Wild Men on the North Fork
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Peppers - Squash | Tomato - Watermelon
|2002: Here is gardening partner Paul Combe kneeling amongst some of our raised beds. In front of him are two beds of lettuce. Just behind him are two 3x3 beds of Cool Breeze cucumbers which produced over 40 quarts of pickles this year. Behind those beds are three beds of tomatoes (with red plastic film mulch and tall wire supports), with 4 plants each. The other two beds have hot peppers and shallots, and Big Bertha green bell peppers.|
The Jacquot-McAtee team of gardeners announces the expansion of that team with the addition of Mr. Paul Combe. Paul brings to the team the experiences of being raised on a farm in Idaho. He is an expert on Tomatoes. He has rented a plot, so that will make us a team of three gardeners on four plots.
2002 TRIALS: No grand trials this year, but we will be trying out new (for us) varieties as follows:
BUSH BEAN: Royal Purple Burgandy, POLE BEAN: Kwintus, Garafal Oro, BRUSSEL SPROUT: Materline, CABBAGE: Savoy Express, CHINESE EXPRESS: Pak Choi Joi Choi, Greenwhich, CARROT: Nelson, Mokum, Kuroda, CORN: Ambrosia CUCUMBER: SuhyoTK, Diva, H-19 Little Leaf, LETTUCE: Nevada, MUSK MELON: Sun Jewel, Savor, Whopper, PEPPER: Karma, Cherry Pick, PUMPKIN: Racer, Lumina, Streaker Jack, SQUASH: Butter Scallop Pattypan, Super Zuc Zucchini, Bush Delectica, TOMATO: Big Mama, Black Plum, Early Cascade, WATERMELON: Whopper II, Sweet Favorite
MAY 7: STARTS UP and TRANSFERRED TO BIGGER CONTAINERS: all tomatoes, peppers, brussel sprouts, bac choi, cauliflower, savoy cabbage, chinese cabbage, STARTS UP: cucumbers, Potatoes are planted
JUNE 13: Disasters! The tomatoes were pummeled by 80 mile per hour winds. We solved that problem by cutting heavy water main pipe (plastic, 6 inches in diameter) into lengths varying from 9 to 14 inches long and slipping them over the tomatoes and down into the ground. No wind will blow them away. The plants already are responding well and look good, though we did have to replace 6 of 24.
COLD! The nights since late May have been very very cool.....ranging from 39 to 44 degrees. The cucumbers we set out (Shuhy Tk, Diva, H-19 Little Leaf) have not taken well to such cool nights and are dead. The Cool Breeze and Sweet Success have fared well. We will have to plant other cucumbers. Corn has only germinated at about 15 percent at best. We dug some seeds up and the are rooting very slowly. We notice that a garden neighbor who started corn under cheese cloth now has 6 inch corn and 100 percent germination. Hmmm. (Later investigation revealed that the corn was started in pots and then covered with cheese cloth.) Ants are already doing a number on the bean leaves. We will have to do something about that right away. With cool weather, beans are only half up. All cool weather plants are doing well.
JUNE 17: Most of the corn, squash, pumpkin, melon, and watermelon is not up. By digging we discovered that the seed are just sitting there. The temperature is still not high enough to cause germination, despite the fact that we have had several warm days. We have replaced the Suhko TK cucumber with Sweet Slice from the nursery. Greenwhich Chineese Cabbage is doing well. Pak Choi is doing wonderfully well. Tomates have recovered and are beginning to grow. Black plum tomatoes are the tallest right now.
Replanted: Sweet Favorite Watermelon, Buttercup Squash, Heart of Gold Squash, Autumn Gold Pumpkin, Racer Pumpkin,Whopper Watermelon, Super Zuc, Sun Jewel Melon, Bush Delectica Squash, Lumina Pumpkin, Patty Pan Squash, Table Ace Acorn Squash.
Replaced Seed: Streaker Jack Pumpkin with Racer, Whopper Musk Melon with Alaska and Minn. Midget Musk, Savor Charentais Melon with Minn. Midget Musk and Sweet Favorite Water Melon, Little Leaf (Pickling) Cucumber with Diva (Slicer) and National Pickling (Pickling).
JUNE 25: We moved 16 of the Ambrosia Corn to a box (we only got 35 plants from 300 seeds planted in 180 'holes'), and will replant with Kandy Kwik Corn tonight. We added three more 'planters' to the new plot. Two are already planted with Royal Chantenais, and Danvers Carrots. These new tires represent a divergence from our usual planting technique. The top 2 inches is potting soil, and that will retain moisture better than the clay. The seeds were planted on top of vermiculite, as per Mel Bartholomew's technique. We will plant all the Kandy Kwik Corn on top of vermiculite also. The third 'planter' will get planted with Kandy Kwik Corn tonight. I have noted that some of the corn failure may be due to the fact that we presoaked it. Half the beans (all beans got presoaked) did not germinate well, half did. I conclude that some beans don't do well with presoaking if evenings are cool. The cool evenings definitely hurt a lot of plants. Cucumbers and Garden Huckleberries are just now starting to shoot up. The tires we replanted earlier (Pumpkin, Squash, Melon) are now emerging with sprouts. The pattern seems to be that the older seed (planted toward the exterior) is coming up before the newer seed (planted toward the interior). Tomatoes are shooting up out of their 'tubes', and at least one Early Goliath is ready to be trained to its wire trellis. I now think that the cucumbers we started and set out would have fared better with more wind breaks and more grass mulch.
JULY 2: Didn't get the corn in until noon on Wednesday the 26th. Corn is up this morning.... a bit less than 6 days later. Beans are being attacked as they emerge....am having to replant a lot of beans. Newly planted carrots are up in 8 days. Must be due to the extremely hot days we have been having in succession...must be some kind of record for heat.
JULY 10: We ran out of vermiculite and so am using pearlite. Beans planted with pearlite below seem to float up out of the hole. They may need to be covered with regular soil to hold them down. The garden is prospering. We have havested two central broccoli heads already. On those plants side shoots were already present. Wow. We have been cutting lettuce for a couple of weeks now. Some of the peppers on the Big Bertha plants are 4 inches already. We have havested all but one of the Boc Choi already and have replanted with Savoy Cabbage. There is one cauliflower head already. New corn is 5 inches tall. I have noticed that my cucumbers at home are of two heights. Those close to the spinach are short, and those further away are tall. Hmmm.
JULY 31: Great production of Broccoli thus far. The Cool Breeze Cucumber is producing hard and I am putting up quarts of pickles therefrom. Tomatoes are putting on fruit and we have had a couple of small red ones already. Sweet Slice and Sweet Success Cucumbers are producing. Lettuce is fantastic, but we have too much of it...same for Chard. Better Belle Peppers are producing well, a little behind Big Bertha, which is superb as usual. Cauliflower is about a fourth done producing...many heads on the way. Mokum and Kuroda carrots are tall now and some are picking size. Pak Choi produced well, but don't know if we will plant it again, same with Greenwhich. Savoy Express Cabbage is great. Will plant again. Hot peppers are putting on fruit, and the small mild ones too. All the Marrows (Squash and Pumpkin) are big now and putting on fruit. We have been eating Zuchini. Brussel Sprouts are sprouting hard now. All melons have some small fruit started, runners are running with many blossoms attached. Sun Jewel Melon has two fruit now, one 3 inches long. Corn is 2 1/2 feet tall and growing about an inch a day.
AUGUST 1: So how cold was it this June? Below is a chart that shows what happened to evening temperatures.
|Evening Low Temps (f)||48||50||49||44||44||52||48||54||40||39||36||36||41||34||42||47||48||48||48||46|
AUGUST 19: Each year we walk through the plots and I scribble notes about how each of the plants are doing, and what we would like to see changed next year. It is these notes that have a major impact on our decisions over the winter during the planning process for the next season.
(Moving from southest to northwest through the Combe and McAtee plots)
Sunflower and Zinnias - This is a nice combination but we need to concentrate our flowers next year. See Cucumbers below.
Red Norland Potato - The potatoes seem a bit diseased, and they do not seem to appreaciate the tires they are in as much as we think they would like a regular bed. Yet we think that there are plenty of potatoes below the surface. The idea, then is to move potatoes to the other double plot and to put them in two 3x6 boxes specially designed so that more boxes may be stacked upon them, and more dirt thrown on top of them to increase production. We will place the boxes so that they are far away from any neighbors.
Little Leaf Cucumber - Froze out. Replaced by Diva and National Pickling. They have been flowering for a month, yet we have had very little production. We think it is lack of bees, and that is due to a lack of flowers. We need to move all cucumbers to the other double plot, and to put in Cool Breeze in by both plant and seed. The seeded plants will come on a bit later than the plants we set out - giving us a more continuous harves. Cool Breeze is parthenocarpic, and does not need any fertilization to produce. When I think back the years we did well with National Pickling we had big flower beds right next to them. Flowers in BOTH double beds need to be concentrated and designed to be irresitable to bees.
National Pickling - See above.
Diva Cucumber - We have planted this in the plots and at all three houses. We are not impressed with production.
Onions - love the tires. Put more onions in tires next year.
Buttercup Squash -At last, we are getting some fruit on the vines.
Heart of Gold Squash - Have already picked one.
Sweet Favorite Watermelon - We are getting some. They are long fruit with dark green stripes over light green skin.
Savor Charentais Melon - These never did come up. Replaced by Sweet Favorite and Minn. Midget.
Autumn Gold Pumpkin - We have already harvested two of these.
Racer Pumpkin - We are getting these now, about 5 pound size now.
Golden Hubbard - We are getting these now.
Whopper Musk Melon - Never did come up. Replaced by Minn. Midget and Alaska Musk Melon.
Minnesota Midget Musk - We have great vines but no melons yet.
Alaska Musk Melon - Good production so far.
Chantenay and Danver Carrots - Need to plant these in boxes next year. They seem to not like tires.
Karma Pepper - Fine Production, big peppers. Not red yet
Red Beauty Pepper - Ditto
Ambrosia Corn - Lousy germination, 16 remaining are forming good ears.
Kandy Kwik Corn - Great Corn, planted June 26. Looks like we will get corn to eat. Did not do well in tires
Savoy Cabbage - Great, increase planting next year.
Packman Broccoli - Great as per usual - just the right number of plants
Snow Crown Cauliflower - Seems to lover tires - put all cauliflower in planters next year - increase planting of cauliflower next year
Pac Choi and Michili - Grew fine. Don't like it. Do not plant next year.
Table Ace Acorn Squash - Fine so far
Streaker Jack Pumpkin - Rotted in ground - replaced by Racer which is doing fine - needs more room
Patty Pan Squash - doing fine - have picked 2
Lumina Pumpkin - throws long runners - putting on fruit now.
Yellow Zucchini - We have picked lots.
Super Zuc - Ditto
Sun Jewel Melon - Puts on lots of fruit - don't know about taste - like plants a lot
Bush Delectica - fruit is three inches right now
AUGUST 21: Each year we walk through the plots and I scribble notes about how each of the plants are doing, and what we would like to see changed next year. It is these notes that have a major impact on our decisions over the winter during the planning process for the next season.
(Moving from southest to northwest through the original double plot)
Bright Lights Swiss Chard - Doing just fine. Probably have double what we really need.
Kuroda Carrot - Mokum Carrot - fine so far
Onions - fine so far - may have more than we need
Sukyo Tk Cucumber - froze out - replaced with sweet slice - which has produced just fine.
Roma and Incredible bush beans - late - hard to keep beetles off of the sprouts.
Better Bell Pepper - Good one. Offsets production of Big Bertha
Banana and Cherry Pick Pepper - good so far
Yellow Pear Tomato - late this year - no ripe ones yet
Black Plum Tomato - doing fine - impressive plants - unequalled flavor
Early Goliath Tomato - Late, like all tomatoes this year. Finally bearing fruit
Sunny Goliath Tomato - ditto
Early Cascade - OK, but would not grow again. Want to try Black Crim or Early Girl
Garafal Oro - Kwintus - the latter is better - not a great bean year
Sweet Success Cucumber - good so far
Fava Bean - do not plant again - diseased and beat up
Top Crop Bean - Late this year
Royal Burgandy - Very impressive plant - good production
Detroit Beets - good so far
Big Mama Tomato - Surprisingly good - plant more next year
Goliath Tomato - Slow this year, but better than Early Goliath
Jalapeno - Thai Hot - Just plant two Thais next year and no Jalapeno
Cool Breeze Cucumber - Great production this year - will get over 30 quarts from two 3x3 beds.
Brussell Sprouts - good so far
Iceberg - Nevada - Red Sails - Simpson Elite - Olga - Green Ice - all lettuce has been great. Olga and Iceberg are bolting finally, the others are fine.
AUGUST 22: General Notes:
1. Cucumber plants, when first set out, need more protection from the wind and more shade than we have been giving them.
2. Neighbors are raising celery. Lady bugs are all over them. Next year plant celery in the central 'herb' bed.
3. Neighbors are using sunflowers as effective windbreak for corn. We need a wind break too. Paul knows where he can get some chain link for a fence.
4. Peppers-just-set-out need more wind break. Short tubes would do nicely.
5. Plant all cauliflower next near in tires.
6.We need to get more serious about using flowers to attract bees. We have not gotten the polination we should have gotten because of a lack of bees. We need to plant 'targets' as in former years. We need to mix the flowers and herbs effectively.
7. Paul wants us to move the Brussel Sprouts to tires too.
SEPTEMBER 9: More general notes:
8. Types of tomatoes differ in their tendencies toward blossom end rot. Some types just don't get it. Some are very suseptible. Those appear to be : Paste Tomatoes, Plum Tomatoes, Cluster Tomatoes.
The 'cause' of blossom end rot is generally thought to be lack of calcium. This appears to be true. Bone meal mixed into the soil is a good treatment. But there may be another cause: wind. When leaves expire water at a very rapid rate they demand from the roots an extraordinary amount of water. Even well and evenly watered plants can then develop blossom end rot because all the water is going to the leaves and none is going to the fruit. These plants probably need bone meal and better protection from the wind.
The reason why the wind factor is overlooked by experts is that they do not experience the wind that we have here in Wyoming.
We are going to protect our tomatoes better next year from the ravages of wind.
9. Next year we will need to start extra corn and all bean plants.
First frost was September 22. We had all the tender fruit harvested and taken in. We will get a bit more production out of broccoli, lettuce and carrots. Potatoes are dug. We dug some onions that were not showing on the surface and ran into some really big ones. We may need to plant deeper in the future to get bigger onions.
10. We conclude that while most tomatoes respond well to trimming, some do not. Paste, Plum, Cluster, and Cherry tomatoes should not be trimmed.
11. We discover, from reading, that there is a propper way to grow Brussel Sprouts (We have been doing it the wrong way.). Leaves should be left on the plant until sprouts bud at the base of the plant. Then leaves should be removed from the bottom of the plant to the top as the buds arrrive. Pinch out the growing point at the top of the stem to speed development of all the buds. Do this about September 1 - 15. Brussel Sprouts should only be picked after the first heavy frost.
The 2002 temperatures:
Below is are charts that show the daily highs and lows for the 2002 gardening season in Casper, Wyoming. Please note that the Last Average Day of Frost in Casper is May 25, and that we hit it exactly. Please also note that most plants don't actually grow until evening teperatures rise above 50 degrees Farenheit. What the charts show is that from June 9 through June 15 we underwent a cold spell. Evening temperatures did not rise above 50 degrees until June 21. We did most of our reseeding around June 26. The first hard frost was September 22.
Degree Days are the number of average temperature degrees above 50 degrees each day, and they add as the season progresses. For instance, May 26 had an average temperature of 60 degrees, so that day's degrees are 10 (60-50=10). May 27 had an average temperature of 60.5 degrees. Its ten degrees are added to the previous total (10) to arrive at 20 degrees. I have given a starting point of May 26, the day after the last average day of frost.
How to use Degree Days:
Some seed catalogs now give you degree day information. Let us say that you are going to plant corn and you are given the degree days for that variety of 1800. Let's say, further that instead of planting your corn on May 26, you are going to wait until June 1. The degree days for June 1, 2002 were 91. Add that 91 to your given 1800 and you will get 1891. Look at the charts above for 1891 and you will see that you could have expected to pick your corn about September 5. Of course the year 2003 or years beyond may not conform exactly to 2002. Future years may be warmer or colder. But these charts should be able to give you a close approximation for climates similar to Casper, Wyoming.
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