Wild Men on the North Fork

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Vegetable Variety Pages: | Beans - Carrot | Cauliflower - Corn |Cucumber - Peas
Peppers - Squash | Tomato - Watermelon
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This page: 2015 Planting Guide, When to Start Seed, When to Set Out
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.

Fermented Tomato Conserve (Conserva Cruda Di Pomodoro)
Why Do You Soak Cucumbers Before Pickling?
Texas A&M Vegetables
Here is a link to Garden Guides!
Rocky Mountain Garden Forum
Garden Humor
About Composting

Between Season Notes 2014-2015

January 15, 2015

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

January 26, 2015

A reader from Buffalo, Wyoming writes this:

Hello,

I do not know if you will know the answers to my questions - but I thought I would ask?

We moved here from Connecticut in October and pretty much every tree on our property is dead or going to die. We live in a association and are not supposed to have any trees that get over thirty feet. I was looking at Blue Spruce trees - but they get too tall. I was looking into the miniatures or dwarfs. I wondered if you had any experience with them? I also love to feed the birds - but do not have any so I would like to plant shrubs and trees that would give them protection. Do you have any idea of Conifer's that would do best with the wind and dryness. Watering I can do. I was surprised to read about the crab apple trees doing well.

Any information you can give me I would appreciate.

Thank You

Here is my reply.

I live in the house my father built here in Casper. I have a huge old Honey Locust in the front (over 30 feet tall). It is the fourth tree my dad planted in that spot. Obviously, the other three died. It is a familiar story in Wyoming. Trees can be really tough to get started.

On my site I list the three most important factors in gardening success. Those factors also apply to bushes and trees. They are:

1) Variety...the most important factor of the three. Growing the right thing is paramount to enjoying success.

2) Soil...the realization that our soils are not very good (geologically our soils are very young) is something that will keep banging into your head each year (as a gardener) as you think to yourself 'why did I not augment that soil before I planted that?'

3) Climate...we can't change it, but we can do things that help our plants survive the extremes of our Wyoming climate.

I am thinking that to attract birds, you need a variety of plants and trees, and need to know which birds like what. Many of the fruit trees come in dwarf varieties and that is what you will need. In my back yard are two 40+ year old Montmorency Cherry trees (dwarf) that keep producing cherries summer after summer. Also, we have two 3 year old apple trees (Whitney Crab and Summer Fair). Our patio is lower than the rest of the back and on the west end, behind a 3 1/2 foot block wall, are two Beta (Concord) grape vines that are 40+ year olds, and they give fruit each year. The wall, and the lower elevation keep the winds off the vines.

Fruits need good soil to get a good start and fertilizer once a year (Spring). Plant them with lots of natural mulch (leaves, grass clippings) and some manure. Manures are really slow release fertilizers, and can keep giving to the fruit bearing plants for several years. Also in my back yard I have a Chokecherry bush which is three years old now and producing fruit (There are many chokecherry bushes that grow in draws between Buffalo and Billings and are visible from the Interstate.) I dug the baby chokecherries up from Garden Creek. I know which patches always produce fruit and it was from one of those patches that I selected my starts Some patches do not produce fruit, and I suspect there are at least two different varieties growing along the creek here (all wild and natural). Chokecherries are a communal plant and spread through their roots. I would not be surprised if the roots from my starts have grown together making the 'bush' all one plant now.

Dig and move bushes and trees in March before the sap starts flowing. Mark the North side of the plant before the move and make sure that side is facing North again when it is settled in its new home. Don't let the roots dry out.

Look around your town and see what is growing there, and ask as many townsfolk as possible. I think Crab Apples will do well where you live. I suspect that many Asian and East European fruits will grow well here in Wyoming (like Gogi, Sea Berry, Mountain Ash [a close relative of the Apple and Pear], Honeyberry, and Cornelian Cherry) (You will find all of these in the Jung catalog.). Buy only trees and bushes that are rated for Zone 4 and lower. A whole bunch of Apple trees are Zone 5 and higher. Also look closely to see when the plants bloom and when they produce ripened fruit. A tree that blooms in March is no good in our climate. There are no insects out at my house in March. An apple tree that does not ripen fruit by mid September is no good in our climate. Basically, you should want a fruit bearing plant to be a late bloomer and an early ripener.

Birds like a variety of trees and bushes, but are particular about where they will nest. We have blue jays that visit my feeder every winter. But they only nest in Pines (not Juniper, not Cedar, not Fir, not Spruce). The closest Ponderosa Pines are 1 to 2 blocks away from my house across Nancy English Park and Garden Creek (which flows through it). When I walk through the park I see the Jays a lot more often - as they are closer to their home. We have many Blue Birds that migrate through Casper in the Spring. But there are a few who nest here in the county all Summer. You will always see them in an open field next to Juniper bushes. They nest in the Junipers. At your elevation you are smack in the middle of the Ponderosa Pine growing zone. Ponderosa will do well there - perhaps too well - and may exceed 30 feet.

I have covered selection and soils in the words above. Now, I come to climate. We people do many things to modify climate: we irrigate (trees and bushes dry out terribly in our wind and need a good soaking in mid-winter), we break the wind (my partners and I set out our tomatoes and peppers in tubes which keep the wind off the plants until they are ready to handle it. We also plant cucumbers and beans in smaller tubes both for the wind and for beetles.) we provide covers to keep off frost in both Spring and Fall - thereby extending our growing season, we provide semi-permanent covers for melons of all types to keep them warmer and warm for a longer time, we put up wind fences in gardens and wind breaks around small trees and bushes to give them a break during our long winters.

I hope this information helps you. Do research and ask older gardeners in your area.

Fred Jacquot

January 28, 2015

A reader from Powell, Wyoming writes this:

I came across your wyogrow web page a couple of years ago and you got me started growing Applause tomatoes. The only place I have found seed is Veseys and I sent them an e-mail this morning. They replied they are dropping it, so you might want to stock up.

Have you found anything that is similar? I garden in Powell and we put on the plant sale each year. This might be the last year growing Applause. Sheyenne is a nice semi-determinate, but not as early. Defiant does well here as well as Early Wonder. We have grown Legend and similar from the Northwest, but they don't have the best flavor.

Well just wanted to give you a heads up on Applause seeds. I used to find it in several catalogs, but no more.

Here is my reply:

We are having the same experience with Applause Tomato. It is a wonderful producer, the best Determinate we have ever grown - depite the fact that it is prone to disease. If I plant a dozen Applause, I expect to lose 2 to 3 to disease. Even with that, I think it is still worthwhile to grow it. No, we don't have a replacement for Applause, which is why we keep trying new varieties. I do notice that I have better luck with Applause when I separate the Applause from each other by placing more disease-resistant Determinates between them. We have had good experiences with Defiant, Valley Girl, Debut, and Mountian Merit.

When I do a seach for Applause on the Internet I get only two possible sources for the seed:

Veseys Seeds

Reimer Seeds

.....................

The correspondence above is a good illustration of a phenomena that exists if the world of mail-order seeds. The best bush bean I ever planted was only available for two years. Then it was never heard of again. That happens. And that is why I am always testing new varieties so that I do not get caught out with nothing to plant.

On February 14, 2015, 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"

Christmas always comes early for gardening fanatics like myself. The seed catalogs start coming in early November and by Christmas almost all have arrived. 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.

May 5, 2015

Please excuse my lack of adding anything to these pages these past 3 months. I had open heart surgery in March and am recovering well. But there has not been a lot of time for these pages of late.

About Black Krim

I was at Menards in April and chanced to strike up a conversation with a fellow gardener who had recently moved to Casper. He had already discovered that it is possible to buy Black Krim Tomato plants at The Herbadasherie. This made me think back some years when Black Krim was hardly known in the U.S.

In April I got a small catalog from Burpee. Seed suppliers commonly put out small catalogs late in the ordering season in hopes they may yet attract your business. I noted that Burpee now offers Black Krim five different ways in its catalog: seed for just Black Krim, Seed for Black Krim and three other tomatoes in its Heirloom Taste Collection, plants for all four tomato varieties in the Heirloom Taste Collection, Black Krim plants, and Black Krim plants that have been grafted. It seems that Black Krim is taking over the Burpee Catalog as its fame (and sales) grows. I like to think that Wyogrow.Com has played a role, even if a small one, in the spread of this tomato which seems particularly well suited for Wyoming. One other note. Most seed catalogs list this tomato as an 80 day tomato. But a few catalogs have begun listing it as a 69 day tomato. We lean toward the 69 day number. Black Krim has been our earliest ripe tomato in each of the last three years.

When to Plant

The Last Average Day of Frost (LADF) for Casper, Wyoming is May 25. Most tender plants (tomato, pepper) should not be set out until this date. Here in Casper we have a natural indicator for tomatoes which is the Spirea. Our Lady of Fatima Church on CY Avenue has a row of these bushes between CY and the parsonage. When these bushes begin to bloom think about setting out tomatoes. When these bushes are in full bloom have all tomatoes set out in your garden. Peppers, if anything, like thier soils to be even warmer than do their cousins, the tomatoes. So, you may want to wait for a week after the LADF to set pepper plants out.

Plant melons on your LADF if you have a cover for them to get your soils extra warm, or consider planting them one week after your LADF.

Most Brassicas (broccoli and cabbage)(raddish - direct seed) can go into the garden early (like right now). Hold off planting the cauliflower until the LADF because this brassica likes warmer soil temperatures.

Lettuce, and Onion can go into your garden a couple of weeks before the LADF. But Carrots like warm temperatures to germinate, so hold off on them until your LADF.

All Pumpkin, Squash, and Cucumber should be planted on or after your LADF.

How to build a box for a Raised Bed

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.

May 7, 2015

That's three

We may be in for some chilly temperatures this coming weekend. I have contended we live in lousy daffodil country. It is not really Spring untill the daffodils have been snowed upon four times. It was starting to look like we would not get that fourth snow this year (It snowed on daffodils March 25, April 12, and April 15). But those cheerful blossoms may yet be crushed under the white stuff.

Main Season Notes 2015

May 25, 2015

Moisture Galore

Since I wrote the posting for May 7 we have had two snows. I don't think they count as snow on the daffodils because the daffodils were already gone by then. We have also had a bunch of rain. I calculate that we got 2.5 inches of rain at my house between May 20 and May 24, a 5 day period. This is going to be the best grass year in thirty years for the ranchers in this county. And we are going to be green well into the hot days.

June 7, 2015

Disasters

I have never had a gardening year without at least one disaster. This year is was the tomatoes that partner Mark McAtee grows. Here is a word from him.

Flowers from our yard this week.

July 26, 2015

Disasters

This spring I was struggling with the fact of my limited amount of energy. I had four bypasses on March 6 and come May, tilling time, I was looking at turning over every bed by hand. Plus, to do things right, I needed to move some fencing from one bed to another. So I decided to keep the peas and the onions in their old (2014) beds to save some effort. That was a mistake. The little onion maggots that ate last year's onions are eating this one's. I should have made the effort. Plus, I am beginning to think that it is a mistake to plant a nine foot bed of onions anyway. So next season I will move the onions to new beds and break them up into 3 three foot beds.

August 1, 2015

Tomatoes

The disaster in partner McAtee's greenhouse this Spring caused us to change the plan for putting plants in the plots. We had to buy plants, and that was maybe not such a bad thing anyway. Here is a new list of what we have planted.

Black Krim (Indeterminate) 6
Big Beef (Indeterminate) 4
Sun Sugar (Indeterminate) 1
Super Sweet 100 (Indeterminate) 1
Debut (Determinate) 9
Applause (Determinate) 9
Celebrity (Determinate) 5
Charger (Determinate) 8

We have a lot of big tomatoes on, but have only had one ripe one so far - and a mouse ate a hole in that one. Cucumbers and beans are producing heavily right now. There are a lot of Winter Squash developing and we are eating Zucchini. Broccoli, lettuce, chard, and radish are all in great abundance. Peppers are producing nicely. I bought some Carmen peppers that turned out not to be Carmens. But those plants are producing nice bells, so no big complaint.

August 24, 2015

Notes and Comparisons

Top: Cosmos from seed we saved - Cosmos from seed we bought this year
Next Row: Judy's Dye Garden Plot - Fred's Vegetable Garden Plot
Bottom Row: McAtee's Squash Plot - Paul's Mixed Plot


Lots of flowers, less plant

Lots of plant, fewer flowers

Top: Applause Tomatoes
Next Row: Zinnia in a neighbor's plot
Bottom Row: Cosmos in a neighbor's plot

Despite the recent cool temperatures the garden is progressing nicely. Tomatoes are finally turning red. Cucumbers are about played out. Beans are slowing down, and lettuce has bolted. Pepper plants have been very productive. Butch introduced me to Burpee's Giant Jalapeno...plants he grew from seed...very impressive.

September 1, 2015

Notes and Comparisons

We were in Douglas yesterday. Those local gardeners remarked that their gardens were knocked down by frost. Here in Casper, I have only noticed some moderate damage to Squash leaves.

October 10, 2015

Gardening friend mike sends along this shot of some of his 'maters'. He reports having had a good season. A quote from Mike's note: "A sampling of some of the tomatoes I've been harvesting this year (I've got 'em coming out of my ears). The raised beds did exceptionally well the second time around as I believe the composted steer manure had calmed down a bit from last year."

Annual Review of the Garden

Tomatoes General Comments

The disaster my partner Mark McAtee had did affect our growing season, though not as badly as one might have expected. Once he had solved the mytery as to what the cause was (Miss Marple: The Case of the Stones in the Water), we were able to make some progress. Not all of the tomatoes died in that disaster and we did get production out of what was left.

I made big errors when setting the plants out in the raised beds. First, I crowded one of the beds, and instead of putting in 8 plants, I pushed in 11. They did not like that. Varieties that produced heavily in other locations struggled in that bed.

My second error was in not doing something I always do. I did not add calcium to the bottom of the hole when planting tomatoes. I did give the tomatoes calcium when they first blossomed and again two weeks later. But missing that first dosing caused some blossom end rot. On the plants where that occurred the second two dosings cleared the problem right up.

Tomatoes Indeterminate

BLACK KRIM - was very much affected by Stones in the Water problem. Krim usually produces the first ripe fruit of all the tomatoes. This season it ran quite late. One Krim produced fruit that were uniformly the size of ping pong balls, instead of the 3 to 3/12 inch beauties we expect. Flavor was still excellent.

BIG BEEF - There is a reason why this standard tomato was an All American Selections winner. It grows a big plant that lays on a good production in a reasonable amount of time. I am glad we had access to these. I would deifinitely grow these again.

SUPER SWEET 100 - Very sweet little nuggets to nibble on while you work in the garden. I was very pleased with this plant.

SUN SUGAR - My favorite of all the tiny grape tomatoes on the market. This one is sweet but also packs great flavor.

Tomatoes Determinate

APPLAUSE - Finest determinate we have ever grown. This one produced extra heavily for us. We are about to run out of seeds and the seeds will probably not be available again. Sad.

DEBUT - Steady producer, plants loads up heavily. Fruit not as big as Applause. Will grow again.

CHARGER - New for us this season. Loads up well with fruit. Fruit not as big as Applause. Plants grow taller than most determinates. Will grow again.

CELEBRITY - Have grown this one before. Rate it as so-so. Will not grow again unless I can not get anything else.

Sweet Peppers

CARMEN - Never did get any Carmen Peppers. What came from supposedly Carmen plants were bells that turned brilliant Orange eventually. So, I still count these as a success.

BIG BERTHA - Wonderful plants, great producers. Will plant these again.

BETTER BELL - Great production of peppers. Will plant these again.

Hot Peppers

POBLANO - Great production of peppers. Will plant these again.

JALAPENO - Great production of peppers. Will plant these again. Butch grew some really big Jalapeno plants and they produced giant Jalapenos.

CHILE - Great production of peppers. Will plant these again.

Cabbage

Purchased locally. Great production.

Packman Broccoli

Purchased Packman variety locally. Great production.

Super Sugar Snap Pea

Purchased some seed from catalogs, and some locally. Great production. The local seeds had been grown in Wyoming and the germination was 100%. Planting two kinds makes a nice combo.

Cool Breeze Cucumber

I will plant only one bed of these in future. I will try for heavier production of smaller cukes for pickling in the other 3 beds. Time to hit the catalogs!

Autumn Gold Pumpkin

Planted these instead of Rouge Vif D'Entampes because I had failed to order the Rouge seeds. So-so production from Autumn Gold. I will plant Rouge in the future.

Green Zuchinni

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Gold Rush Zuchinni

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Spaghetti Squash

Great production. Will grow again next year. Need to plant only one kind to be able to spot ripe ones consistently.

Cream of the Crop Squash

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Red October Squash

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Heart of Gold Squash

So-so production. Will grow again next year.

Contender Bean

Great production. Will grow again next year. Will cut back beds dedicated to Contender by 2.

Roma II Bean

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Danvers Carrot

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Sweetness Carrot

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Solstice Melon

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Lilly Melon

Great production. Will grow again next year.

Lettuce

Varieties: Simson Elite, Green Ice, Red Sails, Summertime, Nevada, Paris Island. Great production. Will grow again next year.

Radish

Varieties: Shunkyo Long, Long Black Spanish, Purple Plum, Dragon, Crimson Giant. Great production. Will grow again next year. Temperatures

Relatively warm temperatures at the end of this growing season gave the garden plots a strong finish. So far, this is the season that keeps on going.

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 2015 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 61 52 64 58 58 70 71 69 56 76 79 83 82 78 73 77 74 74 82
LOW 37 44 37 44 44 41 49 45 38 35 47 47 47 46 45 53 52 49 48
AVER. 2015 51 55.5 60 57 47 55.5 63 65 64.5 62 59 65 63 61.5 65
DD (50) 1 6.5 16.5 23.5 20.5 26 39 54 68.5 80.5 89.5 104.5 117.5 129 144
JUNE 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
HIGH 87 81 71 81 79 75 72 77 84 85 94 85 95 80 87 90 84
LOW 52 50 49 47 51 49 51 50 47 49 56 46 46 46 48 54 58
AVER. 2015 69.5 65.5 60 64 65 62 61.5 63.5 65.5 67 75 65.5 70.5 63 67.5 72 71
DD (50) 163.5 179 189 203 218 230 241.5 255 270.5 287.5 312.5 328 348.5 361.5 379 401 422
JUNE 26 27 28 29 30 JULY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
HIGH 85 92 92 92 92 92 86 89 97 83 70 79 72 82 88 88
LOW 52 50 53 51 55 57 55 52 54 55 53 51 51 50 53 56
AVER. 2015 68.5 71 72.5 71.5 73.5 74.5 70.5 70.5 75.5 69 61.5 65 61.5 66 70.5 71
DD (50) 440.5 461.5 484 505.5 529 553.5 574 594.5 620 639 650.5 665.5 677 693 713.5 735.5
JULY 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
HIGH 90 92 89 84 90 89 79 83 86 83 88 89 93 90 94 94
LOW 56 50 54 57 49 55 49 48 43 51 52 57 51 48 52 50
AVER. 2015 73 71 71.5 70.5 69.5 72 64 65.5 64.5 67.5 70 73 72 69 73 72
DD (50) 758.5 779.5 801 811.5 831 853 867 882.5 897 914.5 934.5 957.5 979.5 998.5 1021.5 1043.5
JULY 28 29 30 31 AUG 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
HIGH 77 83 88 93 93 95 86 81 91 85 77 85 83 87
LOW 44 36 42 44 51 51 55 57 51 50 48 53 46 44
AVER. 2015 61 59.5 65 68.5 72 73 70.5 69 71 67.5 62.5 69 64.5 65.5
DD (50) 1054.5 1064 1079 1097.5 1119.5 1142.5 1163 1182 1203 1220.5 1233 1252 1266.5 1282
AUGUST 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
HIGH 93 92 93 97 95 82 80 65 75 84 91 67 82 89
LOW 49 62 58 51 64 54 47 41 41 43 48 38 29 40
AVER. 2015 71 77 75.5 74 79.5 68 63.5 53 58 63.5 69.5 52.5 55.5 64.5
DD (50) 1303 1330 1355.5 1379.5 1409 1427 1440.5 1443.5 1451.5 1465 1484.5 1487 1492.5 1507
AUGUST 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 SEP

1

2 3 4 5 6
HIGH 95 94 79 85 92 92 88 91 90 88 89 84 77
LOW 53 50 62 51 50 62 60 58 66 58 56 52 42
AVER. 2015 74 72 70.5 68 71 77 74 74.5 78 73 72.5 68 59.5
DD (50) 1531 1553 1573.5 1591.5 1612.5 1639.5 1663.5 1688 1716 1739 1761.5 1779.5 1789
SEPTEMBER 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
HIGH 81 79 83 81 79 86 88 87 80 79 72 65 74
LOW 49 34 41 42 39 44 43 56 57 51 46 36 35
AVER. 2013 65 56.5 62 61.5 59 65 65.5 71.5 68.5 65 59 50.5 54.5
DD (50) 1804 1810.5 1822.5 1834 1843 1858 1873.5 1895 1913.5 1928.5 1937.5 1938 1942.5

- - 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
2015
529
529
282.5
811.5
286
1097.5
311.5
1409
254.5
1663.5
279
1942.5
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

Between Season Notes 2015-2016

December 14, 2015

I have recently been reading The Song of Increase by Jacqueline Freeman. Her online site is: www.SpiritBee.com. She is an expert in natural method bee keeping. Here is a long quote from her book.

By coincidence, I just got an email from Bill Simpson. Here is a brief outtake from his email.

I don't wonder at all. Honey bees are extraordinarily sensitive to odors and very susceptible to poisions. My boss at WalMart, who is a bee keeper told me of a court case where some 15,000 hives were put out in a field next to another field where the neighbor was planting corn. Drilling corn throws up a lot of dust and the bees were downwind. All the hives were dead within 8 hours. The corn seed was coated with 23 poisons.

In this country we are running into the danger of having absolute monocultures of corn or wheat in one county. By that, I mean that the WHOLE COUNTY will be planted with just one variety of corn, or just one variety of wheat. That is an ecological disaster waiting to happen. All it takes is for one thing to go wrong and the surface area of a whole county will die.

The great lesson from the Middle Ages is Crop Rotation. In big American Agriculture, that idea is passe, and because it is we will suffer. From the information you see above, monocultures and GMOs may not be the worst of it. Poisons have to work their way up through the food chain and into our bodies. They will.

December 15, 2015

Information from Catalogs:

There is a new kid on the block in the world of seed catalogs: Seeds 'n Such. This is the new effort by the guy who started Totally Tomatoes, then sold it to Jung, and now is competing with Jung after his non-compete period of time is over.

There is a new variety of Tomato listed in both catalogs: Mrs. Maxwell's Big Italian (Indeterminate Heirloom). Both catalogs say this variety will produce 1 to 2 pound fruit. Seeds 'n Such lists this as a 69 day tomato, and Totally Tomatoes lists it as an 80 day tomato. For gardeners in Wyoming this is a big difference. Honest differences in production times do exist between companies. My own inclination is to not trust the 69 day figure. The idea that you could get a 1 pound tomato in Wyoming in 69 days is too much of a stretch.

2015 Moon Phases

March 21
March 27
April 4
April 12
April 19
April 26
May 4
May 11
May 19
May 25
June 3
June 9
June 17
June 24
July 2
July 8
July 17
July 24
July 31
August 7
August 15
August 22
August 30
September 5
September 14
September 21
September 28
October 5

2015 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
2014
Area
2015
Weeks to Set Out Start Dates Set Out/Sow
Tomatoes:
Indeterminates
Black Krim
Heirloom***

Indeterminate
High 8 plants 6 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
*NEW
Retrial of Big Beef - an all American Selections winner

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


Determinate - this may be the last year for Applause - the seed is impossible to find
High 11 plants 9 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Defiant
Determinate
High 4 plants 0 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Mountian Merit
Determinate
High 4 plants 0 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
*NEW
Skyway
Determinate
High 0 plants 0 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
*NEW
Charger
Determinate
High 0 plants 8 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Debut
Determinate
High 0 plants 9 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Celebrity
Determinate
High 0 plants 5 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Small Tomatoes and Tomato Relatives:
Indeterminate
Sun Sugar (Orange)

Indeterminate
High 2 plants 2 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Super Sweet 100
Indeterminate
High 0 plants 1 plants 10 Mar 16 May 25
Total counts for Tomatoes: 48 plants 43 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 - or back after many years
Bell Boy 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 25 sq ft 35.33 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Total Areas for Pumpkins: 42.66 sq ft 35.33 sq ft
Summer Squash Green Zucchini
Medium 17.66 sq ft 9.26 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Goldrush Zucchini
Medium 18.52 sq ft 9.26 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Total Areas for Summer Squash: 35.78 sq ft 18.52 sq ft
Spaghetti
Heirloom***
High 16 sq ft 17.66 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Cream Of The Crop
Heirloom***
High 14.5 sq ft 29 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Red October
High 14.5 sq ft 28 sq ft 3 May 11 May 25
Total Areas for Winter Squash: 45.0 sq ft 74.66 sq ft
Watermelon Crimson Sweet High 0 sq ft 24 sq ft N/A May 11 May 25
Total Areas for Melon: 28.66 sq ft 24 sq ft
Bush Bean Roma II
High 9 sq ft 18 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 18
Contender
Medium 18 sq ft 18 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 18
Annihilator
Medium 9 sq ft 9 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 18
Espada
Medium 9 sq ft 9 sq ft Direct Sow NA May 1 - 18
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 9 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
Radish Shunkyo Long
(Johnny's)
Medium ? rows 2 rows direct sow NA May 1
Long Black Spanish
(Baker Creek)
Medium 0 rows 2 rows Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Purble Plum
(Burpee)
Medium 0 rows 2 rows Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Dragon Hybrid
(Jung)
Medium 0 rows 2 rows Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Crimson Giant
(Burpee)
Medium 0 rows 2 rows Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Lettuce Green Ice
(Pine Tree)
Medium ? rows 2 rows direct sow NA May 1
Red Romain
(Baker Creek)
Medium 0 rows 2 rows Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Green Towers Romain
(Jung)
Medium 0 rows 2 rows Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Leaf Lettuce Mix
(Jung)
Medium 0 rows 2 rows Direct Sow NA May 1 - 19
Lettuce Summertime Head
(Pine Tree)
Medium ? rows 2 rows direct sow NA May 1
Lettuce Nevada Romaine
(Johnny's)
Medium ? rows 2 rows direct sow NA May 1

Click here to email Fred Jacquot