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Chris P

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This was my first year gardening in the new house. Bit of a failure, between starting too late, planting too closely together, and the yard being too shaded (neighbors' trees, so not much I can do to fix it). My red bell peppers finally started producing, but were small. The cherry tomatoes did okay but not spectacular, the other tomatoes were small and not many, and the Thai eggplant is just now producing half a dozen unripe fruits (started waaaaay too late). Carrots and beets are a complete loss--lots of green, no roots (too close together and thinning didn't help; probably thinned too late).

The only positive sign was my grapevines, which put on the expected amount of growth. Being their first year, I was diligent about snipping off the blooms, so this winter I'll trim back and see how they fruit next year. I plan to head train them, so we'll see how they do.

I got garlic bulbs (softneck and hardneck) and a box of red, yellow and white onion sets. I hope to get these in the ground in the next couple weeks and see how they do over the winter. Since they won't be ready to harvest until early July, I'll need to find a place where they won't interfere with spring planting. Might be a challenge with such a small, shaded yard.
 

mrsmig

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Chris P, I've got my order of garlic waiting for me to get home and plant it. (I'm visiting my mom and due to Things, ended up staying longer than either of us anticipated.) We will have to get coffee and compare notes sometime soon!

I'm attempting a late-season garden: in late September I started some peas, radishes and lettuce in containers, then erected a small hoop house in the garden plot where I direct-sowed some cabbage, beets and broccoli (plus a few cabbage seedlings from a local garden center). Right now the hoop house is covered with floating row cover to keep off any remaining cabbage beetles and other pests, but my plan is to replace that with clear plastic sheeting to create a small greenhouse. I did two succession plantings of the seeds, and before I left home they were all up and the second planting was in need of thinning - another job for when I get home. I also did two plantings of a variety of collards which is supposed to thrive in cold weather. Those are outside the hoop house.

This is Part 1 of my experiment in four-season gardening. Part 2 involves converting part of my Tomato Fortress to a greenhouse. I'm going to line half of it with the clear plastic sheeting and keep the container plants that are less cold-hardy in there. In addition to the peas, radishes and lettuces, I've planted parsnips and carrots, and have some tatsoi seeds to plant as well. I've got a bale of straw waiting to mulch everything, too. I also want to break ground on a new garden plot and get that ready for spring planting.

I am REALLY looking forward to getting home and tackling all these projects.
 

Chris P

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Garlic and onions are in. The hardneck was spoiled, and what hadn't dried out was moldy. I got a few viable small cloves from the center, so I should get something to grow. The softneck was in great shape, so excited about that!

It also allowed me to pull up a pachysandra bed (prior owners were in their 80s, and filled probably 2/3 of the back yard in ground cover rather than garden or keep up the grass. The trick turned out to be starting at one edge with a grub hoe (love those things!), get below the root mat and roll it like a carpet.
 

mrsmig

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Sorry about the garlic, Chris, but at least you got some in. And hooray for getting the pachysandra up! Good tools are the best. My current favorite is the big garden fork my husand gave me last Christmas.
 

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We had a stray garlic plant this past summer. Somehow a clove escaped harvest in 2020. So I pulled the 2021 bulb and set it on the kitchen windowsill and wondered if it would get used or not.

October rolled around and most of it was still there on the windowsill, so I planted the cloves back into the ground. I think there were nine.

A raccoon is digging up one of my beds. She seems to be after the beetle larvae. She's killing various plants (a sweet potato plant, the pumpkin vines which I planted too late anyway), and leaving large piles of scat, but since she only comes by once every few weeks I try to ignore her.
 

Chris P

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Sorry about the garlic, Chris, but at least you got some in. And hooray for getting the pachysandra up! Good tools are the best. My current favorite is the big garden fork my husand gave me last Christmas.

A good stout potato fork is a godsend for turning the compost pile. Oh, and the coffee offer upthread sounds great.

A raccoon is digging up one of my beds. She seems to be after the beetle larvae. She's killing various plants (a sweet potato plant, the pumpkin vines which I planted too late anyway), and leaving large piles of scat, but since she only comes by once every few weeks I try to ignore her.

We had a groundhog in the shed yesterday. A. Freaking. GROUNDHOG! Between the foxes, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, crows, a freaking groundhog and whatever else is screaming and yowling and carrying on in the middle of the night my wife says there's more wildlife on our residential plot in the major metro suburbs than on the farm she grew up on.

ETA: oh yeah, and snakes. Eeheeheheheeee (shivers)
 
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M.S. Wiggins

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A raccoon is digging up one of my beds. She seems to be after the beetle larvae. She's killing various plants (a sweet potato plant, the pumpkin vines which I planted too late anyway), and leaving large piles of scat, but since she only comes by once every few weeks I try to ignore her.
I had a similar problem with raccoons, and with opossums, and the day shift belonged to the squirrels. I bought a motion-activated sprinkler and Voila! Problem solved.
 

Catriona Grace

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The guy with the lot behind us keeps old dead trucks stored thereon. We can't see them because we have a fence, but the trucks house raccoons. Raccoons get pretty opinionated about where they have a right to be, and I thoroughly dislike having them as neighbors. In midsummer, one climbed up the fence and wouldn't leave even after I banged the fence with a stick to scare him off. He hissed and climbed into the plum tree that grows against the fence. I got the hose, set the nozzle for Search and Destroy, and fired. He flew out of the tree on his stream of water like a kayak shooting rapids. He made himself scarce after that, at least when I was around.
 

MaryMumsy

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My parents retirement home (now my summer home) is in the woods in the mountains. My mother was a soft touch for animals. There was a raccoon with a crippled paw she started giving handouts to. It would come to the kitchen door, setting off the motion light, and she would go give it food. It started inviting its friends. One night we were there visiting and the light came on. Looking out the glass in the kitchen door all you see was a moving mass of gray fur. Too many to count. Mom turned off the light and never fed the raccoons againn.

MM
 

Friendly Frog

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They and raccoon dogs (is that the English name? they look alike, only raccoon dogs look even more hardcore than raccoons.) are becoming a plague in some places in the country. Imported as illegal pets, it's been suggested. They take root very readily in our predator-depleted regions.

Vector for a few nasty parasites too.

I can imagine they can wreck a garden pretty easily.
 

Woollybear

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I don't know raccoon dogs, but I just found another pile of scat. It's a mystery, but I assume raccoon. It's full of seeds. What kind, I have no idea.

What do raccoon droppings look like? Raccoon droppings look like small dog droppings. They are dark in color, smell bad, and often contain undigested seeds or other food items. Because latrines are used repeatedly, there are often older, dry droppings mixed with fresh wet droppings.

Spent a little time sifting compost this morning, which is always satisfying.
 
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mrsmig

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I harvested the last two grow bags of Covington sweet potatoes this morning, and am so pleased with the yield. I'm not going to weigh them until the current harvest has had a chance to cure, but I'm guessing I got about 15 pounds of sweet potatoes from a single seed potato. The Covingtons were definitely my favorite experiment this year: from getting the seed potato sprouts going, to cutting off and rooting the slips, to planting the rooted slips, to watching the vines take over the far end of the garden, and then to the very satisfying harvest.

With the sweet potatoes out of the way, I can now convert that part of the garden to a garlic bed. I have a pound of Chesnok Red hardnecks to plant, which is probably way more than I need (so Chris P, if you want the extra, give me a holler). I'm planning to get the bed ready and put in the garlic this weekend, and probably plant the tatsoi and more spinach in the recently vacated grow bags. The bags are soaking in a soap/bleach mix right now; tomorrow I'll give them a good rinse and then set them on the deck in the sun to dry.
 

mrsmig

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I finally got my garlic planted this morning. As anticipated, I have plenty left over - the smallest amount I could buy was 1 pound, and I only planted about 25 cloves, in containers and in a small in-ground bed. What I can't give away, I'll eat. They really are beautiful bulbs, with big fat cloves.

I harvested what was left of my jalapenos and bell peppers, then uprooted the plants, chopped them up and stuck them in the composter, along with what remained of my sweet potato vines. Then I opened up my hoop house and - oh dear - everything except the Stonehead cabbages (which I planted as seedlings) looked pretty wan. I weeded and mulched, gave everything a good drink and then buttoned the house up again. I'm poised to cover it and the Tomato Fortress with plastic soon, as an experiment in greenhouse gardening over the winter, but as of now it's still pretty warm and pleasant here, although sometimes chilly in the evening.
 
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Woollybear

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The pumpkin seeds I planted a few weeks back (early September maybe?) are now giving me blossoms to eat, so that was a success. I will not get pumpkins off the vines, but will happily saute the blossoms.
 
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Chris P

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My garlic is coming up! Just now peeking above the soil and shredded leaf mulch. The squirrels are digging in the bed, but they just seem to be disturbing the cloves as they dig around and not eating them. I'm finding fresh acorns in the bed, so I suspect the disturbance to the garlic is incidental.

Some of the few hardneck I planted is coming up, so what I salvaged seems to have been worth it. Thanks for the offer, mrsmig, but I've actually filled the space I was intending to use (perils of a small, shaded yard).
 
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mrsmig

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I hear you about the small space, Chris P. That's why I could only use 25 cloves myself.

Never mind - they'll make good eatin'. :D
 

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Goshdang it! On Monday I planted out my tomatoes and courgettes. Today they're predicting two days of thunderstorms with hail! :Headbang:
 

Unimportant

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My garlic is coming up! Just now peeking above the soil and shredded leaf mulch. The squirrels are digging in the bed, but they just seem to be disturbing the cloves as they dig around and not eating them. I'm finding fresh acorns in the bed, so I suspect the disturbance to the garlic is incidental.

Some of the few hardneck I planted is coming up, so what I salvaged seems to have been worth it. Thanks for the offer, mrsmig, but I've actually filled the space I was intending to use (perils of a small, shaded yard).
Vampire squirrels! :D

I've got a BIG garden. I wish I could take your spares!
 
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Unimportant

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The pumpkin seeds I planted a few weeks back (early September maybe?) are now giving me blossoms to eat, so that was a success. I will not get pumpkins off the vines, but will happily saute the blossoms.
You can also eat the tender stems and leaves of pumpkin plants. The stems you can peel to get rid of the bristly skin (it's quite fun, in a relaxing zen kind of way, to sit on the porch and peel pumpkin stems for an hour). Put them in stir fries, steam them with other greens, add them to a saag or stew....

I didn't know this until my colleague asked me for some, and then for some more, and then pretty soon I was supplying the entire local Indian/Bangladeshi community with rubbish bags full of pumpkin leaves and stems. (That was the year that I stupidly planted two dozen pumpkin plants and let them run riot. Now the locals expect me to do that every year for them, cuz you can't buy them in the shops or farmer's markets, and apparently they're quite a standard in their cuisines that they sorely miss.)
 

mrsmig

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I got my little hoop house covered in plastic sheeting and my mini-greenhouse up yesterday, in advance of a fairly precipitous drop in nighttime temperatures starting Tuesday night. This means I'll have to vent both constructions today and tomorrow, so the plants inside don't get overheated. This is my big Winter Gardening Experiment and I'm eager to see how it goes.

I'm still planning on starting two new garden beds before it gets too cold. One will be an extension of my vegetable garden, and the other will surround our little tart cherry tree. First we have to mow the grass short, then put down a layer of compost and soil amendments, then four layers of newspaper, then a layer of mulch. In theory, all this will break down, and the beds will be ready for planting in the spring.
 

Woollybear

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Good luck!

You've inspired me to pull up the tomatoes and peppers, Mrs. Mig. I usually can't bring myself to do so because the plants will always limp along through the winter, but if I do pull them, I can plant spinach now.

Still eating pumpkin blossoms, and the peas will produce before long. Still pulling out a few carrots.
 
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Catriona Grace

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Snow coming down. Yesterday I finally went into the upper garden and discovered enough lavender, dianthus, feverfew, and roses to make two small bouquets. The roses were from my Snowy Pavement bush which blooms early and late in a challenging climate. I love her dearly and appreciate the gift of two roses for Samhain.
 
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