Garden Diary: Week 12

Week of 6/21/2014:

ZUCCHINI DOWN!. ¬†ūüė¶ ūüė¶ ūüė¶ ¬†Freaking squash vine borers!! ¬†ūüė°

So, the pride of my garden, my hilled zucchini plant, suddenly starts looking awfully sickly.
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I inspect the plant, I research the internet and realize that I probably have squash vine borers. ¬†Apparently these are moths that lay their eggs at the base of squash plants (including zucchini). ¬†When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars / grubs eat their way INTO the plant. ¬†Apparently they are notorious for pissing gardeners off. (And it turns out, I am no exception.) ¬†I read that it is possible to save the plants by gently cutting the plants open, extracting the grubs, and burying the wounds with fresh dirt. ¬†Bt is not typically used because it’s only effective if you can catch the grubs as they’re eating into the plant, cuz they do have to eat the Bt for it to work and it’s hard to spray the inside of a plant. ¬†But, shoot, I’ll give it a shot, since I already had some for the cabbage.

So I prepare for surgery. ¬†The knife for gently slicing the plant open, the pliers for pulling out the grubs because I’m not trying to touch anything that may be described as a grub. ¬†(Unless we’re actually talking about food.)¬†

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I started with the really droopy looking side.  You can see the tell-tale frass, the stuff that looks like sawdust.  This is a pretty obvious sign of squash vine borers.

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So, I commence to slice into the main vine to expose the grubs. ¬†Clearly I overestimated the structural integrity of the remaining vine. ¬†I poke the vine with the knife and it completely snaps apart. ¬†ūüė¶¬†

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I am grief stricken. ¬†I’ll try to salvage that later. ¬†I turn to the other side, the sprout that still look very healthy, but had some frass. ¬†I start to look for grubs and *snap*. ¬†The other vine also completely breaks off. ūüė¶ ūüė• ¬†If I were a cusser, I would have been cussing up a storm.

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This was clearly worse than I had realized. ¬†I try to salvage what I can of the plants. ¬†Now that the plants are no longer freakin connected to their roots, I don’t worry about being gentle. ¬†And I find this. ¬†FREAKING GROSS. ¬†They were just crammed all up in the stalk. ¬†How were they not nibbling on each other!? ¬†

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I ended up removing the infested portions of the stalk and pulling up the roots because the grubs had eaten DOWN too. ¬†I stick what I can of the plant back in the hill and cover it with fresh dirt. ¬†All I can do is hope that it will sprout new roots and survive. ¬†My poor zucchini. ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†The borers also attacked some of my potted plants. ¬†I did similar surgery on them. ¬†

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I mourn the nice hilled zucchini.

Plot 1:
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Plot 2:
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Overview:
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Basil:
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Carrot:
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Cabbage:
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Bell pepper:
Closeup:
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Overview:
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Zucchini:
I had to do the surgery with a little fruit attached. ¬†ūüė¶
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Onions:
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Tomatoes:
Romas
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Not Romas:
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Blackberries:
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I took a picture of the zucchini every day that week to see if I could determine the rate of decay and / or if it may survive…

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I was surprised that it was resilient enough to bloom a flower after all this, but it is NOT looking good.

We also harvested from blackberries this week.  Not much, but something:
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Garden Diary: Week 11

Week of 6/14/2014

Not news: I got WAY behind on my posting.  I did take pictures every week, but my memory is fuzzy on the details of the week.  The pictures will have to narrate.

Plot 1: 

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Plot 2:
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Overview:
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Basil:
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Carrot:
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Cabbage:
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Spinach:
The spinaches are down and out.  I kept one around to see what their natural end-of-life looks like.
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Bell peppers:
Close up of the fruitlings:
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Overview:
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Zucchini:
How the hilled plant continues to beast the potted plant:
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Babby fruit:
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Onions:
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Tomatoes:
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Closeup of Romas:
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Closeup of ???:
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Later in the week…

Our first Roma tomato!  Not bigger than a car key, lol.
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And holy crud, this guy either hid very carefully behind a well-place leaf, or POOFed over night!  Our first purple pepper!
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Garden Diary: Week 10

Week of 6/7/2014.

Plot 1:
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Plot 2:
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And since the tomatoes are getting obnoxious and blocking the view of all the other plants, here’s an alternate view of the garden, with plot 1 in the background and plot 2 in the foreground. ¬†***pretty***
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Herbs:

Basil:
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Cilantro – The cilantro has gone on to the garden in the sky:
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I pulled it out of its pot and replace it with a couple of onion sprouts. ¬†I was pleased by it’s root system. ¬†It was ALL mixed in there. ¬†I feel like at least the cilantro made an effort. ¬†Unlike…

Spinach:

So, I pulled out the flopped over spinach. ¬†It root system didn’t seem to have gone beyond the reaches of the original seedling tray:
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It was the same issue I saw before when I pulled up the other spinach that had withered away a few weeks before. ¬†Is it a thing that if you leave plants in the seedling tray for too long, that they can be stunted? ¬†Or maybe I just hadn’t broken up the ground enough for that area and the root couldn’t fight the dirt? ¬†I’m not sure. ¬†But I also dug up the tiny spinach that was next to the flopped over one and replaced them both with onion sprouts.

Cabbages:

Still doing well, and no more worms. ¬†Now I regret digging up that one cabbage, in an attempt to “spare” the others. ¬†Big one:
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Little one:
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Bell peppers:

We have baby bell pepper fruits!  If you look closely, you can see an itty bitty bell pepper!  (You can click on the picture to see the full version.)
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Carrots:

So, I’ve planted three “lines” of carrots and I haven’t seen anything of value except this guy. ¬†One’s better than none!
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Zucchini:

Two more zucchini harvested this week!  I can handle this average.  And they are tasty!  Also, hilled zucchini goes POOF, HAVE SOME LEAVES!
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Onions:

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Tomatoes:

So, based on the tag with my tomato seedlings, I understood these tomatoes to be Roma tomatoes.  Which explains their oblong shape:
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And all of the plants have fruits like that… except one. ¬†I think a non-Roma tomato snuck into my seedling tray!
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They’re just nice round tomatoes of¬†unknown origin! ¬†Which is fine, I appreciate the variety, but I wish I knew what they were — at least if they’re determinate or not!

Elsewhere in the yard, our blackberries are moving right along:
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Garden Diary: Week 9

Week of 5/31/2014.

WE HARVESTED FRUITS!

Plot 1:
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Plot 2:
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Herbs:
Basil – Still doing its thing. ¬†It is looking flufflier now that it’s filling out after I cut off some of the stalks.
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Cilantro – still going downhill, as expected. ¬†It had little flowers, but I didn’t try to gather the seeds or anything.
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Spinach:

Yeah, I think the spinach is definitely starting to bolt. ¬†I think those little pod things are the flowers. ¬†Sigh. ¬†Another plant I didn’t get to harvest — they stayed way too small; even when they got tall, the leaves weren’t really worth harvesting. ¬†But I think this is another one that does well with cooler weather. ¬†Maybe I’ll try for a fall crop.

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And one of them just had it with life and randomly gave up the ghost. ¬†I’m not sure WHAT inspired that; none of the other spinaches have just given up and flopped over. ¬†I suppose he’s going to have to get removed and replaced:

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Cabbage:

It looks like the Bt really did the trick! ¬†I did a second Bt spray down, and I haven’t seen a worm since then! ¬†And while you can see holes munched through the outer leaves, already the head of the cabbage is starting to look hole-free!

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And a progress shot of the cabbage that remained relatively un-eaten:
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Bell peppers:

Not much news on the bell pepper front.  Still getting cute little blooms:
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Zucchini:

YAY! ¬†WE’RE GETTING VEGETABLES! ¬†By the end of the week, we’d harvested and eaten two zucchinis from the big plant! ¬†Here’s the first one we harvested, next to my hubby’s phone. ¬†The fruit was about 7 inches, and only about a 1 – 1.5 weeks¬†old!
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Hilled zucchini (featuring the shadows of me and hubs):
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Potted zucchini (still flowering, but I haven’t seen any female flowers yet):
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Onions:

Not too much going on with the onions, which is to be expected. ¬†They just need to get nice fat roots. ¬†ūüôā ¬†(I actually forgot to get a solo shot of the onions, but you can see them here with the zucchini:)
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Tomatoes:

I’m seeing several marble-sized tomatoes now, on all of the plants! ¬†Here’s a shot of the big guys:
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I haven’t really noticed the aphids, it looks like they’re not going to give us problems.

Garden Diary: Week 8

Week of 5/24/2014.

WE GOT BABBY FRUITS!!!

Plot 1:
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Plot 2:
Oops… did I forgot to take an overview shot of plot 2?? ¬†Gosh darnit…

Herbs:
Basil – Still hanging in there, although I need an excuse to clip that long stem. ¬†I may see a lasagna blog post in my future…
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Cilantro – Yeah, I think the cilantro is done. ¬†I’ll let it flower and do its thing. ¬†Maybe next season I’ll bring a cilantro plant to my office! ¬†I have a window, so I can stick it there to get sun and it can stay cool with the AC. ¬†ūüôā
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Spinach:
Hmm, I’m starting to see some buds on the spinach, which has me kind of worried. ¬†Is this new leaf-age? ¬†Or is this the plant trying to bolt? ¬†You can’t really tell from this shot, but here’s a picture anyway.
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Cabbages:
Since those worms have waged mastication war on my cabbages, I decided to fight back. ¬†I almost gave up on them, but I found an organic pesticide and I figured I would try that first. ¬†And I almost gave up on trying to find this stuff. ¬†I haven’t found a local garden center near my house, so I’ve been depending on a nearby Lowes. ¬†All I really knew is that I was looking for something organic called BT, and I even wrote down¬†Bacillus thuringiensis in case it became relevant. ¬†I could NOT find it, though. ¬†I found some other stuff that claimed to be organic, but it didn’t have that ingredient. ¬†Finally, I waited patiently until an employee finished helping someone else in the pesticide section, then quickly snagged him before he could get away. ¬†I asked him about the ingredient and showed him the spelling. ¬†He looked in this place, then that place, and even consulted his phone. ¬†THEN he asked another employee, and they finally found a bottle of what I needed, tucked away behind a facade that I assume was meant for extra storage. ¬†Would have NEVER found it if I hadn’t asked. ¬†
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So, basically, BT is a type of bacteria. ¬†The stuff in the bottle is a brown liquid solution that I dilute with water and spray on the leaves. ¬†Apparently, when the worms eat the leaf, they eat the bacteria too. ¬†And then… they kind of explode. ¬†I guess the bacteria grow inside them and… yeah, make their insides rupture. ¬†I felt *kind of* horrible about that. ¬†But I’m fighting for my cabbages! ¬†At any rate, it seems to be working, I’ve seen a LOT fewer of the worms. ¬†The instructions on the bottle say to repeat every 5 to 7 days as needed. ¬†I did see another worm or two that appeared to be alive, so I’ll probably give them another spray down later. ¬†

Damage from the larger cabbage, before the spraying (there’s a little booger right there!):
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The smaller cabbage that seems to have avoided the worm-pocalypse:
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Bell peppers:
These guys are still doing okay.  Still kind of short and stubby, but have a steady supply of cute little blooms:
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Carrots?
I planted the first row of carrot tape back in Week 4, and I still haven’t heard from them. ¬†But maybe, just maybe, we have a carrot sprout?
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Zucchini:
After a bunch of male flowers showing off, I finally spotted some female flowers on the big plant!! ¬†I wasn’t sure I would be able to identify the female ones, but it was pretty obvious; it was like a little bitty zucchini under the bloom. ¬†I kept an eye out and when the female flowers bloomed, I took a stick and gently scraped some pollen off of a male flower that was also blooming at the time and gently scraped the pollen onto the female flower’s pistil. ¬† (And yes, I had to look that term up. ¬†It’s been awhile since 5th grade science class.) ¬†I know I probably could have left the work¬†to the bugs, but I didn’t want to take any chances. ¬†And it looks like it works! ¬†The flower is stepping back, but a babby fruit is still on vine!
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And yeah, I *thought* we had some data from my zucchini experiment last week, but we definitely do this week. ¬†The one in the hill is SO much fuller and bigger! ¬†It’s hard to get a proper comparison with picture, but check out the wood stakes in the ground; they’re the same size.

Potted zucchini:
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Hilled zucchini:
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Onions:
Still doing well:
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Tomatoes:
We have babby tomatoes too!  First, I was delighted to find little green marbles on one plant, but then I pushed the leaves aside on another plant and found these guys!
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The lumpy one cracks me up. ¬†I also noticed what are either aphids or greenflies on one tomato plant. ¬†However, it’s just a few here and there, and I carefully checked the other plants and I haven’t found any others. ¬†I sprayed the leaves down with the BT solution I used on the cabbages; it didn’t specifically say that it would get rid of aphids, but I guess if they eat the leaves, it’ll at least give them gas or something. ¬†LOL.

Garden Diary: Week 7

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Week of 5/17/2014.

Not to much going on this week.

Plot 1, week 7:
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Plot 2, week 7:
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Herbs:
Basil:
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I think it’s safe to say that basil is also the garden’s first crop. ¬†The herbs don’t really have a “fruit” so I wasn’t entirely sure how it would be appropriate to harvest them. ¬†This week, we cooked something that called for fresh basil, so I looked into how it should be done. ¬†Apparently, I should have been harvesting it long ago. ¬†And apparently you’re supposed to harvest from the top; this will make the plant grow bushier. ¬†So, I harvested as the link suggested, hopefully it’s not too late to get some bushy in:
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Cilantro:
It seems like the cilantro is mostly new growth now. ¬†It keeps sprouting flowers, although I keep plucking them off. ¬†I haven’t harvested any yet, but it may be at the end of its lifespan. ¬†I’m more or less okay with that, at least it made my hands smell AMAZING a lot. ¬†I did some reading on it, and yes, it appears I should have been harvesting it frequently, like with the basil. ¬†Also, it sounds like cilantro will stick around longer if it’s not too hot. ¬†I wonder where I could put it next season so it’s sunny AND cool? ¬†(Maybe impossible for NC?)
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Spinach:
The spinach continue to be rather lopsided in their growth:
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Cabbage:
My cabbages are still under attack! ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†By the end of the week, I had seen at least one worm on all of the plants. ¬†I’d been picking them off just about everyday, but it seemed kind of futile. ¬†I read somewhere that cinnamon works as a cabbageworm deterrent. ¬†So while I felt slightly awkward seasoning my cabbages with cinnamon (especially while they’re still in the ground), I tried it, gosh darnit! ¬†It did not appear to help at all. ¬†:\ ¬†Here’s one of the healthier plants (which, ironically, is one of the smaller ones):
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Bell Peppers – This week’s winner!:
Okay, the bell peppers are still looking rather shabby. ¬†But, for what it’s worth, they don’t look MORE shabby. ¬†Plus, by the end of the week, I spotted a couple of little blooms! ¬†Also, there are now buds on both sets of plants, even the ones that I plucked from last week:
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Zucchini:
The zucchini are still doing good, still got some pretty flowers blooming:
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Also, I think it’s safe to say that we’re starting to get some data from The Great Zucchini Experiment of 2014. ¬†(Remember, when I ran out of room in my prepared garden, so I planted the rest of my seedlings in little buckets?) ¬†Above is an example of a bucket zucchini, which looks healthy, if a little modest.

Here’s the plant that got its own hill – the leaves are about twice as big!:
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While the bucket zucchini may be viable, so far, it definitely looks like they’re better off in the ground.

Onions:
Still doing well:
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Tomatoes:
Also still doing good. ¬†I’m also pleased to announce that there are little yellow blooms on both sets of plants, including the ones I plucked before. ¬†Good to know that didn’t permanently stunt them.
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Close-up of the blooms:
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OMG!  Girl, you need to shave yo stems!

Other goings-on the yard:

Okay, how did I NOT know that dandelions close up shop at night?

Early morning:
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During the day:
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They go poof! ¬†And yes, our lawn was mowed shortly thereafter. ¬†I don’t care for a “perfect” lawn, I prefer wildflowers and I think dandelions are cute. ¬†But them dandelions were getting to be taller than the cat, plus we were having people over next weekend.

Also, we had a super colorful fuzzy visitor!
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Apparently this is Rosy Maple Moth.  And since he landed on my glass door, I got a shot of his cute little face:

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Garden Diary: Week 6

Week of 5/10/2014.

Warning: Picture-heavy post ahead!

The bad: We had a few more deaths in the family.  Also, my cabbages are under attack!!  D:

The good:  We have buds!!!

Plot 1, week 6 – from the top, supplemental onions, herbs, spinach, cabbage, bell pepper:
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Plot 2, week 6 – from the top, zucchini, onions, tomatoes:
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Herbs:

Both the cilantro and basil have grown up, but now I’m starting to see some new growth. ¬†The new growth on the cilantro kind of looks funky, I thought another plant was invading for a moment! ¬†But I think the little leaves just aren’t as unfurled as their older siblings. Later on, I noticed little bitty flowers on the ends of the cilantro. I plucked those off in an attempt to keep the plant from “bolting” (new garden vocabulary word). And after I did, my hands smelled like cilantro all day and I was kind of in heaven:
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Turns out the little pointy bits on top of the basil were little flowers. When they began revealing themselves later in the week, I plucked those flowers as well.
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Spinach:

We lost a spinach. ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†I’m not surprised, since the spinaches have been really stunted for some reason. ¬†When I pulled him up, he had like NO root system. ¬†But a mini-row of carrots have taken his place.
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Some of the grieving family.  As you can see, some of the plants are doing way better than others:
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Cabbage:
The other death in the family was a cabbage, a victim of cabbageworm! ¬†ūüė° ¬†The effects of the cabbageworm were easy to see — they’re eating my plants!! ¬†However, the cabbageworms themselves are REALLY well camouflaged; they’re almost the exact same color as the cabbage itself. ¬†I didn’t notice it until I was just about touching it. ¬†And when I noticed it… ¬†I might have squeaked. ¬†Loudly.
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I want to avoid using chemical pesticides, so I cleaned up the plants by hand. ¬†I flicked a cabbageworm off another cabbage plant, and wiped away what was either more eggs or poop. ¬†(Either way — GROSS.) ¬†But for one cabbage, I felt it was a lost cause. ¬†There holes eaten into the itsy bitsy cabbage head that was forming, so I was afraid there was more hidden in there that I couldn’t clean out without destroying the plant anyway. ¬†Even in the open leaves, I felt I was not able to adequately clean out all the nooks and crannies. ¬†Plus, I may or may not have had a morbid curiosity of what the cabbage root system would look at at this age. ¬†Plus, I didn’t want this overly infested plant to spread to the other, manageable cabbages. ¬†(I’m not sure if that’s even a probability, but there was that, plus the morbid curiosity.) ¬†So a cabbage was sacrificed. ¬†I was surprised by the root system. ¬†I’m sure I left some roots behind, but it looks like most of the root system was still in the area / shape of the original seedling tray. ¬†I’m shocked it supported such a fluffy plant.
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Another mini row of carrots was planted, as a memorial.  (Also as an effort to get me more veggies!)

Here is one of the surviving cabbages, still growing. ¬†You can see the cabbages are still dwarfing the spinaches by far. ¬†I might have to look into trimming the border cabbages to make sure they don’t hog the sunlight from the spinach.:
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Bell peppers:

Bell peppers are one of the plants that are producing buds! ¬†I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this, though. ¬†They’re still not looking too hot, although I suppose they’re not looking WORSE. ¬†I just haven’t seen much improvement from the damage they’ve been displaying. ¬†I kind of feel like my bell peppers are having kids way too young and they need to get their own acts together first. ¬†ūüėõ¬†

Whilst researching my bell pepper issues, I’ve read that some people would pluck the buds until the plants can recover, basically because, as scrawny as they are, they wouldn’t be able to carry the peppers! ¬†So, since I don’t have much confidence in my bell peppers, I plucked the buds from half of the plants and left them on the other half. ¬†See, I’m kind of afraid that this may be a one shot thing, and I’d rather have scrawny bell peppers than no peppers (so I left the buds on some). ¬†On the other hand, I DO want healthy bell peppers, and I want to give my peppies a chance (so I plucked the buds off some). ¬†We’re entering experimenting territory now!

A plant with the buds:
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An example of how some of them continue to look unhealthy:
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Zucchini – this week’s winner!:

I’m so proud of my zucchinis! ¬†I believe they have fully recovered from what was apparently my overzealous watering. ¬†They have buds! ¬†Some plants have three! ¬†I decided not to pluck any of the zucchini buds, at least not for now. ¬†1) I’m pretty sure I’ll have more zucchini than I know what to do with (I will probably resort to freezing them, since apparently the FDA cannot support canning them.) ¬†2) The flowers are pretty! ¬†Pretty little orange buds:
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And THEN, a few days after this picture was taken, the blooms went POOF:
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I’m so excited about these pretty blooms! They don’t last for long: I first noticed the huge blooms when I glanced at my garden on my way to work in the morning. I was all giddy about it and when I came home from lunch, I dragged my husband outside to bask in their beauty. But even at that point in midday, they had already wilted and were pitiful looking. He was understandably underwhelmed. So the next day, I dragged him outside before I left for work to see the pretty, fresh blooms. He was appropriately impressed. And thus I have learned, if you’re going to take pictures of the pretty zucchini blooms, do it in the morning.

Onions:

The onions are still doing well. ¬†They’re like the good children: they do well in school, they stay out of trouble, they don’t give me problems. ¬†The leaves on one of the onions was starting to flop over, and my backyard homesteading book mentioned that you should trim them around 6 inches. ¬†Another source agreed to trim them to keep them from bolting too soon. ¬†So, I experimented on this one and gave it a trim.

Before haircut:
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After haircut. ¬†(Stylish, don’t you think?):
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This MAY also count as my first harvest. ¬†Ummm, how did I not know that green onions are just young “regular” onions!?
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Well… ¬†we’re going to say this was NOT my first harvest, because my new green onions were wilted and floppy before I could do anything with them. ¬†Besides, really the only time I cook with green onions is for Uncle Vernon’s Jambalaya, but that’s for another blog entry.

Another healthy looking specimen:
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Onions in temporary housing:
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Tomatoes:

The tomatoes also got some blooms this week! ¬†Little yellow flowers. ¬†^_^ ¬†I did the same to the tomatoes that I did with the bell peppers — I plucked the blooms from half of the plants and left the other half alone. ¬†Although, my reasons / motivations were different: I’m confident in my tomatoes, I’m confident they’ll bare fruit either way. ¬†So THIS way,¬†I can do some more experimenting to see if plucking the first blooms will actually result in a healthier / higher¬†quantity harvest. ¬†(Spit… now that I think about it… I hope I didn’t completely stunt them by plucking the blooms… since they’re determinate and all. ¬†Oh well, that’s why I only did half!)

Little bitty bloom:
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One of the pluckees:
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Also, as I mentioned before, this is our first year in the new house, so we’re still discovering what the previous tenants left us. ¬†It looks like they left us a perennial herb: lemon balm! ¬†I’m not familiar with lemon balm, and not much of a tea drinker, but I’ll have to find something to do with these guys. ¬†When I first discovered it, I brought a friend to inspect it. ¬†He said, “It looks like mint!” ¬†I said, “Ohhh, you think so?” ¬†Then he plucked a leaf, smelled it, and said, “Yeah! ¬†It’s definitely mint!” ¬†I smelled it and said, “Umm… ¬†It smells citrus-y.” ¬†He smelled it again and said, “Oh. ¬†Yeah. ¬†Weird.” ¬†LOL. ¬†To his credit, apparently lemon balm and mint are in the same family and do look alike. ¬†

Mint (what I don’t have in my yard) (pic from the linked wikipedia article):

What’s in my yard (pretty sure it’s lemon balm):
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It looks like they also left us a couple of blackberry vines! ¬†When it was still winter, one of the bushes (? vines? plants?) attacked me by getting the thorns snagged on my pants and scratching my knee. ¬†I was like, “Well! ¬†THOSE are going to have to come up!” ¬†And then they bloomed and I realized I might get blackberries out of them! ¬†So… I guess I’ll let them hang around. ¬†For now.

Here’s the bigger of the two (with some nice-smelling honey suckle in the background):Image

Yay! Gardening high!

Garden Diary: Week 5

Week of 5/3/2014.

Not too many changes to the garden this week. ¬†I added some tomato cages and did some weeding, that’s about it. ¬†Plants continue to grow, yay!

Plot 1, week 5 (from the top, herbs, spinach, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers):
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Herbs – basil and cilantro, looking rather handsome:
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Spinach – some of the plants are still scrawny, but a couple of them are noticeably growing:
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Cabbage Рstill the heavyweight of the garden.  Growing big and looking healthy.  You can tell how much it out-does the spinach (or perhaps how much the spinach is under performing) by comparing it to the little spinach to the left.  And that little particular spinach is one of the less scrawny:
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Carrots – This is only their second week in the ground and they haven’t emerged yet, but I’m keeping an eye on them:
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Bell peppers РLast week the zucchinis were causing me concern, now some of the bell peppers are.  This plant looks pretty good:
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But some of the plants look more like this – brown edges, dying leaves, general unhealthy lookingness:
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I did some googling and it may just be that it has not been warm enough for the peppers. ¬†I can kind of understand that; with as much rain as we got last week, it was more cloudy than sunny. ¬†This week are nice and sunny, but the bell peppers were still looking questionable. I did some more researching and another problem may be a nutrient deficiency. I adding some more garden soil (which claims to contain fertilizer) to the bases of the plants, so let’s hope this works.

Zucchini – I’m feeling better about these guys. ¬†They’re looking healthier in general, and although there are still some sad looking leaves, they all appear to be from the first branches from the main stem. ¬†So I’m hopeful that the new growth will be healthier:
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Onions – these guys continue to be confidence boosters for this newbie gardener. ¬†They’re all sprouting right along:
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My only concern is: where to put the sprouts I started in the seedling container? ¬†I feel they’re going to be too big for their britches soon!:
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Tomatoes – this week’s winner! ¬†It looks like they have fully recovered from whatever damage the freeze might have given them. ¬†That weird discoloration has gone away and they’re getting nice and bushy! ¬†It might be a little premature, but I went ahead and installed tomato cages to keep them standing straight:
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Garden Diary: Week 4

The week of 4/26/2014.  

A few changes to the garden this week.  Remember last week when I talked about the hail and thunderstorms?  Well, this is what the potato trench looked like after all that:
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I was afraid of something like this.  Our water table is pretty high, I actually struck water when I was digging the trench.  I shifted a piece of buried wood whilst digging and some water seeped through.  So the trench turning into a puddle did not surprise me.  

And with that, I gave up on potatoes. ¬†I was more likely to harvest mosquitoes than potatoes at this rate, so I just filled the trench in with dirt. ¬†I didn’t fish out the seedlings or anything, so if the potatoes persevere and push through, I will greet them and celebrate with them and make baked potatoes and stew. ¬†But sorry, little potatoes, you’re going to have to go it alone.

In addition to that, we witnessed the passing of one of the bell pepper plants:
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Poor guy. ¬†I’m not sure what happened, but as you can see, he withered to the point that he was not much bigger than weeds. ¬†When I pulled him up, he only had one skinny root. ¬†Perhaps a victim of over watering? ¬†

Oh well, I still have five bell pepper plants that seem to be thriving.  So instead of focusing on grieving, I focused on the fact that now I have some space to plant my dang carrot tape.  Makes for a somewhat awkward garden with a random mini row of carrots, but whatevs.

So here’s where we are after the shuffling around.

Plot 1, week 4 (from the top, filled in potato trench, herb pots, spinach, cabbage, carrot mini row to the left, bell pepper):
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Plot 2, week 4 (from the top, zucchini, onions, tomatoes):
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Close up of basil…:
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Cliantro:
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Spinach:
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Cabbage — this week’s winner! ¬†I could see some definite growth this week:
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A closer look at the carrot mini row. ¬†I used a stake to mark precisely where I laid the carrot tape. ¬†Like the potatoes, this is one plant I can’t see after I plant it. ¬†I’m hoping when they start to sprout, it’ll be obvious that they’re carrots and I won’t accidentally pull them as weeds:
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Bell pepper:
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Zucchini — These guys are still causing me some concern. ¬†These were what clued me in that I may be over watering my garden. ¬†Even though I’ve eased off of that, they’re still looking at little rough. ¬†I can’t quite tell at this point if there is still something causing them problems, or if the damaged leaves are just going to stay damaged. Here the best looking of the lot; you can see some holes in one of the leaves:
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Here’s a more typical example of the damage I’m seeing, torn leaves, brown, shriveled. ¬†The big leave to the right is funky-shaped because it crumbled in my hand before I took the picture:
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Onions! ¬†While I decided they couldn’t be winners two weeks in a row, these little sprouts are real confidence boosters. ¬†I’m growing stuff!:
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A shot of the side onions, which are also doing well:
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Tomatoes:
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All in all, a good week. ¬†Nothing too eventful; there were threatenings of more hail, so I covered some of the plants like I did with the freeze and past hail storm. ¬†Turns out, it was just rain, a good amount of rain, which means I didn’t have to bother with watering the garden this week.

This week was also encouraging in that, as the week passed, I could see marked growth and improvement in just about each of the plants (except for the carrots, which haven’t sprouted yet). ¬†Even the spinach! ¬†They still look scrawny, but at least a couple of them look like they’re making an effort.

I’m a happy gardener. ¬†Come on, green thumb!

Garden Diary: Week 3

The week of 4/19/2014.

This week I “planted” the remaining zucchini plants, using my experimental alternative gardening idea. ¬†(Recap: I dig a hole, put a small gardening pot in the hole, but dirt in the pot, then plant the seedlings in that dirt.) ¬†

Whilst digging holes for the pots, I struck a cord. ¬†Like, literally, a plastic cord. ¬†And I’m shocked I didn’t break it, because I tugged and tugged at it before realized what was going on; I thought it was just a particularly dense patch of dirt. ¬†I did some research and it was likely a cord for cable TV or something of the sort. ¬†(Thank heavens THAT didn’t break! ¬†We don’t have cable TV, but we DO have internet through a cable company, and we love us some internet in my household.) ¬†Kind of rude, though, it was only like 3 or 4 inches beneath the surface! ¬†During this time, I also investigated those call-before-you-dig programs. ¬†I thought of it briefly¬†when I started digging around in my garden, but I didn’t think I was likely to encounter anything if I was only going a shovel-deep. ¬†And apparently they don’t really care about gardens, it’s more for pretty intense work¬†requiring mechanized tools. ¬†I did put in a ticket for the call-before-you-dig program after I found the cord.¬† Even though I had already dug, I entered a ticket¬†mostly because I was curious about what else might be out there. ¬†I was too lazy to actually call, though (thanks, modern technology!), so I put in an online ticket. ¬†That ticket was later rejected because apparently my home address wasn’t specific enough the designate the location I wanted scouted out. ¬†And if I’m too lazy to call, you know I’m too lazy to enter ANOTHER ticket to try modifying “Ln.” to “Lane”. ¬†BUT, for those of you who are curious, when you put in a ticket (and they think your address is good enough), the call-before-you-dig people will notify any utility companies that may have dug around your area in the past. ¬†Those utility companies will then come out to your house and put little flags where their underground cables / lines / whatevers are supposed to be, free of charge. ¬†Kind of cool.

After I researched that and finished putting my zuucchini down, I started a place for potatoes! ¬†Based on the instruction on the potato seedling bag, I dug a trench, plopped some potato-ettes in — eyes up — then covered it with a few inches of soil. ¬†When they sprout up through the dirt, add another few inches of dirt, and repeat until the trench is filled. ¬†This is the first crop I planted where I didn’t actually see the “seedling” after it was planted, so we’ll see how this goes. ¬†I’m pretty confident I can tell potato sprouts from weeds… I hope.

Plot 1, week 3 (from the top, buckets of cilantro and basil, potato trench (to the right), spinach, cabbage, bell pepper):
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Plot 2, week 3 (from the top, zucchini (the extra stakes are to designate where the cord was so I can try to avoid it in the future), onions, tomatoes):

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Close up of herb buddies: basil and cilantro:Image

Closer look at the potato trench:
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Spinach (I don’t know what’s going on with these guys. ¬†They were petite in their original seedling trays, which was okay. ¬†But they still look super small. ¬†I’m not seeing any growth, at all. ¬†And while some of the smaller leaves are yellow, they don’t look like they’re on death’s door. ¬†Guess I’ll wait it out and see how they turn out.):
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Cabbage:
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Bell pepper:
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Zucchini:
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Onions – This week’s winner! ¬†I was so excited to see some actual, noticeable growth in my veggies, and wow, this guy just took off! ¬†By the end of the week, almost all of the onions have noticeable green on them. ¬†Yay!:
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Tomato (sorry for the blurriness). ¬†You can kind of see the darkening I mentioned that I noticed after the freeze last week. ¬†It’s mostly in the stems and the veins in the leaves. ¬†But the stems are still strong, so carry on little tomato plants.:
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My gardening companion / lookout — Xan:
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The rest of the week was rather harrowing. ¬†I realized that I was probably over-watering the garden. ¬†I don’t know if I had read it somewhere or if it was just randomly in my head that I should do this, but I was giving everything a rinse once a day. ¬†What tipped me off was the zucchini. ¬†I had noticed some yellowing, but thought that was normal, as it was some of the lower, older leaves. ¬†But one day I went out and most of them were looking yellow and one of them even crumbled in my hand. ¬†

I kind of went into panic mode. ¬†(These are my pets, remember?) ¬†I started researching zucchini in particular and apparently it’s best to water them once a week! ¬†I checked on a few other plants and the general consensus was that it was best to give them a thorough watering once a week than frequent¬†light waterings. ¬†

So I’m going to have to switch things up a bit. ¬†I’ve started using a suggestion I found in my research: stick a finger about an inch or so in the soil. ¬†If it’s still moist down there, leave it alone. ¬†So, I’m having to show some constraint to back off my garden and avoid smothering it.

Another harrowing happenstance this week: HAIL STORM.

Or, as my friend put it, “Oh, HAIL no.” ¬†(Lawl.)

So yeah, we had some warm fronts come in late this week, which brought in thunderstorms and hail. ¬†While friends in nearby cities were reporting ping-pong ball sized hail, I never observed the hail larger than small pebbles. ¬†Fortunately, it only lasted a little bit — no more than 10 minutes, probably less. ¬†And it was just a storm spasm or something because after that hail sprinkling, it even stopped raining. ¬†During the hiatus in precipitation, I ran out to the garden to take stock: ¬†It looked like everything was OKAY! ¬†No broken stems or shredded leaves or whatever. ¬†Hallelujah! ¬†To stay on the safe side, I did cover up some plants like I did for the freeze warning, and brought the herbs inside, in case the hail picked up again. ¬†And while it rained off and on that night, I don’t think we had any more hail. ¬†Phew!