2021 Garden Thread

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
718
Northwest Lower Michigan
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15f here this morning. Lost a lot of snow but still got snowbanks and frozen dirt. But these pretty little things popped up behind the house. 6 total.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
We’ve been feeling like spring down here, warm days, cold(ish) nights. I’m excited that my potatoes are growing some nice foliage, and more asparagus is popping up.

I have a question for fruit tree growers. @begreen, @EatenByLimestone, I’d be grateful for advice about my peach. We’ve been gradually cutting off overgrown and unproductive branches on this tree, and it has produced some nice new growth over the years. Unfortunately a lot of that new growth was in full bloom when the big freeze hit Texas. We figured we’d lose the crop, of course, but we’re wondering if the branches themselves are lost now. Thankfully there’s a lot of new growth sprouting on the plant, but I have questions about how to handle the tips.

It’s a little hard to capture images of what I’m seeing, but here are a couple. The first shows some green growth coming out beneath what I think is a freeze-damaged tip. The second is a long branch we had been encouraging, and the whole branch looks dead. There is new growth where the branch joins the much older branch at the bottom, but when I scratch the young branch there is no green showing. I’m content to wait things out and leave the tree alone, but if I need to cut off the apparent damage for the good of the tree, I’ll certainly do it. I’m just not quite sure what the best approach is. I’ve googled dealing with freeze damage on peaches, but the advice isn’t quite tailored to my situation, so I was hoping one of you could give me some succinct practical advice. I’d be grateful.
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In very exciting news, I found the tiniest bit of growth on our large satsuma mandarin. We had hoped that our protection had saved the trunk at least, but it’s so nice to see some confirmation of life, albeit tiny. We have two other young citrus trees that may be goners, but we’re watching. We’re hoping that our olives will come back from the roots.

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EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
If the scratch doesn't show any green, I don't see how it'd be alive. I'd find an inconspicuous branch and cut a piece that appears dead off. Might as well make sure. If the piece is dead, it's not going to hurt the tree, and if the tree is alive, hard pruning doesn't hurt it either.

I still have to scalp mine for the year. It always amazes me how destroyed it looks after a trimming, and then the next trimming, I'm cutting off inch and a half thick suckers.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
If the scratch doesn't show any green, I don't see how it'd be alive. I'd find an inconspicuous branch and cut a piece that appears dead off. Might as well make sure. If the piece is dead, it's not going to hurt the tree, and if the tree is alive, hard pruning doesn't hurt it either.

I still have to scalp mine for the year. It always amazes me how destroyed it looks after a trimming, and then the next trimming, I'm cutting off inch and a half thick suckers.
Thanks for the reply.

The tree itself is definitely alive. It’s just that every single branch has freeze damage. Some is just the tips. Others it’s pretty much the whole thing. When I read guidance about pruning, the articles stress that I should prune damaged branches all the way back to the start of the branch. If I did that on all the damaged branches, I’d have nothing left, so I can’t do that. I figure the next few weeks will show us a lot as sunlight and warmth are increasing so rapidly down here.

I’m hoping to see some growth on the cherry tree soon. It was farther along than the peach tree before the storm, and I didn’t expect it to be harmed other than crop loss (which we don’t get anyway), but it hasn’t shown signs of new growth yet, so it is making me wonder.

Happily three of our four young pomegranates are leafing out. The one that isn’t yet is closest to the north side of the house and gets less sun, but it is also the only one that had its freeze protection blow completely off during the high winds and snow. I’m hopeful that it will leaf out on existing growth soon, but it might also put up from roots if it needs to. I’m needing to exercise a lot of patience these days.

I’m also exercising patience with my tomatoes. Some have shot up to over a foot tall, but the forecast for next weekend shows some cool nights. I’d like to plant them in the garden, but I also like temperatures to be a bit warmer when they make the transition, so I might have to wait on that, too. We’ll see.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Its a tough time to plant stuff. I planted in a warm spell last year and had a cold snap. I had clear totes and such over the plants, but each day they were doing a bit worse and finally I gave up saving them. The replanting went fine afterwords, lol.

All you can do is hang in there and wait until warmer weather. With the tomatoes so tall, you can really plant them deep to get a great root system!
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
I definitely have a range of tomato sizes. Some were started earlier than others, and I have a couple of dwarf varieties. I took a few out of the tray to grab a photo.

The tall one is a determinate slicer called Big League that I tried last fall and worked pretty well for me. The flavor wasn’t the best, but they were maturing in November, so I want to see how a spring planting does. That plant has shot up to 15 inches recently.

The medium sized one is another determinate called Rio Grande that is supposed to be good for sauce and take the heat. We’ll see.

The tiny one is a dwarf elongated cherry called Maglia Rosa. It apparently can do well in containers, and so I’m interested in trying it out in more shaded conditions that my regular garden. Now that our front porch is gated for deer I’m thinking of seeing how crops do there since it’s an eastern exposure. (The tiny seedling was only planted about two weeks ago, and the reports are that the leaves are quite wispy, so I think it’s healthy, just small and scraggly by nature.)

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When I was putting the tomatoes back in their regular spots on the plant cart, I noticed that the Rio Grande has the start of a flower bud. I came in and checked the weather forecast, and it’s looking good right now for a Saturday planting date. I hope the forecast doesn’t change. (It’s been changing a lot.). I think for the really tall ones I’ll try trenching them along side their ollas and bringing them up near the trellis.

On a different note, here was a “harvest” of sorts today. The garlic was from last summer, and these were the runts of the litter, so to speak. I figured that we’d better use them up, and spaghetti sauce was the menu for lunch. The brown leaves are freeze damaged bay from our young tree (overall, the tree is fine), but I figured they could still add flavor by simmering in the sauce. The jalapeños we started last November inside. They’ve been moving in and out in recent weeks because they grew too tall for lights, and I needed the area for seed starting. The bright green leaves are some abundant new growth on a large Mexican Oregano (poliomintha longiflora) that stayed in mostly decent shape during the recent freeze because of its shelter near the western foundation of our house. The one on the opposite side froze to the ground, but I think it will come back.
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It’s sunny and supposed to go up to 74 today. I definitely have spring fever.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
I thought I’d repeat my offer of sending a sample of free Agi Red Artisan Tomato Seeds (an indeterminate saladette/large cherry hybrid) to gardeners who would like to try them. I have more than I will use in my small garden and am happy to share. (I got a free one-hundred pack when I ordered the Maglia Rosa seeds I mentioned above. I was quite surprised since the breeder sent me more free seeds than seeds I had actually purchased.)
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
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Those were my potatoes on Monday, the day before the hail storm. Actually, though it was loud, there was very little damage. The potatoes are twice as big now, I think, and yesterday and today my husband and I buried them in decayed mulch and topped that with fresher wood chips. We got a bit of a late start on planting, so we’ll need to keep soil temperatures down later in the spring.

The next shot is my Crawford lettuce that volunteered in December. I buried it in leaves for the winter storm, and most of it survived. We had a nice salad from it on Friday. I have another patch of younger starts that is growing in nicely (after the cutworms got it at first).

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The forecast has changed again for the coming week, so I’ve decided to keep the tomatoes out of the ground for now. A forecast of several nights around 40 was too much for me, especially as revisions to the forecast are trending cooler. The plants can wait a week (I hope). This will be late for me, and it can be a rush to beat the heat when fruits are maturing.

My Chinese cabbage turned up with aphids, and they spread to my largest fish pepper. The Chinese cabbage got neem oil sprayed underneath its leaves and on the soil. The fish pepper isn’t in the ground, so it has had several rinses upside down under a faucet. My plants are more spread out now to see if that will control the spread. Thankfully I caught them when it was really just a few plants, and things look much better now.
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clancey

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2021
331
Colorado
Not much at gardening but the pictures are cool...What are those clay round things in the soil in the potato area and those little green sprouts are they the little potato leaves, or just weeds?...clancey....
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
Not much at gardening but the pictures are cool...What are those clay round things in the soil in the potato area and those little green sprouts are they the little potato leaves, or just weeds?...clancey....
Those are pot saucers acting as lids for some clay pots buried in my raised beds. They help keep the soil moist underneath surface. We live in an arid climate (as you understand) with hot sun, and they’re kind of like my backup for keeping my plants alive. The plants will actually grow their roots around them. It’s fascinating at the end of the season to pull them up and see huge mats of roots on them.

I wrote my about it on last year’s thread, so I’ll try to link that here.


The green is the potato leaves. We planted seed potatoes at the end of February, and they’re all up now, though a couple are still small. I hope they’ll do well for us. I‘ve never tried to grow potatoes in Texas before.
 

clancey

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2021
331
Colorado
Thanks for the previous thread and tomorrow I will do some reading on it when I get time...Potato's were very important to my family and I am just very curious on how to grow them..I thought maybe you just took one of those eyes and planted them in the soil but I will read the previous thread you brought up when I get time tomorrow and get back with you if I find something that interest me..Thanks clancey.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
Thanks for the previous thread and tomorrow I will do some reading on it when I get time...Potato's were very important to my family and I am just very curious on how to grow them..I thought maybe you just took one of those eyes and planted them in the soil but I will read the previous thread you brought up when I get time tomorrow and get back with you if I find something that interest me..Thanks clancey.
The previous thread was about my watering system, and it applies to my whole garden, not specifically to the potatoes. (It actually makes the underground more crowded for tuber growth, but I need them to maintain moisture.)

Potatoes are most commonly grown not from seeds but from “seed potatoes”—yes, it’s just a potato with eyes planted in the soil. The new potatoes grow above that seed, and you have to keep them covered to protect the potatoes from sunlight.

Potatoes do produce abundant foliage. The green leaves are how they photosynthesize to make their food, which is then stored underground in the tubers that we eat. The plants should actually blossom, and they even can produce fruits which look like mini tomatoes, but they’re poisonous. Potatoes and tomatoes are actually relatives.

I don’t know how my potatoes will do here in Texas. It’s a completely different environment from what I‘m used to, and heat and drought complicated gardening. Potatoes aren’t that difficult a crop, though. You could start a few in a large container or even an old tire sitting on the ground. The key is having room to fill it as the plant grows, but some of what you read on the internet about building up and up and up and producing endless potatoes from one seed seems exaggerated. Moderate height is reasonable.

I went out and took a picture of my bigger mulched potato plants. It’s amazing how much they grew this week.

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We’re having some really high winds right now. It has blown all sorts of things over outside. I’m really glad the potatoes got mulched yesterday, and that we drove in spikes around the asparagus bed and put up twine to keep the ferns more upright.
 

clancey

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2021
331
Colorado
They seem to be happy potato's and growing and I can't wait until you get a potato and I never saw one grow from scratch and this is interesting...I like the picture as well.. Its really windy here right now and had to open up my gate and I hope your area is not too bad because of the baby plantings you have....thanks...did not read the other thread yet---lazy I am...clancey
 

clancey

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2021
331
Colorado
Decent article about the Olla"s and never imagined such a thing and for me I think I would just do it the old way even though the Olla's are much better for the plants and they save water as well...Interesting thanks..clancey
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,146
South Puget Sound, WA
The peas are in and coping with the cool spring weather. I have some lettuce started and spinach, but all would like the temps to come up 5 degrees.
 

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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
The peas are in and coping with the cool spring weather. I have some lettuce started and spinach, but all would like the temps to come up 5 degrees.
Very nice. What are your temperatures like these days?

We’ve had a cooler than average week this week, but it’s warming up tomorrow night, so I do plan to plant out my tomatoes tomorrow. The extended April forecast for our area looks like most daytime temperatures will be in the 80’s (a few 70 in the early part of the month, but I also saw a spike above 90 this week) with nights in the high 50’s rising to 60’s.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,146
South Puget Sound, WA
We are in the 30s to low 40s at night and 50-60 during nicer days. A cold front coming through tomorrow will put us back in the low side of temps for a couple of days. I put a couple of broccoli plants out as a test. The rest are still in the greenhouse.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
That does seem cool, more like our winter temperatures, but we’re in a very different heat zone, of course. Does La Niña make your area cooler?

I lost my last broccoli seedling that I was hardening off. Between the freeze and the sun, I don’t think I’ll have many brassicas this spring. There is one cabbage holding on in the garden, but I’m not optimistic. I’m more pleased with the Chinese cabbage that I put in a planter a while back. (They were getting root bound, but the night temperatures were still too cool, so I had to put them in something I could move inside.) I did plant daikon seeds as well in hopes of making some kimchi. So far only two have sprouted.

I did successfully plant out tomatoes today. Thunder woke me this morning, and it continued until after noon. (Lots of thunder but only a quarter inch of rain.) That changed the schedule for the day, but the soil was still workable (even dry), and I wanted to get those tomatoes out. Some were getting quite large.

Here’s an example of one plant that I put in using the “trench method.” I took off the lower leaves, buried the roots deeply, and then buried the stripped stem on an upward angle and let the top come out near where I want the plant to grow. Some of the smaller plants got the more traditional deep burying, but I thought that if I could encourage more roots near the ollas, it would help with giving the plant moisture. We’ll see how they do.
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These two beds hold about half of my tomatoes. It’s nice having more room to plant more plants, but I may be regretting it when it heats up, and I’m watering all this space, especially if our drought continues or worsens. (I know it’s still a very small garden compared to many of you.)

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I also put some pole bean seeds in the ground and transplanted some mint, roselle, and artichokes. I’ve still got peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and sweet potatoes waiting in the wings. I’m waiting for a bit more heat for them. This week may provide it.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,146
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, they say that La Nina is keeping a persistent high-pressure system off the coast that is responsible for our cooler spring. Got up to 64 today!! I was outside waking up beds, fertilizing, planting, and starting a new bed. Planted potatoes, more peas, onions.

Your garden looks great. We are a month away from tomatoes and zucchini in the ground.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
La Niña tends to bring this area warmer, dryer winters. It had been mild till February’s freeze, and it has mostly been mild since then. This coming week is the first one where it’s going to be downright hot, so I’m glad to have my tomatoes in the ground in advance of that. As I was watching the forecast creep hotter, I was thinking it might be time already to move my lettuce planter to more shade. This coming week is an anomaly, though, and we shouldn’t have nineties after that for a while.

I don’t have any zucchini in the ground yet, and in fact I’ve had trouble germinating my zucchini this spring. I have only one seedling hardening off, a second that has cotyledons, and two that might grow into something. I had trouble last fall as well with these seeds as well as with a variety of pumpkin, and I attributed it to my difficulties with in-ground sowing during heat and drought. Now that the remainder of the pack has been pretty poor with my inside seed-starting, I have to think that the seeds were not so good. I haven’t tried the pumpkins again, but I’ll need to get to them soon. They were new seeds last summer, but the shipping was delayed for weeks somewhere between the seed company and my home. Who knows what conditions they experienced?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,146
South Puget Sound, WA
Sounds like it will be good to try a different variety of zukes. I stopped starting zucchinis years ago. We only need 2 plants to have them coming out of our ears so buy them now from a local farmer. One green and one yellow. Maybe enquire at the local farmer's market and ask what varieties grow best in your region.

I'm making progress with the garden beds. I got 3 more prepped and the potatoes and onions planted. The new bed walls are now up and today we will start filling it with soil.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
Sounds like it will be good to try a different variety of zukes. I stopped starting zucchinis years ago. We only need 2 plants to have them coming out of our ears so buy them now from a local farmer. One green and one yellow. Maybe enquire at the local farmer's market and ask what varieties grow best in your region.

I'm making progress with the garden beds. I got 3 more prepped and the potatoes and onions planted. The new bed walls are now up and today we will start filling it with soil.

New bed? Are you expanding your beautiful garden? How much space do you have? How much will you add? Pictures?

I have already ordered and received different zucchini seeds from a different company, but I haven’t started any. I’m only aiming for four seedlings, and I may get those with the current batch. The ironic thing was that I was particularly seeking out seeds for a variety recommended by our local extension agent for fall growing, and I couldn’t find it locally, so I ordered it. I’m hoping to have zucchini coming out my ears, but I haven’t managed so far.

In my pursuit of summer squash, I’m also going to see if I can grow chayote/choko/mirliton/christophine on a huge arched trellis that’s not part of my vegetable garden. It used to have passion flower vines, but I’m not optimistic that they survived the big freeze. I have a couple fruits on my counter now, just waiting for the heat this week to warm the spot for planting them.

I love Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They’re located near where I grew up, and they have great articles. I was just reviewing their sweet potato advice this weekend. Reading their stuff always makes me homesick, though. Last year when I was searching for a particular variety of lettuce recommended by the local extension service for my area of Texas, they were one of the very few places where I could actually find seeds. That lettuce has done really well for me this winter.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,146
South Puget Sound, WA
New bed? Are you expanding your beautiful garden? How much space do you have? How much will you add? Pictures?
We have a couple acres, but a lot is sloped to the north. Not ideal for gardening. The new bed is raised and made with cement blocks. It is in one of the sunniest areas that was just grass, so it made sense to put it to better use. This will allow us to grow some more heat lovers. This year it will have some zucchinis, canteloupe, peppers, and eggplant in it. It's 16 ft long and has 64 planting holes on the perimeter. These will be planted with some carrots, onions, beets and flowers this year.

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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
832
Texas
We have a couple acres, but a lot is sloped to the north. Not ideal for gardening. The new bed is raised and made with cement blocks. It is in one of the sunniest areas that was just grass, so it made sense to put it to better use. This will allow us to grow some more heat lovers. This year it will have some zucchinis, canteloupe, peppers, and eggplant in it. It's 16 ft long and has 64 planting holes on the perimeter. These will be planted with some carrots, onions, beets and flowers this year.

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I like it, begreen. Will you run drip irrigation to it? Is that gate in the background part of deer fencing that will protect it?

I built a small cinderblock bed this spring. It has 30 holes, and so far I’ve only filled three. I have mint in two and oregano in one. I have more herbs sprouting, including thyme and za’atar (a Syrian oregano), as well as some lavender. I don’t think I’ll fill all the holes this spring, but I have thought that they would be a great place for leeks or onions in the winter.