This and that

Sunday, May 1, 2016

By Rennie Phillips

Spring for my wife and me always ends up being the busiest time of the year. This year has been no different. It seems like we get up in the morning with a list of things to do. Marge is off to work and my day begins here on our place in the country.

It took me a couple weeks, but I finally got our grape vines pruned. As I was pruning them, I evaluated the condition of each of the varieties. We have some Maracal Foch, Traminette, Chambourcin, Steuben, Alden, Chardonel and Frontenac. The Traminette vines have some problems. Several years ago when I was sick, I probably didn't spent the time and effort on the grapes. I was having trouble getting enough oxygen and it was difficult to work and do things. My Traminette grapes are going to take some extra work in the next few years. I may have to replant some of them.

I had some fence work to take care of, so I spent a couple days fencing. Vic, Christopher and I put a fence around a couple acres we will be turning the yearlings into it in May. Most of the fence is a six-strand barbed wire fence with the posts four steps apart, or about 10 to 12 feet apart. The yearling steers will sure enjoy the fresh grass.

I've been working in the gardens. We have one small garden close to our house that is about 50 by 60 feet. Then we have two high tunnels, with each one being 24 by 48. Our big garden is probably 1.5 acres. I plant all our early crops, like cabbage and such in our small garden by the house. I also planted our garlic there. We are going to plant a couple rows of tomatoes in this small garden. Most of these will be specialty tomatoes like Mr. Stripey, Kellogs, Cherokee Purple, Regal Plum, Seedless and Black Krim. This will total about 50 specialty tomatoes. In the next week or so, I'll go ahead and plant a row (60 feet) of peppers and a few eggplant in our small garden.

I pretty much have planted everything I can in one high tunnel. I planted five rows of tomatoes and two rows of cucumbers. Since these are in the high tunnel, I can plant a little earlier so these have tomatoes on them. If all goes as planned, these should be ripe and ready to eat by the end of May. The cucumbers are growing and doing well. Hopefully we will have cucumbers to eat by the end of May. Now I begin planting in the other high tunnel.

I bought some 3-foot-wide plastic mulch this year, so I've been making raised beds that are about 2 feet wide. I've been planting the plants right down the middle of the plastic. It has been interesting. I've planted some green and yellow zucchini in one row. These rows are about 70 feet long. Then in another row I planted a bunch of broccoli. Since the dripper line is under the plastic mulch, it will take a lot less water this year. I planted two rows of onions. One row of onions is Texas 1015 sweet onions and the other row is onion sets. The sweet onions are doing real well, but the onions sets haven't come up real well. I may buy more sets and replant some of them.

I planted one row of red potatoes and two rows of Yukon Gold potatoes. These rows are probably 90 feet long or so. All the potatoes were sprouting, so they should come right up. I also planted one row of climbing snap beans beside the potatoes. My plans are to put up cattle panels and let the beans climb the panels. I got the first four rows of corn planted. I'll wait until these rows of Peaches and Cream come up before planting the next bunch of corn. This will make the corn about two weeks apart. We will have three bunches of corn, so we should have corn for about a month and a half.

One of my favorite watermelons is Black Diamond, so I started a few plants. I planted them along with a couple Sugar Baby watermelons. I also planted about 20 hills of cantaloupe. Cantaloupe is one of my favorite melons. I believe there were three different kinds.

Now I need to plant some lettuce plants, kale plants, rainbow chard, another row of green beans, a bunch of canning cucumbers and the list goes on and on. Probably the last seeds I'll plant is the okra. Green beans and okra are two crops where I actually plant seeds. All the others I've started as sets.

Okra likes warm soil, so I leave it until last. When I plant my okra, I do one thing extra. I make a furrow just like normal. I plant the okra seed a little closer than is recommended and I also sprinkle water down the row directly on the seed. By wetting the seed and the soil before covering the seed, I know the seed will sprout right off.

Last year we had so much rain that it was virtually impossible to till the garden and to hoe it like I should have. The weeds were just awful. By using the plastic mulch, I hope the weeding will be easier. I was visiting with a gardener I met last fall, so I asked him how he keeps the weeds out of his onions. He said he uses an herbicide called Prowl. I also did some research and one garden expert said to use Treflan herbicide on onions. It sure would be easier to use the herbicides, but then I'm not sure I could eat them. It's a whole lot easier to use the herbicides, but a whole lot more work to not use them. So I'll probably spend more time hoeing and tilling rather than using the chemicals.

Just me,

Rennie

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