Friday, June 22, 2012

Week 2 - Green fuzz and Potato/Tomato planting

Yes, along with the first seedlings poking through the soil surface, a fine haze of sprouted weed seeds have come up too. No matter, weeding is easy when they're little, also as long as we stay on top of it, it won't cause a problem. Keeping the crab grass down to tolerable levels is going to require more work and the use of a good sharp wheel hoe that Stephen should have finished this weekend. I also bought a new beet hoe that works like the one demonstrated below but by a different company. You don't hoe using a chopping method but by running it under the surface chopping the weed seeds off below ground. Much easier of the back but you must have the correct style of hoe. This one is good for weeding between plants and here's a video of Eliot Coleman demonstrating it's use.



The roof of the greenhouse is on and the end walls should be done in the next little while but for now the covered tunnel is a great place to get our warm weather crops off to a flying start. It provides a little protection from the sun because the plastic doesn't transmit all the UV rays, maybe only 90% but the warmth created by the tunnel is beneficial. We have planted some vine type (indeterminate) tomatoes, the same types we have at the house. A low acid yellow called Jubilee and some Early Girl. Now I always thought early girl was an indeterminate but when looking on the internet it says both vining and bush and my plants aren't marked either way. I'm thinking I will plant them and see for myself what these are, I'm hoping vine. We're growing Scotia tomatoes which are a hardy bush type as field tomatoes. We also planted 4 melons and 4 English cucumbers which may not sound like a lot but since each plant will make a dozen or more fruits then this seems like a reasonable number for our little greenhouse. We are going to grow them up strings or wires so the cucumbers should produce lovely straight fruit hanging down off their supports and I'll be using a foam rubber coated wire to attach the stems to their supports without damaging the stems. The plastic is held down by hay bales and yes, we're going to plant in those too once they're conditioned and cooled down from the composting process. We'll plant Scotia tomatoes and any leftover Early Girl and see how they do. I planted another couple of rows of potatoes and am hoping that we have a good yield. I know it's late in the season to be planting them so I planted Norland, a white fleshed red skinned early potato that matures in 60-70 days giving us an expected harvest date of Sept 1st. Well before our first frost. The biggest concern with the tomatoes, squashes, pumpkins and potatoes is late blight, a fungal disease that is responsible for causing the Irish Potato Famine. We now know it's preventable using copper sprays such as the time honoured Bordeaux Mix used originally on grapes and some other chemicals but they require frequent spraying as a preventative measure so many organic growers try to do the following to avoid loss to blight.

1. Use below foliage watering ie. drip hoses or buried water lines.
2. Grow blight resistant varieties. But do check an updated list because there were recently some changes in the fungus that causes blight and some resistant varieties are now not as resistant as they were previously. It changes from year to year but there is a list here (http://varieties.potato.org.uk/) that keeps it up to date.
3. Plant in an open and breezy location that allows the foliage to dry quickly after rain. The fungus can be blown in by the wind but will only start to spread on wet leaves or soil which is why farmers get nervous if there are 2 consecutive wet and warm days in the late summer or when humidity stays over 80%.
4. Buy good clean seed from a reputable grower to start with. Don't use any of your own seed if you've had blight as the spores can stay dormant on the seed potatoes and cause problems next year.
5. Pick off any infected leaves the first chance you get. Some organic growers will burn the potato tops to stop the spores traveling down into the soil and infecting the tubers but sometimes you will get lucky and catch it just in time to remove infected leaves and stop the spread.

The plastic on our greenhouse is currently weighted down by the hay bales I got to use for my bale garden. There's one truth about hay, that no matter if you move one bale or a thousand you will end up with itchy bits down your shirt. Why is that? I've got more hay to pick up this weekend along with another nuc of bees. We'll see if the weather stays ok and we can open our first hive but it's supposed to be rainy so I'll likely just let them be. I think we'll put our second hive in our veggie garden.

Anyways, enough about that, I have lots to do. Got a very late night and an early morning. Now have to make jam, bake for a friend who just had a baby, do laundry, clean the house, and go work in the garden after caring for the chickens. Busy Busy. No wonder I can't get my book finished...I'm too busy living it to write about it! I guess that's what winter is for.

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