The gardening begins!

By: jeffs713 , 3:54 PM GMT on April 11, 2012

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Last year was my first year for a full-fledged garden at my house, and even with the drought, I received some decent crops.
Last year, I planted -
Strawberries (they started out well, but ended up getting roasted)
Onions (decent production, but rather small... but according to my wife, they tasted great)
Sweet Banana Peppers (did OK, were rather leggy, though)
Creole Tomatoes (did VERY well, lots of production, and tasted incredible)
Cucumbers (terrible production, didn't grow well)
Cantaloupes (poor production, didn't like training up the fence, but tasted great)
Zucchini (great production, ended up getting destroyed by spider mites)
Straightneck Squash (incredible production, met their fate from spider mites)

I also had peaches and two varieties of pears. The peaches were awesome (small, but VERY tasty and juicy), but the pears were lackluster (small, hard, and starchy).

This year... I'm simplifying things a bit.

I'm keeping the peach tree (although I suspect its production will stink - it was very warm this winter, so it hasn't put out many flowers, and likely didn't get enough chilling time), and I'm also keeping one of the pear trees. I don't think the pear tree will survive, as it has been hit by some kind of fungus (or maybe disease) that started at the buds, and is moving down the branches regardless of what I do to stop it. The other pear tree I actually pulled up and gave to my neighbor - and I replaced it with a plum tree... that has added almost a foot to its height, and has some baby plums slowly getting larger.

For the garden, I went more with stuff my wife and I would actually eat, so I planted the following:

Purple Queen Snap Beans (on the left side of the pic, near the fence). The beans will be about 4-6" long, and be purple when raw... but turn green when cooked.
Super Sweet Yellow Onions (in the back left corner, in the corner of the fence). I planted them much more densely than last year, since they don't need a lot of space.
Celebrity and Creole Tomatoes (2 of each, along the far fence). Celebrity Tomatoes supposedly do well here, and the Creole Tomatoes did VERY well last year. I'm growing both to see a comparison between the two, since I can get the Celebrity plants here, but not the Creoles. (I have to go to New Orleans to get them)
Soybeans (in the middle section, under the Saints flag). My wife and I both love edamame, and since all we can find is in a restaurant or frozen... I figured I would grow our own.
Straightneck Squash (in the front, with the mulch). This one did VERY well last year, and I love having fresh squash to grill during the summer. I gave them a LOT more space to work with, so they can go wild. I also know how to prevent spider mites this time around, so they shouldn't be an issue... hopefully.

I'm planting the beans and soybeans from seed, and staggering the plantings every 2-3 weeks, to get a constant flow of new harvests, hopefully throughout the summer.

I'll add more updates every few weeks, and maybe add in some tropical thoughts periodically, as the season warms up.

~Jeff

Garden 4/10/2012 (jeffs713)
View of my garden, April 10, 2012.
Garden 4/10/2012
After the storm (jeffs713)
After a recent thunderstorm, I happened to capture this sunset by peering over my back yard fence. 5 minutes prior, it was a downpour. 5 minutes later, the sunset was obscured by low clouds.
After the storm

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18. jeffs713
7:27 PM GMT on July 06, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
how is it doing now?

The beans started getting spider mites (what decimated my garden last year), and the tomatoes started having issues with a virus of some kind. I tried treating the beans (two organic, one chemical), to no avail, so I clear-cut them, to prevent the mites from spreading and coming back. The tomatoes I researched all over for decent treatments, but couldn't find much. I tried fertilizer, insect treatments, and fungal treatments, but none helped. So I'm just letting them do their own thing, and try to fight off the virus. The onions didn't produce much (the corner I had them in is mostly shade), so they got pulled early. And finally, the squash struggled a bit with the mites, but they fought through it, and are growing again (but not producing again yet).

So...
The tomatoes produced about 2 dozen tomatoes of various sizes (one was baseball size!). Most were excellent in flavor, and as a surprise, the Celebrity tomatoes actually produced better than the Creoles did.
The beans produced about 3 cups worth of snap beans, and about 1-1/2 cups of soybeans. My wife and I froze them, and will use them later this year. I was able to get about 3 decent squash from the squash plants before the mites hit, and they were also excellent - I'm eagerly awaiting the next batch.

Also... the plum tree produced 5 plums, and all were on the small side, but extremely sweet and juicy. I hope this winter has a decent cold element to it, so the plum tree and peach tree set fruit properly.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
17. GeorgiaStormz
6:41 PM GMT on June 29, 2012
how is it doing now?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9474
16. jeffs713
7:31 PM GMT on April 23, 2012
Added the sunset photo I snapped this past Friday. (ended up getting 1.3" of rain that day, too)

Also, this past weekend I planted the rest of the snap beans, filled in the holes of the soybeans (since only about 60% germinate), and mulched the beans that have already sprouted.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
15. jeffs713
6:28 PM GMT on April 12, 2012
I avoid spraying Sevin when flowers are present, just for that reason.

I've never seen horticultural molasses - where do you get it?

As for the diatomaceous earth - I definitely couldn't use that much here, since its entirely too humid, and I'm not a big fan of pissing off fire ants.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
14. MTWX
5:18 PM GMT on April 12, 2012
Quoting entrelac:
We control the fire ants using horticultural molasses. Fire ants can't stand the stuff and move along. It's safe for use around food crops and is a fabulous soil amendment. Your earthworms and grass will thank you.

We use the liquid version and a hose end sprayer but it is also available as a powder you spread.

I have also used diatomaceous earth to wipe out a bad infestation. My only caution is that if it is a humid day the diatomaceous earth won't kill the ants but it will make them a writhing mass of infuriated painful anger bent on revenge.

I do want to add that Sevin is a known killer of bees and with the losses we've experienced it might be worth it to consider using something else. You want those pollinators around.

Thank You! I will have to give those a try!
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1391
13. entrelac
4:37 PM GMT on April 12, 2012
We control the fire ants using horticultural molasses. Fire ants can't stand the stuff and move along. It's safe for use around food crops and is a fabulous soil amendment. Your earthworms and grass will thank you.

We use the liquid version and a hose end sprayer but it is also available as a powder you spread.

I have also used diatomaceous earth to wipe out a bad infestation. My only caution is that if it is a humid day the diatomaceous earth won't kill the ants but it will make them a writhing mass of infuriated painful anger bent on revenge.

I do want to add that Sevin is a known killer of bees and with the losses we've experienced it might be worth it to consider using something else. You want those pollinators around.
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 234
12. jeffs713
6:34 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
Quoting MTWX:
This year is the first year I am doing corn. So far so good, the sprouts are just now coming up. Look foward to doing watermelons and pumpkins in the future for the kids. Fire Ants are a big problem for me in my beds this year. Been researching to find ways of getting rid of them without poisoning my family in the meantime. There are a few colleges developing non toxic products that have showed promising results, but are not available to the general public yet. :(

You are welcome to stop by my blog anytime to share garden ideas, I would love the company. My blog usually revolves around gardening and fishing (two of my favorite activities!!)

What I've been doing to prevent fire ants this year is three-fold.

1. Carpet bomb the entire yard with fire ant killer. I use Spectracide Fire Ant Killer (orange and black bag).
2. Any time I put down any mulch, I lightly sprinkle some of the fire ant killer granules on the ground before the mulch, then lay down the mulch. I re-sprinkle the top of the mulch every 2-3 months.
3. If I find any mounds in the yard, I nuke them from orbit with more of the granules. (1/2 cup or so)

In the garden, aside from the first 2, I also periodically spray Sevin concentrate on the plants. You can spray it 3-7 days before harvest without problems, and it will take care of most SE TX insects. The only exceptions are spider mites (I went natural for those, using a neem oil spray), and any larvae that live underground, like June Bug larvae (also known as "the stupid bugs that can't fly for crap, can't see, and provide a new channel of Cat TV")
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
11. MTWX
6:25 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
This year is the first year I am doing corn. So far so good, the sprouts are just now coming up. Look foward to doing watermelons and pumpkins in the future for the kids. Fire Ants are a big problem for me in my beds this year. Been researching to find ways of getting rid of them without poisoning my family in the meantime. There are a few colleges developing non toxic products that have showed promising results, but are not available to the general public yet. :(

You are welcome to stop by my blog anytime to share garden ideas, I would love the company. My blog usually revolves around gardening and fishing (two of my favorite activities!!)
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1391
10. jeffs713
5:59 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
Quoting MTWX:


Yeah, I tried Canteloupes last year... They looked promising.. the vines grew well and they began producing fruit, but they didn't get any larger then a tennis ball and never ripened.


I had two get up to softball size. One became dinner for an ant mound I didn't know I had, and the other was very tasty. The rest never got above baseball size, and either fell off the vine when my holding mechanism broke (old pantyhose either cradling the melon or holding the melon in the toe area), or they just decided to shrivel up for no reason at all.

I may try watermelons eventually, but I already have plans for next year. (corn! Lots of corn!)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
9. MTWX
5:54 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Watermelons,Canteloupes, etc never grow at my house, and things like squash and zuccini flourish before squash borers come and destroy them.
Cucumbers and tomatoes always grow well.
Okra always grows well too.
In fact, other than tomatoes and cucumbers, the only thing that grows are stuff i hate......


Yeah, I tried Canteloupes last year... They looked promising.. the vines grew well and they began producing fruit, but they didn't get any larger then a tennis ball and never ripened.
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1391
8. GeorgiaStormz
5:31 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
Watermelons,Canteloupes, etc never grow at my house, and things like squash and zuccini flourish before squash borers come and destroy them.
Cucumbers and tomatoes always grow well.
Okra always grows well too.
In fact, other than tomatoes and cucumbers, the only thing that grows are stuff i hate......
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9474
7. jeffs713
4:52 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
Quoting hydrus:
I have read your blog. I am now very hungry. It seems at least once a week food shows itself on the blog, and then I find myself in the kitchen shortly there after. Thankfully we made a big pot of vegetable soup last night that I will now eat..:)....I almost forgot, you need "hate" mail....well I "hate" cat food......There,s no cat in it...no cat flavor whatsoever

LOL.

Well, girl scout cookies don't have any girl scouts in them...
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
6. hydrus
4:51 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
I have read your blog. I am now very hungry. It seems at least once a week food shows itself on the blog, and then I find myself in the kitchen shortly there after. Thankfully we made a big pot of vegetable soup last night that I will now eat..:)....I almost forgot, you need "hate" mail....well I "hate" cat food......There,s no cat in it...no cat flavor whatsoever
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19608
5. jeffs713
4:39 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
Thank you for the compliments and good wishes.

The Soy beans were actually kinda hard to find online with a decent selection. Apparently they are somewhat new to the home gardening world. Their germination rate (the % of planted seeds that actually sprout) has been kinda "meh", with only about 60-70% of the seeds actually sprouting. By comparison, the purple queen beans have been sprouting easily 90% of the time.

I got my seeds from Burpee Seeds, and the variety name is "Be Sweet".
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
3. MTWX
4:19 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
Very nice garden set up!! About the only thing that did well in mine last year was my squash, everything else fried in the sun due to the drought we had.. Couldn't afford to keep them watered. This year we got Strawberries, Blackberries, Tomatoes, Squash, Carrots, Turnips, Radishes, Corn, Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers, and Hot Peppers. Hopefully the rains will be a bit more fair this year! Good luck with your crops this year!

~Nick
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1391
2. entrelac
4:15 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
If you have a chance to try Cherokee Purple tomatoes do it. They did well for me when I lived in Katy and are going crazy here is Austin.
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 234
1. nigel20
4:05 PM GMT on April 11, 2012
Nice garden
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 7483

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About jeffs713

I live near Tomball, Texas (30 miles NW of Houston), and will write about whatever comes to mind. You've been warned.

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