Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Unusual Bee-havior

In my last post, I mentioned the abundance of bees in my garden this year. However, I didn't mention some peculiar behavior I witnessed in a couple bees. Today, I found the little fellow above walking on the ground (I almost stepped on him!). He moved across the dirt pretty quick and made it to the plants. He seemed overall disinterested in the flowers, but did stop at one or two. He just climbed around the pumpkin plants with no obvious destination. Two days ago, I witnessed another bee in the same manner (unless it was the same bee). Anyway, any ideas as to what might cause this?

I did a bit of research, and found a couple causes (tracheal mites, temperature, wind, etc.), but my inexperience with bees leaves me scratching my head. I suggested to my wife that maybe it was an older bee who had just reached his time to go. I guess it isn't too big of a deal until I see more like this, but I would still like a clue.

On a happier note, below is a photo of one of my pumpkins. It is about the size of a tennis ball.

And, finally, can anyone identify this little guy. I don't think he does any damage, but, again, inexperience prevails.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Helping Hand

Not that Mother Nature needs much help, (I seem to have an abundance of bees around my plants this year (woo hoo!)), but I took the opportunity this morning to hand pollinate one of my watermelons. Not many of the female flowers are open in the morning, but I found one in the corner of the garden. I pulled off a nearby male flower, and made an attempt to pull off the petals. This is easier said than done. The stem accidentally came off first, leaving me little to hold on to. To avoid breaking off the stamen, I ended up just bending the petals back, and using them as the handle. Not sure I did it correct, but I basically just rubbed the stamen against the pistil in hopes that the pollen was transfered. Now whether I or the bees are the propagating party, we will never know. But just in case the bees missed that little baby in the corner, I hope my assistance is "fruitful."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blessings from above

They say good things come from above, and I have to say that with all the rain we have been getting these past weeks, I have figured out what was wrong with my garden. I apparently have not been watering my beans and okra enough. Sure they germinated and grew to where they were, but no where near the speed of my garden 2 years ago (in my defense, that was a Spring garden. This is my first ever Fall garden).

After that first rain, I could see a major difference. From the beginning, I have been hand watering with a hose and sprayer, but I guess I just was not watering deep enough as the plants grew. I want to get some soaker hoses, but not in the family budget yet.

While I am thankful for the rain, I am hoping that this abundance does not become a burden on my pumpkins and watermelons. I discovered 2 quarter-size pumpkins this morning, and a few pea-size watermelons. I am hopeful that I can take some of these to full size.

Below is a photo of the watermelon/pumpkin patch.

Also discovered 2 "wild" watermelons growing behind my garden (below), as well as some canteloupes growing in t he compost (bottom)!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
My watermelons and pumpkins are growing quite well, and I actually have flowers on the pumpkin plants. Not sure if this is a good thing as I thought the pumpkins would vine a bit more before flowering. Have to read up on that.

The Bad
Everything else in the garden is not doing so hot. Nothing is growing as fast as I think it should. However, I have to admit that I did not amend my soil for this garden until after the fact (mostly because of budgetary reasons). Also, we had some pine trees taken down before I planted, and the machinery had to run through part the garden plot to get to some of them. This, in the process, compacted much of the soil. I had given the tiller back to my father-in-law, so I was unable to re-till that part of the garden (where I have my cow peas, okra, and now corn). So my conclusion is that the combination of weak, compacted soil is reducing the production. If I don't see much more progress in the next week, I will most likely pull everything up (except the watermelons and pumpkins) and prepare the soil for the Spring.

The Ugly
I try to check all my plants for critters that may damage them. Again, as this is an experimental garden, and I am still learning and looking into organic methods, I have not used any pesticides as I want to do this as "green" as possible. Well, I found what you see in the photo below. Obviously, you can see ants, which I don;t think harm the plants (cow peas in this photo), but there are other bugs, which appear to have hollowed out the stem much like a wooden canoe would be. I don't know if the ants are eating these other bugs, or if they are in cahoots with the ants in taking over this plant. They look like aphids, but my inexperienced eyes can't tell. Click on the photo for a larger view, and if you know what these are, leave me a comment.

Two of my corn seedlings have been killed by caterpillars, and out of all the merrigold seeds I planted, only 2 have come up.

No regrets in doing this this fall, as it is all a learning process. I hope to see great results next year because of it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another update.

Here are some recent photos from the garden.

Leaf Miner damage. Luckily it was just on the bottom leaves of each plant. Just picked each off and squished the leaf in my fingers. However, I managed to break one of the watermelon plants in the process.

Cow Peas

Friday, August 6, 2010

Garden update

Just a quick update for those visiting:

All my watermelon and pumpkin plants can up, and half the okra and cow peas. So, today I planted some more okra to replace that which did not germinate. I read somewhere that soaking the okra seeds in hot water for a bit helps them germinate better, so I did before placing the new seeds in the ground. We'll see what happens.

I also planted some pole beans and white corn, also after soaking the seeds, but in cool tap water. I planted the pole bean in between the cow peas, and made a whole new row for the corn.

For the corn, I added composted cow manure, regular store bought compost (mine won't be ready for a while), and leaves, lightly mixed that into the top layer of soil, and then planted the corn. I then covered the row (which is not elevated) with more leaves as mulch to help retain moisture.

I am trying to do as much research as possible, but there is so much info online and in books that digesting it can get overwhelming. The garden this year is a bit of an experiment anyway, so if I get half of what I plant to produce, I'll be happy.

Thanks for stopping by! Will have more photos in my next update.