Thursday, July 08, 2010

How does your garden grow?

Of course Tabitha is an excellent gardener. She is diligent, observant and proactive. The problem has been, no mater what we tried our plants still suffered. This year, I believe that our current level of success with our garden is because of two technology improvements.

Copper spray is a powerful fungicide. It is organically certified but dangerous to use. Full hazmat gear is recommended on the label while spraying. We have been spraying weekly and are just managing to stay ahead of the tomato blight.

Pruning off infected foliage and spraying, exposed some fruit to possible sun damage. In the above photo Tabitha used some old tulle as a partial shade cloth.

Neem is another powerful organically certified weapon in our arsenal. It kills indiscriminately so we are cautious to use it only when necessary and in a very focused manner. We like our beneficial insects to live to fight for us another day. The latest thing we have tried is to neem drench our cucumber plants roots. This really seems to have worked on the cucumber beetle onslaught. Cucumber beetles are a sinister foe. They are impossible to catch by hand in mass. By eating the foliage they infect the plant with bacterial wilt that can quickly kill the plant. If the plants survive this first assault the beetles larvae dig into the ground and eat the cucumber plant roots. This usually happens just before the first fruit has a chance to grow to size.

As you can see there is plenty of cucumbers on the thriving vines. We have been mixing a root drench of neem and fish emulsion and pouring it directly on the plant roots. The neem kills any beetle larvae. The fish emulsion feeds the plant. Something else seems to be happening. Tabitha read that the neem can get sucked up into the plant and systemically deter the cucumber beetles from eating the foliage.

We have eaten several fresh cucumbers and a few tomatoes. We are hopeful of a bountiful harvest this season.

The butternut squash seem to be thriving also.

Our little farm is starting to look a little more kempt since our vacation. Here the echinacea are looking pretty.

I have also started digging the footings for the barn. I plan to slip-form these walls and this is my first step. Why didn't I just have this dug mechanically? We didn't plan to have a cement floor in this milking barn at first. After thoughts are hard on my back.

This is Toly's new playground. I am going to pour it in sections. I am about one quarter the way done digging. Each shovel load requires at least three strikes with a pick axe to loosen the soil. Digging in the Ozarks is no fun.

The dirt is back fill for an intended garden terrace. When done the garden should be fifteen feet wider. Every little bit helps.

We also got a couple of lambs from our friends. Here they are hiding their eyes thinking I can't see them.

Immediately after we ordered a new camera battery charger we found the old one. Isn't that how it always goes?


Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Wow your garden looks great. I like the cattle panels as trellis idea. We may have to swipe that one from you.

Amy L. said...

Oh, boy, your garden looks marvelous! Ours here in Western WA are behind by about a month due to all the cool, rainy days we had in June. I plan to buy some fish emulsion to try as a fertilizer, and had to buy some replacement tomato seedlings to make up for those affected with early blight. This year's garden for us is not looking near as good as last year's.

Ron said...

Looking good!

I thought what I had in the squash patch was mildew, but the photos I found of bacterial wilt look a lot like what I have, and would explain why milk did NOT help them.


Pablo said...

Digging in the Ozarks is certainly no fun, but it looks like you at least have some soil between your rocks. I have smaller rocks between my rocks.

Caddie said...

It all looks very lush. I can't find Neem oil anywhere here; need it for fleas; worst pests ever encountered. This is the first year ever my tomatoes are totally pest free - it has to be the new method using boxed beds. Can't think of another reason. But the fungus called 'dog vomit' abounds. Ruins plants instantly. I've got to make some colloidal silver soon or lose the strawberries.

Woody said...

Karl your garden is rock'in!

Omelay said...

FF Rick, I'm happy to pass the ideas on. I certainly wasn't the first to use a cattle panel in this manner.

Amy, Thank you. I am always surprised by the different successes and failures from year to year. The argument for biodiversity is shored each year I experience something new. We have several varieties of tomato and it is surprising how differently they preform.

Ron, diagnosing the disease in time to do something about it is the illusive trick. Bacterial wilt has gotten us the past few years. Our pumpkins are all dying. We just can't keep ahead of it everywhere.

Pablo, It is very good to hear from you. That stuff that looks like soil is rocky clay. The clay is the mortar that holds all the rocks firmly in place. Luckily my children like to help dig.

Omelay said...

Sissy, We need to get more neem. We have had this bottle for a few years. When we buy it I'll post a link to the seller in a new post.

Woody, Thanks yours looks fantastic also.

Kim said...

Your garden is looking great this year! I am going to write down the neem root soak, what a great idea!

Beau said...

Your garden looks beautiful- especially the tomaters... ours are wilty and blighted. Haven't tried anything, but I read that spraying diluted bleach and water can help. We'll see... Looks wonderful though- nice job!

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