2022 Garden Thread

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,370
Texas
So many pictures of beautiful gardens and plants in the last few days. Thanks, all, for posting them. I really enjoy seeing what others are growing (even if it does make me a little envious).

Yesterday my husband transferred most of the last of our water from our house tanks to our garden tank. While he was doing that, I cut off twenty feet of pole beans that just couldn’t set pods in this heat and drought. They were growing and flowering, but there was nothing to harvest and not likely to be anything thoughout July and August. I hated to do it, but I decided it was better not to use water on them and to concentrate on other crops like okra, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers which have more hope.

I’ve been enjoying this backyard planter where I transplanted some lemongrass in the top tier, Mexican Mint Marigold (also known as Texas Tarragon) in the front left, and a Balsam flower in front right. They’ve really done well in a little under two months. The lemongrass was so tiny when I put it out that you can barely see it in the first photo; now it’s sticking up in front of the window. Since it likes a lot of heat, we are hoping it will continue to grow and spread in that space.
72C4C6C8-3C55-4B82-A8FE-BF69ED30FC44.jpeg A22839A2-A510-4A0D-BDAC-F2FC4F836158.jpeg

I’ve also been enjoying the luffa flowers that I see from my windows in the mornings (before we close the blinds all afternoon to keep out the heat and sun). I have the plants in a cinderblock bed with tall trellises, and they’ve climbed beyond the trellises and tangled together in the corner. I’m waiting to see if they’ll climb the stucco or go sideways or what. It’s not the best photo because of reflections of lights and windows, but this is what I see from the window. I am pleased that there is at least one good-sized luffa growing (and another smaller one).

C64ADC8A-52FC-408F-8C0F-411E92F4607A.jpeg
 

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
455
NE PA
rumble.com
I always like to see pics of what others are doing, too.

You poor folks in Texas are really getting beaten up this year with the heat and low rain. Glad you have backup water for your garden. I don't remember whether I mentioned it, but I ordered the 550-gallon rain tank last week, but it won't get here for 20-22 weeks! That means the end of October/beginning of November, just in time for the end of the season.

Here it has been unseasonably cool the past week with daytime temps in the 70's and nighttime temps in the upper 40' and low 50's. Very unusual for this time of year, and not goof for the heat loving vegetables. Feels more like the end of August here in the Pocono Mountains. They are predicting showers and thunderstorms the next three days, so we won't get much done.

What can you use luffa for other than luffa pads? Are there other uses?
 
  • Like
Reactions: clancey

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
455
NE PA
rumble.com
You got that right, Lime. Crazy weather all over the country.

I got out and worked on my tomato plants this morning, cutting off suckers and attaching new clips as they continue to grow. Saw my first outdoor tomato beginning to get ripe! It is an Early Treat tomato. If it gets red enough to pick before June 30th, it will be the earliest summer ripe tomato I have ever picked (Tiny Tim's in the greenhouse don't count. I have already picked about 20 of them this past week).

I wanted to do some weeding, but it started to spritz, even though the showers aren't supposed to start until later. I didn't feel like getting wet, so I decided to call it a day in the garden

I dragged the large tarp over the pond and put rocks all around it, so if it rains hard today and tomorrow, I won't be working in mud the next time I go back to it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: clancey

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,801
South Puget Sound, WA
We feel like we're in an April holding pattern. Nothing is happening on the normal schedule this year.
That's been our situation too, though we are supposed to break out of it starting Thursday. Things are growing, slowly.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,370
Texas
That's been our situation too, though we are supposed to break out of it starting Thursday. Things are growing, slowly.

Glad that you’re finally getting some warmth now that it’s officially astronomical summer. We had our heat so long before even meteorological summer that I’m ready for fall by now. I don’t expect to feel that pleasant nip in the air for many long months yet.

@Dan Freeman , I’m growing the luffa precisely for the sponges. I’d like to use them as my own biodegradable dish scrubbers, though they do work well in the bath, too. My first priority is the kitchen sink.

My understanding is that some people do eat the very small fruit before the fibers toughen inside. I’ve heard that it’s even called “Chinese Okra,” though a gardening friend of mine told me he thinks it’s more like a cucumber than okra in his experience of eating it. I don’t have any plans to eat it, though maybe I should with my lack of production on my cucumbers this year and my inability to keep zucchini alive long enough to flower (squash vine borers).

Congratulations on the tomato, Dan Freeman. I always love to let them ripen on the plant, but since I’ve moved to Texas I’ve become much more likely to pick them upon first blush or when they’re just halfway ripe to protect them from marauding critters. (Squirrels steal them, and bird pecks go way up the drier it gets.) If your weather is going to turn cold at night, it might be better to pick that Early Treat early and let it ripen in a nice warm house instead of subjecting it to cool nights. You know what refrigeration does to tomato flavor after all.

@EatenByLimestone , would you believe that I’m making plans this week for putting my Aerogarden seed starter back into action for some fall plants? I think it’s likely to be more peppers, eggplants, a few tomatoes, and some flowers in any extra spaces. My other Aerogarden still has kale growing in it. Even though I say I’m going to take it out, it keeps growing back each time I harvest it, and then I just can’t bring myself to do it even though it doesn’t produce enough for our large family.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I’m about ready to replant 2 aerogardens. I just emptied 1 of a new crop of Thai basil some flowers.

My okra is about half an inch tall now. I had to wait for it to sprout as I had the little one plant it. Some of the planting was, um, creative, lol. I want to put more beans in the rest of the bed.

We harvested more bok choy tonight. I think we found a new family favorite. We harvest it a little different than the stores sell them though. We cut the exterior leaves off like we do kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.

Relatives in Houston just sent a thermometer pic of 108F. I hope they were traveling when they saw that! I’d like to see some 90s here. We need the insects to take off for business! It’d also bring bats, etc out.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,370
Texas
I’m about ready to replant 2 aerogardens. I just emptied 1 of a new crop of Thai basil some flowers.

My okra is about half an inch tall now. I had to wait for it to sprout as I had the little one plant it. Some of the planting was, um, creative, lol. I want to put more beans in the rest of the bed.

We harvested more bok choy tonight. I think we found a new family favorite. We harvest it a little different than the stores sell them though. We cut the exterior leaves off like we do kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.

Relatives in Houston just sent a thermometer pic of 108F. I hope they were traveling when they saw that! I’d like to see some 90s here. We need the insects to take off for business! It’d also bring bats, etc out.

You must be rolling in basil from the sound of it..

It’s great that your daughter planted the okra, even if it was a little more creative than you would have been.

I’ve never grown bok choy but have done Napa cabbage several time. I do let it head up eventually but also employ the cut-and-come-again method on the outer leaves.

We hit 100 yesterday, and I’m sure glad that wasn’t 108. I wonder if that number was some sort of “feels like” or heat index number rather than the actual air temperature. Houston has much more humidity than we do, and I could certainly see the heat index being that high. (Alternatively a thermometer than gets exposure to too much sun could give a falsely high reading. It’s very hard for me to place mine to avoid that at all time. My sun shield involves radiant barrier over a nursery pot hanging over the top, with the whole contraption hanging in the canopy of a small tree under a bigger tree. I know I’m supposed to avoid trees, but anywhere else I really get falsely high readings. ) Or maybe it really was 108 in Houston, and I’m really glad not to be there. It’s been quite bad enough here.

I need to head out now while it’s still relatively cool and water my watermelon seedlings and my own newest okra and check the water level in the ollas. That system has been good for me over the years, but it’s really proving its worth in the extreme heat we’ve been having.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,801
South Puget Sound, WA
This is probably nuts in a strong la Niña year, but I have 3 cantaloupe plants growing. 2 are in the ground and one in a large pot. They are all starting to blossom, so maybe??
IMG_2612.jpg
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Lol, I planted cantaloupes, I think I camp upon a pack of them for 25c. Only problem is I don’t know where they went in the ground, they look so much like squash! I’ll figure it out when they set fruit, but until then…
 
  • Like
Reactions: begreen and clancey

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
455
NE PA
rumble.com
This is probably nuts in a strong la Niña year, but I have 3 cantaloupe plants growing. 2 are in the ground and one in a large pot. They are all starting to blossom, so maybe??
View attachment 296474
I have cantaloupes in the ground, and they are not growing much at all. Yours look much better than mine.
 
  • Like
Reactions: clancey

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Mine aren’t doing much either. But I’ve never grown them before so I really have nothing to compare it to. The zucchini is small this year though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: clancey

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,370
Texas
Everything seems "slow" this year with all the cool weather.

That one actually really did make me laugh out loud. I know, y’all up there have all the cool weather because the heat is trapped down here. I’d send it to you if I could.

I have a possible cantaloupe growing. It’s just a volunteer from some homemade compost, and I’m guessing it was a seed from a store-bought cantaloupe. It’s growing in one of my okra beds, and I decided to let it grow as a living mulch as long as it didn’t seem to cause any problems. So far it hasn’t strangled any okra, and it has been flowering a bunch. I now have one small fruit developing. I don’t know if it will be any good, but it’s fun to see in the garden.

I have a volunteer watermelon in another okra bed. I planted watermelon there last year, so it’s possible that it was a year-old seed germinating, or it could be from compost as well, though that’s less likely, I think. It’s just beginning to flower, and it had a pretty close call with another digger the night before last (raccoon?). The plant was intact but some of the roots were exposed. I’ve just started watermelon seeds in a different bed, and I’m pleased that they all germinated (though one got cut off by a possible cut worm; that was one of the areas where the digger dug, so maybe he ate the cutworms). It’s been a pretty discouraging gardening year here with very low or no production on many plants. I’m still trying.
 
  • Like
Reactions: clancey

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,370
Texas
You can send us some of that hot weather, but not too much! I want my cantaloupes to start growing!
I’d be glad to, but …

Thankfully we have a few days of cooler (i.e. just normally hot instead of record-breaking hot) temperatures in store with a slight chance of showers. We really need the rain.


I’m having more problems with diggers in the garden. They’re ignoring my marshmallows, so probably not a coon like last time. I need to put the game camera back up. It took me fifteen gallons of compost this morning till fill in the holes in my raised beds. Thankfully most of the plants were spared, but one cucumber‘s roots were damaged pretty significantly. It hadn’t been producing, but I had hopes for some pollination during the cooler spell this week, so I hope it won’t wither up and die instead.

The good news is that the little sprig of an orange tree that got dug up over the winter and had almost all its roots torn off is showing some good growth in its pot on the table on our back deck. For the longest time it didn’t do anything except sprout below the graft (no good as an orange tree), but just this month it has really taken off. It has lots of new growth. It even tried to flower, though we pinched off the bud. I’m really glad that we’re keeping it in the pot for now because it’s easier for me to keep watered and protected on my deck (though there was a fawn in my backyard this afternoon, and it just wouldn’t go through any of the three gates that I opened for it. It kept running around wildly and trying to jump through the fence. Momma was outside circling the yard and stomping her foot. It finally found a gate and left, and I shut those gates as securely as I could because I don’t want the deer back inside.)

55CC49EA-3823-4386-8E80-B155AA3E3AD3.jpeg

The drought has been so discouraging that I get tempted to just stop watering and let everything die, but then I remind myself that we are still eating some good healthy and tasty food from the garden even if it’s not the abundance that I want. We harvested just over two pounds of potatoes on Saturday and roasted them with a little lamb (the rosemary that I picked from the landscape was even crispy in this heat!). I used pickling cucumbers and our indoor-grown kale and some homegrown onion to make a nice chopped salad as a side dish.
B4BE6C03-C25C-4BE4-850A-5B429328E2CA.jpeg 15B977F5-1A04-4239-8D10-BDF042E1FF5D.jpeg

I still have my indoor lettuce, zucchini, and three tiny za’atar sprouts that are growing inside. I need my husband’s help in hanging up a light for them. They’re getting by with what they have, but they’d do better with a better light source.

I’m hoping the three day stretch of cooler weather might allow for some more pollination on my cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. The plants look great, but they need some lower temperatures.
 

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
455
NE PA
rumble.com
Looks like the rain is over and the sun is trying to come out. A bit of blue in the sky. HIGH humidity. I took a walk down to the garden and picked my first 4 (non-Tiny Tim) tomatoes of the season. This is the earliest I have ever had tomatoes by about 3 days. The seeds were started in my greenhouse back around March 20th.

They are Early Treat tomatoes. They are bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball. Hopefully, they will be the first of many tomatoes this season.

001-Jun_27.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: clancey

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,801
South Puget Sound, WA
Between the deer and the cold we are weeks behind last year's tomato production. Hopefully, we will start seeing some red tomatoes by mid-July.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,370
Texas
Hope you figure out what is digging in your garden, and that you get some much-needed rain.
Thanks.

It rained! It wasn’t a lot, maybe two tenths of an inch, maybe a little less, but it really cooled things off. The temperature hit 100 again before the rain came, but the rain dropped things down to 73. The soil in my garden was damp on top but not deeper down, but the leaves of the plants looked perkier for it. I’m sure they appreciated the break from the intense UV.

The showers were scattered according to the local news, but some places did get up to an inch. It should remain cooler than it has been tomorrow, and there is the chance for more showers. It didn’t put a lot in my rain tanks, but it’s more than I had, and I’m very thankful.

We also verified that a big armadillo was digging in the new garden area last night. There is no sign of a hole under the fence (and the fence goes out a foot horizontally at the base and is buried a bit), and the armadillo really looked big in the photo, so I don’t think it could squeeze through the spaces (mostly 2” x 3”, though one section has 2” X 4”. (We did witness a baby armadillo squeeze through once, but this looked a lot bigger.). It’s possible that where the gate closes, the armadillo is able to push its way in between the wire of the gate itself and the wire of the fence line at the bottom. We had the trap at that point last night, though, but the camera was pointed in a different direction. My husband repositioned things tonight to see if we can get a better idea. I doubt the armadillo has learned to climb a six-foot fence, but it definitely has been climbing foot-high garden beds.

The camera also caught a few shots of a skunk outside the new garden, but it never showed it inside. There were, however, smaller holes in our old garden this morning, and the marshmallows in the paths had disappeared, so I wonder if the skunk made its way in there. It looked small on the camera, but it is hard to tell. I think the critters are desperate so willing to work to get to a good food source.

I got overheated this morning hauling compost to repair the holes in the garden as the sun was bright, and it heated up fast. I spent the afternoon inside in some air conditioning, and I started some corn seeds in one of my Aerogardens. I’m trying cotton balls as a growing medium again. I used cotton squares to make a tube and put a stretched cotton ball inside each and tucked one corn seeds in toward the top but under some of the cotton ball. I’ve never transplanted corn before, but I only have three plants remaining of the sixteen that I planted after presprouting the seeds earlier this year, so I want to give it a try.

A little water going into our 1150 gallon rain tank that was very nearly empty.
2B96E781-60A7-4B82-95DF-A2D3AEE05CB8.jpeg

The luffa plants that usually spend the afternoon wilting in the sun perking up in the rain. This bed gets some roof runoff because there are no gutters on that part of the house, so it should have extra water from today.
754F0F16-5BE3-4D4C-B147-7868C374CB28.jpeg

The cotton balls in the Aerogarden. It will be an interesting experiment.
07A2F2A6-9966-4CCF-9CD2-8AC55EF6C6F2.jpeg
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,716
Fairbanks, Alaska
Active little thread going here. Almost as many gardeners as BK owners in that other thread. Glad I found you.

I have a question about canning. Specifically, where do store all the darn jars? We had been paying about $2 each for new jars up here. Some used canning jars with bands were found at a yard sale for 50 cents each. You know how that ended. I am inundated with empty jars. I have a canner, we have propane, I am happy to fill them with stuff we are going to use - but where do I put them? On many youtube it appears mason jars should not be stacked one on another so a custom shelf unit with fixed height shelves seems inevitable...

My Amish Paste are doing OK, but I was underwatering. They are up to 2 quarts of water twice daily now, next feeding July 3 will be mostly fish meal. Hopefully 18 days later on July 21 I will have blossoms and 48 inch tall plants so I can stop with the nitrogen and feed P, K and Ca. So far first thing in the morning they are standing tall with no staking or string clips, and the already sprouted side shoots should be able to rest on the first horizontal wires of my cages once they get grown out.

Honestly, and this was a risk, they (the Amish Paste) seem a bit nonchalant about my first frost scheduled for Sept 1. My sister in California loves these for diced recipe ready, salsa and catsup, the three things I really hope to can. But we don't have any spare days for them to give me ripe fruit between last frost transplant and first frost harvest. And they are lolligagging. I would feel a lot better today if they were each about 8 inches taller.

I know I am obsessing on them. I am pushing the limits on feeding. I was giving them one gallon once daily with late afternoon leaf curl, but they were both dribbling water out of the bottom of their planters, so I moved to half a gallon twice daily with no drips out the bottom. I am going to try to move to half a gallon each three times daily with the next feed on July 3, but solstice was last week, winter is coming and these guys need to get a move on. I just decided to move to half a gallon each three times daily tonight. I just took the attached, and I still have late afternoon leaf curl even though both have had a full gallon in divided doses with no drips already today.

I know I am rolling the dice on these with my short season (zone 1). I have a little bit of purple staining on the lowest leaves and the stem, but no outright burning from over feeding. I was sweating after the first post transplant feeding on June 16th. I was afraid I may have over fed, but they are doing OK. For me to get ripe fruit, they need to be doing awesome/ excellent.

Winter is coming. This is why I stopped reading the Game of Thrones books before the TV series even started. I have no desire to invade Idaho or Texas, I just want my local ducks in a row.

20220627_211106[1].jpg
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I didn't have any luck with cotton in the aerogarden. I inlet tried it once though.

A skunk is considered an omnivore, but is meat biased. I'd be real surprised if he goes after the plants. He might be after a tasty grub under them though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: clancey

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
455
NE PA
rumble.com
Thanks.

It rained! It wasn’t a lot, maybe two tenths of an inch, maybe a little less, but it really cooled things off. The temperature hit 100 again before the rain came, but the rain dropped things down to 73. The soil in my garden was damp on top but not deeper down, but the leaves of the plants looked perkier for it. I’m sure they appreciated the break from the intense UV.

The showers were scattered according to the local news, but some places did get up to an inch. It should remain cooler than it has been tomorrow, and there is the chance for more showers. It didn’t put a lot in my rain tanks, but it’s more than I had, and I’m very thankful.

We also verified that a big armadillo was digging in the new garden area last night. There is no sign of a hole under the fence (and the fence goes out a foot horizontally at the base and is buried a bit), and the armadillo really looked big in the photo, so I don’t think it could squeeze through the spaces (mostly 2” x 3”, though one section has 2” X 4”. (We did witness a baby armadillo squeeze through once, but this looked a lot bigger.). It’s possible that where the gate closes, the armadillo is able to push its way in between the wire of the gate itself and the wire of the fence line at the bottom. We had the trap at that point last night, though, but the camera was pointed in a different direction. My husband repositioned things tonight to see if we can get a better idea. I doubt the armadillo has learned to climb a six-foot fence, but it definitely has been climbing foot-high garden beds.

The camera also caught a few shots of a skunk outside the new garden, but it never showed it inside. There were, however, smaller holes in our old garden this morning, and the marshmallows in the paths had disappeared, so I wonder if the skunk made its way in there. It looked small on the camera, but it is hard to tell. I think the critters are desperate so willing to work to get to a good food source.

I got overheated this morning hauling compost to repair the holes in the garden as the sun was bright, and it heated up fast. I spent the afternoon inside in some air conditioning, and I started some corn seeds in one of my Aerogardens. I’m trying cotton balls as a growing medium again. I used cotton squares to make a tube and put a stretched cotton ball inside each and tucked one corn seeds in toward the top but under some of the cotton ball. I’ve never transplanted corn before, but I only have three plants remaining of the sixteen that I planted after presprouting the seeds earlier this year, so I want to give it a try.

A little water going into our 1150 gallon rain tank that was very nearly empty.
View attachment 296620

The luffa plants that usually spend the afternoon wilting in the sun perking up in the rain. This bed gets some roof runoff because there are no gutters on that part of the house, so it should have extra water from today.
View attachment 296621

The cotton balls in the Aerogarden. It will be an interesting experiment.
View attachment 296622

I guess 2/10ths is better than nothing. I like that nice big rain tank! (Green with envy...)

Armadillo! One animal we don't have to contend with. Now, skunks we have; many seen squashed in the middle of the road. I've only ever seen 1 armadillo live and that was about 40 years ago down in Louisiana.

You guys with your talk of your Aerogardens has raised my curiosity. I can always use another growing method during the winter to keep me from going stark raving mad with all the cold and snow outside.
 
  • Like
Reactions: clancey