Round Bale Gardening Phase Two

I got pretty excited last week when I found the Texas A&M Fall Planting Guide online. We are in Region III. Have started planting the fall garden, but was uncertain about when to plant many seeds. Also discovered that the famous Texas horticulturalist, Neil Sperry, has a website which offers other pertinent information.

http://neilsperry.com/

Planting time is NOW, but it is so difficult to be sufficiently inspired and motivated when temperatures are still over 100 degrees. Today it is 109. Fortunately, there has been a break in the heat with much needed rain on some days during the past two weeks.

Photographs of the current condition of the garden . . .


Skinny long Japanese eggplant

Sweet potato slips planted in this second stage round bale last week are actually doing very well

The indeterminate tomatoes that survived the summer are growing in all sorts of odd positions. These appear to have rooted in the ground next to the bale.


Squash bugs!! These most destructive pests both eat the plants and infect them with a fungus. Have not found an organic solution that works, so am considering Sevin Dust.

While the okra is producing, there is evidence of squash bugs on the pumpkins.

Can't believe there are figs growing the first year!

Still waiting for the pomegranates to ripen.

Artichokes look OK, I think? Don't really know what they are supposed to look like.

This raised bed is for corn. Will shrink wrap the outside.

Rotting logs on the bottom to be covered with soil, then layers of hay and cardboard. On the top will be the remains of a composted hay bale.

Found these giant Straight Eight Cucumbers hiding in the vines.

Yesterday's eggs gathered.

This is a critical time. I know from experience that planting in September or October is too late for the warm weather crops. My goal is to have most of it planted within a week. The newer round bales are not done conditioning, so first I will plant the most crucial seeds in the existing beds. The weeds in those beds will be cut off, not pulled up, and the new seeds just be poked into place.

Two raised beds constructed from welded wire, secured in place by t-posts, and shrink wrapped are for the corn and potatoes. Tomatoes now growing in odd positions will be staked.

The entire effort is and always has been a trial and error affair. Try one thing. If it works, try it again. If it fails, research, rethink it, modify, research, and try it again. The goal is to reach some sort of consistency, so the same system can be repeated each year. (climate change may mess with that idea, however.)

If anyone has some advice about how to kill squash bugs without Sevin Dust, I am all ears. They first appeared three years ago. That year I diligently used diatomaceous earth, sulphur, and sprayed soapy water on them. Total failure. Last year I tried planting squash again in an area far far away from the original bed. Had a fabulous crop of crooked neck yellow squash. Picked a dozen every four days. Then one morning I went out to pick (had promised some to the in-laws). There were only stems left. All leaves and squash were gone. I had just looked at the patch a couple of days prior. Have no idea what ate them. Sigh . . .

The final piece to the "food forest" puzzle will be the addition of fruit and nut trees and a few grape and dewberry vines. I will be planting everything in raised beds. They will probably mostly only be about 2 ft. deep. All of the trees I have planted in raised beds with some irrigation have done amazingly well. The latest example are the fig trees. They were only 8 inch sticks that I purchased from Tractor Supply this spring. Now they are four ft. tall and have figs on them. I have planted probably about 10 fig trees before. All into the soil and all died. Ordered and paid for the trees last week. They will be delivered in November, about the time the fall garden will be finished.

Please write comments and offer advice below. I believe it was CitizenofEarth who commented somewhere "nobody here writes about their projects to brag. We just want to share and encourage each other." (highly paraphrased, but hopefully the same point) I am learning so much from all of the insights others are sharing here, both in essays and comments. Hopefully more of you will share your gardening or other creative projects on c99.

One comment suggestion I want to try is where you build a device that enables you to harvest fly maggots for chicken feed. Gross but cool. Below is a YouTube video about another way to grow your own chicken feed. Starry Hilder has many useful videos.

Finally, why do I keep after it?

Cheers everyone! Smile

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Comments

Pricknick's picture

Unfortunately your method of gardening is also prime real estate for them.
If you must go to an insecticide, sevins is your best shot. You should consider using the spray as the powder would not penetrate areas that they like the best such as your hay and rotting logs. Another method is to use a isopropyl alcohol/water mix to spray with. The adults hate it and the eggs are killed by it. The downside is it has to be applied often.
Good luck.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

mhagle's picture

@Pricknick

Indeed, there are gobs of little unidentifiable critters down in the bales. Hard to know which are good and which are bad. Still, it's the best luck I have had with gardening.

Thanks for the advice on the liquid Sevin. I had purchased the dust variety, but will go buy the spray kind today.

The alcohol and water mix . . . didn't know about that one. However, at this point I think I need to bring out the big guns as I have so many plants at risk.

Thank you!

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

@mhagle are at least organic. What should the ratio be? @Pricknick

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Pricknick's picture

@mhagle
Use 90% alcohol and mix it 50/50 with water. You must spray the undersides of all leaves (where the eggs are) and then the tops.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

riverlover's picture

I have some seeds for perennial greens that I want to start. I may try starting indoors in my Aerogrows. I have virgin pots, still playing about with those. But I can keep 16-hr light cycles all winter, indoors in a warm room. Olive tree is still lying on its side outdoors. Too wet for a Med climate. Maybe figs next year. I have ignored most of my mature houseplants until death this summer.

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

mhagle's picture

@riverlover

I enjoy yours as well. We are living in opposite climates, but I used to live in wooded Minnesota, so everything you talk about feels like home. Smile

I will be interested in hearing about your Aerogrows. My neighbor gave me one and I have yet to try it.

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

@mhagle @mhagle , is to buy a 4 ft shop light and use full spectrum bulbs in it.

We keep a rack lighted with them in winter for our perennial herbs. A side benefit is it is as good as those expensive lights for SAD. These are just as good as specialized lights for growing and much cheaper.

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mhagle's picture

@gustogirl

I actually have loose plans to create an indoor growing area in a shipping container. It used to be my husband's woodshop so it has lighting and electricity already. Where do I find full spectrum bulbs? Guess I can google it.

A couple of months ago I purchased some square grow lights in preparation for this project. It is on the back burner for now.

Thanks! Smile

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

@mhagle

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dkmich's picture

dog vomit slime mold

fungus.jpg

When someone told me its name, I thought they were kidding. They are not. I first saw it in a flower bed in the front yard. We have a lot of deer, and I thought one of them got sick. Apparently, this fungus loves damp mulch. We had a new batch of mulch installed this spring, and the spores must have been in it. Windex turns it to dust, but I think the spores blow off and propagate.

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mhagle's picture

@dkmich

To work with nature one must enjoy occasional humorous grossness. Ewwww. Marvelous.

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

Plant radishes among the squashes.

I would think in TX, with high summer temps still prevailing, you still have plenty of time to plant fall crops. I don't think I would plant cool season crops like peas, lettuces or spinach for at least another month yet.

You might try pruning back the mater vines for a second crop of the determinate varieties.

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Nastarana

mhagle's picture

@Nastarana

I had no idea about planting radishes around my squash . . . or that if I trim back determinate tomatoes they will produce again. Cool.

And I will definitely hold back on spinach and lettuce. Thank you!

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

eyo's picture

Cheers mhagle, thanks a lot. You are doing good, keep going! Make dirt, not war. Biggrin Stay awesome, I hope I can be reading you in ten years that will be great. Abundance! Reminded me about this great propanda film ;-). Kind of stunning transformation over one decade: Lessons of the Loess Plateau https://youtu.be/8QUSIJ80n50

In 2005, the Chinese government, in cooperation with the World Bank, completed the world's largest watershed restoration on the upper banks of the Yellow River. Woefully under-publicized, the $500 million enterprise transformed an area of 35,000 square kilometers on the Loess Plateau — roughly the area of Belgium — from dusty wasteland to a verdant agricultural center.

peace

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On a blog.

mhagle's picture

@eyo

I think you are awesome too. Smile

Thanks for the link to the video about reversing desertification. It looks great. There is so much that can be done to bring back the planet. It is just that we don't have enough people thinking along those lines yet.

Cheers to you also!

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

mhagle's picture

@eyo
And encouraging - to see what can be done.

Thanks again!

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

MsGrin's picture

trying for a second showing... beans and peas are TRYING to grow. The zucchini plants keep offing themselves. Got three baking pumpkins in the spring - hoping my new plants will produce in the fall. The tomatoes are blooming again... but I'm not confident.

I keep watering. The morning air today has a distinctly fall feel even though it will be high 90s here (heat index low hundreds).

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'What we are left with is an agency mandated to ensure transparency and disclosure that is actually working to keep the public in the dark' - Ann M. Ravel, former FEC member

mhagle's picture

@MsGrin

And when do you plant in the spring? How do you store your baking pumpkins?

As long as your tomatoes set fruit, I bet you will get some. Mine are blooming too, so I'm hoping.

You are in Texas, right? Hope you can write more about your efforts sometime. Maybe you have and I missed it. Smile

I have been here 25 years now, but nothing will feel like fall for me until November. Used to bother me, but now I am counting on it!

Have a great day. Smile

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

earthling1's picture

Yeah, that's right. Beer.
I cut a beer can 2 or 3 inches from bottom. Sink it into ground near invaded plants, making TOP flush with ground. Fill hafway with stale beer.
It attracts numerous varieties of bugs that dive in , but can't get back out. They drown. Clean and refill as needed.
Give it a try before going all Dow on it.
Good luck and happy farming.

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mhagle's picture

@earthling1

Some years ago I used it to combat slugs.

Thank you!

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

I do not envy you your weather.Until this year, we only grew grain. This year we added berry plants, and when our high tunnels go up, we'll be growing veggies. So this year we planted huge field "test"gardens with many varieties of tomatoes and other things we might want to grow under cover. I certainly learned a lot and changed from being a person who never ate tomatoes to a tomato fanatic. I have no experience with growing in bales, though I find the raised beds composed of layers of straw and alfalfa intriguing . I hope you try everything else before using sevin. Check out Arbico Organics for information and advice. We found that the plants grown in beds sprayed with beneficial nematodes are virtually pest free. Also found that using the silver plastic mulch caused significantly more robust plants than plants without it. More random advice:make cuttings from your fig trees if you want more very very easy. And if I had to deal with your weather, id be pricing high tunnels.

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mhagle's picture

@GusBecause

I already buy nematodes from Arbico Organics. I have used them to kill fleas and fire ants with great success. Never thought about checking them out for squash bugs. Will do so ASAP.

Also found that using the silver plastic mulch caused significantly more robust plants than plants without it. More random advice:make cuttings from your fig trees if you want more very very easy. And if I had to deal with your weather, id be pricing high tunnels.

And I will research these ideas as well. Thank you!

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.