Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Carrots are finishing up and tomatoes just beginning at PAR Davies.

Hi Everyone,
HARVEST TODAY 67 lbs.       YTD 319 lbs.

Today consisted of harvesting, planting and fertilizing with gardeners Greg, Susan, Jamie, Bob, Martha Montesi, Dianne Campbell, Cathy, Mary Elizabeth and myself.

The big harvests today were onions and carrots. We have just started getting tomatoes. Two of the fennel bulbs were big enough to pull, and I sent three recipes using fennel and onions along with the delivery. We got a few more beets, zucchini, peppers and herbs of parsley, sage, basil and mint. We picked the last of the kale and cleaned out the kale beds. Cathy delivered all to the women's shelter.

Greg planting 'Jade' bush beans.

Jamie added compost and made two beautiful rows to plant bush beans. We were able to fill in empty spots with cucumber towers and a variety of bush beans. Bob picked all the rest of the onions and fertilized the cucumbers and squash with Comfrey tea.

Martha and the 'Midgets'

Martha trained all the Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe on the fence, and transplanted a few more to fill empty spots. Tomatoes were tied up; they seem to be putting out more nice green growth after the rain. Many of the yellow Italian pole beans were eaten by voles, and Susan replanted those and also Camilla cukes.


Two crops not bothered by the voles so far are the peanuts and sweet potatoes. I figure they know if the roots are left intact, there will be more to eat later on. We may have to thin the peanuts when they start putting out their pegs. We purposely planted thick in anticipation of some disappearing.

Sweet potatoes with zucchini at the far end.

The squash bugs are starting to appear, and we had to take out one big plant today. A few more squash were planted last week, and then we will wait until mid-to-late August to plant another crop in anticipation of fewer SVB's.

I hope we can report that we harvested many pounds of tomatoes next week.

Until then,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Raised Beds

Some of you followed along as Dianne built and planted her raised beds.  I used her method when I built some raised beds last fall.  Unfortunately, the place where we "planted" those beds was deemed unacceptable by the contractor who is renovating our house.  So early this spring, we moved them to our next door neighbor's yard.

When we transported all of the fill, we were able to put all of it into one of the frames, due to the natural decomposition that took place over the winter.  That meant that one frame was empty, of course.  I didn't have time to go through the method that I used in the fall - layering shredded newspaper, shredded leaves, topsoil, and manure - because I wanted to be able to plant for this summer.  I remembered a mix from Square Foot Gardening, looked it up, and filled the second bed with it.  The formula is 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost mixture.  For the compost mixture I used cow manure, composted chicken pellets, some fish emulsion - basically all the different kinds of compost I could get my hands on one Saturday morning!

In mid-April, I planted tomatoes and herbs in Bed One (with the original fill) and yellow squash, zucchini, zinnias, and cucumbers in Bed Two (with Mel's Mix.)  The difference is astounding.

Can you believe it?

As it happens, I got a soil test on Bed One that showed a pH of about 7.4.  That's on the high end of what is recommended for vegetables.  One of the symptoms of a higher than desirable pH is chlorosis, where leaves turn light green or yellow, but veins remain green.  This is what is going on in the tomato bed.  The soil test also recommended that I add nitrogen as the plants became established.  What with trying to finish up the renovation, I haven't been paying too good attention to these beds.  So last weekend I added aluminum sulfate (to lower the pH) and nitrogen to the bed.  I also sprinkled some Epson salts around the tomatoes, per Dianne's advice.

I'll take another photo in a few weeks so that we can see if there's any improvement.

P. S. - Dianne is amazed as well and plans on changing her recommendation re the fill for raised beds!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So much happening at PAR Davies

Hi Everyone,
HARVEST TODAY 45 lbs.       YTD 221 lbs.

What a great day we had. MUCH was accomplished with Mary Elizabeth, Karen, G.A., Jamie, Trisha, Maxine, Susan, Nancy, Martha, Janet and myself. With all we did this post may be longer than least with more photos.

Mr. Stripey is much taller than all the other tomato varieties.

G.A. started out the morning by mulching our tomatoes. We couldn't mulch them until they were bigger and the roots were tougher. Voles love to get under mulch, and we waited longer than we would like, thus allowing the possibility of disease splashing on the plants from the soil beneath. Only one row of tomatoes seem to be susceptible to aphids and a disease causing leaves to spot and turn yellow. These are the Roma VF, which will not be planted again because of this. These were sprayed with Neem for the aphids.

We are starting to see lots of tomatoes.

However, the one variety that is excelling is Mr. Stripey! They are by far the tallest in my garden at home too. I remember at the Tomato Tasting last year that we really liked the flavor of these.

We had a nice varied harvest of squash, onions, peas, cabbage, kale, lettuce, a few strawberries, herbs, mustard, beets and chard, and Martha delivered all to the women's shelter.

Rainbow and white chard.

The last squash plant was uncovered, and the stem had been invaded by the squash vine borer. None of the others has been bothered yet, and no squash bugs seen. All areas around the stems were sprayed with Bt and the stems of the Cavelli zucchini and yellow summer squash were injected with Bt. We harvested three squash that formed under the cover, telling us for sure that these are self fertile.

Marinade injector used to inject Bt into the squash stems.

We harvested all the cabbage and kale in Bed 6, and prepared the bed with some of our beautiful compost for planting of the peanuts. Since no one had ever planted peanut 'seeds' before, we hope we did it right. The variety is 'Tennessee Red.' There were a few seeds left over in case there were some mess-ups. Tall sunflowers were planted at the end of the peanut bed.

Check out the picture below for the great compost sifter Bob made. The compost is full of earthworms, and after being sifted, almost has the consistency of earthworm castings....very rich and black.

Compost sifter and final result.

Some of the beets from the in-ground bed were harvested. They seemed to get larger than when they were planted in the raised beds! They were big and beautiful. We really need to quit planting them in the raised beds with results like this.

Detroit Red Beets.

We have harvested all of the Japanese Red Mustard and left one stalk to harvest the seeds for a fall planting. This was really some great mustard--large and pretty, and tasted good too. When we plant again we will know to space them just a little closer together, especially since the voles 'thinned' these out. So remember workers, don't pull this one out until we get the seeds. This will have to be checked on often to make sure the pods don't open and scatter the seeds.

Japanese Red Mustard plant forming seed pods.

We are harvesting the onions as they mature, however, we still have lots of smaller ones left, which will stretch out our harvest over the next month at least. The white and yellow onions are maturing much faster than the red ones.

Red, white and yellow Dixondale onions.

Martha picked a nice bunch of herbs to send along...Chinese celery, basil, chives, parsley and mint. Along with these we sent Nasturtiums, the flowers and leaves. We knew that the flowers were edible, but Martha told us that the leaves can be added to salads too. We taste tested the leaves and they were quite good with a nice bite. We are so glad the ladies at the shelter are as adventurous as we are...they stated that everything we send them is used. But we may have reached the limit with Nasturtiums! They are pretty even if they don't want to eat them.


One last prize specimen...the artichoke. There is only one remaining and it seems to be thriving. I have a few more started from seed, and hope that they reach a good size so they can be transplanted to the garden before it gets too cold. I have seen a whole field of these that were in the ground for four years in Memphis. However, I don't know if they survived last winter.

'Emerald' Artichoke

The leaf lettuce is still looking pretty and not bolting yet, but this may be the last harvest. There was more weeding done and cardboard put down in areas. Cabbage was sprayed in addition to spraying the cucumbers with the witch hazel mixture. Carl Wayne at the Victory Garden has been using this as a bug deterrent, so we are trying it too....2 oz. witch hazel to about a liter of water and a few drops of plain dish soap.

I apologize for the length of this report, but there is just a lot going on now--and this is good! We do have pest and disease problems, but are so thankful for our many successes. We learn something new every week.

'Til later,

Memphis' Newest Arboretum

From the June, 2014 issue of Branching Out, the newsletter of the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council:

International Place, a campus of three 10-story towers on Poplar Avenue in Memphis, is a new Level 1 arboretum.

The global headquarters of International Paper has a 1.5-acre front lawn with 34 species of trees, including specimen oaks up to 36-inch caliper. The courtyard has a meandering stream feature, a small waterfall, and several understory varieties of trees.

Check it out!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Garden Contest!

The Commercial Appeal and Graham's Outdoor Living are sponsoring a garden contest with $2,192 in winner takes all prizes!  The deadline is June 13, so submit your photos now!