Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gardening tips #3

Ah ... the May long weekend.  Here in Central/Northern Alberta it is usually a gamble to plant anything earlier than the beginning of June.  Believe me, that shortens our growing season significantly, but frost is a possibility any time up til then and sometimes afterwards.  In this new technology age, however, we have the Weather Network dot com, which is a step above the Farmer's Almanac, and I rely on it a little too much to judge just whether there is going to be frost or not.  And they say there won't be ... so I planted my garden this weekend. 

The tomato plants are in, as are several varieties of squash.  Daniel's 3 corn plants have found a home among the pumpkins, the onions, peas, carrots, lettuce, kale, turnips, spinach ... all in.  The strawberries were uprooted from their usual spot and moved to a shadier strip - not sure if they'll do well there, but they really didn't produce enough to take up the room they did.  And where the strawberries were - a new herb garden.  I've always just shoved the herbs in where they fit, but now they have a home.

So, what's the next gardening tip for the newbie prairie gardening folk?  Reemay cloth.  For onions, turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, or any other brassicas, cover with a liberal amount of reemay cloth.  Reemay cloth is a covering that lets sun and rain through, but keeps pesky little flies from laying their eggs at the base of your veggies.   But what's wrong with those little eggies??  Well let me tell you ...

The very fist summer I had a garden, I decided to grow broccoli.  I bought six seedlings from Arber Greenhouses just north of Wetaskiwin.  (They are a great greenhouse, by the way.  Lots of variety and very knowledgable).  I planted them and naively thought they would just grow on their own like nature intended.  Well, two of them did.  The other ones were small and not thriving at all.  My neighbour, Linda, told me that I might have root maggots.  So I pulled up the smallest, runtiest of the lot and sure enough, the taproot was crawling with maggots.  Not pleasant.

Apparently, a fly, looking an awful lot like the common housefly, lays it's eggs in the dirt near the base of the plant.  When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat into the taproot of your brassica (or onions) and starve it of life.  But it's very simple to cover with reemay cloth (for quite a while) - until the flies are finished laying eggs - which tends to be around mid to late June, I believe - but check it out on the internet for your area.

Here's the remay cloth on my onions.  This patch is made up of several pieces I sewed together.  I've been using them for the past 3 or 4 years and the one piece had a few holes in it. 

So, reemay cloth - if you have a small, personal garden, it's a great answer to many of the little pesky problems in the garden.  However, the cat loves to get under it, so you have to seal off the edges - better than in this photo.  She was under there this morning.

Happy May long weekend!

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