Category Archives: Lettuce

A Final Peek Under The Hoops

Time to take the plastic off.

This pic shows kale on the left side.  My notes read ‘Vates Kale’, but I didn’t note the seed vender.  I like this kale.  A few carrots are in the very front right side.  The empty space after the carrots is where spinach was planted.  Under all 3 of my hoops this past winter, I had a real problem with aphids.  They, of course, never freeze out under the hoops – nothing freezes under the hoop.  A bit further back, with the red stems, are Detroit beets.  I don’t know if they will mature in a month – within a month I will be pulling out everything except some kale and chard so that I can plant my spring crop of squash and peppers.  These cool weather crops had their chance.  If the beets don’t mature their roots, I will at least be able to harvest the greens.

I am really having a problem trying to figure out how to grow under the hoop in Texas.  This past winter started out in October with a rough week or 2 of freezes, then it was very warm for a few months and winter finished with a few weeks of freezing weather.  This lack of consistency causes problems like early  bolting and stunting.  I’m going to have to think this thru for next winter.  I also learned this winter to NOT grow broccoli or cabbage under the hoop.  (The cabbage & broccoli grown outside of the hoops is doing great.) I also can’t grow spinach under the hoop.  I’ll also have to be more vigilant about the aphids.  Also, the cos lettuce didn’t need to be under the hoops – it didn’t do well.  I think that the main reason that I planted all of these things under the hoops was to protect them from rabbits.  Last fall the rabbits ate all of my lettuce and spinach.  This winter they didn’t even touch any of the cabbage or broccoli that was planted in the open.  The only rabbit issue I had was one blue berry plant eaten.

Some of this gorgeous kale is bolting and some isn’t.  While I like this kale, I don’t believe a few plants will be enough to save for seeds.  Also, I just don’t have the room to let this leaf crop sprout it’s seed heads – that takes a lot of space.
under the hoop

This is a close up of the kale and small beets.
under the hoop beets kale lettuce

There is no reason to show pics of the other 2 hoop garden beds – they aren’t this impressive.

Last winter this bed provided me a bountiful crop of chard that I spent weeks dehydrating in the food dryer.  Chard will be one of my main hoop crops next winter.

Again, my hoop garden is 5′ wide & 16′ long.  A 10′ length of gray plastic conduit fits perfectly from one bottom edge to the other, held in place by a 2′ section of 3/8″ rebar cut into 2′ sections with 12″ of each piece pounded into the ground.  I bought a $40 box of thick plastic.  The 100′ roll was cut into four 25′ sections.  The 12′ width fit perfectly over the hoops with a foot on each end resting on the ground, weighted down with old 2×4 pieces of lumber.  The extra 3 to 4′ of plastic on each end was gathered and weighed down with a few bricks or rocks.

I like the idea of the hoop gardens, but I need to rethink this and work it some other way next winter.

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A Peek Under The Hoop

This is a quick peek under one of my 3 hoop gardens.  This one has broccoli at the front – this is the same broccoli that had the initial problem with downy mildew.  After a few treatments – discussed in a previous post – the plants seem small, but no sign of mildew.  These plants now have tiny heads – hopefully they will grow into big, harvest-able heads.

Midway back on the right side, in front of more broccoli, is bok choy.  Then there is broccoli, and spinach behind the broccoli.  On the left half of the bed, the small seedlings are spinach and lettuce.

a peek under the hoop

The other beds are more impressive – will try to post pics soon.

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Late Season Bean Planting

After trying to get over the failure of my spring garden, probably due to Dow Agriscience’s poison aminopyralid, I have decided to replant some quick growers for the second half of our growing season here in Texas.  This bed is scheduled to have broccoli, cabbage and greens this fall.  However, since these crops won’t be planted for at least 6 to 8 weeks, I am going to try to get a quick crop of beans.

So far, the beans look OK.  I think that maybe most of the poison aminopyralid may have degraded in this bed.

This half of the bed is planted with yellow wax beans. I intend to pick them for fresh yellow beans and have no intention of saving seeds. This means that this crop should be done in 60 days.  There is basil planted all thru this bed – I planted it after my squash mysteriously started to dye – probably thanks to Dow’s poison aminopyralid that is now loose and ruining compost piles all over the western world.  One okra plant survived – barely holding on for the past few months, but now seems to have taken off – it is in the lower left side, circled in red. In the front right corner is a lone surviving pepper plant.  The peppers seem to be doing better – again I suspect that maybe Dow’s poison aminopyralid may be degrading.  The tomato next to the okra never recovered and really needs to be pulled.

yellow wax beans

This end of the garden – below – was initially planted with left over Seed Savers Painted Pony beans from a 2009 batch. The seeds were refrigerated, but I guess they were just too old – only 2 seeds sprouted. So, a week later I replanted the area with a few Bolita Bush bean seeds that I had left from Baker Creek, dated 2010. They sprouted and now they look like they are actually pole beans! As such, I had to put some tomato cages among them so that they have something to climb onto.  I had intended to only grow bush beans for 2 reasons: to improve the nitrogen in the bed and for something quick – bush beans mature quicker than pole beans. Well, this is a surprise an I hope that they will be done and producing by the time I have to yank them out to plant my broccoli seedlings in. I didn’t have enough seeds to cover this whole half of the bed, so I’ll just leave that bare spot unplanted for now.  I had planed to save some of these Bolita seeds – if the plants can mature quickly enough.

late summer bean crop

I still don’t have my greenhouse moved over to our new property and have had a very difficult time trying to get seeds to sprout.  These are my cabbages and broccoli seedlings.  The chinese cabbage seedlings were rained on and over half of them were lost.  I have reseeded these trays. I need several hundred chinese cabbage seedlings and at least 6 dozen cabbage transplants and at least that many broccoli seedlings.  I plan to grow the broccoli under my winter hooped garden beds and stick the cabbages all over – under the hoops and outside.  It can take the freeze.

broccoli cabbage seedlings

I have trouble knowing when to start the cabbages and broccoli because it is so hot here for so long and quickly gets cool.  It is almost too hot to get the seedlings started and then gets too cool to get them growing good in the garden.  I can’t even start the spinach until the soil cools to 75 degrees and at the same time I plant my lettuce.  I plan to direct seed the carrots, chard, beets and kale pretty soon.  The turnips are the last thing to get planted.  The winters seem to be getting colder and get here sooner.  I’m having trouble timing plantings.

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Toxic Compost? Aminopyralid? Thanks Dow AgroScience

I posted a while back that I thought that our wetter than normal spring may have been responsible for my pepper leaves being deformed.  Well, after weeping over my destroyed garden – peppers, tomatoes and beans shot for the season, I have found that a herbicide may be responsible.  After thinking about it, I do believe that the tomato leaves do in fact look like previous herbicide damage to tomatoes that I have seen.

My tomato damage and pepper leaf damage does indeed look like pictures of aminopyralid damage seen all over the internet.

Here is an update on what my tomatoes now look like:

aminopyralid damage to tomatoes?
dow agroscience damage to my tomatoes?
aminopyrlid dow agroscience damage to my tomatoes?

The EPA won’t help me – they are too busy trying to shut down our coal burning power plants and cripple the American economy.

Manure and compost can kill your garden – thanks to Dow chemical company.

They peddle a herbicide called aminopyralid.

Dow Agroscience released this environmental poison in 2005, from what I can tell.  They aggressively market it to horse and cattle owners to control perennial weeds.

Dow strikes again – in 2001, Dow’s clopyralid – still sold as Confront, was found to be the contaminant in compost that killed home garden and nursery plants in Washington, Pennsylvania and New Zealand.

Aminopyralid is the active ingredient in the herbicides Milestone and Forefront and belongs to the same class of chemicals that includes clopyralid.

Dow’s behavior defies environmental corporate responsibility.  They know their product is capable of causing significant environmental harm, yet they continue to not only sell it, but to develop and sell new products that pose equal or greater risks.  The EPA lets it happen again.
My peppers:

The peppers grew perfectly fine in the pots that I sprouted and grew the seedlings in.  They seemed OK for the short while that they were in the garden.  After a rainy spell, I noticed that they suddenly had deformed, small and cupped leaves.  After a few weeks, the leaves dropped off.  At this time, it looks like new leaves may be trying to grow from the spots where the leaves dropped along the main stems.
aminopyralid killing my pepper plants?

These leaves are deformed and long.
did dow agroscience destroy my pepper crop this year?

These leaves are cupped and wrinkled.
is aminopyrlid and it's toxic compost destroy my garden?

More deformed, cupped leaves.  Some of these leaves don’t look totally deformed.
did dow agroscience kill my garden?

My beans were also deformed.  I replanted Heriloom Rattlesnake Pole Beans three times.  This image is the third planting.  I can’t get a good picture, but maybe you can see that the new growing ends of the plants just shrivel up and never grow into new leaves.  After a few leaves, the growing ends are deformed.

did dow aminopyrlid destroy my garden?

From what I have read, lettuce and carrots are also affected by this poison.  This past fall – in some of the areas where the peppers and tomatoes are deformed this spring – I grew carrots and lettuce – they seemed to be OK.  One of the links below mentions Peas as being damaged by this poison – my pea crop was a total failure this past fall. Out of a whole raised bed of peas, only a few germinated and those never grew more than about 3 inches – perhaps Dow’s poison damaged my peas. In a previous post I show the trailer of horse compost that I shoveled into my beds in about October.  It should have affected the lettuce and carrots that I then planted.

Dow chemical seems to be playing games with studying the half life of this poison so I don’t know what to expect this spring.  I shoveled that horse compost into all 7 raised beds and put the rest into my compost pile.  It seems that this poison doesn’t start to degrade until the toxic compost actually gets mixed with soil.

I don’t know what to think.  I will have to call our county extension agent and talk to him and give him this blog URL so that he can see the pictures.  Will keep you updated.

Some links for further information:

Manure Matters 
Tomato Ville forum
Aminopyralid images

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Heriloom Slo Bolt Leaf Lettuce Going To Seed

I really liked this Slo Bolt lettuce.  I am letting a couple of heads go to seed.  It would definitely be better if I could have let a dozen plants go to seed, but I just don’t have the space.  If I let this plant make it all the way to mature seed, I’ll have to be sure and try to remember not to save seed from this plant’s children.  The genetics will probably be poorer.

You can see little yellow flowers.  I am only letting one variety of lettuce go to seed, so I shouldn’t have a problem with cross pollination.  Collecting lettuce seed can be sticky – I have always had a milky stickyness from handling the seed heads.
slo bolt lettuce going to seed

I like Slo Bolt Lettuce.  It is leafy.  I also grow Cos lettuce.  Cos takes a freeze much better than cos.  You can see the basil plants all around the lettuce.  Since the peppers aren’t doing well, this will becomemy basil bed. The swiss chard in the background will be gone in a few weeks.

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Lettuce After The Rabbits Visited

Last winter rabbits ate all of my lettuce and spinach growing in this bed.  These few cos lettuce plants regrew, as did 2 spinach plants at the far end of the bed – top right of this pic.
cos lettuce regrew after the rabbits ate it

It is time to pick this lettuce – I don’t need the seeds so I’m not going to let it go to seed.  I planted peppers, basil, onions and squash around the lettuce.  (The peppers and onions were started from seed.  These basil are volunteers.)

Those are t-posts holding up a 16 foot cattle panel that the winter squash planted directly under it is going to grow up on.  I keep my beds heavily mulched with old leaves.  Raised beds are not the best idea here in hot, dry Texas, but it is how I have chosen to grow my garden in this red CLAY soil here.

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Under the Hoops

This is the first winter that I have had a covered hoop garden.  A few posts ago, you can see the garden beds with the hoops in place.  The hoops are 10′ under ground gray conduit.  About a dollar and a half each, not bad. They are secured into the ground with a 2′ section of 3/8″ rebar, cut to 2′ sections and pounded half way into the ground.

The tent is a 24′ section of thicker plastic from Lowes.  It was a 100′ roll that cost $40 something.  I cut it into 4 sections, allowing about 4′ to hang over the ends and be gathered and secured.  I did not nail the plastic on – I simply weighed the long sides down with pieces of lumber.  Seemed to work OK.

Since the plastic is only on the beds for half the year – about October thru March – and not the hard summer sun, I am hoping that the pieces will last several years.

I was surprised at the amount of heat under the plastic on a cool winter day.  The greens seemed to like it.

under the hoop

You can see a few garlic scattered about.  The greens in the front are luculus chard.  The greens on the left side, mid way back are kohlrabi, which we are eating for the greens.  On the front right side, out of view, is Parris Isle cos lettuce.  (Some of it seemed to freeze to death – unusual because I have never had it freeze to death before).  Scarlet nantes carrots are growing in the far back right side.  They seem to be happy.  They better fill out in the next month because by mid-March when I plan on pulling them to make room for some of my summer squash to get an early start.  They prefer warm weather, but I am going to see if I can start them early under the hoops with the plastic sheeting protecting and warming them.  The yellow flowers on the back left side are bok choy going to seed.  It won’t be any good because no insects were in the tent to pollinate them.  They took a beating when the outside temps reached down to the mid-teens – the white stems died but the green leaves seemed to survive just fine.  Every thing else – except possibly some lettuce – survived the seriously freezing temps.

This was my first winter to experiment with plastic covered garden tents for winter hardening.  Next winter I need to get some serious production since I now have an idea of what’s going on.  I also found out that to protect my winter crops from the rabbits and deer, I need to grow everything except the turnips and curly kale under the hoops.  All of my lettuce and spinach that I planted outside the tents was eaten.

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A Load of Horse Manure

My raised beds are filled with poor, sandy soil so I had to do something to get a serious amount of organic material into the beds.  My solution? A ton or 2 of composting horse manure from a local stable.  The trailer was fully loaded and piled high when I pulled it in.  It took me about 4 days of serious shoveling to get the other poop out of the trailer and into the beds.  I shoveled more out than is pictured.  Have to find a good place to store the rest until next spring planting.  I lined the trailer with an old tarp so as to not mess it up too much.
trailer load of horse manure

I put about 6 inches of horse manure into this bed and turned it in.  This picture shows that I still had a few more inches to add to this bed.    Since I had more horse manure than expected, I filled each bed to the top edge.

manure turned into garden

Another bed with the poop turned in to the soil and filled to the top edge of the bed.  Notice the prolific blooming of the morning glories in the back bed.

horse poop turned into garden soil

Put a few wheel barrows of nastier horse poop ( had beg clumps of hay in it and some that didn’t smell quite so composted) into the compost pile.

Horse manure is high in nitrogen, so hopefully the leafy greens that I grow in the winter – kale, lettuce, spinach and swiss chard will use up the excess nitrogen.  I don’t want an overload of nitrogen in the soil for the spring planting.  Too much nitrogen will produce lots of green plants and little fruit – so I am hoping that it will work out well for the winter leafy greens.  Will keep you posted.

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My Hoop Garden Is Taking Shape

I have prepared two of my raised beds for hoop gardens. I plan to do this for my 3rd bed that doesn’t have a raised cattle panel running down the middle of it.

The beds are made out of 16′ lengths of 1×6 treated lumber.  The boxes are 5′ wide.  I purchased four 20′ sections of 3/8″ rebar and had one of my sons cut them into 2′ sections.  I decided to put 7 hoops on each 16′ bed.  I pounded the 2′ sections of rebar 1′ into the ground, leaving 1′ above ground – the height of the bed side.   I used 10′ sections of gray electrical conduit to bend over the bed for the arch.  Each end of the conduit covers the raised 1′ section.  Hopefully this will be satisfactory to anchor the pressured ends of the conduit.  I plan to tie a piece of the gray conduit along the top of the arch to keep the pipes properly spaced.  I will then cover the arches with clear plastic.  I need to find a thick 50′ roll of plastic.  Twenty-five feet will cover each bed with enough to gather at the ends.  I need a roll that is at least 12′ wide so that it will cover the 10′ arch and leave at least a foot to lay on the ground and be weighed down by old garden timbers or lengths of wood.

I still need to work the ground around these beds – putting mulch around the beds.
hoop garden

Another view:
hoop garden

The winters here have been getting colder each year for a while now, so I am hoping these covered hoop beds will allow me to grow winter crops better.  On the list for my winter crops are:  cabbage, broccoli, spinach, lettuce – both leaf and cos, turnips, carrots, fava beans, peas and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment.  Garlic doesn’t need to be protected from the freezes.

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Lettuce Sprouting All Over The Place

This past summer I let almost a dozen Parris Isle cos lettuce plants go to seed. I harvested over a quarter cup of seeds. Plenty of other seeds landed all over the place and sprouted in the walkway, in empty pots, in beds, just where ever they landed.

Here are a couple of pics of lettuce sprouting in walkways:

Lettuce sprouting in walkways

Lettuce sprouting by clay pot

As a curious note: I have noticed that these saved seeds that I have deliberately scattered around in patches in the garden have produced a lettuce plant that never seems to fully mature into the large, 12″+ high, large heads that the plants they came from did. Lettuce self pollinates, so I don’t see how it could be a matter of bad or limited genetics. Then, after growing to 8 to 10 inches, the plants quickly die out. I’ll try to get a pic up. I’m not saving seed from these plants. I have fresh seed for next season.

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