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The 2011 Garden

It's soon time to start seedlings here in Virginia. I'm in zone 6B. In fact, we've started our broccoli already because last year we discovered it survived the flea beetles better if the transplants were large and they'll be set out really early under under hoops and plastic. But about mid-March we start our tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers indoors. We haven't decided what variety of eggplant we're growing yet but we're planting Smokey, Principe Borghese, Amish Paste and Currant tomatoes and Marconi, Zavory, and Mini-Belle Peppers. I'd love some suggestions for eggplant varieties. Good bug-resistant ones. Not Black Beauties, we're more fond of Japanese-type eggplants. A suggestion for a mild hot pepper would be nice, we're not into mouth-burning varieties or heat for the sake of heat. And last year we were given a zucchini that was green, round, and about the size of a softball but the person who gave it to us didn't know what variety it was either. I'd like to grow that, we really liked it and we are so burnt out on regular zucchini. Anyone familiar with it?

We built this shelf last year for starting our seeds and it became really useful beyond that: http://eatingfloyd.blogspot.com/2011/... I wanted to share it because we were able, for the first time, to grow really healthy, stocky transplants with it.

What's going into your garden?

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  1. Thanks for the details in the blog post. That is exactly what I hope to put together for my first attempt at seed starting. I've got to get on that! I don't have advice for specific varieties, but wanted to thank you for the info . . . so glad to hear it works well for year round greens and herbs. I definitely see us using it for that next winter.

    Do you run a B&B in Floyd? My husband is a VT grad, and we don't get down for games often, but always seem to have trouble finding a place to stay when we do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: centralpadiner

      We do and we'll be back open starting May 1st. The area fills up for miles around way in advance for any VT event so I'm not surprised to hear you've had accommodation difficulties. Leave a comment on the blog and I can get in touch with you from there.

    2. I have had good results with Orient Express eggplant in Chicago. Johnny's carries the seeds. This variety seems to coexist pretty well with flea beetles.

      There are a number of varieties of round zucchini. Johnny's carries three different ones while Burpee's has a straight Eight Ball and a mix. I grew one of the lighter green types once (Rolly Poly IIRC) and would never do it again as the the squash are hard to spot and grow very rapidly beyond a good size for eating. The golden one from Johnny's might be a good choice.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Eldon Kreider

        I am 7b, so I have started tomatoes, peppers and chard already. I have moved my garden and put in raised beds, so it's all from scratch this year.

        I decided to start from all old seed (I had a ton!) and see what happens before I bought more. I heavily seeded each cell hoping to get a couple good ones and probably have 80% germination. Some of the seed was packed for 2000. I'll have to write Johnny's and Cooks Garden and tell them. I certainly never expected all of them to be viable, so I'll probably end up trying to sell some transplants at the farmer's market. It's not like I can just toss them! Of course, I could put in another bed, too!

        I started Golden Summer, Hungarian Stuffing and Boldog peppers. I grew Anchos with good success but found the heat varied so much from pepper to pepper, even on the same plant, that menu planning was tricky! The range went from no hotter than a bell, to pretty spicy. They might work for your pepper choice, if you don't mind the range.

        For tomatoes I started Bellstar, Matts Wild Cherry, First Lady, Big Beef, Garden Peach, Polish Linquisa, Matina, Cluster Grande, and Jubilee.

        I have never had much luck with eggplant, but I am going to start Ichiban and Neon and see if the new location helps.

        I am also going to try potatoes in a separate pile and use straw. I am using a fingerling potato. I've never grown potatoes before so we'll see.

        1. re: NanH

          We are in quite different climates, but Orient Express eggplant has outperformed Ichiban for me in every way.

          1. re: Eldon Kreider

            Thanks for the tip! I'll put that on the list.

            1. re: Eldon Kreider

              Ichibans grew well for me in NY (as in, jayzuz! not more eggplant!) but have been a total no show here in VA. Orient Express it is.

              I did manage to get some eggplants last year by growing them in pots raised higher than flea beetles can jump. That rec was 3' off the ground. It worked, but only enough for fresh eating.

            2. re: NanH

              We refer to these charts concerning the viability of well-stored seeds when inventorying our seed stash:
              http://growingtaste.com/storage.shtml

              1. re: morwen

                Wow, so my 11 year old seed that have been in the crisper are superstars! Peppers, chard and tomatoes all made an appearance. I think the peppers had the lowest germination rate.

              2. re: NanH

                I've been considering the straw potato bed. I've grown potatoes before in tire towers which was a great space saver and made harvesting easy. But now I've got loads more space and I like the idea of reaching into the bed on occasion and coming up with a handful of baby potatoes for supper. Just picked up Irish Cobbles today.
                I still have a number of fingerlings a friend gave me from his harvest last year. I have no idea what variety they are other than tasty. They're in good shape and I'm saving them for our own garden this year.

                1. re: morwen

                  The reaching in thing is what has me convinced, too. I read a little about it and it sounds dead easy, which is why I am nervous about it! The variety I am trying is 'Swedish Peanut'.

            3. Love the shelf.. will have to figure out where I could fit something like that.....

              I have a suggestion for a medium-hot pepper, not mild. Last year I bought a start of Lemon Drop on a whim because I liked the name and it turned out to be wonderful. Small, jalapeno-size but thinner peppers, medium-hot that turn green to bright lemon yellow. They were nice fresh, but have turned out to be my favorite pickled pepper this winter. Ideal size for 8 oz jars, lovely color, great flavor.
              http://www.localharvest.org/lemon-dro...

              Could the zucchini be Ronde de Nice? http://www.reneesgarden.com/seeds/pac...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Junie D

                I was intrigued by Lemon Drops when I read about them and I have them on my wish list. As it turns out, my husband found and ordered the Ronde de Nice zucchinis.

                If you go for the purchase of a shelf like that, depending on your space requirements, Improvements has this dandy 10"x24" pantry caddy on wheels on sale right now: http://www.improvementscatalog.com/pr...

                I haven't seen this size in the big box home stores.

              2. The shelf is excellent! I built a similar one out of wood, OG had instructions, but I clearly missed out because yours is good looking and doesn't list alarmingly to the left.

                1 Reply
                1. re: NanH

                  We're still giggling over the "doesn't list alarmingly to the left" part, having built things in the past that acquired an alarming list. Thank you! and please, go drop your review in the comment section where we can continue to enjoy it!

                2. I've planted the small, round zucchinis. They're great for stuffing.

                  I'll be planting French breakfast radishes, okra, Sicilian eggplant, arugula, endive, romaine, cilantro, parsley, beefsteak tomatoes, jalapenos, red peppers, cylindrica beets, peas, haricots verts, Chinese long greens, tomatillos, zucchini, fingerlings and red-skinned potatoes (not sure which variety yet).

                  Also hoping to try growing padron peppers this year.

                  1. Well, all my plants are popping now!

                    Harvesting greens, chard, bok choy, radishes, broccoli rabe, and spinach like crazy lately!
                    Even my peperonicno and cayenne plants are still producing from last April!
                    Onions, potatoes, and garlic are well on their way and looking good. Should be another month or so before pulling them.

                    I've currently got tomatoes (San Marzano and Belmonte), cucumbers, a large variety of peperonicno/peperoncini, eggplant, zucchini, melon, artichoke, and various herbs all outside picking up some heat and doing very well. Probabaly ready for transplanting in April.

                    Zone 10 makes it so much more managable.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Novelli

                      "Zone 10 makes it so much more manageable." Wow, I would say so! I live in Zone 1 where we've had snow on the ground for over four months and expect much more to come. We don't even consider planting anything until the end of May at least. Our ground is rock solid deep down for nearly half a year.

                      Having said that, I am making out my seed order and cannot wait to plant in our raised beds when we finally get Spring.

                    2. The tomatoes, Fingerling eggplants, and Carnival and Marconi peppers are seeded. We found a round zucchini called Rounde de Nice to be seeded a little later and I'm still trying to decide on a medium hot pepper. I think I'm going to go with a sweet cherry pepper in place of the Mini-Belles and Zavories I grew last year. The broccoli is getting planted out in one of the tunnels this weekend and I might go ahead and seed the leaf lettuce and spinach at the same time. We're still eating mixed leaf lettuce out of the indoor tub but it's beginning to get pretty leggy and we may get only a couple more cuttings from it.

                      It's pretty obvious that our artichokes didn't make it through the winter. We didn't get them bedded properly so we're going to till that up and put more asparagus in there. The garlic and shallots are up and the herbs are starting to poke through.

                      All of our seeds have arrived now so we'll be starting seedling tubs in earnest over the next few weeks.

                      http://eatingfloyd.blogspot.com/2011/...

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: morwen

                        I missed your request for eggplant recs in your original post! I've had great luck with Thai green. Japanese-style, long thin fruits with a light green skin, no peeling needed. Planted side-by-side with Ichiban it did much better in our garden. I bought a packet of seeds from Seed Savers exchange a few years ago but it's disappeared from their mainstream catalog. It might still be available to their members, though.

                        1. re: gimlis1mum

                          oops. I am looking at the Seed Savers catalog now and there it is - Thai Green Eggplant. My bad.

                          1. re: gimlis1mum

                            While I was still looking at eggplant varieties, Michael had already gone ahead and planted a variety called "Little Fingers". I'm not familiar with it but he says it's a Japanese-style variety. We've just transplanted them into larger pots and are hoping that putting them in the garden as bigger plants will get them past the flea beetle devastation which seems to be what brings them down every year. Last year I grew Ichibans in pots which was successful but limited us to fresh eating. I like to have enough eggplants to freeze as casseroles for quick winter meals.

                            1. re: morwen

                              Flea beetles are my bane, as well. Since I also run afoul of squash vine borers, I am going to try some floating row covers this year. I guess the big thing will be timing it so the plants get big, but taking them off when thy flower so I can get pollination. Although I wonder if the row covers are fine enough to repel flea beetles.

                              It's always something.

                              1. re: NanH

                                So far, flea beetles are one thing that has not troubled me. I supposed you've both tried to use trap crops?
                                http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/l...

                                The only thing that's defeated our vine borers is to grow butternut squash, which is supposed to have extra-tough vines. I resisted the strong urge to try out other squash varieties this year...but caved on a cantaloupe. We'll see if it survives.

                                Do you think the vine borers would chew through landscape cloth? Could I lay it all around the plants and hope for the best?

                                1. re: gimlis1mum

                                  I don't remember if it was here or another thread but I recommend Surround for protecting tree fruits and veg that are technically really fruit from boring, eating, deforming bugs. It's made from kaolin which is a kind of clay and you spray it on emerging fruits and veg (in the case of borers on the vine's stem just above the ground as well) and it sets up a barrier between bugs and fruit or plant. It's permeable to the sun and air. It will eventually wash off and you'll need to respray. We use it mainly on squash and fruit trees but it works on tomatoes as well. It's not attractive since it covers the produce with a grayish white powder but it's harmless (kaolin is often used in cosmetic and food applications) and you can use it right up to day of harvest. It rinses off easily. When it comes to damaged or lost crops vs bringing a crop to table or preservation, I choose unattractive in the garden but tasty on the table every time. We got turned on to it by the certified organic farmers around here. They MUST bring their crops to market and they swear by it. Surround is kind of pricey at retail but if you can find a few friends and go in on a bulk bag, or find growers in the area already using it and buy small amounts from them the price becomes reasonable.

                      2. We made quite a bit of progress last weekend. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, leeks, peas, all planted in the beds.

                        Photos: http://eatingfloyd.blogspot.com/2011/...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: morwen

                          Great pics! I'm jealous of your garden. Hadn't hear of dog roses, either; I'll have to look into it. I'm looking for a few roses for all the same reasons :-)

                          1. re: gimlis1mum

                            Boy, I was astound until I read that you are in VA. I keep thinking you are in up state NY with a climate more like mine here in NH. Love your tunnels. This year we HAVE to get ours done.

                            1. re: dfrostnh

                              We use to be in upstate NY, just east of Corning. The tunnels worked well there too although not as far into deep winter as they do here, and we definitely got a far earlier start in the spring with them.

                        2. Well, let's see. Most everything is seeded or in now, except for peppers, squash and corn.

                          I took a risk and put the tomatoes in a bit early, but that worked out okay. I started my seeds while I was working in Florida this winter. I just had my trays on the ground, which was fine, until the new puppy expressed an interest in gardening, so I put the trays on a couple 2 x 4s across the top of a barrel. When it came time to load up, of course the last tray tumbled to the ground because I failed to remember the balance. 30 tomatoes all jumbled up, so no idea what they were. One had a potato leaf, so I remembered that one, and the cherry tomato was an extremely slow starter, so I picked out that one, too. Fortunately, I had others to choose from and I guessed a a couple more. It was a good way to limit myself to ten plants.

                          My old seed continues to be viable. 8 year old mesclun seed is up like crazy. Sadly, it reminded me of the old saying about weeds, 'One year seeding, seven years weeding.' No sign of the carrots, though. I've never had much luck with carrots. The Chioggia and Golden beets are in evidence, so that makes me happy.

                          There are a lot of potatoes in a 1 1/2 pound bag! It prompted me to quickly put in another bed. I am looking forward to some tiny fingerling new potatoes.

                          Some critter has already been sampling the chard, so I'll be checking on morwen's animal control method.

                          How is everyone else doing?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: NanH

                            I'm late on everything! The weather was not cooperating much around here, and then when the weather was OK I couldn't get out into the garden. i've been doing a lot of potting up and transplanting things, preparing to move more stuff around and into the new fruit garden. Just went out this afternoon with my son and we planted some lettuce and peas in "his" garden.

                            The garlic I planted last fall is looking great, and my multiplier onions seem to have made it through the winter. The sorrel has some eating-sized leaves on it, and some mache that I plated a couple of years ago has sprung up around the garlic. So I am hoping to have our first salad in a couple of weeks.

                          2. We've been eating radishes, arugula, spinach and red choi-- so delicious! Three tomatoes that I started from seed are in the ground and seem to be doing well. The chard and kale just popped up. The basil is tiny but there's a lot of it. The carrots took their own sweet time germinating but the greens are about 4" tall now. The baby butter heads look gorgeous. I'll think they'll get eaten in a week or so. My potato towers finally shot out a dozen or so leaf furls. I suspect that their too compacted and may suffer for it. The snap peas are about 8" tall. I'm going to poke some bush beans down into a newly prepped bed tomorrow. The fennel and nettle bed hasn't germinated but its only been in for a week. The cats have been sleeping in it so who knows?

                            1. Our garden is coming along nicely. We've been spring foraging too. Wild garlic, dandelion greens, jerusalem artichokes so far. Haven't found any ramps yet but I know they're out there.

                              Foraging pictures and recipes here: http://eatingfloyd.blogspot.com/2011/... and here: http://eatingfloyd.blogspot.com/2011/...

                              Garden update and photos here: http://eatingfloyd.blogspot.com/2011/...

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: morwen

                                Wow-- so inspiring! Your chickens are lovely. What kind are they?

                                1. re: kellylee

                                  They're tetra tint hybrid pullets. From what I can tell (there isn't much out there about them) they're bred exclusively for Tractor Supply stores. They'll mature at about 5# and lay cream colored eggs. We were originally going to order Buff Orpingtons and we may still get them, but these were at the store, sexed, with no shipping involved so we ran with it. You can see baby pictures here: http://eatingfloyd.blogspot.com/2011/...

                                  1. re: morwen

                                    We have 3 Buffs and 2 Austrolorps. The buffs are big girls and lay big eggs. They're a total delight. Brown eggs. Have fun with yours! I'm enjoying your blog-- thanks for sharing!

                              2. As of 04/14/11 everything is going as planned…well, maybe a little slower because of the weird weather, but no real complaints. Got the occasional dampening off on a couple pepper plants, but I replanted and kept a closer watch on the soil dampness.

                                My current plantings/seedlings include:

                                16x potato plants that are blooming beautifully (8x Russets, 8x Yukon gold)
                                30x Tropea Onions – transplanted in January
                                20x Italian garlic – planted in November
                                18x San Marzano tomato plants to be transplanted in about 1-2 weeks.
                                12x Belmonte tomato plants – 1-2 weeks until transplant.
                                10x Sugar Cherry tomato plants
                                6x Pugliese artichokes
                                12x Zucchini San Pasquale
                                6x Pugliese cucumber/melon
                                10x Borlotto beans
                                16x Italian eggplants
                                12x Calabresi Pepperoncino
                                12x Calabresi Pepperoni di Senise
                                12x Corno di Toro
                                12x Sweet Napoli pepper
                                12x Super Cayenne
                                12x Calabresi Cornaletto Picante
                                12x Calabresi Picante Cherry peppers
                                2x Caper bushes…1st attempt…we’ll see how it goes!

                                I’ve got all the standard herbs going as well.

                                Arugula is just barely starting to bolt, so I may be able to get another pound or 2 out of them before they go completely bitter. Spinach is still doing very well, but I may harvest it all out in the next week to make room for the summer transplants. Next year I need to plant more Broccoli Rabe and Kale than I did this year. It was so good, I couldn’t stop munching on them. I also think I’ll hold off on radishes next time. They were fun and very easy to grow, but I didn’t use them nearly as much as I thought. Most bolted, but brought some nice bees to the area, as did the bok choy.

                                Have some massive blooms on my lemon and blood orange trees! I just hope they don’t all fall off before producing!

                                I’m really hoping I get ridiculously large harvests this year for preservation and canning. It seems each year I go bigger and bigger, but it’s never enough!

                                Did I mention I live alone? LOL

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Novelli

                                  What zone are you in? I envy you your artichokes! We planted Violettas which are supposed to do ok in our zone 6 winters and grew prolifically through the summer and fall, but we got caught off guard by an early unseasonable winter blast and didn't get them protected in time. Looks like if we want artichokes here we're going to have to go with the Imperial Globes.

                                  And capers! I grow nasturtiums so I can make faux capers.

                                  We grow Marconis but I've been tempted by the Corno di Toros. Have you tried Marconis and if so, which do you prefer?

                                  1. re: morwen

                                    I'm in SoCal Zone 10 on the San Pedro/Palos Verdes cliffs. It's been hit and miss this year with the weather, but the last couple of weeks has been heating up fairly well.

                                    Boy can those artichoke plants get huge. Last time I grew them (3 years ago), I had to keep cutting them back, they got sooo big.

                                    As for the peppers, it's hard to say. I think it would be a personal preference. The Marconis are great, but I think they have thicker walls than the Corno di Toros, yet the Cornos can grow to a much larger size that the Marconis. If I recall the Corno di Toros dried a little bit better due to their thinner walls, but Marconis were good fried fresh.

                                    There's also some abandoned lots and trails around the area where I go to get wild fennel, but just last night I saw that some wild fennel has started to grow out in front of my house on the street. Really happy about that.

                                  2. re: Novelli

                                    What are you going to do with all those cherry tomatoes? Your garden sounds fabulous. It looks like your cooking influences what you grow. I had one pepperocini plant last year and decided we just don't care for that variety but perhaps I didn't try the right recipes.

                                    Although we use a lot of onions, I only grow a few onions and none for storage. I grow a few carrots but think grocery store carrots are just as good. This year I'm going to try harder to have better beets because the ones we had last year were wonderful. I grow some things because what I grow tastes a lot better than what I can buy at the store.

                                    1. re: dfrostnh

                                      I agree. Homegrown is always tops as far as taste and quality.
                                      Thanks for the compliment. Yes, the garden sounds fabulous, but boy is it some work to keep going. I work 40-50 hour weeks, M-F, and usually spend an additional 5-6 hours, after getting home from work, in the garden. After all that and a hot meal, I'm toast.

                                      The cherry tomatoes? I can put a bowl of them outside on a table and snack on them all day while working outside. I use them continuously either on pizza, in pasta, salads, stuff and pickle them (with good tuna is really delicious), or just eat them fresh.

                                      The Tropea onions I'm growing are not storing onions at all, so they don't last very long. I'm going to use them to make a sweet/spicy peperoncino onion jam to slather on my morning bread.

                                      1. re: Novelli

                                        Cherry tomatoes halved, sprinkled with olive oil, garlic, s&p, and the appropriate fresh herbs, low and slowly caramelized in the oven, then packed into snack-sized zip-locks and frozen are a great way to preserve them if you have a glut. I grow Principe Borghese now for this purpose and for drying and fresh snacking.

                                  3. Getting more snow today. Will our winter ever end?? :-( I want to at least SEE some soil...

                                    1. Borage and calendula are growing fast! Time to plant castor beans and kale. It was cold today! Raccoons stole the suet feeder. Deer ripped out my pansies and ate my tree peony flower buds. Very upset.

                                      Morwen, love your blog.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                        Ooh, thanks!

                                        "Raccoons stole the suet feeder. Deer ripped out my pansies ..." ...Dingos ate my baby...
                                        Sorry, had to go there. ;-)

                                        1. re: morwen

                                          Thanks for the laugh. What movie introduced that phrase into our lives?

                                          FYI - Deer don't eat cleome it you need some color in your herb patch. They will reseed freely. They also avoid sage.

                                          1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                            Don't know if it was in a movie. I came across it years ago reading an article about a woman who claimed that dingos snatched her baby and dragged it off into the bush. Then the phrase seemed to take on a life of it's own.

                                            1. re: morwen

                                              Meryl Streep played Lindy Chamberlain in " A Cry in the Dark", a film about this instance.

                                              Elaine on Seinfeld brought the phrase to mass public awareness

                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghCTZF...

                                      2. All I can say is..."Holy cow!"

                                        I have volunteers popping up all over the place in my beds! Cucumbers, melons eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. The only problem is that I don't know what breeds they are!

                                        I scooped a few of them up and put them in pots until I can identify what exactly they are.

                                        I have a feeling a lot of it was from throwing out my scooped melon seeds into the compost bin last summer. Now it's finally getting warm enough for them to germinate.

                                        I almost want to leave them be in the beds to see how prolific they'll turn out to be, but I've got trays upon trays of seedlings that need to make it out into the garden in the next week!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Novelli

                                          If you planted heritage or open pollinated varieties last year you definitely got a gardening bonus! If they were hybrid seeds well, maybe a little less so since hybrids have a tendency to revert back to the less desirable traits of their parents.

                                          But either way, if you have more seedlings than you can use, find a community garden, a school garden, a nursing home or retirement village, or other such organization to donate the transplants to, or designate an area in your garden for the "Plant a Row, Feed the Hungry" program that many food banks are associated with. Your local cooperative extension may have a list of places looking for such donations.

                                        2. Botanical Interests Seeds does a Baby Round Zuccini-- medium-green slightly striped skin, but round. And for 2012 (available this fall), they are introducing a typical oval/tapered light-skinned summer squash like the calabacitas found in Mexican groceries. 'Tatuma' is the variety.

                                          http://www.botanicalinterests.net/BIV...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: toodie jane

                                            We did nail a round zucchini - some Italian heirloom whose name escapes me at the moment. Michael was determined and diligent. I've got beautiful transplants on the porch waiting to go in the ground if it ever stops raining.

                                            Seriously, it's been raining for a month now and the only thing saving our butts is we live on top of a mountain. As of yesterday it stopped raining for 2 days and I was able to get most of the tomatoes in. I figured I was faced with they're gonna die in the flat or die in the wet ground. Might as well put them in the ground. So I did. It started raining again at 11 pm last night and is still raining.

                                          2. Pulled up the remainders of my potato harvest yesterday morning. This quick harvest was only 15 pounds (7 lbs yukon gold, 8 lbs russets), but add that to the 33 pounds I harvested a week back, and I'm stocked for the rest of the year.

                                            Right now I have them all hanging in pantyhose in a dark closet for storage.

                                             
                                             
                                             
                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Novelli

                                              I"m still hilling like crazy. I pretty much have to add straw every day! How will I know when to stop?

                                              1. re: NanH

                                                Hilling is only needed to keep exposed potatoes from sunlight. I wouldn't hill them any more than 8-10 inches total. After that, you just let them sit and do their thing. If you happen to see one poking out, toss some straw on it to keep it out of the sun.

                                                Once the plants turn brown and the plant dies down, then you're ready to harvest.

                                                1. re: Novelli

                                                  Thanks for the info. I had been wondering if higher hilling would increase the yield.

                                                  1. re: NanH

                                                    deep straw --12"-- is a lot easier than hilling with soil.

                                            2. It stopped raining here finally! Well sort of. Scattered showers are in the forecast but we've had 4 days straight without any. Picked cherries at a local orchard over the weekend and the orchardist said that between late April and the end of May we'd had only 3 days entirely without rain. Now temps are in the unseasonable 90's and we're breaking records for heat. Everyone's rushing to catch up. Everywhere you can hear rototillers, lawn mowers, weed whackers, tractors. Everyone's comparing notes over coffee at the local diner: how much land got plowed, what kind if shape is the soil in, what did you get planted, what did you lose, what's rotted, who lost a hay field to the wet and how many head of cattle need to be sold off to compensate. Early blight has shown up and a lot of nightshade crops have been lost to it already. The local nursery started another round of seedlings a month ago just in case this happened and it looks like it was a smart move. Lettuce is doing ok but spinach is bolting already. Broccoli formed heads and then bolted overnight before we could harvest it. And, as usual, flea beetles took down the eggplants. The peas and fava beans are coming in nicely though. That's a plus! The cabbages are heading up and hopefully the cauliflower and brussels sprouts will make it. It's still to early to tell what's going on with the carrots, beets, turnips, etc., but the radishes are being harvested and seemed to actually benefit from the wet.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: morwen

                                                Be sure to keep some of those bolting veggies in the ground through flowering cycle--they are high nectar producers for beneficial insects who patrol the garden looking for bad guys. Best are carrots, cilantro, dill, fennel, etc. Lettuces, too.

                                              2. Has it stopped raining in Floyd? Tons of rain in NY. I expect the slug army to mobilize soon. The sorrel bolted. Didn't know it would get so tall. The kale that overwintered also bolted and we left it to keep the bees happy. Pretty flowers.

                                                Would love to see some sun coupled with low humidity. Am I unreasonable?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                  do you use Slug-Go? an iron product, non toxic to birds and pets. Works great in California, where we do have sun and low humidity sometimes.

                                                  http://www.google.com/products/catalo...

                                                  1. re: toodie jane

                                                    I usually let everything run it's course. If I pick the greens while still young the sluggos are not too destructive. Just when I forget do we get kale and mustard with holes.

                                                  2. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                    Finally! We had nearly 2 weeks without continual rain and finally got things going. We've had off and on showers but are getting to the point now where we're going to have to water a little. The late spring crops were a disaster. We got some peas and the cabbages are ready to pick. Lettuce is ok but will soon be bitter, no spinach, need to replant chard. Carrots look good but the rest of the root crops, not so much. We're cutting our losses and seeing to the summer veg. We'll just have to put an emphasis on more fall crops this year. I don't think the larder is going to be bursting like it was last winter.

                                                    I swear by Sluggo, toodie jane. I just saw a new formulation that's supposed to keep down flea beetles, earwigs, and sow bugs along with the slugs. Haven't tried it yet but will as soon as the current canister is gone.

                                                  3. Harvested out my Tropea Onions (Cipolla rossa di Tropea) today. Letting them sit out and cure for a couple days in the sun, then I'll braid them and hang them up. My understanding is that they aren't really meant for my climate, but I'll keep trying!

                                                    Not quite as big as I had hoped for, but gardening is always work in progress.

                                                     
                                                     
                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Novelli

                                                      Oh, my! Those are gorgeous photos. Looks like a successful harvest! We just finished PLANTING things here last week so are a wee bit behind other gardening zones. :-p