Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Vegetable Garden Update Early November 2015

I love sharing my vegetable garden and I finally got around to taking some pictures showing what is growing in my garden in Middle Tennessee at the beginning of November. It is a lot more than one would think. It has been rather warm here in Tennessee and even though we have had three frosts in my garden, they were very light frosts causing only minor leaf tip damage. Honestly, this fall has been perfect for growing vegetables. The butterflies think so too. We have had a lot of fritillary butterflies (pictured), honey bees, and other pollinators flitting to and fro in the garden. Seeing all the activity and knowing everything is getting ready for winter is somehow a comforting thing in the garden.
A long view of the vegetable garden as I enter it right out my front door. The location is in the front yard and ever so convenient! We in the Ramsey family all love exploring this garden.
The northeast bed still has its summer crops of peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. None of these plants are productive and will soon be heading to the compost pile.
The southeast bed has been planted with cool weather crops and all of them are doing quite well, though no crops have come in yet. I think I may have planted these a bit too late to get any crops but we'll see. Closest to the camera is red cabbage. Next up is cauliflower, then two rows of Brussels sprouts. I am disappointed our local big box stores did NOT get any cool weather crops in for the fall. All of the above crops were purchased at a nursery in Louisville. I was happy I managed to score some for the fall garden.
One corner of the southeast bed is reserved for garlic. It is all up and looking great. I will not be harvesting this garlic until next May or June, but garlic is a crop that winters over wonderfully in our region. I wish I could tell you what kind it is that I planted but I really don't know. I simply went to the grocery store and bought a few heads of garlic, separated out the cloves, then planted them. Grocery store garlic has always worked well for me in the past.
The herb garden has made a transition from red zinnias to purple and yellow pansies. On this day honeybees were mobbing the pansies. I was surprised to note this and will make a point of planting more pansies in the future solely for the bees. I pulled the basil plants but the herbs still growing here include: sage, rosemary, flat leaf parsley, thyme, and lavender.
The strawberry bed barely changes at all during the year.
The northwest bed was divided in half and this half got a cover crop. The cover crop of field peas and oats has done an outstanding job of keeping weeds down. Just look at how thick it all is! The cover crop is also quite tall at about 18" high. Once a hard freeze kills it back I'll leave it be until spring at which time I will work the debris into the soil. All winter the remains of the killed back cover crop will keep the winter rains from beating down on the soil, thereby helping to stop erosion. I have never used a cover crop before but so far I am impressed with its ability to keep weeds at bay and to look good. I think I will use them more often in the future.
The southeast bed has a good crop of carrots. I have been digging these as needed. The carrots are beautiful but honestly, I've left them in the ground a bit too long. Some of the carrots are woody and some of the greenery has gone to seed. Carrots are a crop I will always plant. While they are slow to get started, given time they will really reward the gardener.
The other half of the northwest bed that was not planted with a cover crop was planted with cool season crops from seed. You may remember my southeast bed also has cool weather crops but most all of them were started from starts or cloves. This bed was all seeded. I've had fairly good luck with the seeds too. Spinach is first, then radishes, beets, carrots, kohlrabi (blue green leaves under the trellis), then finally peas are growing on the trellis. These guys are growing like gangbusters.
I've picked more radishes than I could possibly eat in a year. I wish there was a way I could preserve these beauties. The greens are recycled to the chickens and the rabbit, but I'd like to do something useful with the radishes themselves.
The zinnias were harmed by the three consecutive days of frost but some are still hanging on.
They are very cheerful.
Green beans in the southeast bed are still there simply because I've not pulled them yet. Hopefully I'll get this bed cleaned up soon.
My trusty owl keeps watch over the garden. He compliments the real owls down in the woods that hoot and holler all day and night. I so enjoy all the owls. 

My vegetable garden is not fenced and so far I've never had any problems with it being raided by deer or other wildlife. I am really appreciating that little fact because I thought for sure it would be destroyed all season long. Other than a few minor bugs eating tomatoes we have had a productive and wildlife free year...

in the garden...
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pawpaw Tree Seedling Update

It has been nearly eighteen months since I last spoke about my little pawpaw seedlings. You may remember that post from last May in which I spoke about creating tree shelters for my pawpaw seedlings in order to keep the seedlings shaded from the sun. I have read that pawpaws will grow in the sun but when the trees are young they need to be grown in shade because the leaves are somewhat sensitive to the UV light from the sun. I now have some updates on the three seedling, grafted varieties I grow. The above pictured seedling is 'Overleese'. I took these photos recently so the leaves look a little ragtag but the seedlings are healthy! This is good news since I decided to remove my tree shelters about a month or two ago in August.
The above pictures shows the tree shelters from last year. I used metal cages around which I wrapped burlap to shield the seedlings. All three of my seedling pawpaws were planted in November of 2013. From that point until August ot 2015 I had the little seedlings covered.
This year I was absolutely delighted to see the pawpaw seedlings leaf out normally and fairly robustly. The above pictured one is 'KSU'. 'KSU' is growing on the upper side of a slight slope and seems to really like the spot well. It was the one I would've expected to be sunburned by the sun after I removed the tree shelters but no, it is as happy as it can be. I think I can safely say that nearly two years the pawpaw seedlings were shaded was sufficient to protect the young trees, but of course I'll evaluate and watch them closely next year as well. If the seedlings get into distress I am prepared to recover them. I felt I should remove the tree shelters because the seedlings have doubled in size and were really filling out their shaded space.
The last seedling tree I show is 'Sunflower'. 'Sunflower' is not quite as happy as the other two seedlings but that may have something to do with the fact this seedling is located at the bottom of a slightly sloping hill (you can easily see the slope in the second picture). It may be this seedlings gets a bit too much water or it may be that it sits in water longer than it should. Our unamended clay soil is very tough on plants and plants at the bottom of the hill may suffer a bit more due to the waterlogging capacity of clay soil. I do feel like the spots I planted all three pawpaw seedlings are perfect for them. We found a small grove of naturally growing pawpaws on our property that is in a low area in a draw that has a wet stream flowing through it sometimes. I tried very hard to simulate those growing conditions when I planted these seedlings except for the fact these seedlings are in the open and not under hardwood trees, and also I mow the orchard floor where these seedlings are part of a group of twenty four fruit trees. Each tree is spaced fifteen feet on center and are so far doing really well without the added shade of the tree shelters. I am so looking forward to seeing what they do for me next year....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden