I've looked high and low for more black garden plastic and everyone just says, "That's supposed to be bad to use." Well... it works! Don't know what's bad about it. Sure it heats up the dirt, but that needs to happen to kill the nematodes. It heats up plant roots too so you need to be careful with it, but nothing else is going to remotely control weeds. I had to laugh one day when I was reading in a magazine about people starting a new garden. The "expert" suggested to take a shovel full of sod and simply turn it upside down. The roots dry up in the sun and the grass decomposes and fertilizes the dirt. Right! Our grass would thank us for the respite from the sun and be all the stronger for it! That's like saying boiling water kills weeds and their seeds in sidewalk cracks all season. Doesn't even wilt them! I'd like to see these "experts" and their gardens and see if they know how ridiculous their claims are.
Anyway, I'm done with my tirade. We also picked a few luffa sponges, peeled them, cleaned them and deseeded them. Its a fun little novelty. I don't know if we'll do it again. I guess it depends on the kids and if we have room for it. If I'm doing a second round of planting for okra, cowpeas and yard long beans, I just may not have space for frivolities. But then again, if a pretty little farmer girl asks to plant some luffa, I just may not have the heart to say no.
The cucumbers are being utterly destroyed by an unknown enemy. They lay black eggs in clumps on the leaves. In ripping out a couple decimated plants, I noticed clumps of green eggs and what may have been tiny little mites all over the ground as well. I sprayed some yesterday and did a very thorough job today, also including the watermelons who are still battling aphids and this fungus. I noticed those black eggs on the watermelon leaves this morning. Very frustrating. I need to be watching everything like a hawk just when I'm about to give birth. My husband, while very much a trooper and loves the gardening rewards, is just not as familiar with danger signs. He'll be taking over the "farm" for a few days, but somethings may still my hand... or we just let it go and see what happens.
On the upside, all varieties of everything has sprouted at least some. Pretty low showing for the lettuces, but it has still been a bit warm for them. I'm thankful to see that the turnips haven't taken off and will probably be able to hold out in my tiny cups until I and the littlest one are fully recovered. It seems the broccoli, bok choy, swiss chard and collard greens that I have been babying for the last couple weeks will make it. I haven't lost any more in almost a week. We were able to have a small portion of collards this past week from the first round I planted. They were really tasty! But it may just have been that it wasn't okra that made them so good!
In the wee hours of morning on a sleepless night, I perused our seed catalogues with our spring garden in mind. While I found some good stuff, I think I'm still going to have to employ yet more companies to get all that I want. The majority will come from Baker Creek and Southern Exposure, but I do have some things for Johnny Seeds and it looks like Tomato Growers Supply and Evergreen Seeds will be tacked on too.
I'm also planning on adding a little ornamental garden to the property. I haven't decided where yet, or even how big. I just want something where I can cut pretty flowers and have them spruce up inside the house too. That was probably the most fun part of looking through seed catalogues. I've never looked in the ornamental sections before! I'm hoping to get this in come spring, but that may be a bit ambitious. My to-do list is already growing and that's without a third child to love and care for!
And finally, we're still on a mad rage against something that is starting to really damage our citrus trees. Our trees were finally starting to grow this year, but then we got this "thing". And of course I've found it in no book nor online. It crinkles all the new growth, pales it to yellow and drops it off leaving dried, dead branches. About 2 months ago I started a weekly regimen of picking all affected leaves and spraying with a neem/soap solution. It's keeping them at bay, but at least one of the trees is really looking sad now. Its our tallest (about 5') with about 20 leaves left on it. It seems as soon as they start to grow some, this thing moves in and destroys the new growth and bit of the old as well. I don't know what else to do.