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BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble

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BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 Empty Bed 3 - June planting

Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/8/2018, 10:47 am

BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 Layout11
Bed 3 - Site of most of my failures for this year  Sad  I started a bunch of different cool weather crops indoors this year; broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, kohlrabi and baby choi. I did really well on germination, then lost about half of the seedlings to damping off. I actually then started a few more of each, only to overcompensate, dry out and kill most of those lol.  Anyway, after planting the remaining seedlings, I lost most of the brassicas to cutworms. This bed is the shadiest - I had planned on it being the "brassica bed" when I started, but due to all the losses, I ended up with very few that actually made it to grow at all. A great learning experience this year! I have plenty of notes and will do better next year.

My store-bought indeterminates are planted along the trellis. I bought one each of Super Sweet 100 Cherry tomatoes and a Bonnie Original. I also took cuttings from them, so there is one of each that were started from cuttings. Again, another maintenance-required area that I hope to keep tidy.

BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 June_p20
The center of the front of this bed has all the Burbank Russet potatoes. I had a problem with potato beetles, and ended up cutting back most of the foliage and am keeping a hawk eye on them, dropping any I find into a bucket of soapy water. This bed is 12 inches deep, so most of the root veggies are planted in here. I still have to fill the potato squares with more MM, they are still on their first layer at the moment.

When I was messing with the potatoes, I also thinned the carrots. Another thing you're not supposed to transplant, but I hate pulling anything that seems to be doing ok, so I moved the "thinnned" ones to the half-square of the parsley (another seedling that didn't make it through my seed-starting process as well as I had hoped). I had planned on 4 parsley in that square, but since I only had 2, I put the extra carrots in the other half. I planted an extra purple basil in the open half of the front potato square. I had pulled the potato plants in that half, to check for worm damage. Basil is supposed to repel some potato bugs and I needed a spot for this one. The spinach is actually doing quite well, I'm harvesting the leaves a few each day for my lunch salad. I'm pleased so far with the garlic (from the grocery store) and the onion varieties (onion sets from Lowe's). 

--------------------------------------------------------------
After all the hassles, I ended up with 3 viable broccoli, but only one that is doing really well. I have to say, I am super proud of this broccoli plant! I really hope it makes a head and isn't just a pretty foliage plant after all this. The two bibb lettuce in the bottom left corner of the picture are doing extremely well; I'm letting them create heads, although I may nab a couple of the outer leaves soon for lunch salad. 

I lost all of my brussel sprouts due to the cutworms; I had one that had a little lonely leaf left on the cut stem which I tried to baby back to growing, but it just wasn't meant to be. I had a square full of broccoli rejects where I tried the same thing. One of them, and one of the cauliflower seedlings are trying to come back, so I planted them together in one square just to see if they can make it. I really don't expect much from them.

However, the kohlrabi seedlings that I planted were all in the same boat. I am amazed that they have come back! These are from seeds that my mom sent me, I've never planted nor eaten kohlrabi before, but if these make it to harvest, I am hoping I enjoy them. They seem to be pretty hardy!

The peas in this bed are doing fairly well. I moved the seedlings from the front of the trellis to behind the trellis in order to plant the tomatoes. I am really surprised they have so far seemed to recover from that and are showing some flowers, too. You never know until you try!
BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 June_p18
I'm beaming over that one broccoli! This is the first time I've gotten a broccoli to do anything other than wilt in the sun and die!  Smile

--------------------------------------------------------------
Another early catastrophe were some Peppermint Stick Swiss Chard. Another packet of seeds that my mother sent, they were an AAS winner. They germinated well and I had 8 or 9 seedlings that were apparently very tasty to cutworms. But this one little guy managed to come back. This variety can get really large, and is sometimes grown as an ornamental. The peppermint stripes look so cute! I'm going to leave it alone and let it get really established before I start harvesting from it, but I'm really interested to see a nice, full plant. Since I lost the other 3 in the square, I planted a couple of nasturtiums in the open half of the square. If it gets too large, I can always move the flowers.

BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 June_p21

So, now all I have left of my spring planting list are all the wildflowers I started from seed, a variety of mint that I will just keep in pots, and my sweet potatoes. Due to the issues I had with the russets, I purchased some grow bags and think I will plant the sweet potatoes in those. 

BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 43549    It's been a lot of work, but I'm feeling pretty good about it all - for the moment!
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BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 Empty Re: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble

Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/8/2018, 12:39 pm


by robert1938
Hi, Just been looking at your post and it is good to read.
Like yourselve as you know I am a newbie ( only a few miles from yourself Shocked ) Interested that your weather patten this year appears way out to others, I had same problem.

On the tomatoe problem, as I am near the sea I grow them in a greenhouse ( glasss & aluminum ) which can be costly to buy and not easy on your own to erect. But I don't know if you have them in USA ( I expect you do ), there are cheap "plastic" type small houses which you could maybe erect and plant the toms inside - just an idea - but I do like your post on Rural Gamble
--------------------

Hi Robert! Thanks so much for the feedback. I feel like I either overshare or don't share enough!

Even though we're a few miles apart (!) We both live near water, & probably share some of the same problems. I think everyone battles pests and growing space, for sure ☺️

I wish I could afford the time and cost to build a greenhouse. It must be wonderful to have a structure like that for your tomatoes. It is definitely on my wish list.

Many years ago I read an article from a couple who built one out of old windows. They collected them from trash & garage sales, and built a frame out of salvaged lumber. I have thought about trying to build a temporary one out of pvc pipe & plastic, like row covers or sfg covers. Eventually I will do something, but probably not for another few years. Fingers crossed I can keep my tomatoes under control this year
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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/8/2018, 12:48 pm

Darn it! Somehow, these posts became a new topic instead of going in to my Backyard Gamble post. I will see if Sanders can move them...
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Post  sanderson on 6/8/2018, 2:20 pm

Done! rock on

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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/8/2018, 2:48 pm

@sanderson wrote:Done! rock on
thanks  thankyou Sanders!   alrighta
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Post  sanderson on 6/8/2018, 3:04 pm

You are welcome.

Folks, don't forget that TD (Trolleydriver) is also a Moderator. I love you

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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/8/2018, 3:10 pm

@sanderson wrote:You are welcome.

Folks, don't forget that TD (Trolleydriver) is also a Moderator. I love you
Ok, thanks for the heads-up! I guess i didn't realize. From now on, TD gets all my requests for fixing my bonehead mistakes. Bahahaha  Twisted Evil Smile
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Post  sanderson on 6/8/2018, 9:38 pm

I guess I can expect an email from TD tonight. Wink

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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/9/2018, 11:37 am

@sanderson wrote:I guess I can expect an email from TD tonight. Wink

rofl  I will try to keep the bonehead mistakes to a minimum  Embarassed
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BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 Empty Catastrophe!

Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/16/2018, 12:37 pm

I haven't posted in a while, because, well - I am so discouraged! A couple of days after the last photos were taken, I went out to admire my garden and was devastated to find that a groundhog managed to get in and eat almost everything! He pulled the fence away from corner of the garage, and feasted on all the greens and broccoli, the peas that were just starting to flower, the cucumbers, all the beets and carrot tops. About all he left alone were the basil, onions, green peppers and (thank god!) the tomatoes. 

I did repair on the fence, and added some more fencing along the gate. Also, it had rained the night that he invaded, so the powders washed away from the beds. I emptied a whole large shaker full of chili pepper flakes around the soil, and poured some ammonia water along the fence edges and into the opening of his burrow.  That kept him out for one night, which lulled me into a false sense of security. Rained again, and he just barreled through and snacked on anything remaining he could find. About the only thing I have left are my tomatoes, a couple of green peppers, and the garlic and onions. He even dug up the beets once he had eaten all the tops.  I've got a few other projects ongoing which are taking my time away from this new pest problem. Needless to say, I am feeling pretty groundhog-murderous right now! BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 671790

Pics coming in next post - I just keep telling myself; "Save the tomatoes!" Which may end up being the only thing I get out of the garden this year.  BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 950477

Edit - having trouble posting pics for some reason; will post when I'm able.
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BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 Empty Groundhog Damage

Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/16/2018, 1:10 pm

Bed 1:

Before: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 June_p11
After:BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 G-hog_12

He dug under the cage I had over the front of the bed, and ate all the beet tops, nasturtiums, and lettuce. He also "trimmed" most of the green peppers. He came back and ate the basil and the beet roots a few nights later.
BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 G-hog_13 BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 G-hog_14
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BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 Empty Groundhog Damage

Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/16/2018, 1:18 pm

Bed 2

Before: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 June_p12 
After: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 G-hog_15 

He ate all of the lettuce, parsley, basil and the top half of all the pea plants  Evil or Very Mad
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BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 Empty Groundhog Damage

Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/16/2018, 1:22 pm

Bed 2 (front half)

Before: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 June_p13

After: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 G-hog_16
Very weird that he left the zucchini alone; he's eaten all the extras I planted in the "animal garden" out back, but didn't touch any of my summer squashes. He did come back and finish off the carrot top stems and the nasturtiums, just for good measure, though.  Sad
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BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 Empty Re: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble

Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/16/2018, 1:46 pm

Bed 3 - The most devastating to me. I had one great big beautiful broccoli and some really pretty bibb lettuce heads that I was so proud of, not to mention the peas that I was looking forward to eating soon. 

Before: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 June_p14 
After: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 G-hog_17

Before: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 June_p15
After: BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 G-hog_18

(apologies for the rotated photos) Ugh, I'm so sick over this. He didn't eat any of the tomatoes, although he did trample a couple. Also didn't touch the onions, garlic or potatoes. But almost everything else is a complete loss. 

I did use chili powder and then pepper flakes, but he just walked over them. The ammonia seemed to repel him, but it's another thing that disappears after a rain. The fencing is built around all three of the gardens, it's properly buried in an L-shape so he can't burrow under it, and he hasn't tried climbing over it (yet); the point of failure for this time is at the connection to the wall. I don't want to drill into siding, but need a more permanent and stable solution to the fence post. 

He managed to push through the gap between the fence post and the siding and bend it out of place. I covered it with a cylinder of chicken wire temporarily. Initially thought weighting it down with a bag of rocks I still haven't spread would be a good thing. Turns out that kept him from moving the fencing, but gave him a step to get over it, so I reconfigured the chicken wire and cut a few pieces here and there that will poke him if he pushed against it again. 

I think I will have to bury a real fence post in concrete, and invest in an electrical fence of some kind. I've live-trapped groundhogs and relocated them before, but another one always shows up to take its place. I spent a ton of time building this enclosure to keep him and his furry family and friends out of this area. Oh, I am SO FURIOUS ... and sad. Ideas and comments welcome.

(If my DH were still around, he would definitely have already "disappeared" these creatures, but I can't do it - I can't kill them, and I know this species is always going to be here, so I have to come up with a way we both can live here.)
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Post  sanderson on 6/16/2018, 3:08 pm

Sad I am so, so sorry. I don't know anything about ground hogs, only gophers. Can ground hogs climb up 4" x 4"? I'm thinking table top beds may be your solution. You could do that slowly over the summer or wait until fall?

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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/16/2018, 5:20 pm

@sanderson wrote:Sad   I am so, so sorry.  I  don't know anything about ground hogs, only gophers.  Can ground hogs climb up 4" x 4"?  I'm thinking table top beds may be your solution.  You could do that slowly over the summer or wait until fall?
Thank you for the sympathy, I really do need it right now ☹️

Unfortunately, the chubby thieves are surprisingly good climbers, as well as being great diggers. You're supposed to make the top of the fence wobbly so it will flop down on them when they try to climb it. I'm afraid a tabletop would make it easier for him to climb. I would love to have them tho, my back would be much happier.
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Post  ispinwool on 6/18/2018, 2:00 pm

Oh NO! sobbing
I'm just now seeing this post!  I'm so sorry!




p.s.--maybe someone can fashion you a few raised beds with
metal poles for legs.  I'm remembering a video I saw about
a lady that greased her bird feeder pole so the squirrels couldn't
climb it.  It worked really well and was exceptionally
entertaining to watch them try.  You'd just have to be careful
about getting grease on your clothes when you worked on the
boxes.  And combat the tendency of the box to be top heavy with a 
few strategically placed cement blocks.


Last edited by ispinwool on 6/18/2018, 2:12 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : remembered the bird feeder pole trick)
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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/19/2018, 8:15 am

Thanks, ispin - I'm trying really hard not to give up at this point. The groundhog has decided to eat the clover from the yard right now, as there are only stems left in my garden. Trying to be brave...   Sad

I've used that trick on my bird feeder poles before, putting Vaseline on the pole to keep squirrels out of the seed feeder and ants out of the hummingbird feeder. I'll give that some more thought.

I've also been rethinking Sanders' idea of the 4x4 legs and tabletops; if I could somehow fashion fencing to roll/flop over like you're supposed to do with a perimeter fence, maybe that could deter them. 

I'm pretty discouraged right now. It's exhausting just to think about building more stuff. My enclosure is specifically designed to keep the critters out and it took a lot of work to get it all put up. The fence is buried in an L-shape to block the burrowing; the whole thing has plastic netting buried at the same level as the bend in the "L", then a layer of heavy duty landscape fabric, then covered with river rock across the whole "floor". The three 4x8 gardens have an additional layer of plastic netting and landscape fabric. The fencing material is tight at the bottom and loose and wobbly at the top to make it unstable for climbing (specifically for the groundhogs, who don't like the wobbly feeling and flop down). The height and width is designed to prevent deer from leaping over, because they don't have enough room to make the landing.

I have effectively stopped any burrowing animals; I've never had anything dig under that fence. So far, none of the deer have cleared the fence, and even the bunnies have left it all alone. But I lost steam (and time) and didn't properly address the corners against the garage wall. My guess is that if the groundhogs have pushed the corners away, then the raccoons & skunks can, too.

I think I need to suck it up and finish off the corners properly somehow, wrap a top layer of fencing that is "uber-floppy" across the top, and I am considering adding an electric fence wire. I have the fencing materials, just need to get off my butt and put it up. I'm most concerned about the corner attachments; I don't want to drill through the siding to attach to the garage. So I will probably get a couple bags of cement and bury the posts as close as I can. If that doesn't work, then the electric fence is probably my next move.
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Post  ispinwool on 6/19/2018, 10:19 am

I'll share with you what I tell folks after they watch me tear out almost
an entire knitted project...(after so many mistakes it's just time to 
try something else! LOL)...they shake their heads and ask "how can
you do that after all that work?" my reply is " I love to knit; it's just yarn and I will enjoy
kniting a different project just as much as I enjoyed knitting this one.
It's just yarn. It's all good." 

You may not get the harvest you anticipated this year. But it's all gardening
and it's all good.  I suggest, after tightening up those corners, to plant a few
items so your boxes don't look so forlorn...or fix the corners and enjoy a
nice bottle of wine!  bottoms up
whatever makes you feel good!
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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/19/2018, 10:22 am

@ispinwool wrote:I'll share with you what I tell folks after they watch me tear out almost
an entire knitted project...(after so many mistakes it's just time to 
try something else! LOL)...they shake their heads and ask "how can
you do that after all that work?" my reply is " I love to knit; it's just yarn and I will enjoy
kniting a different project just as much as I enjoyed knitting this one.
It's just yarn. It's all good." 

You may not get the harvest you anticipated this year. But it's all gardening
and it's all good.  I suggest, after tightening up those corners, to plant a few
items so your boxes don't look so forlorn...or fix the corners and enjoy a
nice bottle of wine!  bottoms up
whatever makes you feel good!

Sound advice!  thanks
BlackjackWidow
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Post  sanderson on 6/20/2018, 3:11 am

BJW, After a year, roots from trees, roses and bushes invaded the delicious Mel's Mix in my boxes, right up through the weed fabric. Weed fabric does not stops roots, just prevents plants from popping up. It was heart breaking, but we started raising bed after bed off the ground. The result has created hours of enjoyment puttering in the garden.

I worry that the beds are too close to the garage (?) I would move them at least 2' away and if you build them as table tops, you might be able to create an uber-floppy barrier.

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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/21/2018, 10:03 am

@sanderson wrote:BJW,  After a year, roots from trees, roses and bushes invaded the delicious Mel's Mix in my boxes, right up through the weed fabric.  Weed fabric does not stops roots, just prevents plants from popping up.  It was heart breaking, but we started raising bed after bed off the ground.  The result has created hours of enjoyment puttering in the garden.

I worry that the beds are too close to the garage (?)  I would move them at least 2' away and if you build them as table tops, you might be able to create an uber-floppy barrier.

Thanks for the insights, Sanders. I have been lucky so far on roots - the garden area is placed pretty far away from anything that could invade. Not to say they won't, I know tree roots can go really far so it's not impossible. 

I totally agree that I put the beds too close to the garage. I have so many other life things going on at the moment, I don't think I'll have time to do a full, big move of everything, but if I can get out from under one or two of my other projects, I think I will try to slowly add TT's to the area. Maybe even build some that are "double decker" over the existing raised beds. My back is pretty messed up, and I would love to be able to work standing at the beds. I do have some reservations about what other problems I may create while trying to solve this one, though.

More thinking and planning and procrastination to come  What a Face
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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/21/2018, 11:31 am

There was a nice break in the heat and humidity yesterday, so I did some cleanup in the garden. Concentrating my efforts on my tomatoes, after only 3 days of good, steady rain, high humidity, and highs in the 90's, my babies really took off. They've grown at least 8 inches in a week, and the suckers that I missed a week ago are so thick and vigorous, it was hard to cut them all off. 

I took a couple of hours, starting with my indeterminates. Cleared out the pea plants that were eaten by the groundhog, pruned of lower leaves and all the suckers from the tomatoes, and gently wove them through the trellis. I knew I'd have to be very vigilant with these in particular, because they're all planted 1/square. 

I started in Bed 3 - These are the store-bought cherry tomatoes and Bonnie Originals. I took cuttings from each after I bought them. It worked really well for the cherry tomatoes, but I accidentally cut off the growth tip from the originals  Embarassed Then, just to add another newbie mistake to the list, I rooted the cutting of the growth tip, but planted it directly into the garden instead of potting it and letting it get established first. The cutting has not done well. On the plus side, the original plant is the first to have actual tomatoes on it, so I will get some tomatoes. The down side is without the growth tip, it hasn't even produced another viable sucker and these will probably be the only tomatoes I get from this plant. Oh well - I learned another valuable lesson!

Bed 3 before and after:
BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 06-20-11
BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 06-20-14

Bed 2 is Fourth of July indeterminates. This also had the best crop of pea vines just starting to bloom when the groundhog ate them. Instead of possibly disturbing the roots of the tomatoes, I cut off the peas at soil level and am adding them to the compost pile. Really pleased with how well the plants are doing. I started these from seed, they were planted a day or two after LFD, and I hope they live up to their name and give me fruit by Independence Day. Flowers are just starting to form.

Bed 2 before and after:
BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 06-20-13BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 06-20-12

I saved a couple of clippings and stuck them in cups of water to root. If I get good plants from them, I think I'll stick them in Bed 1 once the determinates are done.
BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 06-21-11

The determinates in Bed 1 are growing fast and furious, and are already close to unmanageable. I'm hoping to get in there today and clean it up, at least enough that I can get airflow around the base of the plants. I don't want to give PM a foothold
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Post  sanderson on 6/21/2018, 9:23 pm

I think you are doing an admirable job with your first garden. Some things are successes, others are less than successful. Wink You are a real trooper. BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 3170584802

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Post  BlackjackWidow on 6/22/2018, 9:41 am

@sanderson wrote:I think you are doing an admirable job with your first garden.  Some things are successes, others are less than successful. Wink  You are a real trooper. BlackjackWidow's Rural Gamble - Page 2 3170584802
Thanks so much - I try to remember, "We have no problems, only opportunities"  tongue
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