Worst Year Ever

Creek-side(5)August 14, 2014

I've been a serious gardener for more than 40 years, and this is, by far, the worst year ever, especially for tomatoes. From my 74 tomato plants I have picked a total of 27 tomatoes. Many plants died without bearing anything. Looking at what is maturing now I don't expect to pick another tomato for at least a week.

It's just been too cold. Nothing is producing. Anyone else having similar results?

On a related note, animals are eating things they have NEVER eaten before, such as all my okra, nearly all my zucchini fruits, all my raspberries, all my melon plants, sweet corn plants, onions, and more. What the hell is happening?

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samhain10(5a - MI)

Yes, things are different this year than my experience in this area have led me to expect. My tomatoes had already set fruit, so I'm gathering tomatoes, but the plants are mostly shot. Plus for the first time in my 30 years of gardening (23 years here in MI), some creature has been messing with them, knocking them off the vines, taking little bites, though nothing serious - more like they're curious as to whether they might be tasty. Slugs are eating lots of other stuff, till I put down Slug Off, which helped.
This morning it was in the 50's - in the middle of August.
Very odd year. I feel like we're bi-passing summer and heading straight into fall. :(

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:17PM
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We've had lows in the 50's every month this summer, including 54 just a week ago. The next 2 nights are supposed to be 53. Definitely feels like fall out there. I commented on another thread that my tomato plants are loaded but so far the only ones ripening are the Black Krim (which are close to dead, shriveled from something not LB but no more blossoms), the Bloody Butcher are coming, a few cherries here and there. The peppers have some fruit, and the zucchini and beans haven't done too badly (though the pole beans just started, the bush beans are ending) but the yellow squash, melons, and cukes have been a bust. And squirrels or chipmunks got all the strawberries and raspberries. Looks like the birds beat me to the wild blackberries and I never had time to pick the blueberries though they were loaded this spring. We won't have any apples due to the extremely cold winter. At least I haven't seen any SWD.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:25PM
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goodground(z6 NJ)

Seems like normal year here in NJ. I have about half the amount of plants you have and currently have over 40 toms ripening on the kitchen counter. Not counting the 20 or so that I already ate. Lots more to come though.

This is the first year that I haven't encountered what you are encountering. It may be due to picking early. I always got a few bite marks on the first 4 or 5 that ripen. But this year, they are ripening inside. I always thought it was chipmunks or squirrels but could be birds pecking at them for seeds. Not sure but now I'm beating them to it. :-)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:26PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Well, up here in the PNW, we have had a great July and first 2 weeks of Augustso far. That is ; warm, sunny, no rain. It has been cooling off a bit lately.
Talking about night lows, our night lows have been mostly in 55F to 58F range, even when the highs were 90F. But that is ok.

Todays high was 73F but as of tomorrow it will get into low 80s.and sunny too. I am harvesting nicely. Last year was cool and wet.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:13AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Creek Side -- Sorry to hear you are having that degree of trouble with your garden! I think this year has just not been a good year for tomatoes. Last year and this year I've had trouble with them producing fruit and not ripening. For me anyway, I suspect it was the month of May last year, that was cloudy most of the month, when the plants should have been putting on a lot of growth and the hours of sun are a lot. This year, I'm not sure what it could be. Otherwise, you could sow a cover crop to get off to a good start for next year.

You've had cold? I am one zone warmer and we seem to be out of sync with everyone else. We've been having a decent summer weather wise, cooler but still warm enough over all. The nights have been cooler than usual though and we barely had a heat wave this year. Already the night temps are forecast for 50s. Perfect weather for greens though - lettuce, spinach, kale, bok choy - all like the cooler weather and usually critters don't bother them.

If you are trying to grow tomatoes, peppers [I've had 3 peppers this year], squashes, melons -- I guess they need more heat than we realize sometimes.

As for the critters, sorry to say, sounds like you might need to come up with some strategies for next year.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:46AM
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Bad tomato year here in NH, too, and for the second year in a row I'm having a bad zucchini year - some kind of blight. The tomatoes and peppers planted in a high tunnel with sides rolled up are doing better because of the extra heat during the day but at night it's still in the 50s inside. I didn't realize the high tunnel would be so valuable in summer since we built it to extend the growing season for greens.

Bush yellow beans are great. Carrots look good. Sugar snaps and peapods did great. Have fingers crossed for late planted winter squash.

Good news for tomatoes though, I never saw a hornworm last year and so far none this year.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:05AM
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for me it was a great year. I have only 10% of the garden devoted to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, and I write them off anyway (they are for the other families who collaborate). The rain was steady, the new deer fence held well, and the zucchini (no SVB this year), beans, chard, cabbage, beets, carrots, crops have been outstanding. Yes the tomatoes failed. I had a rule of no melons, no watermelons, no okra, no eggplants and peppers, I will have to add toms to that list. Or at least go down to one bed only.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:51AM
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Not a great year for tomatoes here either, though no blight that I know of. But not terrible.

A lot of my pole beans failed to thrive in some places, and a lot that did thrive were chopped off by some insect, or possibly animal. Very strange, after the plants were well along, five, six feet high suddenly cut off at about 6-8 inches off the ground. So far not much damage from MBB, knock on wood.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:02PM
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Saw a sphinx moth on 1 tomato plant today. Guess they're late?

But aside from SVB killing 1 yellow squash and looks like a zuke on the way out, the most damage done to veggies was by DH - who weeded the garden the other day and tore out the dill that was just waiting for the cukes to be big enough to pickle! Since it was growing in the aisle between the 2 cuke beds I guess he thought it was a weed. The herbs I planted this year didn't take too well, so all I had was what had self-seeded from last year. He didn't notice that it looked the same as the plants in the bed next to it (that are past now, going to seed) and he can't smell or taste anything with year-round allergies...

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:52PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I'm in central Indiana and I have lots of green tomatoes (and some red), but most of the foliage is brown. It's weird how different crops respond differently to different weather. My peppers and cucumbers are doing good. My late pole beans are making tons of small beans.........but they won't grow unless we get more heat. Last night was in the upper 40's!

There's always next year, Creekside! ......but I do feel your pain.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:49PM
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Interesting that defrost is having a tough tomato year, while I and my inlaws, about 35 or 40 minutes (perhaps 20 miles?) SW of her aren't having issues. I always have some issues with foliage diseases, so I grow indeterminate varieties which outgrow the foliage problems, so perhaps that is a difference. Or maybe a combination of elevation and latitude make her garden just enough colder.

On the other hand my eggplants are tiny, both the plants and the few fruits, and beans are being eaten by deer(?) and Japanese beetles. Peas, onion family, broccoli, kale, and peppers are all fine.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:58PM
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HotHabaneroLady(7a Central MD)

I'm having a bad tomato & pepper year (peppers far worse than tomatoes) too here in Maryland. I've been hearing that from other gardeners too. Most are complaining about the same crops--bad pepper and tomato harvests.

I do have a ton of tomatoes that are green on the plants now. If they ripen, the year might at least somewhat redeem itself. But the way things are going, I would not be surprised if an early frost killed them. Maybe even a VERY early frost!


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:18PM
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Definitely deer on the beans, they adore bean foliage. I'm growing pole beans on the deer-fence this year, and it's a funny look - all the foliage stripped up to about four feet.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:40PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"A lot of my pole beans failed to thrive in some places, and a lot that did thrive were chopped off by some insect, or possibly animal. Very strange, after the plants were well along, five, six feet high suddenly cut off at about 6-8 inches off the ground." (Pnbrown)

Sounds like voles. They have done that to my peas & beans some years, sometimes cutting off whole rows. Rodent populations are high in my area right now, despite the cold winter & having falcons nesting on the property. I saw a few voles running out of my garden & put out traps before they got out of control... caught 4 voles & 6 field mice in just the last few days. It remains to be seen if traps will be able to control the population, but with some paste tomatoes just beginning to ripen, I'm not waiting for damage to appear before taking action.

It's not just mice either, I've trapped a ground hog again this year (fortunately, at the first sign of damage) and have had a plague of rabbits. With the dense vegetation caused by the heavy rains we've had locally, all herbivore populations are exploding.

The worst year I've ever had too, and that's saying a lot, given how bad last year was. Torrential, often flooding rain over a very long period. This year my rural plot flooded 3 times in May & June. What little I got planted in early June was mostly wiped out by subsequent rains... nearly all of my beans & soybeans rotted in the ground. Only seeds & transplants on the upper 1/4 of the garden survived. An extensive Fall planting of garlic made it through the cold of last winter's polar vortex & came up strong, only to languish in the waterlogged soil; I lost over half. The surviving garlic is small & only good enough to plant again, in hopes of better weather next year.

My pepper & tomato transplants were healthy, but I got them in late. I buried much of the long stems to form extra root mass, in hopes that the added vigor might help them to make up for lost time. That has mostly worked, the plants are remarkably vigorous & blooming furiously... but it remains to be seen how much will be able to ripen before frost.

The news is not all bad, though. The plants that survived in the upper 1/4 of the rural plot - corn, kabocha squash, and a few peppers in cages - have prospered in the rain. Vegetables that like cool weather - runner beans and peas - are doing remarkably well, with much better pod set than I would have in a normal year. My onion starts have also appreciated the steady rains, and it looks like this year's crop will be outstanding.

And if the weather has been hard on my plants, it has been equally hard on many insect pests. No sign of squash bugs or SVB this year, and only a few cucumber beetles. Funny thing, no sign of lightning bugs this year either, my back yard usually has quite a few of them.

One insect has thrived, though - wasps. Never seen them this bad. Neither I nor any of my family has ever been stung in my yard, but four of us have already been stung this year. They are nesting everywhere... inside my trailer, in the children's playset, in the ground outside my garden. It's hard to move around outside without passing near a hidden nest. I generally tolerate wasps for the most part, because they are beneficial insect predators... but I've been hard pressed to keep them from nesting in areas where they will threaten my grandchildren. The only upside of this population explosion is that I haven't seen a caterpillar in the garden all year.

All that being said, I hope that the abnormally wet Spring weather we've had in the Midwest for the last few years is just an aberration, not a trend. I'm concerned that with the sun being abnormally quite, we may have a few more years of this. I'll be planting my garlic on hills this year.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:21AM
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Sounds like the weather has been tough in the heartland.

Voles, huh? That's possible. I have lots of rats in the home garden but haven't seen voles (most of the bean-cutting occurred in the home garden). I have a vole population at the remote garden, which became huge last year and devoured most of my grain. I'm going to dig the potatoes early this year, even earlier than last year, to limit their food supply.

Something that has become very clear to me over the years is that if we ever had to raise food for real, we would have to have dogs, and unfed cats, all living outdoors, rather than sleeping uselessly inside at night. Large dogs to run off deer, and rat-dogs to kill large rodents, and cats to control the mice. Agrarianism isn't possible otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 7:22AM
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On the mysterious critters, I've noticed that rainy and foggy weather makes them bold, like they think they are invisible. Creatures that might not venture into human spaces will do so under cover of fog or rain.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 8:46AM
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Hesiod's Works and Days, one of the first works of agriculture, advises the farmer to keep his sharp-toothed dog to guard against thieves sneaking into the granary.

Me, I keep my sharp-toothed cat that hunts voles.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 9:18AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I sure feel blessed after reading the litany of woes here! Everything is doing fine in my garden, if not all of it is thriving. Tomatoes are doing great, as are the pepper and beans (though I'm starting to wonder how long exactly it takes to a lima bean to fill out the pod). Corn only set one ear per stalk this summer, usually they do two. I'm not sure how the melons will turn out, they are slow to mature, I think due to the cooler temps. There are many winter squash set, but I won't count those until they are pulled, much like eggs before hatching. The onions were small since I got them out late but the garlic was huge. The fall garden is planted, though we'll see if it makes it past the late summer bug and mammal pressure.

Zeedman, what traps do you use for voles? I stopped having luck with my snaps set in man-made tunnels.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 9:55AM
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Peter1142(Zone 6b)

It was 50 degrees last night here in the far northern suburbs of NY.

It has been a very wet season, and a cold season, with inconsistent temperatures.

I don't really have any basis for comparison as it is my first year. What did great... my zucchini, acorn, butternut squashes, and pumpkins all did great, though are dying off early from PM & Borers, there is still a good harvest. The butternuts may still continue to produce a few more we'll see, everything else is on their last legs. My bush beans did awesome and have continually produced all season, and have a little rust or something on the leaves but are still producing out there, from May planting. My lettuce for the most part also did very well.

For so so, I have only gotten a few tomatoes so far out of 5 plants, but there are a lot of green ones out there, though nothing I would imagine anyone would call a bumper crop. My potatoes did so so, I got some good potatoes but not that many, but they were early crop and they came quickly. My carrots did OK, smallish but good eating. Spinach I got one big meal out of. Beets got almost no beetroot but big lush greens that were good eating. The onion set I planted made this tiny little jokes of a bulb, but as the onion set gave me 80, it actually wasn't that bad.

For terrible... My peppers have done abysmally, giving me one tiny bitter bell pepper per plant. The only pepper plant producing something worthwhile is the halapeno. They have been extremely difficult to grow. My eggplants are small, producing one fruit per plant and the fruit is growing at a snails pace I wonder if it'll even be good by the time it reaches harvestable size, one has the wilt. My Okra has given me one pod. Given these are all heat loving plants I guess it makes sense. I was really hoping for peppers and eggplants though... I have a cantaloupe plant that may produce a single cantaloupe we'll see.

Oh, and I got huge beautiful marigold plants...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 10:02AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"Something that has become very clear to me over the years is that if we ever had to raise food for real, we would have to have dogs, and unfed cats, all living outdoors, rather than sleeping uselessly inside at night." (Pnbrown)

My rural garden has problems due to its lowness, but the benefits are exceptional fertility - and very few rodent problems. The owners of the property take in feral cats, and those cats prowl the garden relentlessly. I don't have cats at home though, and the back part of my property is wooded... so for my home gardens, I have to be the cat. I'm puuurrrty good at it. ;-)

"Zeedman, what traps do you use for voles? I stopped having luck with my snaps set in man-made tunnels." (Sunnibel)

I've had really good luck with the plastic traps made by Kness, purchased from my local farm & fleet. They are completely waterproof, and very effective. I place them just outside burrows (not in them) or under vegetation where I think rodents will run or hide, and mark the locations with survey flags. I put a lot of traps under the tomato plants when ripening starts, near the fruit clusters. They also make a larger version that is just as effective on rats & ground squirrels. My traps are over 10 years old now, and provided that I clean the mechanism thoroughly (dirt builds up in the trigger hinge) they work as well as they did when new. Dried apricot seems to be an irresistible bait, I cut pieces that fit tightly in the bait cups.

Dried apricot works well in the Havahart trap too, for catching ground hogs. I usually catch them the first day or two after they appear, placing the trap just inside the garden fence, where they have dug under it.

"My eggplants are small, producing one fruit per plant and the fruit is growing at a snails pace I wonder if it'll even be good by the time it reaches harvestable size, one has the wilt." (Peter1142)

You might want to try the eggplant "Diamond". Wilt wiped out most of my eggplant I tried just as they were beginning to bear, until I tried this one. It seems to be nearly immune to wilt, and I get huge yields. They even do well in pots, I did that last year when Spring flooding prevented me from putting them into the garden:

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 3:03PM
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We're also having a bad year for tomatoes and eggplant. A Brandywine had 1 tomato that something ate, then the plant wilted. I left it in the garden and it looks like it is recovering a little, but won't likely have any more blossoms. I've never seen anything like it. The other plants, maybe 10, had a late start, then the first flush of blossoms fell off because of the cold. We have had quite a few tomatoes from the second bloom flush. Most of the tomatoes in the neighborhood look like they have some sort of blight.

The eggplant have also suffered from the cold. I only planted 2 store bought black beauty this year, and have 1 eggplant fruit between the two growing. Zeedman, Diamond is a favorite of mine. I didn't start any Diamond seeds this year because I thought it would be a waste of time.

It has been a great year for peppers for me. I have never successfully grown a pepper plant until this year. I picked 2 mature peppers from our plant so far. More are growing.

Since it was so cold for so long I had very low expectations. The bush beans are doing okay. We have had little rain all summer so they are not as productive as usual. I planted those late, and tried pole beans for the first time, also planted late. They are doing well but are peaking in bloom now.

Because of my low expectations at the beginning of the summer, I planted a bunch of flower seeds where I usually plant veggies. Rabbits ate zinnias for the first time. I thought they were safe.

ETA: A few weeks ago I was wondering why there is a large empty space in the garden, then I realized it was supposed to be filled with basil. I was waiting until it warmed up a bit more to plant the seeds, then totally forgot to plant them. This has never happened before.

This post was edited by althea on Sat, Aug 16, 14 at 16:05

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 3:34PM
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It's been a great year for potatoes here. They like the cool and damp,

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 8:29PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Zeedman, sorry about your season. Are you in a low lying area or have you just had that much rain? [oops-I see you are in a low lying area] Last week, we had a rain storm with soaking rains and on it’s way here, Long Island received 12 inches of rain! Same rain storm arrived here and I had only 3 inches. I am usually complaining most of July and August of not having enough rain but this year, I’ve hardly had to use the hose. -- That’s some gorgeous plant full of eggplant!

I agree on the insect pests being lower, but I've had more bees this year which I was happy about. And the WASPS! I’ve never seen so many yellow jackets. And I haven’t seen a caterpillar either. Despite seeing a lot of white cabbage moths in the Brassica bed, my foliage was really clean. I wonder why you had so many? In such a wet year, you’d think they would head for higher ground. But maybe your garden was one of the few that survived all the rain.

Peter1142, Here in Mass I just noticed yesterday that after the last rain storm, the PM on the squashes just exploded. There are a few squashes left on the plants and as soon as those are big enough to pick, I’m pulling mine too.

And we’ve had so many beans, I’m sick of eating them, despite sending bags home with our kids. lol I’m going to make a big batch of Minestrone Soup for the freezer with the rest.

And I pulled all but 3 of our pepper plants that were not producing fruit. That is usually our best crop too.

I’d like to know if anyone is planning on doing anything different next year based on your experiences this year, or are you just ready to start over again and hope for the best?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 4:43AM
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Speaking of peppers: my farmer friend who I've been working with for about 15 years, grows on a 50% clay silty loam (Haven fine loam). There are only a few patches of it in the region, it is sort of a magic soil when under fabric and with irrigation - uncovered it dries in hot weather hard as concrete and even the toughest weeds have a hard time.

Anyway, not one season has there been a bad pepper year on that soil. Every season, every variety of pepper, absolutely insane yields. Branches routinely break off from the weight. He's always trying to plant just enough, and always many bushels of peppers rot in the fall. I wish there were a simple way to preserve sweet peppers.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:53AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I know, we could eat sweet peppers every day of the week. :-)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:14AM
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Sweet peppers (all peppers, really) are fantastic if you let them get really ripe, fry them, and then freeze them.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:01AM
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Yes, peppers freeze very well. I quarter and seed them, pack them into freezer bags, use them for cooking all winter long. [Tho not this year, as the peppers aren't growing in the cool weather.]

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:04AM
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Peter1142(Zone 6b)

I don't know if I will try sweet bell peppers again next year. It is very challenging for a hopeful few peppers.

I will not fertilize peppers and eggplant, start them indoors way, way early or buy them in the big pots so they aren't rootbound and take so long to get started. I will look for blight resistant varieties and PM resistant cucurbits (not sure if I will find any but I will look), spray profilactically with copper or something, and plant more SVB resistant cucurbits... and not plant them in my fenced garden!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:46AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Thanks zeedman! Guess the mischief gods heard me and decided I needed some troubles... A hawk has discovered my free-ranging chickens and taken two in less than 24 hours. Sorry chickens, it is lockup time for you!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:01AM
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A partial solution to the rodent problem is barn owls, which can be attracted by placing special houses in good locations. These houses specifically attract barn owls because they are impenetrable by their greatest predator, the horned owl. You do need a dark site, they do not particularly like the city.

Because having dogs and cats never worked very well, specially if the dogs are large enough to chase a deer. One can do away with dogs, kill and eat the deer, and keep only cats. But owls have a small disadvantage, in that they will prey on bats once rodents become scarce. and we need the bats.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:52AM
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Glib, why do you say having dogs and cats did not work well?

Re: freezing peppers: raw, and without a vacuum packer? I find that even with evacuating the bags with a straw, the stuff gets frost burnt. Freezing liquids works a lot better, was thinking about steaming the peppers and then blenderize them and freeze in yogurt containers to use in soup base.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 5:43PM
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I have hd mostly german shepherds. They can certainly scare a deer, but all of them want to eat cats.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 6:27PM
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Which Kness trap - a mousetrap, or chipmunk trap? I definitely have a vole in the tunnel, it has gone from digging near 1 Hinkelhatz plant to tunneling under the other 10ft of bed and the side wall to the next bed and is chewing or snapping branches off my serranos now. I didn't see it, but I heard it, I scared it today nd it ran up the side of the center (mounded) bed into the tomatoes. And I have a LOT of long-hanging fruit on the tomato plants in the tunnel.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 6:30PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

We make up chili with ground turkey and red and green peppers as the main ingredients with the beans and then we freeze that in individual servings. Freezes great and tastes great.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:30PM
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Oh, I see, dogs not getting along with cats. I reckon the farmsteads didn't have old cats…

PM, what kind of container do you freeze stuff like that in?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 7:32AM
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Commiserating. :( We had flooding at the end of June, which much of the garden (and basement) struggled to come back from. I have... had... 201' of peas that just quit (I might have just enough for seed). My 38 pepper plants died. The corn sprouted, but it took forever and they're still not even knee height (we should be harvesting now). I couldn't even step in the garden for a full week; when I tried, I sunk up to mid-shin and needed help to get out.

Then this happened: (see link)

Some of the pieces I picked up were bigger than a loonie and it came down hard for a full 10 minutes. Nearly the entire garden was ruined - vines ripped off their trellises, tomato branches broken and fruit smashed, cukes smashed, all the carrot tops broken right off, squash flattened, brassica and rhubarb leaves shredded, onion tops broken off and shoulders above ground smashed up... the list goes on. Our immediate neighbours' fields were destroyed (all stalks and/or heads broken off). And my seven-year-old Amur Chokecherry had to be straightened with a tow strap on the truck and sturdy ground anchors and ties. The only thing that came through unscathed was the garlic.

I was nearly in tears. I'm *this* close to not wanting to plant anything at all next year. Worst season in 13 years gardening. :(

Here is a link that might be useful: August 1, 2014 - HAIL

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:16PM
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Here in SE WI I am hearing a lot of whining from friends about peppers not bearing much and tomatoes not ripening or dying out from fungal issues.

I am very happy as having a GREAT year on my tomatoes and peppers. Again, I grew Planet Hybrid pepper from Jung Seed in Randolph WI and it is bearing plenty of nice
red bullhorn peppers. Sweet and wonderful.

I must be lucky with my tomatoes as picking too many to eat so time to start giving some away to the neighbors around me who do not garden. I grow heirloom tomatoes.
This year I grew Reif's Red Heart from seed. Got the seeds from Sandhill Preservation and am quite impressed
with it. Nice flavor, yield and perfect size for me. A real winner. Since open pollinated, I will save some seeds for
next year.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:14PM
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This was an experimental year for me. I bought a new house and my brother came over and built me a nice square foot garden. This is the first time I haven't had an in ground garden (I think thats behind me now as I can't dig well since a total knee replacement). We had some record heat waves - twice it got over 116 (120 on my patio thermometer at home). I planted tomatoes twice in roomy containers, where they got morning sun, then shade the rest of the day......first bunch of tomatoes got eaten by the neighborhood woodpecker, then the heat hit and I came home to fried green tomatoes!! All leaves were curled up, crispy brown and hanging. Replanted tomatoes, same thing happened. The peas were burnt to the ground in one day but luckily I had been picking and eating them as they ripened so I was able to enjoy some. Pepper plants burned up, so did the squash which were also in morning sun. Survivors included Danvers half long carrots, Redina Lettuce, radishes, chinese radishes, chiogga beets. Last month I planted some Dow Gauk long beans which are doing well and starting to flower, silver queen corn - about 4 feet high now. The replanted Round de Nice squash plants are large, vining and flowering now. Few weeks ago, it was so hot the flowers dried up before they could open and the female flowers turned brown and fell off. Early this year (February) I planted potatoes but that was a complete bust. I'm going to replant them in October and see how they do.
I'm sorry about your hail storm Macky77. Couple years ago we had one so bad -the hailstones were huge! Broke out all the lights on my car (I was at work when it hit) and my poor car looked like a golf ball it was so pitted. The stones also took some chunks out of my house. Shredded plants to the ground, terrible.
Its almost time for me to plant some salad greens and peas again. They'll do much better now that the extreme heat is over with. I have new tomato seedlings that are growing well and I should get some squash soon. I did learn a lot this year so it wasn't a total loss.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 12:09AM
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I feel for you guys because when it comes to tomatoes it's more of a passion than a need to get fed. And tomatoes from one's garden taste so good !

I guess that the problem with toms and peppers is that once you've taken care of the soil, the most influencial factor is climate, and no one can have any strategy here. It's been quite cold around your place, I did a road trip on the I80 from boston to san Francisco in July and had to buy a sweater because I had only brought summer stuff !

It's been the same here in France, experienced gardeners, and even professionnal ones, don't have any tomatoes except in the South east where it's so dry usually that a rainy summer is a blessing.

Honestly I would have never thought that those who'd been growing toms for 30 years could fail but they can't avoid failure when it rains so much. LB has destroyed most plants at the beginning of summer. Even those protected in greenhouses couldn't escape.

The question is whether this type of erratic weather is gonna be the new norm because of global climatic changes. What we consider as an exceptionnally wet and cold summer could be the new standard. And getting worse and more erratic as we go on increasing the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 3:15AM
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Macky, I guess horticulturalists just can't live so near the North Pole - become a hunter-gatherer or throw the valuables in the truck and head SE while there is still petrol for sale…:)

BTW, I noticed a siberian pea-shrub in someone's garden the other day! Those seeds you sent me never came to anything, I don't think they were able to compete with weeds in fertile soil.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 7:30AM
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My problem is exactly like Creek-Sides except for the animal problem. There aren't enough tomatoes for them to be a problem.
I planted 70 tomato plants and have only been able to can about 3 pts. I have frozen some since I don't get enough tomatoes at a time to can. This is the 2nd year in a row that I have had problems with tomatoes. I live just North of Columbus, OH.

However, the cucumbers are very productive and also the green beans. The Zuchini has had a hard time this summer doing anything.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:34AM
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I feel ya this year creek-side.. I AM getting a decent amount of tomatoes (maybe 200-300 out of 24 plants) but many of the plants are shot already! Septoria devastated me this year.. Some have out-grown it but I'd say 75% have succumbed .. I stopped treating and threw in the towel; decided to save my time and money. In past years (15 years or so experience) I've harvested right up until mid to late September; this year I plan on pulling them in a week or two! I'm just disgusted with them and ready to move on to the hairy vetch cover crop..

It was such a crappy year in fact that I invested $3k in a high tunnel hoop house .. Never again will the rain touch my leaves! LoL .. Better luck next year to us all..

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:21AM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

I can't complain about the weather as it's been pretty good for me. Most people in Michigan have been getting steady rain this summer but somehow it's been missing me for the most part. It would be pouring down rain less than a quarter mile from my house and yet I'd barely even get a sprinkle. That is until the last few weeks and I'm thankful for these recent rains.

Tomatoes and zucchini were coming in nicely. The tomatoes were mostly early determinates so they are pretty much done producing and would have done better if I could keep them fertilized properly. I planted them all in new garden beds that I made this year and I should have known better than to do that. Zucchini has powdery mildew and I'm ripping them out today. Green bush beans (Jade) didn't peform as expected but the wax beans (Pencil Pod) did well. Beets did well, peppers are producing, cabbage is heading up, lettuce was great earlier this year, shallots were okay, and garlic was hit or miss.

Definitely the year of the wasp. Found two large nests recently. They've taken up residency in the mole tunnels (I've got moles, mice, and shrews but no voles that I'm aware of). I was stung a week and a half ago for the first time in around 17 or 18 years. It got me on the pinky finger and both my finger and a small part of my hand swelled up for three days. That was bothersome.

Slugs are an issue in the garden I started this year at my grandma's. Never had a problem with them in my home gardens before so I was completely unprepared for them over there. I only get over there about once a week and it seems like whenever I do, it is forecast to rain so I'm hesitant to put slug bait out if it's just going to get washed away.

I dehydrate excess sweet peppers and grind them into a powder. They are too sweet on their own but if you mix them with hot peppers you get a nice sweet and spicy powder that goes good on meat (especially pork), in beans, and in chili.


This post was edited by theforgottenone1013 on Tue, Aug 19, 14 at 10:50

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:45AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Macky, sorry to see your garden get pummeled by hail. I went through the same thing in 2012... but it was early enough in the season that most of my plants were able to recover.

"I dehydrate excess sweet peppers and grind them into a powder. They are too sweet on their own but if you mix them with hot peppers you get a nice sweet and spicy powder that goes good on meat (especially pork), in beans, and in chili."

Hmmm... I grow a few peppers that are sweet & have good flavor, but have thin walls. Up until now, I haven't figured out a good use for them, other than throwing them in a stew. All I've ever dehydrated was hot peppers... sweet pepper powder sounds like a great idea.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 5:10PM
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I'm getting decent yields, enough to keep me canning. It would be wonderful if we could anticipate beforehand what weather we'd be faced with and plant for it. LOL.

The horrid winter decimated my peach yields. Not even blooms.........they were freeze dried from the weeks on end of bitter cold. The late spring/early summer were like living in a rain forest. It came down nearly daily, but in spurts with sun in-between. Wonderful growing weather with steady warmth. Not too hot/not too cold and little difference between day and night temperatures. The downside is the humidity was like growing the veggies in a terrarium. The foliage seldom dried and it caused some foliar issues. Grapes had anthracnose for the first time ever. I have never had to spray, but will have to start I guess. Very little insect pressure was the upside of the winter. The only issues have been potato beetle, totally resistant to insecticides and I even resorted to that, although I usually grow my food organically. I had to hand-pick them each morning to the tune of hundreds of immatures. I had planted a hundred and eighty hills of them, so it was time intensive. The tomatoes I am ripening in a solarium and harvesting twenty to thirty pounds a day. Foliar issues there too. Not blight! Leaf mold (fulvia fulva). I have never seen it on plants grown outside before. As soon as I harvest what I need for a year's canning...the plants are getting pulled. Rabbits in the beans and cabbage, and all are now under row covers or netting. Wonderful corn crop and the dogs the property next to ours let roam at night have kept g'hogs and raccoons at bay. Peppers are sulking. We had forty degree nights last week.........in mid August! It's been unseasonably cold since mid July. I'm getting enough produce but let's just put it this way...........I'm working dang hard at it and it hasn't come easy this year.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 1:01AM
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My friend had 49deg yesterday morning, probably about the same this morning. Low 50's at my place.

Unless we get some real hot weather for a couple of weeks at least I doubt the cowpeas will make, or the sweet potatoes.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 6:57AM
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I've seen reports of fungus diseases on plants grown in high tunnels, as is so commonly being done these days. Seems like the game is rigged.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 10:07AM
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Well, I got a few tomatoes before the late blight got them, but with all the rain in central PA, I have had a really hard time. Peppers just can't keep up with the rain and the onions almost rotted in the field. My beans are doing pretty well, but they were planted on the highest and droughtiest part of the garden. Maybe that helped? *shrug* About the only good thing about all the rain is that the lettuce hasn't bolted. Small favors, eh?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 5:53AM
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