Corn Fail

Somebody is stealing corn and leaving remnants all over the place. Also the stalks look brown and dead. However, the biggest problem is the corn itself. Obviously the pollination failed, being that there are only a few kernels. Also the silks are rotted (which fooled me into thinking the pollination was effective) and there seems to be infestation as well.

My guess is that having the corn against the building inhibited air flow, making it too hot and restricted the pollination. Our manual pollination efforts were not very good either.

I ordered a pack of seeds to try an early fall crop, like the man at Southern States said he was going to grow. Have no idea where I’m going to put it. I know where I’m not putting it though:

Full of Hopes, Since Dashed

I should never count my baby veg before they’re done growing. But I do it anyway.

81 Hour Drought & an Enemy of an Enemy

We drove to Ohio to visit family and to fetch Eddie who’d been staying with Grandma in time to start his Cross Country practice. Of course that meant we had to leave the garden for a bit to fend for itself during a heat wave. Yes, they have very limited moisture access in porous containers, no I do not have an irrigation system or somebody around who I’m comfortable asking to help me. I would have womaned up and begged a favor from the neighbor had Gordon wanted to stay longer, but it wasn’t the case so I watered right before we left and right when we got back home.

The trip was exhausting, but good. We spent short chunks of time with many people, catching up after long periods of little communication. Gordon’s sister Renee was very sweet and inquisitive about my garden and the pictures I showed her. She said, “You should start a blog!” The second glass of wine I was sipping encouraged me to respond with admission that I already have one. She urged me to send her the link. I agreed and immediately began fretting over all of the editing required to make that a good idea. As we were leaving Mae’s house that evening, I decided that I would just not send it instead. I’m sure that the next time the blog comes up will be never.

My dad checked in with me today near the beginning of our seven hour drive and for 50 miles (until Gordon hissed that he didn’t want to listen to this shit all the way home) we argued about the presidential race and which candidate was the lesser of two evils. (I suppose I was foolishly riding the wave of lovely “agree to disagree” success in Ohio.) At some point while Linwood was trying to enlighten me against my “small thinking” he began educating me about a brand new conspiracy theory that had not entered my awareness before, but I’m sure I’ll be blessed to hear about again. And again. Chemtrails. Apparently the international evil powers that be have the technology to control the weather by shooting chemicals out of the backs of planes. That the droughts and floods and unusual temperature fluctuations attributed to climate change is actually being done on purpose by the bad guys for some masterfully orchestrated personal gain. He says China has the technology too. How else would one explain the perfect weather during the Beijing Olympics? Whatever. Maybe I won’t have to hear about the Anunnaki anymore.

Although Hillary Clinton had been piloting around and spraying weather chemicals to keep it from raining while I was out of state, I found the garden looking pretty good overall. The tomatoes were in good shape, except for one Red Currant that was knocked over for whatever reason. They normally go a couple of days between watering anyway and are in less porous bags, so yea! The corn, however looks like death has warmed over.  Which I find weird because corn out in the field gets less attention than mine, surely. Also, some freaking critter helped itself to an ear. I found the moldy dried out remants off in the yard.  I’m concerned as to whether it was dried out and moldy before or after the “harvest” although the point is likely moot.

Another effect of our extremly uncomfortable heat, was that a baby melon exploded.

While watering, I discovered lots of different creatures, even though I coated the place with organic pesticidal soap before leaving. A stink bug hanging out on on a reddening bell pepper, a cluster of eggs on an unripe tomato, a big lizard, a new baby lizard, and this dude:

Hornworm with Braconid Wasp Cocoons

Apparently thsee little white things are going to hang out and grow on this terrible tomato predator, kill him, then hatch into wasps that kill other evil vegan invertebrates. Mwahaha! Here he is walking on the twig which brought him back to the tomato plants. I usually take a pic of a cool plant killer then squish it, but this guy should probably nibble a few leaves and finish out his life as a host. Thanks for your sacrifice, horny.

Today in the Garden

This morning brought the best harvest so far. A couple of big pink brandywines, two zucchinis, a few small peppers and several golden sunbursts.

Still covered with a bit of dirt and dew

This was our first zucchini and although I initially intended on simmering it with the tomatoes and peppers to go along with our chicken parm this evening, Gordon requested zucchini bread. I couldn’t refuse, since zucchini bread was the reason I grew it at all. Each of my boys made a special request in the garden, and the zucchini was his.  The bread turned out pretty yummy!

This morning also brought news of another lost tomato plant.  Same death as my djeena’s golden girl. Droopy with a rotted stem. I blamed the wobbliness of my supports along with too much moisture. Well, the moisture is right. We’ve gotten a lot of rain. But after doing some reading, I think it’s southern blight.

And I have no idea what this potato-leafed beauty was, since he never produced a tomato. The tallest, most beautiful plant with lots of flowers and no fruit. I began interfering with pollination, but nothing seemed to take.

I wonder if I used djeena’s bamboo stake in this plant’s bag. I really hope so. If not, there is at least one more casualty coming, because I used it somewhere…..

I put him in the burn barrel and am attempting (feebly?) to use solar heat to kill the fungus so I can safely add the soil back to the compost.

And speaking of compost, I have a nice hot pile in process right now. It’s bigger than it looks. (Hehe)

But when opening the pile to rotate and add to it, I unearthed about infinity of these little maggoty dudes. My lighting was too low to get a good shot of the madness. So all I have is a picture of a couple in my gloved hand. What the fuck are they? Are they vermicomposting or are they infesting? Next mystery to solve, I guess.

Watermelon Challenges

Got some beautiful watermelon plants – Charleston Gray – growing in reusable grocery bags. I’m going to go ahead and embarrass myself by publishing some assumptions without first doing research.  

  • Container gardening poses challenges with moisture sometimes more so than gardening in the ground
  • Cloth bags don’t hold moisture all that well (hence people posting things like “it’s impossible to over water”)
  • Water- fucking- melon should probably receive plenty of water, Yeah?
  • I’ve been a bit of a stingy waterer thus far

And now for the drum roll………

Presenting Blossom End Rot!

So far it only seems like 2 of the 9 babies are affected.  And now I solemnly swear to water them every day until they are nearly ripe (if we are so blessed to make it that far) and I will at that point withhold water for the sole purpose of sweetening.

Out of curiosity Silas and I cut into one. He said, “I bet it’s red inside!” I said, “I bet it’s white.”  Well, guess who was right?

My baby!

They smell fantastic and are surprisingly sweet for being so little.

(Now, let’s just cross our fingers that it’s not a real calcium deficiency.)

Micromanaging Spaghetti Squash

A little seedling volunteered itself in my compost pile. So I stuck it in one of the bags and it grew into a lovely vine that I trellised to the fence.

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I got really excited with all the flowers!  So many spaghetti squash were coming!  (Counting the proverbial chickens) I wondered what is the best way to store them?  Decided that I would let them fully ripen and cure them outside until my fingernail wouldn’t pierce the skin and then store them on shelves in the basement on cardboard.  Yea! Got it all figured out – – –  Thanks, Google!

Then the happy hopeful flowers started dropping off with nothing to show for. What happened? But hey wait, there were a few flowers with fat little fruit behind them. These must be my squash. Ok so maybe I won’t have 17 squash that need storage, but there are five squash right here certainly.

Five plump little squash. So pretty. Huh, the flowers dropped off them too. And wait, two days later they seem a bit spongy and yellow? What is happening?! Disease! Disease, I tell you! What have I done? Was it the compost tea? Some mysterious pathogen?!

Help me, Google! What have I done wrong, my fellow gardeners?

Ah shit. Seriously? They just aren’t fertilized?  Fat flowers are girls, skinny flowers are boys…..ohhhhh. Also the flowers are only open for one morning and if a bee doesn’t hop her happy ass from one to the other before noon, the opportunity is closed.

Ok. Time for some intervention.

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Flower Porn

And for a comparison, female flower three days after manual pollination vs. unfertilized and a few days older:

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And six days after pollination:

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Pretty awesome, I think!

However it seems like the vine is working as hard as it can to grow this single lovely squash because the budding sister flowers all wilted before maturing. The males are still blooming, but even the brand new female buds that have emerged post pollination have died.

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I’m curious to see how far along mistress squash will have to be before the female flowers begin to flourish again.

She is kinda too heavy to be dangling off the top of the fence. The vine looked worrisome so I interfered further with some support hose fit for a queen.

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Some Days

Some days the garden makes my heart glisten with joy, some days it makes me say fuck a lot.

Today was a fuck day.

This:

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Some gray wiltedness and brown spottiness caught my eye as I was squishing a few small slugs on the peppers this morning. One tomato plant for sure. Maybe a fungus? I don’t know.

So here’s the strategy:
-Isolate this plant
-Give other tomatoes more room for air circulation
– Apply organic sulfur stuff on Thursday when Amazon delivers it
– Add Epsom salts to soil in case it’s a magnesium deficiency and because it can’t hurt
– Add more compost to soil
– Cross fingers

So luckily it was pizza night at the homestead so I could rush out and use the last two hours of daylight after work.  Eddie came out to help (under duress) and thinned out his corn while I worked on this craziness.

The ability to move my tomatoes around made me happy that they are in bags. However my whole stake system sucks pretty bad, which became quite evident this evening. I used long skinny tree branches stuffed into the bags and propped against each other. Sure they are cute and natural and tall and free, but they are also wide based and heavy and basically want to topple the plants over when the bags are no longer too close together. So, I need to find good old light skinny stakes, but tall ones.

Next year I’m tilling the place up and planting in the ground. And spacing generously.

Here the poor baby is, cropped and quarantined.  Got rid of that shit.

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WTF
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Poor Baby

And here’s my new spacing. Looks so chaotic right now:

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And here’s some probable blossom end rot because I was going to let my plants toughen up by not watering much.  Yep. That worked.

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I think I fucking suck at this.