Monday, May 15, 2017

Let the Planting Begin

The sky is blue and the winds are warm, let the planting begin.  The next week or so will be planting every thing.  It's time to start the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin seeds in the seed trays.  I like to start them and plant the plants.  I have more control over what happens to the seeds under grow lights for a while.  They will be stronger and better to with stand the real world.  And there won't be any bare spots if a few seeds don't germinate.  
The tomato cages are up and ready for planting.  This year I'm experimenting with irrigation which may become automatic.  Liter plastic bottles with holes in them are buried in the beds where tomatoes are to be planted.  One inch pipe will be feeding into half inch pipe that fills the bottles.  I haven't tested it just yet but soon.  The water will come from the mini water tower through a hose.  I still have a few minor things to work out but I'm hopeful that it will work.

This is the North half of the garden area.  It will be surrounded by a wire fence and electric wire like last year.  It worked well to keep out all vegetarian wild critters.  A couple more loads of mulch and the fencing will begin.
 This is another experiment for cucumbers and squash.  It's hard to see but there's a wire fence laying on the slanted steel posts.  The plan is to let the cucumbers climb up the wire fence and the hope is that the cucumbers will hang down under the wire fence and be easy to pick.  Under the cucumbers, squash will be planted.  The terrain of my garden promotes vine growth toward the East.  All of the direct sun comes from the East and is non existent after 4pm from the West.  The squash will be allowed to cross over the path into the second planting of sweet corn so a full 10 feet of travel will be given to the squash.  The next challenge will be the dreaded vine borer that kills all vine plants in my area of the country.  I have some ideas about that as well and I really think they will work.  My understanding about vine borers is that a fly lays an egg on the base of the squash or pumpkin vine.  When worm hatches, it bores into the vine of the plant and works it's way up the stem until the plant just wilts and dies.  Some experts say to circumvent the life cycle of the nasty little worm don't plant your vine plants until after 4th of July.  Tried that; didn't work.  So my plan this year is to plant the squash plant below the surface of the ground with a metal soup can to keep the dirt away from the leaves.  The can has both ends cut out.  As the plant grows up and out of the can and the roots grow out the bottom of the can, vermiculite will keep the stem of the plant covered.  When the plant gets big enough to expose the vine up out of the can Vaseline will be rubbed on the vine.  Some articles say that aluminum foil can be wrapped around the base of the plant and I might try that too.  I just love to figure things out and like the challenge almost as much as growing the plants .... OK, more than growing the plants. 
 Four rows of green beans have been planted but no sign of life yet.  I use grass clipping for mulch to cover the beds.  These beds have been cultivated three times before the mulch was spread out over the soil.  I've learned there are three different plants to deal with in the Spring.  The first are early Dock and some other kind of weed.  Then comes the grass type plants.  Then the nasty bind weed and vines.  So if planting is held off after the three times of cultivation and the soil is covered with a healthy covering of mulch, there are not many weeds during the rest of the year.  I don't put chemicals on my yard at home or my second vacant lot that I use just for mulch.  The secret with grass clippings is to put it on in layers.  I thick layer will turn slimy and smell but if put on in one inch layers it will dry out in a couple days and be ready for another layer if needed.  I use about six to eight yard waste bags a week from my two sources.
I've had a real problem with creeping Charlie this year.  It's a low to the ground plant that just covers every thing.  It's seems that every year it's another plague of weed.  First is was some kind of vines that seem to be all connected under the surface of the soil.  Then it was horrific infestation of bind weed.  And now the plague of Creeping Charlie.  This area will be where the green peppers will go.  Nothing seems to grow well in this bed.  I dumped some bags of compost and manure from the Menard's store and raked it in.  Last year my green pepper leaves were all wrinkly and the plants didn't get any peppers on them.  From my research, it might be a calcium deficiency.  So I'll sprinkle a little lime on top of the soil around the plant and dig in a little Epsom Salts in the bottom of the hole when I plant the green pepper plants.  Both are supposed to provide calcium to plants.  If that doesn't work I'll have to have to soil tested in this bed to see what the issue is.  
   This will be my next area to get cleaned up.  I pulled the chicken wire fence off the posts to get a good clean and will replace the wire with a better fence.  Chicken wire rusts away in just a couple years and I want some thing a little more durable.  I'm replacing the fence with a heavier gauge fencing that should last for many years.  It's a five foot fence which is a little taller than the four foot chicken wire fence.  The bottom eight inches will be bent out flat on the ground and pinned to the ground with metal tent pegs.  It keeps the rodent rascals from digging under the fence.  

So lots of work still to do and June vacation is coming up quick.  Yes, the garden will be on it's own for about 10 days in June.  I'm hoping the battery life of the electric fence will be able to last that long while I'm away or I could come back to a disaster.  It's the way of a garden.  Nature will take over when left to her own fruition.  

Happy gardening and see you in about a week.

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