Posts tagged ‘companion plants’
A good sweaty day in the garden with my new phone/camera. Maybe I’ll be a better blogger now??
See photos of the garlic digger and garlic – both look great! Plus photos of my companion plants doing their thing – namely borage attracting bees to pollinate the tomatoes.
I was away for a couple of weeks and even with the help of a super house/garden sitter – the weeds had taken a hold over some of the beds! It took me all last week (and a lot of sweat) to get it under control, but now I’m back on schedule – I have started to implement the fall/winter vegetable plan.
I sowed some brassicae in the cold frame (and covered it with burlap for shade). I need to dig up some potatoes to make room for the transplants in three weeks or so. After doing the Weed Management part of the County Extension’s course in Organic Vegetable Production, I know that I should prepare the beds two weeks in advance, then slice off any pesky weeds that sprout just before I transplant or sow more seeds.
I emptied a small bed of strawberries since they didn’t produce very well and were infected with a fungal disease – I am going to use it for carrots. My best carrot crop ever was from the cold frame this year, sown in February and picked in June – the rest of my attempts this season have proved fruitless (or carrotless), however I am determined to work out the best way to grow them in the main garden, and I want to try them after the frost – they are supposed to be really sweet then. Here is my plan – I will build up the sides of this small square bed and fill it with composted leaves and bought compost. Then sow the carrots and leave them under a board or burlap for a couple of weeks – then flame weed the bed just before the carrot seedlings come up… we’ll see!
On the harvesting front – we have enjoyed an abundance of blueberries – so juicy and nice, raspberries (don’t know if they are good, since I don’t eat them) and green beans have been particularly good – I read in the Victory Garden cookbook that after steaming, you should dry them out in a dry saucepan before adding butter or whatever else – it works! They are delicious!
I’m a bit worried about the tomatoes – they look OK but they do have signs of some disease at the bottom – unfortunately due to a bad reaction to a wasp sting, I wasn’t able to attend the Disease Management part of the Organic Vegetable Production course, so I’m not sure what it is – I’m hoping it is not Early or Late Blight. What I did learn from reading the literature though was that once a plant shows signs of disease, it is generally too late to do anything about it by spraying, so I have been removing infected leaves (in dry weather) and putting them under plastic to kill them (spores cannot live on dead plant tissue). My Early Girl tomatoes are not living up to their “before July 4th” expectation – still green.. I guess you have to have a greenhouse to get them that early. The trellising technique seems to keeping the growth of the tomatoes under control, the real test is when the plants are full of fruit and it rains like crazy – then we’ll see if they are still standing (unlike the cages that normally fall down).
I’m very happy with all my companion planting – the borage, marigolds, catnip, alyssum and many others are all attracting the good bugs – I haven’t seen that many “bad bugs” so far. An interesting development, whilst I was away, the radishes I planted around the squash and the cucumber went to flower and the honey bees love them! I have left them in place, they even have seed pods on them, so I might save the seed (have to check they are not hybrids first).
OK, so now I’m getting a little frustrated by the weather.. I had been wanting to get out and sow some cold weather plants this week (and last week) – but it has been so cold that I thought it may be a little premature for them to be able to germinate – plus it is going to snow again this weekend! Arrrgh! I expect soon enough we will be complaining about the warm weather.. I think I’m going to take the extra lettuce seedlings from the cold frame and plant them out in the garden instead of eating them!
On the side of progress, I did manage to sow a good variety of seeds indoors last week – the rest of my tomatoes (4 more varieties – I’m trying out a determinate this year – Marinara – as well as the indeterminate heirloom favorites Amish Paste and Brandywine and Peacevine cherry tomato). I also sowed some celery, some companion plants – borage, calendula, four o’ clocks, dwarf sunflowers and some herbs – cilantro and summer savory. I now have two shop lights on and I use christmas lights to provide a little heat to aid germination – seemed to do the trick!
Well miracles do happen! The marigolds I sowed only 3 days ago have germinated already! I didn’t use any heat under them – only a fluorescent shop lamp over the top. Once they come through, if they have any signs of fungus (damping off), I sprinkle a little peat on them and that seems to do the trick.
The warmer temperatures also have kicked things off in the Cold Frame – I checked in there today and the kale was poking its little head through and some other seedlings (but I didn’t have my book with me so I’d forgotten what I sowed there – really should get some markers!
In the garden itself, I covered the area where I will plant peas in a couple of weeks with black plastic and a spare window I had lying around! Hopefully that will warm the soil up so that the pea seeds don’t rot. I may try germinating them in the house before setting them out – I heard that tip on Mike McGrath’s radio program this week I think.
Today I did some more sowing of seeds – both in the cold frame and in some newspaper pots to put under shop lights in the basement. I sowed marigolds (I’m trying a 60 day variety to see if they will actually flower in time to help out my early veggies), parsley and beets in newspaper pots. I decided not to heat the seeds in the basement to see if it makes a difference – I normally use Christmas lights under the trays – I’m too cheap to spend the $40 on a heating mat (so far).
In the cold frame I sowed some lettuce, leeks and parsley. The soil temperature has reached 50F, so hopefully some of the seeds I sowed earlier will start germinating now too. (Still only the arugula showing any signs of life.)
Exciting news from the cold frame. I checked it yesterday – gave it a bit of water and guess what – there were three little Arugula seedlings poking their little leaves up through the soil! The soil temperature has dropped to around 40F, so I’m not sure there is going to be much action with the other seeds – but we will see – nature is just one miracle after another!
The cosmos seedlings were floundering in the south-facing window, so I bit the bullet and put them under the lights in the basement – amazing what a bit of light from above can do – they are much happier now!
I’m afraid to report that the sweet potato slips are not doing very well – I keep changing the water and even turned one upside down to see if would make a difference, but I’m not holding out much hope for these. I did order some, so I fear that will have to be it for this year..
After weeks (well a couple of months actually) of planning my 2011 garden, I finally sowed some seeds today – 6 x Cosmos – they are good companion plants. I decided not to put them under the lights yet to save some energy, so they are sitting on the window sill in homemade newspaper pots.
Actually I did get started with my sweet potatoes a couple of weeks ago – see photo. Sweet potato slips are very expensive (relatively anyhow) and so I took the two I had left from last season and am trying to grow my own by suspending a third of each one in water. I read about this technique in a book, I thought they were going to grow from the top, but unexpectedly, they have started sprouting from the bottom. Anyhow, at least that means there is some life left in them still (they were a bit shrivelled from storage), so that seems to be a good sign!