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Update on Our Garden 2014

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It has been a tough year for the garden. We got rain in April and have not had anything since. Our town water is horrible, I have taken some advise you gave me and filled a 5 gallon bucket, let it sit a couple of days and hand watered the garden. However, after 3 days the bucket grew algae-turned green and on the 4th day the water turned orange and the whole bottom of the bucket was covered in sediment.



It is now too hot to plant anything else in the garden. The only things still growing are, purple black eyed peas, 3 tomato plants-but they are not producing yet, zucchini seems to have stopped producing-we shall see, some mustard, jalapeño and green chili-waiting for them to fruit too, a couple watermelon plants-under cages to keep the birds away, some carrots and some mint and oregano.


I am still hopeful...


Yesterday, we were sitting on the porch swing when a cotton tail rabbit hopped down the alley, stopping next to our chain link fence near the garden hose. It promptly went right through the fence, got a drink and left. We were shocked it went right through the fence without any hesitation or squeezing through!


So.... I am guessing that maybe it was the rabbit that ate the plot of black eyed peas that the starling did not uproot.


We have come to the conclusion our soil is not only mostly clay but also is highly acidic. The plan is to mix sand, mulch and straw in the soil for the winter garden. Except DH says I will be making adobe instead. :008Laughing:

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Do you have or can you borrow a ph meter? We thot soil amongst the pine trees here would be acidic but it's all alkaline from the granite. Too alkaline to grow several things without additives to bring it to more neutral.


Our garden area is in the creek basin of valley...not rocky hillsides. There it's also too much flour-consistency [aka: clay] and turns to cement when wetted and dried. Roots can't push thru. Our livestock produces a lot of great compost but hauling it from one location to the next manually is ....something we haven't done often. We've dumped a lot in there but with high percolation rates in this soil, it filters out and needs more all the time. Wish gardening wasn't such heavy manual labor. Gotta change to a different style altogether cuz we're too old for manual labor now.



MtRider .....Annarchy, I hope you don't DRINK that water.... :runcirclsmiley2:

Edited by Mt_Rider
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LOL, Mt_Rider, no we don't drink the town's water. :yuk: Before we stopped drinking it, I had kidney and bladder infections every other month. :gdtmi:


I wonder if I could use the ph testers for my spa, lol. Doesn't matter, there is not much I can do about it if I did find out.... I am still waiting to find/get some poo.... and sand.... and.... [aka: clay] yep, that is what happens here too. There is a fine line where the soil looks wonderful- lightly moist. However, give it water and it pools on top, once it soaks in the soil and dries out it becomes almost a hard as a rock.


I was inspecting the garden and to my surprise, 3 of the broccoli seeds planted 2 years ago have sprouted. I am the MASTER of miniature!!!! They are less than an inch tall and are flowering already. :shakinghead:


The area where the black eyed peas were, is growing a tomato plant. I thought it was a pea that had survived, until I got my glasses and inspected the plant. :blink: The tomato seeds in that area were planted in January, sprouted in March and died in the heat. No amount of water or shade protected them. I am hoping the little plant makes it, I think it is the last of the heirloom chocolate tomato seeds. God knows. Since I found out tomato plants are perennial, maybe I can keep the plants alive until fall, and maybe, just maybe, they will produce something for us next year. Our plan is to let the jalapeño and green chili grow too.


Oh! We have one tiny jalapeño on one of the plants! :cele: I am glad looking at it an hundred times a day doesn't hurt it. LOL


Dug up the garlic that was planted in January. The bulbs were small, so I replanted them in a planter pot. Hopefully the will do better next to the house in the shade.


The other day a cloud passed overhead and sprinkled 30 seconds of rain. The next day, my zucchini plant leaves turned brilliant yellow. :scratchhead: At least the new growth in the center is still green.

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Seriously, you need to check you ph. You CAN do something about it....with naturally occurring stuff....to modify too acid or too alkaline. If you know which you lean towards, you can chose plants that tolerate soil leaning in that direction. [blueberries love acid, etc]



Soil ph is the beginning of gardening .....if you're talking about our hostile environments. [and soil quality is the second!]. Doesn't matter so much in the lush areas of our country. They are lush because their conditions are good for a wide variety of plant growth. In our areas, diversity is scarce cuz not many types of things can grow and thrive....that's where we have to take a more detailed and informed approach ....so as to improve our chances of growing anything. :lois: Anyone can grow stuff in Iowa [my home state] and I have often wished for a tiny bit of that environment here in my portion of the Rockies. Just around my garden....but God hasn't decided to mix His eco-systems around. However, He DID give humans the capacity to change their environments to some extent. Otherwise a lot of us would not suvive full time where we do.


Dunno if a pool checker works for soil ....if you put soil in water? :shrug: But the county extension office probably knows what the soil in your area is anyway. Try check w/ them! I've had a two-spike tester device for decades now. Carried it wherever I've moved. Tests light, ph, and moisture. A different version tests a fourth variable but...I forget what.


MtRider ...gonna change my garden's environment entirely and go to hydroponics. ....someday..... :sigh:

Edited by Mt_Rider
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Here is the broccoli








Someday I hope to have the soil tested.



Hydroponics, I have begun to put my celery in a glass of water instead of in the refrigerator. It continues to grow instead of wilting. I snip the leaves back and dehydrate them for my spice rack.


For giggles, I put the core of an head of lettuce in a dish of water and it is growing really well, even looks like it is going to flower soon. :grinning-smiley-044:


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Ann - have you tried composting directly into your ground? I did this when we first moved to this house because of the heavy clay soil. I would dig a hole about a foot deep and toss in compostibles (vegie trimmings, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds) and cover them up. It worked out well in those sections of the yard that weren't impacted by tree roots. Sometimes I'll come across an uncomposted tea bag or vegetable label, but it's all good! At least I never experienced this:


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Cool article, Andrea! Last month while I was pulling the weeds in MIL's yard, I found her bracelet she thought she had lost at the grocery store. Talk about a blessing for working. She almost cried.


Most of my compost material goes in to my bin. Once a year, it gets turned into the garden with all the little earth worms that flourish in my bin. I do put some stuff directly into the garden. This year I have been adding straw on top for water retention, and turning it into the soil as I till between the rows. - We found a bale of straw when we went to clean up after a public event. - The purple black eyed peas seem to be bigger and healthier than last year.


However, this heat has been unrelenting recently, (112*+ all week), every where you look people are having trouble keeping the lawns green. A couple of our neighbors installed sprinklers and sod, even their lawns are turning yellow.

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Using our spa tester, here are my results:


Bottled water: Below the scale for pH and alkalinity.


Tap water: pH - between 7.8-8.4 and alkalinity seems to be around 180 to 240. The color is supposed to be shades of green and it turned blue. :yuk:


Bottled water with soil mixed in: pH 7.8-8.4 and alkalinity between 180 and 240 - where the wet soil stuck to the strip the results were the highest.


According to the instructions on the testers, safe swimming results should be; pH between 7.2 - 7.8 and alkalinity between 80 - 120.


So, our soil is high pH and alkalinity. Explains why I always have to lower the pH in the spa. And why when I drain the spa into the yard the whole area where the water drained turns a pretty lush green for a while. :happy0203:

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For those of you where it is so hot.....yes heat is hard on garden plants.


May I suggest you go to ebay and look up shade screen. I used it one year to cover the tomatoes

that were on a high arched trellis , it saved the tomatoes from scalding and was a cool place to step

into out of the sun.



I used it on the west side of my house and it kept the kitchen 10-15 degrees cooler. On the east side porch I hung it as curtains dropping them before the sun hit it and raising them after the sun went over the house. It cut my electric bill by a 1/3. It lasts for many years....mine is old and still going strong. I wash it in the washer before putting it away.


When i bought mine i could get it it 30-80% shade. I do not see the rating on this link but it looks to be 80%.

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.............yeah, but it's a DRY heat. :shrug:



That may [or may not] feel easier to take for humans but it's far more deadly for plants. It desiccates them. Shade cloth is good but in the areas like Annarchy and Gunplumber.....I wonder if it even begins to help during their hottest months. It would be the equivalent to using row covers here in January to protect from the cold. :frozen: It's only going to bring the temperatures down to 100 degrees.....with 2-8% humidity.


As with row covers to protect from cold, the shade cloth can be lifesaving during months when it's not so extreme. Our potatoes frosted last week cuz we got down to 25 degrees.....yeah, second week in JUNE. Not unusual [frost free dates for our extreme area is June 15-Aug 15]. If I'd been feeling better or more committed to the taters, I would have covered them with something. Give that extra 10-15 degrees. It works in April-Oct.



Alkaline.....thought so. There are natural additives which would SERIOUSLY help. But....you'd still have the heat in this season.



If that one brave tomato is an heirloom, I'd dig it up and keep it sheltered inside until your extreme heat has passed. Then put it outside to grow. Funny.....we share the arid quality [tho yours is likely worse] but are opposites with the temperature extremes. We've been CHILLY and I've been grazing goats safely even between noon and 2pm. Very odd June when we usually burn!


....still had to haul buckets of water to the frost-burned taters yesterday.



MtRider ....the first day without rain is potentially the first day of the next drought.... :unsure:

Edited by Mt_Rider
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Thanks for the links Twilight.


Many of the gardens around here use shade cloth. Being on a fixed income, paying bills & buying food is a priority. Someday.......... I have considered using one of our microfiber sheets, since we do not use them. I would still need to create a structure strong enough to hold the cover during our wind storms. Food for thought.


In the mean time, I keep trying to find a way to do it without costing me anything other than my efforts. Like placing my gardens around the trees in my yard.


I read that adding pine needles, which are acidic, will help neutralize the alkali. Prior years, I have diligently removed all the pine needles because I thought they would harm my garden. At this point, I will try anything that might help.


The remaining plants all got a good watering of fish blood water this morning from the 4 trout we caught yesterday.


Now that it is our hottest season, I am planning my fall/winter garden. I have asked DH to help me collect sand from the river bed, to blend into the soil when I add my mulch and straw. I am hoping to bring a garbage bag with me next time we go fishing to collect a few piles of horse poo from the wild horses that frequent our fishing area. I'll add it to the mulch bin and blend it in good, to cure during July and August.

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LOL @ Suncat. Ain't that the truth. We're so high in the mts. that we stay cooler [frosted X2 and may have killed my tater sets] but while driving thru SW corner of Utah long ago, my friend and I ROLLED UP THE WINDOWS to stop the "hairdryer effect". No A/C but it was hotter with the windows down. :knary: Course....I didn't realize at that point, the power of EVAPORATIVE cooling like wet towel, etc. The dry heat + wind + wet = :frozen::happy0203:



Annarchy, yeah.....discovering all the free and renewable resources is such a good thing! LOL.....likely you'd raise some eyebrows among non-gardeners by collecting horse poo. All good ideas!


Do you get those weird dust storms that are a zillion feet high? Those pics look....not real and terrifying!



MtRider :pc_coffee:

Edited by Mt_Rider
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Raised beds would be nice, but I have not had the resources to make them. Mine are hedged in with logs, beams, bricks, and rocks. Dug up the existing soil I have spent years gardening in and amending. That's what I've got and I'm good with it. If ever we get the resources to do it better I would not hesitate to do it.


I mentioned in the "What have you harvested..." thread, that things did not look great when I got home from a week in TX. The chocolate mint looked frazzled as did the dill. DH had told me something ate my watermelon while I was away. As it turns out, I had cut 1/4 inch of the top off the carrots I had harvested and replanted the tops but it appears the rabbit or birds decided it was something to eat. There are three still growing new growth. The watermelon are actually growing good.


The dill is gone. My garlic chives seem to be surviving the heat, but struggling. The jalapeño and green chili are doing good and have flowers. The purple black eyed peas look real healthy, so I am looking forward to seeing how much they will produce. I took all the seeds from the one carrot that seeded and re-planted them. They are sprouting already giving me a fresh breath of hope.


As for my tomatoes. One plant is 4 1/2 foot tall, another plant is 1 foot tall and the heirloom chocolate tomato is 6" tall. Today I put straw and a piece of shade screen around the chocolate tomato plant to see if it helps it. No flowers or fruit, hoping for next year since they are perennial plants.


I raked the yard around the pine trees gathering the needles and filled my mulch bin, then I covered them with more straw and watered it down, all the while trying to avoid the harvester ants that were sending their new queens off on wings. :runcirclsmiley2:


My plan is to gather sand from the river bed and spread it over all the straw I have put down to hold in the moisture. When I turn the soil in September, that should work all the good stuff into our clay and make it a better garden or a fantastic batch of adobe.



Here is some of my problem with our water and soil:


Consumer Confidence Report May 2014

Total coliform Bateria - Violation Yes - E.Coli

Chlorine (ppm) 1.4

Haloacetic Acids (HAA5) (ppb) 2.55

Triholomethanes (TTHM), ppb 6.45

Copper, ppm 90th Percentile = 0.33 MCL 1.3

Lead, ppb 90th Percentile = 14.7

Alpha emitters (pCi/L) 3.6 MCL 15

Arsenic, ppb 3.6 MCL 10

Barium, ppb 4.8 MCL 2

Chromium, ppb 3.6 MCL 100

Floride, ppm 1 MCL 4

Nitrate, ppm 8.57 MCL 10

And of course they disclaim the danger and include additional information about the Nitrate:


Nitrate in drinking water at levels above 10ppm is a health risk for infants of less than six month of age. High rate levels in water can cause blue baby syndrome. ....



...Though these positive samples resulted in a violation, the town drinking water is safe and meeting all regulatory requirements.



... so what does it do to adults? or the soil? Nevermind......


The Chocolate mint I put in a pot with mulch in the house, is not doing well. I was giving it bottled water, while I was gone, DH gave it tap water. Today, I do not know if it will live another week.


I will keep trying.




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