Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our Springtime Gardening Progress.

In years past, when clearing out the old plants in preparation for the spring planting, I would pull the plants and put them on a pile and then use my lawn mower to roll over the top of them until it was all shredded material for my compost pile. After it was all cut up, I would put the bagging attachment on the mower and go over it again and bag it, then dump it on the compost pile. It was a lot of work and it always left kind of a nasty juicy area on the lawn where I mulched it.

This year, I tried something different...

It was a lot easier mowing over the individual broccoli plants than it was to pull them all and make a large pile and then try to run the mower over it all. I will use this method again next year.

This is what my broccoli rows look like after I mowed them over just one time. It was slow going, but it was a lot easier on the ol' back. The broccoli plants were larger than the collard plants you can see in the picture.

After tilling the broccoli portion of my garden for the first time this year, this is what it looks like. Pretty good, I think. After I tilled it this first time, my son Jonathan tilled it again. One more tilling after the collards are pulled, and I'll be planting my Fortex Green Bean seeds from Johnny's Selected Seeds and the rest of the crops.

This is my west plot where I had two rows of broccoli. That area is all tilled up as well. You can see the row of giant marconi green pepper stalks to the left of center of the picture. You can also see my compost area in the top left corner.

The warm weather is the enemy of the collards. Here are a couple of pictures showing how wilted they get in the heat of the day.

As you can see, some of the leaves are almost lying on the ground from the heat of the day. Consequently, the collards will be pulled up in the morning when they have snapped back and the leaves are full and crisp. I'm not waiting any longer to do that.

My Brown Turkey Fig tree is growing very nicely! I pruned eleven shoots from it and stuck each of them in a hole in the ground after I rammed a 1/2 inch rod into the soil. It made the perfect "socket" if you will, for the shoots to be stuck into so they can try to grow into new trees. When I planted the eleven shoots, they had tight green buds on each of them.

Just one week later, the same shoots have progressed to the point shown in this picture and the following one. The leaves are unfurling and they look just as healthy as can be. If all these figs survive, I will go from one fig tree to twelve fig trees! I know this way isn't the perfect way to start a new tree, but the opportunity was there with the pruned shoots, so I took it. What do I have to lose? Mother Nature doesn't provide perfect growing circumstances, and she does fine. Why not give it a try?

Looks good, don't you think?

Here is my row of Giant Marconi Green Peppers that I tried to winter over in their same growing places. From the looks of the plants, it isn't very hopeful.

In the next three pictures, take a close look at the bark on the "trunks" and see that it is loose and falling off.

It certainly looks like they are dead as doornails. I didn't know which way to go... give them a chance or just go ahead and replant new plants. I needed to find out exactly what condition they were in.

Like being in grade school and having your last name begin with an "A", this plant was the first in the row, so it was selected for reporting the status of it's growth.

I went to pull it out of the ground so I could examine the root system and see if it was possibly alive. You can see the bare trunk as the light tan area. The bark was gone. When I went to pull this stalk out of the ground, after the first two-handed tug it didn't move. I had to give it a good grunt to pull it out of the ground!

I took it to my work table and looked closely at the roots. They were ALL very moist and healthy. No brittleness, dried roots or any negative condition was found on them. However, given the condition of the stalk, I really wasn't sure of the condition of this and the rest of the marconi pepper plants.

I had to do something to find out the condition of the plant. I didn't want to do a destructive test on it in case it was still a viable pepper producing plant. I thought... what could I do to find if there was still life in this plant? The only thing I could come up with was to do a below grade scraping of the bark. As you can see in the picture, the stalk is a healthy green color! That's why it was so hard to pull out! I immediately went and replanted it in the same location so that hopefully it will recover from my investigation efforts.

Even though they look like they are going to rejuvinate very well, I still have no guarantee that they will produce well, if at all. However, I am committed to this "experiment" to see if pepper plants can indeed winter over in a Zone 8a area, even if this was a very mild winter. So they will stay and we all will see how they will produce this year. The next step is to apply dried blood to the soil above the roots, along with general organic fertilizer, and then cover that with cured compost. At that point it will be up to Mother Nature to see them through.

Oh yes, and then there's the buttercrunch lettuce. I am happy to say that it is already going to seed and I will absolutely be saving those seeds for my family's garden next year.

You can see the flowers beginning to form all over the plants. It won't be long and they'll be seeding up and be ready for harvesting.

That's my garden progress at this time. I hope you enjoyed reading about my gardening efforts, especially about the experiment of the peppers wintering over. The actual success of that remains to be seen, but it's looking good.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK


  1. Very interesting pepper experiment VP. It must be really really warm down your way right now! The collards definitely don't like the heat. My overwintered collards look pretty happy right now. With this crazy warm weather, they may just decide to bolt though.

    Your garden is looking good. Keep up the good work!

    1. I really hope the peppers produce well. I don't know if I should cut the stalks off until I see green, or just let them stay and grow however they will.

      Last Thursday it was 86 degrees. A new record for our area.

      Thanks! I will!

  2. I love all these photos fromt he garden. ahhhh, freshly tilled soil, just waiting to be planted...

    Sounds like you have a good new method! Easier on the back is always good.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, that cool fresh soil sure is enticing, isn't it? Our grandkids like to run through it with their bare feet. I love to hear them laughing when they're doing that! Simple pleasures. Pure fun!

  3. Veg, keep those cuttings very moist (not a problem lately - at least on my side of town). They don't have roots to offset the transpiration that the unfurling leaves are going to create. If the leaves get large without root development, you can cut each leaf by 2/3 - there is not much plant for the leaves to feed. Otherwise they will pull to much moisture from the plant that it can't replace. You should be good to go!

    Can't wait to see how the peppers pan out. You couldn't have ordered a better winter to try this!

    PS - You can't beat my compost method. I pull the plants, toss them in to the chickens and rake out nice litter that has compost "pre-fertilized"! LOL - Sybil

    1. Sybil, Thanks for the great info! I went around to the ones that had leaves that were large for the trunk and cut the leaves as you suggested. That was very good info to share and I really appreciate it!

      I bought more pepper plants in case these don't do anything. I really thought there would be some green showing by now, but I'm not giving up. Maybe they knew we would go back to chilly nights again. With the roots being that green, they just have to do something. Maybe when it warms up again...

      I agree! I can't beat your compost method!

      Thanks again for sharing information that can help me.