Squishy Squishy

 

A few weeks ago, I started to notice that my normally beautiful delphiniums were not thriving like they usually do. Something was eating them and also using them for a baby bug nursery.

I thought it was maybe aphids or some kind of fly, so I tried an organic spray that I had been given. Everyday I sprayed every inch of my delphiniums. I did this for an entire week and there was NO difference. There was also zero activity on my rose that is right next to the delphiniums. So I looked a little closer and there was little caterpillars covering both plants. The little buggers were the exact same colour as the plant. So I went to the internet and tried to find out what these caterpillars were, and what was the best course of action.

My best guess is that they are delphinium worms or ‘delphinium leaftiers”. They are the caterpillar of the Golden Plusia Moth. Apparently there is not much chemically that will be as effective as just picking them off and squishing them one by one.

They overwinter in the stems of last years growth, and since I typically just leave my plants standing all winter instead of trimming them back to soil level in the Fall; That is likely why I have a big problem this spring. So I will try to get my delphiniums all tidied up this fall, so there is no home for the worms this time around.

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Now that it has been a couple weeks of squishing every caterpillar that I see, my plants are starting to come back. I ended up cutting everything back to the base because of how bad the caterpillar infestation was. Then I grabbed a set of gloves and got to squishing. Don’t squish them near your face, because they are quite explosive, and you’ll be covered in electric-green coloured caterpillar guts. Not that I speak from (multiple) experience ;). Now I just check on the plants at least once a day to squish any caterpillars that have surfaced. I used a pair of the thicker nitrile grease monkey gloves, and just hose them off and re-use them.

I don’t anticipate my plants being able to flower this year, but I do think I saved them from destruction. I wish I hadn’t tried the spray I had been given, and just started squishing things from the beginning, but now I know for the next time.

Not many photos, because I wasn’t intending on blogging about this whole situation. Mostly because I thought my poor beautiful delphiniums wouldn’t pull through. Now that they are, I feel confident in sharing my squishing technique. Sorry Golden Plusia Moth, but you are going to have to find a safer home for your next generation.

 

 

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Sweet Potato Experiment Update (2017)


Before I get started, here is the link back to the first post on the Sweet Potatoes. I did try this a few years ago, and I never got to the part of putting them outside. I did have some really beautiful flowers in my kitchen window though. If you didn’t know, Sweet Potatoes are related to Morning Glories and are not part of the Nightshade family like regular potatoes. So in all actuality, I may only be able to produce pretty little flowers and tiny little tubers not worth all this effort. That is the beauty of an experiment. These are FAR outside my zone, but I am banking on the heat of my patio to hopefully get a little harvest. I don’t have aspirations of becoming a sweet potato farmer, this is just a fun little thing to try out.


I left the last post at “wait for sprouts to arrive”…

Well boy did they ever. Within a week, I had some sprouts that were almost 6 inches tall. Keep in mind that these are vines, so they will grow fast.


Once these sprouts get a decent size, gently snap them off. This takes a little bit of the tuber away with it. (Just be gentle and don’t be alarmed. It is just a sweet potato and we are just experimenting. The fun is in the learning and its ok to screw up.)  Leave the smaller sprouts on the tuber to develop some more.


Take the sprouts you removed, and snip off their lower leaves with scissors or a pinch of your nails. Put these in a separate jar. Soon we will see some little roots sprouting off the stem.


Now the trick will be to keep them growing slowly until we can get them into their final home. I’ll update again at the next steps. Or if anything exciting happens.

A few points to remember:

  • Keep the jars topped up with water. As the sprouts start growing more vigorously, the water will go down faster. Just keep an eye on it and don’t let it dry out. I have to top the tuber jar up every couple days now because of the amount of sprouts/roots happening. As the slips start producing more roots, that jar will need water added more frequently as well.
  • If you notice the water is getting smelly, growing algae, or turning a weird colour, dump it out and add some fresh water.
  • I don’t know if I clarified to put these in a sunny window or not. If I didn’t then I am now… Keep both jars in a sunny window. Plants need light. 😉
Tuber roots before I topped it up with clean water

2016 Tomato Harvest

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This photo is all the tomatoes that I was able to harvest in 2016… with the exception of a few Tiny Tim’s that I ate straight off the plant.

There is a singular Black Cherry there. And I got one or two Yellow Pears. The rest in the photo are all Sub Arctic Plenty.

I sound like a broken record… but the damn squirrels stole all the rest.

If you remember, I had planned to grow a ton of the heirloom varieties I have seed for, to replenish my seed stash. I sowed 17 varieties, with at least 1 plant of each kind. For some varieties, I sowed up to 4. with at least 1 for me, the rest to share with friends. So to only get tomatoes from 4 of those I planted and tended was so disheartening.

Here is the list of tomatoes I grew last year:

  • Orange Wellington
  • Black Russian
  • Black Cherry
  • Beefsteak
  • Pink Brandywine
  • Rutgers
  • Cherokee Purple
  • Yellow Pear
  • Boxcar Willie
  • Golden Cherry
  • Chadwick’s Cherry
  • Principe Borghese
  • Sub-Arctic Plenty
  • Tumbler
  • Tiny Tim
  • Manitoba
  • Green Envy

Even though the squirrels were the main problem, I am also chalking the poor season up to to the weird weather, and the fact that 2016 was the worst year of my life thus far. I also didn’t bother saving any seed.

Thoughts for 2017: I have yet to decide on the varieties for this year. I’m trying to keep my seeds out of sight so I don’t start too many, and too early. I think the tomatoes this year in the yard are going to look far different than in previous years. “Tomato Island” doesn’t quite work. There isn’t as much sun there as in other areas of the yard. And since we finally have the patio started (and will hopefully finish in early spring), I can dot the tomato containers around in the warmer areas on the patio. Other people have had some success spraying with aspirin, so I may try that. It causes a reaction in the tomato that makes it think it is being attacked, so the plant becomes stronger thinking that it was attacked, when it is really fine. However, in my plan to simplify things, I may just cut down on the amount of tomatoes and just provide them with what they need rather than getting in over my head with all the extra things that don’t NEED to happen. Time will only tell what ends up happening in the garden this year

Do you have any suggestions on what tomatoes to try?

 

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Happy New Year!

Thank you 2017 for finally getting here. 2016 was full of Monumental loss for me personally. I just need to use the freshness of this new year to help push through the sadness and bullshit that was 2016. This meme totally sums it up for me:

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But moving on… (I’m sorry if you don’t watch The Walking Dead and don’t understand the meme above… also if you do watch, please don’t spoil the new season for me… We like to wait til it is all over and then watch the whole thing…I only know who died because its impossible to not know if you spend any amount of time on the internet)

  • I’m considering starting onions from seed again this year, any thoughts? I’m only considering because they were quite successful last year, BUT I want to simplify things a bit this time around, and the sets will be so much easier. If I decide  to do it, I need to do it now.
    • If I do start some from seed, I may give Leeks another shot and put them out at the community garden. I’m not wasting my limited space on them here.

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  • I am working on getting a 2017 garden layout post written so I have some plans once spring hits. Because once it starts warming up, I’m going to be out there digging.
  • Someone remind me to try and get some squirrel protection over my strawberries before I lose them to the squirrels again. All the new plants I put in last year should be at peak production this year. Maybe I’ll finally be able to achieve my 100% homemade jam dream. (hopefully the crab apple tree doesn’t get beaten up by an early hail storm again, so we get the natural pectin)
  • Fingers crossed that my chocolate mint survived. Otherwise I’ll be buying that again from the garden center. (Not that I really use it for anything, I just like to stop and smell it every time I walk by it)
    • I’m curious to see if any of my other herbs that I planted in-ground will survive the winter. Any bets?
  • Grow my own Sweetener, 2.0 will be a go if I can buy the Stevia plants again this year. Going for simplicity and planting 87 different plants from seed doesn’t follow that.
  • I might even be able to plant my OWN garlic. If I have some left by the time Spring rolls around… Regardless, I’ll still be putting in some that I buy  (hopefully I can find some in the near future), But I have really been enjoying having a good supply of garlic that I grew myself. I want to have a bit more for next year.

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  • I had decent Habenero crop but I didn’t do anything with them. So I may start some of them again in the very near future. They are slow growing and can use the extra time inside.
    • I’ll also do Cayenne again, but not started as early as the habenero…. and clearly with some squirrel protection. Who would’ve thought that the squirrels would steal hot peppers?!?!
  • On the Tomato front… I am not going to let myself plant 20 different varieties again. But for-sure I will be planting:
    • Sub Arctic Plenty  (They were fantastic and so easy)
    • Tumbler
    • Black Cherry (I didn’t really get to have any of them -Squirrels – so I want to try again)
    • At least one beef-steak type
    • Any Best-friend or Mom requested varieties.
  • I’ve really enjoyed having my own homemade pickles, but since only a handful of them were actually from my own plants, I may skip growing pickling cucumbers this year, and just buy them from the farmers market. I do want to try and grow some eating type cucumbers though, so I may focus my attention on that.

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  • And of course there will be Zucchini
  • And I wont forget Beans this year
  • Or Peas

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Now I just need to plan out where all of this is going to go…

And Maybe I’ll throw some sunflowers in too, because they were really fun. And that is what this year needs to be after last year. And there might be considerations of putting some pumpkins and/or squash at my parents place… We’ll see.

One last thing… I may start putting quick garden videos up again. I’ll let you know here if I actually put effort into my YouTube channel this year.

My chicken education (update #1)

I have learned a few new chicken facts since I wrote my first post “All the things I know about Chickens” I figured that now would be a good time to share them (before I forget them)

  • My friend Cal thinks that I will be ok to chicken sit in the summer, so I must not be that hopeless
  • After killing meat birds, apparently, you should let the meat sit/rest/hang for a while (in ice water) before freezing… otherwise you end up with “mutton chicken” (its a long story)
  • Chickens start laying eggs around 6 months old
  • chickens are omnivorous (like humans and bears)
  • A hen’s egg production decreases every year
  • apparently chickens were domesticated about 8000 years ago… That’s a long time