(It’s not a ghost . . .it’s vegetables nestled under row cloth)
Planting fall vegetables in your garden? The following may be of some use:
The Many Uses of Row Cloth
‘Row cloth’ is a lightweight white material the primary use for which is to cover crops vulnerable to flying-insect damage, in particular the cabbage butterfly that lays its eggs on members of the mustard family and on cole crops (cabbage, kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower) resulting in little green caterpillars that are very hard to see. The cloth is a physical barrier to the butterfly so must be put over the plants as soon as they are set out or germinate if direct-seeded and left on for the whole season.
Use a wide piece of cloth so the edges come to the ground, or close to it, even when the plants are mature. The cloth is light and won’t crush delicate seedlings. It allows water and sunlight through. Small stones at the corners and strategically along the edges will hold it down and make it easy to lift the cloth to inspect your plants.
All row cloth is not equal; avoid any that say “biodegradable” as they will end up in the first season in tiny, irritating pieces all over your garden. Good row cloth is available from Lee Valley (store in Vancouver or order online), can be bought in bulk, and has the best price around even with shipping added. It can last several years if you’re careful not to put holes in it!
Row cloth has other uses. Here’s a sampling:
- To protect vegetable seedlings from variable weather conditions, help warm the soil, and prevent severe temperature fluctuations around the seedlings. Note: if temperatures drop significantly (ie towards or below freezing, you may need to add a layer of plastic over your seedlings on top of the row cloth
- In extreme heat over smallish plants anywhere, to help preserve moisture and protect from direct sun, or over raised beds which tend to lose moisture more quickly than in-ground beds
- Over tender plants in fall (tomatoes, peppers, melons) when night temperatures drop close to freezing, double layer if possible. If frost is forecasted, you’ll need to add plastic sheeting or other heavier protection (blankets, burlap sacking, etc.)
Oops! The post is late this week, sorry! I’ve had my head in the canning kettle. It’s that time of year again, when we preserve the garden’s rewards for the winter months ahead. Still, your vegetable patch requires some work!
If your wax or filet beans are flowering but not producing beans, now is not the time to give up and pull the plants! Beans become stressed in the heat, and they may sulk for awhile. Keep watering them and they’ll produce again when it the air is a little cooler. Continue to pick them (don’t let them go to seed) and they’ll reward you with a longer harvest.
Let’s talk tomatoes (and peppers!) this week. Happy to see the “Good Toms” above, ripening!
Big, fat “Scatalone” heirloom tomatoes waiting their turn to redden in the sun . . .
Other varietals enjoying the heat in Penticton
Epsom salts are a great mid season fertilizer for tomatoes and peppers. Epsom salts contain magnesium, a primary nutrient for plants. Magnesium deficiency can result in poor fruit set, brown leaves, weak stems and in tomatoes and peppers, blossom end rot. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of epsom salts around the base of each plant or mix 1tbsp of epsom salts with 1 gallon of water and use as a foliar spray. Be careful not to overuse epsom salts as Magnesium is motile in soil and can leach into water systems. I usually find that one application in July keeps my plants looking their best for the rest of the season.
PS: Thanks to all who are reading, “liking” and sharing these posts!
The time to harvest your garlic crop is when approximately half the leaves have turned yellow. This usually happens mid to late July. Pull the plants, and gently brush any soil off the bulbs. Be careful not to break the papery skin that encases the bulb. “Cure” the bulbs outside on a tray out of direct sunlight for a few days to harden the outer skin for storage. (Do not separate the individual cloves.) Store in a cool, dry, dark place such as your basement pantry.
A garden tip on planting garlic will appear in early autumn. Until then, enjoy your harvest!
A reminder: be sure to check out our “Courses” page, for summer and fall course offerings and instructions for registration!
After you’ve cut the main heads from your plants, fresh broccoli enjoyment can go on and on! To prolong your harvest of broccoli, use mulch to protect its roots from hot sun. Keep on harvesting the side shoots after you cut the main heads. And be generous with the broccoli’s water supply, because tough stems are a result of not enough moisture to the roots.
If you didn’t grow your own broccoli this year, try it next spring. It tastes a lot better than the stuff that comes from far away, and you’ll be impressed at the brilliant green color when it’s cooked and on your plate.
(“Taku”, a recent houseguest from Bella Coola, delicately sniffs the beans)
If it’s not deer or marmots lurking around your yard, what next? Aphid season has arrived again in the Okanagan. Want to encourage aphid-eating, beneficial insects such as ladybugs to hang around your garden? Here’s a recipe for an easy to make spray which can be applied to the leaves of flowers and shrubs near your vegetable plants, or to the leaves of broccoli, carrot tops, potatoes, etc:
In a small container with a lid, mix the following: ½ cup sugar, 2 tsp. honey. 4 tbsp. brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast, and 2/3 cup warm water. In a spray bottle, mix 2 tbsp, of the solution in a liter of warm water. Use the spray bottle to apply the solution to your plants. Apply every few evenings, right after watering down the leaves, or after rain. Keep the container of concentrated solution in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.
A “pocket-gopher-free” garden. . .
Pocket gophers spend most of their life underground, but their presence is shown by mounds of soil at intervals along their runs. They tunnel to the plants, snip off the stem at or just below ground level, and can destroy a planting in short order. Sometimes they pull the whole plant into the tunnel so you wonder where it went to!
The following was developed for moles which are not in the Western part of North America; however, pocket gophers perform a similar role of stirring up soil, bringing deeper soil to the surface, all of which is good for the soil, but not your plants if they find and fancy them. Non-lethal remedy (adapted with remaining amusing comment from Josephine Nuese. The Country Garden) Take equal parts of castor oil and a liquid detergent (2-3 tbsp for a large watering can), add a: little warm, repeat WARM, water and with a beater (egg or whatever) whip up this repulsive mess until it is foamy. Then put two or three tablespoons of this into a watering can of warm—repeat, warm—water, mix well and, using the sprinkler cap, douse the soil where the pocket gophers are (see below). Best time to do this is when the soil is wet, after a rain or hosing, so that the oil can penetrate more deeply. And saturate the area, really soak it, not only the runs but the adjacent soil as well. Two or three dousings may be necessary where gopher numbers are high. This treatment will keep the area free of pocket gophers for from three to six months depending upon how serious the problem. They particularly love pea plants though, so be warned as to where you plant peas!
This does not harm the Pocket gophers or the plants, but the animals recognize the toxin in castor oil and tunnel elsewhere.