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Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Posted by joellenh 6b Jenks (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 26, 11 at 16:26

I just got home from a week in the Ozarks. The mountains temper the climate, they get more rain, and it was bliss (85 vs 100 here just a few hours away).

When I got home I looked at my garden in dismay. Despite Kelleyp's valiant efforts to water, most of my tomatoes were more than half-dead. I lost an evergreen tree (4' tall, 3 years old). My 8 hydrangeas that I planted last year looked dead but seem to have recovered. I lost a dwarf potted lemon that I have had for 7 years. Two of the three native plums I got from Paula at the spring fling are gone.

What I noticed: The brambles (blackberries and rasperries) are doing great. The fruit trees look good. The grape vines are still alive despite the anthracnose. The strawberry plants are fine. Ditto the fig trees (planted last fall). The sunchokes and wildflowers don't seem to mind the heat or lack of rain.

So, I think I want to come up with a new plan for next year that will enable me to grow things that LIKE heat and a dry climate. I don't want to work this hard. I got home at 2 pm yesterday and was watering until 7pm, and agaian today, and I am not done.

I think I will plant more strawberries next year...they bore mainly in May before it got too hot, and when there was more rain. My cucs are doing great. I will plant the suckers from my brambles and plan to have at least 40 blackberry and rasberry bushes next year. I might dedicate another bed to sunchokes. My lettuces and greens also did well in May. I will grow more onions...they are fantastic.

I am going to grow fewer tomatoes. They are too much work and too much heartbreak. I will grow 10 or fewer plants and really baby them.

What else does well with borderline neglect and little rainfall? I need to learn to love to eat the things that do well here vs struggling to grow what I love.

PS Gary's tomatoes, which were planted much later than my transplants, still look fantastic. My container tomatoes are also doing very well. My raised bed tomatoes are all but dead.

Jo


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Okra, cowpeas, sweet potatoes, prickly pear (they make yummy fruit) all love the heat. My dry beans are doing well with extra water about once a week.

You can do research on what people grow/grew in the American Southwest and in the deserts of the world. I remember reading about a tuber called Oca but I have no idea how to use it or what it tastes like. I have found neat traditional seeds at seedsofchange.com


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

It's encouraging to hear that your raspberries are tolerating the dry heat so well! You'll have to tell me what varieties you have. The Latham red I have always *looks* like it's happy, but I always seem to get very few, very small fruit (my fall crop looked better and produced more than my spring crop last year). It's setting fruit for this fall right now, so hopefully this drought doesn't have an effect on it.

I'm not sure what to suggest about drought and heat tolerant edibles, but I will say that I plant to invest in an elaborate network of soaker hoses and a digital timer for our faucet for whenever we're out of town. I don't really know my neighbors well enough to ask them to spend so much time in the summer watering for me, and with the timer all I'd have to do is ask them to go set the rain delay if it rains while we're gone.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

sorry about all your losses!

When I leave town for any length of time I use a battery-operated timer on the water hydrant hooked up to soaker hoses. I put it on a splitter that can hold four or five (wow I was just out there, think I'd remember) soaker hoses, so I make it run for hours because there is never a great lot of pressure at that rate. I put my pots under the soaker too so at least a little water gets in them.

It has never failed. I rarely lose anything when I'm gone. But yes, if I was going to be away this summer I would not have bothered with 30 tomatoes either. I was just thinking this afternoon that if my first-ever try at planting fall tomatoes is a success I might dispense with the spring ones altogether.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

We raise our own potatoes not only because home grown are so much tastier and more nutritious, but also because they do well here. Some years we don't even have to water. Most years have to pick off potato beetles and larva but this year saw only ONE beetle and no larva. They have to only be dug, washed, cured (in the dark) and stored (also in the dark; we put them under a bed with newspaper over the trays.) They are one of the easiest crops we grow and we eat our own until Jan or Feb each year and then start again in May with new potatoes out of the garden. I only buy potatoes 3 mos of the year. Sweet potatoes are almost as easy except that they have to be watered over the summer, but store so well that we eat on them for 9 months. Deer like them, so we sprinkle hair or repellent over them. Garlic is another no work crop and if you grow Elephant Garlic, very productive for the space it takes. We like it roasted whole, then spread over French Bread or baked potato. Very healthful.

Fall radishes (We raise Chinese Red Meat and Daikon from Baker's Creek) are easy easy in the fall and store for months in the crisper. Chinese Cabbage also does well in the fall and stores well in the crisper. Spinach grown in the fall in my garden has survived zero temps--with a leaf mulch--and produced plenty of greens in March before bolting to seed. Perrenial onions are a no work crop and produce spring onions about the time we plant annual onions. And once asparagus is well established with a good mulch--we use wood chips 3-4 inches deep--it will produce for 25-30 years with no summer water. Here anyway.

And it is a weed, but a very tasty and drought hardy one. Lambsquarters is right now 2 feet high inside our unfinished greenhouse. The roof went on in Feb so it has had no rain directly from above since then. The windows went on in April before the flooding rains we got. And this 2 feet of growth with no water came after DH weedeated it down to 3 inches tall about a month ago. I knew the stuff was tough but had no idea it was this tough.
Our family has eaten it for years, mixed with spinach in the spring.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

My yellow raspberries (2 plants) are queen anne. I planted the red ones 2+ years ago and have forgotten variety, however, I will be thriled to bring suckers to 2012 spring fling.

Jo


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

If they produce better than mine, I'd be thrilled to snag a few of them!


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Jo,

I was wondering where you were! Hope the trip to the Ozarks was delightful.

First of all, for many of us, this is an especially cruel summer because we are having record-low and near-record-low rainfall in combination with record-high and near-record-high temperatures. It is a killer combination!

Secondly, I grow whatever I want (within reason) because performance is highly dependant on the weather. But, I will change my 'grow list' each year to try to tailor it to the weather I expect....whether I expect drought, average weather (and our average weather is tough enough) or a wet year. (Hey, we do have wet years too! In our county, both 2004 and 2007 were nice and wet.) There are a few things I don't even attempt to grow here in our location because our soil and/or climate are completely wrong for them. Raspberries are one of them and rhubarb is another. I've tried and tried to grow rhubarb for Tim but the heat just burns it up.

As far as what veggies are most drought-tolerant and heat-tolerant, I'd say that at my end of the state, it would be bite-sized tomatoes, okra, southern peas of all kinds (blackeye, pinkeye, purple hull, crowder, lady, cream or zipper), winter squash (C. moschata types best resist SVBs), peppers (with well-amended soil and adequate moisture), corn, snap beans, sweet potatoes and, some years, stone fruit, blackberries and strawberries. About 50% of the time, I get a good crop from cool-season crops like onions, potatoes, sugar snap peas and the cole crops. I get a good lettuce harvest in containers but not in the ground because all the pests (including 4-footed varmints and birds) devour the lettuce since not much else is green that time of the year.

It sounds like one of your biggest challenges is watering. Are you still watering by hand-held hose? If so, putting in soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system will change your life. Timers make it so easy you hardly have to think about watering.

Also, continually adding lots of organic matter to your soil will improve its capacity to hold water, and help reduce the nematode population, but it requires constant amending year in and year out and that gets old. (I couldn't garden in this clay without doing it though.)

With the nematodes in your soil, I think tomatoes always will perform best for you in containers. Just remember that water can carry nematodes up into your containers and so can soil carried on your hands, a trowel, etc., so to keep your container soil uncontaminated, always do what you need to do so nematodes cannot get up into your containers. Many people who have nematodes and who grow in containers put the containers up on concrete blocks or picnic benches or low stone walls or something so flash flood type rainwater cannot possibly carry nematodes up into the containers via their drainage holes.

This year, and last year two, have been especially challenging in terms of weather but most years are not this bad, unless this is what we're getting as a result of climate change and it is, indeed the new normal. (Good Lord, I hope not!)

I don't grow as much cool-season stuff in the fall as Dorothy does because often we are still in the 100s in September and in the 90s in October, so often I'm too busy with the firefighting stuff to even think about a fall garden, assuming we have enough moisture to have a fall garden at all. One year, though, the first freeze didn't occur until mid-December and I did have a fall garden that year and it was simply amazingly productive.

Tomatoes ought to be easy here, but because of our weather they aren't! Don't judge your garden performance by the tomatoes because they will break your heart about every other year.

Dawn


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Jo,

I have been planning the same thing, with the weather and critters and reduced time to spend on the garden I have just got to do things differently.

I planted a garden for my step dad. He was so proud of his potatoes, got 5, 5 gal. buckets and a fair Cole crop. But the deer have already eaten all of his sweet potatoes out of the garden and are starting on the ones I planted around the house in flower beds and as foundation plantings.

You have a lot of company, many of us are facing some of the same problems you are.

Larry


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. There were several things mentioned that had not ever crossed my mind.

I still water with a hose, and use a leaky watering can to water places the hose won't reach. Any sort of watering system I set up will need to be fairly elaborate, as I have scattered raised beds with no rhyme or reason here and there. I want to water my beds and not the paths. I am considering a pvc system for next year, but need to do some heavy duty research into the how-to. Every time I try, it hurts my brain.

Jo


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Jo,
When I was on vacation earlier this month, I used a digital two-outlet timer connected to my soaker hoses for the veggies and it worked great... unfortunately, I didn't anticipate 100+ heat for all 7 days, so I'd only set it up to water 1.5 hrs every three days. Things were all alive, but not really very happy with me when I got back. With multiple outlets, you can set different programs and schedules for each outlet. The timer was from Lowes, about $40 - well spent, since I know how much I've spent on soil amendments, seed, plants, love, sweat, tears...

You might consider soaker hoses connected with lengths of regular hoses - soakers in the beds, regular hose in the paths - and daisy chain them together. You can cut regular hose to short lengths and use hose-mender ends to make your own lengths. I haven't tried marrying a regular hose to a soaker hose using hose-mender, but if they are the same diameter it should work. If not, you could use hose-mender to make new ends and screw them together like normal. I keep my soakers under the mulch and they have lasted for years and years, I think my oldest is probably 8 years old. Usually the only problems are me cutting through it with the shovel - hence my intimate knowledge of hose-menders. Once you have hundreds of feet buried under mulch, you really don't want to pull it all up without a very good reason. My longest runs are probably 150 feet. maybe 200. much longer and you'd get no water pressure in my neighborhood.

I just bought a 4 outlet digital timer for the front yard since I liked the other one so much. My favorite thing is that I can hook the soakers up and tell it how long to run, and it turns off automatically. I'm notorious for starting a hose before bed and forgetting to turn it off and waking up to a flooded flowerbed, so this has totally eliminated that problem for me.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Jo, I would really encourage you to look into dripworks. Their helpful design staff eased my brain pain, and even they acknowledged that mine was one of the toughest they had ever done. With the initial set up behind me, I now think it's a piece of cake. And if you buy the EZ loc connectors instead of the compression fittings, changing you mind is also very easy.

I have plenty of water, and it's easy, but that still hasn't made it a good year. The hot dry wind gives me a whole new respect for the turkey in the convection oven. Yowza! My new space has trees about 30' away on the north, east and west sides, but the open exposure to the southern wind is brutal.

I too am going to grow fewer tomatoes. The peppers are holding up amazingly well, but I think part of it is because they are closer to the ground. The stars of my garden are Gary's sweet potatoes. They seem perfectly content. The okra sprouted very quickly but is coming along more slowly than I think it should. Every day I tell my stalled out cucumber sprouts, "It's okay. I know you're just developing strong roots." Yeah.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

I noticed some comments about critters, and I must say, you haven't seen any critter damage until chickens get into a peach tree! Yes, IN the tree, and merrily picking everything in sight. They ate every single peach, and got into the apple tree as well.
Now that I have that out of my system, maybe I can help some of you set up drip systems that will work in raised beds. It really is not complicated. A lot depends on what sort of emitters you use. I use pencil tube with a spinner on the end, and have them mounted on a low-rise stand that isn't much over 4-5" high. Professional nurseries also use pencil tube and single emitters for the big potted plants. Unfortunately, I have not seen a lot of drip equipment for sale in OK, but it would be worth it to buy some online. The savings in water and labor is really worth it, and there's no dragging a hose around in a big garden. The biggest one I've installed has over 110 emitters on 6 outlets and is an intensive area of azaleas, ferns, hosta, and so on. It would be impossible to water it by hand. Once you've tried installing it, you see how easy it really is. I'd be glad to offer tips to anyone who's interested. I can probably also find images and post them so you can see the necessary parts. Try it! It really isn't nearly as difficult as some people make it sound.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Redding, In my yard, the chickens have never gotten into the peach tree, but they sure do go after any peaches or plums that drop on the ground. They have to fight the deer, squirrels, possums, raccoons, skunks, etc. to get them though.

I love drip irrigation and even use it for the hanging baskets on the wraparound porch.

For anyone wanting to try drip irrigation, I second Seedmama's recommendation of Dripworks. They'll even help you design your system.

Dawn


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Hey Dawn,

Yeah, the first time I saw the chickens stomping around in the top of our apple tree, I couldn't believe my eyes.It puts a whole new slant on 'Partridge in a Pear Tree".

I have bush green beans producing in the garden with the help of a shade cloth, and one of the chickens got out yesterday and ruined several of them. The tomatoes seem to be coming along slowly this year and I had a real problem with germination of a lot of seed. Had to replant the beans a couple of times. Shawnee Nursery said a lot of people complained about that. The squash is doing incredibly well, but the lemon cuke is struggling and even the peppers have been wilting in the heat. I use a lot of mulch and some of the plants are thriving from it, while others are not doing so well.
The strawberry bed looks pretty good and I've got a lot of runners to start new plants with, although they have stopped producing berries.
I noticed someone said they have a fig tree growing here. Is there any recommended variety that likes this climate?

Jo, you could install a pvc system to connect a dripline to, but it would require hose bibs at strategic intervals and would need to be covered for winter. It would be a pretty complex undertaking, and I can see why it makes your brain hurt. Isn't it possible to hook up hoses with shut-off valves and use them for the drip line connections, so you can roll it up for winter? That's what I've done. The drip line stays in place and the main hose is put away. It's a bit of a pain to have the hose running everywhere, but I like rolling it up and putting it away and not having to deal with probable pipe freezes in winter, broken hose bibs and so on. That's a nightmare. Been there, done that.

Pat


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Reading you all talk about willingly growing less tomatoes is breaking my heart. That is just about the saddest thing I've ever heard.

Diane


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Dorothy, I wish I had your rainfall. There's almost never a year when I don't have to water and water fairly heavily.

We have lambsquarters everywhere. I always thought they were a cool-season crop, but they are flourishing here. Right now it is 100 degees outside and the heat index is 106 and they aren't even wilted! I don't much care for their flavor though. My dad loved them, and poke sallet too, but I never aquired a taste for them.

Betty, I cannot imagine spring planting without tomatoes. However, I'm going to try really hard to get them into the ground in early March (if it isn't snowing) next year and then just try to protect them from frosts and freezing. The earlier I plant, the better my crop but the last few years I've planted progressively later because we keep having recurring late frosts into the first week of May.

Larry, Every time I go outside at any time of the day or night, the big buck who is plaguing me is out by my garden, compost pile or potting shed. His stalking behavior is making me crazy. This week, I've added 2' of height to the garden fence on both the south and east side of the garden because those are the two sides where he could get a running start and leap the fence. Tonight I hope to get the north side done after the temperature drops back below 100 and the sun starts to set. On the east, he'd have to clear the fence and three consecutive rows of tomato cages, so I don't think he'd survive if he tried to jump that fence. I think he'd get hung up on the tomato cages if he cleared the fence.

Pat, Those chickens need to go into time out! Our chickens are banned from the garden most of the summer, but they can free-range on our aceage on any day that I haven't seen any predators lurking around. In the winter, I let the chickens roam the garden and they love digging and scratching for pests. When we mow the yard, they run along behind the mower and chase down any grasshoppers that are fleeing from the mower.

Several figs do well here. Brown Turkey, Texas Everbearing and Celeste are the three recommended by OSU. I have two small figs in pots and one of them has figs on it. I've had a hard time getting them through the winter in the ground because the deer eat them, so with pots, I can move them into the veggie garden or sun porch where the deer can't reach them to eat the trees.

Diane,

And you think our hearts aren't breaking here? (sigh) The least productive section of my vegetable garden overall is the portion devoted to growing tomatoes. However, by saying that, I don't mean to imply we aren't getting tomatoes. I'm harvesting at least 80 full-sized tomatoes a week (I don't count the bite-sized ones, but there's plenty of them too), but considering we have 100 plants, that's less than 1 ripe fruit per plant per week. And, actually, some have produced a lot and some haven't produced any.

Per square foot of planted space, everything else has outproduced the tomatoes. We've had great harvests of potatoes, onions, lettuce and misc. mesclun greens, bush green beans, radishes, corn, and summer squash, and have great crops of okra, southern peas, melons, winter squash, watermelons,lima beans, peppers and cukes coming along nicely. I just harvested the first jalapeno peppers today (and I let them go entire red and cork before I harvested them too) and I think it will be a great pepper year. We even have some sweet peppers that are about ripe despite this awful heat.

The tomatoes, though, well you know how persnickety they can be about fruit set at high temps! Every time Tim and Chris take tomatoes to work I tell them to warn their co-workers that "these are the last ones" and, then, miraculously I find a whole lot more to harvest a few days later. Still, for the number of plants we have, the harvest is a disappointment. I feel bad saying that too because I know plenty of people are getting fewer tomatoes than we are.

I intend to go out to the garden later today when it cools off and harvest again, but I'm also going to start yanking any nonproducing tomato plants that are heavily infected with spider mites because right now they are just serving as a home/food crop for spider mites.

Something is changing here. For the last 3 or 4 years, it has become progressively harder every year to get a good tomato crop. It used to be fairly effortless for me, and now I have to work at it so much harder and just push, push, push to get the plants to produce. If this is the new normal.....well, it is too depressing to think about that prospect!

And, anyhow, with the rapidly climbing Keetch Byram Drought Index numbers, I'm beginning to spend a portion of each day preparing for our summer fire season. It takes a surprisingly large amount of time to run around gathering all the food, drinks and supplies needed once the fires begin, so I'm trying to stockpile stuff now. I've bagged about 300 lbs. of ice from our ice machine and have completely filled up the chest freezer at the fire department and now I'm working on filling up the freezer compartments of the fire stations' two refrigerators. At home, I'm bagging ice and putting it into any spare space I can find in our three freezers. I'm also baking and freezing cookies, buying and storing snacks and towels and such. I am afraid that shortly my attention will be diverted from gardening to firefighting, but that's OK if it happens. (And it is OK with me if it doesn't happen too!) We're also having a lot of drownings and bad vehicle accidents lately. It is almost like the heat is affecting people's brains and they are doing careless things that get them killed. I understand that, though, because if I was outside right now, my brain would be fried!

You know how we always say "this is the year of the bean" or "the year of the pepper" or whatever? Well this is "the year of the severe". Look at everything Oklahoma gardeners have had: severe cold temps, ice and snow that prevented gardeners from doing much to their garden ground in Jan. and Feb., followed by Severe Winds and Severe Wildfires in March and April, and for some people, Severely Heavy Rainfall while for others Severe Drought, followed by Severe Tornadoes and Severe Hail and Microbursts in May and even June, and now Severe Heat and Excessive Heat Danger in late June. Really, the Severe Wildfires, Severe Drought and Extreme Fire Danger have been a constant threat in some areas for many months. I've never seen so many severe things in one year....and places in other parts of the country have had severe flooding. I think this is a year we'll never forget.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Oklahoma Home Fruit Planting Guide


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Very interesting thread... I was thinking about this but could not get chance to post it... Thanks you Jo et al.

Here are my two cents on the plants not the worth to try especially in drought years. Fava beans, Cabbage, Cauliflowers, broccoli, Pokchoy, mountain spinach, corn (some extent), edamame.

I never had any success with cabbage and cauliflower so far. I am skipping them now onwards. Fave was my first time, some reason they did not produce.

Tomatoes are hit and miss year. I had excellent crop in 2009 even thought i planted only two types. somewhat okey in 2010, but this year not good.

Happy and easy grow crops (for me!) are onion, garlic, lettuce, beans, peas, eggplants, okra, peppers, luffas, tomatoes, potatoes (this year).

Most happiest crop is Lambsquarters. It is voluntary vegetable from the soil amended with ready mix brought from Kevin.It grows like crazy with out any care and watering. After I learn from you all that it is a edible. We cooked it with daal, tuned out be one of our favorite dish. We finished all that weed in couple of weeks. I shared some harvest with couple of friends they told it is very tasty green when cooked with daal or stewed with other vegetables. One of them discovered that it is very healthy vegetable and more rich in nutritional values than spinach. At the beginning I was thinking to get rid of it, now I am looking for the seeds to plant second crop. Anyone know where I can buy seeds of Lambsquarters?

OK, my TWINS are calling! they are hungry now... I need to stop here... I am sure I might have missed many threads to read... will visit later, I feel very fresh after browsing all your post in this forum whenever I get little time ... see you later.

-Chandra


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Someone mentioned trying to get tomatoes in earlier next year. Do any of you use Wall-o-Water to help keep them warm? I've used them where the ground doesn't heat up until late and it can still snow in April and May, and I've had good luck with them. I've been thinking of getting some for here.
Since we're clearly not going to get the old barn converted into a greenhouse this year, that's about the only thing I can think of that would help. That, and maybe a decent-size cold-frame where I can put seedlings out and possibly not lose them.

Pat


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Pat,
I've used Walls-o-Water successfully in the past, and every year I promise I'm going to get some more, then I don't. In the years i've had my tomatoes out on March 15, I have a great crop. However, as you read more on the forum, you'll see a trend coming from me. I'm ready, ready, ready, then when it's time, something comes up with the kids, and I'm behind, behind, behind. It's been 6 years since I got my tomatoes out that early.

Seedmama


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Chandra,

Several places offer seeds of lambsquarters (Cheopodium album). One that comes to mind is Bountiful Gardens. It is one of my favorite sources for items that are a little unusual at times, and very heat-tolerant. I'll link it below.

Normally, once you have lambsquarters, if you let just one plant go to seed, you'll have it forever.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Lambsquarters at Bountiful Gardens


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Purselane is another drought tolerant, wild, edible I just learned about. Right after I read it I went out into the garden and I have both the good purselane, and the imposter milkweed look alike. I don't have enough to actually harvest and eat yet, but I am cultivating it and allowing it to act as a ground cover and hopefully by next year (supose to be super invasive) I'll have plenty of salad greens in the summer. I'm hoping to kill two birds w/ one stone and have the purslane to eat, as well as act as a green ground cover to conserve moisture.

This is my first post to this forum, I've been reading a lot on this site, but am not as knowledgable as most of the posters.

I too did not get things in the garden early enough this year and have been struggling w/ the garden. I have not had anything that is doing exceptional, but my squash and cukes are doing pretty good. Tomatoes are still alive and vines actually look descent. But I went w/ all heirlooms this year, I haven't got one tomato yet, hoping if I can keep the plants alive until fall I'll get some then. Same w/ the peppers, only not heirloom.

Beans were horrible replanted 3 times w/o any success. Okra is coming along. Potatoes were horrible. Raspberries did well.

Getting ready to plant for fall.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Welcome, Kassaundra. Hang around here and you will get knowledgable. I had been gardening for over 50 years--I started very young--when I found this site and have learned so much, especially from Dawn and George (Macmex). They have inspired me to try heirlooms and now I'm hooked.

I found one plant of purslane in my garden this year and did not pull it up. I am determined to learn to like it, because my motto is "eat what grows well here." I didn't have any trouble learning to eat Lambsquarter because it is one of the spring greens that I was fed as a child (along with poke, wild lettuce, dock, and watercress). I have also learned to eat the wild violets in spring salads. (Johnny Jump Ups are my favorite.)

And anyone who knows me knows I also love the wild fruits, blackberry, elderberry, mulberry, passionfuit, sumac, black cherries, grape, persimmon. Unlike my grandmother I never put any of these up, (except elderberry, which I freeze) leaving the majority for the wild animals who depend on them, especially in a year like this, but can't resist nibbling on them as they ripen.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Kassaundra,

Welcome to the forum! It has been a really hard year in general for our gardens. I keep hoping enough rain will fall to give us some hope that our fall harvests will make up for the poor summer harvests, but my specific forecast isn't offering much hope. Still, even the pop-up thunderstorms that are common on summer afternoons/evenings often can drop an inch or so and that helps whichever areas are getting those showers.

Right now my garden is mostly in a lull---the early and mid-season corn are done, the bush beans are done, potatoes, leeks and onions are done, tomatoes are slowing down though still producing, peppers are producing but are slow and behind compared to most years, lettuce was great while it lasted and sugar snap peas produced poorly. Summer squash has produced so well I am tired of it, yet oddly I still would be disappointed if squash bugs or squash vine borers were to kill it.

The hot season crops are just begining to produce, so we're harvesting peppers and okra, have watermelons sizing up, cukes and muskmelons are flowering and just now beginning to set (but they went in late after potatoes came out) and the lima beans and purplehull peas are setting beans and peas now, with the harvest to follow shortly. Winter squash vines are running, but they even seem behind compared to most years.

In this strange weather year, even plants that are doing well still are performing differently than they usually do.

It was a horrible fruit year here, except the berries did well, but we had the best fruit year ever last year, so I expected the law of averages would catch up with us this year, which appears to have happened.

I am so ready for fall's cooler temps, and they are so far away.

Dawn


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

I've been giving some thought to what I will do differently next year to deal with another year like this--and last year was brutal too, 10 weeks without substantial moisture but it started later in the summer so the corn came off better.

I am going to germinate more of my seed so I KNOW I am planting viable seed. I would have gotten more bush beans this year if I had gotten a full stand instead of only half from my first planting. I replanted but those where the ones the deer got.

I am going to thin more carefully. Bush green beans will get at least 10 inches between plants. Corn will get 14-16" and Okra a good 2 feet. Their roots spread that far so don't want them competing with their neighbors for water. And tomatoes. This year there are 20 cages cheek by jowl down a 50 ft row. Next year that will be 15 tops, especially since I plant beets next to the tomatoes early.

I will not be lulled into a false sense of security by early heavy rain--we had flooding here in April--but will get the mulch on early and heavy while the rainfall is still in the ground instead of waiting and laying soaker hoses over dry ground and then mulching over them.

And even though it won't give a great deal of water, I want to buy a bunch of 55 gallon drums to line up under the north eave of the greenhouse to catch rainwater.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

I'm going to start my beans in cups from now on, unless I can find something that can control pill worms. Darn roly polys ate most of my seedlings, than the heat took the rest. I also need to plant beans a month earlier and tomatoes six weeks earlier.


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RE: Looking to make things easier re: gardening in our climate.

Tracy,

I used to have all kinds of trouble with pillbugs and sowbugs eating every single thing I planted. They'd start eating bean seedlings (and others too) as soon as they emerged from the ground and they'd eat their weight in garden produce all summer long, including munching on tomatoes, muskmelons, canteloupes, cucumbers and watermelons. I bought and used Slug-Go (iron phosphate in a pelleted form) after someone on GardenWeb mentioned that they used it for snails and slugs, but noticed after using it that their pillbug and sowbug problems went away, and so did their cutworms. After seeing many similar anecdotal reports, I bought the Slug-Go to use on sow bugs and pill bugs and found it worked wonders. I was so excited. In the meantime, these anecdotal reports reached the manufacturer and they worked to improve the Slug-Go to make it even more effective on sowbugs and pillbugs by adding spinosad, and the result was Slug-Go Plus.

In my garden, Slug-Go and Slug-Go Plus seem equally effective, as do any of the similar organic snail and slug baits that contain iron phosphate as the active ingredient. Since I started using them I simply don't have problems with roly polies at all any more, nor do I have cutworm issues. I've never had snail or slugs most likely because my clay isn't high enough in organic matter to be attractive to them, but we've always had tons of roly polies under the mulch. Now we don't.

If you can't find Slug-Go or SLug-Go Plus in local stores, they're widely available from online retailers. I buy some before the start of every season so I'll have it at planting time. Whether directly sowing seeds or transplanting, I scatter the Slug-Go Plus on the soil surface following the label directions after I've planted and watered in whatever I planted.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Sluggo Plus


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