So hot, the tomatillos are stripping naked! Gardenjournal May/June 2022

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I'm a bit behind with the garden documentation, but my brain is getting fried from the scorching heat and Splinterlands had me quite addicted occupied with the recent changes. We need to seriously ketchup but the tomatoes ain't ripe yet...


Outdoor season

Usually we wait untill May 15th with the tropical and mediterranean crops. Last year we had a really cold night around May 10-14th, but this year I could have planted outdoor tomatoes in April already. Aside from one or two weeks of sub 20°C we pretty much had a midsummer experience since the start of May. I actually had a pubescens chili in the coldframe way before May 15th, but the buggers kept eating it faster than it was able to grow.
Anyways, most of the plants moved outdoors, so let's check out what's going on!


Ninja Pest

As a gardener you will be confronted with all kinds of pests. Most people have heard of aphids and slugs before, even if they never grew a single raddish in their life. But there are also more unknown threats and even critters that you would never have believed to be a threat to your beloved greenery.
When trying to grow some tomato seedlings, I got reminded of one of those ninjas.
First I had sown some micro tomatoes in soil that I prepared with some of my fresh compost. Said buggers specialize in eating up dead stuff, something that can be found plenty of in a compost pile and as a result they will end up in your finish compost a lot. The micro tomatoes never grew and my guts told me these otherwise rather valuable detritivores had something to do with it.
Shortly after that I decided to prepare a tomato seedling for my hydroponic box. I was quite shocked when a few days later I realized that the plant had been dissected and I was left with some roots and a cutting. Tomatoes do root quite easily, so it might have survived even this cruelty, but something kept eating away it's leaves until I was fed up and flooded the container to see who caused this mischief.

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"Hi, iz me, le woodlouse!"
Apparently woodlice also have an appetite for living plants, at least in certain, probably stressfull situations.


Animals

Technically not gardening related, but still an important part of the garden year: The wild animals.
The past years have been kinda sad in that regards, because they either got slaughtered by cats or fell victim to the cold and rainy weather. This time I took special attention to the placement of the nesting boxes and potential cat-assault-positions and even placed a smaller entrance on one of the boxes for the tiny bluetits. And indeed we had a family of bluetits for the first time. Also the mandatory blacktits occupied one of the boxes until Friday the 13th when they suddenly dissapeared. A few days before I already realized the smell of dead bird in a box and some flies swarming around it, so I quickly opened the hatch to see if I can remove the corpse. I could not see the dead bird but 3 living blacktit babies, so I quickly reinstalled the box and hoped for the best.
I can't know for sure if they made it or fell victim to a predator, but I think I heard them in our neighbour's firs. So 3 out of 4 blacktits seem to live. I cleaned the box that had tons of grubs in it and only 2 days later the next pair of blacktits started building a nest!

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The bluetits had a little less luck. Apparently two birds died in the box and another one might have been slaughtered after leaving it, judging by all the feathers that were scattered across the lawn. The one survivor was sitting in the bushes getting fed by the parents.

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Aside from the birds we also have a couple of squirrels that apparently have two babies. It's quite amusing watching them hop around the garden hiding nuts everywhere.

The latest discovery was a hedgehog that built a little hideout in a ground cover that I was thinking about removing. I first noticed some movement in the bush and when I tried taking a peek, something started hissing at me. It looked kinda small and was acting weird, so I decided to give it a little catfood. There's also a second, bigger one that strolls around our garden, which might be a different species. It's kinda funny watching these guys at night as they can be quite noisy. It even climbed into the bird seeds that were heavily infested with food moths and placed on a pallet for the birds to scavenge.

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Kinda uncommon to see a hedgehog at daylight.


Growlight Experiment

So, as a final conclusion there was actually a slight difference between the plants. The blue light caused a little bit of side shoots and the color was slightly darker.
Generally the plants growing in the warm room under a skylight looked way better than the plants that were growing in the wintergarden, but that's just a sidenote. Especially the flowering started way earlier, which is something that I noticed with different plants already.

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It's noticeable how the plant on the left looks slightly more healthy, but generally I wouldn't say the additional light was causing any additional growth. There was also a decent aphid population on both, which might have slowed down their growth.
In the end the whole experiment was more about HOW the light affects the plants and not how MUCH. With around 1.5 watts of additional light it was rather clear that the difference in size would not be all that great.

Conclusion: Blue light triggered the development of side shoots, shorter internodes and a more robust leaf coloring but it did not have any influence on the overall hight of the plant.


New stuff

Let's check the new plants for a second:
I finally got a pure strain of tomatillos this year and ran into a problem that seems to be very common with those. They grow very weird. The stems have gotton so ridiculously large that I decided to cut them and make two plans from one. Cuttings from solanaceae take root almost 100% of the time, so now I have way more than I need. Another curiosity of tomatillos is the fact that they seem to grow very differently, even within the same strain. One of the plant is more sturdy and will be ready for harvest soon, while the plant next to it is growing more bushy and produces more flowers. Guess I really have to figure out what I can do with them aside from the obvious hotsauce, especially as I'm not growing a lot of chilis this year.

Etoliated growth seems common with tomatillos.

Chop, chop and we get two smaller plants that won't break from the slightest wind.

May 12th

June 22th

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The hot weather is really quite the blast for those tropical plants, so much that the tomatillos are already getting rid of their lanterns and start flashing their green butts. Not sure what actually causes this, but I thought it's kinda funny.
The cucumbers also started climbing the fence that I installed and withing a few days reached a size where slugs should no longer be a threat. The luffas in the corner were more under attack, so one of them is a little behind. The last plant got completely destroyed again, which makes me slightly worried about my seed harvest. (More plants is better for a healthy gene pool)

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Luffa aegyptiaca in the back and Suyo Long (Saikó) cucumbers in the front.

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As we had a birthday happening in May, I was looking for a nice idea and figured some sort of uncommon tree would be pretty cool. A quince is a pretty rare tree and on top it's a sweet quince that is supposed to be consumable in a raw state. Not quite sure where to put it yet, but might become a replacement for the pomegranate in the front yard that is not really flowering.

Finally some harvest

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First garlic to check the size. The green is dying back already but seems like it could use a few more weeks for full size.

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Zucchini flood is also about to begin. I already removed quite a few that were shrivelling. Last year with all the excess rain we had almost none of those, so maybe it's actually a water related issue. As we have two plants this year, he shall test if lots of watering helps with that issue.

What really didn't work so far was the lettuce. Maybe it's just too hot for them, but they looked pretty nice until they suddenly started to become mushy and ugly. Also the birds seem to like it a lot and keep pecking away the young leaves.

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Should have harvested the lettuce when it looked delicious like that, instead I had to discard them after a few scorching hot days


Thanks for checking my little garden update and a big thumbs up to the amazing hive garden community with the amazing #gardenjournal and curation efforts. Especially for keeping the project alive after Simplymike needed a break!

See you for the next garden blog, which hopefully will not take as long as this one...



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