Archived Monthly Posts

Fall Garden Growing Well, First Hard Freeze

The Fall garden is growing well, despite the bad weather experienced here over the last month or so.  The first hard freeze of the season occurred on the morning of October 8th, with a low of 28 degrees recorded on my thermometer.  Row covers were used to protect the cool season crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery.  plastic covered hoops protected the lettuce and carrots.  The late planted bush green beans were also covered with row covers, but they were damaged quite a bit.  The broccoli has started to form heads and most plants now have decent sized heads (see pics below). I am really surprised how well the broccoli rebounded from all of the hail damage it received in September.  The cabbage has also rebounded nicely and is starting to form decent size heads (see pic below).  I am growing a new variety of lettuce this fall, due to a complete seed germination failure of the Golden Acre cabbage back in July.  I went out and purchased transplants of Premium Late Flat Dutch cabbage.  So far they are growing pretty good.  The heads are definitely flatter, like the name implies.  I was able to harvest at least some pole limas before the hard freeze hit.  I am also hopeful to get at least some seeds saved from the vines before winter.  All of the warm season plants were killed off by the freeze (tomatoes, peppers, beans, etc.).  The Sierra lettuce continues to grow nicely under the plastic covered hoop (with a decent amount of self seeding from earlier seed saving activities) and the August planted carrots are also starting to get some size to them.  The brussels sprouts are getting bigger by the day and I even harvested some a few days ago.  Here is what I have been harvesting from the garden over the last month: Lettuce, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, radish, green beans, pole lima beans.  The weather has been cooler and wetter than normal.  The forecast is for Indian Summer type weather for the next 4 or 5 days, with temperatures in the 70’s.  That should help the continued development of the fall plants for sure.  I will be planting my top-setting onions within the week.  Hopefully I can squeeze out one more good month of growing in the garden, before the really cold weather arrives.

Good Size Broccoli Head Ready for Harvesting, 10-18-12

Broccoli Heads Maturing Nicely Despite Past Hail Damage, 10-18-12

Brussels Sprouts, Variety Jade Cross, Getting Bigger, 10-18-12

Premium Late Flat Dutch Cabbage Growing Well, 10-18-12

Carrots, Variety Nelson Hybrid, Starting to Get Bigger, 10-18-12

Celery, Variety Tango Hybrid, Still Producing, 10-18-12

Sierra Lettuce Still Growing Under Plastic Covered Hoop, 10-18-12

Severe Hail Damage, Early Fall Garden Update

It has been about a month since my last update and the garden has changed quite a bit since then.  The garden was hit with severe hail 2 nights ago.  Wow, the garden sustained quite a bit of damage.  This year’s weather has been one for the record books.  The 2012 garden season has been one I will not likely forget.  First the heat and the drought, then the beetles, then the hail.  I was all set for a really good fall garden and then the hail hit.  It beat the Holy Crap out of most of the plants in the garden (see pictures below).  The plants most damaged by the hail were the bush green beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and the lettuce.  Up until the hail, the weather has been almost perfect for the last six weeks or so.  The broccoli was just starting to form heads and the cabbage was looking really good.  The late planted green beans look like they have been damaged the most.  I might get some beans out of those plants, but probably not many.  I will have to wait and see how the broccoli responds.  The hail knocked most of the leaves off of the nearly mature plants, but I am still hoping that the plants will form at least small heads.  Yesterday I harvested the remaining green beans out of the other earlier planted plot.  Most of the beans in that plot were usable, but the plants were damaged pretty heavily.  Over the last month I have been harvesting the following: Tomatoes, peppers, celery, green beans, lettuce.  One bit of good news are the pole limas, which appear relatively undamaged by the hail, are just starting to get mature.  Harvest will start on those, albeit much later than normal, in the next few days.

Weather is always the “wild card” in gardening.  I think I have been dealt enough of these cards this year!!

Hail Damaged Broccoli, 9-22-12

Hail Damaged Cabbage, 9-22-12

Hail Damaged Cabbage, 9-22-12

It Rained!!! Fall Crop In, Beetles Galore

It finally rained!!!!!!  The weather has also cooled a bit. More rain would have been welcomed, but at least it rained enough to keep the upper inch or two of soil moist.  The drought is not over, but at least it has improved a little.  Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce seedlings were transplanted out into the garden on August 11th.  Carrot seeds were planted in the first week of August and have since germinated.  The beetles have taken over the bush green beans and war was declared.  With the help of multiple applications of Sevin, the war appears over for now.  The beetles decimated the newly germinated bush green beans that were growing in the old corn raised bed.  The whole bed had to replanted. The beetle population this year is the worst I have seen.  My guess is that last winter’s mild weather was the cause. It now appears that the beetle populations have decreased dramatically.  With any luck, harvest will begin on some of the bush green beans (the ones planted in mid June) within a few weeks.  Good news, the tomato harvest has been bigger than originally expected, with plenty more to come.  The celery plants have finally grown to a decent size and harvest will begin on these soon.  Harvest also continues on the banana and green peppers.  With the ever decreasing amount of daylight Fall cannot be too far away.

Driest June on Record, Drought Continues

Indianapolis recorded the driest June on record.  Some scattered heavy rains have been around, but unfortunately, very little rain fell on my garden.  At least the temperatures have cooled a bit.  I am still watering, but not nearly as much now.  Harvest has started on the corn and potatoes.  Upon harvesting the Yukon Gold potatoes that were growing in one of the raised beds, scab was found on most of the potatoes (see pic below).  This is the first time I have noticed this problem in the 5 or 6 years of growing potatoes.  The potatoes are still edible, but just look bad.  See this fact sheet on potato scab.  I am sure the very dry weather was the cause of this.  Additionally, I think I might limit the amount of chicken manure that I apply to this bed next year.  The roma tomatoes are just starting to ripen, although I expect the total harvest to be somewhat less this year.  Harvest continues on the banana peppers.  Cucumbers were harvested for refrigerator pickles.  The cucumber plants will soon be pulled up to make more room for the maturing pepper plants.  Harvest also continues on the bush green beans.  About 2 weeks ago seeds were started for cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce.  These will be transplanted out into the garden during the first week of August.  All of the spring planted onions were pulled and dried and then placed in mesh storage bags in the basement.  This year’s onion crop was very good.  Keep Praying for Rain!!

Yukon Gold Potatoes with Scab

HOT....HOT...HOT and Extreme Drought

June 28, 2012 High Temperature in my Garden

The weather here in Central Indiana has been very very hot.  Temperatures have been in upper 90’s to low 100’s for the last 7 days or so, with no relief from the heat for at least 4 more days.  On June 28th I recorded a high of 106.9 degrees on my backyard thermometer (see picture to the left).  The drought here has been upgraded to extreme according to the U.S. Droght Monitor.  Let’s hope and pray for cooler temperatures and some much needed rain!!!

Despite the really awful weather, the garden continues to produce.  I have been watering about every third day now (boy is that getting old).  The only good thing about the dry conditions, it makes curing onions very easy.  All of the onion tops have fallen over and browned even before I have pulled them from the ground.  I will not have to cure them now.  I will just pull them up, cut the tops off, and bag them for storage.  The peas have finished growing and were pulled up about 5 days ago.  I then planted green beans in this area.  They should be germinating in a few more days.  The spring planted green beans are about ready to harvest, but I have started to develop some bean beetle damage.  I have started to harvest the spring planted cabbage.  The spring planted cabbage has grown farily well for me this year.  The banana peppers have really taken off and harvest has started on them.  The potato vines have almost all dried up, so harvest will start on them within the next few days.  The roma tomatoes are growing well.  As long as you water the plants deeply about once every week or so, they do not seem to mind the hot weather.  The very dry conditions have virtually eliminated all the tomato leaf diseases around here this year.  The cucumbers are also growing well, and harvest will begin on those today (time to make refrigerator pickles).  The corn has tasseled so harvest should begin in about another 3 weeks.

Now is the time to start planning and starting seeds for the fall crop.  I will be starting seeds for cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce today.

Keep Praying for Rain!!!

Drought Worsens, Watering Like Crazy

The drought here in Central Indiana continues to get worse.  It feels a lot like the drought of 1988.  Even though I was not gardening then, I remember how dry and hot it was that growing season.  I have been watering at least every 5 days or so.  Parts of the garden I have to water using a hose end sprayer, making sure to get the water down at the base of the plant and into the soil.  Other parts of the garden I have soaker hoses laid out.

Despite the dry conditions, my spring broccoli harvest has been incredible!!  I just finished harvesting all of the first heads, with many side shoots coming on.  I started harvesting my garden peas about one week ago.  Harvest should finish up on them this week.  I will then pull up the pea vines and plant green beans in their place.  The spring planted cabbage is almost ready to harvest.  I harvested the first few hot banana peppers last week.  They should continue to grow and produce as long as they get watered.  The red candy onion tops have just started to fall over (which means that they are about finished growing).  The yellow candy onions are not too far behind.  I hopefully watered the onions for the last time yesterday.   The onion crop looks like it will be decent this year.  I am glad that I got the onions in the ground early this year.  The spring lettuce crop is about finished.  I have more lettuce seedlings started in trays, but it will be a few more weeks before they are ready to be transplanted out into the garden.  The bush green beans and pole lima beans are growing well as well as the cucumbers.  Some of the cucumber vines have reached the top of the cage and I can see small cucumbers forming on some of the plants.  The potatoes vines are starting to die back, so I think they are nearing maturity.  The corn is growing like mad and it already about 5 foot tall and my roma tomato plants have started to flower and small tomatoes have already started to form on the plants.  The celery plants are FINALLY starting to get some size to them.  Bottom line is that despite the lack of rain the garden is growing fairly well (as long as I am able to water). 

I am planning to start my fall crop (that is hard to believe) of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower around the first week in July (starting seeds in cell packs on the back porch for later transplanting).

June Garden Update, Desert Like Conditions

The weather has been super dry and very hot up until a few days ago, almost like trying to garden in the desert.  Despite the bad weather, the garden is growing fine.  Needless to say, I have been watering.  I harvested my first 2 heads of broccoli on May 30th.  That is about 3 weeks ahead of a normal year!!  The broccoli heads grew and tasted fine, but they developed a condition called “Hollow Stem” where the stem is hollow inside (at least part of the way up the stem).  The very hot and dry weather was probably to blame for this, but they still tasted fine.  The other broccoli plants still out in the garden look fine from the outside, but I bet most of them will have hollow stems as well.  The garden is fully planted now and everything is up and growing.  I have been having major issues with the sparrows eating the leaves off of the pea vines.  I have never seen anything like this in my 18 plus years of gardening.  I finally had to cover both 8 foot sections of the pea fence with row covers.  The sparrows do not seem to be bothering any of the other vegetable plants, which I am very thankful.  I have also struggled this year with the celery seedlings.  The seedlings are still small, but I think most of them might make it to maturity.  Harvest continues on the lettuce, green onions, and radishes.  The cucumbers and pole lima beans have started to climb up the cages and fence.  The potatoes are growing like crazy in the raised beds and are looking really good.  The tomatoes, peppers, and corn are growing nicely.  They like all of this hot weather, as long as the plants are kept watered.  The onions are growing fine despite the heat and desert like conditions.  I have really tried to keep the onions watered since they are now in their critical growth stage (before they start bulbing).  It did rain last night, but only very lightly.  The temperatures have cooled considerably, with highs only in the 50’s today (can the weather get any more goofy).

Nice Head of Broccoli (Variety "Packman") Just Prior to Harvesting

Red Potatoes Growing Like Crazy in 4'x4' Raised Bed

Yellow Sweet Corn (Variety "NK199") Reaching for the Sky

Early May Garden Growing Well, Most of Garden Planted

Wow, what a difference in the garden since my last blog entry of April 21st.  The garden has really taken off.  The potatoes are up and about 8 inches tall and the corn has just poked up through the soil.  The lettuce is really growing fast now, so fast in fact, that it needs harvesting twice a week.  All of the March planted radishes have now been harvested.  Some of these have been nearly 3 inches in diameter (see pic below).  The variety of radish I have been growing over the last several years is “champion.”  It grows really well and I highly recommend it.  All of the pepper, tomato, and cucumber seedlings have been planted out, as I think we are out of the frost potential here in Central Indiana.  I am still waiting a few more days to plant out celery, as the seedlings are still a little small.  The snap beans and lima beans will be planted out probably in the next few days.  I took apart my cold frame a few days ago and stored it away until next spring and I put away the plastic covered hoops until fall.  The weather has cooled off a bit, but my garden did received some much needed rain a few days ago.

Wow, Look at the Size of Those Radishes

Lettuce Really Growing Fast

Cucumbers Planted (top) and Hot Banana and Green Pepper Seedlings Planted

Six Roma Tomato Seedlings Planted and Spaced Out Over an 8' x 4' Area

Peas Growing Up Trellis (left) with Radishes and Green Onions (right)

Cabbage, Broccoli, and Brussels Sprouts are Getting Bigger

Chickens Enjoying Some Roost Time in Their Covered Outdoor Run

April Garden Growing Fine, Weather Has Cooled a Bit

The weather has cooled a bit, but despite a few frosts and one freeze over the last 2 weeks, the garden is doing quite well.  The weather today is cloudy and quite chilly for this time of year (temps in the low 40’s…….brrrrr).  It rained a little yesterday evening, but it is starting to get a little dry.  The lettuce and onions might need watering before too long.  The forecast is calling for a chance of a few more frosty mornings coming up.  I finally planted out my cabbage and broccoli seedlings on April 16th.  So far they are doing well.  The spring planted lettuce is really growing well.  I harvested more of the over wintered lettuce yesterday.  I will probably only harvest from these plants one more time, and then they will have to come out to make room for the brussels sprouts.  The topsetting onions (the ones planted last fall) are starting to form their little topsets from the center of the plants.  The spring planted onion transplants are starting to grow new leaves.  I will be fertilizing them within the next few days.  The peas are growing, albeit slowly, and the potatoes have just started to poke up through the soil.  I planted my cucumber seeds in small pots, about one week ago, and put them in the cold frame.  They should be germinating within the next few days.  See some of my garden pics below.

Cabbage and Broccoli Planted, Notice Radishes and Over Wintered Lettuce to the Left

Spring Planted Lettuce About Ready for First Harvest

Fall Planted Topsetting Onions Left and Spring Planted Onion Transplants Right

Garden Peas (Variety Mr. Big) Starting to Grow, Notice Green Onions Also Growing Near Top of Pic

Patience is a Virtue, Especially in the Spring

It is hard to wait for the right time to plant your vegetables out into your garden, especially if it has been so unseasonably warm like it has been this spring.  With the first few warm days of spring everybody is itching to get out in the garden.  Heck, I cannot blame them.  After months of cold and snow I am also ready to get started, but I know that every plant has its right time.  I have really enjoyed all of the warm weather so far this spring, but I have not deviated from my planting schedule.  We had a light freeze here in Central Indiana a few days ago and are expecting more freezes the next two days.  I am sure glad that I did not plant out my broccoli and cabbage plants yet.  Some of the lettuce is out, but it is protected under the plastic covered hoop.  I did plant onions, but they are super hardy, so they should be fine.  I did plant pea seeds about 2 weeks ago, and they have started to emerge from the soil.  I think they might be okay, but it just depends on how cold it really gets.  The point is stick with your predetermined planting schedule despite what the current weather might be.  You will be glad that you did.