I just about gave up on a vegetable garden this year. My watermelons, cucumbers and cantaloupes either drowned after four inches of rain or died in the drought that followed. Rain was forecasted several times, but went around my area. A storm was forecasted again for Sunday night, and my tomato plants needed to get out of the greenhouse and into the ground.
I got the John Deere out and plowed up the garden and planted twenty-three tomato plants. I grew my favorite Cherokee purple again this year, along with a Black Russian and German Pink Belgium, two new varieties I haven’t planted before. I decided to give Mortgage Lifter another chance this year. Last year hot spring and summer was a disaster for any tomato.
I dig a hole about a food deep and throw the soil off to the side. Before putting the tomatoes in the hole, I add Epsom salt, a time released fertilizer and an plant derived water retention crystal. With the drought we’ve had, I don’t need to water as often. After pinching off any leaves that would be below the ground and placing in the hole, I fill the hole from around the top until it is about an inch below the level of the ground. That way water will stay around the plant and not run off. I should have plenty of tomatoes for sharing. Now I need to free up some of my hooligan cages protecting shrubs around the house for the tomatoes; put newspaper down and mulch. I have two cages around small fig trees trying to grow back out after being mowed down. We won’t mention who did that.
My daylilies have been in full bloom and at their peak.
Before the 1.98 inches of rain, I also got scalloped and crookneck squash and cantaloupes replanted. The spot where I decided to till around a bald cypress and knocked my cup of seeds out of my cup holder on the tractor fender has a real nice stand of squash. They are a little too close together though.
While working around the garden, I noticed that the Japanese beetles were starting to make their presence known and put traps on my shopping list. They love crepe myrtles, hibiscus, roses, dahlias, plums and the leaves of plum trees and will quickly devour a plant. When using the traps, you need to place them away from what you are trying to protect or otherwise they will have a feast. I usually use milky spore each year, but didn't last year with my knee injury and lack of rain. I can tell the difference this year, as the number of beetles has increased dramatically.
I unpacked the traps for assembly on the back tail gate of my truck. It’s just the right height and makes a good table. I also use the scoop on my tractor loader a lot as a potting bench. When I opened one of the sex lure attractants, it popped out and I made the mistake of picking it up with my bare hands. Beetles were coming and swarming around me even after hanging up the trap. I rinsed off my hands and I still had the little boogers chasing after me. Finally I went into the house and gave my hands a good soap scrubbing.
I must have dropped the box with the extra bags that came in each kit into my recycling box, as I can’t find them. The three traps have been filling up each day with about three quarts of beetles. The refill bags cost almost as much as the trap kit. I started emptying the bags into a gallon zip locks bags sealing up for disposal, and hanging the bag back up for reuse. Three quarts of Japanese beetles are rank, so you need to hold your breath during this part if you are a tight wade like me.
Since the hooligan were shot, Patches and Levi are terrified of storms and want to be near me. Sunday night I left the house garage door cracked and they hid under and in front of my truck. The next night, we had a little lightening during the night. We didn’t get any rain, but must have gotten some thunder as Patches chewed up the trim around the garage doors trying to get in. An earlier storm she went through the screen door on the screen porch. I heard someone rattling the door knob, only to find Patches with the knob in her mouth trying to open the door. When I first got her she would turn the outside faucets on to get a drink of water and walk off leaving the water running. I finally had to take the handles off of them.