Wild Men on the North Fork

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Wyogrow...where the tough get growing, by Fred Jacquot
I have been an active gardener in the Casper area now for over 30 years. Back when I first started no one could tell a beginner what kind of carrots or tomatoes grew best here. Because I have been taking notes all these years, you can find out what plants do best in Wyoming on the 'vegetable varieties' pages, whose links are above.
Along with my partners Mark McAtee and Paul Combe I have done a lot of experimenting and research. You can find the results of this activity on these many pages. Please click on the links and start viewing our work. I think you will find that there is a huge amount of information available here for you. Enjoy!

Below are a few links to some nice garden sites.

Raspberry De Light Farms
Texas A&M Vegetables
Here is a link to Garden Guides!
Rocky Mountain Garden Forum
Garden Humor
About Composting

Main Season Notes 2014

October 3, 2014

I know that I am late in posting this, but here goes:

Annual Review of the Garden

Tomatoes

The pattern has been for us to have three cool seasons followed by two hot ones. Well we had two hot ones, so this season should have been a cool one, and it was. But I did not adjust accordingly and grow more Determinate Tomatoes and fewer Indeterminates. Dummy! I will correct that next season, which should be the second of three cool ones.

Valley Girl (Determinate) - so-so production and fruit was small, will not grow next year. Also, I lost one of the four to disease.

Debut (Determinate) - so-so production and fruit was small, will not grow next year.

Applause (Determinate) - good production and really nice big fruit. I will expand their numbers next season. Note: I did lose one to disease this season.

Mountain Merit (Determinate) - Good production, really big plants. I will grow this next season.

Defiant (Determinate) - Good production. I will grow this next season.

Tomande (Indeterminate) - Medium production, came on late. May not grow next season.

Black Krim (Indeterminate) - Medium production, came on late, but better than Tomande, will definitely grow next season. Flavor is fantastic.

Orange and Yellow (Indeterminate) - Medium production, came on late. May not grow next season.

Ground Cherry - not a great success, will not grow next season.

Hot Peppers - Good success considering the cool season, will grow next season.

Sweet Peppers - Not so great success considering the cool season, will grow next season. I need to concentrate on SHORT SEASON varieties.

Cabbage - Wonderful success in the cool season, will grow next season, but will cut back their numbers.

Chard - Wonderful success in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Broccoli - Wonderful success in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Beets - Wonderful success in the cool season, will grow next season, will increase the number of plants.

Lettuce - Wonderful success in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Melon - Some limited success in the cool season. I need to develop a cold frame for these in the earliest part of the season.

Radish - Wonderful success in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Cool Breeze Cucumber - Wonderful success in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Rouge Vif D' Entempes Pumkin - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Winter Luxury Pumkin - Good Solid Performance in the cool season. This one seemed to give up early. I will look for a replacement.

Heart of Gold Squash - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Spaghetti Squash - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Red October Squash - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Cream Of the Crop Squash - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, will grow next season, will expand the number of plants.

Green Zucchini Squash - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Gold Zucchini Squash - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, will grow next season, will keep the same number of plants.

Roc d'or Bush Bean - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, but not as popular as the Romas. Will not grow next season.

Roma Bush Bean - Good Solid Performance in the cool season. Will double the amount grown next season.

Contender Bush Bean - Good Solid Performance in the cool season, with good germination. Will definitely grow next season.

Espada Bush Bean - Still had gemination issues, but production is heavy from the plants we did get. Very high quality beans produced. Will definitely grow next season.

Annihilator Bush Bean - Had gemination issues, but production is heavy from the plants we did get. Very high quality beans produced. Will definitely grow next season.

Onion Plants - Purchased from Dixon Dale Farms in Texas. Lost over half to the little white worms. I think the worms come in with the plants. Will NOT grow next season.

Onion Sets - Purchased from Jung, and set in among the pepper plants. They did just fine and I did not lose a single one to the little white worms. Will grow next season.

Sugar Snap Peas - Did wonderfully well in the cool season. Will grow next season.

Sweetness Carrot - Did wonderfully well in the cool season. Will grow next season.

Danver Carrot - Did wonderfully well in the cool season. Will grow next season.

So, how hot has it been?

Regular readers know that I keep a degree-day chart each year. I have chosen the base temperature of 50 degrees (F.) because I don't think plants do much growing below that temperature.

Degree days are the cumulative average temperatures above the set base (50 in this case). I always begin counting degree days on May 25, Casper's last average day of frost. If on May 25 the average temperature was 62 degrees, that would be 12 degrees above 50 and the cumulative total would be 12. If on May 26 the average temperature was 64 degrees, that is 14 degrees above 50 . I add that 14 to the 12 I already have, and the degree days for May 26 would be 26. Adding the degrees above the base together is what makes degree-days cumulative.

Here is the 2014 degree-day chart.

MAY 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 JUNE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
HIGH 70 78 74 76 72 81 84 92 84 68 86 66 78 80 81 81 68 64 55
LOW 46 39 40 45 46 45 46 41 53 42 36 40 38 45 39 36 44 44 39
AVER. 2014 58 58.5 57 60.5 59 63 65 66.5 68.5 55 61 53 58 62.5 60 58.5 56 54 47
DD (50) 9 22 37 53.5 72 77 88 91 99 111.5 121.5 130 136 140 137
JUNE 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
HIGH 76 83 68 77 88 74 75 80 83 67 77 85 88 78 75 81 90
LOW 36 45 41 40 51 37 36 47 46 42 39 45 41 46 39 48 48
AVER. 2014 56 64 54.5 58.5 69.5 55.5 55.5 63.5 64.5 54.5 58 65 64.5 62 57 64.5 69
DD (50) 143 157 161.5 170 189.5 195 200.5 214 228.5 233 241 256 270.5 282.5 289.5 304 323
JUNE 26 27 28 29 30 JULY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
HIGH 92 69 78 84 76 77 82 94 93 98 94 88 86 94 89 82
LOW 53 49 46 42 45 40 38 47 55 57 55 55 47 52 58 59
AVER. 2014 72.5 59 62 63 60.5 58.5 60 70.5 74 77.5 74.5 71.5 66.5 73 73.5 70.5
DD (50) 345.5 354.5 366.5 379.5 390 398.5 408.5 429 453 480.5 505 526.5 543 566 591.5 612
JULY 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
HIGH 87 89 83 88 68 85 88 94 97 95 96 100 96 97 91 87
LOW 54 52 53 48 52 48 54 53 56 59 54 53 60 53 47 47
AVER. 2014 70.5 70.5 68 68 60 66.5 71 73.5 76.5 76.5 75 76.5 78 75 69 67
DD (50) 632.5 653 671 689 699 714.5 735.5 809 835.5 862 887 913.5 941.5 966.5 985.5 1002.5
JULY 28 29 30 31 AUG 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
HIGH 92 72 80 86 89 89 92 85 85 80 84 85 81 84
LOW 49 57 52 45 49 50 52 57 57 56 52 54 53 46
AVER. 2013 70.5 64.5 66 65.5 69 69.5 72 71 71 68 68 69.5 67 65
DD (50) 1023 1037.5 1053.5 1069 1088 1107.5 1129.5 1150.5 1171.5 1189.5 1207.5 1227 1254 1269
AUGUST 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
HIGH 90 95 92 83 90 93 92 88 89 86 84 81 71 74
LOW 47 49 64 59 56 50 50 50 47 62 51 46 45 41
AVER. 2012 68.5 72 78 71 73 71.5 71 69 68 74 67.5 63.5 58 57.5
DD (50) 1287.5 1309.5 1337.5 1358.5 1381.5 1403 1424 1443 1461 1485 1502.5 1516 1524 1531.5
AUGUST 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 SEP

1

2 3 4 5 6
HIGH 75 80 67 82 82 89 73 73 85 91 68 73 81
LOW 45 47 54 52 50 46 44 40 35 51 44 47 38
AVER. 2014 60 63.5 61 67 66 67.5 58.5 57 60 71 56 60 59.5
DD (50) 1541.5 1555 1566 1583 1599 1616.5 1625 1632 1642 1663 1669 1679 1688.5
SEPTEMBER 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
HIGH 85 86 68 70 41 59 67 81 85 87 85 92 85
LOW 49 50 49 41 26 25 32 31 30 41 50 43 50
AVER. 2013 67 68 58.5 55.5 33.5 41.5 49.5 56 57.5 64 67.5 67.5 67.5
DD (50) 1705.5 1723.5 1732 1737.5 1721 1712.5 1712 1718 1725.5 1739.5 1757 1774.5 1792

- - This year's Degree Days compared to past years - -

Degree Days Through June 30
Through July 15
Through July 31
Through August 15
Through August 31
Through Sept. 19
This
Period
Running
Total
This
Period
Running
Total
This
Period
Running
Total
This
Period
Running
Total
This
Period
Running
Total
This
Period
Season
Total
2014
390
390
299
689
380
1069
312.5
1381.5
243.5
1625
167
1792
2013
524.5
524.5
339
863.5
317
1180.5
426.5
1607
381.5
1988.5
315.5
2304
2012
558
558
362
920
416
1336
314.5
1650.5
317
1967.5
243
2210.5
2011
322.5
322.5
325.5
648
385.5
1033.5
305
1338.5
367
1705.5
195
1900.5
2010
364
364
228
592
264
856
394.5
1250.5
322
1572.5
175
1747.5
2009
327
327
258.5
585.5
256
841.5
267
1108.5
216
1324.5
254.5
1579
2008
292.5
292.5
281
573.5
387
960.5
289
1249.5
282.5
1532
96
1628
2007
431.5
431.5
348.5
780
400.5
1180.5
344.5
1525
278.5
1803.5
277.5
2081
2006
567.5
567.5
332.5
900
426.5
1326.5
308.5
1635
294.5
1929.5
131.5
2061
2005
333.5
333.5
297
630.5
360
990.5
256.5
1247
240
1487
242.5
1729.5
2004
314
314
270
584
269
853
275.5
1128.5
197.5
1326
246
1572
2003
401.5
401.5
307.5
709
399
1108
388
1496
317.5
1813.5
146.5
1960
2002
528
528
360
888
364
1252
278
1530
262
1792
248
2040

September 30, 2014

Here are some photos sent by gardening friend Mike. This season was his first serious attempt in a long time. It looks like he had good success.


An early Spring shot with Tomatoes just planted.

A shot at the end of his season.

A shot at the end of his season, from the opposite direction.
Mike Sent this note:

" Fred -

I've attached some photos of my garden. One was taken in late May before things really got going and the others were taken a couple of weeks ago. In them you can't really see the raised beds any more, but the squash plants were doing pretty well. The ratty looking, empty space is where my potatoes were/are. They've died back and are awaiting my shovel. You can't see the tomatoes behind the corn, but they are there. The middle bed had pumpkins and you can see some of the vines crawling around. The sunflowers in the back are 10' to 12' tall. Took 3 attempts at seeding to get all of the corn to germinate, but that worked out pretty well as it didn't ripen all at once and I wasn't overwhelmed trying to consume all of it..

I'm expecting even better things next year when the composted manure in the beds cools down a bit. The tomatoes struggled with it for a month until they got their feet under them and took off (after I really started to pour the water to them). I took the easy route and used tomato cages (I couldn't find any of the wire panels you spoke of), but the vines became too heavy and started pulling them over. I wound up driving a 2x2 into the middle of the bed and tying the cages off on it.

Thanks!"

Here are photos taken today of the surviving flower we have at my house.

September 9, 2014

We are supposed to get a frost soon. So today I picked what was left of the squash and pumpkin and cucumbers. I harvested the little bit of lettuce left. I gave away zuchini, broccoli, and cucumbers to fellow gardeners.

Here are some photos taken at my house yesterday.


Some of the Pumpkin and Squash harvest.

Some of the Pumpkin and Squash harvest.

Some of the Pumpkin and Squash harvest.

Petunias.

Russian Sage.

Red Rose with Petunias.

Grapes (Concord Beta).

Our Chokecherries, which we are going to leave for the birds.

Petunias.

Pink Asters.

Petunias.

September 1, 2014

It is time to start wrapping things up. We have had a pretty good year. The cool weather crops did best, as expected. The warm weather crops did not do as well. The determinate tomatoes are pumping out ripe ones right now. The indeterminates are just now starting to produce (one ripe Tomande, Black Krim, Yellow Goliath each). Knowing it was probably going to be a cool year, I should have increased the space for determinates and decreased the space for the indeterminates. I will do so next season, as it should also be a cool one. I grew all kinds of cabbage this season only to find that folks really can not use much cabbage. The broccoli has done well, and so have lettuce, radish, carrots, and beets. Beans did medium - OK. We will eliminate growing yellow beans in favor of increasing the Romas.

It is still a footrace to see if we will get melons. Ground cherries are 3 feet high and very bushy, but have not dropped any ripened fruit...so that is iffy. The squash and pumpkin did medium - OK in this cool year. The suprise is the Cool Breeze cucumbers. They were fantastic. Peas did well and are all ripped out. Cabbage is all harvested, and 5 of 6 bean beds are ripped out now.

Here are some photos


Grapes on our patio.

Wife Judy in her Dyer's Plot.

A perrenial at home.

Globe Thistle at our house

July 31, 2014

It is that time of year when you look down a path between squash, and there is only one vine crossing the path. Two days later there are six. The big push is on. The Determinate tomatoes will definitely produce earlier than the Indeterminate. Here are some photos of Rudbeccia in our back yard.

July 18, 2014

Here are some photos I took yesterday of our garden plots. Note that it has been a cool season so far and therefore the carrots, brassicas, lettuce, chard, and peas are doing swimmingly. The hot weather stuff like peppers and tomatoes are not doing as well. Every season brings its own disasters. I have documented ours below.


These are my 'good' determinate tomatoes. They are the same varieties as the 'bad'.

These are my 'bad' determinate tomatoes. The difference between them is good soil and bad soil.

These are my 'good' beans. They are Contenders.

These are my 'bad' beans. They are experimental varieties. Same soil in both beds.

These are onions. They are being consumed by little worms. I changed the onion location this season. My only concusion is that the little worms are coming in on the onion plants I have mail ordered.

I put Cabbage in with my peas. They are both doing well. How's that for companion planting?

My fellow gardener Butch planted squash in one of his plots and now, July 17, he has a jungle. He has built structures for them to climb on. They are already 7 feet tall.

Butch has a magnificent set of Pepper beds, shown here.

Sweet Pepper beds, very stunted. Note the onions from sets that are doing just fine.

Our melon beds. These guys are slow this season too.

Cabbage loves the cool and wet. We are getting ready to harvest some.

Lettuce is doing great.

Cucumbers are just now getting ready to climb their trellises.

Broccoli is big and putting on.

A shot of the Jacquot plot.

Our squash in the McAtee plot.

A shot of the Combe plot.

The Combe plot with the McAtee plot beyond.

July 1, 2014

A reader recently wrote me this note:

Here is my reply. "Start trimming when plants are twice as tall as when you set them out. Our starts (tomato) are typically 12 inches above the dirt line when planted. So I start trimming when they are 24 inches.

Do not leave the water wall on all season. Once the really hot weather arrives you will want to remove them. They tend to trap too much moisture and promote rot. The season has not been all that warm yet. But in the cool weather the plants just sit there. As their roots (tomato) encounter nutrients in the soil outside the initial root ball the leaves should turn very dark green. This is the plant getting ready to shoot up once the heat comes. I have a bed that I have overwatered and the leaves are looking a bit yellow. I have cut back the water to that bed and lightened up on the other beds.

Until your plants have doubled in height they are still not 'adult' and watering needs to be closely monitored. Once they are 'adult' and the heat is on, watering can be done every day. But also remember that if the plants are using that much water, they are also expiring calcium (just as we expire salts when we sweat) at much greater rates. That is why I hit them with bone meal or powdered milk when they are fully flowering. If blossom end rot shows up on early tomatoes, I hit them again with more calcium."

The same reader wrote me again:

Here is my reply.

"How much water I give daily varies according to how they are acting and how hot is has been. When we are in the hot dog days I will give them that full gallon. Right now they only need about a quart. It is a judgement call. But they can tell you if they aren't getting enough. They will wilt a bit. I like to water in the morning. But I don't think it matters what time of day you do it. I know some good gardeners who like to let the sun warm the water up in a big tank first so that all the garden ever gets is warm water. They do get some great results. I don't have that watering option.

When I apply calcium I give each plant about 1/4 cup and I just sprinkle it on the surface (inside my tube). Watering does the rest of the work."

Recent Photos

Barry Franck in his hothouse with 6 week old plants.

A closer look at Barry's hydroponic system.

Barry Franck's Tomatoes on the vine.

Sweet100 blossoms (I counted 32 in this bunch).

Here I am filling a raised bed I just built at home.

Here is the 8 foot bed ready to receive Madder for Judy's dye project.

Here are some of our perrenials at our house today.

Here are some of our perrenials at our house today.

June 19, 2014

Everything has been in for a while. The growing season so far seems cool and wet. The heat lovers like tomato and pepper are just sitting there not growing. But the brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) just love it. We are harvesting lettuce and beginning to pick radish. I think we have been over-watering a bed of tomatoes. So we will have to cut back the water there. I have been busy reseeding. I think I missed some spots when I planted. There are no real germination problems except the Espada Bean.

Here are some pictures sent by a reader named Mike. He built his boxes for raised beds this Spring using my directions and is pleased with them. He filled them with a manure/mulch blend and is happy with his results so far. I am hoping he will send more photos at the end of the season so we can see before-and-after shots.

Mike's Beds

June 9, 2014

It rained nicely (again) yesterday. Carrots and beans are starting to sprout. Everything is now planted many things are up including beans (with some germination issues) and most of the Zuchinni. Brassicas are loving the cool and wet weather. I am currently trying to create a system to help brace the peppers when they grow taller and will report on that later.

Here are some pictures sent by Barry Franck of Westside Nursery. They show his hydroponic system, particularly with tomatoes growing in it.

Barry Franck's Hydroponics

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Last season (2013) I gave over a whole plot to my wife Judy so that she could pursue a natural dye project. We are continuing that project this season (2014). Here is a pictoral review.

The Natural Dye Project

Woad (a brassica) gives a blue dye.

Cosmos in July.

Marigolds in July.

Flowers drying on our patio.

Sunflower growing in our bed.

Getting ready to cook the Sunflowers.

Here are some of the results.

June 2, 2014

It rained nicely yesterday. Carrots and beans are starting to sprout. I have everything planted except:

Tomatoes, some Peppers, Cucumbers, Melons.

May 11, 2014

That's Five

It is snowing as I write this. Happy Mothers Day! A reader in Buffalo recently sent this note.

Here is my reply.

"I use plastic tubing that I have scrounged from various contractors.

The 4 inch diameter tubes I use in two lengths:

1) 4-4 1/2 inch high for beans and cucumbers. This tubing is commonly used for sewer in houses and can be thick walled or thin. The thickness does not matter because I am only trying to keep the wind and beatles off the plants for a short time. Once these plants are up out of the tubes, they can handle both of these menaces.

2) 6-7 inch high for peppers. Peppers love tubes and any additional support you can give them later in the season. I also like to put peppers in bigger diameter tubes...6 inch diameter works great.

For tomatoes I have tubes that are 8 to 12 inches in diameter and are 12 to 16 inches high. Many of these are quite thick walled. This kind of plastic pipe is used under city streets for both sewer and water. Contractors and city governments have left-over after a project that can not be used next year because exposure to ultra violet for very long degrades the pipe.

These and smaller tubes can be cut with an electric hand rotary saw that has an abrasive blade in it instead of the usual wood blade. Cut them outside because you will end up with a gazillion tiny pieces of plastic all over.

Fred Jacquot"

May 6, 2014

Onion plants went in a week ago (April 29), late. This week I got in Lettuce, Radish, Chard, and Peas...which always seem to take a long time. It took me from 7:30 to 9 pm to plant them, but I had to get them in to beat the rain. I always soak my peas 12 hours before planting. So I began soaking at 7:30 am. Tulips are now in full swing, Some standard Apples are blooming and my Cherries are in full bloom, as are many Crabapples.

April 29, 2014

That's Four

Building a box for a Raised Bed
We built our first boxes from 6 foot X 5 1/2 inch X 3/4 inch cedar fencing slats. It was a lucky mistake. The 3/4 inch slats did not hold up. But we found that we really liked the 3 foot X 3 foot, and 3 foot X 6 foot size of the beds, much better than we would have liked 4 foot wide beds. Now days we build bed boxes from 2 X 6 lumber. 2 X 6 is actually 1 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches when you measure it. I like to get 2 X 6 studs. They are considerably less expensive than regular 2 X 6s, they do the same job, and yeild a little less waste.

April 28, 2014

That's Three

April 27, 2014

That's Two

It is snowing as I write this. Our Last AVERAGE Frost for Casper is May 25.

April 13, 2014

That's One

Every year I give out this platitude for gardening in Wyoming: It's not Spring yet until the Daffodils have been snowed on four times. As I write this we are experiencing a classic April storm. My neighbor, who has a classic southern exposure has daffodils in bloom. They have been blooming for about a week now. My own daffodils, which have a northern exposure, are only 2-3 inches up. Today's storm is Nature's way of reminding us that Winter still lingers at this time of year when you live as high as we do.

March 27, 2014

3 Factors for Gardening Success

#1...Selection

I have developed my one third rule for gardening in Wyoming. Basically, you will get 1/3 less from a garden in Wyoming than you will get from one in Iowa, perhaps even less. The fruit that you get will be 1/3 smaller, or the volume of production will be 1/3 less.

When I apply the 1/3 rule to climate I get results that are sobering. I calculate that here in Casper our growing season is 114 days. But those 114 days are not comperable to the same number of growing days in Iowa. Many of our nights dip well below 50 degrees farenheit. To get an equivalent I multiply 114 by 2 and get 228. Then I divide by three and I get 76. Thus, in Casper we have a growing season of 76 Iowa-days. That has serious implications when you are selecting varieties to plant in you garden. You will want to plant very short-season varieties.

Below are links to my vegetable variety pages. There are many tables. In the first column of these tables are four-letter links followed by numbers. The four letters are shorthand links to the sites of seed suppliers and the numbers are the days-to-maturity that each seed provider estimates for that variety. Thus, 'Burp65' is a link to the Burpee seed site and 65 would be the days-to-maturity that Burpee estimates for the particular variety in question. Use these links. I have done a lot of leg work for you.

Beans - Carrot

Cauliflower - Corn

Cucumber - Peas

Peppers - Squash

Tomato - Watermelon


3 Factors for Gardening Success

#2...Soils

Clay soils, in particular, will compact through the process of watering. So even if you never trod on tilled soil you can be compacting it every time you water. Always take the opportunity to mix some humus in as you till, and to mix it into the soil surrounding trees and bushes. Humus is available in the forms of peat moss, manure, and compost. Peat can be purchased by the bag, or by the bale. It comes to us mostly from Canada It is dug there from old lake beds, and contains the plant remains of hundreds, even thousands of years of lake-plant growth. Peat moss provides great humus that is slightly acidic. That acidity will neutralize some of the alkali in our soils.

Manures have different degrees of 'hotness', or concentrations of nitrogen. Sheep manure is the hottest available to Casper residents. To obtain some you may have to drive out into the countryside to ranches that feed herds of sheep over the winter. Never use fresh sheep manure. Use only aged sheep manure, and use it sparingly. Even aged sheep manure can burn plants if it is too concentrated.

Horse manure is 'hotter' than cow manure, and has fewer active seeds. Use manure that has aged in a pile for a least a year, as that composting tends to kill a lot of seeds in the manure.

Tiny grains of clay in freshly tilled soil are widely separated. During compaction there is less and less space between them. Because they are very thin they orient horizontally during compaction, forming a barrier that is virtually impossible for roots to penetrate.
Sandy soil also presents problems. Think humus and manure...or organics. Sandy soil is severly lacking in organics. Till some in every year until you get a more acceptable soil mix.
Please click on this link to go to the Soils page.

3 Factors for Gardening Success

#3...Climate Control

Birds do it, bees do it, farmers do it in a big way.

WINDBREAKS

CONTOUR PLOWING

IRRIGATION
Farmers all over the world modify the climate in which they grow crops. Among the methods they use are windbreaks, countour plowing and irrigation. They know, as we should know, that climate modification is necessary.
The Wind Kills
We once had an 80 mph wind gust the day after we set out our tomatoes. That stripped all the leaves off of the plants. That inspired us to begin using tubes to keep the wind off. All but one of the plants put on new leaves and survived. We found that there are multiple advantages to using thick-walled plastic tubing. It keeps the wind off the tender young plant that is going through root shock. If pushed down into the ground, it prevents cut worms from attacking.
Tubes provide thermal mass, and radiate heat back to the plant during the evening. They allow just enough wind to strike the plant to allow it to wiggle. This makes the stem stronger. When the plant does grow up out of the tube it is ready to handle the wind.
We use tubes for Tomato, Pepper, Cucumber, and Bean. The tender sprouts of the last two attract a lot of attention from the beetles. Tubes provide a barrier to the bugs. In the case of Cucumber, we tie a netting over the tube. When the plant grows large enough to touch the netting, it is also strong enough to withstand beetle attack, and we remove the netting.
Fences and wind barriers of all kinds are used in Wyoming gardens, and you should seriously consider using some in your garden.
Watering
We have found that tubes also help the watering process. When it is super hot outside, we like to water every other day. But tomatoes love water (they also love good drainage...go figure). When I water the Tomatoes and Peppers I simply fill the tubes full of water. The water seeps slowly into the soil for a deep watering, which is what I want. But beware. Do not do this early in the season. I killed some tomato plants one season by watering deeply this way too early. I would not water this way unless the plant is at least twice as high as when I set it out, and the temperatures are very warm.

The time to plan how you are going to water your garden is before you plant. Where exactly will the hose end up when you drag it through your beds? Will you need to drive stakes for hose control?

Please click on the links below to take you to other climate-related pages.

Climate/Conditions

Raised Beds

Between Season Notes 2013-2014

February 20, 2014

A visitor to my site wrote this:

"I've been in Casper almost a year although I am native to Wyoming. This will be my first year planting a garden. And actually my husband and I are having a 'garden-off' of sorts. He is planting and caring for his own as I will do for mine. My main questions I suppose are when to plant and what NOT to plant as well as is there a flower I can plant around my garden to keep pesky bugs and nibbly deer away? I am super excited for the growing season and look forward to hearing back from you with any pointers much appreciated.

Thank you. :)"

Here is my reply:

"The three most important factors in gardening success are, in assending order:

3. Climate control. We do this by watering, by keeping the wind off new plants, and even by knowing when to plant. The last average day of frost for Casper, Wyoming is May 25. If, leading up to that date, we are having a very warm Spring....plant a few days, even a week before then. Some things like lettuce, carrots, and some of the brassicas (not cabbage) will take some early cold, so will corn. So, you can plant them up to a month early. Corn still needs warm soil (61.5 F.) though when planted. The squash, pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and melons all need super warm soil when planted and no frost whatsoever. They should go in on May 25 or up to a week later (cucumbers).

2. Soil. If you garden in or around Casper you will have either heavy clay or sand. Those are the predominate soils here. On my sight I list different soil mixtures that are ideal for different kinds of veggies. I am beginning to rethink that. Last season I planted tomatoes, melons, pumpkins and squash in pure 4 year old cow manure and they loved it. So did the cabbage. What did not like soil that hot was the other brassicas (radish, broccoli). Carrots like moderately rich soil and extremely loose (friable). Cucumbers love the manure. Avoid manufactured soil in bags or from local contractors. It may look great, but you really do not know what is in that stuff. If it has mulched material from some city it could have the diseases from the tree limbs and the weed and feed from the grass clippings. Beware! A lot of the Miracle grow products are mulched pine trees. I work in a garden center and that is what I smell when I take the shrink wrap off a pallet of that stuff. Mulched pine is alright for breaking up hard soil, but it may actually compete with your plants for the nitrogen as it breaks down.

1. Varieties. What varieties you choose to plant will make a HUGE difference in your success. Again, the pages on my site make specific suggestions. But here is a condensed version:

Beans: Avoid pole beans. Go with bush, they do well here. The best green is CONTENDER....very short season, productive.

Carrots: All do well here. They can take up to two weeks to emerge from the soil. So keep it wet that whole time. The best cooking carrot is, far and away, DANVER.

Cauliflower: Can have problems here. It won't do well in a really hot season like we have had for the past two.

Corn: Plant only one variety, and make it short seasoned. Plant it in masses (squares) and not in long thin rows.

Cucumber: If you only can plant one kind, make it COOL BREEZE...highly productive and very tasty. These are smaller, but wonderful. The slicers all do well here but like really warm and rich soil to germinate. In descending order I rate them: SWEETER YET, SWEET SUCCESS, SWEET SLICE.

Lettuce: Will do well here. But it gets so hot that some will bolt early. Think about planting even head lettuce in rows like leaf lettuce.

Musk Melon: We grew SOLSTICE and LILY last season with some success. Bill Simpson grows SWEET N EARLY, and it does well for him.

Onion: Does perfectly well from sets. Plant 4 inches apart and get them in 4 to 6 weeks before May 25. If you order plants I have had good luck with SUPER STAR and CANDY.

Peas: They all grow well here. Soak them for 24 hours before planting. Get them in 4 weeks before May 25. I prefer SUGAR SNAP or SUPER SUGAR SNAP.

Peppers: I suggest you start your own. We got some from a green house last year and one was definitely not as labeled. I suggest BIG BERTHA, KING ARTHUR, or BELL BOY for bell peppers. CARMEN is a wonderful non standard sweet pepper. Most of the Jalapenos do well here as do the other hot guys. Selection is really a matter of taste.

Pumpkin: AUTUMN GOLD, BUSH SPIRIT, ROUGE VIF D'ENTAMPES

Radish: CHERRY BELLE, GERMAN GIANT

Squash: GOLD RUSH ZUCCHINI, HEART OF GOLD (ACORN), TABLE ACE (ACORN), SUNSHINE (KOBOCHA) CREAM O' THE CROP (ACORN), RED OCTOBER (Hubbard), any Spaghetti Squash

Tomato: You may want to start your own just to get exactly what you want. I suggest BLACK KRIM, TOMANDE, and BIG BEEF for Indeterminates, APPLAUSE, VALLEY GIRL, and DEBUT for Determinates (Determinates perform better in a cool season), and BLACK PLUM and SUNSUGAR for small Indeterminate tomatoes.

Watermelon: SUGAR BABY and CRIMSON SWEET. Remember to cover these early on. They love hot soil and hot temperatures.

I think your garden off is a great idea. Marigolds are suggested by many to keep harmful insects away. I don't think anything other than fencing can keep deer out. Do encourage wasps to hang around they are death on the aphids and beetles who ravage gardens. Wasps love to nest in black pipe that heats up with the sun. And they love running water.

Fred Jacquot"

February 2, 2014

I received a catalog from Irish Eyes Garden Seeds last year and this year too. The general selection is standard fare. But I have to tell you that the Potato selection is fantastic. It is the best I have ever seen. Also, if you need to order Potatoes in large volumes, you might look at the Peaceful Valley Catalog.

January 15, 2014

Well I have the 2014 garden plots pretty well mapped out. But I still have not settled on all varieties that will be planted.

In going through my seed catalogs, three always stand out:

Totally Tomatoes - As the name suggests, this catalog is all about tomatoes and peppers. It contains hundreds of tomato varieties. Totally Tomatoes is also the creator of the GOLIATH series of tomatoes that we admire so much. This is one of many companies owned by Jung.

Johnny's Selected Seeds - Out of Maine, Johnny's offers a great catalog, and it keeps growing each year. Johnny's introduced the DIVA variety of cucumber, which won the AAS for 2002. Johnny's also won the AAS for both the Sunshine and the BonBon squashes. The catalog is heavy on the vegetables. It is outstanding for its selection of lettuces and greens. The squash and pumpkin layouts are the best I have ever seen. Much of what is featured will not grow here in Wyoming. We are not Maine. But this company is so dynamic that its catalog simply can not be ignored. I read it cover to cover, so as not to miss anything!

Baker Creek Seeds - This company (a young family really) is dedicated to heirloom vegetables and flowers. It collects varieties from around the world. So, naturally, many of those varieties will not work in Wyoming. But some will! The catalog gets thicker every year as they add more varieties. The company started in Missouri, but has expanded to Petaluma, California, and to the old Comstock Seed company buildings in Connecticut. I very much admire the work the Gettle Family is doing and predict that they will have a huge impact on the American diet within their own lifetimes.

In the Baker Creek catalog for 2014 is a chart that takes up page 142. I have replicated that chart below. On page 141 the Gettles explain the chart. They decided to compare, "the nutrient values of 9 different heirloom tomatoes coming in different colors and one red ripe tomato hybrid from the supermarket as our check." The results, that you can see below, are dramatic.

Baker Creek 2013 Nutritional Study on Tomatoes
VARIETY
BRIX
Sugars
LYCOPENE
ppm
POTASSIUM
ppm
ACIDITY
Percent
VITAMIN A
IU
VITAMIN C
mg
CHLOROPHYLL
Percent
BLACK
KRIM
'black' slicer
7.82
21.10
3424
0.57
606
27.24
- - -
BLACK
ICICLE
2" plum
8.55
14.1
3708
0.40
510
25.39
- - -
CHEROKEE
PURPLE
red slicer
5.23
7.3
1720
0.26
352
2983
- - -
INDIGO
APPLE
small black
6.70
21.14
2934
0.38
503
39.55
- - -
BLUSH
striped plum
8.48
2.14
3473
0.67
525
14.14
- - -
JUBILEE
ORANGE
small orange
6.03
1.00
2539
0.27
50
2922
- - -
PINK
BRANDYWINE
pink slicer
5.96
3.95
2758
0.39
143
17.99
- - -
MICHAEL
POLLAN
green cherry
5.63
- - -
2584
0.43
50
29.85
0.10
CHEROKEE
GREEN
green slicer
6.16
- - -
2636
0.45
50
17.94
0.10
VINE
RIPE
HYBRID
red slicer
5.36
6.6
2712
0.32
231
18.69
- - -

On page 141 of the Baker Creek catalog, the Gettles explain that Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, present in Tomatoes and Watermelon. It is a bright red pigment. It protects the body's cells from harmful oxygen-free radicals. Lycopene is tightly bound to the fruit fibers and is not soluable in water, but is soluable in oil. So, the Gettles recommend crushing tomatoes and or cooking them in olive oil when using them.

One general conclusion is that fruits (and tomatoes are fruits) that have higher ratios of sugars, nutrients, and acids taste better. Your instincts have been telling you all along that home grown tomatoes are probably better for you. Well, they are. And they taste better too.

One other note: We have been growing Black Krim for a long time now. It is fantastic. It was good to see that this tomato, with ever-growing popularity, also rated overall best for nutrition in the Baker Creek study.

October 12, 2013

During the off season I pour back through my catalogs and to find better offerings. The chart that follows is a survey of musk melons. I take the size in pounds (bigger the better), and the days-to-maturity given for each variety. I then subtract 4 percent for each day that a variety is over the ideal of 68 days. So then, with a fruit that is 5 lbs. and 70 days, I multiply the 5 by .92 to get a 'score' of 4.6. Please note that some seed catalogs are notorious for giving too low ratings on their days-to-maturity to really match up well with our climate. So I take the 'scores' with a big grain of salt. Also note that we trialed 'Solstice' this season. We got good production. The fruit was small (1 to 2.5 lbs.) but great tasting. Also listed is one of Bill Simpson's favorites: Burpee Sweet N Early. I have seen this grown by Bill and his melons were bigger than mine and with excellent flavor.
Musk Melons
SEED
PROVIDER
VARIETY DAYS WEIGHT
AVERAGE
IN POUNDS
SCORE
Stokes Avatar 73 8.0 6.40
Gurney Giant 75 5.5 6.24
Baker Creek Prescott
Fond Blanc
70 6.5 5.98
Burpee Ananas 71 6.31 5.55
Jung Solstice 76 7.5 5.10
Jung Goddess 68 5 5.00
Burpee Olympic 75 6.5 4.68
Stokes Primo 79 8.25 4.62
Pine Tree Passport 70 5.0 4.60
Stokes Goddess 70 5.0 4.60
Stokes Halona 68 4.5 4.5
Park Whopper 77 7.0 4.48
Jung Athena 75 6.0 4.32
Burpee Sweet 'N
Early
75 6.0 4.32
Jung Roadside 80 8.0 4.16
Baker Creek Burrell's
Jumbo
80 8.0 4.16
Gurney Athena 75 5.50 3.96
Johnny's Earlichamp 75 5.50 3.96
Farmers Athena 75 5.50 3.96
Johnny's Halona 73 4.50 3.60
Park Dove 70 3.50 3.22
Burpee Honey
Bun
73 4.0 3.20
Johnny's Athena 79 5.50 3.08
Johnny's Sweet
Granite
70 3.25 2.99
Pine Tree Hale's
Best
75 4.0 2.88
Burpee Charentais 75 2.50 2.30
Jung Super
Star
86 8.0 2.24
Johnny's Sarah's
Choice
76 3.25 2.21
Park French
Orange
75 3.0 2.16
Farmers Minnesota
Midget
60 2.0 2.0
Burpee Bella Tuscan 80 4.0 1.98
Burpee Burpee
Hybrid
82 4.5 1.98
Burpee Super
Star
86 7.0 1.96
Stokes Sugar
Cube
69 2.0 1.96
Jung Maverick 83 4.75 1.90
Stokes Sugar
Cube
69 2.0 1.96
Burpee Minnesota
Midget
70 2.0 1.84

October 6, 2013

Casper just went through a two day storm which was devastating to a lot of trees. I lost one of my cherry trees and may lose the other. At 4 a.m. I was out cutting the cherry tree off of my power line. The trees still have not dropped leaves and the snow clung to the leaves. We are still not out of the woods. We could still get another limb-breaker later in the month. Here are some photos.


Downed branches in the neighborhood.

More downed branches in the neighborhood.

I built a shock around the lamp post from sunflower stocks.

Unharvested tomatoes on the patio.

2014 Moon Phases

March 30
April 7
April 15
April 22
April 29
May 6
May 14
May 21
May 28
June 5
June 12
June 19
June 27
July 5
July 12
July 18
July 26
August 3
August 10
August 17
August 25
September 2
September 8
September 15
September 24
October 1
October 8
October 15

2014 Planting Guide

Click Here For 2009 Tomato Taste Test

= Rated for Taste
= Rated for Production

Type

2013/2014

Variety ...those in lighter green are varieties we are trialing Seed Vigor Area
2013
Area
2014
Weeks to Set Out Start Dates Set Out/Sow
Tomatoes:
Indeterminates
Black Krim
Heirloom***

Indeterminate
High 8 plants 8 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Tomande
Heirloom***

Indeterminate
High 8 plants 8 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Super Sauce

Indeterminate
High 4 plants 0 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
*NEW
TBA

Indeterminate
High 0 plants 4 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Tomatoes:
Determinates
Applause
Hybrid


Determinate
High 10 plants 11 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Valley Girl
Determinate
High 4 plants 4 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Debut
Determinate
High 4 plants 5 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
*NEW
Defiant
Determinate
High 0 plants 4 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
*NEW
Mountain Fresh
Determinate
High 0 plants 4 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Small Tomatoes and Tomato Relatives:
Indeterminate
Sun Sugar (Orange)

Indeterminate
High 2 plants 0 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
*NEW
Ground Cherry
Indeterminate
High 0 plants 10 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Total counts for Tomatoes: 56 plants 58 plants
Sweet Peppers Carmen
Sweet Horn

High 9 sq ft 9 sq ft 9 Mar 23 May 25
Big Bertha
Standard Bell
High 9 sq ft 9 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
*NEW
Big Red High 0 sq ft 9 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Sweet Peppers: 27 sq ft 27 sq ft
Hot Peppers Cheyenne
Hot Cayenne
High 4 sq ft 4 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Cherry Bomb
Hot Cherry
High 4 sq ft 4 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Ancho
Poblano
High 4 sq ft 4 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Jalapeno
Hot
High 2 sq ft 2 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Serano
High 2 sq ft 2 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Sandia High 2 sq ft 2 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Hot Peppers: 24 24
Total Areas for Peppers: 51 51
Cabbage Locally Purchased High 18 sq ft 18 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Pea Super Sugar Snap
Medium 32 sq ft 32 sq ft direct sow May 11 May 11
Cucumber Cool Breeze
Heirloom***
Medium 36 sq ft 36 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Pumpkin Rouge Vif D'Entampes High 24 sq ft 25 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Fall Splendor High 20 sq ft 0 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
*NEW
Winter Luxury (Pie) High 0 sq ft 17.66 sq ft 10 Mar 16 May 25
Total Areas for Pumpkins: 40 sq ft 42.66 sq ft
Summer Squash Green Zucchini
Medium 16 sq ft 17.66 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Goldrush Zucchini
Medium 16 sq ft 18.52 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Total Areas for Summer Squash: 32 sq ft 36.18 sq ft
Winter Squash Heart of Gold
Medium 14.5 sq ft 20.66 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Table Ace Acorn
Medium 14.5 sq ft 0 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Lakota
Heirloom***
Medium 10.5 sq ft 0 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Spaghetti
Heirloom***
Medium 6.83 sq ft 16 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Cream of the Crop High 14.5 sq ft 14.5 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Autumn Crown High 10.33 sq ft 0 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Red October High 10.33 sq ft 14.5 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Total Areas for Winter Squash: 121.49 sq ft 108.32 sq ft
Musk Melon Solstice High 9 sq ft 0 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Lilly High 12.66 sq ft 0 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
*NEW Goddess High 0 sq ft 12.66 sq ft 9 Mar 23 May 25
*NEW Sweet N Early High 0 sq ft 16 sq ft 9 Mar 23 May 25
Total Areas for Melon: 28.66 sq ft 40 sq ft
Bush Bean Roma II
- 18/18
Medium 9 sq ft bgcolor="#33ff66">9 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 18
Rocdor Yellow
Medium 9 sq ft bgcolor="#33ff66">9 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 18
Contender
Medium 36 sq ft bgcolor="#33ff66">18 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 18
*NEW Annihilator High 0 sq ft 9 sq ft Direct Sow Mar 23 May 25
*NEW (grown in past) Espada High 0 sq ft 9 sq ft Direct Sow Mar 23 May 25
Total Areas for Beans: 54 sq ft 54 sq ft
Broccoli Packman - buy plants locally
Medium 12 plants 12 plants NA NA May 1 - 18
Carrot Danvers
Heirloom***
High 9 sq ft 9 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Sweetness II
High 4.5 sq ft 4.5 square feet direct sow NA May 1
*NEW Purple Haze
High 4.5 sq ft 4.5 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Total Areas for Carrots: 18 sq ft 18 sq ft
Chard - 6/6 My Own Mix
Yellow, Red, Orange, Magenta

Medium 8 sq ft 8 square feet direct sow NA May 25
Leaf Lettuce Simpson Elite
Medium 3 sq ft 3 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Green Ice
Medium 3 sq ft 3 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Red Sails
Medium 3 sq ft 3 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Head Lettuce Summertime
Medium 3 sq ft 3 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Nevada (Batavian)
Medium 3 sq ft 3 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Paris Island Cos
Medium 3 sq ft 3 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Onion SuperStar Plants
Dixon Dale Farms
Medium 18.09 sq ft 22.5 square feet direct sow NA May 1
Candy Plants
Dixon Dale Farms
Medium 18.09 sq ft 22.5 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
White Sets
Medium 0 sq ft 22.5 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Yellow Sets
Medium 0 sq ft 22.5 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Beet Detroit
Heirloom***
Medium 12 sq ft 12 sq ft direct sow NA May 1 - 18
*NEW Radish Shunkyo Long Medium 0 sq ft 3 square feet direct sow NA May 1
White Icicle Medium 0 sq ft 3 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Watermelon Medium 0 sq ft 3 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Chinese Rose Medium 0 sq ft 3 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Spanish Black Medium 0 sq ft 3 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Long Scarlet Medium 0 sq ft 3 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Green Meat Medium 0 sq ft 3 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Herb Basil - Summerlong - ? NA ?
Basil - Greek - ? NA ?
Basil - Spicy Saber - ? NA ?
Chives - Common - ? NA ?
Cilantro - ? NA ?
Fennel - ? NA ?
Marjaram, Sweet - ? NA ?
Oregano, Greek - ? NA ?
Parseley - Extra Curled Dwarf - ? NA ?
Rosemary - ? NA ?
Sage, Common - ? NA ?
Thyme, Common - ? NA ?
Tarragon if possible - ? NA ?
Lavender if possible - ? NA ?
Gourd Big Birdhouse - ? NA ?
Little Birdhouse - ? NA ?
Easter Eggs - ? NA ?
Flowers ? NA 2 tires

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