bri80
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Planted two beds full of broccoli, lettuce, Swiss chard, cauliflower, carrots, onions, and parsley today. Dug in another bed of cover crop for planting in a couple weeks.

bri80
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Broccoli doing well:
IMG_0713.jpg
Finally caught the caterpillar eating this one... it was only coming out at night. It was an ugly mother... wish I'd taken a picture.
IMG_0714.jpg
Mustard greens doing well:
IMG_0711.jpg
Peas doing well:
IMG_0712.jpg
And broccoli, lettuce, swiss chard, and cauliflower sprouts:
IMG_0706.jpg
IMG_0707.jpg
IMG_0708.jpg
IMG_0710.jpg

bri80
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Tomatoes will be going in the ground this weekend:
IMG_0716.jpg
A couple already have flowers!
IMG_0717.jpg
And pepper starts doing well. Although the fungus gnats are freakin' ridiculous. The traps seem to keep them down enough that they're not a problem, just annoying.
IMG_0715.jpg

Taiji
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Some of my broccoli has that same damage. Keep tellin myself go out at night and look....go out at night and look...Gotta do it tonight. What did yours look like? Was it woolly or green or...?

Your stuff looks great. I actually have some walls o' water that the previous owner of the house we bought left here. Never used them tho. Probly ought to rethink my position! No directions came with them though. So, if the tops of the plants are exposed are they safe from freezing?

bri80
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Taiji wrote:Some of my broccoli has that same damage. Keep tellin myself go out at night and look....go out at night and look...Gotta do it tonight. What did yours look like? Was it woolly or green or...?
It was gray/brown, not wooly, a whole lot larger than typical cabbage moth worms. Had dark spots and some horn-like growths.
Your stuff looks great. I actually have some walls o' water that the previous owner of the house we bought left here. Never used them tho. Probly ought to rethink my position! No directions came with them though. So, if the tops of the plants are exposed are they safe from freezing?
Thanks! The wall-o-waters will keep your plants approximately 5-10 degrees warmer at night, typically, depending on how much sunlight they get during the day. They work because the water absorbs heat during the day and releases it slowly at night, keeping the air around the plants warmer. So they're actually better-protected if the tops are not exposed (once I plant these in the ground, they'll be fully-covered again).

They're kind of a pain to fill up and move, and it takes some practice to be able to put them around the plants without damaging them, and preventing them from falling over. They also have a problem with cells leaking water, which can ruin the overall structural integrity of the device if you get more than a couple leaking.

That being said, I love them. I can put out tomatoes and peppers a full 4-6 weeks earlier than I otherwise would be able to. I get really early tomatoes from the plants I grow with these. When filling the cells with water, fill all of them halfway first, then go back and fill them all the way. When placing them around a plant (if the plant is in the ground, this is necessary - if it's in a pot, you can set up the wall-o-water then put the plant in the middle), hold the filled wall-o-water from the same side, using gravity to open it up, until you can work the thing around the plant without damaging the leaves. Then adjust the sides so that the whole thing won't fall over. You can tilt the cells inward to create more of a pyramid shape that covers the plant better, or straight up to open the tops more.

bri80
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

So yesterday while I was pondering why my direct-seeded spinach was looking pathetic and stunted, I remembered a warning I read in a regional gardening book about a little-known but prolific soil-living organism that will reproduce in cultivated ground over several years, finally becoming an issue once populations reach a critical point. They're attracted to decaying organic matter and water, so essentially, the more you build up your soil and keep your garden watered (things we all strive for), the worse they get. They feed on the young root tips of certain garden plants. I had never paid too much attention, because I'd always moved after a few years in one spot, and they'd never become a problem for me. I was even convinced in my head that maybe they're a rural problem and our city soil was rid of them.

Then I bought a house, and this is my 5th year gardening in this spot, and my spinach looked AWFUL. So I decided to check the soil around the spinach. Sure enough, I found about a dozen of these little guys:
http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r108500111.html

Seems that enthusiastically adding compost and organic matter to my garden every year is a recipe for damaging symphylan populations. Also seems that there's no established cure for infested soil, evasion seems to be the main strategy. You can plant bait crops in the bed with your seedlings, like buckwheat - the symphs will eat the buckwheat roots while your seedlings get established. Once they're big enough, you can hoe down the buckwheat and the plants can usually survive some symph predation. You can rotate in solanums, particularly potatoes seem to repel them, but because they're highly mobile (traveling laterally 15-20 feet), I would have to plant my entire backyard garden in potatoes for a year to repel them out. You can grow species that they don't prefer (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, beans and celery seem to be their favorites), but I imagine if have a lot in your soil already they'll eat what's available if their favorites aren't available. You can grow transplants for their favorites, hoping to get them large enough to survive some predation before putting them in the ground (maybe combined with a nearby bait crop). And you can target lower organic matter levels, compact the top of your soil, and try and figure out how to water less. All of which goes counter to conventional gardening wisdom, but in symph territory, apparently you need to consider this.

I tested the soil in all my backyard beds. They all had at least 1 symph in the sample, which doesn't seem to be a population level that causes too much damage, and plants (even broccoli) growing in these beds are doing fine. The spinach bed had a dozen in the one sample I took. I read that finding 4-5 in a sample that size is a problem population. My front yard beds did not have any in the samples I took, at least in the surface layers (my front yard beds are raised 1.5 ft, so it's possible there's a population living lower in the ground, I might have to figure out a way to sample from down under).

I'm a little discouraged, but I think I can come up with a plan to get the population down and help my plants evade them. The regional garden author I mentioned (who has always been 100% right-on with his advice, I wish I'd listened earlier when he warned against blindly adding compost to Pacific Northwest soils!), says the only reliable cure he knows of to wipe out the population back to "baseline" is a multi-year rotation out of vegetables and into unirrigated cover crops that they don't like, which isn't exactly a great solution for urban gardening where I don't have another plot I can garden while I rotate my main garden out.

It's possible I just won't be growing spinach for a while until I can figure this out. Hopefully my broccoli won't be affected. I was still able to grow amazing broccoli as of last year, and so far so good this year. *fingers crossed*

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

I wonder if we have that in this area too.... I'm going to have to pay closer attention. I remember seeing something like but thinking it was juvie millipede...

All your stuff look fantastic! I need to get my garden prepped and started. Way late. :?

-- thanks for the inspiration -- :D
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bri80
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Applestar, I can't say for sure but a quick look on google seems to indicate there are concerns on the east coast. Once you know what to look for they're pretty easy to spot if you dig a chunk a wet soil out and sift through it. They will move fast to avoid light but you can still spot 'em.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Transplanted tomatoes today. The rest will be going to friends tomorrow.
IMG_0718.jpg
IMG_0719.jpg
IMG_0720.jpg

bri80
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Ok, so what I've determined with regards to the symphs is that most/all of the advice/research out there relating to them is done with relation to agricultural crops and large-scale gardening. Seeing as I have a small urban garden, management options that don't work on a large scale due to the labor involved may work for me on a small scale. So there are two goals here, 1) reducing the population to a manageable size that doesn't excessively stress the plants, 2) helping the plants evade/out-grow predation enough that they are not excessively stressed.

One thing mentioned on a lot of sites is using potato slices placed on the soil to bait them, then counting them as a means of determining your infestation level. One arm of my plan is to do this in my beds, but instead of just counting them, evicting them and drowning them. This is almost certainly one of those situations where for every 1 that I see/capture, there are at least a couple that I don't, but it's something.

So a couple days ago I put out my potato slice baits and covered them with party cups. Today I went in and uncovered them. Some were empty. Some had several symphs. Most had at least one, plus I was able to use a spade to grab a small handful of soil from under the potato as the others tried to flee and dump them all into a bucket. I also caught lots of immature symphs, so that's good, as well as a few slugs - another bonus. Interestingly, the potato baits I put in the spinach bed were some of the emptiest, but I dug up the now hopelessly stunted spinach seedlings and dumped all the soil around their bases, still heavily infested (indicating they prefer the root tips to potato slices), into the bucket, too. Drowned them all.

The white ones are the symphs:
IMG_0724.jpg
Then I moved the potato baits to new locations in the beds and reset them. Will return to them on Friday to repeat the process.

Another thing I am considering is a rotation of the infested beds that looks like this:
Rest of this year: continue as planned, trying to nurse plants past serious danger.
Fall: Cover all beds in fava cover crop (not a plant they like)
Spring 2018: Plant all beds in potatoes (the only crop shown/thought to actively repel them), donate any I can't eat to food banks, I can still use the front yard beds for a small amount of other crops (assuming I don't find them there, too, but my early tests found none)
Late summer/fall 2018: Test for symph levels. If present in quantity, consider another fava rotation. If not, consider putting some beds into winter crops (broccoli, kale, collards, spinach, lettuce, etc).

One concern I have with this rotation plan though, is repelling them out of my vegetable beds may send them into neighboring growing areas, like my blueberries. Also, they're apparently long-lived and one season may not be enough to starve/repel them out enough to restart vegetables.

I also am going to have to target lower organic matter levels. The advice I've heard is only to add as much organic matter/compost as is the bare minimum needed to sustain soil microbiology. I've definitely been waaay above target on that over the years. One of my beds tested at 11% organic matter a couple years ago, which is great if you don't have symphs - bad if you do.

Things to consider. For now, I'm going to continue on (sans spinach) - everything except the spinach seems to be growing at a decent rate, although I can't help but wonder if they'd be doing even better if there were no symphs.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

That's really a terrible problem. I hope you find a solution. Maybe for a while think about container gardening?

I'm a little confused though, on why slices of raw potato can act as a bait for the pest, and yet a crop of potatoes seems to be one that repels them?

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Taiji wrote:That's really a terrible problem. I hope you find a solution. Maybe for a while think about container gardening?

I'm a little confused though, on why slices of raw potato can act as a bait for the pest, and yet a crop of potatoes seems to be one that repels them?
A potato slice is unprotected, its dead and food for whatever wants to consume its energy. A live potato plant is a living organism defending its territory, and has root exudates that are essentially chemical warfare and an immune system to fight invaders. All to defend its tasty, succulent food stores - the defenseless tubers that everything wants to eat: the potato slices I'm using as bait.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Ah, get it!

Wonder if anyone has ever identified the root exudates. Maybe they could be taken/manufactured and one could water the planting area with that in a solution either before planting or while plants are growing to repel the little monsters? ( As long as it's not harmful to the crops)

Or, could one make a tea of fava plants or other plants the pests don't like and water crops with that?
(this has probably all been tried before)

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

(red cups are my symphylan bait traps)

Mustard and peas progress:
IMG_0727.jpg
Broccoli progress:
IMG_0728.jpg
Tomatoes continuing to grow strong. Soon I'll remove the water cloches and use them for peppers. These are all indeterminates so I'll need to get some support going soon, too.
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Lettuce had its first thinning:
IMG_0731.jpg
Broccoli I am not thinning till I see a little bit more growth. We have slugs in "plague-of-locusts" proportions right now, you can see some of the damage. I put out Sluggo, which keeps them in check, but some damage is inevitable, so I want to see strong growth before thinning (otherwise might lose too many to slugs).
IMG_0732.jpg
Carrots came up fast and strong this year... usually I'm resowing well into May before I get a row fully established. Could still have to resow if slugs get too many, though.
IMG_0733.jpg
And happy peppers enjoying their larger pots (with some onions and other random starts in the background):
IMG_0734.jpg

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Image
...just letting you know I'm lurking and paying attention. :wink:
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

applestar wrote:Image
...just letting you know I'm lurking and paying attention. :wink:
Lol, thanks! :)

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Planted some potatoes today (saving my main crop for closer to June, depending on how the seed potatoes are looking - they're already with roots) along with some experimental varieties of brussels sprouts, purple broccoli and lettuce.

Next I have 2 beds I need to dig in before the cover crop flowers for mid-May plantings.

Night time temps are looking to be pretty solidly above 40* starting next week so I'll be taking the water cloches off the tomatoes.

I haven't found as many symphylans in my traps or soil lately, so I'm cautiously optimistic I got a significant quantity of the population. I am pleased with how many immature symphs I caught on the potatoes, they seemed to like it more than the adults. Currently removed all the traps, will probably put more down in a week or so.

I was looking at pictures on my phone from last year's garden, and man was it doing sooooo much better by this time of year! At first I was a little worried, but I think I'm chalking it up to simple weather patterning. Last spring was sunny and warm. This one has been rainy and cold. Everything seems 2-3 weeks behind last year, even perennials, trees and weeds.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Symphylan update: still seeing large populations in some beds, and I am coming to believe some crops are definitely stunted, if still growing moderately. After more research, I think I am going to try a soil drench method and see if I get results. I'm going to try soil-drenching with neem oil and pyrethrum, as well as possibly spraying the foliage with neem oil at night (research indicates neem will work systemically, so maybe absorbing through the foliage, it will be eaten by symphs eating the roots). Then I will see if there is a noticeable uptick in plant vitality after a week or so. *crosses fingers*

I've also been reading about some people's experiments with mixing neem meal and diatomaceous earth into their soil as pest repellents, with the side benefit that they provide some nutrients as well. I might try this on the beds that aren't planted yet.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Bri, do you like your irrigation system? Could you send a link for what you have?

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

wisconsindead wrote:Bri, do you like your irrigation system? Could you send a link for what you have?
I love it - smartest thing I ever did. It's all hooked up to a 4-zone timer so I can water stuff like landscaping and ornamentals separate from the vegetable garden.

I started with this kit:
https://www.amazon.com/Rain-Bird-GRDNER ... 000LO4FFG/

and then ordered extra tubing and accessories from there. For the sprayers, I'll explain my logic. The blue curly-q's are misters, and the sprayers are the "True Spray 360" nozzles:
https://www.amazon.com/Orbit-66190-2-In ... 000H9C9LM/
https://www.amazon.com/Rainbird-Truespr ... 011TMZNFO/

I tested many nozzles that fit this system, and all the "360 degree coverage" nozzles did a really horrible job - they would essentially spray a circle, that mainly waters the edge of the circle, and not the inside of the circle. Going on the theory that the ideal watering system sprays a consistent spray on all areas of the vegetable bed (thus why I don't use drip tubes), I found that the "True Spray 360" nozzles did the best job of watering the entire area of their spray, but the middle was still a little lacking. So I attached the misters pointing as straight up as possible, which essentially adds extra spray to the middle of the circle. By positioning the sprayers with slightly overlapping areas, you get a really consistent spray over the entire bed.

I use these risers:
https://www.amazon.com/Rain-Bird-RISER1 ... 0019TJ87C/

The sprayers will eventually be overgrown by large plants like broccoli, for example. I'm thinking of making pots or cans with soil or rocks in them that I could stick the risers into to lift them up another foot when that happens.

I use the spot watering attachments and drip tubing in other areas of the yard/garden, but for vegetables I love the sprayers. If you use it, bear in mind they can put out a lot of water in a short time and you don't want to over-water. I made that mistake the first year.

Once I got familiar with how to build/attach/repair/change this system, I really fell in love with it. I can change my setup really easily by cutting tubing, rerouting, removing sections, etc. This also facilitates easy repair if you accidentally chop a section of hose, too, which I've done a couple times while weeding.

For example, I installed spot-watering attachments for my tomatoes last year, as overhead watering encourages late blight. So this year I can pull out those tubes from the main line, and plug with the supplied "goof plugs", and add in a sprayer in one of the holes, since I rotated my tomatoes to a different bed, and I can switch out the sprayers in that bed for spot-waterers.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

I'm so sorry to hear the symphylans have become such a pest in your garden. :( Image

It sounds like all out war. I hope you can get them under control enough to save your garden this year. Once the pesticides and repellants are used, I guess it will take some time to bring the Garden Patrol back in play, but it sounds like this can't be helped.
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Yeah I'm not happy about having to resort to chemical warfare (even though it's technically organic), but I don't think I have a choice unless I'm ok with not growing vegetables for a couple years. I've got neem oil, so I'm going to try that first, the pyrethrum won't be here until later next week so I'll have a few days to see if maybe the neem does the trick and I don't have to use the pyrethrum, so we'll see.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

pyrethrum is derived from chrysanthemum and also counts as organic. That doesn't mean it is harmless, but less harmful. The pyrethoids like permethrin and many others are synthetic versions, but are many times more concentrated so much more harmful.
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Transplanted onion starts today, and got beds ready for more planting in a week or two. Had to replant a few sections of lettuce and carrot rows due to slug damage. Repotted the second set of pepper starts, and removed the water cloches from the tomatoes and added support for them. There was a little bit of sun scald on some of the tomato leaves but overall they look healthy.

Will post some pictures updates in the next couple of days.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Peas (harvested the symph-stunted mustards from the middle of the row as they were about to bolt, got an ok amount despite the stunting):
IMG_0776.jpg
Tomatoes:
IMG_0784.jpg
IMG_0788.jpg
Broccoli (still growing decently despite the symphs, but I'm hoping to see an uptick in growth rate after some neem applications):
IMG_0789.jpg

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Pepper starts looking very healthy:
IMG_0794.jpg
And random stuff (lettuce, onions, carrots, cauliflower, swiss chard):
IMG_0795.jpg
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IMG_0800.jpg

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

I'm jealous, I don't see any weeds. Nice going Bri :P :mrgreen:
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Looking very good!

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Those are prime pepper starts. Some of mine always seem to get a cupping/distortion of the leaves, especially the newer growth. Not all, but some. Not sure what causes that. Even in years when I don't have aphids on them.

Tomatoes look wonderful. So you use a trellis system. Do you tie them up?

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Taiji wrote:Those are prime pepper starts. Some of mine always seem to get a cupping/distortion of the leaves, especially the newer growth. Not all, but some. Not sure what causes that. Even in years when I don't have aphids on them.
I think it's variety-related, personally... my young jalapeno plants always have some cupping. But I have noticed that, even though I use a slow-release organic fertilizer, too much in the potting mix for young peppers makes the issue much worse, so I dial back my fertilizer dose for peppers than other starts.
Tomatoes look wonderful. So you use a trellis system. Do you tie them up?
Thank you. I use soft ties (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012ED48NA/re ... NA4976237/) to loosely tie the stems to the poles every foot or two, as needed.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

I see, looking more closely, I see some have poles and some are on a ladder type trellis.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

That is correct. Sometimes, late in the season, I get some issues with heavy branches pulling the plant down the pole a little bit, but it's never been too big of a problem. It's a simple, easy way to support the plants growing upwards.

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Quick update... I'm wondering if I mixed the neem oil too strongly (pretty sure I followed directions), because a few days after application all the sprayed plants developed some white dots on the mature leaves. It doesn't appear to be a major problem, I think they'll be fine, but still, I'm trying to reduce stress on the plant, not add more. I am undecided if I think it appears to have helped with the symphs or not.

Transplanted the first batch of peppers out today (3 more still inside, they took longer to germinate):
IMG_0857.jpg
Broccoli (getting ready to head soon... wish they'd gotten bigger first, but early broccoli is always a little dicey. I'm curious if the symphs were a factor, too, I'll have to see how my direct-seeded broc does):
IMG_0858.jpg
Peas don't seem to be affected by the symphs at all:
IMG_0860.jpg
And tomatoes:
IMG_0861.jpg

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Just wanted to share this cool thing I built today. I built a simple frame and attached shade cloth to it, creating a mobile shade station. I can use it to cover cool weather crops like broccoli or lettuce in hot spells, and, as I am right now, use it to harden off freshly-transplanted vegetables that aren't acclimated to full sun yet.

For example, I transplanted out my peppers yesterday, so I put it over the pepper bed. On Monday it's supposed to get into the 90's for a couple days, so I'll move it to the next bed for the broccoli (hopefully 3 days will be enough for the peppers to get used to being outside).
IMG_0864.jpg
And a look inside:
IMG_0865.jpg

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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Nice! I've been thinking along the same lines. ...but not sure if I will get around to building one. Looks mighty useful though! Image
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Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

From a few days ago but the lettuce is doing nicely. Should be having fresh salads within a couple weeks! The broccoli down the middle is taking a little longer to get going, either because of cold weather (it finally turned summer-y this week!) or symphs or both, but I'm not too worried yet.
IMG_0862.jpg
The other front yard bed. This is growing swiss chard, cauliflower, carrots, parsley and onions.
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And planting the main potato crop today.
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I also planted summer savory, dill, cilantro and yellow crookneck squash.

bri80
Senior Member
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:12 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Lots of updates! I'm amazed and excited with how fast everything started growing now that the weather finally turned warm and sunny. All that cold, wet soil is now warming up and the plants are going crazy!

I couldn't be happier with how the front yard beds have progressed over the last week. It is amazing how much growth has occurred:
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Peas killing it and finally blooming:
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Peppers seem to be adjusting fine to being outdoors. Lost a couple leaves, and there's some slight yellowing on a few leaves, but new growth has already started:
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And had a few extra starts so these guys will live in pots this year:
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Almost time to harvest broccoli! I started these indoors a little earlier than normal and I think I'm getting smaller heads because of it. This should still be a decent harvest though. Also, usually I side dress fertilizer when the main heading starts but I completely forgot (this greatly improves side shoot production).
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bri80
Senior Member
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:12 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Random close-ups....
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And some young lettuce and brussels sprouts:
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bri80
Senior Member
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:12 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

First sizable lettuce harvest. These are thinnings from the two rows out front to make room for the rest to get bigger.
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User avatar
KitchenGardener
Senior Member
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:30 am
Location: Northern California; Hardiness Zone 10a, Climate zone: 17

Re: Bri's 2017 veggie garden

Gotta say that your plants and produce looks so healthy and unblemished! I wish my overgrown and densely packed garden would look as nice...

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