2020 Spring Garden Observations

Winter Cover Crop

Waited too long to plow under the south half Elbon Rye cover crop and sod clumps were an issue for 2 months.

Per FL Handbook – A 6- to 8-week period between plowing down of green cover crops and crop establishment is recommended to allow the decay of the residues. Freshly incorporated plant material promotes high levels of damping-off organisms such as Pythium spp. and Rhizoctonia spp. Turning under plant residue well in advance of cropping reduces damping-off disease organisms. Perhaps damping-off contributed to the lack of germination in the early peas and beans but most likely it was much too early and too cool/cold.

Weather Impacts

March, April, and May were dry months with cool mornings (50s in April) and did not get into the low 80’s daily until the second week of May. There was a 7-week mini-drought from mid-March to mid-April; then a 1.4″ rain; then a dry week; then a 1.2″ rain on April 28; then dry for 20 days until May 18 when it rained 0.54″.

TS Cristobal on June 8 & 9 dropped 7″ in 3 days and blew down the 2nd Silver Queen corn that had heavy cobs ready to pick. Should have pull them before the wind.


Beans

  • Kentucky Wonder Bush
    • Germinated well in two rows but only in parts of the adjacent row–on the south end. The other two rows maybe had 10% germination. Same seed and same preparation. No rain but regularly watered them all the same.
    • Tilled the poor rows and replanted with the new HOSS seeder with new seed bought at Hurley.
    • Still had scattered plants in four 60′ rows but they produced all the snap beans we needed for the freezer and to eat.
    • We need to plant once the soil and nights are warm.
  • Jackson Wonder Lima Beans
    • Planted 2 60-ft long rows where corn failed. The dirt had been fertilized for corn so the beans grew wildly.

Cantaloupes

The three hills of Hale’s Best 45 cantaloupes grew well without the wild vining like last year when the fertilzer had been broadcast over the entire garden.

Corn

  • G-90 came up well. It was planted over the area of Elbon Rye that had been plowed up well in advance. The germination and growth were great due I think to row preparation by:
    • Driving Fergie down the future row to mark them
    • Throwing 15-0-15 plus Borax in the center between the tire tracks
    • Pulled up a shallow hill over the fertilizer with Frank’s hiller; busted open a trench to sow in. Sowed the seeds in the slot that later was in the correct depth to pull dirt up on the stalks.
    • Had a lot of earworms but they were easily discarded and the cobs used. Could have started spraying before the silks first appeared and then repeated weekly. Did spray them a couple of times with Bifenthrin.
    • The five 60 ft. long rows produced all the corn we needed for use and the freezer plus what we gave away.
  • Silver Queen came up well in the first two rows then the third had a lot of small gaps; the fourth had more and larger gaps and the fifth only has about a 25% stand.
    • Everything was done the same for the five rows other than what was planted in those areas in the winter garden.
    • The rows that came up well had been growing mustard that did very well. Then there was a row of Swiss Chard that did poorly and Daikon Radish that did well. Next to that was the cabbage that did well. The corn that did not germinate well was mostly where the cabbage had been.
    • Anxious to plant and forgot to pre-fertilize before pulling the hill. Spread the fertilizer without Borax on top of the area with the seed. Seemed to work ok but nothing like the G-90.
    • The cobs are small compared to the G-90.
    • TS Cristobal on June 8 & 9 dropped 7″ in 3 days and blew down the 2nd Silver Queen corn that had heavy cobs ready to pick. Should have pulled them before the wind. Pulled a lot immediately after the wind and continued to pull those that filled out.
    • The white corn tastes good but the cobs are small and very susceptible to worms. At the end of this season, the decision would be to not replant Silver Queen.
    • For a backup planting to the G-90, should consider planting Silver King with its tighter husks and less worm damage plus larger cob.

Cucumbers

  • The Poinsett 76 again performed well as it did last year.
  • No disease or bug pressure.

Daikon Radish

Had a lot of seed left from last year so planted some with the girls at the end of a row. Some weeks later planted half a row as a double row about 12″ apart. Both plantings yielded tart bitter roots. Pulled up the double row that has good looking folage but not tasty roots. Read that is typical of spring daikons.

Flowers

  • The Giant Cactus Double Mix Zinnias have a nice large bloom and did fine in the wind.
  • The State Fair Mix Zinnias did OK but nothing special.
  • All the Marigolds did well and those transplanted to the yard and pond did great.
    • The French Brocade is a much taller plant than the others.
    • Naughty Marietta and Lemon Drop had great bushes but scattered blooms.
  • Cracker Jack Mix did not grow.
  • Beach Sunflowers volunteered from last year’s fallen seeds, and what we planted from a new SESE pack, all grew well. They also transplanted well to the new beds in the pond yard and other places.

Lettuce

Germination has been slow and sporadic in all lettuce planted last fall in both gardens. On 1/9/2020, Buttercrunch lettuce seeds were put into well water to soak and the next morning (about 17 hours later) were planted. Five days later the wide row had many new two-leaf sprouts. Soaking the seeds made a big difference.

Lettuce planted with Piper and Olivia on 3/17 & 3/19 did not germinate. The seeds were planted correctly–wiped into the soil with little cover–and watered regularly. The weeks after sowing there were no rain and day temps in the mid to high 80s. Should have soaked them.

Tehama Lettuce in the little garden did well. Replant.

Squash

  • Dunja Zucchini germinated well. No disease pressure. Pulled up and hauled plants away June 12 when they quit producing and we have had enough. Very pleased with this variety and will plant it again.
  • Gold Star Yellow Squash germinated well. No disease pressure but the did not produce as much as one would expect. Planted more after the first were producing.
  • Golden Bush Scallop Summer Squash germinated well. Not a heavy producer but consistent. Planted more as they are great for roasting.

Peas

  • MS Pink Eye Purple Hull Peas:
    • Seed bought in January did not germinate. Possibly last year’s seed. But, the problem likely was they were planted too early when the evenings were cool even though the daytime soil temps were ok.
    • Tilled the rows and replanted with the new HOSS seeder with new seed, Top Pick Pink Eye Purple Hull Peas, bought at Hurley. Daytime soil temps were in the low 90s and no rain so we were watering. See here for temp data.
    • Finally came up and have a lot of blooms in early June.
    • Got as much we needed for the freezer and tried to give the abundant crop away but no one wants to pick their own.
  • Zipper peas failed to germinate. Learned it has been too cool at night–high 50’s to low 60’s. Soil temps were ok.
  • MS & TX Creme Peas–planted where the Zippers failed– germinated well and had been planted once the nights were warmer.
  • Next planting will be all PEPH Top Pick.

Okra

Cajun Delight, seed saved from last year, was sowed on 3/17/20 but did not germinate. Eighteen days later on 4/4 the row was tilled to plant on 4/5 with soaked seeds. The 24-hour soaked seed germinated much better.

On June 8 the plants are maybe only 12″ high but found 6″ okra pods. The 45-ft row produced all the okra we wanted plus gave some away.

Peppers

Some pepper seedlings survived the excessive fertilizer. They bore fruit early but quit. I fed with fish emulsion and sprayed with Epsom Salts.

  • Charleston Bell Peppers (N) had a few peppers early then quit.
  • Giant Marconi had one or two then quit.
  • As of July 4
    • Ancho Pablano has small ones
    • One cayenne bush has some.
    • The Giant Marconi again has a couple

Tomatoes

Mary’s Celebrity seedlings did great until I planted them in a hole with too much 15-0-15 and burned the roots. Justin Gill gave us Roma, Celebrity and Better Boy seedlings he grew and I bought 6 Amelias.

6/13/2020 – Fighting a blight and stink bugs

  1. Rec’d ACES email with a link to their page about Late Blight on tomatoes. The photos of it are what is happening in our garden that was the reason for the above spray. The 2020 SE Veg Growers Handbook (Handbook) accessed today, recommends Chlorothalonil in the weeks near harvest. That is confirmation that the above spray was the right thing to do.
  2. See TomatoDirt.com page Different Kinds of Tomato Blight and How to Tell Them Apart for photos of the different diseases.
  3. As of 6/16/2020, we have many green tomatoes but the late blight is taking a toll. The Roma’s and Beef Stakes have it worse than any and the Amelias are losing a lot of leaves. The bushy, too thickly planted Celebrities, given to us by Jason Giles, only have a little.
  4. As of July 3, there are a lot of tomatoes on window sills and more ripening on the vine. Weekly spraying of Daconil and Bifenthrin has paid off. Should have started the fungicide when plants were much younger. The tomatoes have a great sweet flavor that is perhaps due to the Epsom Salt sprays.

Tomatillos

Her tomatillo seedlings grew well even though they were not planted deep. But, the fruit keeps blowing off or getting bugs. The plants are very leggy and many blooms that do not turn into fruit. Tied them up like tomatoes but they have such stiff limbs some broke and the string strangled the trunk in a few cases. We did not get but 2-3 dozen tomatillos. Not worth planting again.

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