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Leeks
100.00%
2 100.00%
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Pissing in the Rain
#41
Went to check the compost the other day to find this sumbitch in one of the bins.
   

Looks like it might be a Leopard Slug. Over four inches long and an inch in diameter. Used my garden fork to toss it into the yard. Ever curious, Grrl went to sniff it and the damned thing attacked her.
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#42
Let's see... "Beet, Detroit Dark Red, 60-69 days to maturity. A cool weather crop. Can be planted in early spring or midsummer."

Midsummer? By midsummer there are still 40-60 days of 90+ degree heat to come to be followed with another 30-45 in the 80s. Midsummer. For zone 3, maybe.
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#43
Frickin' weather. My radishes are bolting (happens when soil temps reach ~80F) and we're under a frost advisory tonight.
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#44
More pictures!

So if you look further up the page you'll see me make a comment about the unmeshed allium bed. That critters don't care for alliums. Well, they may not care for alliums, but that doesn't mean they won't eat them. So a flash deal pops up on amazon for a 9-in-one 17" raised bed.
   
I'm using it in the 8'x2' configuration. That's where I plan on putting the pepper plants, if they ever germinate. And that big patch of dirt in front of the bed? That's where the allium bed used to be.

Now here,
   
is where I had placed all the rocks from the rock garden I took out a couple years ago, as I slowly got rid of them, 5 to 10 gallons at a time, by dumping them into the garbage can each week. To build this bed, I used 8"x16"x2" paver stones, set them on their long edge and dug them into place on the left adjusting to building up the ground on the right, as the ground slopes about four inches over the 12 feet of the bed. It's on the east side of the house and only gets direct sun for a few hours every day, so I'm using it for herbs and hoping that the shady conditions will allow for late season radishes and lettuce. The picture was taken at high noon, which makes it about three in the afternoon, as I make it, what with all the "double daylight savings" and such. 

After I got these two beds built, I went to the dirt company to see about getting a delivery. $55 delivery charge a load, minimum delivery of two yards. The fee was less than I had expected, but the minimum was more than I needed. Looks like I'll be reusing the planks from the allium bed, after all.
   
Note: that's not lens distortion. Those "boards" (plastic planks made to look wood-like. Fifteen years old and on their last use) really are that warped. Also note: I went to the grocery store and bought a bag of Hambean 15-Bean Soup Mix, broadcast a couple/few handfuls, covered them with an inch, or so, of leaf mold and compost, and watered. This picture was taken a week later and those are true leaves, there, not cotyledons.

So an order for two yards of garden mix delivered and a few hours of hauling soil, one wheelbarrow-ful at a time, making sure to take regular breaks and keep hydrated, and I realize that there's still more soil than I need, even with the repurposed bed. So dinner, then a trip to Lowe's, and we have:
   
Quickly and shoddily made. The mentality was, "Do it now; fix it later." I had a pile of soil in the driveway and limited daylight. As it was, I finished moving the soil by streetlight. This is the south side of the house, but it, too, doesn't get all that much direct sunlight due to this section being set back a few feet from the rest of the house and a couple of trees. I'll also be using this for herbs and maybe some broad leaf vegetables. Yes, most herbs require "full sun" according to growing instructions, but that's for full potential. I don't need my basil to grow to be four feet tall. I can survive it being only three.
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#45
Well, there goes the parsley. Goddamn voles. Looks like the "fix it later" stage has become "fix it now." Off to the hardware store.
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#46
So, my backyard is a pumpkin patch. Bonus picture at the end.

This
   
is a pumpkin plant growing in the dirt that I took from the former allium bed-cum-vole feeding trough and used to fill in low spots in the clover, decorative strawberries, parsley-piert, and who knows whatever else has taken over the lawn. In this case it's filling in a runnel from the overflow of one of the water barrels.
   
An observant person may think, "That doesn't seem to make sense. Looking at the slope, the water should be flowing to the right," and that person would be correct. The runnel started as a vole tunnel that Grrl spent a season digging up trying to find what smelled so intriguing.

But why is a pumpkin growing in the soil from the allium bed? Because last November I grabbed the pumpkins the neighbors didn't want by their front door anymore, chopped them up (the pumpkins, not the neighbors), and buried them in my raised beds. Do you know how much fertilizer is used to grow pumpkins commercially? Why let all that go to the landfill?

In the opposite corner we have:
   
This soil was used to try to create a slope instead of a sudden drop. Only about a foot, but a pain to mow. Okay, two volunteer pumpkin plants growing in soil that had pumpkins seeds. Doesn't make it a patch. Oh, but there's more. There is also:
   
This is in the middle of the yard, a good fifty feet from either of the other two. (My backyard is long but narrow. Maybe forty feet from the back door to the back fence.) And notice what isn't there? Loose soil. The plant is just growing in the middle of the yard. My backyard is a pumpkin patch.

Promised bonus picture: Stalking
   
Taken at my aunt's.
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#47
Remember this thing from a few posts up?
   

I should have done more research. Turns out Leopard Slugs are one of the few slugs you want in your garden. Not only do they eat detritus, but also snails, snail eggs, other slugs, etc., keeping infestations at bay, while generally leaving young plants alone.
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#48
All-in-all, despite the promising start of the growing season, when I actually got a couple dozen radishes and more lettuce than I could harvest before the rest bolted (note to self: don't bother with daikon radishes as a food crop anymore; they take too long to grow to maturity before the weather gets too hot. Just use them as a cover crop, if at all), and despite getting some volunteer pumpkin plants, this year has been, on the whole so far, a bust. Not as bad as last year, but not good by any stretch of the imagination. Cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Every day I'd go out and examine the leaves for eggs and every day every cucumber, pumpkin, and zucchini plant would have more eggs laid on them. The day I went out and each of the first five leaves of the first plant I checked had eggs as well as each flower on that plant, was the day I pulled up all the zucchini as well as the cucumbers that had started succumbing to bacterial wilt disease. Threw them in a garbage bag and had the garbage truck haul it away. No way I was going to put them in the compost.

Of the three pumpkin plants, the middle one also succumbed to wilt disease, the east one produced only one pumpkin, and the west one never produced any before I also pulled them up because I was tired of fighting, and losing to, the squash bugs. Every day for over two months I'd go out and remove the eggs that were laid overnight and kill what bugs I could. I'll tell you, one overcomes one's queasiness about squishing crunchy insects quickly.

The tomato turned out better, but not good. The yellow pear tomatoes turned out to be much smaller than I expected, smaller than the cherry tomatoes, and easily susceptible to splitting. The cherry tomatoes haven't been producing much, but more than the slicers. And what slicers did grow never grew to even two inches in diameter.

I tried growing some kale. Never germinated. I tried Swiss chard. Three seeds germinated, that I could tell. One made it to about four inches tall before the slugs finished it off overnight. None of the basil germinated. About half of the pepper plants germinated, but they haven't produced yet. Don't know if they will. I keep finding dropped flowers. And don't get me started on the experiment of growing potatoes in a grow bag.

On the bright side, the ginger plant that was given to me last fall seems to have survived. And it looks like the lettuce seeds I planted in the shaded hasty bed two months ago have decided to sprout. Either that or the weeds have decided to become regimented. Wouldn't surprise me.
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#49
Update: Looks like I'm getting some Hungarian wax peppers. They have the same average heat as jalapeño, but with a greater variation, so the hottest wax pepper is hotter than the hottest jalapeño, but also the mildest wax pepper will be milder than any jalapeño. I bought Hungarian wax pepper seeds because I liked the name. I might be getting some jumbo jalapeños. There are a bunch of flowers that haven't fallen off, so there's still hope.
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#50
Posting to try to talk myself out of it.

So in an effort to show I still haven't learned my lesson, I'm thinking of dropping $200 for a pallet of cement blocks to make three more raised beds, $100 on hardware fabric to go under the beds to keep the voles out, and $100-$150 for soil to fill the new beds and top off the old beds where all the branches and leaves (which I had) used to fill in the bottom of the beds have all rotted, instead of using logs and stumps (that I didn't have). Oh yeah, this will also involve moving the two cement block beds pictured halfway up the thread a foot away from the fence to make room for the new beds to go behind them.

All just so I can justify getting a load of soil delivered instead of buying 10 bags.
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