2020 Garden Thread

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
My wife is inquiring about the buckets with the beige lids. She is asking if they are for watering the garden.
Your wife hit the nail on the head, Spacebus. The biggest drawback to raised beds for us is the propensity to dry out, and in the Texas sun in summer that can happen pretty quickly. Begreen inquired about them earlier, so go back to post #165 in this thread, and you’ll find more explanation and an article I linked about clay pot irrigation. A drip irrigation system would be easier, but we thought this was better given our climate and water situation.


I thought you all might be amused by the addition I made to our garden today. My husband helped me move some self-watering planters off our deck into the garden area so that I could transplant some rooted tomato suckers into them. I was too hot working in the garden and didn’t want the plants to suffer in the bright sunshine, so I pulled out the two beach umbrellas we own.
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While I was out there, I took a picture of the big trellis. My older daughter wants us to build another set of beds like this just so that we can have another arch.

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begreen

Mooderator
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Nov 18, 2005
82,667
South Puget Sound, WA
I think I am going to look into making a trellis like that between beds. It would liberate some growing space. Right now I am still using pvc "towers" I made years ago. This is also how I support the bird netting over the blueberry bed.

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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,810
SW Virginia
This is also how I support the bird netting over the blueberry bed.
I've been thinking about something similar. We lose almost all of our blueberries to birds. I'm concerned about catching birds in the netting. Has that been a problem?
 

begreen

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Nov 18, 2005
82,667
South Puget Sound, WA
I've been thinking about something similar. We lose almost all of our blueberries to birds. I'm concerned about catching birds in the netting. Has that been a problem?
The netting needs to be seamless and well anchored. Otherwise, some birds will wrangle their way in and inevitably get trapped. I have 2x3s along the perimeter of the netting tent to hold it down and prevent sneaky intrusion. With this setup I have not had issues.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,211
Downeast Maine
Must be good blueberries if your birds are taking all of them. We are pretty sure next summer our chickens will eat all of ours since they are wild and just grow in our "yard".
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
In Virginia we arched black polypipe over rebar and netted our blueberries that way. I think I did have to free a bird one time. It worked, but it was something of a pain to work with at harvest time. We never secured a board at the bottom as Begreen suggested, and I think that would have helped.

When we moved to Texas and started to grow blueberries (necessarily in pots because of our high alkalinity caliche), I asked my husband for a different solution. He built me what we now just refer to as “the cube,” a 2x4 structure with a door that is netted on 5 sides. It has worked really well for us, and I’ve never seen a bird get inside. The biggest advantage for us is that I need to water my blueberries fairly regularly because they are potted, and it‘s lovely to be able to walk into the area and never have to worry about unsecuring or resecuring netting.

This is a picture I took last year when we had newly relocated the blueberries (and added a couple varieties). I was surprised looking back to see how much smaller the plants were then.

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begreen

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Nov 18, 2005
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South Puget Sound, WA
In Virginia we arched black polypipe over rebar and netted our blueberries that way. I think I did have to free a bird one time. It worked, but it was something of a pain to work with at harvest time. We never secured a board at the bottom as Begreen suggested, and I think that would have helped.
That is how we protect the strawberries. Our blueberry plants are too tall for the arched poly to work. The arches also get called into duty for row cover ribs in cool weather.
 
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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
That is how we protect the strawberries. Our blueberry plants are too tall for the arched poly to work. The arches also get called into duty for row cover ribs in cool weather.

The height of the potted blueberries was one reason I didn’t want to go the polypipe arch route again down here. We were able to use the rebar and piping to make the supports for the frost cloth that we occasionally put around our young Meyer Lemon Bushes and Persian Lime Tree. Our hope is that by the time they outgrow their ribbing that they will be strong enough to withstand the occasional freezes we get.
 
Jun 8, 2020
20
Craig County, VA
I'm in Virginia and have planted more than a month early the last 3 years without a problem. This year was different. We lost some tomatoes and peppers to a frost around Mother's day, the usual last frost date. It's a real pain because I'll give any plant a chance is if shows signs of life. This just means we'll be harvesting later than we have the last several years.
I too live in southwest VA and know what you mean. We moved to our current location late last summer and the climate is totally different that where we used to live. It is generally 8-10 degrees colder than in the Roanoke area. My soil was usually warm enough in March to plant out early season stuff and I usually planted out everything else in early April. I knew I had to wait this year though and sure enough, we had a hard freeze in early May and another heavy frost a few weeks later for two consecutive nights. I was fortunate not to lose anything. I had purchased many plants and had to just keep hauling them in and out of the house.
 

begreen

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Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,667
South Puget Sound, WA
We have had a cooler, more normal spring too. My peppers and eggplants are eagerly waiting for the soil to warm up. Looks like all the heat went up to the arctic this year, where we don't want it. Places were 36º above normal there.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
We had quite a warm end of winter down here in Texas, and spring feels like summer to me, but that might be normal here. Unfortunately we’re having a dry spell right now. More of my tomatoes are starting to ripen. We had a few in a cucumber salad for dinner tonight after a long day of work in the garden.

In the winter we finished expanding our fenced area around our garden beds so that we could build a new bed for asparagus and subsequently add others. This morning we made our final plans on sizing and spacing, and this evening we started building. It will take us some time, but we hope to have four new beds to complete the fenced area. It will be a bit crowded but workable and protected from deer, I hope. (A deer got through a gate in our backyard this morning and managed to find a tomato branch I had been rooting in a pot under my peach tree. It got almost completely eaten, but it has some growth, and I’m sure it has rooted, so I’ll just leave it be for a while.)

Amazingly enough, while @begreen is waiting for his soil to warm to transplant eggplants, I’m making plans to start some seeds for fall crops in the near future. It’s recommended to transplant eggplants by mid July here.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,667
South Puget Sound, WA
Amazingly enough, while @begreen is waiting for his soil to warm to transplant eggplants, I’m making plans to start some seeds for fall crops in the near future. It’s recommended to transplant eggplants by mid July here.
Rub it in. Texas has 3 growing seasons.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,810
SW Virginia
Rub it in. Texas has 3 growing seasons.
Yeah, "almost summer", "summer", and "still summer".
I remember well after living there for more than 20 years.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,211
Downeast Maine
We are filling the sunniest room in the house with our seedlings. The peas will probably be ready to go out soon and after more than two weeks the Swiss Chard has finally germinated and sprouted. It won't be long until we start planting stuff outside.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
Rub it in. Texas has 3 growing seasons.
Now if only I could learn how to take best advantage of them to produce anything like what you manage, then I’ll have accomplished something.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
We are filling the sunniest room in the house with our seedlings. The peas will probably be ready to go out soon and after more than two weeks the Swiss Chard has finally germinated and sprouted. It won't be long until we start planting stuff outside.
Good job, Spacebus. I love watching plants grow from seed. I’d love to see some pictures of your seedlings and your garden area if you have a chance to take some.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,211
Downeast Maine
Good job, Spacebus. I love watching plants grow from seed. I’d love to see some pictures of your seedlings and your garden area if you have a chance to take some.
I'll grab some pics tomorrow in the sunlight. The previous owners neglected to put a light fixture in that room.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,328
Schenectady, NY
The garden is basicly in. I was going to plant some beans a second crop in a potato space and call it in. Then I got an email for low priced, get rid of inventory San Marzano tomato plantlets. I picked up 8 of them. I was weak! And there was a little space for them. So I had to weed a spot and I'll throw down some mulch in anticipation of their arrival.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
I was cooking a potato dish today, and the last potato in the bag was pretty well sprouted. I have it sitting on my counter now because I’m considering planting it. I have a huge pot that is only partially filled with soil. It would be easy to start it off there. It would be a bit early for a fall crop according to the charts of when to plant. Is it a problem to plant potatoes a few weeks early? It will just be hotter later in the summer.

If I do try for potatoes in my pot, I’ll have to rig up some kind of deer protection. We moved what had been there when we planted our olives in the ground this spring. I can’t imagine that deer would leave anything alone if I don’t protect it. They still manage to get what I do protect.


A couple of days ago I discovered one of my tomatoes partially uprooted. As I was replanting and staking, I realized that a good chunk of the plant had been eaten (including four or five green tomatoes). I realized that my husband and I had moved the planter a bit, and the plant had been growing toward the fence. A deer must have been able to use one of the four inch holes to nose in, grab the plant, and chow down. After I made some adjustments, my daughter went out and found the deer outside the garden fence trying and failing to get to it again. The plant looks like it is recovering, but sadly it was a determinate variety, and I had been looking forward to those tomatoes ripening.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,667
South Puget Sound, WA
Might be time for some venison stew in which to use those tomatoes.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
Might be time for some venison stew in which to use those tomatoes.
We actually love venison stew. It’s one of my kids’ favorites. It was always what Grandma served us for dinner when we would arrive for a visit. She also used to give us canned venison to take home for our own stews. Alas, we live too far away now to enjoy that.

The particular deer I suspect of the theft is a doe with a fawn who has been spending a lot of time in that area of the property, and we can’t hunt on our land anyway. I’m afraid that the population of deer is quite high here, and some of the neighbors intentionally feed them. I do so only unintentionally. I was quite shocked to discover the other day that a potted Christmas cactus had been devoured. I really hadn’t expected a cactus to be in danger. If only they’d eat the horehound, thistles, and prickly pear instead.

It was a day of hard work in the garden. The four new beds are all built and in place, and we managed to put one twenty foot utility panel on t-posts to serve as a trellis. We had two such panels on the property when we moved in, and part of the new garden design was to take advantage of such sturdy trellis material. There was also a lot of cardboard laying and mulch raking. It was a lot of work, especially in 92 degree heat, and we haven’t even started to fill the beds. It’s a good thing we’ve got time.

My seven year old took a few pictures in the garden today. She especially enjoys close-ups, and I thought they were pretty fun to look at. It’s the beginning of a corn tassel, sweet million tomatoes getting ripe, and a tiny baby butternut squash behind the flower.
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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
I've been thinking about something similar. We lose almost all of our blueberries to birds. I'm concerned about catching birds in the netting. Has that been a problem?
I was thinking about the question of birds in the blueberry netting this week as I was freeing butterflies. Our blueberry cube is located near a large trellis where we have a number of passionflower vines growing. Passionflowers are a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly, and we see numerous butterflies and caterpillars on our plants. This year, it seems, some of the caterpillars decided that crawling off to the blueberry cube to pupate would be ideal. I’ve had three or four emerge in the past week. Sunday morning I noticed one that was still finishing drying, so I decided to try to for a few pictures while I kept the door open to the cube to help it out. It did eventually leave, but only after three other butterflies had actually flown into and out of the cube through the open door. Thankfully the cube is near a window by which we sit frequently, and it’s easy to notice if there’s a fluttering butterfly inside.


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While I was hanging out in the cube, I also noticed a little frog on one of the blueberries. These frogs are also all over our garden. My four year old loves them and sits down and tells them stories sometimes.

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Our cucumbers have really slowed down in recent weeks. Tomatoes are ripening. We’ve picked a couple of peppers, but I think tomorrow and the next day will be a big harvest of small peppers. These are “lunchbox” peppers that I started in January of 2019. I dug them up last fall (with several other plants), and these are the two that survived the winter in the garage. I moved them outside when temperatures were warm enough. They were pretty scraggly then and desperate for more sun, but they have really filled out and done well. I think I’m going to try to do some more overwintering this year.

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,667
South Puget Sound, WA
Year-round peppers! That's awesome. Sounds like you might be able to start a new fall crop of cucumbers now too.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
580
Texas
You make it sound more impressive than it really was. We did get a few peppers that colored up over the winter, but there really wasn’t enough sun for the plants to do well (and I might have forgotten to water them at times). The good news is that two plants lived, and they really did take off when we got them back to good sunshine and warmth. I’ve never seen my plants so loaded with peppers.

It has been a busy garden week this week and was very busy today. We had earlier gotten the beds all built for the new space, and we’ve been slowly moving organic matter and soil. Today was the last of that for now. There are four new beds, but we’ve really only finished filling three. The fourth has container plants that we had put in the garden and we decided to put them inside an empty bed for now. We’ll fill it when those plants are done for the season.

We installed the arched cattle panel trellis that my daughter wanted, so she got to help do that hard work. We also put shade cloth over the plants to try to keep the soil temperatures cooler for the tomatoes. They’ve been handling the heat well, but it will be picking up, and the bright sunshine is just too much. I probably should have done it earlier, but I didn’t want to shade the okra. I had hoped that it would grow and provide shade itself, but though it looks healthy, it’s still quite short. I decided that it will have to make due, and the tomatoes need shade going forward.

Here’s the newly expanded garden, and a view of the empty bed that’s filled with containers. This more than doubles our garden space for annuals, and we’ll be able to plant some fall crops without having to remove the summer plants that are still producing. I have tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and sweet potato slips hardening off right now. Next I’ll work on starting cucumbers.

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begreen

Mooderator
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Nov 18, 2005
82,667
South Puget Sound, WA
First tomato almost ready to pick in the greenhouse. There are small green tomatoes outside. We've started getting a steady stream of cukes and zukes in spite of a cool start to summer. Early blueberries are turning blue too.

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