The Garden Journal - June 12

Ok, so I didn't panic and rip out all my tomato plants. After chatting with Danielle of Beet Happening (an awesome local farm - they grew all kinds of beautiful heirloom tomatoes last year) I felt a lot better about the situation. She said sometimes the leaves can curl and it's not the curly top virus, especially if they aren't yellowing. Mine look nice and green still and they have lots of flowers, so I decided to just hope for the best.

After poking around on the internets, I found that transplant shock and too much nitrogen can cause leaf curling. This year I used a whole lot of alpaca manure in my raised beds, and even though it is supposed to be very mild and doesn't burn the plants, that is a lot of nitrogen... maybe I could have gone a little easier on it. Also, I decided to try out a Master Gardener tip and planted the tomato starts about 6 inches deep - they are supposed to grow lots of roots from the buried stem. However, you can go overboard with this technique too. I know that in the Master Gardeners' demo garden, they had some tomato plants die because they were planted too deep and basically got smothered. So the curled leaves certainly could be a sign that this kind of transplanting is a little hard on them at first. But hopefully it will pay off.

June is a bit of a slow time in the garden... the peas are done, though the strawberries are steadily producing a handful or so each week. Not much else is ready yet. The kale is still tiny, as are the cabbages (although I wonder if I'm doing something wrong, since I haven't really tried growing cabbage before). The beans, chiles and okra are just seedlings. It's an ongoing goal of mine to figure out how to fill this "June gap". Which is why I need a cherry tree - they are the earliest of all tree fruits.

The most exciting thing, other than the tomato blossoms, is that the day lilies have developed a few flower buds. Every part of the day lily is edible! Not that I'm going to be chowing down on them yet - this is the first year I've tried growing them and the plants are still small. My mother-in-law has huge clumps of gorgeous day lilies. Hers are not blooming yet, because she lives about 2000 feet higher in the Jemez Mountains, but I saw some blooming in Espanola this weekend, which is closer to our elevation.

I mulched all the beds (except where seedlings are just starting) with straw, about 3 inches deep, to try to keep the soil cooler and more of the moisture in. I've never tried this before, but I keep hearing it's a good idea. I'm always worried that it will harbor more bugs and snails, but hopefully the benefits of keeping more moisture in will outweigh this possibility.  It will be interesting to see if we have less trouble with snails and pillbugs eating our strawberries, or more.

And finally, I planted a few seeds of Tarahumara squash and Hopi squash! I'm not really sure whether they are even winter or summer squash, but we'll find out. I usually don't bother planting squash at all, because the squash bugs are the most dastardly creatures - there really is no way to kill them except by hand (or maybe some super-scary industrial pesticide). But my plan this year is to cover the plants completely with Reemay cloth, until the first squash are ready, then uncover them and harvest until the squash bugs or the frost kills them, whichever comes first.


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