Okra crash

We’re finally getting some rain. No flooding or anything like that but this week has been typical of what we would expect all summer long. It’s coming at a good time in terms of me planting fall crops that really do well on cloudy, rainy days. If it hangs like this for another week, much of what I’ve planted will be established well enough to survive a good dose of sun exposure. It’s nowhere near enough rain to replenish the lake which is the lowest I’ve ever seen it for so late in September. It would be low for April, coming out of the dry season, so I don’t have a guess what it will look like by April 2012. Normally this is the time of year we expect the lake to be chock full but another year without even a close call from a hurricane (so far) leaves us way too low. I still can’t put the boat in the boat slip under the dock and I’m already concerned that my secret spec spots will be inaccessible, basically as they were last season. Bummer.

The okra crop which had been doing so well, crashed big time. Nematodes. When I pulled the plants, there were virtually no roots left intact. I did some research and learned that, sure enough, okra is very susceptible to nematodes and I was lucky to do as well as I did. I did some research to see if there were any nematode resistant varieties and drew a complete blank on that but did pick up an interesting factoid from the University of Arkansas. Turns out broccoli and cauliflower, like certain varieties of marigolds, are anti nematode plants. So, if I plant a crop like okra after a season of one of these anti plants, they will have fled the scene. I have been interplanting certain marigolds with tomatoes and cucumbers but never knew about the others. So I’m going to double up on the broccoli and cauliflower this season.

Any doubts I had about pepper plants inter pollinating has been dispelled. The last ones I planted were located far from any others and the difference is remarkable – nice large, well shaped peppers vs the earlier ones that were really scrawny. Lesson learned. The first year I planted peppers, 4 years ago now, I had the same terrible results but blamed it on the varieties I had chosen and figured they were not right for Florida. For the next two years I planted a single variety that was advertised to be the best for unfavorable conditions and sure enough, we got plenty of really nice peppers. This year, confident that the soil was improved, I went back to multiple varieties co-planted.

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