Friday, July 12, 2013

Always Something

This whole gardening thing has been a huge learning experience and just when I think I've got it, something happens that reminds me that I am not all that in the gardening world.  After going to bed last night, the rain began to come in and in fear of the wind blowing it over again, I was forced to go back out to close the umbrella over the chicken coop.  We got some pretty substantial rain last night, so much so, that some of the 7 foot corn stalks fell over at the root or snapped in two.  This morning's first task was to assess the "damage" which included about 5 or 6 stalks out of the 35 down.  The ground was so saturated that mud was a big issue and I decided to wait on building up the stalks with more dirt until the garden dried up a bit.  I used some random pieces of wood to stake the bases of the stalks but I'm thinking this only a short term solution.

Some methods for avoiding this problem include:
Planting your seeds 6" deep and covering them with 1" of soil
Continually build up the roots and base of the stalk
Put up wire between rows
Hope for sunshine (as stalks will sometimes rise again!)

So back to being fooled that I know more about gardening than I actually do.  Our patio salad tomatoes were looking great until a couple of weeks ago when we noticed black spot begin to develop.  In an effort to keep the plant growing strong, we bought Garden Safe Fungacide 3 to spray on the plants.  It worked surprisingly well and after 2 applications we are getting some yummy tomatoes!

Some tips for avoiding fungus on tomatoes:
Keep plants from touching the ground
Put straw around base of plants to keep the soil from splashing on the leaves
Fertilize often as rain can wash away nutrients - and tomatoes suck up those nutrients big time!

The broccoli hasn't yet begun to produce heads (except for 1), but I have learned that it is probably better to cover them with a net immediately after planting.  This keeps those pesky cabbage worms and other worms things that are black and yellow off of your plants!  However, at this point in the broccoli's growth I would have to make sure that the plants were completely worm-free before covering them - something I'm not sure I could ensure.  I read somewhere that those white butterflies can lay around 400-600 eggs in a night!  Sheesh!  So, despite trying a homemade soap spray and using the Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap, I think the best way to battle these chicken snacks is to manually pick them off every single day!  Yuk.  The chickens are happy though!

Most days I think I've got it mastered then a new challenge presents itself.  For now, it's fun that we are finally reaping the benefits of all the labor put into this project.  Thank goodness I don't work in the summer!  This is a part-time job - one that I love by the way!

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