Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Garden Has Woe

 I know I've said it plenty, but MAN is it a rough garden year!  Josh did a lot of work out there today, so I have another update.  He dug up almost all of the potato plants, which was just pitiful.  We got back just about what we planted.  Not sure we really produced much at all (I still need to weigh them and update my harvest totals).  The potato patch was badly flooded soon after it was planted and the first thing to be attacked by the caterpillars, so this wasn't really surprising, but still disheartening.  There are a few plants still out there that he decided to leave because they look really healthy and have a chance of producing more.

With the potatoes out, Josh made three big mounds and planted sweet potato slips.  We've never tried to grow sweet potatoes before, so this will be a bit of an experiment.  They like well draining soil and dry weather, so we should be good there!
He also pulled up all of our broccoli plants.  They had bolted with the warm weather (grown really tall and leggy and put out flowers right away instead of producing broccoli florets we could harvest).  He planted that entire bed with black-eyed peas, another summer loving crop.

The onion bed that got the worst of the insect damage had to be harvested too.  The tops had all bent over, so they weren't going to do anything else even though the onions hadn't grown much yet.  We've basically got a lot of pearl onions, which is still better than nothing.  It's just about the worst crop possible, but still worth the money put in.  There is one other onion bed that looks half-way decent and two beds that were flooded, so they're in rough shape, but still growing.  Now that this bed is empty, we'll probably plant more black eyed peas and maybe more okra here
Surprisingly, the tomatoes are all looking really good.  There is minimal blight and insect damage.  I took the time today to cut off diseased leaves and remove them from the garden.  There are a lot of blooms, but I don't see tomatoes yet. I'm so happy with ollas and drip irrigation for the tomatoes.  We are inundated with blight in this area, I think there's just no getting away from it.  Blight is the worst when soil splashes up on the leaves, so doing away with all sprinkler systems has really helped out on disease control.
The peppers are also doing pretty good.  Minimal insect damage and they're all starting to set fruit.  Here's a tam jalapeno getting started
The bugs still really want to go after my cucumber seedlings, so I haven't thinned them out yet
The beans are happy in their hugelkultur bed.  True to expectations, they have thrived with less water than the rest of the garden. 
The black beans are starting to bloom.  Their purple flowers add a nice bit of color out there!
 After looking around and pulling some weeds, I knew I needed to spray neem oil again.  The insect damage has slowed down, but the younger plants were needing some help.  Trouble is, I saw lots of these guys out there:
Ladybugs are a beneficial insect to have around, so I didn't want to hurt them.  Since they aren't chewing or sucking insects, the neem oil on the leaves doesn't bother them, but drenching them with the spray wouldn't be a good idea.  I ended up leaving the healthier looking plants (where there were also more ladybugs) alone and primarily spraying the younger plants that were having more trouble. 

In poultry news, the turkeys are getting big:
Josh tells me one of them will be meeting its fate in a few weeks.

Is anyone else out there having more luck than us?  I'm happy to see fewer caterpillars, but I'm still dreading those grasshoppers that I just know are going to show up this summer!!

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