Sunday, September 26, 2010

Progress of My Second Crop of Organic Vegetables For This Year.

Bagworms from the neighbor's trees came over and ate the potato plants that were growing nicely in this barrel. I decided that I would plant beets to see how they would do in a barrel as opposed to being in the garden where I had great difficulty with them. I planted the beet seeds in the barrel on September 21st, and they were scheduled to sprout in around 10 to 14 days.

Much to my surprise and delight, when I went out to check on them on the fourth day after they were planted, they had all sprouted. Since I had problems getting them to germinate in the garden the last time I tried, I sure thought it would also be difficult in a barrel container. However, it appears as if germination was close to 100% in only four days.

As with the other root crops, I had extreme trouble for the last three years getting carrots to germinate. After my tomatoberry plant finished producing in the container it was in, I cleaned the debris out and sowed carrot seed in the same container. This is how it looks after I thinned the plants out a little. Of all the carrot seed I planted in years past, none of them ever got to this stage of growth.

This is fennel that I have decided to grow mainly for the sake of the Monarch butterflies. When we visited Bluebird Gap Farm in Newport News, they showed me a patch of fennel that measured about four feet square that has been growing there for over ten years. The fennel was much taller than I was, and that really surprised me. On top of looking very nice, though, it served a more important purpose. It was the food supply for hundreds of monarch butterfly caterpillars, and they were having a feast.

I tried to capture the monarch caterpillars on film, and this is the result. Even the monarch caterpillars are pretty to look at. When I saw their intense activity on this group of plants, I knew I had to plant some fennel for them in my garden. So I am growing fennel for the butterflies, and when the plants get large enough, I will transfer them all to a similar patch in my back yard for the benefit of the butterflies there.

When these leeks grow a little larger, I'm going to transplant them into the garden where they can grow until next spring. Then it will be time for some more leek and potato soup.

These are the green onions for cooking that I bought from WalMart. After I used the scallions (green tops), I stuck the rest of each onion in this flower pot and they grew some more scallions for me to use. It was better to do that than throw them on the compost pile. Now I have more of them. You can also see my French Tarragon. I will get a second cutting off of it this year. I just have to make sure I get it before the frost does.

Here is some of the second planting of dill in one of three pots that I prepared. When it is not hot summertime, some things don't grow as fast, but they still grow.

The Schav, or lemongrass, will give me one more picking this year. Next year I would like to have it in the garden somewhere instead of a flower pot. I think it will grow better.

This two year old horseradish plant is browning out as autumn comes in. I'll harvest it in the late fall, and shred the roots for some delicious horseradish.

The butter beans next to the fortex snap beans are looking very good for the second crop this year. Both the butter beans and the snap beans are covered with blossoms, and the butterflies and bees are having a field day.

Here are some pics of my Fortex snap beans.

You can see the snap beans are already 4 to 5 inches long. When ready for harvest, they will be 10 to 12 inches long. They have an excellent flavor!

Now come the butternut squash pics.

The butternut squash are doing pretty good right now. There are many of them that have formed already and are growing.

The chayote, or vegetable pear, was supposed to be a heavy bearer of fruits that were supposed to be harvested in September. Well, September is almost gone, and they don't even have a bloom. Not one. I invested a lot of time trying to get it to grow here. Next season, I'll be planting something else in its place.

All three types of grapes are doing very well this year. The vines continue to grow vigorously, and I still have to tie them every few days to the main wires that support the vines. I believe that if the vines are growing this well, the roots must be growing very well too. That is very important for next year's vines.

Remember in a previous post I told you about the portable sprinkler I got for my birthday? Well, I ended up returning it because it kept hanging up in one position. Rather than fighting that, I just went back to my spray wand for irrigation.

Here is the spray pattern from my wand. While it's gentle, it really puts out the volume of water necessary to make a relatively quick job of watering the garden. I get my irrigation water from a shallow well that draws from the aquifer just 9 feet below the ground surface. It is delivered to the hose by a new 220 volt, 3/4 horsepower well pump equipped with a pressure switch and a pressure tank. It works great!

I actively work my compost pile. These are my brandywine tomato vines that I shredded with the lawn mower on September 11th.

These are the tomato vines after 14 days, and having been turned 4 or 5 times. Quite a difference.

This is an up close look at the current condition of the shredded vines. When I blend in a few bags of fresh grass clippings, the composting process will really accelerate.

Once again, I thank you for letting me share my organic vegetable gardening experiences with you. As always, I hope you found it interesting and inspiring, hopefully prompting you to plant something for your fall crop. Norfolk County Feed & Seed has cool weather plants for purchasing so you don't have to try germinating seeds at this time of year in order to grow vegetables for your fall garden. The plants will be a great head start. They have a nice assortment, so you can purchase what you like, and stick it in the ground and see how it does. You won't regret it. On top of getting vegetables, you'll get experience growing them. That is ALWAYS useful to look back on, and it provides you with the confidence you need to go on with your vegetable gardening.

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See you next time!

Veggie PAK

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