nltaff
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New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Started early during those deceptive March halcyon spring days this year (last year there was no spring in the NE as freezing winter hung on and jumped right into summer in early May). Only to be thwarted by a snowstorm that dropped about 10" of heavy wet snow.
416SBgarden3.JPG
It was covered, but I used pex as arches and the weight made the tubing buckle and crimp. Now it is back in the "conditioning" process, and I've installed sturdier PVC arches. I might be able to plant out mid-May rather than waiting til the end of May with that cover.
416newarch.JPG


I planted 10 new Purple Passion asparagus plants down this middle trough to add to last years planting of Jersey Knight at the borders of this 8' x 17' rectangular bed.
416newPPaspar.JPG
As the strawberry pyramid was overtaken with crabgrass and bindweed, I decided to move it.
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Here's the new strawberry bed, and I hope it stays weed-free with a little less effort this year. Still needs some mulch, but that's in the works.
416newberries2.JPG
Excited about this season, mainly because I can protect the plants now. Heck, 2-3 years ago we had not just frost, but a hard freeze on May 30 and 31!

Last year, I planted San Marzano, Black Krim, Rutgers, Super Tasty, and Sungold tomatoes. I liked the San Marzano the best, and Rutgers was ok, but the Black Krim was just too mushy-the texture was very sloppy. They tasted fine, but they didn't keep. The Sungold lived up to the flavor, but they, too, became too soft too fast (and we're not so fond of home grown small ones because for some reason, the skin is soooo tough!).

This year, tomatoes waiting in my greenhouse are: Glacier, Sweet Seedless, Super Sauce, Fresh Salsa, Big Daddy, Supersteak, and Steak Sandwich (as a matter of fact, a 4' branching Steak Sandwich plant is taking up about 1/4 of my greenhouse and actually has golf-baseball sized tomatoes on it-another pic for another time)! Peppers: Long Tall Sally, Great Stuff, Golden Giant II, and Candy Apple.

Anyone know which tomatoes do best when nights get chilly during most of the growing season?

Mr green
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Gardeners Delight has worked very well for me here in chilly Sweden also a variety called Florida Petit (very small dwarfbush). I have the same experience with Black Krim as you and another heirloom Purple Calabash was just the same.

If you want tomatoes that store for a long time look up Piennolo tomatoes they have thick skin and is grown for this reason.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished - Lao Tzu

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Thanks, Mr. Green. I'll note those for when I next go seed-hunting. I've discovered several new (to me) seed companies on line this year. Locally, spring plant suppliers seem to only sell a few "tried and true" varieties, same with packet seeds found in local stores.

Mr green
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Atleast the Gardeners Delight should be fairly easy to come by, atleast here in Europe its a popular tomato for homegrowers. It has been given the title worlds best tasting tomato, personally i think that its an overstatement but it is sure very good.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished - Lao Tzu

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Searched for Gardener's Delight and found it sold out on a couple of sites (good omen, right?). However I did find some interesting sounding determinant tomatoes. Chose 5 to try next winter, and I may start the shortest season one for this summer as the seeds are arriving tomorrow: Amelia, Carolina Gold, Container's Choice Red, Marglobe Select, and Martino's Roma. All my tomatoes are ready to be hardened off, if only the weather would cooperate. Meanwhile, I spent the weekend making a plant dolly to help me move plants in and out of the barn. It is so low to the ground, I can pull it beside my car when the plants need afternoon shade.
plantdolly1.JPG
upside down

plantdolly2.JPG
right side up

Bronze Cannas are trying to get a jump-start on the orange toboggan in background, and an ornamental pear just broke dormancy in the growbag. :D I'm too excited to sleep!!

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Here's the finished little straw-bale house. Cut off the excess plastic on the bottom and installed the 3 new, stiffer PVC arches. Cut plastic up sides of the corners and made sure that plastic overlaps twice at those corners. They are fastened with both industrial Velcro and the center ties (I'm using poly baling twine). This way, all four sides can be rolled up during the day, rolled down and fastened at night. Although the ties at corners seem to keep the plastic down, I've used long bungee cords to surround the entire garden at the level of the bales (in case of high winds).
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Lots of condensation on the inside and the bales are staying about 10-15 degrees warmer than air temp.
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Very nearly ready now...The bales have decomposed to the point that a little hole can be dug in the top. The soaker hose is pinned down for watering and the 15 day forecast looks promising...dare I risk it?
imprSBgar3.JPG
I'm thinking that the 80-odd day 'steaks will go in here, while the shorter-season varieties can be planted later, in the containers I use around the property and on the deck.
416newtrough2.JPG
I use a few of these type troughs, large pots, and grow bags placed on rolling trays.

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Haven't been back here in a while due to the frustrating cold overnights. This last weekend really stretched my patience! This is what it looked like all afternoon yesterday:
midMaysnow.JPG
Yes, that's snow. On-off flurries all afternoon! And the pings:
midMayalert.JPG
This past week, I had most of my plants out of the greenhouse and hardened off. So, they had to be protected in the barn.
midMayfreeze1.JPG
Spent most of the day Saturday grouping them and aiming the lights. These are mostly the veggies, with another 25-30 pots of flowers on sills and workbenches along the south windows.
And of course, hauled in the wood to keep them warm:
woodMay.JPG
Hopefully, soon. I'll bet others are just as frustrated this spring! I think last year I already had our little pool up and filled by this time.

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applestar
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

grouping them and aiming the lights
^^^^^
THIS
Image

At least you have place to put them. Some of mine are sitting in the dark for the day, and not sure if feasible or worthwhile to take them out at noon when it's warm enough...when I have to being them back in again for the night. :roll:

Good luck and keep posting updates. I enjoy reading what everybody else is doing. :D
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

nitaff: I am so sorry you are going through this. I get uncooperative weather and all, but jeez, it sure seems too late for the weather to be mickey mousing around with snow! I grew up in New England and maybe its selective memories, but I sure don't remember it being that cold that late in the season. I'm sending you warm thoughts. You so deserve it for all the work you've put in. And if you feel like it, I'd love to hear more about how the straw bale system works for growing vegies. It seems that I've gotten to the point where I want to pull up the lawn, take out the driveway, grow on the roof...

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

KG, Send those thoughts to Applestar too. Not so far away from me in NJ, so I'll bet the same thing is happening there. Something similar happened about 3 or so years ago with a hard freeze happening on May 29-31. This time though, its been weeks of 70s during the day and 20s overnight (with a few 'cold' 40-50s days thrown in). I understand your pain, applestar, that's why I put all the plants I could in/on rolling devices. The dolly I made will roll through a garage door, the wagon is black plastic (kiss of death in the sun) so I threw an old white sheet over it to keep it cool. The rolling plastic container (gray or silver color) however, WOULD fit through a standard doorway and has the added convenience of keeping all the 4x4" pots upright if filled to capacity! I have good news, though, the predictions are for high 40s to low 50s overnight all the way til the holiday starting this Friday. I'm going to start planting in my little straw bale "house" tomorrow. Thanks for the good wishes:)

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Oh, forgot the worst part. When it rains, it rarely freezes overnight due to the cloud cover, but on dry days when the whole place needs water desperately, all the hoses, connectors, fittings and nozzles have to be taken apart. Plastic parts need to be brought in. I left one stray nozzle/wand out last week, unattached to anything and the next time I went to use it, I was sprayed by water-it had cracked it's head!

Oh, and KitchenGardener, your driveway would be a great place to try the SBG! I saw many pics of people doing just that in my research of them. Will post more about the process soon.

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applestar
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Thanks @nltaff -- I'm gearing up to plant some stuff today. It's getting so late that the "seedlings" have to be either planted in the ground or uppotted... And I really don't want to uppot the biggest. It's time for them to "tough it out" :twisted:
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nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

I get it, Applestar, as I finally bit the bullet today. With predictions of overnight lows higher than 44 for the next week or so, I decided to start. Week after that, predictions are in 50s (but I've got tons of sheets, clamps, and clothespins at the ready!) I have multiples of varieties, so I won't have lost too much if things go pear-shaped. Anyway, the great straw bale experiment is about to begin!

For Kitchengardener, I took pictures and thought about everything I did to get the potted tomatoes in there. First, I was worried about how to "get into" these bales. I know that tomato plant roots don't like to be disturbed, and some of my plants were in 2qt. pots. But I started digging (not really digging, but clawing with an old tool of my dad's-3 pronged).

Interestingly, the straw gave way easily, and I was able to carve out holes that fit the transplanted root balls so I shoved them in and covered with some of the extracted, brown, decomposing straw. I promise, I will explain how to start sometime soon. I saw this in January, and decided I'd give it a try. So far, so good, but we'll see. Several things might have gone wrong along the way, so I don't want to sing its praises too soon.
firsttomSBG.JPG
Tool I used to scrape out decomposing straw:
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The "holes" were easy to scrape out and sculpt to the size/depth needed so the rootballs just dropped in. I made them deeper by about an inch or two (usually in containers, I plant 4-6" deep from soil line in little pots, but I'm beginning to rethink that tip).
That was my big worry, how to get those rootballs into those bales-no problem. Now it is almost sunset and I need to get those walls down and tied, just in case of colder than predicted lows.

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

At 4:30am, the temperature was 45 degrees. At sunrise, I checked on all the transplants and they look fine. Rain is predicted for today and tomorrow, so I'm sure we'll be ok. And the bonus-I've cheated the "traditional" plant out date for here by a week and a half! There were 4 'steaks in the straw bale house, and 3 shorter season tomatoes under the gazebo on our deck and all of them look happy this morning.
How did your babies fare, Applestar? :D

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Kitchengardener, I was thinking that if you wanted to try this, it really isn't too late for this season. In 12 days, you can plant in it. So the first step is to buy a bale of straw and place it on a piece of landscape cloth. The binding should be on the SIDES, the cut ends of straw should be UP, the folded ends of straw should be DOWN, on the bottom.
Water the bale (2 gallons minimum) every day.
Beginning with day 1, sprinkle high nitrogen fertilizer (N=12+) half cup over the bale every OTHER day for 6 days.
The bale will begin to "cook" or decompose like a compost pile. It will grow some mold and fungus, but as the process goes on, these will disappear.
After you've watered/alt day fertilized for 6 days, reduce fertilizer to 1/4 cup per bale for 3 straight days in a row (7,8,9).
Day 10, water, day 11, apply one cup of balanced fertilizer sprinkled over bale and water. Day 12, water, and by the next day you should be able to plant.

I used "starter" fertilizer 18-24-6 (NO herbicide!) that I found at the farm store. Supposedly, it was a waste of the PK content, but other alternatives would have attracted fox, raccoons, skunks, etc. (I can't even plant bulbs with bone meal without fencing off the area for a week or so).
Same with the balanced- I used 12-12-12 intended for lawns. Again, just be sure there's NO herbicide.
For fertilizing the planted tomatoes, I will apply tomatotone as I usually do in the ground or in pots through the season. Can't use the fish emulsion, as it attracts critters as well.
I did notice there's a short thread on here from 2008 about the straw bales. I will come back and illuminate the pros and cons that I thought about when I decided to try it anyway. I'm interested to find out how I feel about it at the end of the season. :)

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

The straw bale idea belongs to Joel Karsten, who published a book detailing all in 2015. Also, there are several youtube videos people have done showing the conditioning process.

After reading the short 2008 thread here, I can understand why the commenters decided that it was all too much bother. Obviously, they can stand on a shovel and have it sink gently into the earth. I grew up only 30 miles north of here, and what a difference those miles make in the soil. We moved here in 2001, and this is my soil:
oursoil2.JPG
I have a very narrow, 4" shovel and a very heavy 5' digging rod (used by railroad workers to move heavy rail) to break ground here. If I buy a gallon perennial to plant, it takes about half an hour to dig the hole and I discard a 5 gallon bucket of rocks that came out of the hole. The soil is fertile and (obviously) well-draining, but not at all yielding. The nice asparagus bed shown above was 4 years in the making. First, I dug out all the grass, pulled out the rocks and tilled it with a tiller. Meanwhile, grew tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and basil in pots on our huge deck. At the end of each season, I would dump the soil from the containers into the asparagus bed. Another couple of years later, we again, extracted rocks and tilled.

So, for me, starting the straw bale garden was a lot easier than digging an 8' x 12' extension to my garden. The advantages were clear:
-landscape cloth and weight to kill the grass over the area
-a garden to plant this year
-a pile of composted straw at the end of the year that can be tilled into the soil

I can understand why for some, straw bales seem like more bother than they're worth. But for me, it seemed like a very easy no-brainer!

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

So in one week, we've gone from 70/20s to 90/60s for daytime/overnight temps. Many of my asparagus spears were frozen week before last. The straw bale garden is planted and most of the rest of the tomato, pepper, beet crops are scattered around in rolling pots (veg on wheels).
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Had to use lots of umbrellas in the planting process due to the heat. Also, we've had no rain (even tho the weather maps show globs of green passing over. I completely clogged the whole house water filter, so everything is on rations now.
patioveg.JPG

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KitchenGardener
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Amazing what a difference a week makes! Thank you for the detailed recipe for cooking the straw bales. I love the idea for my driveway, but I'll have to figure out where I get the straw bales and such. In the meantime, my backyard garden is plugging along. Anyway, so happy that you are doing so well and have found such an excellent work around for having such difficult soil.

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Thanks for the good thoughts! As I use my various "tools", I have to laugh because they probably aren't normally found at your typical garden center. I have a full size pickax, a reciprocating saw with a pruner blade attached for edging and for splitting perennials, and of course, the five foot digging bar. I should take some pictures of my tools. The array would simply prove that if there's a will, there's always a way.
Some of the pictures of the bales in Karsten's book are pretty interesting, as the bales can actually be stacked and arranged. Also, they can be planted on the sides. I don't normally bother with marigolds and such, but I'm toying with planting some scented geraniums and marigolds on the sides of these. I'll wait til the holiday is over and see what's left on the plant tables at my favorite farm stand. Happy planting!

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Well! Everybody's been so busy these past few weeks. With most of the veggies in pots or in the SBG, we've concentrated on tidying up the place. Finally have some blossoms on some of the plants and got so busy emptying the greenhouse that I forgot to start some squash. Threw a few seeds in a couple small pots and put them in the increasingly hot greenhouse. They popped right up!
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SBG tomatoes and peppers seem happy.
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First pepper blossom.
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Trying one squash in the side of a bale.
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Strawberries are fenced off from critters, as they are starting to get ripe.
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The bagged greenhouse beets are growing next to the beet seedlings.
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The first batch of basil is in 4" pots. They'll have to come inside for the next 3 nights as overnight low 40s are predicted.
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Momma, the buff colored kitty, did NOT wait for the catnip to be planted in the ground!

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applestar
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Hahaha loved the last photo! Caught in the act! :lol:

Everything looks great! That squash in the side is a fun idea 8)
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nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Hi Applestar, Been following your '16 progress pictures and I love the look of your spiral. I'm also jealous of all the bounty you keep harvesting, as you are definitely much warmer where you are (not so far from CNY). Picked my first strawberry yesterday, and had a great salad with lettuce, beet greens, last of the greenhouse tomatoes and a few basil leaves. I thought I posted a pic of the asparagus bed with its new gift of bush beans, but I guess I was too embarrassed about the weeds. Got that weeded out yesterday after planting a newly arrived bare-root hedge. I don't get too creative abut the veggies, but I do have some creative landscape experiments. Will have to go over to that forum with some pics. So far, I'd do this straw bale thing again. Had to cover up last night as lows predicted in low 40s. Woke up at 3am (not unusual) but first thought was to go fetch the basil off the deck (it was covered with 2 layer of old bedsheet). Safely inside now! Is it really June? Doesn't feel like it.

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Finally! After a week of 60s days with 15-20mph winds and 40s or lower nights, this second stint of early spring weather has broken. Today, it is 84 (40, again, at 5am), but the lows for a good week and a half to come are predicted to be 55 or better! My basil will finally be happy. Took the cover completely off the SBG, and the tomatoes and peppers are finally getting the full strength of the sun. That strawberry bed will be happier as well, since it has been living in the shade of that cover for mornings, anyway. Everything wanted water as it heated up today, and will probably want water again, first thing in the morning. Will update pictures tomorrow.

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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

OK, so I didn't get back on the 16th. Since then, we have had no real rain worth talking about and I've employed every hose line timer I own trying to keep it all watered! Suddenly yesterday I grabbed my phone and took a bunch of pictures. Here's the July 1 SBG.
July1SBG.JPG
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So, that steak tomato I grew in the greenhouse-when I picked the last of them and cut all the branches I felt bad that I was tossing a pretty healthy plant. I took one of the branches and stuck it in a jug of water. It quickly shot out a mass of roots and this (above) was the first tomato to go into the SBG. The yellowed leaves on the bottom are old growth, but the new growth on top seems green and healthy. Not so much for the peppers.
SBpepper1.JPG
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Compared to the potted peppers:
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The tomatoes have done well in the SBG and seem to be progressing nicely; however, the peppers seem to be taking forever to grow. Just flowered in the last couple of days and still the plants don't seem large enough to support the fruit. Since the potted ones are doing so well, I can only conclude that the overnight temps out in the straw are keeping the peppers from taking off. Since mid-month, the lows have all been mid 50s with the odd 40s thrown in here and there.

The blueberries are coming back from their deer trauma winter before last. The browse, coupled with the fact that they haven't had a good prune for years really took a toll on them. We cut back a little this year and will do so again and hopefully, they will begin producing the incredible volume they originally gave us.
July1blueberries.JPG
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The good thing about drought is that if you don't water the lawn (ha, in name only), you don't have to mow the weeds as often. Happy growing!

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applestar
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

You've been taking good care of them -- Everything is looking great despite the temp issues!

I've had my own set of problems in the garden and much of the summer stuff are delayed, but there's always something to harvest. :wink:

I can see from looking at your blueberries that my Berry bushes are definitely suffering from insufficient sunlight and nutrient loss since my neighbor's white pines have grown so big and are grieving WAY over our side of the fence. I'm going to have to bite the bullet and consider relocating them, I think. Do you net yours against the birds? Pesky catbirds here are a constant threat and annoyance.
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nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Thanks, Applestar! I've not put up net while the berries are ripening; however, the plastic posts screwed onto the wooden fence posts are to support netting I put up last winter to keep the deer out. Surprisingly, we've had those bushes for about 10-15 years, and the birds have, for the most part, left the berries alone. We lose a few berries to bugs and occasionally, I see bird damage, but until the '14-'15 winter, they've enjoyed an unbothered existence (including needed pruning). I've always just hated to prune (anything), but I'm beginning to get it-healthier for most plants.

I did put a net over the strawberries, once they were established, because I also had a catbird eyeing the developing berries. In the end, we had one harvest, about a quart and a half or so, and left the fence down one night. Someone cleared out the bed overnight, so I recovered it and the everbearers are now recouping. I need to crawl in there, weed, and fertilize. :D

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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Started 6 artichoke seeds last January. Four survived to be potted up (deep 4"x4") and they spent their 6-8 week "winter" in our porch refrigerator (at a consistent 34 degrees). The four plants were placed outside in the ground on or near Memorial Day. They aren't stemming up very fast, and the smallest one already produced a small, 1-2" bud. We actually ate that one bud, and the plant is still growing. In reading about artichokes, it is stated that they are heavy feeders so I first fed them miracle grow bloom booster (15-30-15). On Thursday, I decided to side dress with blood meal. I hand water these 4 plants daily, so Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, they were fine. Then, yesterday, when I went to water, I discovered that the largest plant was dug out on one side (nearly 6" of surrounding soil gone! I really hate that I can't use blood meal and bone meal around here without some critter coming along and digging in it. I even lost a Jobe's tree stake earlier this spring! :evil:
Here's the largest plant:
artichoke1.JPG
and here's the same plant, roots revealed:
artichokedugup.JPG
artichokedugup.JPG (107.31 KiB) Viewed 1261 times
At 4:30 yesterday, it was 49 degrees. By 10:30, it was 90 degrees. After watering everything thoroughly, this is the way to spend the holiday!
Dolphieandfountain.JPG
Hope everyone had a happy 4th!

nltaff
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Wow, the time just really flies. The days are too short, with so much to do. The SBG has been crying for me to tidy it up for more than a couple of weeks now.
SBG7112.JPG
Took about an hour, but now it is somewhat better.
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So frustrating, I'd just finished mowing the east lawn (that's where the SBG is) and was moving on when the drive belt on the lawn mower broke (especially frustrating because lawn mower and tractor both went in for maintenance in April). So we replaced the belt (quite an ordeal) and ran it for about a half hour and the belt slipped off again! We are thinking the belt we bought might not have been the right size-they can be slipped in and out of those sleeves by customers, perhaps switched to lower the cost? Anyway, "Cubby" was promptly loaded on the trailer and carted off to a different repair shop.

Finally got rain last week on Thursday and Friday. Five inches accumulated in that little bucket, but it didn't do as much good as I'd hoped. It's been so dry for so long.
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Had some warmer nights last week (in the 60s). Those artichokes are beginning to grow stems and chokes! I'll definitely get more posts in the ground around them so they can be covered in Sept. for optimum longevity.
3rdartichoke711.JPG
2ndartichoke711.JPG

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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Beautiful! You are in zone 5 and you can grow artichokes!? Do you bring them in for the winter? I used to be in zone 6 and never thought I could grow them. One of the things that I am looking forward to trying now that I am in zone 7.
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nltaff
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Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:02 pm
Location: Central NY (rural) Zone 5

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Hi RG, I decided to try. Last night's dinner (two grocery store chokes) reminded me why. I planted seeds in January and after I transplanted them and let the plants get established I put them in my porch refrigerator consistently maintained at 34 degrees. This is Imperial Star, but High Mowing Organic Seeds has a shorter vernalization variety, Tavor, that I might try next year. Also, Aran is another variety. I got directions online: growingwithplants.com/2013/01/mastering-artichokes-from-seed.html I do not plan to bring them inside, but I figure I've got nothing to lose if I cover them heavily and see what happens in spring.

nltaff
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Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:02 pm
Location: Central NY (rural) Zone 5

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

So now that I KNOW the artichokes are going to thrive, I decided to get after the encroaching weeds.
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I got after them early yesterday morning-goldenrod, ragweed, dock, aster, and lots of sheep sorrel! And lots of rocks. I'll post the cleaned up pictures later. (and fix the sideways picture later, too). Now fixed.

Picked up the lawnmower and got lost for a strangely long time at a nursery :oops: ! Wanted to buy some mushroom compost, (thanks for the tip, Lindsey) but they didn't have any so I bought "(something) Gold" which is horse manure composted for 7 years. Looking for organic nitrogen for these babies that won't attract every fox, raccoon, skunk or coy-dog within two counties.
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They sure took their time getting started.
Last edited by nltaff on Thu Jul 14, 2016 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Wow! Now that's the way to weed! :)

Don't worry about the sideways pic. It just does that sometimes. If people click on the picture to see it better, it will right itself.

But sure, let us see how great it looked all cleaned up! :)
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

nltaff
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Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:02 pm
Location: Central NY (rural) Zone 5

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Not so great yet. That is the top of a short, steep border that I wish was covered with some kind of attractive, weed choking ground cover (remains from the grading for the barn). Can't mow it. It could be a sweet little border, but it's not there yet. And all those weeds came out by hand with a pitch fork, I just used the rock bucket as my weed bucket (why tote it twice, no?). Anyway, the artichokes are along the edge of a well-traveled path at the top of a weed-infested garden.

nltaff
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Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:02 pm
Location: Central NY (rural) Zone 5

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Most recent pic of the Straw Bale jungle.
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The 'steak branch that came out of the greenhouse (it was almost 3' tall when planted here) has some small, ripening tomatoes on it. I picked three yesterday to give to my neighbor. More are coming and we already know that they taste great.
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The artichokes are not in the SBG, but they are also not in containers, so I keep putting their progress here. They are really taking off now.
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They look happier, weeded and mulched with some straw.
artichokes721.JPG

nltaff
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Location: Central NY (rural) Zone 5

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

On Monday morning, we had an absolute deluge for about half an hour, 45 minutes. It rained hard again in the afternoon and again overnight. So, some of the tomatoes in the SBG cracked.
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More troubling is the state of the peppers in the SBG. While they still are small plants, they are growing. However, the peppers are never going to get a chance to get to the ripe stage.
SBGrejects727.JPG
I've got 4-5 yogurt cups with beer for slug bait, and I throw out numerous slugs from each every other day. I'm thinking the slugs are breaking into the peppers, but the tomatoes were up high, and look kind of bird-pecked. I'm culling the damaged peppers, hoping that the plants will produce more, higher up on the plants. I might try spraying the pepper plants with some garlic, soap, cayenne, oil, water mix spray. Some of the first Italian frying peppers had holes like this, but now they are untouched. Slugs must not like them as well as the bells.

Funny story about "slug bait"...My husband brews beer and a few years ago, he made a batch neither of us liked much. I hunted online and found a picture of a slug in a tuxedo, complete with top hat. I used that to make labels for the bottles and we took the "Slug Bait" beer on a club camping trip. Everyone wanted to try his beer and the consensus was that Slug Bait was the best (except for US, of course).

All the SBG tomatoes are getting huge and heavy. The ones in bags in the middle are bending the center hanging rod. Had to do a lot of tying up and stabilizing today! I'll try to take a new picture tomorrow.

nltaff
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Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:02 pm
Location: Central NY (rural) Zone 5

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Latest pics of the SBG. It is really turning into quite the jungle. The Beefsteak Heirloom is beginning to ripen.
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heirloom.JPG
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heirloom3.JPG
And now there's something worse than slugs...
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:roll:

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

What IS that black bug? I saw one the other day, didn't know what it was so left it. Haven't seen it since.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

nltaff
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Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:02 pm
Location: Central NY (rural) Zone 5

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

I half expected you to beat me to it. Too tired yesterday to search, but that's an American Carrion Beetle. A decomposer. Beneficial for the environment, but not too sure how it helps the garden (unless a mammal dies at the foot of a tomato plant). I did pick up a few facts, tho. The beetle eats carrion, yes, but it also consumes maggots and larvae of other insects. So...I suppose that's somewhat helpful.

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applestar
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Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Thanks for finding out :()
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

told2b
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Location: North Jersey, Zone 6

Re: New to old gardener-Straw bales?

Amer Carrion Beetle2.jpg

Thanks for the ID.

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