Nita's Garden Journal
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|June 13, 2003
Another lucky day on the homestead that now has two black cats. Well, they each do have at least a little white splashed in for good measure. I have not been able to get a good photo of the purple trumpet flowers on the desert willow trees. The hummingbirds love all the wildflowers and their feeder use is down to about one bottle a week. So far, the new outdoor kitty (Randy named him Crappy but I like Min better-that's short for minimum.) Never litter trained or fixed or played with enough that he won't bite and scratch. He is doing well to staying out of the garden. Max chased him up a tree yesterday so now he's exploring the world of tree tops. He cried for me to get him down and I just went on with my chores. He was down before I finished. This morning he was learning how far out on a branch he could go without falling. He presented me with a dying mouse and I praised him mightily.
I had planted a bed with Hibiscus seeds after they'd soaked for several days. I had made a shade over the little flowerbed and thought it would give the added morning glories a few days of shade while the seedlings got used to the sunshine. I had actually started this bed way back before we were adopted by another kitty who had to be an outdoor cat. He thought I was making a nice damp bed complete with shady awning just for him. He flattened all the seedlings and may have killed any Hibiscus that had sprouted. I set a wire circle which stands about 4 foot tall in the middle and ran more thin wire through the openings to keep curious kitty OUT. So far, so good.
I am hoping to get the very last of the seeds planted. All that is left is the Zinnias and they will fill in where there is any open spot. I have suppressed the desire to clear the yard and more but when a new friend mentioned that it was now advised to not even mow and never to leave a clear open spot... lest you invite the hordes of grasshoppers, I am happy to let the yard grow thick with all the rain to help it grow. They have not been spreading nearly like last year. I want the garden to be full with lots of everything growing. The melons are just starting to really make vines and are covered with blooms. The cukes are slowly starting to vine and put on a few flowers as well. Their location gets too much sun and I think I have found a way to give them more shade time. I liked the location last year but they had bugs of all sorts and I wanted to try and duplicate the conditions where they'd done their best several years ago. I didn't really come very close and already the 100° heat has stunted them several times already. I'm moving a bale of wheat hay to the garden to use it for mulch. We're past needing black covering to warm the soil. Now we need light color and at least something to help hold in the moisture.
I'd been using a dry, mix with water fertilizer for several weeks but this next week I want to make and use some manure tea for their weekly dose. That bale of hay doesn't want to move on its own and since it is so wet from the rains, it is twice as heavy and I must hurry or it will either sprout or mold. Think I'll just open it where it sits and take out what I need. I can take it to the garden in sections in the wheelbarrow.
June 9, 2003
I was looking down the new garden bed yesterday and yippee, the hibiscus have sprouted. Doesn't look like a great germination rate but hey, not many could fit when they get really big.
May 8, 2003
Yesterday's hailstorm made me glad I was taking my time getting everything out. Most hail was pea size to 1 inch but some was up to 3 inch in diameter. Not that they are round when they get that big. It got scary and came with the threat of tornado but when you have no where else to go, you just stay in the part of your mobile home that is away from any windows.
The new garden fence is keeping all the little bunnies out and the baby plants are staying safe. When I ran out of places to put trays of soil and seeds, I made those not in soil wait to be planted out in the garden. So, I am planting things just as fast as I can. The cucumbers that were about 2 weeks old have not grown any in the 2 weeks since I planted them out. They were protected by the trellis from the hail but still look stunted more toward dying than thriving. None of the carrot seeds sprouted but they were a 10 for $1 and that means we only lost 20 cents. But then you can't count my time and effort and that it's probably too late and hot now to get more planted. But of course, I will try. My Oregano and Thyme are not doing much at all. They have not been getting good regular light and should probably go under lights for a few weeks.
March 28, 2003
The fence is almost finished but we're still forecast for a freeze this week. I've been putting extra time in on getting it finished and ready to use but it is taking just short of forever. I'm setting the fence about 4 inches down in the ground to keep the evil bunnies from digging under so quickly. I'm taking down the fence I tried to use when I thought I could keep Max fenced in. What a joke that was. Maybe I can keep out the bunnies.
I plan on using lots of Byron & Caroline Tumlinson's methods of making some very intensive beds. I won't have time or material for making another fenced garden this year. We just got another brush cutter and I made quick work yesterday of clearing the briar down to soil level. It was cut several years ago and is thinner than in uncleared areas.
In the container section, I had made some notes about the seeds that have emerged so far. It is so much fun to watch them sprout and baby them along until they are ready to go out into the garden. The Oregano has just sprouted but there was only one onion seed to sprout.
March 7, 2003
The weather is warming already and it is quickly becoming too late to put out any spinach or lettuce. I am rushing to finish the fence to keep out those dastardly bunny rabbits, those ravenous creatures with the cute little white tail. I had been waiting in hopes of having a brush cutter to make quick work of the clearing. Now I will concentrate on getting the garden enclosed and planted. Hurry, hurry. I am sure we will have many more freezes before winter is over but there are lots that only do well while it is yet cool.
I will make time soon to work the honeysuckle vines. They stay green all winter but don't do any growing until spring. The briar likes to creep up in the middle and make it difficult to get to them. The grape vines are still dormant as well as the trumpet vine. As with years before, the periwinkle made its one blue bloom. A good ways from the one flower of last year. Many of the onions are coming back from last year. The hard freezes kill them back but they will return. Same with the day lilies, they keep starting over.
February 12, 2003
Goodness, the winter months are just flying right on by and now, it is nearly spring. It is time to have the onions in and the only ones sprouting are coming up from last year. I took some pictures of the new garden. There are lots of scrap boards and posts to move away. Then rake, then dig, Oops, yes fence to keep out the bunny rabbits.
On January 3rd, Randy bought a Sear's Craftsman weed wacker trimmer. It didn't come with all the parts and a month of calling finally got a lady to admit that the manufacturer could take a long, long, long time to ship another packet. Yes, made in Mexico. Randy is not wanting to have to take the unit back to the store and have them open another one to see if it has the parts missing from the first one. He has spent countless hours and many dollars trying to find a nut that will fit the particular bolt. Nothing of any size will fit. I am certain that it is the very different threads.
Such a waste of time and energy. We won't be starting any goats this spring, or fruit trees.
November 21, 2002
There was another update several weeks ago but I have no idea what happened to it. Some things have no explanation.
I was thrilled to see that 3 clumps of asparagus are still alive and had put out end of season growth. The pretty feathery stuff. It is suppose to be cut down and covered with compost as soon as it gets close to freezing. If we don't get a brush cutter soon and if the leaf shredder doesn't get fixed, I will have to get out and do some cutting by hand just to get the chore done. We are suppose to get our first freeze of more than an hour this coming week. Forecast shows highs of barely 50 and nights 28 to 30 for 3 nights in a row.
I was out this morning and delighted to see dozens and dozens of new little iris plants, first growth since the horde of grasshoppers ate them down to the ground. The honeysuckle will stay green and pretty all winter and has already grown back to its original size.
The garlic from 4 years ago was also eaten by the hoppers. It has returned. It isn't meant to be grown in this climate since it does so very poorly. But it keeps coming back. I am planting onion seeds for the greenhouse but I want to keep them in the kitchen window for a little while yet. I planted about a dozen squash seeds in the floor of the greenhouse. It won't have any heat but then our problem has always been than the heat of the summer was just too much for them. The greenhouse is old and leaks but it provides great protection from the wind. It is worth trying but I always wish I'd started a little earlier. But it was too hot then.
October 14, 2002
Went out to the garden this past Friday and picked 5 big tomatoes (two were 3" in diameter and the other three were just a little smaller.) Two were well chewed by grasshoppers and went to the chickens as a treat. There look to be four more that are still about two weeks away from ripening. Worth keeping an eye on them. If I see any grasshoppers, I turn on the water hose and chase them away.
Just to remind myself, all but one of the soaker hoses sprung at least one leak during this past season. Only the melons could be watered but the connection to their hose blew off and I haven't fixed it yet. We had a soaking rain this past week and I don't expect they will survive the low for tomorrow night of 40°.
The grasshoppers are few just now. They did strip the Russian Olive trees. None of the onions or garlic are growing back. There is a little growth from the asparagus crowns but not a lot. The trumpet vine put out lush new growth but no blooms at all. The ornamental tree with the heart shaped leaves did extremely well all season with very little damage from the hoppers while last year they nearly stripped it clean, go figure. One bed of the different, plain iris are starting to show but just a few. The day lilies have come back but they never bloom in the fall. With the freezes, they will die back until spring.
Wanda has offered to share some of her hollyhock and marigold seeds with me. I still have some of the marigold variety that reaches the 13 foot tall status. Awesome height but they will shade a garden to death. When they are full grown, you need a chainsaw to take them down. The stalk is not strong enough to be considered for building or making trellises. (I need bamboo.) I hope her variety is the small pretty kind. I had a lot of the dwarf type until I had to go for several weeks with no water to their area. I have lots (or will have) of morning glory seeds and hope she can enjoy them like we do. I offered them on a seed swap on the forum but have not heard anything more. One girl thought her dill seeds would be considered a weed, but I would love some. At least they will be on my seed list this next spring.
It really is time to start considering what I really want to grow this next spring and where I'd want to put it; how I'd be watering and tending. I want to see if I can keep some of the tomatoes going over the winter in the old greenhouse. That will depend on a heat source and the notes will go in that section. Now is the time to get some cuttings started. Hey, I still haven't figured out where to put the 5 Wall of China trees. They stayed in their 5 gallon bucket and should have gone out months and months ago. I want them to stay as shrubs so the smaller root space won't hurt their growth. The original 2 are easily 30 foot tall.
September 12, 2002 And now a lot more time has escaped! The grasshoppers have subsided quite a bit. The trumpet vine is growing beautifully. The day lilies are reemerging but no sign of the iris. The asparagus made one regrowth and the hoppers ate them to the ground once again. What new growth the cucumbers had made did evade the evil grasshoppers only to be devoured by some black and red bug that laid eggs all over the leaves and then the plant was gone.
To have enough fencing to enclose the great puppy Max, I had to take out most of two garden fences. The rabbits did no other damage so there had been no point to the fence at all. There are 4 watermelons. One should be ready any day now and the other 3 are much smaller. The one biggest just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
None of the raspberries ever came up. The dirt the plants were in was the hardest mess I'd ever seen. The were dry to start and had to be soaked to water them. The tops died off when there was a late freeze. When I dug them up the roots looked good so I did them the same as the grapes, clipped the top down. But if there had been any new growth, the hoppers ate them. There are maybe two more tomatoes. We've had quite a few but last year we had blooms and new fruit through several hard freezes well into November. There are no new blooms and haven't been for quite a while. Weeks ago I thought we'd seen the end of the fruit. Of the dozens of pepper plants, only one survived but it does have 4 peppers getting bigger every day.
The honeysuckle looks completely recovered. Of the dozen or so cuttings of wall of china, there are four doing fine. If they aren't planted out soon, they will be stunted. They would probably still make fine shrubs. We'd meant to prune the originals but they got out of reach a lot faster than we expected and now the two are 30 foot tall. That's awesome considering they aren't but a few years old. The oaks around them are not nearly as tall.
May 22nd, Time is really just flying right on by. Almost all of the seeds and plants are outside in the garden. Actually, all the Zinnias that came up have already been eaten by either grasshoppers or ants. So sad. Only some of the melons and cantaloupes have been eaten but not all, not yet. Puppy will be chained up beginning tomorrow to allow the chickens to be let out of their yard to eat those grasshoppers they love so much. The hoppers seem to be moving in mass through areas eating what they like most and then move on to areas with heavier growth.
The one plant that is doing great is the cucumber. There are bush and vine varieties and with the recent cooler weather, they are growing well and covered with blooms. The grasshoppers and ants are both ignoring the cukes. They eat the tomato fruit but not the plants. Go figure.
April 9th, Finally, the weather is staying warm and is somewhat settled. It is just about time to get those tomatoes into the garden. Time to get the bean seeds planted and those few other things that don't need sprouting in cups. The squash and melons and heat tolerant vines won't go out until the night lows stay about 60°F. Same with the Zinnias!
My greatest problem right now is having enough good soaker hoses. With our water heavy with minerals, they cake the hose and make great areas where no water can get through. If a soaker hose is left on top of the ground and has any water inside of it, ants will move in, making holes all over the place. What a mes!
Make sure you save your seed packets so you will be able to remember what varieties you planted. You can go back to the catalog is you need to check on their care and needs.
April 3rd, I have just put the last seeds into trays of soil that will need about 3 weeks of growing with protection against low night temps, wind and such before they go out into the garden. The cucumbers and vines that only do well when the weather is well warmed. I used to try to start zinnias early but in this area if they are not started where they are to grow, they will wilt and just refuse to grow. I tried everything, even planting them out when the days were cloudy; I tried using portable shade, nothing helped at all. Even with a good soaker hose, if they are to stay in the all day hot sun, they must have plenty of water and a weekly fertilizing. The bed that did the very best was protected from the worst of the afternoon sun and the west and northwest winds. Amazing results when you make minor changes.
There are many seeds that won't get planted into the ground until the soil is well warm and lows do not drop below 60 degrees. The watermelon, cantaloupe, squash and green beans are in this group. I like to divide things up so I can be ready to plant when it is time. When I get my seed order in, I sort the packets into groups so I will be able to see what needs doing and when. I could mark it on the calendar but I just keep them set out where I won't forget!