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Dig

Dig

2023 Garden Update 2

  
By:  Dig  •  Gardening  •  last year  •  36 comments

2023 Garden Update 2

July 9, 2023

Well, it looks like this year's garden is shaping up to be a showcase of things that can go wrong. So far, anyway.

  • It was a dry spring, which is almost unheard of in my region.
  • A lot of things weren't growing properly in the beginning, and took forever to get going.
  • The corn came up a little spotty and has been growing unevenly.

And now... Bugocalypse 2023!

This was June 28th, and there were blister beetles all over the potatoes. The bastards! There must have been thousands of them. It was as if a big swarm had landed in the garden overnight.

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For reference, this is how they looked 5 days earlier, in the previous update.

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And this is what they looked like on the 28th, after I broke out the chemical weapons and went to war. They did not look like this the night before when I watered. It didn't take the vile pestilence very long at all to eat most of the leaves.

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Luckily, the Sevin dust I tried on them worked. I don't know what I would have done if it hadn't. Here's several of them running for their lives after the application. They were doing this all around the potatoes.

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But they didn't make it very far. Here are some that barely made it to the beets before going belly up, literally. There was also a tomato hornworm making a run for it. Must have been somewhere in the potatoes, too. It got squashed right after I took this.

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Here are several that I smashed with the butt end of a 2x2 as they were running. This kind of thing always makes me wonder how people handled stuff like this back in the day before insecticides, when many depended on what they grew for sustenance. It must have been a nightmare for them.

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While all of this was happening, a Zebra Swallowtail was trying to suck moisture out of the ground nearby, oblivious to the frantic warfare going on just a couple of rows over.

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Once the potato leaves were gone, these became obvious. They're potato fruits, if anyone hasn't seen them before. They look a lot like tomatoes, being in the same family, Solanaceae, along with peppers and eggplant. They're poisonous to eat, but you can collect the seeds in them for growing more potatoes if you want. You might have problems with sexual crosses, though. Pretty sure that's why growing clones from seed potatoes is generally the preferred method. That, and the fact that it's just so easy and reliable.

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And here we come forward to yesterday evening, July 8th.

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The left side.

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Here's how the potatoes look now. They're trying to regrow leaves and recover. Some of them are doing better than others. 

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Kohlrabi and beets. The kohlrabi isn't close to being ready yet, but the beets are.

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Romaine lettuce and beans. I need to hurry up and plant some more of the romaine, but I've been lazy about that. I guess I'm just not that into it. Honestly, I prefer iceberg lettuce, but of course I can't grow that in the heat.

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Here's some of the romaine cleaned for the fridge.

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The beans are starting to flower.

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And yet another bug problem. The squash bugs have been bad this year. Here they've killed the biggest zucchini I had at the time, just as it was starting to produce. This was from a few days ago. The plant is gone now. I pulled it.

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Here's what the little sapsucking demons look like. They are consistently my worst pest from year to year. Sevin doesn't kill them, so I have to spray the plants well to flood the base when I'm watering, and when the bugs run for higher ground I flick them off and turn squash bugs into squashed bugs. Unfortunately, it's not a foolproof method. They usually win in the end.

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Here's one on the romaine lettuce for some reason. Weird, because they don't tend to eat this stuff. Maybe he was just exploring, looking for more squash. His journey ended prematurely, I'm afraid.

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Here's the second of the first two zucchinis. Still alive for now.

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It's just now starting to produce.

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And here are two new ones, about a week-and-a-half old.

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Here's the cucumber, still growing slower than usual. It's finally starting to vine out and flower, but there are no fruits of any appreciable size yet.

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The blackberries.

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The few berries on them are starting to ripen.

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Okra in the foreground. Doing fine I suppose, but not flowering yet.

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The butternut squash. One of the two plants is under attack. Can you see the evidence?

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Yup. One of them is dying off. Squash bugs again. This is a bad sign because butternuts don't usually succumb to them. I don't think I've ever lost a butternut plant to squash bugs before, even when they're infested with them. This sucks.

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The other one is flowering and starting to set fruit. I hope I can keep it alive.

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Something took a bite out of this one. I have no idea what. It's not what squash bugs do, and turtles or rabbits shouldn't be able to get inside the fence. It's a mystery for now.

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Here's the other side of the garden.

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The tomatoes are looking good. So are the carrots, finally. They should almost be ready by now, but no.

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Tomatoes.

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Lower ones are starting to ripen.

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Cherry tomatoes.

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Also starting to ripen down below.

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The marigolds I planted between the tomatoes have come up. Flowers are easier to grow than vegetables, in my experience.

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Bell peppers.

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More bell peppers.

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The second russet potato planting is doing well. You can't really see it in this shot, but I've raked soil up on them now, giving them maybe 5 or 6 inches to grow in. I may rake more up on them in a few days, before the leaves get too big.

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Ready for a laugh? This is supposed to be the second planting of corn. What a joke. It came up well, but then it started disappearing. I can't be sure, but I suspect birds. Corn first emerges as a little green spike that might resemble a little green caterpillar to them, and I'm always seeing birds hopping around on the ground in the garden. I'm going to have to figure out some way to keep things off the corn when it's small next year. Floating row cover, maybe. I don't know if this batch is even going to be able to pollinate itself, what with all the gaps. I guess we'll find out.

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Fortunately, the first planting is doing much better. It's still somewhat uneven, but the shorter ones are catching up. Hopefully they'll all be silking out at roughly the same time.

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Here are the trellised cantaloupes, finally starting to vine out. Dead peas are still on the other trellises in the background. The deader and drier they are, the easier they are to clear away. I'll get to that soon, and I'll be planting something else in their place. No fall peas this year, so probably more beets and carrots. Definitely another cucumber.

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The cantaloupes are already setting fruit. See the little baby one in the middle of the image?

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Here's a couple of apples outside the garden.

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They've started to fall.

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Here are the watermelon plants in the separate side plot, still growing slower than they should be.

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After several tries I finally got some to come up on the right side. None of probably 15 seeds came up before, so I dug out a pack of last year's seeds and tried 4 in one place, along with 4 more of this year's seed in another. Every one of them came up this time. Every last one! I just don't get it. I'll thin them to 2 plants before long. Hopefully they'll have enough time to make melons before the sunlight starts to get weaker in the late summer and fall.

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Here's Buddy, doing great. His growth rate finally slowed down. He went from one to about three pounds in the first two-and-a-half weeks, but only gained another half in the next two. I was wondering if I was going to have a monster on my hands there for a while, lol.

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He's been exploring everywhere. Here he is in a partial-shade flower bed.

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There's a wren house in the tree above that flower bed. One brood has already come out of it this year, and the wrens are apparently trying for another, which is unusual in my yard. This one is watching Buddy on the ground below.

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Here's how much he grew in about a month.

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Here's July's full moon rising last week. My camera didn't do it justice. It looked huge to the naked eye.

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I zoomed in when it was a little higher, but still low enough to have that yellowish on-the-horizon color.

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Here are some beets I picked last night. If you think you hate beets but have never had fresh ones, you should try them. Fresh beets are astonishingly better than the canned ones you might get at the store, and they're super good for you.

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Here's how to cook them (one way at least, the way I do it). Just wash them and cut the tops off, leaving about an inch of the stems attached. Don't peel them or cut into any part of the beet itself, or the juice will bleed out while cooking. Cover them with water in a pot and cook at a low boil for an hour or so. Maybe longer for larger beets. The only goal is to soften them all the way through.

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As they cook they begin to look like an evil witches brew, with weird black stuff accumulating on the pot and any utensils placed in the water. It makes you wonder who ever thought these things might be good to eat in the first place, lol. But it's not a problem. It washes off.

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When you think they're done, scoop them out and place them somewhere to cool for a while.

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When cool, just peel, rinse, and cut them up. The skin comes off easily. Most of it just pulls off with your fingers. Eat them hot or cold. Try salt and butter on them when hot, or a little vinegar drizzled over them when cold. Add the cold ones to a salad if you like. It's good stuff, I'm telling you. :)

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That's all for now. See you next time.

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Dig
Professor Participates
1  author  Dig    last year

Hope everyone had a nice 4th.

Post shots of your own stuff if you want to.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Dig @1    last year

great report.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
2  Buzz of the Orient    last year

I don't know how you have time to garden considering the amount of time you spend photographing and posting your articles. 

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
2.1  author  Dig  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    last year

The photographing is easy. As you know, a person can take hundreds of shots in not very much time at all. Even though these posts are long, I'm still leaving stuff out.

The hardest part is editing the shots for size, doing a little cropping and zooming here and there, and then having to load them all one at a time. It's too bad we can't load several at once.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
2.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Dig @2.1    last year

Well, I'm happy you're able to look after your garden, post your updates and still have time to have done the quiz.

 
 
 
shona1
Professor Quiet
3  shona1    last year

Evening dig...wow you do such a great job with your garden and the photos that go with it...

It is a credit to you and I enjoy reading what you are doing..even if your seasons are back to front..🐨🐨

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
3.1  author  Dig  replied to  shona1 @3    last year

Thanks, Shona. It'll be spring for you before long. We're almost three weeks past the solstice, so you're at would be about mid-January for us in the northern hemisphere. Just a couple more months. :)

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
4  sandy-2021492    last year

I found the first blooms of the season on my cucumber plants last night.  Like yours, mine are coming on really slowly this year, I suppose due to our fairly chilly spring that delayed germination.  But I visited my parents this weekend, and they have more cukes and yellow squash than they can keep up with, so Mom loaded me up when I headed home.  

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
4.1  author  Dig  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4    last year

With all the flowers, I think I should have some cukes coming on before long, but yeah, it's been slow. Lucky you, with the haul from your parents, lol. Do they have any problems with squash bugs that you know of?

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
4.1.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Dig @4.1    last year

They haven't mentioned squash bugs, and I didn't see any while we were picking them. 

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
4.1.2  author  Dig  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.1    last year

That's great. It would be like paradise for me if I could grow squash without squash bugs.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Dig @4.1.2    last year

are there any birds local to the region that eat those bugs?

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
4.1.4  author  Dig  replied to  devangelical @4.1.3    last year

Yeah, but they have to see them first, and squash bugs spend most of their time under the cover of the plant.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
5  Ender    last year

Fighting the good fight. I would have freaked out being invaded. Looks like you mostly won the battle.

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
5.1  author  Dig  replied to  Ender @5    last year

Yeah, those blister beetles are either gone or dead. I haven't seen any since. Luckily, the Sevin dust worked on them. Lots of other bugs are practically immune to it after being used by so many gardeners for decades.

 
 
 
bccrane
Freshman Silent
6  bccrane    9 months ago

A couple nights ago, we just had our first frost.  The damage was minimal since everything is already done.

I had tried something different this year by planting through tarps. This helped at the beginning as we had a drought and the tarps kept the water close to the surface and the plants took off, but as the drought kept up I started to worry about the tarps drying the ground out as the subsurface moisture subsided.  I was just to start watering the garden when we had a heavy rain, so we cut holes in all the low areas of the tarps and then it didn't stop raining and the tarps metered the water so the garden didn't turn to mud.  We had a bumper crop, string beans got ahead of me but was able to store away quite a few, corn out did itself, cabbage all huge and didn't split, too many zucchini, too may watermelons and cantaloupe, tomatoes beyond ability to harvest them all, the only problem crop was the peppers they barely grew and had just a few fruits.  The other thing that I noticed was the lack of bad insects, there were no cabbage worms, no tomato worms, neither was there any bean beetles or squash beetles.

Now will be the problem, I need to remove all the plants and roll up the tarps, then spread all the plants back out on the garden and work them in.

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
6.1  author  Dig  replied to  bccrane @6    9 months ago

Really glad to hear you did so well this year. All the problems you didn't have came my way. I had a horrible year. I even had an early frost in the first week of October, not that it mattered because nothing much was still growing.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7  Buzz of the Orient    9 months ago

While I'm preparing and scoring quizzes my wife is out at her mini-farm that is within walking distance near the mountains growing many kinds of vegetables making it almost totally unnecessary for us to shop for them at the market.  She grew up on a farm and sure as hell knows her stuff.  Here is just a sample of what she has produced.  The computer mouse is there for size comparison.

800

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
7.1  author  Dig  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7    9 months ago

Looks like a couple different kinds of winter squash. You can make pumpkin pies.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Dig @7.1    9 months ago

Never did like pumpkin pie, but I don't mind those squash cooked. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
8  Kavika     9 months ago

Great photos and war story General Greenthumb. 

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
9  sandy-2021492    9 months ago

Our part of Virginia spent most of the summer and early fall under a drought.  Old timers here said it was the driest they'd ever seen it.  Towns were under water use restrictions because the river was very low, and I hear that about 60 private wells went dry.  So a lot of gardens didn't do well unless they were watered, and I was afraid to ask too much of my well, so I didn't water much.  My cucumber plants died without ever producing, even though they had lots of blooms on them.  So I basically watered just enough to keep the strawberry plants alive so they could come back next spring. 

So, lots of work gardening this year, to produce a few salads' worth of lettuce and spinach, and some strawberries.  Hmmph.

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
9.1  author  Dig  replied to  sandy-2021492 @9    9 months ago

I hear you. My effort felt wasted this year, too.

 
 
 
charger 383
Professor Silent
9.2  charger 383  replied to  sandy-2021492 @9    9 months ago

The drought hurt but got a little recovery after rains finally came.  Had 2 tomatoes with supper not best  but still a treat

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
9.2.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  charger 383 @9.2    9 months ago

I've heard a few people say they had a bumper crop of tomatoes.  My garden was a bust, but my yard greened up really fast once we got some rain.  A week earlier, the dog raised a dust trail when he ran across what should have been grass.

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
10  author  Dig    9 months ago

Update - October 15th

Hey guys, sorry I didn't continue posting updates, but everything went to hell a couple of weeks after this one, and it sucked the motivation right out of me. I actually threw in the towel in late July and called it a year. 

This was the worst garden year I can remember. Couldn't get cucumbers to grow, couldn't keep zucchini or butternuts alive (because of squash bugs), got zero cantaloupes and only one decent (but small) watermelon. The carrots grew but were small and stunted, and the kohlrabi went bad in the heat. 

It was downright depressing. I don't know if I've ever said to hell with it before summer was even over, but I did this year.

I let weeds and grass grow in from late July onwards to let some natural organic matter accumulate, hoping for a bit of a 'fallow' effect for next year. I also raked up a bunch of cut grass from the yard and piled it in there to compost.

I did get some potatoes, corn, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, okra, beets, and stunted carrots, so I guess it wasn't all bad, but hopefully next year will be normal again.

Here's a funny story...after having such a hard time getting things to grow this year, I let some red romaine go to seed, and when I finally cleared it away a bunch of seeds must have fallen out, and they took root all by themselves on hard, unworked soil. No caring for them, not even watered. Can you believe that crap? There's probably a dozen of them still growing up there right now, just mocking me. Apparently, the way to grow lettuce is to just toss seeds out on hard ground and forget about them, lol.

Anyway, I'm already looking forward to next year and hoping for better results.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
10.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Dig @10    9 months ago
Here's a funny story...after having such a hard time getting things to grow this year, I let some red romaine go to seed, and when I finally cleared it away a bunch of seeds must have fallen out, and they took root all by themselves on hard, unworked soil. No caring for them, not even watered. Can you believe that crap? There's probably a dozen of them still growing up there right now, just mocking me.

That ain't right.

I treat my lettuce as leaf lettuce and rarely pick the whole head, until it goes to seed, which is when I pull it up and toss it on the compost pile.  I've never had it seed that way before.  But apparently, I missed some late plants, and they're about 2 or 2.5 feet tall now.  I'll let them go and see what comes up next spring, just for fun.

Next year, I'm thinking of seeing if I can train a few strawberry runners to grow into the neighboring raised beds, and just raise strawberries and forget the rest.  They're perennials, so it would be a lot less work, and they're my favorite of the stuff I grow, anyway.

 
 
 
Dig
Professor Participates
10.1.1  author  Dig  replied to  sandy-2021492 @10.1    9 months ago
just raise strawberries and forget the rest

Won't you miss cucumbers? Both of us seem to have had problems with them this year, but surely that won't last.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
10.1.2  sandy-2021492  replied to  Dig @10.1.1    9 months ago

I will.  I have 3 raised beds.  Maybe one can be for cucumbers, and the other 2 for strawberries.  I have until April or May to think about it.

 
 
 
bccrane
Freshman Silent
10.2  bccrane  replied to  Dig @10    9 months ago
I let some red romaine go to seed, and when I finally cleared it away a bunch of seeds must have fallen out, and they took root all by themselves on hard, unworked soil. No caring for them, not even watered. Can you believe that crap? There's probably a dozen of them still growing up there right now, just mocking me. Apparently, the way to grow lettuce is to just toss seeds out on hard ground and forget about them, lol.

Funny you should mention that, last year my radishes bolted and went to seed, so I let them go, I did my early spring tilling and then let the garden set for a month to bring on the weeds and then work them in as more green manure before I plant in late May.  The radishes sprouted and I had my best crop of them ever even though the lack of spring rains.  Next year I'm thinking of doing the early tilling and then taking radish seeds and broadcasting them over the garden not for just the crop but also as something else to work in.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Expert
10.3  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Dig @10    9 months ago

I feel ya pain. Last year I had deer finish off a beautiful pear tree. First, the fruit and then the whole young tree. Insects are bound to cause a lot of trouble in areas where they were never a problem before. 

That being said, your Buddy is very cute. I had a Bud. E who was a red tabby. They are the best! 

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
10.3.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @10.3    9 months ago

My pear tree barely produced this year, but what pears did show up didn't last long.  Deer ate every one.

They also ate the blossoms from my phlox almost as soon as they opened up.  And that was with deer repellent sprinkled all around my flower bed, and a dog on the alert who barked every time he knew they were there.  Phlox petals must be quite tasty.

 
 
 
bccrane
Freshman Silent
10.3.2  bccrane  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @10.3    9 months ago

We had so many apples that some of the limbs couldn't handle the weight and broke, even though I'll miss the honey, the other insects apparently made up the difference from the lack of honey bees until mid July when they finally brought them back to our area.

I'm now thinking that we'll bring in our cider mill and press, which we haven't used in thirty some odd years, rebuild it and improve on it and see if we can't bring one of our family traditions back.  Of course its too late for this year.

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
10.3.3  evilone  replied to  bccrane @10.3.2    9 months ago
We had so many apples that some of the limbs couldn't handle the weight and broke,

We didn't lose any limbs, but the amount of apples was insane this year. We didn't have the wasp problem we had last year either.

 
 
 
charger 383
Professor Silent
11  charger 383    9 months ago

Local paper said vineyards report that grape quality is very good but yield is down, we should have some good local wine when it is ready

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
11.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  charger 383 @11    9 months ago

Grapes like a dry late summer, so they don't mildew.

Spotted lanternflies are going to be messing with the yield over the next few years, I'm afrad.