Saturday, October 04, 2014

More gardening

On Tuesday, I wrote that the beans in the new beds weren't giving us much because it turned cold. Scratch that. I just froze a gallon bag worth on Thursday. If it warms up a bit this weekend, I'll get another gallon worth, but I doubt it will warm up enough. After all, it is October and we still haven't had a frost!

In other gardening news, the slugs love my tomatoes, kohlrabi, and kale—so much so that my kale (two varieties) never got bigger than about 10 inches. They especially like the purple kohlrabi; I only got one to eat. The rest are little stubs. They look like miniature dead trees with short little branches. Disappointing, to say the least. The Vienna Kohlrabi has done better. I'm not sure if it is the location or the variety, but the wood chuck likes them better and the slugs like them less. I'd rather feed the wood chuck : )

I didn't get around to making cages for my tomatoes until they were too large to cage, so they are all lying on the ground. Slug bait. Big time slug bait. You'd think I would have learned from last year...Last year I harvested about 1/3 and the slugs got 2/3. This year's a little better; I'm running about 50% in the backyard and 100% in the side garden.

The side garden is basically gravel with a bit of soil to deceive you into thinking you can actually grow something. I'm working on the soil, but at least the slugs don't like it! I planted Glacier tomatoes there. They supposedly set fruit as low as 39ºF; we've been eating from them since the beginning of August. They're small tomatoes, about the size of cherry tomatoes but with more flesh. I'll grow them again next year with real soil.

I mentioned the lettuce the other day. We planted both Romaine (Winter Density) and Buttercrunch. The Buttercrunch did really well until it got warmer. I could never grow it in Indiana—too hot; it would bolt before getting big enough to eat. Definitely growing that again next year!

We're still eating Romaine. It's getting older and tough, about like the stuff you buy in the store : ) But when it was young...that's one of the reasons to have a garden. Tender, fresh, juicy lettuce. Next year I'll do more succession planting. Winter Density is good because it doesn't bolt too fast and can also withstand cold. The biggest problem is that the slugs like it almost as much as we do...

Speaking of slugs (although I'd rather not!), I declared war on them about 2 weeks ago. I killed several dozen that were hiding in an area along the back fence. I put landscape cloth down and a layer of flat rocks over the top. Previously it had been a lot of shade-loving weeds. We had put some begonias in a box back there and that's where the rabbit hutch is, as well. It looks much better now. If I remember, I'll take a picture of it and post it.

I also put out beer in some 6 ounce yogurt containers—about 2/3 full. The first night I got about 18 slugs. They love the yeasty smell of beer and fall in and drown. Personally, I don't like beer, so I can't understand it, but I'm sure some of you are saying, "What a way to go!" Next year I'll buy a six pack of beer and keep the cups fresh—part of a three-pronged offensive against the slugs.

I also read that you can shoot them with an ammonia mixture. I'll try that, too (second prong). If the mixture isn't too strong, it won't hurt the plants. In fact, because it is nitrogen based, it actually helps the plants. Think of all the ammonia that they dump on the fields every year... The other trick (third prong) I'll use is putting boards down in the rows between the beds. When the slugs take refuge under them, you turn them over and scrape the slugs into a pail of soapy water. Personally, I prefer stepping on them! Squish! Sadistic, I know, but they're eating my produce! I don't mind them in the compost bin—actually, I like them there as they help in the decomposition of stuff. But stay out of my food!

Well that's enough for today. I'll try to write more next week...I haven't mentioned our cabbage, peas, radishes, onions, Brussels sprouts, or garlic yet. Speaking of garlic, it's time to plant it...

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