End of May Garden

Christina came and helped weed the sweet potato & 2nd sweet corn square with Mercy.

Christina also brought her SLR camera and took pictures of the garden. Here are a few of those pictures.


Spraying for Early Blight

Mercy sprayed the tomatoes again today to try and stave off the Early Blight on the tomatoes. She mixed up 2 pints raw skim milk from the separator with a dollop of molasses in a gallon sprayer. 

Next year, we need to start the spraying earlier. We also should do some trials comparing copper, raw milk, neem, kelp, all separately then in various combinations. But that may be more than I can manage. 

Garden To Do May 29th

Task list for the next few days…

  1. Mow Square #6 cover crop short Done 5/31/17
  2. Shallow till on Square #6 to kill cover and weeds  Done 6/1/17
  3. Deep till on Square #6  Done 6/2/17
  4. Mix fertilizer for dent corn, spread and till in on Square #6  Done 6/3/17
  5. Plant dent corn, Mammoth Sunflowers in Square #6  Done 6/3/17
  6. Move net fencing around garden and mow Done 5/31/17
  7. Scuffle hoe Square #3, #5 to kill crab grass seedlings coming up en masse! Done by Mercy & Christina! 5/31/17
  8. Begin Spring Square (#8) clean up. Includes mowing, tilling, planting cover crop. Maybe buckwheat? Bush beans?
  9. Plant mammoth sunflowers in Squares 4 and 5 because there’s that much space and they should outgrown the melons and winter squash.  Decided against this. I just want to keep it weeded until the vines take over. Maybe plant a low cover crop around hills in future years??

There is a lot of rain in the forecast though so we will see. Weeding and planting dent corn are the priorities. Update 6/1/17 No rain forecasted for another few days and temps in the mid 80s.

Experimenting with Flowers

We have a variety of flowers growing in a bed in front of the house, tended by Celia. I am experimenting with flower arrangements. Here is one with Yarrow, Anise Hyssop, and Echinacea Purpea I did today.

Yarrow, Anise Hyssop, and Echinacea Purpea Bouquet

These flowers are also medicinal.

We also grew an old fashioned Petunia from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Old Fashioned Petunia

I need to borrow some flower arranging books from the library this week.

More flowers are in the works in the big garden across the street. Sunflowers, Zinnias, and Cosmos.

What flowers do you like to grow?

Garden to do May 26th

As we did the foliar feeding, Mercy and I discussed the tasks we need to do the next day or so. Here’s the list:

  1. Tie up Marglobes again. We just clipped some up  they really don’t need another string just yet.
  2. Scuffle hoe and weed the herb bed in Square #7. Done.
  3. Whack the potato bugs into soapy water. Done.
  4. Pick garlic scapes. Oops. Forgot to do this! Done 6/1/17
  5. Fertigate the first sweet corn in Square #4 with cow urine/manure tea Celia captured from the milk cows. Done.
  6. Finish planting basil. Done.
  7. Clip cucumbers to vertical string supports. Done.
  8. Foliar feed potatoes with liquid kelp, maybe neem? Done. Just with kelp.

    Also weeded between first corn rows in Square #4, knocked out some weeds in Square #6 around the melons. Test dug a couple Red Pontiac plants and a Kennebec. Potatoes are coming along but need more time and water. 

    We did harvest a couple small squashes. They are coming along nicely!

    Did observe a large amount of crab grass germinating in the sweet potatoes. That is going to be a bog scuffle hoeing project in the next few days!

    Foliar Feeding

    Mercy and I decided to do a foliar feeding for the Marglobe tomatoes as we are seeing early blight already. It always starts on the bottom leaves and branches, killing them and moving up the plant, severely limiting our production in late season.

    Here’s what we mixed.

    Per each gallon sprayer:

    • 1 pint fresh raw skim milk (has anti fungal properties)
    • 1 T molasses (feeds soil microbes, boosts brix)
    • 1/2 cup liquid kelp (general immune booster & micro nutrients)
    • 4 t neem oil (another immune stimulant, systemic insecticide, and I believe, also anti fungal)
    • 2 t dish soap, we used Dawn (emulsifies the neem and helps everything stick to the plant)

      All this went into our $5 Walmart gallon sprayers.

      We hit all the tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, squashes, eggplants, peppers, herbs, cabbages. 

      Late May 2017 Planting Update

      May 25th. 

      Planted eggplant and jalapeño seedlings. 

      Replaced some tomatoes the potato beetles had eaten. 

      Strung up Marglobes for a second time and pruned them. I think blight has already set in. Next year, we need to start either copper spray or milk/neem/kelp spray 10-14 days after planting. Will start on it in the next few days though and see if it helps.

      Set string supports for cucumbers and pole beans 

      Cucumber and pole bean varieties for 2017

      First summer squash sowing is looking good! Baby squashes sighted. Varieties planted as follows…

      Summer squash varieties for 2017

      Set out basil first basil plants in potato square (Square #2) where marigolds did not come up well. 

      May 26th.

      Reseeded some melons and watermelons that did not come up well after the last rains. Watermelons were (1) Sam Howie:s variety, Sugar Baby, Blacktail Mountain, and Charleston Grey. Melons planted were Aphrodite, Edisto, and Green Machine.

      Mercy finished replanting some of the dead or dying tomatoes.

      Mercy finished digging holes for winter squashes in Square #5. I filled them with partially completed compost (it was all we had) and fertilizer. Mercy planted the winter squashes. We planted Cushaws, Tan Cheese Pumpkins from Ginny, Neck Pumpkins from saved seed given to is originally by people who came for feta cheese classes years ago, Old Fashioned Tennessee Vining Pumpkins from Jim Osborne, and some unknown variety.

      Mercy set up the second sowing for summer squashes, cucumbers, and pole beans. We planted 15 feet of cucumbers and just 10 feet of pole beans, per Mercy’s request. Finish compost and fertilizer went in a shallow trench with soil hilled up to cover it before the cucumbers were seeded. Holes dug, filled with compost and fertilizer, and four hills of squashes seeded. Pole beans were planted too.

      Mercy seeded a row off bush beans and a row of okra in the east of the summer square. They were not planted in time and had become weedy so I had tilled them last week. Okra is Clemson Spineless from East Tennessee Feed and Seed.

      Bush bean variety for 2017

      Finally, I had started planting the basil plants we had set out yesterday but Tim interrupted me and told me it was time to pick up Celia. So that task needs to be finished.

      2017 Sweet Potato Planting

      I’m planting an entire square of the garden in sweet potatoes for our own eating, sharing, and animal feed.  Sweet potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates and should help replace grain and provide succulent feed for the milk cows and maybe sheep this winter. If Celia has her way, the chickens will probably get some too.

      The vines, once well established, should provide good ground cover for weed prevention. We may have to keep them pruned so they do not form tubers away from the crown of the plant like the Beauregard’s did a few years ago.

      The leaves are loved by all the animals and are supposed to be good eating for humans too, a summer spinach of sorts.

      Purchased sweet potato slips this year from The Tatorman in Tennessee. Prices were good as was the selection and he has a nice video on how to plant them.

      I ordered the 500 mixed variety package and gave the extras to Sam. Here are the varieties we are growing this year:

      • Georgia Jets (4 rows for a total of 144 plants). These are a pretty common variety grown in the south and I really love the color of the skin and flesh.
      • Red Japanese (2 rows for a total of 72 plants). I chose these because Christina grew Purple Japanese (I suspect the same variety) last year in our terrible drought and they did better than all the other varieties she grew.
      • Diane (2 rows for a total of 72 plants). Growing these because they are beautiful and have a heavy yield. Also, they have lovely, maple shaped leaves.
      • Hernendez (2 rows for a total of 72 plants).  Growing these because they are supposed to have short tubers (easier to dig??) and be more disease resistant.

      The sweet potatoes were planted in Square #3 after the volunteer weeds were tilled in. The weeds were mostly clovers so I am hoping they supplied some good organic matter and nitrogen to the soil. I tilled lightly and left the weeds for over a week. Then came back and tilled at 6″.

      Mercy and I market out the rows on 4 foot centers, spread fertilizer, then hilled up the soil using a rake and a hoe to make raised beds.

      With Bill’s help, Mercy and I set out and planted 360 sweet potatoes roughly 15″ apart on the evening of May 19th, about an hour before dark. The plants had arrived 2 days prior and had been sitting, unwrapped, in a bucket with 1″ of water.

      It had been hot and dry the days leading up to prep & planting. The morning after planting, we watered each plant as it was going to be 90 degrees that afternoon.

      By Sunday, it was overcast we the rain had started. It has been overcast and raining on and off since.  The plants are looking good! We did save extra slips to replace any that don’t survive planting.

      I’ll see if I can get a picture of the bed up on this post soon.

      A method for preventing disease & pests in garlic

      I came across this method for prepping garlic cloves to prevent fungal diseases and pests in garlic. Since we have been gardening across the street, our garlic has not lasted as long and I have seen insect damage to the cloves.

      This gentleman in Texas seems to have an interesting garlic clove prep procedure that we plan to try this Fall when we replant our garlic.

      Here is his procedure:

      1. Soak garlic cloves overnight in a gallon of water to which is added 1 T Baking Soda and 1 T Liquid Kelp. The clove skins should loosen so the liquid actually touches the cloves themselves.
      2. Remove and discard all the skins. Examine each clove for disease and insect damage and discard those that are found to be disease or damaged.
      3. Minutes prior to planting, soak the cloves in rubbing alcohol or 100 proof vodka for 3 or 4 minutes then plant immediately. The goal here is to kill any pests or pathogens missed in the first soaking.

      In addition to this, we need to add some of our standard fertilizer to the soil, preferably after tilling in a cover crop and prepping 6″ high by 24″ wide raised beds.



      Lower Cost Liquid Kelp

      Before I forget, when our current stock of liquid kelp, nearly 4 gallons, is gone, try Maxicrop Soluble Kelp Powder. This bag is supposed to make 60 gallons for the cost of a gallon of liquid kelp I purchase now from Azure.

      There may be a few other products here worth trying.  Perhaps the RTI Xtreme Gardenning 4402 Myko product. Looks like mycorrhizae. But if I can get enough cover cropping going, it may be unnecessary.