Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lessons in the garden....I feel like I am actually learning!

I was so excited to see that there are pretty decently sized potatoes when went to check them last night. I was trying to decide if I should add soil to hill them or if the straw was sufficient. I decided to add soil to every plant once I saw the state of growth. I want more than a few taters per plant, and I felt like the straw was just turning the already weak stalks to mush and harboring slugs closer to the plant than I would like.Since I am hoping to multiply the number of potatoes that we harvest by keeping them hilled well, I thought the best "method" was a combination of methods. I pulled back my straw "hills" and added approximately 5 gallons of soil per hill, maybe more on the larger plants....and replaced the straw. I tried to use the really moist, soggy straw against the soil hills, and the drier, outermost straw further up the plant to support the "hilling".

Some of the spuds looked edible. Like these small ones in the picture they were about the size you would pick out to make baked potatoes for the kids...or for roasts (new potato sized, and some smaller, too).....BEAUTIFUL!!!! I can't describe how excited I was to see these little tubers, I had to run to the house to grab a phone or camera to take a picture! I imagine digging them in a few months, and I am just so proud of my little "grocery store" sprouted potatoes...and everyone says they treat them to prevent sprouting! HA! these had HUGE gangly sprouts!!! Next year I will fork up the moola for seed potatoes, and rotate beds or cover crops to avoid issues with pest and disease...but as for experimental food growing.....I think we're doin' alright!!!
(now lets try garlic again!)

the Asparagus i s doing pretty well. I have noticed some slight yellowing of the ferns but they seem healthy despite this. I am trying a foliar iron feed to help with this and I intend to allow them to dry a bit more between waterings, as I have read this can cause yellowing as well. But I figured the iron wouldn't hurt, and I was spraying the blueberries anyways.....

I have been fertilizing about every other week with a 13-13-13 all purpose. Some of the spears have been coming up so thick that it is very tempting to taste one, but I know that it would risk the health of the crowns so I don't! But it is mouth wateringly tempting. I am thinking about withholding Nitrogen, so I may have to buy a new fertilizer, so the ferns don't get too spindly.

The first picture shows how many spears are forming from one healthy crown. This second picture shows the size of spears that have been coming up. This one is about to loosen and turn into fern......
I can't wait to harvest something from the garden!

Yesterday I noticed a bunch of yellow orange eggs under a potato leaf, and from reading I know that is a Colorado potato beetle larva cluster (most likely), and we smooshed them without prejudice (and without talking a picture). I have also noticed a lot of flea beetle activity on the potatoes as well, I have just not concluded what I will do about it. Other than that, there haven't been a lot of Japanese Beetles, YET....or cabbage worms, like my father in law had on his broccoli. they are crafty little buggers, hiding along the leaf veins and are a bluish green like the broccoli (because that is what they chowed down on!) and that makes them very hard to find!!! I have only found one in my garden and it was a striped one. And I also found one asparagus beetle as well. Any other holes we've found that weren't from caterpillars and flea beetles have likely been due to slugs. Which is starting to become a nuisance. I think I may need some Diatomaceous earth. That or beer bait, but I think I'd rather drink it!

Overall, the garden is doing quite well. I have been working on moving the compost and bins to the other side of the garden. And preparing to plant out fruits. I have spent a lot of time investigating pale green new growth in blueberries. The only conclusion I can come to is that the soil in their pots has a higher PH than it should. This prevents the uptake of important nutrients such as: Nitrogen, Sulfur, Iron , Magnesium and other trace minerals that are important for the proper chlorination of the leaves.....the best and most sure way to solve this is to acidify the soil greatly, and feed with an acid loving plant food, as for azaleas. I will have to mix peat into the planting and test the ph often. I plan to mulch with chopped oak leaves, pine bark and needles. I have heard that commercial growers mayy use leaf testing over soil testing to manage PH and nutrients because the test results fluctuate so much through out the growing seson, it may be more accurate. That is something to check out in the future....once they are planted!

Edit: "Iron is necessary for the formation of chlorophyll, which is responsible for the
green color in plants and necessary for photosynthesis (sugar production in plants).
Any reduction in chlorophyll during the growing season reduces plant growth,
vigor, and tolerance to stress conditions. Plants with reduced vigor from iron
chlorosis are more prone to winter injury, and winter injury may aggravate an iron
chlorosis problem. Weakened plants also are more susceptible to other diseases
and insect infestations." (read from : coloradogarden notes iron chlorosis _)

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