John and I are getting ready to go out of town for 2 and a half weeks in just a few days. John is running a 32 mile ultra marathon in Truckee, CA, in the Donner Pass area and then we are going to explore the mountains of Northern CA. Because we will be out of town for 3 Fridays in a row I will not be posting anything for the next 3 weeks, and I will get back to it when I return. But this week I thought I would update you on my garden!
I was having quite a time with the ground squirrels destroying my garden a few months ago, they destroyed my beans and corn that I was building my 3 sisters garden like the native Americans would grow, and was very sad. And they ripped out all of my new potato plants and several garlic plants. They pretty much went crazy on just about every plant in the garden. Then I got savvy and figured out how to keep them out. The rabbit fences weren’t enough, so I wrapped the rabbit fences in burlap so they couldn’t see in and be attracted to the plants, and they couldn’t get through the holes of the fence. Just when my plants started bouncing back though, grasshoppers came and decimated most of what was left, as well as some green worms.
But I took out all of the completely destroyed and dead plants and only really had some kale, collards, leeks, and pathetic cauliflower left, oh and some green onions. Other than the onions these were pretty darn chewed up so I pulled off many of the mutilated leaves. Not much left for the plant predators to nibble on, and so it seems they have nearly disappeared.
Now that the grasshoppers are not seeming to be so much of a problem I have begun planting in the garden again. In the last few days I have transplanted several tomato and bell pepper plants into the garden. Then my lovely friend Elieha gave me a whole bunch of edible plants and flowers that the nursery she works at was giving away. So yesterday and this morning I planted some sweet pumpkins, romaine lettuce, orange, red, and yellow marigolds, several red violet alyssums and white alyssums, and some zinnias. What I have not yet planted but will in the next couple of days are some celery, and strawberries, and more of the flowers above. The garden is looking so much prettier and more cheerful with the lovely flowers throughout. I have read that tomatoes like being by marigolds and basil. A couple of my basil plants are starting to bounce back from the grasshopper destruction too, thankfully. And all of the flowers I planted are known to attract beneficial insects. I have also read that alyssum is edible and tastes similar to kale (plant flavored!) but I have not yet tried it myself.
In addition to what is down in the garden I have some other plants growing up near the house. I have a healthy looking bell pepper plant that looks to be about to blossom, and 2 serrano pepper plants that are very productive. I also have a large-ish cherry tomato plant covered with a whole bunch of little green un-ripe tomatoes, and some roma tomato seedlings, and regular tomato seedlings. And then I have another a pot of plants that Elieha gave me that contains basil, marjoram, and stevia that I need to transplant as well. I read that you can use cuttings of stevia to start new plants so I am going to try that once I read about how to do it, and I am hoping it will help my tall skinny stevia plant to branch out when I cut the top off. We shall see! Oh, and I just planted some kale and lettuce seeds, which have just started sprouting, so I think once I get back from our trip I can transplant those. Our kale in the garden has gone to seed, though we have still been harvesting some of the leaves to eat. I collected many seeds from one of them, which is where I got the kale seeds I planted.
I am hoping the grasshoppers are no longer a problem, but if they are, I intend to check out some article’s Elieha sent me about how to deter them. We shall see. I swear, though this is my 3rd year of gardening, it has definitely been the most challenging yet. One good thing is that the aphids that invaded in the beginning , back in winter, went away when I stopped trying to get rid of them, through little flies and ladybugs that seemed to deter them. And now it has been sooo hot, I think they can’t survive here right now. I have also seen and killed a few tomato hornworms that I have found on my pepper plants. Want scary looking buggers who have a really seriously strong grip. They will not just be plucked from the plant, they will hold on with the grip of the hulk. Maybe it’s because they are green too…
Oooh, and our worm bin that John made last year is full of great worm castings now andI have been using them to plant vegetables in both the garden and in pots.
And… we’ve been enjoying the garlic I planted back in the fall for a while now. It’s all been harvested but there is plenty still in the pantry. And we used some of our turnips which we still have a bunch of in the fridge, I made mashed turnips mixed with mashed potatoes, they were pretty good. We’ve been tossing leeks and green onions into dishes here and there. And of course we’ve been eating the kale and collards, even if they are a bit chewed up from the grasshoppers and worms. As John likes to tell me, if the insects are eating them that just means they are good! 😛
I don’t know if I ever mentioned it before, but the beets I grew earlier in the year we tried one evening, but they left this burning feeling in my throat which I got a couple of years ago when I grew it’s relative, chard. And I had to throw them all out. After researching I think it is because it gets hot and dry in this area and if they don’t stay moist enough that can happen. I think it may have to do with the oxalic acid that beets and chard contain. Hopefully when we move to a cooler wetter climate we will be able to grow this delicious plants with no weird burning quality to them. I tell you, every year, and season, in the garden comes with a host of new challenges and learning opportunities!
Woo hoo! That’s it for today. See ya in a month for the next article!
Please feel free to leave questions and comments below!