Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

We’ve tried for a couple of years to get great broccoli but it’s not working for us. Earlier this month we had a crazy hot spell — something you’d expect in July and not early May — with temperatures in the 80s and creeping toward 90 on some days.

Bolted broccoli. Again. Still tasty though!

Bolted broccoli. Again. Still tasty though!

It started really well — big leaves and small, compact broccoli heads. But once the temperatures spiked, it was all over. What broccoli was growing started to bolt. The stalks were separating and starting to produce flowers. Some of the other ones weren’t even growing (though now that the weather has cooled significantly, they seem to be bouncing back.)

Oh well. We plan try again in the fall, starting from seeds. Next year, I’m going to use our old garden beds as cold frames and get the broccoli, peas and lettuce started way early. Maybe even February. Maybe even when there is still snow on the ground. We’ll see how it goes.

The mysterious cluster of insect eggs. Or pollen. Who knows!

The mysterious cluster of insect eggs. Or pollen. Who knows!

Random side note:  This year when we cut the main heads, I discovered a cluster of what looked like yellow eggs on one of the broccoli stems. After a bit of searching, I came up empty as to what it was. Best guess was maybe ladybugs, but those looked like shinier eggs. It could just be a bunch of pollen trapped in a spider web, too. Has anyone else seen something like this?


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It’s hard to think about gardening when temperatures are near zero with negative wind chills. We’re in Ohio and just got past the cold spell brought on by the “polar vortex.” But, that being said, we’re still thinking about the garden. There are two things I’m hoping happen with this deep freeze.

1. It kills any eggs/larva of the insects that destroyed many of our plants: squash vine borer, leaf hoppers, squash bugs and cucumber beetles. Especially the last one because those were awful this year.

2. Our garlic survives. We bought some on a whim and planted them a little later than we should have. I really hope they had time to set some roots before it got too cold.

We have another goal this year: to post more often. I have quite a few recipes, stories, plans for next year and other things to share from the past season.

Finally, I’ve noticed a lot of views coming from Australia and New Zealand recently, which makes sense because of the opposite seasons. So I’d like to say welcome! I hope you enjoy what you find here, and it helps your garden in some way!

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Probably the last vegetables we'll get from the garden this year.

Probably the last vegetables we’ll get from the garden this year.

As the weather gets colder, our plants are on their way out. It’s a bit odd because there are new eggplant flowers and pepper flowers, but they won’t have enough time to mature. We have a few more grape tomatoes that might be ready before it gets too cold, but pretty much everything else is done. We tried to plant some fall vegetables, but that plan seems to have failed. More on that later.

Overall, it was a pretty successful year. Not the best, but it was way better than what we had last year, or even the year before. I’ll recap everything in later posts, plus share some more recipes we made when all our vegetables were thriving.

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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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It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

After all the gardening research, reading and planning this winter, spring was supposed to be the start of a splendid gardening season.

But Ohio’s weather seems to have something else in mind. On the first day of spring this year it was 38 degrees. Last year we were seeing record-breaking temperatures around 83 degrees.

We’re now almost two full weeks into spring, and the weather pattern is still wreaking havoc on our plans. It’s been warm then cold, sunny then snowy.

Luckily we had a bit of a break this past weekend and were able to get some garden prep and planting finished. We finally removed all the weed barriers from under the raised beds, turned under the decomposing leaves, and mixed everything together with a small dose of compost from our bin. Everything was much easier and quicker with help from my fiancé and his brother!

Our broccoli transplants are in the ground. We're hoping they do well this year.

Our broccoli transplants are in the ground. We’re hoping they do well this year.

We also planted a few vegetables, even though it’s a couple weeks later than expected.

With the weather a bit colder than usual – and a few nights with below freezing temperatures – I’m a bit worried about how it will work.

Peas, lettuce, spinach and broccoli are pretty frost-tolerant so we’re hopeful they sprout and survive. I checked the broccoli yesterday morning, and the leaves were a little wilted.

When I checked again in the evening, they seemed to bounce back and are looking healthy. I might cover them tonight if the temperatures are still expected to be chilly.

I’d remove the cover (probably the landscape fabric we removed this weekend) from the broccoli in the morning, but I think I might leave it on the lettuce, spinach and peas to warm up the soil and give a small boost to the germinating seeds.

We’ll also plant another few rows of lettuce and spinach in a couple weeks so we’re not forced to eat nothing but greens for weeks when it all matures at the same time. Or it might be to replace what the squirrels decide to dig up.

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Signs of spring?

It’s been really warm here for the past several days–we’re talking 60 degrees or more in January. Ohio weather is notoriously bipolar, so I’m not surprised it was warm on Jan. 11 and is supposed to be in the mid-30s on Jan. 14.

The weather inspired me to check out our garden, which I haven’t really paid any attention to since the final leaves were raked away this fall. I was happy to see that the shredded leaves were decomposing nicely–the big, two-foot tall pile is now a smattering about three inches thick. That should provide a good nutrient boost in the spring.

That's parsley poking through the leaves. The greenery in the second bed is peas I've left to compost directly in the bed.

That’s parsley poking through the leaves. The greenery in the second bed is peas I’ve left to compost directly in the bed.

I also noticed our parsley, which was chewed down to the stems by butterfly caterpillars, is poking through the leaf debris. I knew chives, thyme and oregano were perennials but didn’t think parsley was. After a bit of research, I found out parsley is not really a perennial, it’s a biennial. That means the leaves are only good the first year, and it sets seeds in its second year.

We’ll plan on planting some more next spring, but I might let the seeds lay where they fall and see what pops up the following years.

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After what seemed like an endless streak of hot weather and FOREVER without rain, the past couple weeks brought a break in the 100-degree heat and a handful of much-needed moisture from Mother Nature.

Our green beans are finally growing again and starting to climb the poles. The tomatoes are turning red, and the squash plants are blossoming. While most of that is good news, nothing is ever perfect.

We have deer repellent (cloth bags filled with meat meal and red pepper–kind of gross, but it seems to work) hanging in our woods and near the green beans to deter them from feasting on our efforts. It appeared to be effective. At least I thought so.

Last week I went outside to check on everything and noticed most of our lettuce was gone, except for a couple small clumps. Matt said he didn’t pick any so my best guess is the deer thought it would make a nice snack.

On a positive note, however, that gives us a little room to try broccoli again for a fall harvest, and some of the lettuce is the “cut-and-come-again” leaf variety so a couple gnawed plants are putting out new leaves.

It appears that everything is starting to turn around, which is a good thing!

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Last year, we failed at peas. We planted them in early June without realizing peas need cool weather to thrive. Needless to say, they yellowed and  died pretty quickly.

We managed to get our peas in the ground early enough this year and they’ve been doing great. Snow peas came in early and we had so many.

Almost ready to pick!

The sugar snaps are doing pretty well, not producing as much as I hoped but they’re still growing and blooming. I’m sure it didn’t help that this has been one of the warmest springs on record! At the end of May we had several days of 90-degree weather and no rain.

It also probably didn’t help that every time I saw a sugar snap was ready, I’d pick it off the vine and eat it, something I often did in my grandpa’s garden. I guess old habits are hard to break. =)

Now it’s cooled off a bit and I hope we get another harvest.

Snow peas in the front, sugar snap in the back.

Second harvest of snow peas.

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