Tuesday, June 17, 2014

CANI 2014

This blog's title is CANI which stands for Constant And Never-ending Improvement.  We borrowed this from John Kohler at GrowingYourGreens.com where you can find nearly 1000 home videos to help you be a better "beyond organic" garden.

We hope to have a CANI post each year, showing the new improvements we are applying to our garden. We have several items that we are trying this year to improve our garden.

The first new thing we did was move the plant starts to the greenhouse sooner than before and we potted up some of the tomato plants.  This resulted in larger, better looking plants early in the season.

Early start in the green house.
Happy Tomato Plants
Potted up Tomatoes

We also expanded or growing space by adding 2 new tall raised beds which we blogged about before.  We also doubled our rain water storage by adding two new blue rain barrels.  These aren't directly hooked up to the rain spouts but we can easily transfer the water from one set to the other via a garden hose and gravity.  We decided to do it this way as it made the barrels closer to the garden and setup was easier.

New Rain Barrel Setup

Another improvement was covering cabbage and kale with dear fence.  This is a fine, light weight plastic fence composed of 1/2 squares.  So far this has done great to keep out the cabbage whites as they are too big to get at the plants.  Another benefit is that wind doesn't affect this fencing like it does when we tried Remay cloth.  It isn't keeping out all the bugs as there is still some insect damage, so maybe we will need to try a finer mesh in the future.  One surprise we had was an Oriole bird somehow got under the deer fence!  It was a good thing that Shannon found it before the bird did any damage or got hurt and we were able to release it.

Protected Greens

Another improvement we have done this year is the application of Sea-90 as a soil and foliar fertilizer.   It takes one gallon per teaspoon and can be applied to leaves every 7 to 14 days according to the website.  I found it works good to let the mixture set for 24 hours or so so that the chlorine will dissipate and the salt will assimilate. We also plan to try some Boogie Brew compost tea later as a foliar spray fertilizer.

Gallon sprayer for foliar applications

The last thing to mention is the addition of a chlorine water filter as we run our drip system from the municipal water supply.  The inline garden hose filter that we are using simply screws onto the hose.  The filter is called "Boogie Blue water filter for Garden".  One thing to be aware of is that the filter will reduce your water pressure so I found the drip system was not dripping as much as without it.  I plan to make more watering zones when I get the DripWorks items for our new tall beds.  Another bonus was the addition of a water timer.  Simply turning the blue dial shown in the picture allows me to set the length of time I want it to run.  This makes it nice to be able to start the timer and not be worried about shutting it off later.

Water Filters and Timer
Let us know what you think about our improvements!  We would love to hear what your CANI goals are this year too. They don't have to be only garden related, CANI can apply to all areas of life.

Rainbow Chard

We transplanted 20 Rainbow Chard plants in our new tall raised beds filled with well cured compost.  Shannon started them from seed indoors so they got a head start. The leaves are probably the biggest we have seen in our garden, but this year they were plagued with leaf miners.  Looking them up online I learned that they can be larvae from a fly, moth, or beetle!  Here is a Wikipedia link for more info:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaf_miner

The eggs I found were white and tiny, very easy to miss.  For what it's worth here is a picture of the eggs.  They are laid in small clusters, spread in multiple spots on the leaf.  You can scratch the eggs off with your nail if you can find them.  I found most on the underside, but some were on the top.

Leaf Miner Eggs on Chard

This shows some of the leaf miner damage.  The larvae / worm eats out the middle of the leaf and it protected by a thin layer of leaf "skin" on the top and bottom.  You can squish the worms or rip out the affected spots.

Leaf Miner Damage on Chard

Here are some pictures of our bountiful harvest.

Shannon with Chard Harvest from new beds

Rainbow Chard