September 21, 2016

My Poor Garden

It's not all bad. The first half of summer was devastatingly hot and dry, but Mid-July through mid-August finally brought us plentiful rain and the garden recovered. Now September has continued the earlier trend toward hot and dry which has meant the end of some things. Even so I'm still harvesting

Sweet peppers

Okra, which is benefiting from

Greywater, which we finally got set up.

I'm also getting

Cantaloupes. They are small from not enough water, but
they are very tasty and sweet; perfect for the two of us.

Green beans. Just a handful every other day or so.
Not enough to can but enough to enjoy for dinner.

I'm getting tomatoes again although the plants look pretty raggedy.


I call these my "comeback tomatoes" because every summer my tomato plants succumb to blight. Gardeners are advised to pull and destroy such plants immediately, but I rarely get around to doing that. I find that when the weather begins to cool down a bit, the plants make a comeback with new vines and leaves and more tomatoes.

I've been seed saving too: tomato, cucumber (now finished), cantaloupe, and green beans.

Sweet basil going to seed.

What's not going so well is the annual takeover by the wiregrass. Those midsummer rains saved the harvest, but also caused the wiregrass to start growing again.

Wiregrass is one of the few things that thrives in drought-like conditions. What makes it discouraging is that it takes over heavily mulched areas too. It just grows and grows like an indeterminate tomato vine, both underground and over the top. Nature is a mightier conqueror than we like to think, and every year I feel like this stuff sends us back to gardening square one.

Wiregrass in the tomato bed.

The tomato rows you see above were mulched with cardboard, empty paper feed bags, and about six inches+ of wood chip mulch.

You'd never believe this was all cultivated earlier this summer.
I tried to grow summer squash here, but it didn't make it.

I might have finally found some answer for it, however, in this article, "Resolving the "Wiregrass" Problem." I don't know if I have the same species mentioned in the article, but it indicates that the stuff usually grows in low-phosphorous soil. I know our soil is low in phosphorous, so if I can resolve that, maybe I'll resolve my wiregrass problem as well.

In the meantime, I'm getting the hoop house ready for fall planting.

Wiregrass comes up in the hoophouse raised beds too.

Temperatures remain in the low 90sF (low to mid 30sC), and between that and my bone dry soil from no rain, I somehow don't feel like fall planting. August and September are our times to plant cool weather veggies, however, so I need to get on with it.

One last garden shot

Jerusalem artichokes are blooming.

And that's it for me. How about you?

My Poor Garden © Sept 2016 by Leigh 
at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

33 comments:

  1. Rain never has stopped up here. I haven't been able to stop mowing long enough to even see how other things are doing.

    What a summer.

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    1. That's just as bad, although I think too much rain may have a slight advantage to no rain, assuming everything doesn't drown!

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  2. I just pulled up the tomatoes and jalapeño after harvesting, and will pull up the okra next weekend. Going to plant some fall veggies if it will ever cool down. We had rain today and it was so hot, I kid you not, steam was coming off the pavement when it stopped. Ugh. When if "Fall"? Ha. Hang in there!!

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    1. It's terrible when the temps remain so high. The welcome rain evaporates right out of the ground as soon as the sun comes back out. :(

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  3. Finally it is getting to be Fall after a couple of weeks of cooler temps in the low 80's but then whoops up it goes to low 90's again. Getting back really cool mornings and perhaps some rain. Well enough to settle the dust which needs to be settled ACHOOO! Our garden is pretty much done. A few savior pepper plants and lovely Yukon Gold potatoes still tucked safe in the ground.Found a great reader suggestion in the latest Mother Earth News on how to build a hot house out of a dog kennel. I happen to have a very nice 10x10 heavy gauge kennel that is unoccupied. I am currently hoping that once Geoffrey reads the info I will get my first hot house and can raise my fodder without becoming a feeding ground for the sparrows again. Plus get a couple of raised beds and get some winter veggies going. Check it out on page 67 of issue 278.

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    1. survivor peppers but heck I guess they are saviors in a way as we still have some to add to salads and dinners. lol

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    2. I agree, survivors are saviors, LOL

      The hot house sounds like an excellent idea, thanks!

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  4. Even though this year, we've had lots of Spring rain, I feel your pain. As most years, it gets challenging to plant in dry beds. At some point though, the rain does return and its better to have a little of something, than nothing at all. So I always put something in. Here's hoping the rain comes your way soon.

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    1. It seems like every day I look at the weather forecast and rain is predicted in the next several days. Then those days arrive with no rain but it is predicted in several more days. And on and on.

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  5. Blight here as well, but it's staking warm so nothing is dieing off yet which is great for some crops. My tomatoes are almost over and I'm really going to miss them when they're gone.
    when gardening though I certainly need the winters break to regain my enthusiasm.

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    1. Yes, that winter break is really important, although I've about decided that my break needs to be in mid-summer when it's hottest. Nothing is happy in the blazing heat.

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  6. I had a blight early in the year hit the potatoes and tomatoes, in one tunnel I pulled up the tomatoes, in the other I have nursed them along with blight will re-think it for next year

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    1. Well, I get that the infected plants are destroyed to stop spread of the disease, but I also wonder if plants can't develop immunity or resistance like people and animals can. I've never read anything to support that, but on the other hand, it seems logical!

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  7. Leugh - the wonderful thing? you didn't give up and neither did the garden. i have no understanding of your kind of heat, it never happens here, it's coolish even on our warmest days. and even if we don't get rain for 7 or more days, it's always foggy and dewy every morning. it's because we are so close to the ocean. but that means we have slugs the size of golf-balls and aphids out the ying-yang. if it's not one thing - it's another eh? you keep on keepin' on....i love visiting here and on other's blogs to learn...i am very thankful that we can all share our miseries and successes!

    sending much love, as always! your friend,
    kymber

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    1. oh crap - didn't read my reply before posting....sorry for calling you "Leugh" although Leugh seems pretty funny at 6:36 am - bahahahahah!

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    2. Kymber, it's okay. It's 5:39 am here and my eyes read it right, LOL

      Yes, the blogging makes it possible to visit so many different worlds and be amazed by them all. Folks are impressed that I can grow so much in winter, but this is the summer we have to go with that. :)

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  8. Go recycling on that wire grass: layers of newspaper and cardboard weighted down. I know you don't have wood chips like I do and plastic sheeting doesn't allow water in. Ask friends and neighbors for their newspapers. I'm sure Dan has bark skinings from his board making for weights.

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    1. Dan brought home some really heavy-duty cardboard several weeks ago, but I don't want to put it down on dry soil. I want to wait until it's rained well and the ground is saturated with moisture.

      The thing I'm thinking is, if I put another layer of cardboard and mulch on top of my previous cardboard and mulch, I'm starting to get pretty far from actual soil. The cardboard and wood chips do break down, but relatively slowly. Seeds need to be in contact with soil to grow and it seems like 10 to 12 inches of cardboard, mulch, cardboard, and more mulch is too much for planting.

      The article I mention says that wiregrass is an indicator of phosphorous poor soil. I don't know if I have the same species they refer to in the article, but I'm going to invest in rock phosphate and start building my soil that way. I figure it can only help.

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  9. Could you get odd peices of left over landscape fabric? A neighbor near my old farm got peices from a contractor who did city boulevards. She just layered the odd shaped and sized peices until she got good cover for between her raised beds. It let's moisture through.
    Our garden is showing signs of recovery as it is a bit cooler during the day and much cooler at night. Something canine carried our melons out of the big garden. We found two of the bigger ones with teeth marks about 25 feet from the edget of the garden, the small ones were just gone. We think coyote or fox? The wild turkeys found the corn and shared it with the raccoons, I had caned enough but wanted dry corn. Isn't gardening an adventure? It's always something...it looks like your Muscovey's like wire grass. God Bless you both.

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    1. Landscape fabric!!!!! *shrinks back in horror*. Several years ago I mulched a large area with it to control wiregrass in what was supposed to be my comfrey bed. I spent days putting it down and covering it with about 6 inches of woodchips. That darned wire grass grew up through the cloth and bound it to the ground. It was impossible to remove the fabric at the end of the summer. Dan finally took the tiller to it so I could remove it, but what a mess. I'm still finding bits of that old landscape fabric all over the place.

      I read that coyotes love melon! In fact they use them to bait them. And what nice turkeys and coons you have to share their corn feast. I totally agree with you that gardening is an adventure!

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  10. Oh, Leigh, I so feel for you and that blankety-blank wiregrass! Seems you've tried so much to conquer it already.

    If I were go, I'd give myself a break and forget the fall garden this year. You've gotten a remarkable amount from your garden this season considering all you've had going against you.

    I'm into serious garden clean-up. Hubby is spreading compost and I'm tilling it in. All the root crops are still in the soil as we have to wait for the temp in the root cellar to go down before filling it. Still getting cherry tomatoes and my bed of fall salad greens are lovely. Pepper plants are still loaded. The fall planted peas are blossoming. I think I can get another cutting off the mint. Brussels sprouts are waiting for a frost to make them tastier. Pumpkins ripening nicely. Gee, I guess I still have a lot of "gardening" yet to do! And, yes, we've had a great year with all the unusual heat coupled with enough rainfall. Wish it had been better for you.

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    1. Mama Pea, I do have to keep reminding myself of what we are getting rather than complain of the problems. I have to remind myself to be thankful that we can even have a garden, even though the battles can be discouraging.

      Sounds like you've had a very productive year! That's great news and an encouragement to the rest of us that problems aren't permanent. It's funny you should mention your root cellar. Dan's been talking about building one, but I kind of doubt we'd ever get cold enough to use it.

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  11. we had a pretty wet year and thankfully not any big hail. I really believe that my attempts to protect the plants kept the large hail at bay. ;) Even though the old garden is the perfect spot to keep the plants protected, it is too shady. I got a bumper crop of cucumbers (that I need to figure out what to do with them) but just a handful of peppers & green beans. I had lettuce, but we got a cold snap that wiped it all out. got beets and carrots...and the tomatoes are full of fruit that is taking it's time ripening. I tried potatoes in bins this year... all I got in return was seed potatoes. :-/

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    1. Hail is a tough one Renee, because it's so damaging. It sounds like you did really well in spite of your weather! I'm glad for you.

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  12. My garden took an ugly hit because it was so hot. But I live in the south. Now that it's cooled down I'm having a small harvest

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    1. We Southerners really had a tough summer for gardening. I'm glad you're at least getting something!

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  13. Lucky you; you actually GOT something from your garden! It was so hot and dry here, that I even had to water the CACTUS! I got some zucchinis, a few cantaloupe, and a few cherry tomatoes. Everything else ROASTED in the heat, even with twice-daily watering! Maybe next year...

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    1. Having the water the cactus sounds really dire! Although if I grew cactus I'd probably have had to water it right along with you. Like you, I'm hoping for a better next year.

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  14. For us an 8/10 which was surprising because this is only our second summer here on the poor farm and areas of pasture are still not so productive. But we heavily amended our garden spot near the grain bin house with deep layers of well aged cow manure and organic straw. And although only canned about half what we planned we're that much closer to providing all our homes veggie needs. There's always next year, right?

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    1. Always next year, that's how we keep going!

      Sounds like you've made great progress for your 2nd summer, that's encouraging. But don't you have grass growing all over the garden from amending with manure and straw? That's why I quit using goat barn compost in our garden. Barn cleanings now go directly out to add organic matter to the pastures.

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  15. Hogs came out of the national forest and destroyed our little garden. All that was left in it was some tomatoes though. Our squash and peppers never came up. A tiny watermelon or two had started to form but the hogs rooted it all up.

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    1. It's always tough when the wild critters help themselves. I'm sorry to hear you lost so much! It's disappointing when things don't grow either.

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    2. Very envious of your canteloupe, I don't think I could grow them up here. Your raised beds and hoop house looks lovely, am hoping to get something similar set up over the winter ready for next season.

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