Monday, June 24, 2013

War on Aphids by Trudy Hodges

Aphids galore!
I grow my plants in a greenhouse, the perfect hot, moist, environment for aphids. My population stayed small and under control until I blinked and then it exploded. It seemed that over night my plants were overcome and I was behind. My lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens were the hardest hit, followed by the potatoes and squash leaves.
Not wanting to put chemicals on the food I plan to ingest, I brought in bionatural, beneficial predators - ladybugs. That evening and the following morning I witnessed a decrease in the aphid population, as well as a decrease in the ladybug population. I have plenty of aphids to feed them, but they seem to be disappearing or dying. The plant under growth holds an abundance of dead predators, further exploration fails to reveal any young larva stage ladybugs. The aphids are back in full force.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why is my recently planted shrub look so dry? I am watering it. by Tina Ligon

The slightly less stressed lilac
I just got a call from my neighbor asking if I could please look at her lilac that she had planted about 3 weeks ago. "It is just not looking like it is going to make it". I happened to be between tasks so I went right over. As I was getting out of the car I started to laugh and asked if I needed to get an emergency light for my car for this type of call as she was standing there waiting next to the shrub.

Here is what I saw and the history that I got. The small lilac is about 1 1/2 feet tall and fully leafed out. The leaves were folding and had a dry appearance all over.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tips for planting on a slope by Irene Shonle

We live in the mountains.  Almost by definition, that means that where we are trying to grow things involves some sort of slope.   Some of them are gentle, others are steeper.  This particular post will discuss planting on a gentle slope (see the article on the Mountain Gardening website on dealing with steeper slopes and planting retaining walls).

If you are planting on even a gentle slope, it is a good idea to build a shallow shelf or basin to hold water.  Otherwise, most of the water goes rushing down the slope and won't penetrate to the roots.

Here's a picture of what I mean:
It's a bit hard to get a good picture here, but the slope goes down towards the right.  The earth shelf or basin built up on the downhill side keeps the water and allows it to soak in.  Success rates are much higher this way!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Ode to Floating Row Covers by Irene Shonle

I think I have become something of a proselytizer for floating row covers up here in the mountains.


1.  You can plant earlier -- floating row covers provide anywhere from 3 to 8 degrees of frost protection, depending on the style (frost "blankets" obviously providing more protection than the thinnest "summer insect covers").

2.  They keep off insects.  Your arugula will be tender and free of flea-beetle damage if you keep it covered from seed.   Same goes for aphids (unless you transplant them into your garden with your seedlings)

3.  They keep bunnies, deer, and chipmunks out.  No more buffet lunch for these critters!  And if you protect your plants with a 1/4" wire mesh beneath the beds to keep out burrowing animals such as pocket gophers and voles, you're in tall cotton.  Or tall lettuce.  Or whatever.  It's nice to see all of my seedlings growing where I planted them, rather than going out to survey the damage each morning.  Makes for a much more peaceful existence!
My new garden with mesh below and floating row cover above -- I'm not battling anything!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Things You Discover While Gardening.... by Irene Shonle

As I was working in our demonstration garden a couple of afternoons ago, I admired the lacy blue-green foliage and abundant yellow flowers of the golden smoke, or Corydalis aurea that had seeded its way around the garden.  It is a native pioneer plant, readily colonizing disturbed, open soils.  Given how the pocket gophers routinely take out parts of the garden every year, I am grateful for its willingness to fill in and cover that bare ground.   It is pretty short lived, and can start to look ratty in the garden later in the season, but while it is at its prime, like it is right now, I let bloom merrily away.
Golden smoke or Corydalis aurea

This is all probably familiar to many people who grow in the mountains.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Winter annual weeds - by Irene Shonle

I meant to get this post out earlier, but I just didn't have time!
Many winter annual weeds have already come up:  cheatgrass, alyssum, field pennycress, and more. The key to controlling winter annual (and summer annual weeds a little bit later) is to control them before they go to seed.   The trick is to get all of the seeds that germinate, and to not let any go to seed.   New crops may come up from the seeds that are in the soil; get them while they're little, too.  A few years of persistence, and you will find dramatically fewer weeds.  But persistence is the key!

In a perfect world, you'd just hoe them all under when they look like this:
Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) just germinating -- so easy to hoe at this stage