Search This Blog

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Busy Weekend

Yesterday was the second of two days that would be good for planting below ground vegetables, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac, so that is what I did Saturday, only it necessitated taking out the rest of the onions, among other things.  I've discovered that you can't really succession plant onions so successfully- they really depend on the light that comes with a specific length of day, so if you want big bulbs, get them in early- get them all in.  I still don't know why some grew beautiful round globes, and why some grew bull necks instead.  I've read that cool temperatures, poor stands, and late planting can predispose onions to growing bull necks, but it doesn't explain why onions growing right next to each other formed differently.  I have noticed that the onions forming the best bulbs seemed to be more shallowly planted than the onions growing bull necks, so next year I'll take care to seed them shallowly.  I think that I'll try direct seeding and thinning as well- it should be easier to keep the seed near the surface instead of risking burying the transplant too deeply. 


Another experiment, one that I'm trying this autumn, is going to be kind of interesting.  Several weeks ago I planted carrot seed in two rows between my winter kale and rapini.  The carrots sprouted and then disappeared.  Inspection seems to indicate that they were eaten by slugs.  Autumn is prime slug season, with its cool and cloudy mornings- everything is damp longer so the slugs usually have a field day.  So this weekend after planting carrot, beet and turnip seed, I anchored brand new knit copper over the soil- right over the planted rows.  The idea is to let the seedlings grow up through the copper mesh, which should keep the slugs off.  This summer when my brother-in-law Kent was here, he said that he'd heard that copper only works on slugs and snails when it's new and shiny.  By the evidence of the slug snot left on the copper mesh I installed around the beds this spring and the extensive slug damage on the bed's contents, I would have to say that this is probably true.  I do hope that the new copper mesh works long enough to give the seedlings a fighting chance.  Now the only problem that I can see happening is that everything is going in so late that nothing will germinate!

While I was at it, I pulled all the bell pepper plants and managed to salvage only three bell peppers for freezing.  This makes for an average that doesn't even equal one per plant!  A great many of them rotted on the plants while I was waiting for them to ripen past green.  I don't know if this is because the plants were crowded or because we had a really cool summer.  I'm learning that bio-intensive method aside, some plants just don't do well crowded together, and since it's only Steve and me I'm trying to feed, I should probably back off the number of plants that I put in the ground. 

I also managed to get the two citrus that showed up this week planted.  I ordered a Lisbon lemon and a Bearss lime.  Lisbon lemons are the lemons most commonly found in the grocery store, and I like them much, much better than a Meyer lemon, which isn't really a lemon at all.  For whatever reason, when you go looking for lemon trees, Meyers are all over the place, but for my money, they are too sweet for what I'm looking for in a lemon.  Ponderosa lemons are great lemons as well, but they are huge lemons, and they make a pretty good sized tree.  I don't have room for a Ponderosa.  The Bearss lime is also the lime you're most likely to find in the grocery store- thin skinned and juicy.  I debated plunking them into the ground with the plan to erect a removable green house cover over them every winter, but I read that citrus need good drainage and I definitely don't have that with my clay soils.  I opted to put them in pots instead, and fortunately, they should do fine there.  While potting them up today, I realized that I forgot to order a Bay tree, Laurus nobilius.  Bay trees get HUGE- my mother has one- but their size can be kept in check by potting them up.  I've even seen instances where the tree is planted in a pot in the ground to keep it from getting enormous.  All I know is that fresh bay is supposed to be different than dried, and even ran across a recipe somewhere for egg custard that was flavored with a fresh bay leaf, and since I love custard, I'm dying to try it.


The other thing I worked on this weekend was the hutch.  I got the supports for two more shelves rasped, sanded, stained and put together this week, along with the shelves and their fussy molded edges, so part of yesterday and today were spent getting the new shelves up.  I'm a little less than halfway done, at this point.  I've resigned myself to the fact that it won't be finished by the time my mother gets here, but oh well.  At least I'm making progress on it, but that will have to stop for a few days while I work on getting the house all spiffed up for Mom's impending visit.

Last but not least, I had the inspiration to put up some of my French tarragon into tarragon vinegar.  I'm sure glad that I hung on to that Frank's Red Hot sauce bottle- I had a feeling it would come in handy!

6 comments:

Amy Manning said...

Hmm. Here's my experience with copper: http://amysoddities.blogspot.com/2010/09/are-slugs-repelled-by-copper-tape.html

Paula said...

Huh! well, I was hoping that the mesh would be prickly enough to keep them off, but I guess that's a myth too.

For your information, diatomaecous earth comes in food grade and pool grade. The food grade is added to grains to keep the bugs off them, and the pool grade is used for pool water clarification. DE is made up of the skeletons of bazillions of diatoms, a type of microscopic sea creature, the edges of which are so sharp that they cut into exoskeletons and dehydrate the insect within. DE does seem to work on insects, but has to be replaced once it's gotten wet. I'm glad to know not to waste it on slugs.

I think I'm going to get myself some ducks...

Toni aka irishlas said...

Let me know how your tarragon vinegar turns out. How long will you be steeping it?

I'm loving that hutch! Can't wait to see it done.
Have a great visit with you family!

Paula said...

The tarragon vinegar turned out swell! I steeped it 24 hours before using it, but I think it's important to use it as quickly as possible because I've had some tarragon vinegar that was purchased that was lackluster, and that's being as nice as I can be...

Barbara said...

I know this is a late comment to this post, but I'm a new reader going through your posts from the beginning. I use ground oyster shell to thwart the little b*#~!+rds. You can find it wherever poultry feed is sold. Doesn't breakdown and won't harm the soil. Same effect as the DE - sharp edges. Just circle the plants or rows. Saved my hostas many times. Cheap too!

Paula said...

Good to know Barbara! it's worth a try.