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Archive for May, 2013

Pickles are a staple in our house, and there is almost always at least one jar in the fridge. Last summer I was looking for a more natural way to kill weeds popping up in between the cracks in the sidewalk/paths around our house and stumbled upon an article that said pickle juice would work, so I gave it a shot. (more…)

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It only took four days. That’s how long the deer “waited” before feasting on our newly planted vegetables. We planted the majority of our garden this past Sunday and after a couple days, everything seemed fine.

From bottom left: Tomato, spinach and zucchini all eaten by deer.

From bottom left: Tomato, spinach and zucchini all eaten by deer.

There was a little bit of a pepper leaf torn off, but not a big deal. Then, checking our garden this afternoon, we saw the full brunt of the damage, along with a few hoof prints left behind in the soil.

Our spinach was sheared to stems and the cherry/grape tomato plants were chewed to nubs. The deer also did a number on our pea and ate all but a couple leaves from both our zucchini plants. Oddly enough, they left the yellow squash alone. I also think it is a bit strange that for two months they never nibbled on the growing spinach, peas or lettuce and somehow decided this was the opportune moment.

So now we’re in full defense mode against these beasts, which, under any other circumstance, I don’t mind having around our house.

Mixed together with water, this helps deter deer.

Mixed together with water, this helps deter deer.

Here’s the plan:

Garlic and cayenne pepper. I tried this toward the end of last year and it seemed to work. I mix the powdered versions (what you buy in the spice aisle at the grocery store) with water and spray generously around and on the plants. I might even add egg or milk to the mix to help it stick to the leaves.

Mint. We’ll move our mint pot to the area we want to protect. Apparently the strong smell is not so pleasing to the deer.

Marigolds. It’s the same idea as above. The strong smell is supposed to keep the deer away. Probably buy several of these to put near each raised bed. Other plants could help and we might try those too.

We’ve bought two replacement zucchini and transplanted the others to pots and will do the same for the tomatoes. Last year the deer damaged tomato plants recovered a bit and actually produced some. The only positive to this situation is that the deer ate everything early. If it must happen, I’d rather it be now than when the plants are well established.

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Transplanted volunteers waiting for their "forever home."

Transplanted volunteers waiting for their “forever home.”

Earlier this spring I wrote about a random plant making an appearance. After weeding the rest of the bed, I dug out these two seedlings and put them in small containers left over from vegetable transplants we usually buy at the garden center.

I suspect one is squash because it sprouted where we had a zucchini or yellow squash plant last year. The other was closer to the trellis, so my best guess is that it’s a cucumber.

We’re going to let them grow a little more and get sturdier before putting them in a larger pot. It’d be great if these volunteers actually turn into viable plants. If nothing else, it will save us a few bucks this season.

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This weekend we were weeding and doing some general garden cleanup when I found this strange, brown thing in our dirt. It wasn’t a bug or anything I recognized so, as is becoming my routine, I took a picture and searched for an answer later. Turns out it was likely a cocoon of the tomato hornworm.

Tomato hornworm cocoon.

Tomato hornworm cocoon.

I don’t think we’ve had these in the past, but we did have a crappy tomato crop last year and this could be to blame. The caterpillar/worm causes a lot of damage to tomato plants, mostly chewing through leaves and stems.

We have seen large moths like the adult form of the tomato hornworm on our porch before, so maybe this has been present all along and we never knew about it. Oddly enough (or maybe it’s the garden gods giving us a warning), this was in the raised bed where we planned to plant our tomatoes this year.

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We were expecting big, beautiful heads of broccoli. But like most things in our garden, what we expected and what actually happened don’t match. Our broccoli was doing very well then one day the stalks were all leggy and the heads started to separate. After desperate Google searches to find out what was going on with the broccoli, I learned that they were bolting.

This came as a bit of a surprise because we planted them in late March/early April and the tag with the transplants said it would take 80 days to maturity. These were done in a little more than a month and the heads still seemed small. But then again, this is our first time and I had no idea what broccoli was supposed to look like when it’s ready for harvest.

Temperature fluctuations are largely to blame because in any given week, it could swing from 60 degrees to 80 degrees and back again. In addition to the weather, the slugs and cabbage white butterfly worm were starting to take their toll. Not all was lost, though. I cut all the main heads (way less than we expected) and were able to use it in stir-fry.

We’re not giving up yet and will try again in the fall. I put together a gallery of our broccoli trial so others can know what to look for and signs of distress or healthy growth. I had a heck of a time finding any post or website that described our exact problem, so I hope this helps!

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Sugar snap peas coming along nicely.

Sugar snap peas coming along nicely.

Our peas are coming along nicely, but I’m not sure if we will get anything. The weather was a bit too unpredictable this spring, so they were planted late.

Some rotted in the ground or otherwise didn’t sprout. They’ve started putting out tendrils so we needed to give them support.

Instead of a trellis we used a wire fence that was in the garage. It’s not very tall but it works. I’m still afraid the weather will get too warm before we get any peas. Keeping my fingers crossed that at least a few pods form.

If they don’t, at least we found out last year that pea shoots are pretty tasty.

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