Garden Journal: Week of 6/27

Erica here with the weekly garden update!

The week started off pretty dry, but by the end of the week, the Charlottesville summer diurnal pattern of sunny in the mornings, rainy in the afternoon and evenings kicked in, giving the garden a few good, thorough soaks. The corn is really taking off, the sunflowers are now over 6 feet in height, and the second set of sesame that we planted as a part of the bed extension is looking great!

Hannah watering the new additions to the sesame bed

The flax, marshmallow, and soapwort are gracing the garden with delicate silvery-blue blossoms…

from left to right: flax, marshmallow, and soapwort…the calendula and nasturtiums are continuing to add cheerful color,

…and it looks as though the tansy are going to bloom at any given minute!

On Monday, Sarah, one of our newest volunteers, and I “re-planted” fish heads in the first of the three rows of corn to replace those that had been dug up by the local critters.  This time, we dug down elbow-deep (about 14″), and so far, we haven’t had any soil disturbance there!  This is pretty encouraging, seeing as getting 14″ down in clay soil is a feat in and of itself and corn is such a heavy feeder, that we’ve really got to replenish the nutrients that it takes up.

While no critters appear to be getting into the corn, we have had some close encounters with the groundhog!  On Wednesday, Hannah spotted the furry guy and tried to scare him off, but he appears to have taken up residence under the greenhouse – bending the metal fencing and burrowing under the platform.  We’re working to move him out of the garden, using a few different techniques.  One of which was to reinforce the wire fencing, and create a barrier of stones to prevent his burrowing ways.

trench warfare of the garden variety

Here’s one more fantastic reward for all of our hard work that appeared this week – blackberries!!!

a little red, white, and blue(ish) just in time for the holiday weekend!

While not technically a Jeffersonian “useful plant”, it’s hard not to celebrate the blackberry bounty that we are enjoying at the garden.  I gathered the first substantial harvest this morning, and it looks like we’re in for a great harvest over the course of the next week!  It’s great to see that all of our efforts to protect the fruit (our staking, netting, and “stitching” together of the netting to thwart the cunning OHill squirrels and birds), has resulted in enough for us to gather and enjoy!

While the majority look amazing, some of the berries have white drupelets, or drupelets that appear to have been sucked dry.  I was curious about the causes for these anomalies and found that some types of blackberries have a tendency to, at least as young plants, produce white drupelets (for more information, see the following forum), while the shriveled drupelets are due to hungry bugs.  I also found a great site that details blackberry plant maintenance and highlights trellis designs and pruning techniques (http://umaine.edu/publications/2066e/).

The next mystery to solve is why the peanut plants have been developing yellowing leaves.  It’s not time to harvest them yet (the leaves turn yellow at harvest time).  Is it a fungus, the composition of the soil (they prefer sandy soils and we’re working with a higher clay content), or over-watering and not enough dry-out time?  I plan to take a closer look at the yellowing pattern this week and continue to research the problem.  Until then, happy gardening!

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