Friday, May 18, 2012

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

 Finally, a GOOD garden update!!!  We're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and just hoping it's not a train!

In the squash patch, a few zucchini are starting to peek out:
Some crookneck squash are starting to grow too:
Just in case you don't know, you can easily tell the difference between male and female flowers on these types of plants.  We have plenty of bees around this year, but in the past, I've sometimes taken a q-tip and "played bee" by swiping it inside the male flowers and then the female flowers each morning.  The females have a miniature fruit at the base of the flower right from the beginning:
The male flowers are just on stalks:
There weren't any female flowers open for me to take a picture of, but the inside of the flowers look very different too.  Once you know what you're looking at, you can easily tell the difference.  

While I was looking around at squash plants, I came across this chrysalis on the underside of one of the leaves.  It has the shape of a swallowtail butterfly, but it's smaller and upside down.  I haven't had any luck finding an identification for it online, so I left it.  Any ideas on what it is?
The girls found this guy:
He was so well camouflaged, I didn't believe it was a bug at first!  Sure enough, they reached for it and it did move.  Some sort of moth doing an excellent job pretending to be a dead leaf.

Unfortunately, we found some of these too:
That is a striped cucumber beetle.  Bad bug.  The adults munch on the plants, and the larva live in the soil and eat the roots of the plant.  The adults also carry diseases like wilt and pass them from plant to plant.  Since the adults fly quite well, this can be a big problem.   They come in the striped version pictured above and also this lovely spotted variety:
I set the girls loose with a small container of soapy water and had them pick off all the adults they could find.  I'll be spraying more neem oil this weekend and that will hopefully keep problems to a minimum.

Nearby, our sweet potatoes are starting put out leaves:

We've never grown sweet potatoes before, so we're not really sure how this is supposed to go and if they're doing well or not.  time will tell!

The black eyed peas we planted are really happy (and bug free!):
We'll be planting at least one more bed with black eyed peas, but this is where we started

The peppers are really happy.  The jalapenos are producing well:
And so are the banana peppers:

Even the bell peppers that got crushed by the tree branch a little while ago are doing well (after a little propping to help them stand upright again):
 The tomatoes are the happiest plants in the garden, which is a first.  They aren't fighting off bugs and there aren't major blight problems (I have been trimming affected leaves as necessary to keep it under control).  It's starting to look like a forest of tomato plants in some areas:
The roma tomatoes have set fruit and there are a lot of bunches quickly growing:
The homestead tomatoes are a little behind the romas, but they have set fruit too:

We also have several arkansas traveler tomato plants that are doing well.  They are a heat tolerant variety and will probably be a little later to produce.  We're just starting to see small flower buds form, but none that have opened up yet.

The beans are still happy in their hugelkultur bed.  It looks like we'll probably pick the first batch of green beans this weekend!
And the black beans are just as happy. I love their purple flowers!
Some of the carrots have shoulders starting to peek out.  I'm thinking we'll pull the first ones next week:
All in all, things are really looking up!  I really hope the tomatoes hold out and we are able to harvest a good crop from them.  That would definitely make up for the onion and potato disaster!

One last picture.  One of my buddies in pest control:


One Acre Homestead said...

I'm looking forward to hearing about your sweet potatoes! I've never tried them, either. Our biggest success this year was laying a huge tarp over a section of the garden a month prior to planting to kill all the grass. The weeds & bermuda grass kill us every year. So far, so good on the tarp section! Looking forward to solar weed control use next year!

The Hills said...

That's good to know!! I think we're going to just let the two back beds that got flooded sit empty over the summer and we were talking about covering them like that. The weeds are so bad there now, I think the water just carried a bunch of stuff up. We've talked about making them hugelkultur beds too, keep the plants out of the water if it floods again, but the wood will hold water to get them through drought.


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