A Tale of Two Kales

It was the best of kales; it was the worst of kales. (Where the Dickens did I read that?) I was watering yesterday and gave little attention to the stray kale (Lacinato) that had somehow gotten in with a patch of garlic . What I did notice, though, having just moved from watering the Brassica bed, was that there were no flea beetle holes in its leaves. NONE.   Yet the same variety, fifteen feet away (and surrounded by other Brassicas) was too pitiful for the table.   Its pretty well known that diverse plantings make crops plants harder for pests to find, and of course there is a wide belief in particular companion planting combinations. I haven’t found most …

ShepherdA Tale of Two Kales

Garlic Is Up – Is Spring Here At Last?

Yesterday it finally felt like spring though there is snow in the forecast for Tuesday. This has been the toughest winter here in the northern Shenandoah Valley for at least 20 years, and it seems like it is not over yet. We just can’t shake the shivers! But we did finally got a chance to sit out on the back porch yesterday in the warm sun and thin the trays of seedlings that had been languishing in the sun room window. The hardy stuff (lettuces, broccoli, rainbow chard and some Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage) even got to sit out overnight. While we were thinning the flats  with tiny scissors (always cut off extra seedlings instead of pulling them out, which disturbs …

ShepherdGarlic Is Up – Is Spring Here At Last?

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?

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

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