the wet soil aftermath

The soggy June that just went past is rearing its ugly head.  I’ve pretty much written off one of my grapevines that sits in the very epicenter of a low corner in the garden.  Bad planning, I suppose, to include an area that I knew would suffer in very wet years…

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Luckily, this type of wet happens very rarely.  The grapevine next door to it is doing well.  And in reality, I probably only want one vine growing in the amount of space available on the trellis.

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I had high hopes for the pepper plants too.  They were planted in the area where last year’s compost bins sat.  Unfortunately, this was that same wet corner of the garden.  The peppers are dropping leaves and have me a little worried.

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There will be disappointments every year; I accepted that long ago.  It’s still hard to take.  Happily for me, the rest of the garden is something I’m proud of, plenty of produce to freeze and can for the winter.

pepper plant revisited

In this episode: a revisiting of a pepper experiment started on February 8th. The object was to find out whether pruning a pepper plant does something good.

I know pruning helped keep the plant small enough to fit under my grow lights for an extended period without getting gangly. It would also theoretically mean that the fruits are more likely to fully develop with the extra growing time. After planting it in the garden though, things looked dim. The leaves turned sickly yellow, and I thought the idea was a bust.

pruned pepper a few weeks ago

pruned pepper a few weeks ago

But now there’s some healthy new top growth. Not sure why any of this happened, but I’m hopeful.

pruned pepper with new growth

pruned pepper with new growth

To add to the new hopes, my greenhouse-bought peppers are all doing well. I bought two plants each of three varieties. Pruned one of each and let the other alone.

While they’re all healthy and happy, I can see how the pruned plants will have a much lower center of gravity. They form a ‘y’ at the prune point instead of continuing to grow straight up.

two lead branches on the pruned plant in front

two lead branches on the pruned plant in front, unpruned plant in rear

It’s also time to start protecting the cauliflower heads that are forming. When they get to be about the size of a golf ball it’s a good idea to fold the leaves up around the heads, wrapping with twine. That keeps the florets nice and white.

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size of a golf ball

tied up with twine

tied up with twine

And finally, a little more housekeeping, keeping the lower leaves of my indeterminate tomato plants trimmed a few inches off the ground. I believe that this keeps the plants healthier by limiting their contact with spores in the soil and allowing air flow. Could be wishful thinking. I do that.

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in the garden

It finally FEELS like summer.  Long time, long time.  The mosquitoes are happy, I’m happy.  There’s a friendly garter snake that lives in the compost piles and suns himself on top of the compost.  He’s happy.

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The broccoli is happy…

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The snow peas are happy…

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The newly hilled spuds are happy…

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But the pepper that I started really early and pruned, not so much…

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I can’t say why it looks like that, but it’s not real encouraging.  Pepper seedlings that I bought at the nursery and pruned are doing fine.  Sending out new growth from the pruned tips and a pleasant green (as opposed to pukish-yellow)…

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So it’s wait and see on the early-started peppers.

beginning and ending

70° F, sunshine, wow. And it so happens that it’s planting day for my main batch of tomato and pepper seedlings.

This year’s varieties from saved seed:
Moskovitch
Cherokee Purple
German Johnson
Mortgage Lifter

New to me:
Druzba (I love weird names)
Olpalka (I love weird names)

As well as Jet Star (a hybrid, planted earlier) and Amish Paste.

Everything’s ready, seeds out, pots full, labels made…

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And while it was dirty anyway, figured I’d up-pot my experimental pruned pepper seedling. Nice root system, ready to sprawl…

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Then out to the perfect day. Winter? Pfft. I don’t even remember winter (except for those still-frozen pipes). It was time to finally finish the never-ending chicken pen.

And it’s done.

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Even varmint-proofed the ventilation system….

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where did the garden blog go?

What ever happened to my garden blog? It’s turned into a chicken pen blog, and for that I apologize. Unfortunately I’m semi-retired and have a lot of time to waste putzing with things that interest me, and gardens just don’t do much interesting when the ground’s frozen.

Seeing as I’m pretending to be a garden blogger, here’s that experimental pepper that I pruned spitting out new growth…

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No surprise. I’m curious to see whether the plant actually bushes out, and then of course whether it bears well. So conclusions are a few months out.

And now the all too familiar pen picture. Attaching fence this way is repetitive work. And I’m ver-ry slowwwww. I suspect a carpenter worth his salt would have had this whole pen done in a weekend, maybe even a day. But if he was that good he wouldn’t be learning as much as I am.

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hello, lowe’s, goodbye dollars.

Shopping day.

Yesterday I headed out for chicken run supplies and came home with a buttload of them. Mostly 2″x4″s, with appropriate screws and geegaws. Lawdy.  It sure is easy to empty a wallet in that store.

Then I laid out the approximate area that would be covered by the coop, and started leveling the ground where it’ll sit.

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There’s a pretty large pile of used bricks nearby, and I think I’ll set those down beneath the coop frame.  I’ve been wanting to put them to some good use for years, and that should be perfect.

On the gardening front, the pepper seedling that I pruned a couple of days ago is already showing signs of doing what I hoped it would; sprouting laterals…

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The end.

pinching peppers and putzing

I started an experimental pepper plant a few weeks ago, with the goal to see what effects pruning the top of the plant would have on bushiness and yield.

It’s evidently a well-known practice that I’d simply never heard of or even thought of till this winter. It makes perfect sense to me, and as a bonus it would allow me to start peppers earlier without them outgrowing the grow lights.

Scoped out the plant, and it had four nice big leaves below the growing tips to sustain it…

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So snip…

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I might do the same to a couple more plants when they’re started. It seems like an idea that can’t be wrong.

Since I was in seedling mode, I decided to plant a few extra-early tomato seeds indoors; one hybrid variety, Jet Star, and one variety from saved seed, Moskvitch.

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I’ve been doing this for a few years now, planting a few extra early tomato seeds, fully aware that they’ll need double walled protection when they go into the garden. And I’m also very aware that any given year they could be frozen out. Willing to take that risk, and chalk it up to fun if they don’t make it.

By yesterday afternoon I needed a dose of garden, so I hauled out two of my 60 pounds bags of Starbucks coffee grounds and broadcast them over the area where the corn and onions will be growing. Right on top of the green manure crop. Both corn and onions like nitrogen. I’ll be turning the cover crop and coffee grounds under well before planting time so they have a chance to break down and don’t suck nitrogen away from the plants in the process. There are still a couple of bags of grounds waiting for the compost piles.

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Thoughts of turning stuff under made me curious enough to drag out the shovel and see if the ground clanked or squished. Neither! I turned over my first shovel-full of 2015 soil, and it was nice and black and not especially soggy.

Soon.