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Author Topic: Gardeners thread!  (Read 341563 times)
biomancer
trying to be the person my dog thinks I am
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« Reply #1350 on: April 03, 2012, 7:36:38 AM »

I know what you mean--it was nearly 90, and forecast for 91 today, here.  Our normals for early April are around 58-60, and the USDA last frost is April 15.  It's supposed to "cool off" to the upper 60s-upper 70s for the next week or so.


Three of the garden beds are built, woo-hoo!  One has soil in it, and the other two await my husband's work trailer (from his mowing business) getting a free afternoon/evening to haul more dirt and then compost to top-dress all.  We want to do another row of 4, 4x4 beds this year; we should be able to get them done by next weekend.

Around here, the oddity has been the butterflies and moths.  If I recall my college bio, it has to reliably be something like 82 degrees for them to hang around--mid-June is normal or a little early for them around here, aside from a straggler or two.  But now they're all over.  I wonder if the lightning bugs will be early, too?

Congrats on the garden beds!  I've got one more raised bed to put in and want to build a coldframe before fall, but it's going to have to wait a couple weeks.

I'm also seeing butterflies and moths early - a couple swallowtails of some sort (dark coloration, so not tiger swallowtails, but seen from enough of a distance that I'm not sure exactly what they were, but I'm leaning towards mourning cloaks), and quite a lot of cabbage butterflies in the last two weeks.  I haven't seen a monarch yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to see one soon.  I don't think I usually see butterflies until about May. 

And, predictably and unfortunately due to the mild winter, the yellow jackets, hornets and paper wasps are already astir in greater numbers than usual.  I'm fine with bees - they're pollinators and mild mannered, and I encourage them out of gardening self-interest.  The hornets (mostly bald-faced) and yellow jackets in this area, however, are aggressive territorial demon b!tches (and the paper wasps are only slightly less vicious, though still territorial and aggressive), and I'm allergic to stings.  I need to figure out a way to encourage the honeybees, bumblebees, and mason bees while discouraging the carpenter bees (who are trying to destroy my front porch), yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps.  Anybody know any good strategies?
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amlithist
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« Reply #1351 on: April 03, 2012, 2:53:39 PM »

Biomancer, it's not environmentally friendly, socially responsible, or even nice, but when we had carpenter bees under and around the deck at the old house, my husband (did I mention it's a wonder he lived past age 11, and in many ways still acts like he's that age?) took his handy can of ether car-starting fluid and a bic lighter and had at it.  I never knew dirt could burn, before that.

I got stung all to pieces when I was about 5.  I was swinging on Grandpa's porch swing about this time of year, and apparently the underside of it was full of yellow jacket nests.  All I remember is screaming bloody murder, Grandpa and Dad flying out that back door, and Mom, my step grandma, and my sister all picking stingers out of my legs and my little lace anklets; they quit counting when they hit the 80 somethings, but they went way past that.  Grandpa just wiped the little bastards off with his hands, and there were piles of them on the floor; Dad had to be careful, because he was deathly allergic to anything that stings.  I don't know if I'm allergic now or not--surprisingly, in the ensuing 40+ years, I've never been stung.  But I sure don't want to try it out, either.

My husband got into a similar mess when the girls were little:  he moved flower pots that had been sitting all winter, and stirred up a hoard of yellow jackets.  Once again, out came the ether and the Bic, and once again, barbecued bugs.
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biomancer
trying to be the person my dog thinks I am
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« Reply #1352 on: April 04, 2012, 3:35:11 PM »

Biomancer, it's not environmentally friendly, socially responsible, or even nice,...

Yeah... as things currently stand I've been having an exterminator come every 3 months, so I'm completely open to that sort of idea.  He's putting down a directed spray that kills and repels insects on the outside walls and the front porch (this began in response to an ant infestation last year) but the insecticide is not spreading enough to affect the garden or my flowerbeds.  For the moment I'm OK with that - I can't be the one out there torching the nests myself, and Mr. Mancer travels a lot so he's not always here when I find a nest.  However, I'm starting to see a lot of the yellow jackets in particular, so I may have to call the exterminator for an extra visit before his next scheduled round in May. 

As a biologist and a tree-hugger I'm really NOT enthused about using pesticides, but for right now, it's the best option I've got.  Any method that puts me at risk for getting stung is right out, as I really don't want to test just how good my epi-pen is.
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Clueless people can be dangerous. The acidic environment they can spread often needs to be neutralized, and humor is basic.  - Dellaroux

I have realized that it is best to assume everyone is bonkers until they demonstrate otherwise. - ChaosByDesign
gennimom
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Let's get summer over with! Me want snow!


« Reply #1353 on: April 05, 2012, 4:18:05 PM »

Around here, the oddity has been the butterflies and moths.  If I recall my college bio, it has to reliably be something like 82 degrees for them to hang around--mid-June is normal or a little early for them around here, aside from a straggler or two.  But now they're all over.  I wonder if the lightning bugs will be early, too?

Yup. I saw a few just a few nights ago.
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prof_smartypants
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« Reply #1354 on: April 06, 2012, 6:30:42 PM »

I am thinking of getting a meyer lemon tree to grow indoors. Anyone have experience with inside fruit trees? Will I just kill it?
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biomancer
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« Reply #1355 on: April 07, 2012, 9:00:26 AM »

I am thinking of getting a meyer lemon tree to grow indoors. Anyone have experience with inside fruit trees? Will I just kill it?

We tried growing Meyer lemons and Key limes indoors back in SLACville and both trees died.  I'm pretty sure it had more to do with the general dampness of climate and mold problem in our house (there was no way to get rid of it all because the basement was so wet) than it did with my gardening skills.  We lost a lot of houseplants to fungus there, including plants that should have been really sturdy (spider plants, Phalaeanopsis orchids, African violets, Dracaena, ivy, Peace lilies, Oxalis, etc.). 

Now that we're firmly settled in Branchville in a house with a much better climate (and a window fully of happy plants to demonstrate that fact), I'm thinking about getting a couple citrus plants too.  The single challenge here will be that we don't have a lot of windows that get full sun except for upstairs, so the citrus plants may have to go into one of the bedrooms rather than with the "filtered light" brigade by the dining room window.
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Clueless people can be dangerous. The acidic environment they can spread often needs to be neutralized, and humor is basic.  - Dellaroux

I have realized that it is best to assume everyone is bonkers until they demonstrate otherwise. - ChaosByDesign
anakin
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Goes to 11


« Reply #1356 on: April 07, 2012, 9:13:26 AM »

This morning, I'm going to the first farmers' market of the season here in Mountainville. I'm SOOO excited!
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prof_smartypants
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You're getting hosed by small minds with no game.


« Reply #1357 on: April 07, 2012, 9:29:52 AM »

I am thinking of getting a meyer lemon tree to grow indoors. Anyone have experience with inside fruit trees? Will I just kill it?

We tried growing Meyer lemons and Key limes indoors back in SLACville and both trees died.  I'm pretty sure it had more to do with the general dampness of climate and mold problem in our house (there was no way to get rid of it all because the basement was so wet) than it did with my gardening skills.  We lost a lot of houseplants to fungus there, including plants that should have been really sturdy (spider plants, Phalaeanopsis orchids, African violets, Dracaena, ivy, Peace lilies, Oxalis, etc.). 

Now that we're firmly settled in Branchville in a house with a much better climate (and a window fully of happy plants to demonstrate that fact), I'm thinking about getting a couple citrus plants too.  The single challenge here will be that we don't have a lot of windows that get full sun except for upstairs, so the citrus plants may have to go into one of the bedrooms rather than with the "filtered light" brigade by the dining room window.

Good to know. I'll have to pay more attention to the sun in my house before purchasing.
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pollinate
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« Reply #1358 on: May 04, 2012, 12:54:47 PM »

I planted out my first set of squash seedlings yesterday.  They were getting too big for their pots, but I decided to chance a frost rather than try to find larger pots.  We shall see...

And the update is:  dinner yesterday included a small home-grown yellow squash and three tiny cucumbers!  There were several multi-day cold snaps after I started planting things out (but no freezes) and the plants are still too small to produce full-sized fruits (so I'm eating lots of their flowers).  It's back to unseasonably warm now, so that should change soon.

Also, I've already harvested the garlic, the peas and greens are showing signs heat-stress, a few of the tomatoes have flowers, and I've started planting beans.

The temperatures this year are the oddest ever.  My Globba has shoots up already (I often decide, in early June, that it must have died, dump the pot out, and discover I'm wrong) and a Malvaviscus that usually starts flowering the end of June has started in, too.
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farm_boy
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recalcitrant and trollish loser


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« Reply #1359 on: May 04, 2012, 5:34:19 PM »

I ate my first tomato last week.  Zone 6.  I started it in my hobby greenhouse in January.

Yeah, I know, it sounds like bragging, but I gotta brag about something since I'm a flop at teaching.
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mended_drum
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« Reply #1360 on: May 04, 2012, 5:49:05 PM »

Mended_sister sent me an entire giant aeroponics kit, so I have something to play with when finals are over.

Anyone else ever played with one of these?
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biomancer
trying to be the person my dog thinks I am
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CHE Fora Hazmat Team


« Reply #1361 on: May 05, 2012, 8:49:32 AM »

I ate my first tomato last week.  Zone 6.  I started it in my hobby greenhouse in January.

Yeah, I know, it sounds like bragging, but I gotta brag about something since I'm a flop at teaching.

Wow, Farm_Boy!  You've got my early-tomato-champion cousin (also Zone 6) beat by two months.

No greenhouse here (yet - I do plan to build a cold frame this summer).  The spinach and lettuce that I left in my raised beds is going pretty well and I picked some of the spinach last week to put on a pizza.  I think tonight's dinner will include a salad with some of the lettuce.  I've been harvesting green onions for a couple weeks too.  My strawberry plants are blooming like mad, and my rhubarb looks read to harvest, so I may cut a couple stalks to freeze for pie this weekend.

I'm in Zone 5, so I'm not planting anything frost-sensitive outside for a couple more weeks.



Mended_sister sent me an entire giant aeroponics kit, so I have something to play with when finals are over.

Anyone else ever played with one of these?

I haven't done aeroponics, but I've done hydroponics a couple times (and am thinking about a hydroponic wall garden).   As long as you keep fungi and algae at bay (and, in a hydroponic set-up, filter the liquid so it doesn't get too manky) things should grow like gangbusters.
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Clueless people can be dangerous. The acidic environment they can spread often needs to be neutralized, and humor is basic.  - Dellaroux

I have realized that it is best to assume everyone is bonkers until they demonstrate otherwise. - ChaosByDesign
usukprof
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.


« Reply #1362 on: May 05, 2012, 10:01:18 AM »

This morning, I'm going to the first farmers' market of the season here in Mountainville. I'm SOOO excited!

Just went to our farmer's market for the first time this season.  Came home with zinnia, herbs, and a blueberry bush big enough that hopefully the rabbits won't eat it to the ground.  Paying money for blueberry plants just seems wrong, coming from New England where they grew wild in the woods of my back yard.
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coalminecanary
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« Reply #1363 on: May 06, 2012, 8:19:00 AM »

Biomancer, I've had luck with sugar water/2-liter bottle traps for wasps, and raw meat/cider vinegar/2-liter traps for hornets. I place several at the edges of our property, far from the house. Also, be careful with your compost heap. Hornets like protein, and the wasps like nice rotting fruit. I also use an exterminator (severe allergies to wasps), but this seems to help. I also use only soaker hoses (no sprinkler) as the wasps seem to enjoy sprinklers. I am never outside without also bringing my epi pen, diphenhydramine, and cell phone. Stay safe!
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biomancer
trying to be the person my dog thinks I am
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CHE Fora Hazmat Team


« Reply #1364 on: May 06, 2012, 8:59:41 AM »

Biomancer, I've had luck with sugar water/2-liter bottle traps for wasps, and raw meat/cider vinegar/2-liter traps for hornets. I place several at the edges of our property, far from the house. Also, be careful with your compost heap. Hornets like protein, and the wasps like nice rotting fruit. I also use an exterminator (severe allergies to wasps), but this seems to help. I also use only soaker hoses (no sprinkler) as the wasps seem to enjoy sprinklers. I am never outside without also bringing my epi pen, diphenhydramine, and cell phone. Stay safe!

Thanks, CMC.  I have a spinning barrel composter that I chose in part for its lack of good entry points for insects, but you're right that they could be attracted to the scents emanating from the composter.

I usually don't go anywhere without my epipen anymore, though I was rather disturbed to realize yesterday that I was a mile into a hike in the woods before I realized I'd left it at home in my other bag.
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Clueless people can be dangerous. The acidic environment they can spread often needs to be neutralized, and humor is basic.  - Dellaroux

I have realized that it is best to assume everyone is bonkers until they demonstrate otherwise. - ChaosByDesign
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