potatoes on top of that, then soil, peat and compost(half-made) on top of them.

I saw corn almost a foot tall near here the other day. They used row cover to warm up the air and soil. Mine is lagging in the coolness, about 4" tall.

My asparagus bed was half planted when the rains began. The dug bed looks like a ful bathtub with thin spears reaching up through the water. I don't dare dig my wet clay soil to finish the bed.

The forecast does not look good...


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Would anybody know how long after using sevin dust on okra should you harvest.

Thanks


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Your first source of information should be the product label. You didn't give enough information to specify a product label, but this GardenTech Sevin-10 label for a 10% Sevin Dust product doesn't list Okra in the preharvest section. You need to zoom in to about 200% to read the fine print on that label. For fresh beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cantaloupe, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash, eggplant, pepper, and tomato the wait would be 3 days. This Sevin label does mention Okra, and says do not apply within 3 days of harvest. So I would be fairly confident about the three-days-before-harvest figure for Okra.

MM


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

I am eating a dinner of okra, onions. peppers, tomatoes. garlic and a cucumber salad, all from the garden, and giving Thanks as I eat!


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Last night was eggplant parmesan and a salad, all from the garden! My 12-yr old daughter decided she loved eggplant.


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RE: What's up in the veggie garden?

Beans a doing great had several servings already.

Broccoli--yummy! ate it all summer in little bites.

Peppers I planted in the coffee cans are doing great. One in the garden got ate off and I transplanted on of them, wish I had not. The coffee can one has nice big peppers on it the others do do not.

Tomatoes finally came to life. Still waiting on the cukes.

Turnips are good and beets too. Lettuce is hanging in there it was better
earlier.

Leasa
Eastport


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