Monthly Archives: June 2013

Yellow Squash Leaves

This is my first year gardening in this location.  As previously mentioned, I had to build raised beds because the soil here is red clay.  I filled the beds with a load of mediocre quality sandy soil and bags of cheap compost from Lowes.  This is all that I could afford to do this year.  Each bed is 12″ high.  I left about 3 to 4 inches of each bed empty so that I can add bags of compost – and compost if I can get a hold of some) this fall and next spring.

I have to wonder if the poor quality of soil is causing my problems with light and yellowing leaves.  Perhaps the soil is too sandy to hold nutrients?  Or perhaps the soil in the pepper bed is too moist? But I don’t think so.

I went ahead and fertilized with full strength Miracle Grow Vegetable fertilizer.  I also added  blood meal for nitrogen.  I don’t feel that I have anything to loose – it is mid season and I feel my garden is floundering.  I am used to gardening in very fertile/organic soil.  My last garden had soil that we had been improving for 20 years.  I suppose that it will take a number of years to get this soil to where I want it.
waltham butternut leaves are yellowing

The older leaves are terribly yellow.  The newer growth looks like it may be better.  I’m really concerned.  The plants do have plenty of buds.
yellowing squash leaves

This is not typical yellowing of older, dying leaves.  The entire plants are a bit too light green.  I am particularly concerned about my pepper plants.  They are also lighter than they should  be.

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A Toothache Tree

We had to cut down about a half acre of thick woods for the house.  I was cleaning up the remaining tree parts and came across some very unusual logs.  These trees had large, odd spikes on the bark.  I had to look it up and as it turns out, this was a Toothache tree.  It is also known as Hercules-club tree and Southern Prickly Ash.  (zanthoxylum clava herculis).

The trunk – about 6 inches diameter: (it has  been laying on the ground for about 6 months and it looks like some of the spikes are rotting off):

toothache tree

Some branches:
toothache tree logs

And some smaller branches:
toothache tree

It seems that this tree has properties that relieve tooth aches when the bark is chewed.  The settlers and indians used the tree for this purpose.  Fortunately, looking around the woods, we have a few more of these trees.

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Powdery Mildew Makes An Appearance

Powdery mildew has shown up.  I have been using Neem oil to treat it.  Seems to keep it from spreading.  A few years ago I tried to go organic and used a potion made with baking soda – yes, it stopped the powdery mildew, but it also killed all of the leaves it was sprayed on.
powdery mildew

This pic was taken a couple of days ago.  I treated with neem oil spray on the day the pic was taken.  As of today, I nave not noticed any spreading of the mildew.

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The First Cucumber

Recall that everything was planted a month late because of our move.

This is my first cucumber.  Usually by this time I would have been harvesting many 12″ + cucumbers.  The temps have been in the 100’s for a week now and the young garden is taking a beating.

first cucumber of 2013

When this little cuke grows to a foot long, it will be ready to harvest.

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Banana Peppers – With Problems

These banana peppers are ready to harvest.
banana peppers
I am having issues – for the first time ever – with my peppers. I feel they are too light yellow green. I am used to dark green pepper leaves.  I have several possibilities:  either the sandy soil is not able to hold nutrients, or the soil is too wet.  I’m not sure what could be the problem – we have had a lot of rain lately, but the sandy soil should drain quickly.  When I dig my finger into the soil, it moist but not soaking wet.  I have spread fertilizer on the mulch, but I need to water it in, which would aggravate a possible moisture problem.  I don’t know what the problem is.

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A nice pot of mint. I never could start the stuff from seed and get it to grow to any good size, so I just buy the stuff. I am now, however, trying to root a few stems of mint that broke off when a dead limb fell off of the tree the pot is growing under and landed on the mint.
pot of mint

Some of the branches have started blooming.  I want to try to root some more.  I really need to find a spot around the garden and stick it in the ground and hope it will spread in this poor soil.

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Basil And Squash Overview

The plants on the left side of the pic of the first bed are Basil. I start Basil from seed each year, with occasionally buying a pack of another variety of basil. Most of the seeds that I started from last year are ‘regular’ Basil. This year I bought a pack of Globe Basil seeds – those plants grow somewhat slower, but are very interesting. They do indeed grow in a round ball and the leaves are smaller. Hopefully they won’t cross with my ‘regular Basil’ for next year.

Under the raised cattle panel, I plant a climbing winter squash.  On the other edge of the bed are summer squash.
basil seedlings

A closeup of Obsidian Zucchini, which is a hybrid that I purchased from Twilley Seed.  I like it and plan to purchase some more.  It matures shortly after 8 Ball zucchini, and well before all of my yellow summer squash.
obsidian hybrid zucchini

This is a bed of zucchini down the middle and a row of summer squash along each side.  The zucchini is already producing, but the summer squash is still growing.
squash row

I mulch each bed with several inches of dry oak leaves and other leaves.

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Over-View of the Garden

This pic is from early May, when I finally got my raised beds built. I had to build them myself – quite a job for an old gal like myself!  You can see in the beds near the bottom of the pic that I had already planted my heirloom peppers that I start from seed each spring.  I put wood chips and mulch in the walkway between the beds  – it covers the red clay.  The beds were filled with a load of mediocre quality top soil mixed with 18 bags – added to each bed – of cheap Lowes compost and soil.  Each spring I plan to add at least 6 or so bags of quality compost to the beds until I can build the soil up.  If I am lucky, maybe I can get a load of rabbit poop like I did several years ago.  That was wonderful stuff.
garden beds looking south east

This picture was taken June 20, perhaps 5 to 6 weeks after the above picture.  The pepper plants have grown in size, but are not as full as I would like.  I need to remember that I am not growing in the rich composted soil of my old garden plot.  I had been building that soil for 20 years.

Note the thick layer of leaves for mulch in the beds.  The sand would dry up in a day and crust over with out mulch.  I also like the weed repellant quality of mulch.

overview garden june 20, 2013

Still so much work to do.  The garden is on a slope and thus I have to work on the run off problem I am having after deluges.

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An Ill Looking Zucchini Plant

This zucchini plant doesn’t look well.  It developed light spots when it was still a young plant and has just gotten worse with time.

diseased zucchini plant

It started getting small light spots on the leaves that looked like the tissue was dry in between the veins.  It spread.  New leaves have it.  It starts at the leaf edges and spreads inward.

I looked here, a plant diagnostic page, but didn’t see anything that looked like what is happening to my squash. It will be best to pull and burn the plant in case it is a virus. Still trying to find out what the problem is.

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I Want To Expand My Garden

I want to expand my garden, to do so I will have to do some clearing of the woods.  These woods are just beyond my raised beds and our yard.

woods view

The soil is mostly red clay.  Clay.  The woods has about a 12″ layer of nice black compost from decades of falling leaves, pine needles and tree parts, but that gets disturbed when the tree roots are dug up.  I don’t know what I’ll do.  I’ll probably build raised beds, thus I won’t have to dig up the root stumps.  However, I don’t want to cut any more of my trees down.

view of the woods

Another issue to consider is that these trees are very tall – the canopy is about 50 to 60 feet tall, thus the trees throw long shadows.  I would get much of the morning eastern sun, some noon sun and a bit of early afternoon sun, but I wouldn’t get any late afternoon sun.  I am figuring that my current garden gets at least 6 hours of sun.  Really, I consider this OK because although garden veggies are said to need full sun, that late afternoon sun beats the plants down badly.  So, for large leafed veggies like squash and cukes, partial shade seems to be OK.  Whatever.

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