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Archive for July, 2008

The computer was pissing me off, so I went out to garden. I needed to stake the tomatoes more. I knew the small bamboo canes were going to be too small, but that was all B.L. had. Luckily, we found that a neighbor was throwing out another package of the same stakes, so I snatched them up. I can always double up on the staking.
While staking, I found a gross caterpillar! It was very lethargic, as if close to death. I looked very closely but only found a few holes in the leaves—so no damage. I had to pick it off the plant with the bamboo stakes (chopstick style) then stomp on it with my flop flop. Ewww! It exploded green slime everywhere. So nasty! I should find out what it was…
It looked like this, but more gray. It is possibly a sphinx moth caterpillar, and isn’t considered a pest per se. Oh well!

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It’s so hot! High today is 90F and it’ll be this hot again tomorrow. I made sure to water the garden this morning. I also finally got around to repotting the christmas palm. It was so rootbound there were more roots than dirt in that little pot. However, the new pot isn’t big enough either so I must buy something else. It’ll do in the meantime, especially since I cut off almost half the root system. That poor plant was really suffering for a while. Hope it perks up.
Yuck! I found a glob of white silk on a salsa tomato and investigated. It was covering a hole and inside the hole was a tiny green worm—eeew! I’d seen some holes on a couple other tomatoes and knew that a creature could move from one tomato to the other, but those holes are very hard to see. And the tomatoes don’t like to be twisted around so you can see them in all directions. I threw that tomato in the trash and hope there aren’t any more. As if blossom-end rot wasn’t enough, worms too? Yowza. It’s such a shame how many tomatoes have blossom-end rot. But it’s also odd how some have it and some don’t and they are in the same cluster.

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My peppers are approaching full size, as are the lemon boys. Now I just have to wait for them to ripen (which some have hinted takes just as long as it does to grow to that size—I hope that’s not true). I took more photos today for my progression scrapbook pages.

gypsy peppers about to ripen

I’ve got three watermelons growing. The first is starting to look squished (flattened by it’s growing weight), it is much darker than the others and is about the size of a softball. The other two are about the size of a golfball. I also read up on how much to water the watermelon vines and they need the same as the tomatoes, so I must remember to deep water those too!
My final lilies started blooming, so I know for sure they are golden yellow. Now I can make plans for dividing the plants and redistributing them evenly in the bed this fall. I’m pretty excited about that. I’m going to have a nice regular pattern of lemon yellow, golden yellow, and red and orange too. Maybe I should try and amend the soil at the same time as the transplanting. I hope it won’t take more than a day to do it.
I remember last year, the lily bed was where I let lots of thistle and other weeds grow like crazy. The weeds got to 4′ high (there and in the front of the house too—and all around the house including the opposite side and the patio). But I remember being very excited to find one lily in bloom. As in one flower. I even pointed at it proudly when my dad dropped by. He wasn’t impressed (couldn’t see past the weeds, probably). But this year, keeping that bed weeded and mulched has allowed every one of my lily plants to do great and get lots of blooms. Yes, they flowered later than neighbors’ but that is because of less sun not less nutrients or space. So I should remember that example as how weeds can really rob your plants of necessary nutrients, space, and even sunlight. Very dramatic turnaround this year. 🙂

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I tackled the compost enclosure addition yesterday. I made another enclosure that isn’t as high but is still 3′ square. So I did that, and shoveled the existing compost into the smaller bin and started my new pile in the older bin. That was a lot of work! I am in pain today—not my back cause I used the heating pad, but my hips! If ache was a liquid, I’d have at least a couple gallons.
I haven’t photographed the compost bin, but I always find myself staring at it out the window. I don’t think it’s unattractive. I just wish I was able to plant some shrubbery where the old flagpole used to be (and part of it is still sticking out of the ground, unfortunately).
I also closely inspected my salsa tomato plants this morning cause I just read that grasshoppers can strip the leaves and I’d seen a grasshopper on those plants twice. No grasshopper damage that I saw. A few leaves had a nibble taken out, but nothing damaging.  Anyway, each plant has tomatoes that have blossom-end rot. Boo hoo. I wish I’d taken the time to calculate the exact volume of water each plant needed prior to them setting fruit. What will happen now is that the fruit will still ripen, but a third or a half of each fruit will be wasted. And the fruits now forming will hopefully not get it since the plants will now get the proper amount of water.
The lemon boys have no blossom-end rot. None at all. Their fruits are starting to lighten up and are looking great. I guess they just happened to need less water?

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The grass seed I spread around the playset is starting to sprout, finally! But that area is infected with the weed Canada Thistle, otherwise known as the bane of my landscaping.

Yep, it's nasty alright!

I’ve found the most effective treatment for this weed is:
  1. Cut the weed off close to ground level. Very important to cut the weed and not pull at it or disturb it’s roots in anyway. I’ve found that if its roots are disturbed, the plant will send up 2+ new shoots in different locations. If it is just cut, and if it grows back it will be in the same location and you’ll be able to keep track easier of the progress.
  2. Spray the cut stem with weed killer. Hopefully the stem will suck this poison directly down to the roots and kill the plant.
  3. Get as many of the weeds in one location as possible as they are all one plant. Think of the weed as a huge root system with many branches. Each weed above the surface is merely a branch of a bigger plant. You must get as many as possible in order to stress the root system (and its stored energy) enough to kill it.
  4. Repeat the process at least every week, and possibly more than that. This is the only way to kill the plant for good.
  5. Never ever let the weeds get big enough to flower. If the plant makes seed, you will be fighting thistle for years to come.
Unfortunately, I let some thistle flower last year. I didn’t care enough to take care of the lawn cause I was so busy working on the interior. Since the weeds made seed, I’ve got thistle galore this year. It’s really hard to keep up with because the cutting and spraying is hard on my body and I can’t get enough done in one morning to make a real dent. I would have to work at weeding 3 or more times/week to get all the patches of thistle in my yard and garden. Yuck! But at least I’m not letting the weeds flower this year! And I killed all the weeds along the fence line this year. I killed the grass too, but at least the weeds are gone.

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I was looking over my future plant choices and have narrowed it down to a short list. I’d like to get a variety of maturity dates for a longer harvest season. That means I’ll have to eliminate a couple of my recent favorites. I’m excited about growing varieties next year for taste, use, and heirloom. Hybrids are a good idea, but they are overpriced and you have to buy seed every year. If I can get heirlooms, then I can save the seed myself. That’s assuming they don’t cross-pollinate, of course. I’ve really been pouring over the descriptions trying to narrow it down. I’ve had a couple criteria for tomatoes, especially the fact that I don’t like tomatoes. The flavor has been growing on me for a couple years now, but I don’t particularly enjoy biting into a fresh tomato by itself. So my number 1 criteria is a sweet flavor, or a non-tomato taste. Be it a fruity taste or less acidic. I’d also like a tomato that can be used fresh sliced and in salsas and sauces too. I’m very curious to try these new varieties. To spend hours picking out just the right seeds, grow them into plants and enjoy their fruits at harvest. It makes it even more rewarding when I’ve picked a good one.
All the thought I’m putting into these seeds makes me wonder about the plants I’m growing now. I picked salsa because I thought, “Oh, yes, Scott wants me to make salsa.” And I got lemon boys because Scott wanted a yellow variety and this one seemed easy to grow because of its disease resistance. I didn’t really consider the flavor of them. For peppers, Scott wanted banana so I got the hybrid thinking it would be a better grower, and he wanted habanero too so that’s what I got. I spent more time picking out my pepper, so I have more emotionally invested into the gypsy peppers. I wanted a bell, and a good producer. Gypsy’s aren’t bell peppers, actually, but should be a good substitute. I really hope they’re good!

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I looked closely and three of my six salsa tomato plants have blossom-end rot. They are all on the left side of the plot. Very odd indeed that they are doing it, while the opposite plants are not. Same water and sun exposure for both. Very weird. I’ll keep monitoring.

I know you don't want to see this--but neither do I!

Quick calculations: each plant needs 5 1/3 L of water/week. So each 2L bottle needs to be filled 5 times/week or a double-fill 3 times/week.
Yeah, I don’t think I’ve been watering that much… Now I’ve got to count how much water is 20 seconds worth…
I just measured: filling on “jet” for a 25 count is 3 liters. So, with that in mind, watering 3 liters per 2 plants to get 10.6L/week means watering 4 times per week. Or Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Each time filling for a 25 count. No exceptions!
I also inspected my watermelon vines closely. I’ve got 1 watermelon that’s the size of a tennis ball, and 1 the size of a grape. And I’ve got 2 or 3 more that are about 1/2-3/4” large. But those may still abort. The oldest vines are very close to or are more than 3′ long already, so I hope to get more melon production and less vine production. Each vine will hopefully produce 1 or 2 mature melons for a total of 5-10 melons. Cross my fingers!

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