Friday, July 1, 2016

Dawn Patrol

A break in the clouds.
As soon as the sun rises over the trees, it becomes unbearable.
I just cannot bear the double-barreled 90+/90+ heat and humidity we've had for the past week or two, so that means that what little I do in the garden must happen in those golden moments of twilight just before sunrise and after sunset. As long as the sun is above the horizon, it's miserable.

That means I have about 45 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening--which isn't enough, but it will have to do. It's a good thing that I don't mind a grassy garden, although I'm working on that. Several years ago I tried mulching with untreated grass clippings with decent success (see "Thank You Very Mulch!"). Time, and the availability of large amounts of grass clippings are causing me to give it another try. There are some downsides to using grass clippings; they do contain some seed. That means I must continue to mulch throughout the season. I'm also trying to build up my garden plot after a fallow year, and any organic matter is beneficial. Mulch protects the roots of plants from the sun, so, despite the drawbacks, I'm going to give it a try. Except for one problem: I've worked three mornings and still haven't distributed the first mowing's clippings. I'm using a spade fork, but I guess I'll have to give in and buy a manure/hay fork because it's wider and the sharper more slender tines can, I hope, pick up the matted grass more easily and in larger clumps. I'll also need a D-handle for "tossing" control.

Mulching tomatoes and peppers first.
I'll have enough clippings to
mulch the entire garden.
I mentioned that mulching protects roots from heat, and that's important because I just recently put my tomatoes in the ground. Yes, in mid-June. I know; I should have put them out earlier, but it just did not happen. They're in the ground now, and, being all heirloom varieties, should produce until frost. I've planted a 16-foot row of Principe Borghese for canning, and a mixed row of Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Rutgers Improved, Arkansas Traveler, Arkansas Marvel, Old Ivory Egg, Black Cherry, and Middle Tennessee Sweet. They're blooming, and tiny tomatoes are appearing. Perhaps I'll enjoy tomatoes soon.

The beans are doing okay, blooming and a few pods, but the corn was a bust. I think 6 plants germinated out of 4 rows. Corn has never done well in this spot; I don't know why I thought it would this time. One of my friends (who's been farming 50+ years) told about planting corn in his garden plot twice, with no success. He finally installed a game camera and retrieved some lovely shots of a raccoon digging the seed kernels right out of the ground. He installed a trap before his third planting!

The squashes (zucchini, yellow, and pattypan) are blooming, although germination was a bit spotty, not surprising since my seed was purchased for a previous season. I should still have enough plants to supply us nicely if the squash bugs leave us any.

It's a great blueberry year;
blackberries, not so much.
I saw the first brown marmorated stink bug of the season yesterday, and I confess I dispatched him (actually, probably her) to his/her/its eternal reward. A friend texted a desperate request for an organic solution for an onslaught of squash bugs (a near relative), and my cousin recommends dousing plants with a garlic/geranium oil infusion. I'm thinking of applying a prophylactic dose.

The blueberries and blackberries are in, with the blueberries being the winner this season. I guess I need to go pick them before it gets too hot.

Stay cool, drink plenty of water, and mulch your Savory garden!


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