Saturday, September 19, 2009

garden notes


A beautiful clear fall day in the garden.

My mom says there are frost warnings for her area tonight. So early! She lives 50 miles northeast of me. Temperatures in my garden are predicted to go down to 42*F tonight. No frost, but chilly. I'll have to remember that frosts are just around the corner.

I started cleaning out the garden today. Pulled my butternut squash and melon vines. (I have to remember to post photos of the nice watermelon I picked a couple days ago!) This opened up a whole section of the garden that I haven't been able to walk in most of the summer. So I weeded that area and generally tidied up.

The tomato disposal continue to bother me. I have a "blight bag" in the plot - a big plastic bag where all the late blight contaminated waste goes. (I notice these bags in almost every plot now.) But its overfull now. I'll need to separate into several bags. And the plants I never took down will need several more bags. Then, I wonder, should all the eggplant and pepper debris get bagged in plastic too since these have shown some late blight symptoms? And ALL this transported to my house and put out with the trash? I've decided not to plant any solanacea in the plot next year. All tomatoes/potatoes/eggplants/peppers will go next to my house and give the plot a break. I'd really like to just dig the blight debris into the soil.

My harvest included about 20 onions - some big, some tiny. Purples and yellows, grown from seed. Also one eggplant (accidentally broken off), several summer squash, a couple peppers, and a big handful of small broccoli shoots.

I'm looking forward to digging my sweet potatoes soon. Just one plant, but its grown well. I wonder what's down there.

I also need to dig the rest of my regular potatoes. I only dug about 1/4 of my crop when I cut down the plants mid summer. I do love a day of digging in the dirt.

I continue to try to teach Skippy "No Bark". The garden plots are lovely and quiet, and it never fails that Skippy is sleeping, I'm weeding, and someone quietly walks by in the path enjoying the day and surprises Skippy. Skippy wakes up suddenly barking like crazy. Someone will have a heart attack outside my plot soon. I suppose I should leash him at far end.

harvest and skippy


Thomas said...

Call me paranoid, but I just put floating row cover over my entire garden after reading your post. (Gardening at 11:30pm!) I hadn't realized that the temperature was expected to drop down to 39 in Methuen tonight (probably not cold enough for frost). I'm sure I'm overreacting but stranger things have happened this year.

kathy said...

Wow! You are a serious gardener. It can't hurt. But that's usually a November activity!

I'm watching the thermometer. 55* at 12:44 in the residential area. My plot might be 10* cooler. Still OK.

Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig said...

Leash him? Look at that face! How could you leash that?! SO cute...

CM said...

I've been working on "no bark" for a couple of years now. Give me another couple and we might have gotten it down. :) The brand new community garden where I have a plot has raised beds with no barriers in between. My terrier LOVES to run between the beds like a maze. He thinks I can't see him because he can't see me. :)

kathy said...

Skippy has HIS idea of fun too.

The breed was developed to bark. Portuguese water dogs sat in the front of the boat, watched for dangers, and barked!

I like having a watch dog in the gardens. He can be ferocious. But it would be nice if there was a way to minimize heart attacks of perfectly nice gardeners walking by.

kathy said...

By the way, we DID frost in the community gardens last night! September 19!

The gardens are located on about 1 acre of land that is shaped like a big bowl. The plots at the bottom of the bowl had mild frost damage today. The leaves of sweet potatoes and squashes growing in open plots were all singed black.

My plot is up on the south facing rim of the bowl. Plus I am protected by a tall tree and tall sunchokes in my neighbors plot. No frost in my plot.

I'd like to harvest my pumpkins before I do get a frost, but the weather patterns are warming now so I'll wait.

Anonymous said...

RE the blighted plants, what if you leave them the the black plastic garbage bags to overwinter, then bury them in the spring? Between the solarization in the hot plastic bags, and freezing in the winter, will that be enough to kill the blight spores?

I suppose burning them is out of the question.

Thomas said...

That's crazy! Ok, so maybe I wasn't overreacting too much. I've been doing research on frost today. A reader asked me whether or not it was possible to have frost even when the recorded low temperature never dips to 32 degrees. I'm sure the answer is yes, but unfortunately, my mind wasn't built to comprehend weather science.
This is the first time I've used floating row cover. I'm looking forward to testing the limits of it's effectiveness later on this fall.

kathy said...

henbogle, As you suspected fires aren't allowed at the public garden. I'm with you on thinking that solarization and freeze-thaw cycles in the bags seems like it would be effective.

Thomas, I think the answer is microclimates. The open bowl-shape of our gardens really lowers the temperature at the base. The cold are sinks right down. All the gardeners agree that this location frosts much earlier than other areas of town. Also, you can walk through the gardens and feel temperature changes as you walk around. On a still evening, as the cold is settling in, there can be a lot of variation in microclimates.

I'd bet if I had a temperature recording device in the different plots, it would accurately show if where there was a frost and where not.

Also, different plants frost at different temperatures. From looking at the community plots today, sweet potatoes are the most sensitive. Next is squashes. But I didn't see frost damage on the tomatoes (though hard to tell as most are dead from blight), beans, lettuce, brassicas, corn, flowers, etc.

Matron said...

What wonderful pictures! Isn't that why we all spend our time in the garden? for harvests like that. I just adore the picture of skippy with the basket! Would you consider sharing it with me for my forthcoming Matron's Dogblog! Skippy after all, is the star of the show!

kathy said...

Sure Matron! Thanks for asking. Sorry I'm so bad at keeping up.

Anonymous said...

What a cute pic of Skippy, although all his pictures are cute. No one will DARE steal those eggplants!: )

Jessica said...

LOL! Skippy is so cute!! My husband and I have been trying to teach our dog "no bark" but we haven't been successful yet. The dog can balance a cookie on his nose for 5 mins but refuses to not bark when someone walks by lol!!

I have a German Shepherd and he just HAS to bark to let us know someone is coming. However, he is the first one there when I squeal from a big spider or bee crawling up my arm in the garden! lol! He's my protector!

MUDNYC said...

I thought that the problem with the blight this year was that it came so early. Don't NE gardens usually get blight every year, but much later in the season (like, now?) If that's true, then there is no reason to worry about the disposal of the blighted plants at this point. The whole reason for burying them earlier was so that the blight couldn't affect your neighbor's (or your other) plants at their peak moment of the season. I am not an expert, that's just what I thought was the case from everything I read. Is that right?

kathy said...

I don't know. I thought the reason for disposal reason was to reduce the spores around next year. I am going to start a new post on this topic. Thanks for the question.