2021 Garden Thread

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
857
Texas
Do you have any squirrels? clancey
I do. Too many. Last year we started trapping them because they were stealing tomatoes and fruit, and something chewed electrical wiring in our back yard as well. We quit trapping over the winter, but I think we’ll have to pick back up again. These holes were pretty big. I think an armadillo was probably digging for grubs or skink eggs. It was the typical cone-shaped armadillo hole, and there was a lot of earth moved.

In between thunderstorms today, my husband and I went out and checked on the garden. No new holes. We also added some new zip ties to secure our deer fence to our rabbit fence in more places, and made the poly mesh on the outside more secure as well. An armadillo could dig under the fence, but I didn’t see any spot where that had happened. I’m not sure if this one climbed the rabbit fence and slipped through a gap or pushed in at the gate or what.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
857
Texas
My tomatoes starts got hammered, I think by the weather. I'm hoping they make it. I never have the luck I want with tomato seeds.
Was it sun, cold, wind, rain?

I know if I push hardening off, I can easily lose seedlings. What do you think went wrong?

You still have, what, four or six weeks till you can plant out? Can you start some more?
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
probably a combination of cold and rain. Its a fight with them. I want to get them in the sun, but its still a bit cool. Keep them inside too long and they get leggy. I've tried raising them in high containers and filling them up around the plant as it gets leggy. That works OK, but isn't really ideal.

I need to build a light setup like was posted above. I lost the room id do it in to my wife for her office. She's been home since last March.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I'm hoping they recover. I've had volunteer tomatoes pop up multiple years, I guess I can thank the squirrels for that. They just seem so finicky.
 

clancey

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2021
415
Colorado
Thought I share this with your gardeners.. I have so many boulders in my driveway right now needing to be taken away I found this idea.
Sorry about the double picture but I just thought it was neat to have a garden in...clancey
1619939762433.png 1619939763777.png
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,290
South Puget Sound, WA
I'm hoping they recover. I've had volunteer tomatoes pop up multiple years, I guess I can thank the squirrels for that. They just seem so finicky.
Sorry about the tomatoes Matt. I hope they recover. Maybe cloche them or create a temporary tent out of remay to protect them from the elements for a couple of weeks? Some folks use water walls to create a locally warmer environment. We did that for a while several years back.

We get volunteer tomatoes almost every year. I just pull them. They typically will survive in the compost or sometimes just on the ground. I pull them because I have no idea of their heritage. If they are from a hybrid then they could turn out undesirable.

Is that an artichoke in the background? If so, what kind of harvests do you get?
Yes, it is a purple artichoke in a large tub. My wife asked for it, but last year she never harvested the chokes and they went to flower. It looked more like a cardoon than an artichoke at that point.

Squash plants are now in the ground. Looking ok. The two experimental cukes are weathering outside for 2 weeks now, but I can tell they want the soil to warm up more. I transplanted my other greenhouse cukes into larger 6" pots and will wait another week or two before putting them in the ground. They are over 18" tall at this point and needed to be staked.
 
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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
857
Texas
I need to build a light setup like was posted above. I lost the room id do it in to my wife for her office. She's been home since last March.
We could do what we do when people are looking to install a stove: ask for a floor plan and pick a great spot for a grow light set up.

Even with good lights, my plants seem happier when they get outside. I have the opposite problem, though, in that the sun can burn them up at the beginning if I’m not careful. This year I actually moved an old plastic doghouse that was left behind by previous owners up to my deck and would put some plants inside it for their first exposure to outside. I take hardening off very slowly these days (weeks), but I’m home during the day, so that is easier than for someone who isn’t. I do get tired of moving plants in and out, though. I like it much better when they can go in the ground.

I hope your seedlings bounce back. If some do and others don’t, though, you could take some cuttings of the stronger ones and root them to increase your numbers.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Yeah, I imagine tomato suckers would root quickly and easily. I have a jar of hormodin 1 that could help it along.

I got home last night and found munching in my broccoli. I think I found where they (bunnies I think) got in. I can't catch a break this year! Broccoli should be fine though. They'd been in for a couple weeks and should be well rooted.

It looks like I should be fine. There are enough plants that still look healthy. There are enough zucchini, squashes, and cokes to keep me busy otherwise.
 

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clancey

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2021
415
Colorado
Now I know this is a stupid suggestion but had to ask anyway...Why not put hard wire around your garden so that the critters can't get in as well as a sort of screening material that you can put on top to keep the sun from burning up the little plants.? I do not garden but wonder why you are not attempting to solve the problem of moving plants in and out because of some hardening or something...
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
There is ac2 foot high fence that usually discourages things. Every once in a while they will find or make their way under it.

You never win against nature long term. But you do get a win here and there.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
857
Texas
There is ac2 foot high fence that usually discourages things. Every once in a while they will find or make their way under it.

You never win against nature long term. But you do get a win here and there.
Right now I’m losing against the armadillo(s). I spent yesterday morning repairing damage, and we relocated the traps to what we though might be an entry point. This morning was worse.

There was digging in my tomato bed. I think the tomatoes will be fine, but it completely uprooted my young cilantro.
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This was the second morning that my onion/cucumber/pepper bed got dug up. I think I’m going to lose definitely one, probably two, possibly three of my four hybrid cucumber plants. I’m sad because these were my last four seeds of my favorite variety.
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The sweet potatoes are a regular target. They have handled it, but I don’t think that they (or I) can take much more.
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We think the armadillos can slip through the 4 x 4 square holes at the top of our rabbit fencing before the deer fencing starts. We’re going to work to remove one set of fencing and replace it with another. (Meanwhile we have two traps baited with huge grubs, but so far our trappping hasn’t been successful.)

In happy news, my zucchini is starting to produce female flowers. I’m hand pollinating, and hope the squash will grow. If an armadillo uproots my beautiful plants that survived our recent hail (we got a storm Monday, but just the very edge. It split in two and went north and south of us.), I’ll be pretty upset.

@EatenByLimestone, how are your tomato seedlings doing?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,290
South Puget Sound, WA
That's a bummer. Have you tried a basic, low wire electric fence? I am surprised that you are able to grow cilantro. That is a cool weather plant for us. As soon as summer's heat kicks in it wants to bolt.

Got the corn started today. It's been soaking to sprout for 2 days, now it's in small flats. Hope to plant it in 2 weeks.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Can you lay a screen of 1/2" hardware cloth over the existing fence? A zip tie every so often might be enough to hold it up.

The tomato plants are pretty unchanged. I have really small real leaves on them, but its slow going. Its supposed to get down in the 30s tonight again. The weather is brutal this year.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
857
Texas
That's a bummer. Have you tried a basic, low wire electric fence? I am surprised that you are able to grow cilantro. That is a cool weather plant for us. As soon as summer's heat kicks in it wants to bolt.

Got the corn started today. It's been soaking to sprout for 2 days, now it's in small flats. Hope to plant it in 2 weeks.
It is a bummer. I’m particularly bummed about the cucumbers, but I’m also worried about what else it might damage in the future. It’s been in the asparagus bed a bit, but thankfully hasn’t dug much, but we really want to keep it out. We couldn’t do major fence work tonight as it was too dark, but we surrounded the entire garden with new fencing and moved some poly mesh to try to add an extra barrier. We’ll see what happens tonight.

We haven’t tried an electric fence. We don’t have electricity at that part of the property, and I don’t have the best memories of electric fences from my childhood. (Not trauma from being shocked but more memories of how often they shorted out or had problems. They may be much better now.)

I have been surprised at my cilantro, too. It’s a variety named Caribe that is supposed to be slower to bolt. This is my second planting as the first did bolt, but it had been growing since January, so I can’t complain. I know it doesn’t like heat, but even one plant produces more than we can use in my household, so I figure I can see if I can germinate another to replace this one and see what it will do since we’re pretty warm these days. It is in one the first spots in my garden to get afternoon shade.

I was laughing at my corn the other day, saying, “Knee high by the fourth of May.” It’s really only about two inches tall, but the pots I planted it in are very tall.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
857
Texas
Can you lay a screen of 1/2" hardware cloth over the existing fence? A zip tie every so often might be enough to hold it up.

The tomato plants are pretty unchanged. I have really small real leaves on them, but its slow going. Its supposed to get down in the 30s tonight again. The weather is brutal this year.
Do the tomatoes come inside for the 30’s or do you somehow protect them?

I looked at hardware cloth and did lots of calculations to figure out the best way to spend our money. Because it isn’t easy to get in long lengths, and we would need quite a bit, it added up to more than we wanted to spend, and it wouldn’t let us reuse other materials. We need more fencing for other places on our property, so it made more sense for us to buy a one-foot taller upper fence, so we can reclaim the four-foot one and put it to use elsewhere. I was able to get a marked-down roll today.

I also got a length of “cage wire” which is similar to hardware cloth but not as fine. It has one-by-one holes, and we used it to replace the poly mesh on the gate because we worried that an animal could push under the mesh too easily. Everything is just temporary at this point as we haven’t done the actual replacement, but we tried to surround the whole garden with an extra barrier for the night.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,290
South Puget Sound, WA
There are many battery and solar powered electric fence options. I have a portable one by Havaheart that works on D-cell flashlight. batteries. With conventional fencing do armadillos dig under it? If so it will take a close mesh 2" fencing at bent at a right angle so that at least a foot lays flat on the ground where the critter wants to dig.
We easily make knee-high corn by the 4th of July. 4th of May? No way.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
How long of a length of hardware cloth do you want? We order them in 50' lengths all the time. The 100' lengths are too heavy and awkward.

I bring the tomatoes inside when it gets cold. Around 8am it should be up to the low 40s and ill put them back out, or have my wife do it a bit later after I leave for work.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Check building supply places for the hardware cloth. I'm not sure what roofers do with it, but they must use a lot of it.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
857
Texas
There are many battery and solar powered electric fence options. I have a portable one by Havaheart that works on D-cell flashlight. batteries. With conventional fencing do armadillos dig under it? If so it will take a close mesh 2" fencing at bent at a right angle so that at least a foot lays flat on the ground where the critter wants to dig.
We easily make knee-high corn by the 4th of July. 4th of May? No way.
The animal got back into the garden last night, though there was more digging in areas outside the fence and less inside. The digging outside the fence doesn’t actually go underneath the fence, so it’s still not clear to me just how it is entering.

Armadillos can dig under fencing, but our land has so much bedrock so close to the surface, that it would not be easy even for an armadillo. The area where our garden is has been sheet mulched, though, so it is a bit softer than the rest of the property. We have mulch inside the entire garden as well as outside the perimeter most everywhere.

We like that idea of putting mesh on the ground bent at a right angle. We even talked about taking down our rabbit fencing and using it in such a way. We’ll be working the project tomorrow if we can. It will be a lot of work, but I really want to keep this animal out of my garden before it does more harm.

AC8A8E55-0E9C-457F-984E-C7B8BEEF0B99.jpeg

I’m also including a picture of my corn just to clarify my ”knee high by the 4th of May” joke. The pot in which I planted the seeds is higher than my knee. The corn is quite small. Thankfully the armadillo (if that’s what it is) can’t get that high.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
857
Texas
Check building supply places for the hardware cloth. I'm not sure what roofers do with it, but they must use a lot of it.
Thanks for the advice. I’d been checking places like Home Depot and Tractor Supply where ten foot lengths are more common. We’d need fifty if we covered the open area or a bit over 100 if we wanted to replace the poly mesh which we suspect of being able to be pushed aside too easily. I did find a builders supply place in San Antonio that does stock longer rolls, but they are more pricey than I want right now. I think everything is more pricey than I really want, of course. I’ll do more investigation.

I’ve long wanted to cover the top of my blueberry cube with hardware cloth for extra protection against hail. It’s funny the things I dream of doing.