Experiments, observations, and lessons learned

Zeedman

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One of my ongoing projects is a search for day-neutral varieties of tropical vegetables which are usually short-day adapted. Last year, I trialed a new luffa ("Joy") which proved to be day neutral, and I was successfully able to collect seed. This year I'm trialing a 2nd luffa ("Long Beauty") which is already flowering... so it too appears to be day neutral. I'll post more results as the season progresses.

Hyacinth beans are almost always short-day adapted (especially pole varieties). India has a breeding program though, and has developed a few bush varieties. One was given to me in trade several years ago, and does well here. This year I'm trialing a new variety from Seeds of India ("Khyati", also bush) and it is sending up flower spikes - so this is the 2nd day-neutral hyacinth bean I've found so far. The plants are short but deep semi-gloss green, and the flower spikes extend well above the foliage... I'm looking forward to seeing these in bloom. Supposedly this one is bred to be used as shellies.

I'm trialing two "short DTM" pole hyacinth beans this year too; but since they were grown in Florida, I'm taking that with a grain of salt, and hoping for the best. :fl

Quite a few experiments this year, I'll post more when I have restored the ability to transfer photos from my phone to the computer.
 

Phaedra

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For peas and fava beans, I decided to grow them only for shoots. I am not a fan of the pods and beans they produce; also, it takes a lot of time to harvest them.

So, after they start flowering (no longer tender and large shoots), I will cut them back to the ground. The roots keep working for nitrogen fixing, and the greens go to the chickens. I tried first with fava beans this year, and they sent out side shoots very quickly. Even though I removed once the main stems, the secondary shoots are pretty mature and flowering now.

The time and other resources are so precious - I am only willing to grow those we love or we need.
 

flowerbug

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i'm going to find out if cigarrette smoked pasta will be a good fertilizer and deer deterrent for a large bean garden. someone gave us a bunch of pasta they'd had for a bit but it was not salvageable and so i just took it out to put on the garden. spaghetti in one area and elbows in the other. perhaps the elbows can act like a rollerderby queen's elbow? ok, well, i can daydream can't i? :) queue Jim Croce's song (it's rather catchy as an earworm as i've just given it to myself by thinking of it)...
 

Zeedman

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Well, about the "Gaspe" flint corn. The good news: the plants are all strong, and tasseling finished well before any other corn in the area had tasseled.

The bad news: the close proximity between the ears & the ground - sometimes only a few inches - has resulted in much more smut than I've seen with any other corn, in both locations (home & rural). So far, I've had to pull & dispose of 10-15 infected ears, and they continue to appear. I put in about 150 plants, and many of those plants set two or more ears... so hopefully enough will remain for a diverse seed crop. It might be necessary to plant "Gaspe" through plastic or agricultural cloth, to minimize mud splash. That would also make weeding easier, given the close spacing. I'll tentatively plan that for next year, when I hope to grow out the rest of the original seed.
 

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the birds have eaten the elbow macaroni but they did not eat much of the long spaghetti strands, it's in the dirt and broken up into smaller parts so the worms will probably eat it.

while i was out checking on the pasta experiment i saw a small froggie hopping away in the grass. :)
 

heirloomgal

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Well, about the "Gaspe" flint corn. The good news: the plants are all strong, and tasseling finished well before any other corn in the area had tasseled.

The bad news: the close proximity between the ears & the ground - sometimes only a few inches - has resulted in much more smut than I've seen with any other corn, in both locations (home & rural). So far, I've had to pull & dispose of 10-15 infected ears, and they continue to appear. I put in about 150 plants, and many of those plants set two or more ears... so hopefully enough will remain for a diverse seed crop. It might be necessary to plant "Gaspe" through plastic or agricultural cloth, to minimize mud splash. That would also make weeding easier, given the close spacing. I'll tentatively plan that for next year, when I hope to grow out the rest of the original seed.
I contemplated growing that one this year as well, though I decided on another variety ultimately. What you describe here is one of the considerations which ultimately had me choose something else. That kind of proximity to the ground I would consider a real weakness, not so much for smut (I've never seen that) but for ground dwellers that would have such easy access to the drying cobs. I imagine production per square foot would be something to consider too given the diminutive nature of the plants. As much as I do have a passion for keeping obscure, historical or endangered varieties going I do think there are some instances where it's fair to consider if a variety is worth keeping. Apparently, there are virtually no historical cauliflower varieties for this reason. They simply were not worth keeping around when grown against the newer developments.
 

Zeedman

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I tried growing favas for the first time (thank you @heirloomgal !). As I anticipated, they did not like my Summer heat, and were all wilting & dying.

So was the problem the air temperature, or the soil temperature? To find out, I mulched 1/2 of the row, leaving the other half bare soil. This was the result:
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Mulched plants in the foreground. The open space in the background (commandeered by a Zebrina mallow) was the unmulched side, which all died. Even the yellowed plants are sending up new healthy shoots.
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Success! :celebrateStill not pretty, but at least there will be enough seed to replant... even a few extra. In the future, I will mulch favas immediately after transplant, and should get a decent crop of "Black Russian".

Unfortunately, "Crimson Flowered" (in the rural garden) did not fare as well. There was heavy weed pressure around them; and by the time the weeds were removed & the mulch applied, they were too far gone. A few plants are still hanging on, but no pods have set.
 
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Zeedman

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The last 2 previous years, I've grown chard next to yardlongs or cowpeas - and had virtually no insects or insect damage on the chard. My assumption was that the wasps attracted by the cowpeas were hunting insects in the adjacent rows. This year I decided to try that companion planting yet again, to verify whether the previous results were just a fluke, or caused by something unrelated.

The results were the same; no aphids, caterpillars, leaf miners, and very little grasshopper damage.
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Chard ❤️ yardlong beans. There is a row of soybeans just to the left of the chard; those too have been nearly aphid free... the row of soybeans 15' beyond the yardlongs had heavy ant-borne aphid pressure (until the population of predator larvae increased).

In the rural garden, I planted bush yardlongs next to a row of water spinach, which has historically had problems with aphids or flea beetles... aside from some grasshopper damage (caused by the heavy weed pressure there) the results were the same. It appears that yardlongs & cowpeas are good "guardian crops" for rows of greens, and possibly other plants.
 

Phaedra

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The last 2 previous years, I've grown chard next to yardlongs or cowpeas - and had virtually no insects or insect damage on the chard. My assumption was that the wasps attracted by the cowpeas were hunting insects in the adjacent rows. This year I decided to try that companion planting yet again, to verify whether the previous results were just a fluke, or caused by something unrelated.

The results were the same; no aphids, caterpillars, leaf miners, and very little grasshopper damage.
Same phenomenon as I had here - the only difference is I grew Swiss chards. For me, Swiss chards have less earthy flavor than the common ones.

Besides, I found something interesting about Swiss Chard and Kale. They both show some perennial-like behaviors.

I transplanted the first batch of Swiss Chard in March, as they are hardy enough. Later, I harvested them with the 'cut-and-come-again' method and removed all the flower stalks when they bolted in early summer.

About a few weeks ago, I picked all the leaves and cut them back. Well, I am satisfied enough to harvest them for about six months. The second batch of seedlings was also transplanted into another raised bed and started growing. I usually didn't pull out the roots (No dig) and just let them stay where they were.

After Swiss chards were cut back, I transplanted scallions and red Romaine lettuce.
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Swiss chards produced new growth from the adventitious buds near the base of the plant.
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So, if they somehow overwinter successfully (let's say, growing under cover in the greenhouse) - they are likely to keep producing in the next growing season?

Lettuces will send new shoots like this, but they will bolt sooner or later.

I also have a kale from last year that didn't flower at all this April/May. The photo was taken two weeks ago, and the plant is much bigger now.
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I don't think I will rely on such growing behaviors, but it's interesting to keep them for additional produce. Swiss chards offered a great amount of leafy green every week, had no pest issues, and needed almost no maintenance here in my garden, too.

I would like to grow some yardlongs & cowpeas with greens next year. :D
 
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