Sunday, June 7, 2009

Always Learning

Looks like the blog updates won't be too terribly frequent throughout the summer!

We'll start with the garden:

Ollas: The ollas are still working well. The bed they are in does not get watered except through the ollas and the plants all look as healthy as the rest of the garden. The one problem I did start seeing was some blossom end rot on those tomatoes. Since I'm not seeing it in other areas of the garden, I'm assuming calcium deficiency is not our problem, which leaves us with lack of water. I had only been filling the ollas every 3 or 4 days and finding them just about empty at that time. Since researching the blossom end rot, I've started topping off the ollas every day and that seems to be working better.

Early Blight: Darn the stinkin' early blight! This is a problem every year in our area. Since this is a fungal disease that splashes up from the soil, I preventatively prune the plants as they get bigger. Typically, I cut off all the branches/leaves that are within about 12" of the soil. Then, as the season wears on, I go through once a week and cut off any leaves that are showing signs of blight (I see brown spots first, then yellow/brown rings, often starting at the edge of the leaf). I bag these diseased leaves and throw them away so I don't contribute more blight spores to the compost/soil. Every year, I start to panic about how much foliage I'm cutting off, but every year we get a good yield and very little if any fruit affected. We had a humid and rainy start to the season, which contributed to blight problems. While my Neem oil spraying has kept the powdery mildew completely at bay, it doesn't seem to be helping with the blight. Our tomatoes are in new beds that we just put in this year and I have noticed that two of them don't get sun until late morning. These shadier beds are definitely more affected by the blight, which makes sense because their leaves are staying more wet in the morning. Ideally, we would have no overhead watering (and go purely to ollas and/or drip system) to combat this, but it's so prevalent in our area that the rain alone would keep it going to some extent. Since the Neem hasn't worked, we are trying an organic spray with sulfur in it this week. I'm not holding my breath that'll make a huge difference, but thought it was worth a try for future knowledge.

Yield: Our strawberries are giving less. There are still a few berries here and there, but they either get eaten right away, or thrown to the chickens...they aren't making it in the house anymore. We got a big handful of blueberries off the bushes we planted this year, which was unexpected and exciting. We have eaten one pound of fresh picked green beans so far and the tomato plants are heavy with fruit, but nothing ripe yet. The black beans have put out lots of pods and we will those dry on the vine. Black eyed peas are fattening up in their pods and the okra looks like it will start to bloom any day now. Those are the only exciting things at the moment.

Sierra is still bugging me to do workbooks every day. On Tuesday we headed to the local library for "big rig day". It is part of their summer reading program to have some activity every week and I expected this to be a small event---maybe a fire truck and police car and that would be it. Well, it was a HUGE set up. I think they probably had one of every type of vehicle the city owns there! We got to talk to several very polite city workers about what the vehicles did and what different parts of the vehicles were for. The kids could sit up in them if they wanted. They also handed out free popsicles for everyone. She mostly chose math to work on this week, so we did lots of addition and worked a bit on subtraction. Today we read a book about tornadoes and made a "tornado" with two 2-liter bottles and a little connector. Our neighbor is an "archery in the schools" teacher and had family visiting, so he set up all his equipment and invited us over to join in. Sierra enjoyed her little archery lesson and Josh got a chance to pick up a compound bow (he was on the archery team in college, but shot recurve).


One Acre Homestead said...

It looks like we may get a bit of a harvest off our blueberries as well! So exciting and unexpected as I thought it would be a year or two before we got any yield. Our blackberries are just full of berries as well. I can't wait for them to ripen!

Karen said...

Thanks for the info on Early Blight. I have began to see some of the sign myself, but didn't know what it was. I was able to fix the problem though, thanks to your blog. Sounds like you will have your hands full this summer, good luck with that.

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