Fire

We’re big on fire here. The prairie needs it, so there is a lot of burning in spring and sometimes fall. Last week, those poplar trees that Steve cut down in late spring needed to be burned. Two piles down and three to go (before Saturday when there’s a big party at the farm).

And… I got this for my birthday. Something I’ve wanted for four years, basically since I knew they existed. A flame-throwing weed killer. You hook it up to a grill propane tank, haul it around in a custom cart or, like me, in a small wheelbarrow that will stand on its own.

I was getting desperate for something to do major weed killing so I could keep Steve from “drizzling” Round-up on the weeds. I have 14 beds with areas all around them, plus the potato bed, plus the area just inside and outside the garden fence. A friend told me you can use a gallon of vinegar with a cup of salt and a little Dawn dish detergent to kill weeds. I poured two gallons on some of the worst areas– burdock and thistle areas. That could get expensive, however.

Then my flame-thrower arrived. It’s a great tool.

Although better on small weeds (3-6″), it has done a great job on my weeds. You don’t incinerate them; you just put the heat source over them until the leaves wilt. It’s very satisfying to see dandelion leaves wilt. At first they look like this, and in a day or two they’re GONE.

I’ve been out twice now, and for the first time this summer, things are really dead, not just pulled down to meaningful sizes. I’ll be out again… And next year I’ll get a dedicated tank for it and get on those weeds early!

In the outdoor garden, everything is going great. Right on schedule. Looks like, unlike last year, we’ll have a banner crop of zucchini (so undeservedly maligned!) and a good bean and cucumber crop (helped by keeping the rabbits out). Snow peas are coming in, too. And the celery survived and I can start taking off outer stalks now.

Inside the greenhouse there are 3 cantaloupe(!) and the first of the eggplant have set. I’m still getting cucumbers and really wish I hadn’t planted “cocktail” size cukes. I did put in a few seeds for Longfellow cucumbers where the pea vines were and they’re already coming up. The watermelon has lots of flowers but no fruit yet…

There is a problem with the tomatoes, however. A serious, heart-breaking problem. Blossom-end rot. It is caused by inconsistent watering (not the problem here, although I wonder if the watering is too shallow) OR a calcium deficiency. That’s more likely. I thought since it was fresh potting soil in the new beds that there wouldn’t be any deficiencies. I did also push calcium sticks in there, though maybe not on every plant and maybe not enough. I bought some tomato fertilizer and have sprinkled it around each plant– peppers and eggplant, too.

The problem happens when the fruit sets, so it’s likely to be widespread already. But there are still loads of flowers on the 21 plants (yes, 21). And many of the plants seem fine. We’ll see as the fruit develops. There will obviously be enough tomatoes to eat, but I’m throwing away a lot of small green tomatoes I can already tell are affected. It’s disappointing since I’ve really taken good care of these plants– from seed! Since March!

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5 Responses to Fire

  1. That flame thrower weed killer sounds amazing! Never would have imagined something like it. Does it work better than the vinegar, salt, Dawn solution?

    • susanmsink@gmail.com says:

      Just seeing these comments… the flame thrower works but not on the really really tough weeds: thistle is discouraged but burdock is not even discouraged. The salt/vinegar seems better for those. I do think it’s made a deep dent in the dandelions.

  2. AUNT CAROL says:

    I WANT ONE !!!!!

    LOOKS LIKE FUNE

  3. Eda says:

    Rochi is distressed that there is little he can do for me, so he’s thrown himself into urban gardening–the narrow strip of garden around our house and the balcony space. Tomatoes coming in spades but squishy because of rainy season. With luck it’ll end soon and they’ll dry out a bit. Eventually there will be corn, cukes, blueberries. And next year, just for me, rhubarb! Heaven.

    • susanmsink@gmail.com says:

      that is a real labor of love! Will the corn and cukes come up outside your bedroom window? Enjoy! Is rhubarb something it is easy to get a hold of in Tokyo?? It seems so Midwestern to me.

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