What’s Growin’ in the Garden 1

Frank had a good idea earlier in the year. We’re going to be showing a time lapse of the garden growth as the season goes along. Harvests and production rates will be noted as well as any difficulties we encounter along the way. In the long run, this will probably be more useful to us, but we hope you find something of interest along the way.

Last year we had a real problem with mosaic virus. Not only did it affect our green beans and Jacob’s Cattle beans (a shell variety like pintos), it affected the tomatoes as well. Not in time to affect last year’s growth and harvest, but hopefully to have a good impact for this year, we applied nematodes. Lots of them. Aribco Organics is a place I have found for beneficial insects. We applied nematodes from them about four or five years ago for slugs and it worked great, I rarely see a slug

in the garden. Well, last year we also started a strawberry bed that seemed to be doing well until later in the season when some of the plants started having brown leaves and dying. The only thing I could find in any of my books was a type of virus and the recommendation was to kill all the plants and move the bed somewhere else. We didn’t want to do that, so they got a healthy dose of nematodes as well. The three pack of various nematodes affects a wide variety of garden pests, so that is what we used. It takes a while for the nematodes to multiply and affect the health of the soil, so we’ll see how it goes. Nematodes are a natural part of the soil which will continue reproduce and become part of the soil as long as nothing comes along to affect the population. There are beneficial and ‘pest’ nematodes that can help or hurt the growth of garden plants.

March 31st

Winter spinach in the back porch bed

Freshly tilled dirt

April 10th
Time to clear some brush from the fence row

Apple blossoms

Turnips blooming and going to seed after spending the winter in the garden
April 12th

Brush removed, tilling complete

Trellises in place for tomatoes, beans and peppers

April 19th
Tomatoes by the trellis, pots of basil, carrots down the middle

Mostly dirt, but lots of potential!
April 22nd

The corn is peaking out.

It’s all planted. Whew! The greenhouse is now empty and in need of a good cleaning. We’ve planted around rain showers and muddy ground. Luckily, we’ve had some pretty windy weather in between that has allowed us to keep planting. I could keep adding more and more pictures and updates, but I’ll take up here with the next garden edition.

Now, we wait. As always we hope to have abundant harvests with lots to eat fresh and even more to put in jars on the shelf. As of today the plantings have included: corn, okra, Thelma Sanders and Cushaw winter squashes, amaranth, beets, tomatoes, carrots, basil, zinnas, nasturtiums, yellow squash, pole green beans, peppers – sweet, bell, banana, jalapeno and our cross pollinated surprise peppers, sunflowers, pinto beans, lettuce, cress, turnips and swiss chard. I think that’s everything.

The strawberries are blooming and have lots of green berries. We hope they continue through the season.

Has anyone grown amaranth? If so, any pointers? We hope to be able to harvest leaves and grain. Another new adventure in gardening and nutrition.

How are things growing in your neck of the woods? We hope your harvest is abundant and your shelves are blessed with many jars.

Until next time – Fern

P.S. Frank bought me a surprise bag of red potatoes yesterday to plant. We had planned on picking up some seed potatoes at the feed store a while back but never made it. The potatoes we saved from last year sprouted a long time ago. They look like some extreme, wild hairdo with long straggly sprouts. Frank was at the store yesterday while I was visiting my mom at the nursing home and spied a bag of red potatoes with lots of eyes. Thus, my surprise. 

After the rain showers pass in a few days, we will have one more addition to squeeze in out there. We plan out our garden with annual maps for rotation and companion planting. After the potato surprise yesterday I got out the map and my Tomatoes Love Carrots book to check for companion placement for the new addition. It’s already pretty crowded out there, but we have a place to squeeze them in. If you looked at the garden now, you might not consider all of that dirt crowded. Just wait about a month or two and you’ll wonder where we walk to harvest and get around.

Some wives want flowers, I wanted potatoes to plant. It’s a great life!

20 thoughts on “What’s Growin’ in the Garden 1

  1. I hope you haven't had any more hail storms, Bluesman. We have had about 5\” of rain over the last few days. It is wet and soggy. I don't think anything will rot from all the wet, but we have our fingers crossed. We're forecast more heavy rain day after tomorrow. The tomatoes are a little droopy from all the rain bending them over. They aren't very big yet and don't have any support from the stock panel trellising. Hope you are able to plant everything you want and have a great harvest this year.Fern

  2. Thanks for all the garden news. We usually don't plant till Mothers's day. This Monday morning we had a 28 degree frost, hopefully the last one for this spring, we'll see. We have a walk in basement with windows so we have a \”starting\” bench there and things are doing well. I got all set to till in the final fertilizer/compost on Saturday and then , Shazam, we had a heavy hailstorm blow through, oh well life goes on.Wish you a bountiful harvest and thanks for all the info and updates.Bluesman

  3. We haven't heard of Charles, but have known a couple of people that do the back to Eden version of gardening and they really like it. It's just not a technique we've ever been drawn to try.I have Eliot Coleman's book and several on year round gardening and greenhouse growing. You're right about microbial life, it's what runs the world. Along with insect life. The more I found out about beneficial insects and how we can 'use' them to combat the ones that want to share our food supply, the more fascinated I become. It still makes me laugh when I remember a friend telling me once, \”You're the only person I have ever known that has a bug book for their garden.\” You can never have too many books or knowledge.Thank you for sharing, Swordsmyth.Fern

  4. We don't plan to weigh out the produce, CW, but 1200 pounds! That seems like a LOT of food. Snow? I have to say it. Better you than me! (-: It's 80* here today, a little windy and we may have a few rain showers later, but I'm really glad it's not snowing!Hope you thaw out soon. Fern

  5. We have a small patch of dirt turned over for the sorghum seeds, but they haven't arrived yet, TB. Again, thank you for the idea and learning experience. We ordered from Baker Creek, it was one of the few places I found for a personal order instead of a business or farm sized order.We bought some bird netting to put on the strawberries, but haven't needed it so far. I wonder if it would work on the sorghum. Hmm….another interesting learning opportunity.Thanks again! Fern

  6. Apologies – I had no intent on creating more issues. But I am glad I created more research.The variety I have grown is known as Dale Sorghum, which is (apparently) a variety of sweet sorghum The original place I purchase from, Bountiful Gardens is sadly out of business. I am glad you were able to find them somewhere else.For harvest, I just let the heads dry on the stalk, cut them off, and hand strip them. I will warn you that if you want to do this, you will need to protect the heads from birds.Unfortunately, the only sumac I am familiar with is the poison type.If you look online, I have seen one or two videos about small scale stalk crushing and sweetener rendering.I have learned so much from you, I am grateful in some small way to return the favor.

  7. Check out Charles Dowding on YT, I think you would like his ideas. You would also like Paul Gautschi's Back to Eden growing method on YT. Along with Eliot Coleman of Four Season Harvest fame. I have incorporated all 3 of their methods on my farm and they have worked wonders on soil creation and building the soil mycorrhizae. There is a huge connection between the microbial life of the soil and our inner terrain. Interesting stuff. Peace and blessings, Swordsmyth

  8. I am very excited to watch your garden from start to finish and your your harvest/production rates! A few years ago, we weighed all of our garden produce, excluding our sweet corn and pumpkins. The total came in around 1,200 pounds! Lots of food for very little money spent. This past week we have been harvesting the early asparagus. That may slow down as we are forecast to receive rain, freezing rain, and snow tomorrow. Take care and prepare, CWfromIowa

  9. The ants \”farm\” the aphids on various plants. I was having trouble with ants doing this on my fruit trees and wound up using a \”goopy\” product that you apply in a ring around the trunk – ants get stuck. Unfortunately, not a solution that would work on numerous plants!Tim(fromOhio)

  10. Mary, one year I planted beets along my pole beans and neither did well. I thought it was a great idea until I read in the Carrots Love Tomatoes that beets and pole beans don't get along.I have saved my garden 'maps' for years now and use them to determine rotation of crops. Then after I think I know a good place for everyone, out comes my companion list of possibilities. That usually causes more movement on the map, until I have a good plan for the year.Then along comes extras like the potatoes Frank bought for me and the sorghum seeds we just ordered thanks to the comment above yours. It's always a good learning experience and we definitely learn new lessons from Mother Nature every year as weather, bugs and energy levels change.Happy gardening!Fern

  11. Well, TB, you have caused a lot more research on our part and the cost of some seeds that are now on the way. And we both say, Thank you!Now I have some questions. Do you grow the grain sorghum type? We found silage types as well. How do you harvest and dry the grain heads?Do you know anything about stag horn sumac? Edibility? Safety? They grow everywhere here, are even considered a nuisance.We plan to grow a small experimental patch this summer when the seeds come in.Thank you again for another learning opportunity.Fern

  12. Thank you for all your gardening advice, both from the past and current blog. We have a new garden plot this year, and are learning as we go. We've had a lot of rain this year, so we're right there with you and planting between rains. So far, all transplants are in the ground, all raised beds are planted, and half of the new garden is planted. Then it rained again yesterday. Time to dry out again. We're getting a dose of what farmers have experienced throughout the years: working with Mother Nature. You really have to be in tune with what's happening every day in order to get things done. BTW, your companion planting advice is much appreciated and I now look differently at how and where to plant. Thank you! From one gardener to another, be blessed by Mother Nature.

  13. Fern, if you have you are trying amaranth, I might recommend you also try sorghum. I am somewhat south of you and it does very well in the climate. The heads are dense and the berries are easy to strip from them. If you grow sweet sorghum it can also be processed for sugar (I have not done it, but I understand the principles.

  14. I got the name of the book in the P.S. backwards, sorry about that. It should be Carrots Love Tomatoes, not Tomatoes Love Carrots. Either way, they're good companion plants. (-:Fern

  15. Hi, Vickie. If you don't mind some questions…. how did you know when the amaranth heads were mature? How did you harvest and store it? Did you grind it for the bread or just add it whole? As the season goes along, I will want to pick your brain a number of times! I have wondered if we would have competition from the birds.Sounds like you are getting your new garden place and home established. Keep us updated on your progress. Have you had any problems with your strawberries leaves browning and the plants dying? We never did figure out what happened, but the plants that are left are growing very well and are loaded with small, green berries. Thanks for sharing! Fern

  16. W, I am really glad you shared this comment. It made me go back and look in my 'bug' books. You will see them in the header picture – The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control and Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver.Your information about aphids spreading mosaic virus is exactly what I found. I wrote the information in the article from memory of what we did last summer. I don't have any documentation since we weren't blogging then. You know, this blog is a good record for us. I refer back to it for a number of things.Drawing on memory, I believe the nematodes would affect the ant population, which in turn could affect our aphid population, which might improve the mosaic virus affect on our plants. One of the types of nematodes we applied from Arbico Organics, the NemaSeek, Hb, \”parasitize and kill insect pests in their larval or pupal stage of development preventing egg laying and limiting crop damage.\”It's been common to have fire ants groom and place aphids on our garden plants as part of their food supply. I was fascinated when I learned that ants 'grow' aphids. They carry the aphids to a desired feeding location, like our garden plants, then as the aphids feed on the plants, the ants feed on the aphid nectar. I discovered this information when I wondered why the ants kept a trail up and down our okra, but didn't seem to damage the plant. Over time we realized those particular plants had become infested with aphids, which led us to research the relationship.The plan is for the nematodes help get rid of the ants from the garden, and reduce the aphid population, to get rid of or greatly reduce the mosaic virus. We'll have to wait and see what the results may be. W., thank you for bringing this information to this article. I don't want to mislead anyone with the data we share.Fern

  17. I grew amaranth a couple of years ago as an experiment, and plan to grow it again once we have permanent garden beds (not in the orchard). It was a great addition to grain bread and we enjoyed popping it…just like popcorn! We didn't eat the greens. I didn't know I could until the plant was almost mature. We didn't seem to have any problems with pests, and although some of our wild birds seemed interested, they didn't bother the seed heads. I will have a smaller garden this year – just the basics – as we are full steam ahead with our house build. We have tomatoes, anaheim peppers, basil, yellow and zucchini squash in the ground. Our strawberry beds are blooming and we finally got our permanent raised beds built and the asparagus planted. I will be direct seeding our green beans and black turtle beans next week. And I wholeheartedly agree…life is good!

  18. I'm not saying you are wrong, but I am curious as to what effect you think the nematodes will have on the mosiac virus? Mosiac virus is spread by insects like aphids feeding on an infected plant and then feeding on an uninfected plant. I'm not sure how nematodes will interrupt this cycle. You may be completely correct, I've just never heard of using nematodes for virus before. Can you point me to where you got your information? Thanks! I look forward to more investigation.

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