Pilings sunk

Started the dock job. I got the new landing area cleared on Sunday in preparation for sinking the pilings. Joey and Mark came up on Monday and we got the two new piling installed. They were 15′ x 8” tapered pilings and weighed a ton (or ten). It was just as difficult as I had remembered but luckily we didn’t run into any killer roots and managed to sink them about 5 1/2′ in the muck. Our target was 6′ but we just ran out of gas trying to get that last 6”. Tuesday was a one Aleve day but at least I was still able to move most of my body parts. The game plan now is to complete the understructure and decking on Monday after Mother’s Day – might even bolt a few boards to the piling on Mother’s Day if that seems politically correct. Not expecting any particular problems since it looks like a fairly standard carpenter job other than working waist deep in water and ankle deep in muck.

Had cucumber and onion salad for the first time this season. I have homed in on an outstanding variety of cucumber called Sweet Success. It’s a seedless variety, so mild you can eat without peeling – no burps, no heartburn. The vines are loaded and so far there have been no signs of nematodes or cucumber beetles. I keep close tabs on the plant dates and expected harvest dates and these plants are running about 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Those schedules are estimates by the seed companies and must be based on a particular latitude so our spring crops typically mature faster and our winter crops slower than forecast. The onions are a variety called Granex. Supposedly they’re in the same family as Vidalia onions and they’re very mild. I could live on cucumbers and onions marinated in olive oil and wine vinegar. Never sure whether it’s worth it or not to grow onions since they take sooo long but it’s really nice to be able to jump over to the garden and pull as needed. These particular onions were planted way back in December.

But the battle with Ma Nature has been joined. The swiss chard has been looking punky late in the afternoon which I attributed to the heat, Chard being a winter crop. So I yanked it out and found the roots totally knotted with nematode damage. I hadn’t bothered to do heavy duty nematode control under the chard simply because I’ve never had the problem with that particular crop. Interestingly the adjacent row is spinach, also finished for the season due to heat, but the roots were clean. I yanked out all the chard, soaked that row with diazanon, and covered it with clear plastic to cook it for a couple of months. Then went over to the tomatoes and noticed some leaf damage, little tiny holes, and sure enough on the underside were tiny caterpillars eating their fill. I had sprayed the plants but probably didn’t do a good job on the underside of the leaves. It’s just starting so I’m on that with a chemical attack. Next, I noticed smallish black grasshoppers crawling on several things. We must have had a hatch in the last day or two and hoards of these creatures are doing their thing. These grasshoppers hatch in big batches and you have to get on them quickly. The ones that escape grow into those 6” yellow-green hoppers we have in late summer. I also noticed that some of the newest cucumbers are turning yellow and shriveling up, a sure sign of nematodes. We’ll get plenty of cuc’s before the nematodes triumph which I attribute to giving the plants a good head start before putting them in the garden and setting up barriers between the native soil and the plants. Ditto the zuchinni – getting some fruit but noticing some small ones shriveling up on the vine.

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