Sunday, June 25, 2017

Breezy After A Rain

I would love gardening if every Saturday could be like yesterday.  It was not too hot and not too cold.  The sun was shining.  We received 1.75 inches of rain on Friday, and so I did not need to water anything.  We had weeded a lot on Wednesday, so there was not much of that to do either.    Sabrina spent the morning picking black raspberries, which we still have coming based on the number of unripe red berries we saw.  She picked about a quart from just the south side of the Garden.  Amy had arrived before her and picked some as well. Alyssa and Taylor came to tidy their already tidy plot, put cages around their tomatoes and pick a boatload of peas.  I spent the morning pruning brambles, cutting back strawberries, pruning back daisies and asters, mowing and then making our weekly food pantry harvest.  I got out reasonably on time and even had enough energy left to exchange pleasantries with Gene at the LSS food pantry (which I often do not).  (At least they had electricity this week).

From when I had my first strawberry patch at home, I recall that it had been recommended that we mow over it once before Independence Day.  So, I took our new hedge clippers and, after cutting back overgrown raspberry brambles (which will make it safer for us to pick berries and walk around the garden) so that they will bush out more, I cut/pruned back some strawberry plants.  I realized that I had not been aggressive enough when I returned to rake the patch.  There’s always Wednesday. . . . Our blueberries are having their best year ever.  Our initial four bushes were donated by Oakland Nursery in 2010 and we moved them to the south side of the Garden to get more sun a few years ago.  We planted them in stone turrets because they require very acidic soil.  We essentially fill the turrets with peat moss and a little compost.  They seem to love it.

We had received over an inch of rain last weekend, but the big tank was only a third full because downspout got clogged AGAIN and I had to return on Thursday with my ladder to unclog it before the anticipated Tropical Storm Cindy arrived on Friday.  I also spent Thursday picking over a quart of black raspberries for myself and our weekly food pantry donation.  Lynd’s in Pataskala sells u-pick black raspberries for $4/pint and they are free to pick everyday outside our fence. I also could not help myself and planted some more seedlings so that they could take advantage of the coming deluge. 

That afternoon, I visited Lowe’s and restocked some of our tools, with a warren hoe, hedge clippers, a heavy duty shovel, another trowel and some pruning shears.  I could so this because of the funds we raised at our Berry Festival.   Then, Taylor arrives yesterday and tells me that he will be donating a lot of tools as they clean out his recently departed grandmother’s garage.  That’s very nice of him, isn’t it.    We will put her tools to very good use.  I also used the hedge clippers to mow the lawn growing in my own plot.  I don’t like to leave so much good soil exposed to wind erosion.

The abandoned truck is finally gone.  Or at least it has been parked elsewhere.    The City also came by and resurfaced our alley aka Cherry Street.   They  had announced this with fliers during the berry festival.  When I inquired of 311 to determine whether we needed to move anything, I was told that there was no resurfacing planned.  However, there they were Thursday morning.  I caught one of the workers inside the Garden while I was picking berries.  He was fascinated because he only grows his own herbs at home. I gave him a tour.

Our peach trees have lots of peaches on them.  It’s almost sad to see.  They won’t be ripe until late July or August, but I doubt that they will remain on the trees that long because someone always picks them off and throws them around the neighborhood in early July.  We’re wondering if we should make a sign alerting these folks that the peaches won’t be ripe for at least another 4-6 weeks.

It’s squash borer season.  I was weeding on Thursday when I found one buzzing around the squash in our Three Sister’s plot.  I chased it with my camera before finally squashing it between two leaves.  This is why I am keeping my squash plants covered for another 10 days (or until they begin to flower).  Orange squash moths (which look a bit like horseflies or wasps) land on the squash vines and lay tiny brown eggs, which hatch larvae/worms and burrow into the vine to feast on the insides of the plant. Their "frass" (i.e., poop) collects in a mass outside the vine like a pile of sawdust (which is the tell-tale sign of a squash borer inside the plant).    Then, the plant begins to wilt in the heat of the day (because the vines are no longer efficiently transporting water) and then the entire plant collapses dead in a heap.  There’s not a lot to do once the worm has started to feast.  You can try to slice the vine and scrape it out, but that hurts the plant, too. 

A few websites recommended spreading sevin around the base of the plant to kill the borer and its hatched larvae, so I did that yesterday with the food pantry squash plants because they are not covered.  Another also recommended waiting until early July to plant squash because peak borer season is late June and early July.  Another site recommended trapping them with yellow bowls filled with water.  When the larvae are done feeding, they will burrow into the ground to pupate into the moth the following Spring.  So, don't plant your squash in the same place the next year(especially if you want to use row covers to control them).  If you plant squash in the same place, you can try to minimize the damage by thoroughly tilling the ground in the Fall or early Spring to kill them or bury them too deep to crawl out later.   After this plague passes, we can look forward to the evil squash bugs (which, frankly, are easier to spot and kill than the squash borer).

We’ve got lots of baby grasshoppers to look forward to growing up and eating our greens and beans, as well as some baby praying mantises. Our corn is growing gangbusters.  Sabrina spent Wednesday weeding after she and I had planted pole beans among the stalks last week. Last weekend's rain caused them all to sprout.   They say knee high by Fourth of July.  Ours will be should be shoulder high by then.  . . . .
Barb and Frank have been busy and have completely replanted the large Block Watch flower bed across the street.  The perennials are gone, such as the salvia.  (Our "annual" salvia returned this year in our flower bed and looks amazing.)

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