What’s Happening Here?

Here it is mid-August in the Mid-Atlantic United States, and at sunrise it is 48F…that is 20-25 degrees below what we would normally expect, and it looks like we are in for a spell of this weather. I’m not complaining, mind you. This is excellent planting weather for fall crops, and most years it is painfully hard to come by. The cool weather crops don’t like the heat (lettuce for example, won’t sprout above 80F) so just getting them to germinate requires tricks like setting the trays on a cool corner of the cement slab of the garage. What really triggered this post was the flock of geese that just went over. When I lived in Vermont, mornings in the …

ShepherdWhat’s Happening Here?

Compost Tea and Early Blight

There was an interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday by Adrian Higgins about the wet season we are having — after a multi-year drought, we have already gotten something like 30 inches of rain this year — and its effect on the garden. One of the most pronounced effects, which Higgins discusses in some detail, is the prevalence of foliage diseases and fruit rots in wet seasons. We’ve certainly seen that here:  our cultivated cherries had serious fruit rot problems due to the huge, tightly packed clusters of fruit (the smaller, less densely clustered wild sweet cherries along the driveway did not have this problem). On the subject of foliage diseases he notes that the season for early blight …

ShepherdCompost Tea and Early Blight

Fall Seed Order

The first of my fall seed orders arrived today. This was part of the stuff I wanted to get in the ground for transplanting a month or so from now (see the mid-summer planting post). These two orders were from Johnny’s and Cook’s and I am happy to say that both arrived within three days of my online order, which I consider a proper standard. Packing, shipping and handling charges, however…

ShepherdFall Seed Order

Plant Triage

Today I had to yank out two very nice Gem Marigolds that I had planted at the end of my second pepper bed because they were out competing the single Habanero pepper plant set betwixt them. While I am sure that they would have all grown together in an aesthetic way, the fact is that I want Habaneros and it ws two against one. So out they go!

ShepherdPlant Triage

Squash Experiment

Most gardeners — and even gardeners’ friends — know about the zuchinii glut. Oh, yes! But there is a second squash “problem,” too, and that is the way the plants get out of hand and block nearby paths as they vine out…yes, they call them a bush plant, but mine get at least four or five feet long, and that is way too big for a three foot raised bed garden! This year I am going to find a solution.

ShepherdSquash Experiment

Our Potato Experiment

It must have been twenty years ago when I first heard of this idea: you lay seed potatoes on the surface of cultivated soil, heap soil and / or compost over them, and then once the sprouts poke through, heap more soil.

ShepherdOur Potato Experiment

The Ole Carrot – Radish Trick

One of my favorite time and space saving tricks (described in detail in my books) is one that I first learned fro my grandfather and then improved on. What he did was to mix a little sand in with carrot seed when he sowed it so that there would be good drainage and the seeds would not be so close together and thus easier to thin. I learned to skip the sand and use radishes instead, which had a couple of additional benefits. Check out the video to see:

ShepherdThe Ole Carrot – Radish Trick

More Video on Early Tomatoes

Jim Surkamp was good enough to come back and shoot a second You Tube segment to follow up on how we are growing our tomatoes. We’ve actually got about four different ways that we are using…perpetually in search of the most efficient and most productive we can find. We’ll try to keep this up throughout the season…

ShepherdMore Video on Early Tomatoes