Outdoors
What a summer! The unremitting sunshine with soaring temperatures and sporadic thunderstorms sure has been a change from our usual cooler, soggier rainforest climate. In fact, it's the most persistent sunshine I can recall in 17 years of gardening on Prince of Wales Island.
Green Thumb: Garden management process 071013 OUTDOORS 1 For the Capital City Weekly What a summer! The unremitting sunshine with soaring temperatures and sporadic thunderstorms sure has been a change from our usual cooler, soggier rainforest climate. In fact, it's the most persistent sunshine I can recall in 17 years of gardening on Prince of Wales Island.

Photo By Carla Petersen

Fast growing pole beans are organized to climb up individual strings for better support and separation in Petersen's greenhouse in Thorne Bay.


Photo By Carla Petersen

These peas in Petersen's garden grow well, planted on either side of a trellis attached to support poles.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Story last updated at 7/10/2013 - 2:20 pm

Green Thumb: Garden management process

What a summer! The unremitting sunshine with soaring temperatures and sporadic thunderstorms sure has been a change from our usual cooler, soggier rainforest climate. In fact, it's the most persistent sunshine I can recall in 17 years of gardening on Prince of Wales Island.

Of course the vegetables, flowers and herbs are responding favorably; feeling smug, and showing off with strong growth and increased vigor. There's nothing like sun and warmth compared to chilly and wet. I can see the plants appreciate the extra time it takes to keep them properly watered but good grief, are they ever thirsty!

In gardening, like anything else, there's always room for improvement so I'm trying to plan ahead, reviewing past gardening notes and really thinking about practicing the techniques I know I should take the time to follow.

My previous attempts to ignore proper plant spacing has mostly proven unwise so this year I prudently planted peas - with a yard stick no less - and even made sure the trellises got put in by the time their little tentacles began clamoring for support. It just doesn't pay to have a huge mess of unruly peas climbing all over each other in a dense mass of potential slug habitat.

Pole beans in the greenhouse received the same careful spacing along with individual strings suspended from above. It takes time and strict discipline to keep them all focused on the string they are assigned to. If you don't keep after them, pole beans will go astray, wandering over to a different string until they're every-which-ways climbing first one, then another string in overlapping layers. If you have the time to keep them organized at first, it helps in the long run.

Weeding is pretty simple - you just have to actually do it and it's best to pull them while they're still small. Shallow cultivation with a little claw tool helps speed up the process and prevents the soil from crusting; allowing air flow. Some of my weeding is going better than others - things are pretty well under control in the greenhouse but outside, it's still chaos mostly.

I learned the hard way that I need to pay more attention to root maggot problems when I found a savoy cabbage had withered and fallen over. When I pulled it up, I discovered the 10" tall plant had virtually no roots. Digging down a couple inches, I soon found the culprits, then went on to carefully dig around other nearby cabbages and found more root maggots although the plants looked healthy.

As I understand it, the adult flies emerge in spring from the overwintered pupae in the soil, then mate and lay eggs on or near the base of a crucifer (cabbage, broccoli, radish, etc.) so the tiny larvae can feast on my prize seedling, then sneak off out of the root tissue and into nearby soil to pupate until the next spring. Not much of a life in my estimation but is all the root maggot knows. I had attached row covers for the first weeks to avoid the problem but probably the pupae were already in the soil. If so, the covers made the situation worse by containing the emerging flies. Other controls include watching for eggs in spring, diatomaceous earth-filled collars and rotating crops far enough from previously infested areas. There may be assistance from beneficial nematodes, parasitic wasps and rove beetles but no known pesticide is reportedly available.

All in all, the garden is coming along. Wonderful salads are back on the menu, cucumbers are already prolific, snow peas are ready, and tomatoes are growing fast. The garden is a lovely, peaceful place to spend time and relax as you tend the plants. It all takes time and teaches patience - those future ripe tomatoes won't be hurried but the anticipation is good enough for now.

Carla Petersen writes from Thorne Bay. She is a freelance writer and artist. Visit her website at whalepassoriginals.com or she can be reached at cjp@whalepassoriginals.com.


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