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mrsmig

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I moved all my tomato seedlings outside permanently last week, to complete their hardening-off process. (They're inside the Tomato Fortress where the deer and other critters can't get at them.) Naturally temps soared into the nineties this weekend, but I had my big shade cloth at the ready and they're doing okay so far. We are anticipating windy, stormy weather later today so I may unroll the cloth to its full length and pin it against the sides of the Fortress, so the babies don't get too battered. Once this front moves through, things will be significantly cooler, at least until next weekend. I'm hoping to get the tomatoes planted Monday and Wednesday, when it'll be overcast (less stressful for the transplants than full sunlight). Some of the seedlings already have buds showing. I picked up a new-to-me heirloom variety at the plant swap last Saturday - a Missouri Pink Love Apple, to go along with the Brandywine, German Johnson, Cherokee Purple, Heinz and Amish Paste plants I already had.

I planted some bush beans in 5-gallon grow bags this year, since I'll want to move them into the Fortress to keep the tomatoes company once they're planted. I got those started this week, and got my cucumbers into the ground at last. My husband promised to build me a second Tomato Fortress, so once that's done I can finish up my planting at last.

Over in the ornamental garden, my Sarah Bernhardt peony looks like it's finally going to bloom! Peonies don't usually bloom until a couple of years after they're planted. Mine is three years old now - last year it put out a couple of tight little buds that never opened, but this year the buds are big and round, and I can see the petals beneath the sheath. I was concerned because ants were swarming the bud, but when I researched it, I learned peonies have a weird symbiotic relationship with ants - apparently the buds secrete nectar that the ants eat, while keeping away other bugs that might damage the peony (like thrips). My biggest bud is starting to open, and I'm hoping today's weather won't hurt it. I've got it supported and my fingers are crossed.
 
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Chris P

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Don Bambi of the Eastern Whitetail Garden Crimes Syndicate has left a subtle calling card that "The Family" does not approve of my excluding them from the apple tree.

v7PpFkn.jpg
 

lorna_w

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goodness, Chris, that is some anti-deer edifice! :D
 
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SWest

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That's one desperate new mother deer with no territory - leaving a fawn in a yard that is clearly marked DEER NEED NOT APPLY.

lol

They're cute at this age. When they don't eat foliage. Enjoy!
 
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mrsmig

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Aw, you got a little 'un!

There are at least three heavily pregnant does that wander through my yard on a regular basis, so I'm waiting for similar visitors.

Last year a doe leaped the fence into my neighbor's yard (he owns a good-sized dog - what was Mama thinking???) and left her fawn there. My neighbor called Animal Control the next day when he discovered his little visitor, but I convinced him Baby wasn't lost or abandoned, and that if he kept his dog inside and his side gate open, Mama would come back after Baby after dark. He canceled the call, and Mama came back around midnight and escorted Baby away (I got darling trail cam footage of the two of them leaving through my kitchen gate).
 

Chris P

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I am quite determined that deer will not get at my apple tree! I figured a little bit of decorative overkill would probably not be enough. It only has to last a couple years before the tree is big enough to not be completely vulnerable.

And yeah, the population is so crazy deer are leaving fawns for the day in front yards of neighborhoods full of dogs. I linked upthread somewhere to an article saying that the native forests in this area could only support 20 deer per square mile, and that some of the area parks have up to 200.

It's moved on already. I think it might have gone into the neighbors thicker bushes, or mama came back and led it onward. What a gorgeous little visitor, though. The sky just opened with a downpour after two days of 90+ degrees.
 

mrsmig

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The sky just opened with a downpour after two days of 90+ degrees.
But did you get the hail? We had about 10 minutes' worth over on my side of town. The peony had just opened up, but she came through unscathed. What a trouper!

(And now, Round 2. Thunder, lightning, wind, and rain bucketing down. At least it'll cool things down.)
 
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Chris P

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But did you get the hail? We had about 10 minutes' worth over on my side of town. The peony had just opened up, but she came through unscathed. What a trouper!

(And now, Round 2. Thunder, lightning, wind, and rain bucketing down. At least it'll cool things down.)
Yep, the largest about pea sized, most about half that. I peeked outside afterward, and things look fine here. I'm having a dead tree taken down in a couple weeks, and I was saying "Oh please, just last a couple more weeks and don't come through the roof!"

Peonies are amazingly resilient. The flowers when open will get full of rain and flop over, but they spring right back.
 
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frimble3

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And yeah, the population is so crazy deer are leaving fawns for the day in front yards of neighborhoods full of dogs. I linked upthread somewhere to an article saying that the native forests in this area could only support 20 deer per square mile, and that some of the area parks have up to 200.

It's moved on already. I think it might have gone into the neighbors thicker bushes, or mama came back and led it onward. What a gorgeous little visitor, though. The sky just opened with a downpour after two days of 90+ degrees.
I am wondering if it depends on the dog in the yard in question? If it doesn't bark frantically or try to attack mama deer, maybe she deems it a suitable babysitter/bodyguard for her fawn?
Certainly capable of at least giving an alarm that mama deer could hear. Or, indeed, chasing off a coyote.
Better, perhaps, to trust a well-fed dog than a random carnivore.
 
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mrsmig

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I spent yesterday afternoon "potting" tomatoes - e.g., planting my Heinz seedlings in grow bags. I do this with determinate varieties because space is at a premium in my vegetable garden. Since they don't get as tall as the indeterminates, and fruit all at once and then die back, I don't like to use up precious in-ground real estate on them. I like that I can shift them around if necessary, too.

I found a new design of 10-gallon grow bag that's taller than it is wide, so I was able to plant the seedlings pretty deep. I also dug in a nasturtium plant with each seedling, to keep it company and add a pop of color once things start blooming.

While I was cleaning up afterward, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Lo and behold, two young male deer were right at the fence line of my neighbor's yard, watching me. My husband and I usually put deer chow at the back of the yard in the evening, to entice the the local white-tail population away from our gardens, but the previous night we didn't feed because of the storm. I guess these two boys were hungry - when I spoke to them, their ears came up and they stepped closer. As soon as I filled the chow bowls and moved away, they jumped the fence and came in to feed. Goofballs.

Incidentally, if you like to try planting unusual varieties, I came across a new seed provider: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I was so intrigued by what I saw on their website that I ordered their free catalogue. Then I ordered a bunch of nasturtium seeds. I'm mad for nasturtiums this year.
 

Chris P

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Incidentally, if you like to try planting unusual varieties, I came across a new seed provider: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I was so intrigued by what I saw on their website that I ordered their free catalogue. Then I ordered a bunch of nasturtium seeds. I'm mad for nasturtiums this year.
Oooh! They have Thai eggplant! Tasty little veggies, those are. They go great in red-bean based stuff on top of rice or white polenta. I wasn't happy with the source I found last year. Last year I planted them too late (ready in 75 days--whatever!) and the leftover seeds didn't germinate this spring.

Your description of the containers reminded me of sack gardens, which make use of used 100-pound rice, cornmeal, or other type nylon bags. The cool thing is you can plant through the sides of them to get more from your space.
 

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My neighbor raved about the Earth Box in part because of the watering design (low water/low evaporation).

Someone on Gardenweb once asked if composters compost to garden, or garden to compost, and I'll admit I derive great joy from composting. Sometimes I look at my garden and can't wait to put it in the bin and watch it turn to soil.

I've been sifting compost today.
 
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Woollybear

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Yep. And I've been mounding the sifted stuff around my corn and basil to help keep the ground moist. There's never enough compost, but gosh it's fun to play with.
 
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mrsmig

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Oooh! They have Thai eggplant! Tasty little veggies, those are. They go great in red-bean based stuff on top of rice or white polenta. I wasn't happy with the source I found last year. Last year I planted them too late (ready in 75 days--whatever!) and the leftover seeds didn't germinate this spring.

Your description of the containers reminded me of sack gardens, which make use of used 100-pound rice, cornmeal, or other type nylon bags. The cool thing is you can plant through the sides of them to get more from your space.
The current crop of grow bags are made of a non-woven, pressed fabric akin to felt. The advantages are that they're lightweight. reusable, and take up little storage space (I soak mine in a bit of detergent and bleach at the end of the year, dry in the sun and then fold flat to store). The plants in them are less prone to soil-borne diseases and pests (like Asian jumping worms - yikes!), you can move them around as you wish, and as the plants grow, they air-prune their roots - meaning when the roots reach the edge of the bag and detect air, they stop growing, rather than circle around and around, causing the plant to become root bound.

The only downside is that they dry out quickly, so you have to water them more often than in-ground plants. Rather than dig up my garden to fill them, I purchase bagged garden soil, so there's that expense as well.

I've watched videos where people have planted in reusable grocery bags, in burlap, in plastic totes and in cardboard boxes. I guess as long as you provide drainage, you can plant in just about anything.
 
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mrsmig

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I love composting, too. I have a fenced pile which is mostly dead leaves and grass clippings, and a closed bin where I put household scraps, cardboard, etc. I've yet to get that ideal "hot" pile, but cold piles compost, too - just a lot slower.

I put a layer of dead leaves and grass clippings in my grow bags, followed by a layer of compost, then soil mixed with just a bit of organic slow-release fertilizer. I like my plants to have lots of nutritional choices. :)
 
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mrsmig

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Since it was overcast and not too hot yesterday, I pulled everything out of the Tomato Fortress, prepped the soil for planting and then dug in about eight of my tomato seedlings (three Brandywines, three German Johnsons, one each of Cherokee Purple and Missouri Love Apple). The seedlings are so damn tall that I had to be extra careful when removing them from their pots, and still ended up bending one, so onto the compost pile it went (fortunately, I have plenty). I dug in a few basil plants to keep the tomatoes company, then moved one of the grow-bagged Heinz tomatoes into the Fortress, along with two each of Roma II and Provider bush beans (also in grow bags - the seeds are just starting to pop). Then I had to move all the remaining seedlings, which had been living in the Fortress, up onto the deck so the deer can't get to them. Naturally, I knocked over a tray of them as I was shifting things around. I confess I was so tired and sore that I started to sob. Fortunately my husband was right there (he is building me a second Fortress as a birthday gift) and helped me pick things up.

The payback is that the Fortress garden looks great this morning, and I'm not too crippled up from yesterday's labors (Tylenol at bedtime helped). And the roof of Fortress II is framed and ready to be lined with chicken wire. I was hoping to have the rest of the 'maters in the ground by Monday, but between predicted thunderstorms and my spouse's schedule, I don't know if the second Fortress will be ready then. Tuesday begins another round of temperatures in the nineties. Tomatoes don't like being planted in the sun and heat (and I don't like working in it, either), so I may have to wait to plant until Friday, when it's cooled off.

Meantime, I'm pulling slips off my seed Covington sweet potato and getting them rooted. I really enjoyed growing sweet potatoes last year, but I haven't finished eating that harvest yet. Guess it's time to make a batch of sweet potato soup.

ETA: I scrutinized every worm I dug up yesterday. I only found two that looked questionable (i.e. like Asian jumping worms), and I took them to the street and smushed them in the gutter.
 

Unimportant

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I planted out about a hundred seedlings of spring onion, bunching onions, and swedes (rutabaga), plus two celery plants and two cabbages. I collected some carrots, which I need to wash (along with potatoes) to make oxtail stew for tonight.

The sorrel plants my friend gave me have settled in well and are throwing up heaps of new leaves. Um....does anyone know what to do with sorrel, other than to put a very small amount of it, finely shredded, on a mixed greens salad? I kind of like it, but it's also hands down the weirdest plant I've ever tasted, with the mix of grassiness and citrus-sour.
 

Chris P

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I love composting, too. I have a fenced pile which is mostly dead leaves and grass clippings, and a closed bin where I put household scraps, cardboard, etc. I've yet to get that ideal "hot" pile, but cold piles compost, too - just a lot slower.

I put a layer of dead leaves and grass clippings in my grow bags, followed by a layer of compost, then soil mixed with just a bit of organic slow-release fertilizer. I like my plants to have lots of nutritional choices. :)
I don't have the right layout for it currently, but I had much better luck in the past with in-ground compost pits than with piles or bins (actually, I've had NO LUCK AT ALL with bins). Dig two rows of three pits, and start filling the first pit of the first row with (non-meat) kitchen scraps. Once the first pit is full, cover it with a couple inches of soil, and start filling the first pit of the second row. Once that pit is full, cover it with soil and throw everything from the first pit into the second pit of the first row, and start filling the first pit again. Alternate between the rows, moving the compost down the row. Once the lot has had time in the last pit, it should be ready (depending on size of the pit, local conditions, etc.).

I spent 20 minutes looking for a good article that describes the technique, and could only find this one, and it leaves a lot to be desired. These articles make it so complicated! Who has a prefect ratio of green waste, dry brown waste, and wood ash just lying around at all times of the year?!? If you present it as a recipe that must be followed or it will fail, nobody will do it. RANT!!!! :rant:
 
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Brigid Barry

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I'm clearly composting wrong. I dump everything in a pile and turn it periodically (this year will be in the fall - I wasn't on the ball this spring to rent a tractor). In the interim the chickens scratch at it and turn the top few inches for me.

I tried one of those spinning compost bins, but it froze over the winter, got spun, and when the giant chunk of frozen stuff hit the other side, it smashed.
 
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Friendly Frog

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... we toss almost everything on a heap between posts at the back of the garden. It's been turned exactly two times in the last ten years, and only because I learned you're supposed to turn it regularly. 'Regularly' now means 'once a year'. :e2poke::e2paperba

I did learn about the 'green' and 'brown' and only use it to harangue my dad to stop flooding the compost pile with oak leaves in autumn. Oak leaves all by themselves compost like... very uncompostlike things. (My first reaction was to say 'compost like shit' but that actually does compost...)

But it yields enough compost to be used in the garden en potting up and even enough left to satisfy my dad's hoarding tendencies.

~~~

Aand it looks like the Balcony Bandit is back. Three pots with bulbs has been tossed and one corpse was left at the scene of the crime. Luckily this time none of my irisses. What is it about that balcony that it attracts now it's third bulb-stealing rodent!? They don't do this in the rest of the garden...

I don't believe in reincarnation but my writerly imagination is suggesting me and the Balcony Bandit are stuck in an eternal karmic loop of trapping and bulb munching.
 

mrsmig

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Chris P, that hole method of composting sounds interesting but pretty labor-intensive. I've thought about using the compost-in-place method SWest posted about, but I'd always been anxious about critters digging things up (never thought about putting pots or stepping stones on top to deter that - duh).

My square plastic bin has doors in the bottom that allow me to scrape out "finished" compost, and what I get is pretty good. I use a sieve to sift out stuff that didn't compost and add it back to the top. The two disadvantages to the bin are: 1) in spite of the ventilation slots in its sides, it stays pretty dry, so I have to wet it down on occasion, and 2) when I scrape out from the bottom, the process often leaves hollows in the lower pile, so I have to go in from the top and poke at it until stuff drops down to fill the holes.

I guess the main problem with composting is that it takes time - in pile, bin or whatever - for composting to occur. I look at enough gardening videos on YouTube that it keeps giving me ads for those Lomi electronic countertop things. They're incredibly expensive (between $400-$500) and don't so much create compost in their 3-5 hour cycle as dry and chop the compostable material. The ads show people putting the results directly on their houseplants, but I sure wouldn't do that.

This is the kind of compost pile I'd love to build. It's clearly a slow, slow pile - but it's just so darned pretty: