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Archive for June, 2013

Lots of basil!

Lots of basil!

It must be a prime spot in the garden because our basil was seriously getting out of control. The plants themselves were taller than they’ve ever been in the past three years, and some of the leaves were almost the size of our palms.

Just to bring the plants back to a more manageable size, we had to pick a ton of basil – a full colander of about 3-4 cups when packed down. The first thing I always think of when there is an abundance of basil is to make pesto. It’s really easy to make and can be adjusted to taste.

Here’s the basic recipe* I use:

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It really seems like once we “control” one garden pest, another one comes along that we have to battle. Don’t get me wrong, they’re adorable. But those tiny rabbit jaws have done a number on our plants.

RabbitWhile I’m not 100 percent positive they’re what ate (and more or less destroyed) our blackberry plant and two coral bells, rabbits are the likely suspect. Especially when I saw one sitting in the backyard next to the blackberry bush.

In our three years living here we saw maybe one or two rabbits. Now, it seems like they’re everywhere, and we see them running around our street all the time.

Like deer, rabbits are supposedly deterred by really strong smells and that’s how we plan to defend against these fluffy beasts.

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My neighbors probably think I’m losing it. Almost every night for the past few weeks, I’ve been outside by our raised beds swatting at the plants and swinging a bowl through the air. But there is a method (and purpose) to the madness.

It’s to catch and crush striped cucumber beetles and stave off devastation to our plants. Last year our cucumbers were doing wonderful and flowering. Then they died. We did notice a small bug flying around the area. It looked like a ladybug, but it was yellow and had stripes – the dreaded striped cucumber beetle.

I really don’t care if they nibble on the leaves. Our plants are pretty well established and would survive a few chewing holes. What I am worried about is disease spread by the cucumber beetle.

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Zucchini Leaf

Silver and white veins on the zucchini plant.

There is something different about our zucchini leaves. We noticed the veins were white, and later one turned a bit silver. It wasn’t powdery mildew because it was strictly on the veins and not the rest of the leaf.

As usual, I searched for answers and found out a couple possible causes. One, is a nutrient deficiency. Unfortunately, no one said what nutrient was needed to correct this, but I learned during my early research about plant needs that summer squash varieties love nitrogen. We put coffee grounds around each plant and we’ll see if this works to help fix the issue.

Second, it’s totally normal. A lot of forums (with pictures) said this is just how the leaves look on some varieties. We’re a bit relieved that it’s not an issue at this point and will keep a close eye on the plants.

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So they’re not really a secret, but they’re new to us and our quest to have a great garden.

First up, beneficial nematodes. I never heard of these until we stopped by Worm’s Way to buy our compost bin last year. We told the incredibly knowledgeable worker about all our problems and it was her suggestion. The store’s blog has an in-depth explanation of all sorts of beneficial insects.

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The weather is getting warmer and that means the end of our peas. They didn’t do as well as we’d hoped because it was too cold early in the season, too warm as they blossomed, and the deer were eating the shoots once they started growing.

We probably got a good bowl of pods and could’ve had more if we didn’t keep eating them right off the vine. I pulled the peas this past weekend to make space for planting our green beans. Even though there were still a handful of blossoms and tiny pea pods, it was time for them to go into the compost bin. But not all was lost.

I was able to harvest quite a bit of pea shoots for a quick and delicious side. There are tons of recipes out there, but here’s what I did.

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It’s been about a month since everything was planted and so far, so good. Except for a few plants providing dinner for the deer, our vegetables are looking healthy and (fingers crossed) pest/disease free.

I’m not quite sure I stuck with our planting plan for each bed. For the most part, it’s right, but I made some adjustments. Here’s what we have, starting from back bed at the left of the garage.

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