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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spring Garden Tour

I got my early stuff in back at the beginning of March, so I guess I should be okay with it being mid-May before all my tomatoes (precious tomatoes, if I could grow only one thing, that'd be it) are in.

Last year, I probably could have put those maters out March 1 if I could have found transplantable tomato plants that early. But as freaky warm as last winter was, this one made up for it in the other direction with frost all the way past May 1, the usual tomato transplant green-light date here.

We're most of the way to our goal of an edible yard. We have four fruit trees and a spot designated for a fifth, maybe a fifth and sixth if I can find a way to get Kingston Black cider apple trees here. Plus we have something like 22 raised beds growing everything from asparagus to spinach to onions to tomatoes to grapes, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb (my wife insists that stuff is edible), cucumbers, squash, and so on.

Assorted basils, even some ornamental flowers in the mix. When you have neighbors getting weird over growing edibles in the front yard, you have to do some defensive flower planting.

My idea is to make a pad of 'tickets' that look a lot like what you'd get from a code's department and start citing people for growing inedibles in their front yards. Here's a ticket for growing grass with no apparent ruminants, goats, sheep, etc., Without that livestock, grass is as useless as any noxious weed, at best holding the soil down.

Since I'm not really ready to add a ruminant to our stable of pets, I plan to replace as much of my lawn as possible with salad.

And I finally got my tomatoes treated with anti-fungal. I think I learned a valuable lesson about that, actually.

Last year I had terrible problems with disease in my tomatoes, and I first blamed a spotty treatment plan. I didn't hit the plants anywhere near every seven to ten days like I meant to. But looking at my dial & spray applicator this spring, I realized that I may not have applied any anti-fungal at all last year. I couldn't get the thing to flow at all and after trying to get it cleaned up enough to work (it had dried up Ortho in it), I bought a new one and couldn't believe the difference. You can actually see the stuff in the water when it's on the 1 tablespoon setting I use for the tomatoes.

So last year, when I thought I was treating with anti-fungal, I was probably just getting the leaves wet and creating a playground for the various blights that attack tomato plants.

I did make a super effort to clean the applicator this evening. I'm not sure I ever did with my old one, and I got it at least four years ago.

I hit the hops and grapes with it, too, better safe than sorry. Those are both crops, the hops for sure, that are highly vulnerable. I wouldn't think spraying the stuff on mushroom crops would be wise, but other than that, this far from harvest, why not?

I found I was out of bug spray, something I only grudgingly started to use last year after losing a second entire crop of cucumbers to gray beetles and the diseases they carry. I have several varieties of cukes planted this year, I need to get something to protect them from the six-legged beasts.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for 'organic' gardening, and my general attitude is to plant enough to take care of the pests along with yourself, but when you get an entire crop wiped out fast, it just sucks.

Plus, at least I know what I have treated things with and when, that's not really something you know when you buy produce. Even that 'organic' stuff, who knows that cheats may have been resorted to?

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