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Red Lioness Gardens

Colder Weather Approaching

 A View of The Delaware Wap Gap Pennsylvania

A View Of The Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania 

My residence isn’t far from the Delaware Water Gap, here in Pennsylvania, and recent days have been considerably colder, particularly at night. Some days have been in the low 60s. A few days ago the temperature at night was under 30 degrees, and my pepper plants, which had been holding on, all went under. I cut them at ground level and placed the plants in the compost pile. The roots will remain to start decomposing. Next year I plan to have at least twelve plants. They all produced well and I plan to obtain newly started ones from the same source next spring. 

  parsley remains alive after freezing temperatures 

Parsley Remains Alive After Freezing Temperatures 

My parsley continues to grow and seems to have survived the recent freezing overnight temperatures. I’ll leave it as long as it’s still growing but eventually will compost it. 

  several varieties of lettuce growing well under hoops 

Several Varieties of Lettuce are Growing Well Under Hoops 

Thus far I’ve had good fortune with my lettuce under the one hoop cover. I’ve done nothing but water it, keep an eye on it, and harvest it. Some days I’ll open the cover if the temperature is warm, but recently I’ve kept it closed. Before planting, I had turned the soil and fertilized it, so I had expected the seeds to germinate. But since I’m new at this, I didn’t know what growth to expect—I’m very pleased. 

  mizuna under the hoop 

Mizuna Under the Hoop 

Mizuna, an Asian green with a sweetish, peppery flavor, is a favorite of mine and I am hoping for a good harvest, but thus far I’m not very encouraged. It may be that Mizuna may not like cool temperatures, as the plants are growing, but slowly. 

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Extending The Growing Season Using Hoop Covers

Extending The Growing Season Using Hoop Covers    

hoop covers in place

Hoop Covers In Place. 

In an effort to provide lettuce and mizuna (an Asian green) into the fall and hopefully longer, I built these two hoop covers. They are about 5X3 each and were made of 3 mil plastic from the ag supply store, some water pipe, small hinges, plastic ties, and some 2X2 lumber.

They were made to fit my existing boxes, so I measured first, then glued the rigid water pipe together. The pipe used was ordinary ¾ inch white plastic. I inserted T attachments about 12 inches apart, and angled them in slightly. I then cut the 2X2s up to fit and tied them to the pipe using plastic zip ties. Then I cut PEX water pipe, which is flexible, to fit and pushed the ends into the T pieces. They fit without using glue. The plastic sheeting was applied using staples to hold it together, and the ends were tied up. Thus far, the plastic has not pulled away from the staples.

Setting the covers on my boxes, I installed small hinges on one side so the covers could be opened.

T coupling with PEX attached

T coupling with PEX attached. Note plastic ties holding pipe to wood frame. Hinge can be seen immediately below frame.

Open to fresh air. open to fresh air

My hoop covers are located at the Southeast end of my house—this way they receive little wind. However, I installed large hooks and eyes to hold the covers closed.

hook and eye

Hook and eye to keep cover closed.

Here in Northeast Pennsylvania there have been several very cool nights already—I’m hoping for a continuing harvest of greens and will keep working as necessary. My parsley is beginning to go to seed, but much of it remains good. My peppers are continuing to produce as well. There was even one zucchini left, which I gave to a neighbor.

Welcome to Red Lioness Gardens

Peppers In Box 

David StrattonHello and greetings to all Grit readers--I'm a relatively new gardener--this is my second year--and I'll be writing each week or so about my experiences, education, and ongoing projects in the gardening field. I've always been a DIY type and I decided to pursue a vegetable garden due to the quality of vegetables available in the supermarket. Additionally, I have no faith in the USDA to protect the food supply, and I wanted organic food.

Last year, I began by buying organic seeds--cucumbers--and using large clay pots to grow them in. I also made a box from wood and grew parsley. Tomatoes were grown in five gallon plastic buckets. My fertilizer was obtained from an ag student I know who has been of considerable help. Considering that this was my first effort, I had some good fortune. The tomatoes, which were of a plum variety, produced relatively well, although I did have some blossom end rot due to a lack of calcium. I learned this later after researching it online. But I had a good enough harvest to can seven quarts.

The cucumbers also had positives and negatives. The harvest was good--I had lots to give away and to eat, but some of the plants died due to the wilt caused by cucumber beetles. I noticed a beetle one day but did not realize what it was. Shortly thereafter, some of the plants became sick and died. Again, I researched the matter online and learned about wilt--most of my help has come from the Ohio State and Penn State extensions, and from Colorado State as well.

Last fall I decided to make a garden using raised beds and terraces. Wood frames formed the boundaries of my 300 square foot garden and I also made a terrace as the ground slopes sharply away from the southern sun. A good deal of excavating, leveling, and filling in was required. The soil was made from store-bought topsoil, sand, peat moss, and clay. Mixing these elements was done by hand and using a rototiller.

One of my last zucchinis  

This year after studying both online and in The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, by Edward C. Smith, I planted cucumbers, zucchinis, mizuna, lettuce, pole beans, broccoli, beets, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, basil, and cilantro. My seeds were ordered from High Mowing--the tomatoes and peppers were started for me. Fertilizer was made by mixing lime, potash, and phosphorus, available organically at ag and garden supply stores. I also had some fish emulsion.

The tomatoes, which were of the Rutgers variety, were doing will and had been producing fruit, when at one point I noticed that the individual tomatoes had orange spots in a circular, mosaic-like pattern. The leaves had lost their rich green color, and had numerous small black spots. Research at the Colorado State extension indicated that my plants were infected with spotted leaf wilt, caused by a virus vectored to the plant by the thrip, a tiny insect barely visible to the naked eye. Something else I'd never known about! There is no treatment once infection has taken hold. I had to pull up and discard all eight plants.

On the positive side, I had researched cucumber wilt and learned that radishes, planted with cucumbers, can deter cucumber beetles. Planting numerous radishes resulted in no infestation and a substantial harvest.


My other plants produced well. Above, peppers are still growing at the end of the season. I had a large number of zucchinis, a good number of beets, and my pole beans are still producing as well. My broccoli harvest was quite small--I'll research this. All in all, I believe I had a good season--I've learned how little I know, but I do know that:

Soil and amendments are crucial.
Examine the garden daily, and look for pests and signs of disease. Weed regularly.
Water regularly and carefully, and keep aware of rainfall and weather patterns.
Know each plant's needs.
Use a notebook to keep records of all you do, and use a camera.
Study and ask for advice.
Plan ahead.

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