New Project - Could send me to the insane asylum

Mandy Onderwater

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Do they have a different type of leaf, or is that quite similar to our "normal" carrots?

If you have any recipes to share I'd love to see them in the articles area, that way everyone can enjoy them!
What I've seen/heard so four seemed really good :D
 

DThille

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The leaves are very similar, although the stems are darker with a purplish tinge.

Now for today's adventures. I was back out today and continued with weeding by machete in the cover crop. It was in the mid to high 20s and quite humid...I felt myself flagging and getting a bit sloppy with the machete so stopped and did some mowing instead...at least I won't cut a leg off sitting on the tractor.

20220812DSC_0233TipTopMelon.jpg

Tip Top melon, a cantaloupe type.

20220812DSC_0235KajariMelon.jpg

Kajari (honeydew type) melons continue to grow...I counted 6 on the plant, but I think I could only make out 5 on the photo...one may be hidden by a leaf.

20220812DSC_0236BoothbysBlondeCucumber.jpg

Boothby's Blonde cucumber - supposed to be good for bread & butter pickles.

20220812DSC_0237CucumberHarvest.jpg

One of these things is not like the others...Muncher cucumber. The darker ones may be a bit overripe...I didn't pick them the other day not realizing they were at more or less full size.

20220812DSC_0238Watermelon.jpg

I believe this is a wee Sugar Lump watermelon.

20220812DSC_0252CoverCrop.jpg

A shot of some of the cover crop.

20220812DSC_0264Sunflower.jpg

Three guesses and the first two don't count. I saw a video the other day where they used the petals and some of the pollen bits to make a tea.

20220812DSC_0274TurksTurban.jpg

Turk's Turban squash.

20220812DSC_0277TurksTurban.jpg

Another one that may give a better idea to the naming.

20220812DSC_0279MandanSquash.jpg

This should be a Mandan squash...it sort of snuck up on me and is a good size.

20220812DSC_0280SpaghettiSquash.jpg

Spaghetti squash

20220812DSC_0281SpaghettiSquash.jpg

This one is bigger

20220812DSC_0282TomatoesBrassicas.jpg

Tomatoes and brassicas

20220812DSC_0284ChTomatoesGrndCherry.jpg

Cherry tomato and ground cherry

20220812DSC_0288BlackHungarian.jpg

Black Hungarian pepper (chili)

20220812DSC_0289Peppers.jpg

The variegated Fish variety in the foreground

20220812DSC_0290Fish.jpg

Pod of a Fish pepper...the pods are variegated too.

20220812DSC_0291FeherOzon.jpg

Feher Ozon...I think these plants will look spectacular when the peppers ripen to red.

20220812DSC_0293CornoDiToro.jpg

Corno di Toro pepper

20220812DSC_0294RedRuffledPimento.jpg

Red Ruffled Pimento

20220812DSC_0296BrusselsSprouts.jpg

Brussels sprouts...looking forward to these.

20220812DSC_0297CherryTomatoes.jpg

Other side of the cherry tomatoes.

20220812DSC_0298Harvest.jpg

Today's harvest...3 types of beets, turnip, a few small red onions that were disturbed, three types of carrots (the small ones are Paris Market and I'm a bit confused about the yellow ones, unless we seeded some of the old rainbow mix and I happened to pick two of the same colour), broccoli, Patisson squash, baking (or spiralizing) zucchini, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.

I've decided we'll roast some root vegetables along with a roast chicken on Sunday.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Smart on stopping when you notice you are getting "sloppy" with the machete. Getting hurt isn't worth continueing in those moments.

Your garden looks like it's absolutely flourishing - I am so happy for you!
Some of your plants did look like they had a mild heat or water stress, but then again it's been pretty warm over there of late I believe.
It's looking good and I am loving the updates! I hope I can get my garden to look like that someday too :D
 

DThille

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Well, the other thing is that I believe the nearest ambulance is based about 20 km away and should I be able to call from among the weeds, if I weren’t able to move, they may not be able to find me.

Yes, some of the cucurbits were flagging…I believe that will happen with some heat. We’ve been fairly nice overall with regular rain events, but the last bit has been drier. Radar did show some moisture moving through the early hours of the morning but I couldn’t really see any evidence. At least we have the bases of these plants mulched. I do want to do a moisture test, but we may also just give them a bit of a drink tomorrow. My plan is to be out much earlier in the day…I think they are plants that wilt down to conserve water, but making sure they have a bit doesn’t hurt.

It is green overall. In the fall, ammonia was applied to most of the area before I’d gotten it marked off so there was a boost of nitrogen for the plants. For some of the plants like the potatoes, the ones growing with a thick layer of compost over the soil have quite a bit more above-ground presence. Of course, in allowing the weeds to get too tall, they shaded things out, so in mowing them down there isn’t much on the bare soil right now.

All it takes is time, money, and effort…we’ll get there.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Oof, yeah I hear you. Nearest ambulance here is in town, about 30kms away I believe. When we needed them they took longer to get to us than it would've taken us to get there ourselves.

I've had my pumpkin vine do it. I always liked to say "the leaves are melting!", though my partner probably didn't think it was as funny as I did... They did always perk back up after a good drink of water, after the sun had (mostly) gone down.

Ahh, smart thinking once again. I'm currently digging over an area with some fresh cow manure from our pet cows. I'm not sure how long I should let it just "be" before I try to plant anything in it. There is a tunnel trellis there, that has been here for over 30years I would say, and am hoping to use it. Part negative is that it's out front of the house and there are occasional signs there of little holes being dug. For now I might populate it mostly with flowers, as I am aiming to keep a healthy bee population nearby year-round.
I really should invest in some mulch though... I can't win from the weeds here.
 

DThille

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All of us were out to the country today, hoping to get a lot accomplished...it rarely seems to go that way.

I was hoping to get the rain barrels set up, but the concrete blocks I want to use as a base were not easily moved by the tractor...they were too long, so the bucket couldn't lift them and heavy enough so that dragging actually resulted in the tractor sliding sideways depending on the terrain or lifting a wheel off the ground. So, we resorted to an old method....

20220814DSC_0301ConcreteBlockMove.jpg

I have to admit I felt a bit like a Hebrew slave building pyramids in Egypt. Having these fence posts on hand was useful, but it was still a fair bit of effort. We got one block moved and I was definitely not ready to move the next. I'll either get a masonry blade for my circular saw or rent a unit to cut the next one in half...at least then it may be more manageable for the bucket. These are sidewalk blocks that were poured in place and were moved and stacked up when doing the excavation to build a shop in 2010. It's nice to finally have a use for them, but I'd rather they were smaller and / or lighter.

Thing next was to pump some water out from the cistern under the attached garage. I'd bought a pump for this purpose years ago...unfortunately it isn't set up for garden hoses, so I'll need to get some PVC adapters or find another pump to make it work. Once the water in the cistern gets to a certain level, it starts seeping into the basement, so it is something we need to take care of.

We did get a bit more mulching and weeding done. The dog is tired.

20220814Supper.jpg

As promised I roasted root vegetables for supper. There are two varieties of carrot, 3 varieties of beet, and two types of turnip on the plate. The potatoes are from a farmer's market and the chicken is sourced from a neighbour of our country place. Dessert was a Saskatoon berry pie baked by the same neighbour. A fairly local meal overall.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Too bad they didn't move as well as you hoped. Hopefully your plan of cutting them smaller will work better. I mean - it should, right?
I tried looking up ways of moving it a bit easier, but most of what I could find suggested exactly what you were already doing. Unless you had a ute/truck that could handle the weight, but loading and unloading would probably be another issue.

The food looks absolutely delicious - wish I was there!
What did you use for seasoning?
 

DThille

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Thanks. If I recall, we tossed with some olive oil and a Greek seasoning mix.

Yesterday's trip to the country was interesting. I went up on the roof of the house to clear a downspout and check on shingles (we're awaiting materials to put on a steel roof). Somehow the wind caught the ladder...happily it didn't hit anything on the way down, but I needed to make a phone call for help to get myself down as I was by myself.

20220819IMG-8204GardenRoofView.jpg

At least I had my phone, which allowed me to take a couple images of the garden area...definitely a bit of a mess, but most of the earth is somewhat covered, which is important.

20220819IMG-8205GardenRoof.jpg

Zooming in a bit can see the garden better and the sunflowers dotting the cover crop area behind. If you can make out the dark posts in the middle just the other side of a bale, that's where I have the Jerusalem salad garden...it's a bit overrun with cover crop plants.

20220819DSC_0304Harvest.jpg

After I got down most of my time was spent harvesting before heading to the farmer's market in town. The three tomatoes together aren't very big, but they are the first of the larger varieties (i.e. not cherry tomatoes) to start ripening - this variety is Bison. The cauliflower got a bit of sun, and might have been more ideal a couple days earlier, but that's ok. The first of the Suyo Long cucumbers were picked.

20220819DSC_0308RootHarvest.jpg

Root crops...I decided I wanted to check on how the potatoes were doing...this is one plant...not the greatest for numbers, but by weight pretty decent. The turnips are cover crop from near the Jerusalem salad garden...the small one lost its leaves to a boot and the bigger one was in a bad spot for the other plants.

20220819DSC_0309Onions.jpg

Variety of onions...for the most part the greens had died back, or they had been disturbed or something...quite a few small ones, so we may ferment or pickle them...haven't quite decided yet.

20220819DSC_0333ChardKaleHarvest.jpg

Kale and Swiss chard overfilled the cooler bag. I kept the kale stems as there are a variety of ways to turn them into food rather than compost, apparently. I'll likely pickle the Swiss chard stems again as I quite enjoyed that experiment.

20220819DSC_0310KaleChard.jpg

Kale and Swiss chard before harvesting. One of the reasons I picked as much as I did was to clean this up and open up some more air flow.

20220819DSC_0313BlackHungarian.jpg

Black Hungarian peppers...some of them are getting close. Apparently they are 5,000-10,000 Scoville units, so hotter than Jalapenos, but not out of control. On the lower right you can get an idea of their flower colour...it's quite a pleasing pale purple.

20220819DSC_0314FO_Peppers.jpg

Variety of peppers with the Feher Ozon paprika pepper prominent.

20220819DSC_0315RRP.jpg

Red Ruffled Pimento is a sweet variety with an interesting shape. It's amazing the world of pepper plants that you don't see at the grocer's...like most other fruit and vegetables though I suppose.

20220819DSC_0317SpSquash.jpg

I put my pruners beside the biggest spaghetti squash to give an idea for size...it's coming along nicely and I expect may be deciding to start ripening soon.

20220819DSC_0318MandanSquash.jpg

The Mandan squash grew some colour...it was entirely pale not long ago. It makes me wonder if leaving the Patisson squash on the vine longer would develop more dramatic colouration.

20220819DSC_0321SugarLump.jpg

Biggest Sugar Lump watermelon...smaller than a volleyball yet, but getting there. This week's rain should help.

20220819DSC_0325Galeux.jpg

Developing Galeux D'Esynes.

20220819DSC_0328Kajari.jpg

Kajari melons continue to grow and multiply.

20220819DSC_0329Kajari.jpg

A closer look at a couple Kajari melons.

20220819DSC_0332TipTop.jpg

Tip Top melons are really starting to come along.

I'll be posting another update soon as we were out again today.
 

DThille

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She Who Must Be Obeyed wanted to go out and do more mulching...I decided to go with her to supervise. Frankly, I got to a point where we needed to just put straw under the developing fruit rather than the entire vine. The vines will root along the way, so having them on ground is fine. I also hoped to weed / mulch near the end of cucurbit vines to mark them...the areas I could get a tractor in to mow weeds is shrinking by the day.

20220820DSC_0335SunflowerField.jpg

A field of sunflowers on the drive out to the country place...a few km away from our acreage.

20220820DSC_0336SpSquashBlossom.jpg

It was sort of a squash blossom day...starting with spaghetti squash.

20220820DSC_0339PeekABooBlossom.jpg

Peek-a-boo!

20220820DSC_0350GaleuxDE2hills.jpg

They were a bit late to get going, but this shows two hills of Galeux D'Esynes squash.

20220820DSC_0352NorthGarden.jpg

A view of the north garden...the dry beans are generally coming along and swelling...hopefully there's enough time before frost hits.

Other images will be coming in the birds and bees thread.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Oh wow - amazing!
I'm so happy for you to see that the garden is thriving. Your veg look amazing and it's frankly making me feel a bit hungry.

AS\s for the cauliflower... I know some peopl will actually tie the leaves over the head as it's growing. That way they can let it grow bigger without running the risk of the sun hitting it. I thought that was very smart! This particular video (I can't find it yet) was using a simple rubber band, but I bet there might be more sustainable (and re-usable) solutions out there. As a kid I heard that some peoples used straw or even toothpicks to tie/pin the leaves together. I have never had the opportunity to see how they did it exactly though.

Kale stems can be cut crossways to shorten the fibers. I believe grandma on dad's side used to eat them that way. It was something that was not allowed to be eaten raw though, but I can't recall the reason.

As for the dry beans... what are dry beans? And I've always had my beans growing on a trellis, but it doesn't look like you have one going. I'd love to learn more about that!
 

DThille

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Thanks. Well, things ought to look green at least...we had a dump of rain last Monday (about 59 mm officially at the airport, 90 mm at The Forks - more centrally located in the city and about a 20 minute walk from our place, and about 70 mm in our rain gauge) and more fell on Thursday I think it was...basically 4" of rain in about half a week. After significant drought last year, 2022 is already the 17th wettest year on record and we've got 4 months to go. If we get average precipitation from now to the end of the year (about 160 mm) we will surpass 1962 as the wettest year on record (127 years of records here). I believe less rain hit the country place, but there was still moisture.

Yes, sun is the issue for the cauliflower head...I wanted to tie it up when we discovered it previously, but couldn't think of anything to do so with. Of course, thinking about it just now, we have twine cut from all the bales that would have done the trick...next time.

I think I read that the kale stems can be quite bitter, so blanching, cooking, or pickling can reduce that. There isn't a significant cost to us to try. With the amount of sun they get out there, these stems are significant and I'd prefer to see what I can do with them...worst case they go into the compost, which is better than the trash.

Bean plants can either be climbing (requiring some sort of trellis or they'll crawl along the ground) or bush...since I didn't want to put up so much trellis, I bought bush beans...that's what I grew up with anyway. When I say dry beans, I'm referring to the fact that we are growing them for the seed and use the word dry to differentiate them from snap beans (which are just immature bean fruit eaten for the pod rather than the bean). If it's confusing I can stop. So think of pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans and similar. I could stop typing "dry" if its too confusing.

We are taking a Sunday off from the country garden...the garlic in the city could be harvested and we've got some processing to do with cucumbers, kale, and chard.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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That's a lot of rain! Though I bet it saves on watering the crops manually. I have noticed that my flowers (which I have never watered since planting them) don't require me to water either. This might also be due to the soil consisting of mostly clay.

Isn't there a saying of "hindsight is always 20/20" or something like that? I have realised I probably should've left some space for my cucumbers, rather than spacing out the other crop the way I have. I bet I'll figure something out for it though; I don't mind getting a little creative.

Perhaps it might be worth looking into kale stem pesto. I think I've seen a YouTuber make it at some point. WIsh I could recall the name now, but it was probably in the "shorts" where I was basically scrolling past random bits and videos.

Ahh fair enough. Means I have learned something new today :D
I had a hunch that that was what dry beans meant, but I figured I'd get some confirmation. It's alright to continue calling it as is. I hear that dry beans do really well in storage, and can last for a long time when dried.
Personally I love baked beans, and from what I hear dried beans actually make it taste better, rather than using fresh. I've never tried making it from scratch though, as I'm the only one who loves it in my household. I believe mom uses canned beans for chili con carne.
My dad used to store (wet) beans in a bucket of salt to preserve them. He loves them that way, but frankly I couldn't stand the taste. Each to their own though, especially as salt was readily available to his (then poor) family, seeing as they lived a walking distance from the sea.

Do you pickle your cucumbers?
 

DThille

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Yesterday's adventures in vegetables and fruits...it's sort of a good thing not to have time for anything other than harvesting...it makes some of the earlier efforts worthwhile.

20220826DSC_0357SpaghettiSquash.jpg

The biggest spaghetti squash is starting to ripen as it gets darker.

20220826DSC_0358MandanSquash.jpg

The Mandan squash is covering ground and putting up fruit. When I did do a bit of weeding or cutting back weeds, things were quite moist overall which is nice. It was in the mid to high 20s C.

20220826DSC_0359Mandan.jpg

A closer shot of a few Mandan squash. I am not an experienced squash grower...it pleases me how they start off a creamy colour then develop deeper colours/striping.

20220826DSC_0361Patisson.jpg

A Patisson plant. Another observation is that the summer squash I have tend to be a more compact mounded plant while the winter squash tend to be the ramblers.

20220826DSC_0364TurksTurban.jpg

Turk's Turban squash developing...I look forward to seeing some more ripe ones as they have an entertaining shape.

20220826DSC_0365GoldenMidget.jpg

Golden midget watermelon developing.

20220826DSC_0368SugarLump.jpg

Sugar lump watermelon...it was nice to see a few others developing as well.

20220826DSC_0370Galeux.jpg

Galeux D'Esynes squash plants with some fruit peeking through.

20220826DSC_0374TipTop.jpg

Tip Top melon...on three hills I counted about 20 fruit.

20220826DSC_0376TipTop.jpg

The biggest of the Tip Top melons developing some of the netting typical of cantaloupes.

20220826DSC_0378RedPeanutBean.jpg

If I recall correctly, this bean is called Red Peanut...I wonder why. It's pleasing to see different colours in the garden.

20220826DSC_0379Kajari.jpg

One of the bigger Kajari melons.

20220826DSC_0381Kajari.jpg

Kajari melon plant.

20220826DSC_0387CoverCrop.jpg

A view of some of the cover crop area. Some of the plants are getting past their prime, yellowing, and developing seed.

20220826DSC_0390Millet.jpg

German millet...my wife decided to search and found that this is indeed one of the common varieties used for human consumption so we will likely attempt to harvest some on a small scale.

20220826DSC_0443ZucchiniPlant.jpg

Black Beauty zucchini before I harvested...problem in seeing this photo is that I see more big fruits than I harvested.

20220826IMG-8227Potato.jpg

One hill of potatoes...this is a pleasing volume.

20220826Zucchini.jpg

Zucchini harvest with my size 9 as a reference...chocolate zucchini loaf / cupcakes, spiralized noodles, perhaps a boat loaded with goodness are what I see.

20220826DSC_0450Carrots.jpg

Back home I washed up the carrots...some of the Paris Market carrots are much larger than I'd expected.

20220826DSC_0451RootCrops.jpg

Root crops...three varieties of beet, purple top turnip, and two varieties of potatos. The first hill of red potatoes I dug held the massive one in the middle, but not too much else so I dug a second plant. I also dug a hill of the white, plus gathered another one that was exposed to sun so was greening.

20220826DSC_0453ZucchiniOnions.jpg

Zucchini and some onions...I'm gathering some of the onions as I see them...with some of the tops having died back, I'd rather gather these small ones than potentially miss them later.

20220826DSC_0452Tomatoes.jpg

Tomatoes...I'm guessing 2-3 litres of cherry tomatoes and a few of the larger varieties are turning colour...the smaller ones are Bison and most of the larger ones are Silvery Fir Tree - that variety has very fine foliage that is quite thick on the plants this year...I'd grow it again for the appearance, but will hold out for a taste test first.

I don't have any photos of them, but there were a few Boothby's Blonde cucumbers and another Suyo Long. I also harvested a few Black Hungarian peppers...one was used in last night's steak fajitas...this one had a nice flavour with not too much heat...I think I spy one under the tomatoes. I also gathered a few ground cherries...I suspect they may have been knocked off the plant rather than fully ripening...time will tell.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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I genuinely love your garden! There's a lot of things growing that I've never seen before. I think I especially enjoy the "odd" colours, like the peanut beans and your vibrant purple potatoes. I'm in love, haha. I'm interested in growing some unique veg in the future too, as this is very inspiring.
I'm very happy for you that it's been this bountiful. :D
 

DThille

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Thanks @Mandy Onderwater - for the most part, these are heirloom plants (not necessarily the tomatoes). Tonight we had another local supper on the grill...pork chops from a pig raised by our neighbour, corn on the cob from a farmer's market, and I made a potato / carrot / onion / turnip dish sliced on the mandolin and in foil to cook.

Here's a few shots from today...She Who Must Be Obeyed wanted to get out. Despite having picked tomatoes with colour two days ago there were quite a few more to pick and the first sweet pepper was turning as well. There were some more cover cover crop turnips and a cucumber or two, as well as some mint.

20220828DSC_0485Cucumber.jpg

I thought we'd lost this cucumber plant a long time ago and now it's producing fruit.

20220828DSC_0486Cabbage.jpg

A couple of the cabbages are approaching harvest size.

20220828DSC_0487SilveryFirTree.jpg

Silvery Fir Tree tomato - this plant has fine, attractive foliage and has a number of fruit which are now ripening.

20220828DSC_0489PeppersGndCherry.jpg

Ground cherry and cherry tomatoes in the foreground with pepper plants in the background.

20220828DSC_0490HahmsGelbe.jpg

Hahms Gelbe tomato - this diminutive plant is a yellow cherry tomato. I had to put the plant ladders in place to prevent the ground cherries from overwhelming them.

20220828DSC_0491Phoenix.jpg

We had Phoenix with us again today. He really enjoys it out there today...and snacked on a few crickets.
 
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Mandy Onderwater

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Phoenix is such a cutie! And what a handy cricket repellant hahaha.
The food sounds delicious - sounds like you have some good neighbours!
The tomato indeed does have a lot of fairly attractive foilage :D
 

TNTreehugger

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I spent most of yesterday in the country focusing primarily on cleaning up the weeds to appease my farmer neighbour. ...
Lol. I was wondering what your farmer/neighbor thought about your "cover crop" of weeds.

I don't understand your strategy - don't all those weeds severely compete with your edibles for nutrients and moisture in the soil?
I always thought a "cover crop" was planted after harvesting, in a bare field, then tilled into the soil to provide benefits - underground - for next years food crop?

You said in one of your posts your soil is bad. It looks wonderful from the black color, but I did notice in all your photos that the surface is cracked.
cracked soil.jpg


I'm wondering, too if there is residual pesticide in the area since you said the neighbor sprayed thinking it was his? If he sprayed fertilizer, I think that would mean that he had also previously sprayed pre-and, or, post-emergent herbicide. He obviously did that on his property since not a weed to be seen there.
Did you do a soil sample before planting?

I also had a traumatic experience with a neighbor/farmer's over-spray... only it wasn't "drift" it was volatilization... which means it gassed off after he sprayed, rose into the air, and traveled to my property. They say when this happens it can travel for up to 10 miles.

All your hard work and planning has paid off greatly with this years crop - amazing job well done!

But, what will you do to prevent your neighbors pesticide from "drifting" again?
You are one VERY BRAVE gardener.

When this happened to me, it got my veggie garden along with everything else in the yard. I was told to NOT eat the produce even if they were to recover and to not plant in the yard for 3-4 months.
I transplanted my veggies into a spot in the yard with new soil and gave them a lot of TLC to see if they'd recover. The did and even started to flower. But, I didn't want to take a chance, so I plucked them all up and tossed on the brush pile.
I had just about given up on gardening, but watching Mark's videos gave me the courage and inspiration to try again last month.
I am safe until next April when they will spray again. Even if I wait to plant after they spray, which would move it from April 15 to May 15, I would still be concerned about any residual over-spray coming from their field that may have settled on my property.

Aren't you concerned about that happening to you??

I noticed something in one of the photos you posted... is that your neighbor spraying his field off to the left in the background? Looks like he's tilling the ground/planting and would be the time to spray a pre-emergent, too, I would think?
You posted this on May 28, and that's about a month later than they spray here in TN, USA. About right, location and weather-wise.
tilling spraying.jpg
 
Last edited:

DThille

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Thanks for your response @TNTreehugger - I'll do my best to respond to your comments and questions, but may miss something, so please forgive any oversights.

I see you've gone through the thread...pretty ambitious for someone who wasn't here in the beginning. I'm not a soil scientist nor botanist nor anything like that. I am the son of a farmer and grew up with big gardens, and my wife is into plants, so while it hasn't been continuous, I've had about fifty years of exposure to agriculture and gardening. I've seen a fair bit of change in that time, but I'm not entirely up on current methods of industrial agriculture.

I'm new to using cover crops, this being the first year I've attempted to grow one so it has been a learning experience. Cover crops can be used for a number of purposes. Sometimes it is just to keep living roots in the soil, which helps to reduce erosion of topsoil. Other cases include using legumes to naturally add nitrogen to the soil; sowed thickly enough to suppress weeds are two that come to mind. In our case, since I want to develop the property, but knew I can't do it all at once, it was a combination of replenishing soil, maintaining living roots, and being pollinator friendly while attempting to suppress weeds. There were varying levels of success across those efforts. One thing to keep in mind is that what we consider weeds are, for the most part, simply early succession plants that are opportunists. As weedy as our property is this year, those seeds were all in the soil before we got started. Every time the soil is disturbed, it brings dormant seeds close enough to the surface to be able to germinate. In a natural system where the soil is for the most part not disturbed (think forest floor or a prairie) perennial and later woody plants, which are further along the line of succession, will take over and choke out the weeds. Also, as dead matter gets laid down atop the soil, those dormant seeds get buried deeper and deeper over time. Of course, there are natural disruptions like fire which then somewhat reset the succession back in favour of the pioneering plants. For our case, the soil was disturbed last fall, and the cover crop mix recommended not seeding in this area until late May. The result was that the weeds got a head start. I did go in at times mowing high, but since there were sunflowers in the cover crop mix and they don't take well to being mowed nor run over, I stopped doing that and the weeds grew large. What we found was that the strips where I had mowed, the cover crop had for the most part germinated and reducing competition and increasing light allowed them to flourish and successfully choke out the weeds. We saw a similar response once we started going in by hand and cutting down the weed plants individually...we just never got that completed effectively. What I hope to do moving forward is purchase the seeds separately (rather than just as a mix) and mix them myself since using a broadcast spreader was a problem with the mix of seed sizes, so if I had it set big enough for the sunflowers, the small seeds were freely flowing so things were planted densely and I ran out of seed when I should have had enough to cover the area completely. I may also see if I can screen out the bigger seeds and broadcast twice.

The soil cracking happens when it dries out. Of course, this happens much less when there are plants growing as the roots bind things together (simplistically...it's actually secretions of the microbial life that create a glue-like substance, the name of which escapes me right now) and shade the soil so the crust doesn't crack as easily nor as quickly. Again, this is an issue of tillage. We don't see that as much in undisturbed soils covered by plants. This, and the fact that tillage kills some of the microbial life in the soil, is why I'm moving toward a minimal-till, permaculture style. Of course, that doesn't happen overnight.

The land was being farmed by the neighbour as part of an informal agreement...it wasn't enough land to really concern myself with rental and the regular tillage and cropping did keep the weeds at bay. Now, keep in mind, this started with the previous owner of our property and we just kept it going, taking back a bit of land to start our orchard after we purchased in 2008. Until seeing your introductory post today, I wasn't aware 2,4-D was still in use. Around here, I primarily hear of glyphosate, which is supposedly not as long lasting. Of course, I've seen both sides of the argument over whether and how quickly it breaks down (and when you look at who takes which sides, some seems to be a follow the money argument). That said, regardless of the condition of the soil, if I don't spray what I'm growing as food, I'd expect that still has to be better than purchasing similar food from an industrial system that may spray the crops I eat anyway. I see it as incremental improvement.

As fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is injected into the soil in the fall after harvest of the previous crop. I'd made mention to the farmer, but the main person involved didn't realize how far our land extends, so there was definitely some applied to our soil. For the most part, that would be in areas of cover crop this year. Following the principles of Dr. Elaine Ingham and The Soil Food Web school, inorganic fertilizers also harm the relationships between plants and the beneficial microbes in the soil. I intend that last fall's application of NH3 be the last inorganic fertilizer applied to the land.

The last photo you attached shows dust from a vehicle on the gravel road along our property, not nearby spraying.

This is definitely an ambitious project and it will take time. We could ramp things up and do it in less time, but that could mean taking shortcuts or hasten the trip to the asylum.

I hope that helps explain things.
 

TNTreehugger

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Thanks for your response @TNTreehugger - I'll do my best to respond to your comments and questions, but may miss something, so please forgive any oversights.

I see you've gone through the thread...pretty ambitious for someone who wasn't here in the beginning. I'm not a soil scientist nor botanist nor anything like that. I am the son of a farmer and grew up with big gardens, and my wife is into plants, so while it hasn't been continuous, I've had about fifty years of exposure to agriculture and gardening. I've seen a fair bit of change in that time, but I'm not entirely up on current methods of industrial agriculture.

I'm new to using cover crops, this being the first year I've attempted to grow one so it has been a learning experience. Cover crops can be used for a number of purposes. Sometimes it is just to keep living roots in the soil, which helps to reduce erosion of topsoil. Other cases include using legumes to naturally add nitrogen to the soil; sowed thickly enough to suppress weeds are two that come to mind. In our case, since I want to develop the property, but knew I can't do it all at once, it was a combination of replenishing soil, maintaining living roots, and being pollinator friendly while attempting to suppress weeds. There were varying levels of success across those efforts. One thing to keep in mind is that what we consider weeds are, for the most part, simply early succession plants that are opportunists. As weedy as our property is this year, those seeds were all in the soil before we got started. Every time the soil is disturbed, it brings dormant seeds close enough to the surface to be able to germinate. In a natural system where the soil is for the most part not disturbed (think forest floor or a prairie) perennial and later woody plants, which are further along the line of succession, will take over and choke out the weeds. Also, as dead matter gets laid down atop the soil, those dormant seeds get buried deeper and deeper over time. Of course, there are natural disruptions like fire which then somewhat reset the succession back in favour of the pioneering plants. For our case, the soil was disturbed last fall, and the cover crop mix recommended not seeding in this area until late May. The result was that the weeds got a head start. I did go in at times mowing high, but since there were sunflowers in the cover crop mix and they don't take well to being mowed nor run over, I stopped doing that and the weeds grew large. What we found was that the strips where I had mowed, the cover crop had for the most part germinated and reducing competition and increasing light allowed them to flourish and successfully choke out the weeds. We saw a similar response once we started going in by hand and cutting down the weed plants individually...we just never got that completed effectively. What I hope to do moving forward is purchase the seeds separately (rather than just as a mix) and mix them myself since using a broadcast spreader was a problem with the mix of seed sizes, so if I had it set big enough for the sunflowers, the small seeds were freely flowing so things were planted densely and I ran out of seed when I should have had enough to cover the area completely. I may also see if I can screen out the bigger seeds and broadcast twice.

The soil cracking happens when it dries out. Of course, this happens much less when there are plants growing as the roots bind things together (simplistically...it's actually secretions of the microbial life that create a glue-like substance, the name of which escapes me right now) and shade the soil so the crust doesn't crack as easily nor as quickly. Again, this is an issue of tillage. We don't see that as much in undisturbed soils covered by plants. This, and the fact that tillage kills some of the microbial life in the soil, is why I'm moving toward a minimal-till, permaculture style. Of course, that doesn't happen overnight.

The land was being farmed by the neighbour as part of an informal agreement...it wasn't enough land to really concern myself with rental and the regular tillage and cropping did keep the weeds at bay. Now, keep in mind, this started with the previous owner of our property and we just kept it going, taking back a bit of land to start our orchard after we purchased in 2008. Until seeing your introductory post today, I wasn't aware 2,4-D was still in use. Around here, I primarily hear of glyphosate, which is supposedly not as long lasting. Of course, I've seen both sides of the argument over whether and how quickly it breaks down (and when you look at who takes which sides, some seems to be a follow the money argument). That said, regardless of the condition of the soil, if I don't spray what I'm growing as food, I'd expect that still has to be better than purchasing similar food from an industrial system that may spray the crops I eat anyway. I see it as incremental improvement.

As fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is injected into the soil in the fall after harvest of the previous crop. I'd made mention to the farmer, but the main person involved didn't realize how far our land extends, so there was definitely some applied to our soil. For the most part, that would be in areas of cover crop this year. Following the principles of Dr. Elaine Ingham and The Soil Food Web school, inorganic fertilizers also harm the relationships between plants and the beneficial microbes in the soil. I intend that last fall's application of NH3 be the last inorganic fertilizer applied to the land.

The last photo you attached shows dust from a vehicle on the gravel road along our property, not nearby spraying.

This is definitely an ambitious project and it will take time. We could ramp things up and do it in less time, but that could mean taking shortcuts or hasten the trip to the asylum.

I hope that helps explain things.
Lol - dust on the road.
Sorry, but ever since my incident with 24D I have PTSD and tend to blame herbicide for everything bad. :quiver:
Thanks for taking the time to explain... I see now.
Here they grow soybeans and corn. I couldn't say for sure when they fertilize corn and soy, but I did see them apply nitrogen to a corn field up the road from me - the only reason I know is because I saw the leaves on the entire crop turn yellow and I aske my cousin what happened (again, I was ready to blame it on the herbicide.:nuts:)They aerial spray fungicide.

I found a study that was done in Sweden, applying 24D to 2 different areas of the country, up north and down south. They found 24D residue in the forest leaf litter 3 years after the experiment.

"They" say it breaks down quickly in the soil, but they lie.
I could write a book about it.

You really should check out the AEA YT channel videos, if you haven't already. They are all about healthy plants via healthy soil via healthy microbes and nutrients.
 

DThille

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Now for a more fun update...another harvesting trip yesterday.

I started with getting the pump going on the cistern again. After using some of that rainwater to water the recently planted gooseberries, elders, and roses, I switched the direction of the hose...I'd had it pumping toward the dugout, but thought it may make sense to do some deep soaking more toward the garden and generally the downhill side of the property. Hopefully this will help create (or add to) a lens of water beneath the garden and orchard areas.

I then did a walkabout with the camera so that I could document where things were at before I got into harvesting. Harvesting with the camera around my neck is a challenge at best and deleterious to the camera at worst. Of course, it means "before" photos.

20220902DSC_0511FeherOzonPepper.jpg

It's nice to see the Feher Ozon (paprika) starting to change colour.

20220902DSC_0515CornoDiToroPepper.jpg

I'd forgotten Corno di Toro (which apparently translates to horn of the bull / bull's horn named for its shape) was in here. This is a sweet pepper that some speak very highly of.

I shot a video of the peppers, but user error meant it was in and out of focus. We plan to be back out tomorrow and I'll give it another go.

20220902DSC_0518SilveryFirTree.jpg

First harvest of Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes.

20220902DSC_0520RedCabbage.jpg

A red cabbage. I did harvest the biggest one. We had one green cabbage as well and the flea beetles definitely went after it more than these, so I'm thinking I may just grow red cabbage in the future.

20220902DSC_0523BrusselsSprouts.jpg

Brussels sprouts coming along.

20220902DSC_0526SpaghettiSquash.jpg

Spaghetti squash...some of them are starting to ripen and deepen in colour.

20220902DSC_0527SpaghettiSquash.jpg

I enjoy the shape of the leaves. My wife had been through and attempted to put some straw under maturing fruit of the cucurbits to keep them off the soil.

20220902DSC_0528MandanSquash.jpg

Mandan squash...the progression of these plants has been impressive.

20220902DSC_0533MandanSquash.jpg

Here's a maturing Mandan squash. Prior to this year, I don't recall ever seeing a squash that starts out a creamy colour then develops differing colours later.

20220902DSC_0537TurksTurban.jpg

Turk's Turban (also known as just Turban) squash. Some of these are getting big...last night I had to read up on these again as I'd forgotten how big they get.

20220902DSC_0541WinterLuxuryPumpkin.jpg

Winter Luxury pumpkin.

20220902DSC_0553GaleuxDEsynes.jpg

Galeux D'Esynes with my hand for some size reference.

20220902DSC_0556GaleuxDEsynes.jpg

This is what appears to be the largest Galeux D'Esynes squash at the moment. Its bumpiness is appearing.

20220902DSC_0558TipTopMelon.jpg

Tip Top melons. When fresh and locally grown, they are so dramatically different than store-bought cantaloupe.

20220902DSC_0560TipTopMelon.jpg

A broader view of one of the hills of Tip Top.

20220902DSC_0571MuncherCucumber.jpg

Muncher cucumber growing up the trellis in the Jerusalem salad garden, as it's supposed to.

20220902DSC_0573NepalTomato.jpg

Nepal (indeterminate) tomato...first harvest from these.

20220902DSC_0585ThymeOregano.jpg

Thyme and flowering oregano.

20220902DSC_0587LogZucchini.jpg

This zucchini was either previously missed or its growth rate over the week was incredible. I did put it on the kitchen scale later at over 3.1 kg or nearly 7 lbs.

20220902DSC_0589Harvest1.jpg

Tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers (capsicum in Australian English), and ground cherries.

20220902DSC_0590Harvest2.jpg

Root crops and zucchini. The primary reason for harvesting these was to create a fresh care package we'll be delivering this afternoon.

20220902DSC_0591Harvest3.jpg

Cabbages, cauliflower (a bit small but attacked hard by flea beetles and / or grasshoppers so I harvested it), and onions. The grasshopper in the box was dispatched later.

The grasshoppers decided they like potato plants and carrot tops...hopefully they stay there around the root crops and stay away from tomatoes and peppers. Happily the root crops will be primarily developed now and can keep in the ground until we decide to dig them. Of course, we are now beginning to watch for first frost at overnight temperatures get cooler. The average first fall frost is around mid-September which would put an end to the tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. It would also mean most of our winter squashes wouldn't develop enough to keep so would need to be dealt with sooner than later / treated as summer squash. Melons are getting closer, so hopefully we'll get some of those.
 
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