So...gardens..

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btuser

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2009
2,069
Principality of Pontinha
I ordered hop rhizomes. Not really going to be a money saver but I like the idea of growing some for the homebrew. With all the stumps I've got poking out of the snow I'm thinking some mushrooms would be a nice, easy addition to the food chain. Just hope I don't get any of those funny mushrooms that turn you into a hippy. Free love isn't free, might end up costing me a copay.
 

firebroad

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2011
1,521
Carroll County, MD
I'm reading this thread trying to pump my psyche up. I am so apathetic after last year, I am ready to throw in the trowel.
It took me four years to build raised beds, add good soil to the packed clay, get compost bins going, etc. Then last year we had hot, humid drought, and then the bugs took over. Stink bugs, bean beetles, cutworms, and the worse pest of all, the squash bugs. Now, I grew butternut squash, which is supposed to be resistant to them, but I had never seen such an invasion. Ever single leaf was adorned with egg clusters, and as you know they are hard to remove without tearing up the leaves. I sprayed Pyola and soapy water on the nymphs, killing them by the hundreds, but the adults--well, the ground literally MOVED with the things. I refuse to grow any cucurbits this year because of that, so that rules out summer squash, cucumbers, etc.
Because of the drought, my carrots were bitter, the beets were small and woody, and the peppers and eggplant just kept dropping blossoms. I did get enough tomatoes to put up, at least.
Somebody send some encouragement this way!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,638
South Puget Sound, WA
Bummer. It's hard to say without some long term observation, but pests usually come in after weak plants. It sounds like there is either a serious deficiency in the soil or a toxin that is dramatically weakening the plants.
 

firebroad

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2011
1,521
Carroll County, MD
BeGreen said:
Bummer. It's hard to say without some long term observation, but pests usually come in after weak plants. It sounds like there is either a serious deficiency in the soil or a toxin that is dramatically weakening the plants.
Either one is possible, as it was store bought topsoil, though that bed in particular did well previously. Maybe deficiency, I tend to go light on fertilizer. And I won't buy a soil test, MD extenstion service wants $300. I think it was just one of those years, but I don't want any overwintering bugs to establish themselves.
The fact that my water supply is loaded with iron (think rusty mud) might have been a factor, since all water came nearly exclusively from the well.
 

gyrfalcon

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2007
1,837
Champlain Valley, Vermont
firebroad said:
BeGreen said:
Bummer. It's hard to say without some long term observation, but pests usually come in after weak plants. It sounds like there is either a serious deficiency in the soil or a toxin that is dramatically weakening the plants.
Either one is possible, as it was store bought topsoil, though that bed in particular did well previously. Maybe deficiency, I tend to go light on fertilizer. And I won't buy a soil test, MD extenstion service wants $300. I think it was just one of those years, but I don't want any overwintering bugs to establish themselves.
The fact that my water supply is loaded with iron (think rusty mud) might have been a factor, since all water came nearly exclusively from the well.

$300 for a soil test?!! Something wrong here. Most states, it runs from $20 or $30 to maybe $100 for an analysis of every possible trace mineral, which you don't need done. I don't believe you have to live in a state to have the state lab do a soil test, so try some other states and see how they price it. Also, there are private labs that will do this-- more expensive than most state services, but nowhere near $300.

Sounds like you had a really, really horrible year, but sometimes that happens, which is why you have to have very strong nerves to be a farmer. And BeGreen is absolutely right that healthy plants can usually withstand insect assault a lot better than not so healthy ones, and the bugs have some sort of sensor that alerts them to the weak plants to zero in on.

Get your soil tested, but add lots of composted manure, some good organic fertilizer (Pro-Gro is great if you can find it) and throw some row covers over your most vulnerable plants and pin the material down with a few good rocks. Most flying bugs won't try to go up under them, so you can greatly reduce the number of insect pests per plant by that simple tactic.
 

Normande

Member
Feb 20, 2012
66
SW New Hampshire
If you want sunflowers , plant or pick moderat size head varieties or just the black oil seed they sell for bird seed, planted 1 acre with the no-till drill for a fellow once and I have never seen so many goldfinches in my life as I did that fall litterally houndred at once. and sunflowers have an large tap root excellent as summer green manure crop on those clay soils, wife wants me to put in blueberries this summer any recomendation on variety??
 

Butcher

Minister of Fire
Nov 2, 2011
530
N. central Ia.
since you are rasing veggies in raised beds it might be a good idea to cover them beds with some black plastic this time of year and leave it on till the soil reaches a temp that will kill weeds and bug larva.
We raise our own veggies from seed to plants to soil here so we have a good handle on what is what. If your buying bedding plants at a drive buy place those bugs are there already. Your just givin tem a RIDE TO A NEW HOME.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,638
South Puget Sound, WA
firebroad said:
BeGreen said:
Bummer. It's hard to say without some long term observation, but pests usually come in after weak plants. It sounds like there is either a serious deficiency in the soil or a toxin that is dramatically weakening the plants.
Either one is possible, as it was store bought topsoil, though that bed in particular did well previously. Maybe deficiency, I tend to go light on fertilizer. And I won't buy a soil test, MD extenstion service wants $300. I think it was just one of those years, but I don't want any overwintering bugs to establish themselves.
The fact that my water supply is loaded with iron (think rusty mud) might have been a factor, since all water came nearly exclusively from the well.

Send the soil sample to the UMASS. I did this with our beds. It was cheap, like under 20 for multiple beds. If your soil is nutritionally deficient, the plants are going to be weak and vulnerable.

http://www.umass.edu/soiltest/
 

rideau

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2012
2,168
southern ontario
Sue: You may already do these things, but if not you might try: compost or grass clippings around your plants (when the soil is moist), straw over that...a good deep mulch of about six inches once your plants are up...add mulch as they grow until it is good and deep. Get a couple of large trugs and catch what rainwater you can. Other times fill the trugs with water AM and PM and let that well water get to ambiant temperature before watering your plants. I have well water with lots of iron and have no problem from that with my plants...but cold well water, especially if it is hot out, can shock them. If there is a real drought you can use empty containers --pint, quart or gallon --to water your plants. Cut the bottom off, turn upside down into the soil next to your plant, and fill the containers as indicated. They will slowly water the roots. You can leave the containers there all summer if need be. Fish emulsion and seaweed fertilizers are great natural fertilizers, and one container goes a long way as they are diluted and only fed occasionally. If you are able to keep your plants healthy and your soil is healthy (without poisons that kill the good bugs that are the predators of the destructive bugs at the same time they are killing destructive bugs), you shouldn't have enough bugs to destroy your crops. If you like zucchini, plant a bush zucchini in a large pot of really rich compost...or better yet on top of your aged compost pile...a bit away from the garden. One plant that is healthy can give you lots of zucchini and should be easy to care for. Or, plant a bed of them and cover them with row cover to keep the bugs out. If you are too hot for row cover, you can use mosquito netting or screening....
 

firebroad

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2011
1,521
Carroll County, MD
Thanks to everybody, I will try a lot of these. Soil test is getting sent to the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts!, Also, I believe I will solarize that one bed, Butcher. I'm glad to know the high iron content is probably not detrimental to my soil. Gryfalcon, you are correct; the $300 is for the full analysis. A simple one is closer to $40-$80, so I'm going off-state ;-)

One other point--it occurred to me last night whilst I was chopping up the winter leaves that cluster in corners that the insects may have been hiding in my compost or mulch. As the leaves where whirling around inside the mulch platform of the mower, I got a strong odor of stinkbugs. Could be that I had used some leaves as mulch that were not fully composted, and had inadvertently introduced a lot of pests into my beds.
 

lukem

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2010
3,668
Indiana
I took a chance on the weather and planted some early season stuff this week: carrots, radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, and peas. I was shocked the ground was dry enough to till, but I managed to no problem.

We'll see what happens...most of this stuff can stand a frost, but not a super hard freeze....worst case I'm out a couple bucks in seeds....best case I get my produce a couple weeks earlier. Regardless, I'll do a second planting of all these items again in early April.

Peppers sprouted this week, some of them anyway. Tomatoes are looking good. Broccoli is too. These are all inside in trays BTW. Won't be too long and they be moving outdoors.

Some new asparagus will be here next week...need to get that in the ground. Need to get some onions and taters in the ground before too long too.
 

lukem

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2010
3,668
Indiana
Adios Pantalones said:
I can keep groundhogs out of the garden with chickenwire along the ground, but need long-term fencing options for the higher fence.

I built a fence last year to keep the deer and dog out. Dog was a bigger offender than the deer.

I fenced in a 48x56 area. Set 8' treated 6x6 in the corners...then 8' treated 4x4s every 12' between them...ended up with a 6' high fence. Fenced with 48' horse fence (2x4 mesh high tensile) and then a couple courses of smooth wire every 8" above that. Turned out really nice.
 

SolarAndWood

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2008
6,788
Syracuse NY

SolarAndWood

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2008
6,788
Syracuse NY
That does look good. Holes are only 2'?
 

lukem

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2010
3,668
Indiana
SolarAndWood said:
That does look good. Holes are only 2'?

24"-30" with pea gravel and concrete backfill. We don't get much heave here.
 

Normande

Member
Feb 20, 2012
66
SW New Hampshire
300 bucks will get you a solar fence charger an 320' of fence that you can take down and put up in about 15 minutes works great. Here's one site I know about Kencove.com
 

SolarAndWood

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2008
6,788
Syracuse NY
Normande said:
300 bucks will get you a solar fence charger an 320' of fence that you can take down and put up in about 15 minutes works great. Here's one site I know about Kencove.com

Do you use it? What do you do run 8' deer net and then 4' electric net?
 

lukem

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2010
3,668
Indiana
I needed a physical barrier for this dog...and deer will jump a hot wire. Can't grow peas, cukes, gourds, or beans on a hot wire either. The fence really works great for that.
 

Normande

Member
Feb 20, 2012
66
SW New Hampshire
No arguement there Lukem, except Deer will jump anything less than 6 feet and even them they'll try. I used the 40" to keep calves in/out depending on how you looked at it the 28" will keep groundhogs and fullsize chickens out of the garden, or at least in the part you want them, I used to like to keep Ducks in the garden to keep bugs down, but you have to protect the smaller plant if you do that.
Did you put BARBED wire around the top, I have fought with enough of that garbage in my life to think your crazy, but hey to each their own. oops My bad just relooked at the photo smooth wire, nice job
 
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