My Going To Seed Crops 2024 No fertilizer, No water, No Sprays, Wood Chip Mulch System

(Inland Southern California, so generally a bit warmer than DFW) - we’ve got a Cabernet vine on campus that thrives in a very neglected location. We’ve also got a new Rogers Red, which is a European grape/native grape hybrid that we had to dig up and move because it was taking over the space it started in. And the fruit is top notch.

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Excellent to hear this news!

I don’t normally post Onion Row but lets get it up.

All the blackberry and other berry vines have all been pulled out.

The Egyptian Walking Onions are thriving under the Sheer and Utter Neglect ™ system.

I have a ton of new bulblets to plant out soon and expand the onion patch.

Back in the corner are my patch of Elephant Garlic, already divided and small cloves planted. Original plants moved further up Onion Row and planted into any empty spots I found.

Also are about four proper Tobacco plants, going into their 3rd year of perennial growth. I don’t know what it is about these four plants but they keep resprouting from the roots underground every year. I don’t use them for anything but to feed the hawk moths whose caterpillars are known as “hornworms” to tomato growers.

This year I am going to grow tomato for the first time so lets see if the hawk moths prefer these proper Tobacco plants and attack them and leave the tomato patches alone or if that ends up being just a “pipe dream” :wink:

Speaking of tomatoes, the few Mortgage lifters that are responding very well to the nursery tote system of Sheer and Utter Neglect ™ look like they are ready to go into the ground. I will have to find them a place probably near the strawberry patch. Let them shade the strawberries somewhat in summer plus be isolated and away from the location I end up planting out the Purely Promiscuous Tomatoes this year. :+1:

I will probably plant out the top four and just discard the rest as they show weak growth signs under the Sheer and Utter Neglect ™ system.

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Just parking this here to remind me I planted out these sweet potatoes into 10 new mounds randomly across the back garden. I had a tie vine eradication effort last season so I need to remember to not be over zealous and dig up any of these morning glory family relatives!

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I don’t know if I have any orange striped cushaw still alive after the two near freezes that happened late into last month.

But I picked this up to hedge my bets.

These are treated seed so no good for directly sending into GTS but I planted 142 green striped cushaw seeds into my backyard in about 1/3 of the backyard. I hope to start a seed supply going so I can send in some green striped cushaw seeds to add back into any orange striped cushaw seeds to start a mix for Cucurbita argyrosperma Callicarpa Group squash plants at GTS.

Because these are treated seed I did not want to touch them with my bare hands so I used some of my work gloves to plant them out.

All done!

Didn’t even get to use half the packet, I tossed the remaining treated seeds into my seed box in the refrigerator as backup in case needed.

This is the image from Harris Seed for the one I ordered of the fruiting body.

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Here is a piece on Cushaw written by Matt Jones, Master Gardener Volunteer in Chatham County NC.

The Humble Cushaw: Versatile, Easy to Grow, and Keeps Well!

This mildly sweet and meaty winter squash (Cucurbita argyrosperma or literally “silver seeded gourd”) is the equivalent to a talented utility infielder in baseball. It can fill multiple roles easily in the culinary world. It can be used like a normal summer squash and be baked or fried. It can be used like a pumpkin and pureed to make the most delicious pies. It even does a real good job of imitating sweet potatoes. Home decorators may prefer to use it as fall decoration before serving it up at supper. Something for everyone.

Believed to have originated in South America hundreds of years ago, this squash migrated north through Mexico to the southern US and was a staple of the indigenous peoples living there. It is capable of being grown throughout North Carolina and can be grown in zones 3-10 (essentially the entire continental US). A record setting cushaw tipped the scales at 57 lbs. in Ohio, but most fruits are in the 10-20 lb. range, which is still a lot of pies!

Cushaws come in many colors but the most common are green striped, orange striped and white. They like soil that has good drainage, high in organic material, a slightly acidic pH of 6.0-7.0, and at least six hrs. of full sun daily. Moist but not wet soil is a plus for larger fruits.

They are real estate hogs however. I personally have had individual plants occupy 72-144 sq ft. Luckily, each plant supports multiple fruits. It will climb corn or a trellis, but a heavy fruit soon pulls down the corn or gravity may do its thing to the fruit on a trellis.

They can be grown as transplants. but my preference is to direct seed in the garden after the soil has warmed up and all danger of frost is gone. Plant in hills or rows as directed by seed supplier. These plants are open pollinated primarily by insects, so keep similar squash types at a distance, especially if you desire to use this year’s seeds from the squash for next year’s planting.

They are subject to the usual squash maladies of powdery mildew, downy mildew, cucumber beetles, squash bugs and my least favorite insect: squash vine borers. Adequate soil drainage, good air flow, insect pest control, and crop rotation will normally handle the diseases, while hand picking of pests and removal of borers from infected stems is the recommended method of insect control.

It will take approximately 105-120 days to mature. The plant loves the sun and heat but can survive a few light fall frosts (28-32°F) if needed to get fruit to maturity. Pick when you see the stems drying up and full color on the fruit. They an be stored at 50-60°F with 50-70% relative humidity and good ventilation for up to 6 months.

Plant a cushaw and you will be joining the gardens at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood National Park in Indiana in celebrating the oh so humble Cushaw.

Another article: The Curious Cushaw

I have pulled 4 of the GTS Radish plants. They are already throwing up flowering stalks and are forming flowers. After pulling those plants they all were white long radish, spicy, looked no bigger than my ring finger for the largest, the others were just forming and had not developed much thickness. They all look to be daikon like radish but of course these were not developing the roots any more so they got pulled and eaten. :wink:

Quick update.

I planted out all my flowers parked outside in the grow totes system. That took the bulk of my morning time in the garden. Grow or die little flowers!

I planted three best performers of the ten year old mortgage lifter tomato seed plants and culled all the rest. I’ll repurpose the cups of soil to germinate some extra GTS muskmelon seed.

The only plants left in the totes are the GTS purely promiscuous tomato seedlings. If I get time to transplant before my next round of shift work I’ll get them in the ground, otherwise a week from now I’m going to look at planting them.

The GTS radish mix has nearly self selected out the white long forms as they never bulked up and immediately bolted and tried to set flowers. The bulk that are left are red form radishes that are continuing to bulk up both in root and leaves and so far show no signs of bolting so early in the growing season.

I’m seeing first signs of Cushaw germination. Continued germination of my Moschata mix. Watermelon has some signs but still a lot of direct seeded planting holes yet to show any germination. My old packet of Basil seeds that were direct seeds germinated but have been holding at very small stage, I assume to build up more root growth underground before pushing up more leaves.

The two Maxima from old seed that germinated continue to develop, but the squash vine borers are yet to come for those plants and the squash bugs have yet to come in to finish what the SVB doesn’t claim.

The early random seeded water spinach are slowly developing. The main patch of direct seeded water spinach has yet to show signs of germination.

GTS Kale+ both germinating and growing like weeds, exactly like you want you see.

All in all a slow wake up to the forthcoming growing season as it warms up outside.

Parking a 1950’s southern baked Cushaw recipe to try out.

I had some strawberries come in early with the early warm weather. My eldest got to try her first sweet from the plant strawberry versus the giant cardboard flavored things they sell in the supermarket produce stores here.

Unfortunately we are just having the birds move in to our new housing development and they also discovered the strawberries so most of them were completely pecked and destroyed even when green.

So a new project started with the kids involved.

One bag of general construction rocks from the big box hardware store. About 10 rinses and dumping of water to get the dirt off and then 2 soap water rinses and dumps and I had about 70 or so rocks that I dried.

On to the kids training kitchen table when they were young. A 2 ounce 99c container of craft paint (Berry Red of course) and a $3.49 packed of brushes that included one foam brush. I never was good at art so never had proper brushes so I got this pack, but after using the foam brush it worked so well with the irregular shapes and angles on the rocks I would never use anything but foam brushes. So anyone in future save the money and buy the craft bag full of nothing but a variety of foam brushes of all shapes and sizes.

After two coats of Berry Red, I started the two coats of Forrest Green. Here is the first coat going on.

Finally we have the seeds. I gave the kids each a toothpick and with its pointy end dabbed into the last craft paint Salted Caramel (what’s with all the food names in craft paint?) I have various sized seeds so if one does not fool a bird the other one has a chance to fool the bird.

Not shown, I will finish them off with a coat or two coats of clear acrylic spray to give them a bit of shine and a bit of protection. Then I will lay these strawberry rocks out around and touching the strawberry plants. The birds will have 70+ strawberry rocks and a few ripening strawberries to pick from so the odds should be in favor of the birds getting a sore beak and a good sized headache from pecking the stones. They’ll hopefully be trained in a few sessions to ignore the red round things growing in the strawberry section of the garden.

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Moschatas are doing well.

Here by the edge of the onion patch.

Here less so. Each patch has about 7 or more seeds planted in it.

Here where I also have one of my blue passionfruit seeds I germinated last year they are going great.

And then the last patch not as much germination. All seeds are sown directly into the ground in all patches.

“Highlander” – there can only be one Collard plant is in its 3rd year and decided to throw off some seeds once more. This time in massive flushes of fat seed pods in four different clusters, just one cluster shown here in the photograph. It will be a good seed collection season for Collard seed this year.

Green beans and another blue passionfruit plant germinated last year are both playing off each other and shooting for the sky.

The third blue passionfruit seedling and more green beans.

I treat my corn badly. Crowded, grow or don’t grow, whatever. The “Highlander” Collard fell over from the weight of the seed heads and took over half the growing allotment I had set aside for the corn. I am not tending to it, they can fight it out amongst themselves. I’m not growing to eat it so this year is just about putting as much fend for yourself stress pressure on the landrace mix of seed grown last year to let it sort out whose genetics mix with whom and then make it to the next generation of seed. I am only interested in tough plants that can hold there own and fend for themselves. I have a mix of green and red stems at this point.

You can see I still have drastic difference between each seed and its ability to adapt and grow out. Lots of self-deselection will happen this season.

In contrast one upper row of Kale+ mix. Here I have about 80% or greater germination during self sown technique. Still some variation in growth rates but I have very little worries about the Kale+ thriving and making lots of new seed stock for next season.

Irregular length rows of Kale+ mix on the lower section of the garden that but up against the start of a Hügelkultur mound.

Walking back against the fence I noticed the green beans are already starting to flower.

In the GTS radish rows, most of the white stemmed radish bolted and were pulled. Roots were as thin as a toothpick up to a few of them almost as thick as my finger, not much eating on them so they are resting on top of the woodchips and rotting back down into the ground.

In the 10 year old seed Daikon Radish rows I noticed a lot of larvae from Lady Bugs. This one caught my eye as most have a more distinct black and orange coloration while this one looks more tan.

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I did find some photo stock images of this color variation so I am still happy that I see a LOT of lady bug larvae already in the garden, mostly on these Radish plants. That will mean they will be in the general area when the other plants start going and the various pests start increasing in numbers (Aphids, Mealybugs, Scale insects, Whiteflies, Spider mites, Honeydew [Aphids/Scale Insects]).

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Well that was quick.

Just about overnight I went from 2 C. Maxima plants down to 1.

I was done with Maxima in my garden but had 2 that I thought the Squash Vine Borers would have fun destroying this season.

I guess the vine borers got beaten to the punch by squash bugs.

I am not too fussed, I am not buying any more Maxima seeds again so this just gets the spot cleared away for another plant in the garden.

I am wondering what they will do next after the mating party they are having on this dying Maxima. What plant or plants will they hit next. Last year I even found them trying to lay eggs on the Okra :rofl:.

Edit: 2nd Maxima became toast an hour after this post.

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Finishing up the strawberry stone training tool for the birds.

I added two coats of Clear Enamel spray (not acrylic) on each side and now the strawberries are very juicy, shiny and tempting.

Very juicy strawberries ready for the birds to attack tomorrow. :rofl:

10 year old seed Cilantro in the background, and strawberries both are hosting Lady Bug larvae as well as the GTS Radishes.

Life is good!

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Miscellaneous plantings today.

Nasturtium seeds–I have not had one plant yet from that seed packet so I planted the entire packet out into the front garden in different spots. Grow or die little nasturtium seeds. If you are duds then rot into the ground and be food for the plants that do want to grow.

Some more Moschata, I had two GRIN Accessions and some of Vaughn’s best store muskmelon to add to GTS Mix and other seed I had on hand. This time I tossed all the seeds in my mouth for a good bacteria transfer to the seed coats. This is an old grandmothers tale of planting seeds. I never gave it much credence before, but with todays Endophyte knowledge I decided to start trying this for my direct seeded seeds and observe for any differences. I brush my teeth though, so not a lot of bio film to transfer to the seed coats :wink:.

The remaining Egyptian Walking Onions that had small bulbils growing on the seed heads are now weighted down and looking like they are getting to transplantable size time. Unfortunately back to work on 12 hour shifts for the next few days so transplantation will have to wait until this weekend.

So far still no sign from the GTS celery seed planted. And while the beans all seemed to germinate along the back fence, very few cucumbers if any show germination sign planted in the same fence row with the beans.

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After the day long rains I had a quick inspection of the garden to see how it held up. Every single Moschata and Cushaw is covered in Squash Bug eggs. The unusual early warm weather seems to have led to an explosion in Squash Bug population and they are laying eggs on very young plants already. In comparison no Cucumber Beetles or Squash Vine Borer moths seen yet in the garden.

I have not been taking a lot of photos of my front garden which is 100% Experimental, No Watering, No Sprays, No Fertilization garden. All sorts of different researching, ideas, trials are at play in the front garden. Because it is not food I have not brought a lot of photos to share here but I had some on my phone from today so I thought to share them with you.

One of the greatest ironies is that just as with commercial vegetable varieties, the commercial flowers that I buy already as rooted cuttings, plants, or tubers all seem to not do very well in my garden. At the same time Western companies convince just about every gardener that they need to buy a product for everything they do in the garden.

In comparison plants I grow myself from seed all seem the thrive and be strong and do well.

Not everything flowers at the same time so I get a cadence of flowers over the seasons.

Here is Black Hollyhock I grew from seeds. Planted in the same spot are many commercial Hollyhocks already grown out commercially in every color imaginable. I have never seen a single one of them flower.

Here is a side view mish mash of the Smörgåsbord of flowering plants I have in one small part of the front garden. I don’t have the time at the moment to go catalog and photograph everything I am experimenting with but this is a decent enough sampler snapshot in time for today.

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If you have a good eye you saw the Chinese yams, and strawberries tucked away amongst the front garden where “…no vegetables etc. are allowed to be grown…” :wink:

If you have a very very good eye you spotted two tiny nasturtiums germinating.

I also never spray the wasps. The wasps are amongst my best allies in my garden.

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We had very hot, humid, windy, hail up to the size of golf balls and larger, and just last night a tornado that went through the areas a few miles north of us. Let’s see how the garden is doing.


My only Canna Musifolia that grew from seeds I ordered a few years back, died during the false spring then snap freeze at the end of the false spring, now has resprouted and is growing again.


Same with the fig branches I cut off and stuck into the mulch. This fig died off along with the Canna but has regrown now that cold temperatures are long gone.

But lets see how these “commercial” cushaw seeds are doing. 144 or so seeds planted, lots of die off of the seedlings, most seedling are small, refuse to grow, look rather poorly. Fully expected.

144 seeds planted, 2 in each location, the number of plants that survived false spring, freeze, and adaption from “commercial” Ag growing to landrace adaption growing has dwindled to less than 20.

Then we get to those seedlings that start to take off but have delayed a long time before taking off. Here with the expected decorative additions of squash bug eggs.

Then stronger development

And the spotted leaf pattern showing readily on these healthier seedlings.

And finally the one plant of the 144 that shows the strongest growth, but also decorated with squash bug eggs.

Quite a huge contrast from weakest but still surviving seedling to the the most robust.

The 10 year old basil seed seedlings are still growing. Lots of flooding during the hail storm washed a lot of seedlings away. These are those whose roots held on.

The lower planting of GTS Kale+, large numbers of strong plants from this years seed packet.

One of the fig trees after dying back to the ground in the winter.

Running along the fence on both sides are asparagus beans I grew last year. Compared to the first year planting most beans grew into strong looking seedlings. A few poor unhealthy seedlings but the majority grew healthy and strong.

GTS Muskmelon seeds are behaving closer to the “commercial” cushaw seeds as far as seedling health goes.

Similar seedling health.

Some showing slightly healthier growth development.

And then you get the few that show good adaption for this area.

And then thriving.

And even already fruiting.

Moschata mounds, they look healthy. They also have a healthy colony of squash bugs underneath on the stems and leaves sucking on the plant juices.

Mound 1

But so far they keep on growing. In comparison to “commercial” cushaw and GTS Muskmelon most of my moschata are replanted seeds and I had a small handful, around 6 or 7 seedlings that looked unhealthy and didn’t make it, the majority have kept on growing even with the early sqush bug pressure.

Mound 2

Mound 3

Mound 4

Mound 5

Some miscellaneous photos, my phone died in the heat with temperature warning and shutdown until I let it cool down (about 33C out there).

Vaughn Ground Cherry Mix, didn’t have germination success indoors so I took the rest and put them into these cups and left them outdoors, they finally are showing germination sign now that its hot as an oven out there.

My excess carrot and okra dumping area. Surprisingly the dumping area shows better growth than the main planting areas :rofl:

One of this years new projects. Kang Kong, also known in Asian countries as Water Spinach. This is one of 5 seedlings I have and are all dedicated this year to seed expansion for future grow outs.

The okra I have this year is another “commercial” seed. And these are the good seedling photos.

The majority of the seedlings as with the “commercial” cushaw died and didn’t make it or stayed small and look unhealthy such as this one looks.

Not to fear, the strong genetics of the few survivors will breed and grow the future seed expansion for next years grow out. I already did this with my main okra variety I grow and it performed the same, poor germination, survival and growth from the purchased seed. Then second year excellent germination and growth and seedling health from the seed I collected from the first year and grew again.

The final photo on the phone before temperature shut down the phone was my white daikon radishes going to seed. In comparison to the GTS Radish mix where the white radishes were thin as a toothpick and immediately bolted, these are my regular white daikon variety I grow. I am letting them breed with the GTS Radish mix plants (red round variety in the mix) for seed collection this year.

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I knew it was looking like an interesting growing season in Texas. All my favorite YouTube channels in Texas have just about given up on gardening this year. Starting in Houston with large numbers of Leaf Footed Bugs:

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My Houston channel stopped his garden completely and all his videos now are just the occasional cooking video with what limited food he harvested from his garden before wrapping it up.

Up here we have had an early explosion of Squash Bugs which are in the same family of true bugs like the Leaf Footed Bugs above.

Immature forms:

Once in adult form it is impossible to control them, not even pesticides will control the Squash Bugs in that stage.

“Squash Bug Resistant” Moschata mound in the garden:

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Almost everything in this mound is gone. This is the worst hit mound, so far until they migrate in search of new food.

Let’s look at the other Moschata mounds:

Some central damage which is the pattern, this mound is running but the running leaves and vines have adult squash bugs and eggs.

Another Moschata mound running into the Asparagus bed and the Watermelon patch.

Now switching over to the Agyrosperma. 144 seeds planted, planted later than the C. Moschata, these C. Agyrosperma are now down to just 3 surviving plants.

They have had all their plant juices sucked out until the plants collapsed and died.

What survives is mostly very small plants so far overlooked by the hoards of squash bugs.

But as you can see their time is numbered.

But we do have the sole surviving Agyrosperma that started to run, and it has fruited earlier than the Moschata’s even though it was planted later. A possible survival adaptation.

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