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Around Grant County

  • Indeterminate or determinate?

    I received a letter from a reader years ago that asked somewhat of a philosophical question regarding determinate tomatoes.  Yes, philosophical, because she asked why would we plant a tomato that sets its fruit, reaches a certain point, stops growing, ripens nearly at once and then dies?  
    Our love affair with homegrown tomatoes would more logically dictate that we grew only indeterminate tomatoes that reached monstrous proportions and yielded fruit into a first killing frost.

  • Bagworms on the move
  • Harvest vegetables daily for continued productivity

    One day missed in the vegetable garden can mean a big harvest, literally.  All of a sudden, or so it seems, your zucchini is the size of a torpedo and beans are bulging beneath the pod.  
    Some vegetables need attention daily; others can be picked every couple of days.  

  • Troubleshooting tomato problems

    We cannot control the weather but we can control what our tomatoes eat, so to speak. At planting time, we prepare the soil with composted hen manure and a little organic fertilizer. We also mulch around the plants immediately in order to moderate soil moisture and to prevent the spread of soil-borne diseases.   This year, our work at building healthy soil has paid off because the tomatoes are thriving.  Some folks have not been as lucky as the rain poured down earlier in the season!

  • Curing potatoes, onion, garlic

    We harvested some fantastic looking “Red Candy Apple’ purple onions a few weeks ago and it is now time to start digging some ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes and garlic over the weekend. I am so excited about the garden this year because it is performing so well!   We need to wait another week or so to harvest the ‘Sterling’ and ‘Walla Walla’ onions because tops have yet to flop over…. this allows them to store better. 

  • Bramble, viruses

    We gave up on the raspberries a couple of years ago, their fruit was so perishable and the plants lacked vigor.  
    We would cut the ‘Royalty’ raspberries all the way to the ground each year and forgo an early crop to manage disease but it didn’t seem to pay off.  It was never a total loss, but about half the canes would be dried up and diseased by now.    
    One problem that materialized is a condition called “doubles”, which is caused by a virus, as are most bramble troubles.  

  • Bumper crop of squash not a sure thing

    You know all the jokes about people having bumper crops of summer squash?  Squash shows up in people’s cars or in public spaces because there is so much that the gardener can’t even give it away.  
    I have a little bit of that problem this year and I give credit to the variety and the fact that it was plated later than usual.  I also planted loads of it!  Some folks, however, may not be so blessed with a bumper crop.

  • Barnacles on plants are lichens

    Have you ever gotten blamed for something you haven’t done?  Most of us have experienced this and it is a dreadful feeling.  Well, there are a great many things we blame erroneously on one thing or another, and lichens are one of them. Lichens, often described as barnacles by worried gardeners, usually show up on woody plants after some sort of thinning or decline has occurred.  They are not the problem only the result of a change in the plant’s environment.

  • Shade devices for the vegetable garden

    It’s been hot and humid the last few weeks! I was hopeful that this summer was going to be idyllic…at least we got pop up rainstorms to keep things hydrated. These 90-degree days, however, are putting us on track for some serious heat and some of our vegetables will love it and some will not.  
    I know we can’t change the ambient air temperature on a 90 degree day but we can provide some shade for our plants on the hottest days of the summer with reasonable results.

  • Beech trees are worthy of attention

    “If the word noble had to be applied to only one kind of tree, the honor would probably go to the Beech.”- James Crockett
    I must agree with Mr. Crockett’s sentiment.  The Beech remains one of my favorite trees.  They make great shade trees with a low canopy, often touching the ground.  Beeches are stately trees that can be easily identified in the fall because of their golden color; and in the winter because the leaves have a tendency to remain attached to the tree. The smooth, elephant-like bark of beeches is a plus in any season.