It's songbird's fault

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On Sat, 31 May 2014 19:00:15 +1000, Fran Farmer

We had surprisingly good luck with our first garden here at the new place. This will be the second year and all our hard work last year may pay dividends. I say "may" because you never know what Mother Nature has in store. I certainly didn't expect a hailstorm to come through this past week.

It's too cold here as well for citrus to overwinter outdoors. The sunroom and gallery that leads to it seemed to be the ideal solution for us. With all the east-facing windows, the citrus trees thrived. I hope you have good luck trying a citrus in your sunroom too. I misted mine on a regular basis last winter because the ceiling fan was always on, even in winter, and I was afraid they'd dry out too much in the dry air of the house. It seemed to work. That, and the fact that that part of the house stayed pretty warm on sunny days. They didn't drop one lemon or orange but were otherwise dormant (no new leaves or flowers). We didn't have any limes last year but we will this year along with a couple of extra lemons and one more orange. I wonder if there will be room for _us_ in the sunroom this year! :D

Do you have a critter camera? Like a deer trail camera that hunters use? Might want to set one up to take pictures or AVIs during the day or at night with IR, set to trigger after 30 seconds or whatever. We've used the heck out of our cameras. They go through the batteries, though. But that way you'd have a better idea of what is getting your berries.

Me too! There's nothing like popping out to the kitchen garden to grab some fresh herbs.
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bluechick wrote: ...

...

you're welcome, sorry couldn't be more precise. too many variables to know what is going on at a distance...
from the sounds of it i would say it was the plants/supplier. we've had pretty good luck with the greenhouse here that we like for our starts. we're very short on space here in the house so it makes sense for us to just get them from the greenhouse instead of trying to find a place for them.
songbird
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George Shirley wrote:

Dunno. Some indigenes of my aquaintance tell me goanna (a local type of lizard) is very tasty. But if you have been chasing bush tucker through the bush all day just about anything would be tasty come dinner time. Of course all these native animals are legally protected unlike placental rats and mice.
D
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wrote:

Not a problem. You gave me some ideas on things to check as to the culprit behind the wilted plants. There were too many variables here to know the reason with any certainty.

Yep, everything still points to the plants themselves - contamination at the supplier or seller. I've put some test plants in the same planters as the afflicted plants and some pepper plants in the same raised bed and nothing has so much as drooped in the past few days. Those sick plants showed signs of trouble in less than a week after transplanting so I would have seen some sign of trouble with the test plants by now. When I dug up the bad plants I made sure to grab as much soil around them as I could, hoping any surrounding plants would remain unaffected. I think I caught it (whatever "it" was) in time. So far, so good. *knocks on head*
I miss the greenhouse we had at the old house. Maybe one day we will get one here. It sure does help starting seedlings and cuttings and gets a jump on the planting season.

bluechick
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wrote:

I checked our blueberries in the main garden (not the two container types on the deck) and they're still hanging in there. Not quite ready to pick. The container ones are producing well but I spied a muskrat on the upper deck not far from the blueberries. I scared it and it scared me! I don't know if he was making plans for those berries or not but he's going to have to fight me for 'em.

A full freezer indeed! We used to grow cauliflower and broccoli every fall but the last time, years ago, we were hit so hard by cabbage loopers that it put me off growing them for years. We used Dipel (bacillus thuringiensis) on all the brassicas but we couldn't keep ahead of the caterpillars. Now that we live in a rural area the bugs are even worse.

I've grown both "Mexican tarragon" and "Texas tarragon". Everything I've read seems to indicate that they're the same plant, both billed as Tagetes lucinda, but they aren't the same. I've learned that there are two varieties of Tagetes lucinda, one that is tall and one that is short. No other differences are noted.
What's being sold here as "Mexican tarragon" is not worth growing. It never comes back after the first year even though it's supposed to be a perennial, has thin curly leaves with a sprawling growth habit, flowers in late spring, and has only a hint of tarragon flavor. It's more like a scrawny marigold. My two "Texas tarragon" plants are absolutely perennials, grow upright, have long 3-in. straight leaves that are anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide, have a strong tarragon flavor and don't bloom until late summer. I've been able to find it at only one local nursery. I got a second one from them this year, 5 years after getting the first one from them. Everyone else around here has the Mexican variety I mentioned above. It's an entirely different plant and I'll be damned if I can find any book or website that makes note of the difference. In my experience growing it, Mexican tarragon and Texas tarragon are not interchangeable.
I've tried Russian tarragon and I don't remember if I liked it or not. I do wish French would grow well here but it hates our climate. Last time I grew it I had to treat it as an annual and it didn't do well.
I knew I'd forgotten some herbs in my last message! We have Greek and another oregano here that is probably Spanish or Mexican. Both do well here. The Greek is trying to take over the whole corner of the herb garden so I guess it's happy.
I will try planting garlic scapes around our peach trees this fall. Thanks for that tip! I'd forgotten everything I'd learned about caring for peach trees. My parents had a peach orchard when I was a child but the trees finally died out. We didn't try to grow them at the old house since the umpteen thousand squirrels we had there would have taken all the fruit anyway. :) As for garlic chives, I won't plant them again. They took over one of our original raised beds at the old house and choked out some of the herbs.

I saw a kumquat at the same nursery where we got our second Meyer lemon. Almost got it but we've run out of room on the deck. :) Sounds like you had wonderful luck with that Meiwa. I know you wish you could have brought it with you to the new house. I feel that way about the big Celeste fig we had to leave behind. I hope your new tree treats you as well as the Meiwa did.

I haven't seen them here. I wish they'd visit us since that site said they don't sting or bite. We're lucky to have a beekeeper next door and his girls have been busy with the citrus trees and the clover. I assume they were pollinating the tomatoes but I never did see what critter did us that favor. A few of our salvias are blooming and are covered in butterflies which the hummingbirds chase away. They don't like to share. I'm waiting for the bee balm to bloom. That ought to keep everyone happy.

Gardens feed the soul as well as the tummy. :)

bluechick
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bluechick wrote:

I grow targetes taragon, here it is called 'winter' taragon. I don't know why as it dies back each winter. But it comes up each spring and if used fresh it is quite pungent and tasty. I cannot grow French taragon, too finicky in my heavy soil.

Same here. The Russian sort is a waste of time no flavour.
D
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On 7/06/2014 11:14 AM, David Hare-Scott wrote:

Interesting. My French Tarragon is as tough as old boots and I grow it in what I'd consider to be heavy soil.
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On 6/6/2014 8:14 PM, David Hare-Scott wrote:

I had the same problem with Russian, yanked it out and gave it to the Russians who live next door, they love it. I got another Mexican Tarragon, works for us.
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I'm rather at the other end of "difficulty growing tarragon" (Zone 4) but I do generally keep some going. Lost it all a year ago and reaped the rewards of being generous with it - got some back from a friend I had split some off to. It's marginal to make through the winter, so I try to maintain it in many different spots so that I have better odds of at least one making it - and it wants to be split regularly anyway lest it gets rootbound, so that works. Despite being rather harsh, this winter didn't finish off the returned splits. AFAIK it's French - both the original label and the lack of flowers concur on that point. Major pest is foaming aphids.
Harvest-wise we've got nothing going yet other than a FEW Asparagus. (and the bumper crop of weeds, including the crop-weed catnip) but various things are coming along. I planted garlic WAY late for me (December, I think) and it actually did the textbook thing of not really sprouting until spring, where I usually have 6" high garlic sticking out of the snow. The result of last year's experiment with cutting/leaving scapes has put me in the cutting scapes camp for now. I've got the head of heirloom (someone's Grandma's) garlic I was given two years ago up to 34 plants, and am growing 50 Spanish Roja, with a few survivors of last year's flood that took out the mutt-garlic (unknown non-scaping) bed coming back up there, but I'm leaning towards giving up on the mutt-garlic, as it's been dwindling on me, which was why I got the SR three years back.
Strawberries took a major hit either from the winter or from the side-effects of the winter (I don't know if they were killed or eaten, that is.) Raspberries and blueberries look good, cherries & plums look good now but usually find a way to disappoint me before it's eating time, hops need more room to grow. Grapes are somewhat in there with the cherries and plums - more than usual dieback, I did get them pruned in the winter, they look good now, on the rare occasion they make much fruit the raccoons usually take it. I'm pretty sure I need to do more management during the growing season, but I'm also pretty sure they'd simply like more sun and I'm not seeing a way I can do that.
One of the Filazels took a big hit from EF Blight (I'd guess) last year, but it's not all dead, and the others look fine, though the squirrels get nearly all of those. Two shallots (from the food supply side of things) that were sprouting got planted and are growing - they are throwing scapes or flowers - should I cut those off, or not? My "Hybrid 'shallots' from seed" experiment of a year or two ago was pretty disappointing, so I'm hoping for better luck from these "appear to be actual shallots."
--
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Fran Farmer wrote:

The summer rain might be a problem too.
D
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On 8/06/2014 9:43 AM, David Hare-Scott wrote:

Could be. I tend to let my tarragon get quite dry before I notice that it's gagging for a drink - dunno why it thrives given how badly I treat my poor clumps.
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Ecnerwal wrote: ...

what type of soil are they in? i've not had problems here and we have had mixed weather the past few winters to show that strawberries are pretty hardy when it comes to cold. most of the trouble i've heard with them dying off is when they are in fairly sandy soil without much mulch or cover for the winter. then they can get frost heaved and dried out.
songbird
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Apart from being miserable, clay does hold water, so that probably helps. Where it rains more, good drainage helps - where it rains less, clay can be a good thing (not being from where it rains less, most of the time, and being abundantly supplied with clay, I found that sentence hard to actually commit to print...2-3 dumptruck loads of sand would improve my garden immensely.)
I really don't find it fussy, just prone to not all surviving the winter. On the other hand, I seem to recall that I expanded the range admitted to in one of the rec.gardens FAQs that was or is running around the net from days of old.
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Normally they laugh off the winters, frequently having green foliage throughout, so this was a surprising departure from the norm. They are in horse manure (to be picky, composted HM - essentially anything resembling dirt in my garden is composted HM from 1-20 years old with a bit of other compost making up an insignificant proportion, and "soil" being essentially non-existent) - on top of clay - dig a few feet down and you can make pots out of it. Mulched with lots of pine needles. I think I have 4 out of 9 in one patch, of which one is somewhat normal and the rest have obviously suffered, and 1 out of 15 in the other.
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On 6/8/2014 11:38 AM, Ecnerwal wrote:

Heh! We live in Harris Cty, TX, there's five feet of Houston gumbo under this house with about two inches of sand on top. We actually found some white clay while digging a hole to plant the Meiwa kumquat. Wife is an artist and kept it in case I ever set up her kiln again.
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Ecnerwal wrote: ...

we've got mostly clay soil here too and this past winter was ok, didn't notice any major loss of plants. a thick mulch could be a potential problem with all the snow cover we had. i do mulch some plants, but none of them heavily, just a light mulch layer so that the soil is covered to help keep down frost heaving.
songbird
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Ecnerwal wrote: ...

i'd take 2-3 dumptruck loads of shredded bark over sand any time as that forms such a nice layer on top of the clay that the worms can enjoy. helps keep things moist and cool when it gets hot.
i've found that adding sand to clay is often just asking to make very hard soil and that the added organic matter is much better (and lighter to move :) ). last winter growing the winter wheat and winter rye as a green manure/cover crop that was turned under a few weeks before planting was the best thing i'd ever done for soil texture and making the clay much easier to deal with this spring. lovely results in many respects, only a few negatives which don't bother me at all.
songbird
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says...

Most of the artemisias I've grown have been survivors.
Our French Tarragon has been in the garden for 30+ years (Zone 5, sandy soil).
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