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Archive for May, 2009

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The first of my passion flowers showed up this morning, along w/ the skullcap blooms. I purchased the skull cap plant at the Wildflower Center sale. It’s been slow growing so far, but I’ve heard that they really take off once fully established. I planted the passion flower vine last year, and with our mild winter it has done really well.

Incense Passion Flower

Heartleaf Skullcap

Butterfly that arrived on the passion flower vine as I was taking pictures.

New Border I put in a few weekends ago. My neighbor was nice enough to give me the free stones from an old fountain she took down several years ago.

Rockrose. These are one of my favorites.

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>After my tough day on Wednesday I started doing some research. These squash vine borers really are nasty little creatures, and not the easiest to prevent. I found some good web pages.

http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=804&bhcd2=1243008843
http://tomclothier.hort.net/page30.html
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2153.html

Here are the main suggestions I’ve found…

1. use row cover until plant flowers
– This one wouldn’t have worked this year. By late April I was already harvesting squash, so covering them until they were blooming would have done nothing.

2. Watch for eggs and remove
– I planted too many squash plants too close together. There is no way I could have seen anything. Next year I’ll create a little more space in between. Now that I have removed several plants (due to death) I can really get in there and have been able to find eggs.

3. Spray / Wipe down plants w/ BTK

– I don’t know much about this. I’ve read that it’s safe, but would like to talk to The Natural Gardener about it.

4. Plant sacrificial squash

– The ohio web site mentions that SVBs like hubbard squash more than other kinds. This would be an interesting experiment to put different types of squash in different areas to see which ones get hit the hardest. Hopefully, the more popular would keep the SVBs away from the less popular ones.

5. Create multiple roots

– I like this one too. You bury different sections of the base so they’ll generate roots. This way if part of the plant is damaged it’s change of survival is higher.

6. Rotate Beds

– I already plan on doing this. This is my first year with a garden big enough to rotate. I definitely plan on having the squash in a different location next year. This year was my first time doing summer squash, so I know that the larvae came from eggs, not from overwintering.

7. Succession Planting

– Keep planting new squash plants throughout the season. If some get destroyed than you should have seeds going in the ground for the next set. This is a great idea. You harvest all of the squash you can before the SVBs hit and once they do just start over. The family could probably use a break from all of that squash anyway 🙂

Update …
I went to the Natural Gardener yesterday afternoon and got one more suggestion.
8. Hand Pollinate
– Keep the row cover on permanently. Instead of having the bees pollinate, do it yourself. At first I thought this was a bad idea, very labor intensive, but after thinking on it a bit I realized it’s much less work than slicing open plants and digging out larvae. I may consider this one next year.

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I’ve been enjoying my squash bounty knowing that it would eventually come to an end. The squash vine borers took out my pumpkin plants last year and I was waiting for their arrival this year. This morning I did my walk through before work and found one plant looking extremely pathetic. All of the leaves were drooping. Once I thought about it I realized that the leaves were a little droopy yesterday but I didn’t think anything of it. I should have known. Well anyway … it was too late for that plant. I ripped it out and started inspecting the others. Turns out I had a serious infestation on my hands. I found these terrible little creatures in all but one of my plants. I spent two hours digging them out. I lost two plants this morning and it looks like another three won’t make it. We’ll just have to wait and see about the rest. I hope I got all of them, but I’m not sure. By then end of my major surgery I was getting pretty good at determining exactly where the SVBs were, which hopefully did less damage to the plants. 

Squash Plant completely eaten through

An early catch. Here’s what to look for. The yellowish substance is called frass. You can’t always see it, since it is often underneath the plant, but you’ll always be able to feel the gooey glob where the SVB entered the plant. The plant feels dry aside from this. 

Carnage
More carnage

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I took pictures yesterday evening, but didn’t have a chance to post them last night. Here’s what’s blooming in my garden…

Cantaloupe

Bluebonnets – round two. I was sure these were done for the year.

Butter Bean Blossom

Cilantro

Zinnias. These are two of the seven colors I have growing.

Nasturtium


Knock-Out Rose

Mums

Columbine


“Fruit Cocktail” Shrimp Plant

Tangerine Abutilon

Coreopsis w/ Plumbago

More Nasturtium
Also blooming…
texas yellow star
rock rose
blackfoot daisy
marigolds
penta
purple heart
four o’clock
all sorts of fruits and veggies

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Not much gardening occurred this weekend, but that doesn’t translate to nothing to report in the garden…

Ever since the Grow Green book came out this year I’ve been pining after a batface cuphea. I’ve looked all over the place with no luck. I talked to someone who bought one at the Zilker Garden Festival, but I didn’t make it this year. Then last week I talked to a friend of mine, a casual gardener, who had recently planted three batface cupheas. That is just not fair! She shared with me that they had several at the Red Barn in North Austin. I drove up Friday during my lunch break and was able to find some. They aren’t flowering yet, but I was told they are fast growers. Now I just have to figure out where to plant them.

We had guests over for dinner on Saturday night and I decided to make goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms. I grabbed several from the garden Saturday morning, but as I started to put them together I realized that I could use a few more. As I started opening the newly gathered blossoms one of them was buzzing. I peaked and saw a bee inside. I immediately moved towards the door to throw the squash blossom outside, but before I could, the bee escaped. I screamed, threw the blossom, and yelled to my husband that there was a bee in the house. He seemed less concerned than I was. Well after I had a chance to collect myself I went for the blossom, since you don’t want to waste a perfectly good squash blossom. As I picked it up, a bee flew out. I screamed and threw it again. I was then very confused, I could have sworn I saw the bee fly out. Turns out there were 2 bees in that squash blossom. Luckily they flew to the sunroom and were buzzing around the windows. After about 10 minutes of coaxing I swas able to return those bees to the outside. Maybe that’s why they say to gather the blossoms in the morning.

On a side note, I also made pesto with the garden basil and cooked up some zucchini and yellow squash. Yum!


On to the mysterious sprouts… For the past several weeks I’ve seen what I swear are squash and tomatoes seedlings. I could be wrong about the tomatoes, but the squash family is pretty distinct. I couldn’t figure out how these were getting everywhere, especially in the back yard. Finally I figured out that I had used homemade compost in the recent plantings. The compost must not have been hot enough to kill the seeds, so last seasons veggies were sprouting in the garden. I guess this is why you’re supposed to avoid weeds in the compost pile. A few squash plants are much easier to deal with than milkweed.

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I had a very busy garden weekend. I started out Saturday morning by digging out a beds for the Lithonia seeds and moon flowers I got at the blogging get-together (thanks Diane from Sharing Nature’s Garden). It seems like such a huge area when you are digging, but once you’re done it’s very underwhelming.

I also dug out grass and planted a bed in the back yard. I was at The Natural Gardener friday afternoon (snuck out of work for a few minutes) looking for another tomato cage. I got the tomato cage, but also grabbed two shrimp plants and a tangerine abuliton. The shrimp plants are called “fruit cocktail” and are a yellowish-green and red. They were too cool to resist.

“Fruit Cocktail” Shrimp Plant

Tangerine Abutilon

Between garden chores, I decided to map the sun. I know my back yard is shaded, but didn’t really know how much. Turns out at about 1:30 in the afternoon there is no shade to be found, the entire yard is in complete sun. I had no idea. I plan on doing this again around the summer solstice.

My weekend finished off with a trip to Costco, where I found a new garden cart. I’ve been wanting one for a while and this one was just perfect. It carries 1200 lbs, converts to a flat bed cart and has a dumping feature. It also comes with a thick plastic insert, so you can carry loose dirt. My husband had to work last night, so I put it together myself 🙂

I spent way too much time this weekend admiring my handiwork. The vegetable garden is really taking off, and it makes me so proud, I just can’t help but stare.

Okra and Swiss Chard

Scale of Squash Leaves

Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Sun Gold Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes

First Green Beans

Green Bean Blossom. I just love the delicate pink flower.

Swallowtail Caterpillar. We affectionately refer to them as “bird poo” caterpillars. I caught this one mid chomp.

First okra. I took this picture for scale of the okra versus a giant zucchini that I picked a day too late.

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