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?
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