A Recipe for Healthy Soil for Your Potted Plants

A simple blend for all potted plants including transplants:

  • A bag of soilless potting mix 2 cu. ft.
    • Benefits: Reduces soil diseases,  balances moisture with good drainage, allows for proper exchange of nutrients
    • Milled Sphagnum peat moss: anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties

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  • Perlite : drainage

perlite

  • Rotted pine bark: allows for drainage

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  • 1/2 cu. ft. weed-free compost: Balanced nutrients

compost

  • Horse manure, composted
  • Cow manure, composted
  • Poultry manure, composted
  • Mushroom compost
  • Mixture of dry grasses and straw composted
  • My “secret weapon” Kelp meal: cold water, dried and ground seaweed,  offering 60 known beneficial nutrients.Plants respond and withstand stress, heat, cold, insect pressure, disease and drought conditions.

kelp meal

  • Mix thoroughly and wet until the mixture makes a loose ball in your hand.
  • I use a wheel barrow and tarp to mix my soil blend.
  • Store in the bags used to make the soil mix or use a covered container of your choice.

Enjoy this mix for all your potting needs. I do.

Papa

 

Seed Saving Garden? What’s That? Part 2

As heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers are losing ground by an estimated 10,000 a year, seed saving has become a race for time and the home gardener has a place in this race.

This information was part of a presentation offered during the fall festival at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.

Pepper-Etiuda-PP192-web07-IMG_3150Purple Basil

Seed Saving for the Beginner

  • Self pollinating annuals

–It is wise to perpetuate only open pollinated, heirloom varieties.

  • Beans, lettuce and peas are easy for seed saving production.
  • Tomatoes – bagging tomato hand (truss) or meeting isolation distances between varieties.
  • Cucumber, okra and melons are insect pollinated. One variety allows for production of true to type seed.
  • Pumpkins and squash should be hand pollinated and kept in a bag or cage until fruit is set.
  • Do not take on biennials requiring vernalization.
  • Do not take on those varieties requiring large isolation distances.

Population Size

  • Seeds collected from a number of plants of the same variety, protects the variety’s genetic diversity.
  • Seeds collected from a number of plants of the same variety, is essential to the health and performance of the variety.
  • Seeds collected in your garden are unique to the changing conditions of you area.
  • These seeds are now a one of kind variety for your special use.

Isolation

  • Goal – produce true to type seeds

–Prevent unwanted cross pollination

  • Isolation techniques:

–Blossom bagging – successful fertilization evidenced by development of  fruit.

Save okra seedTomato seed saving

  • Caging – a physical barrier made of a frame and screen to prevent cross pollination of insect pollinated plants.

seed saving cages 2bf220def13c0a7dd7fe13d3e8f860078seed saving cages 3whole

Garden cages4

Bagging and caging are useful for those who have limited space. The netting or row covers will prevent inadvertent cross pollination by wind or vibration.  Plus, the caging method is a great way to contain pollinators (such as bumble bees and mason bees) to pollinate Cucurbit (cucumbers, melons, squash, watermelons) crops.

Please, I am looking forward to answering any of your questions!!

Papa

Planting Potatoes Made Easy!!

Planting potatoes using the long sprout method (allowing the seed potatoes to develop long sprouts prior to planting) is another way to get bigger yields of potatoes. Irish potatoes are actually modified stems. The longer the stems, the more surface area for potatoes to form. This method produced a tremendous yield of red skinned potatoes.

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I used compost mixed with rotted wheat straw as my growing medium. More rotted wheat straw was added to fill the tire ring.

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Now the sprouts are popping out above the straw.

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Soon I will be adding another tire ring as the sprouts grow longer.

Here is another method of planting potatoes. It is called the trench and hill method. Till your soil and open a trench or furrow. Plant the seed potatoes about a foot apart and hill up the soil, compost and rotted wheat straw over the trench and watch them grow!

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I can hardly wait to experience these blue potatoes!

Papa

Got Squash Bugs? Use Trap Crops!

Ugh, here we go again. Those nasty squash bugs are back! I really wanted to grow zucchini and yellow crookneck. Why waste my time! I hear this over and over again.

Now, there is a solution. Trap Crops!

  • Plants that are planted next to a squash crop to attract pests as either a food source (pollen/nectar) or an egg/larval site.
  • Attract pests to the border areas, where they can be killed. Pests on the unsprayed crop will be reduced.
  • Exploiting the squash bugs special appetite.
  • Intercepting the pest from the edges.
  • Check trap crop three (3) times per week.

Plant Red Kuri squash, Blue Hubbard Squash and Buttercup squash (as a trap crop) three (3) weeks prior to planting summer squash, winter squash, cucumber, cantaloupe and watermelon. The trap crop should be seeded in pots for transplanting, prior to direct seeding squash, cucumber and melons. Monitor for squash bugs to determine if treatment is needed on the trap crop.

Plant Red Kuri or Blue Hubbard or Buttercup squash transplants either surrounding, adjacent, at the four corners or in containers next to the crop.

red kuri blue hubbard

buttercupTrap Crop illustration

Monitor for squash bugs.

squash bug eggs nymphsquash bug nymph

Squash bug adult

Spot spray the squash bugs on the trap crop with a*pyrethrin insecticide. It may be necessary to spray the entire trap crop when the population threshold is exceeded. In other words, the squash bugs have infested the entire trap crop with eggs, larvae and adults.

*Pyrethrin insecticides – Evergreen Pyrethrum Concentrate, *OMRI Listed

PyGanic® Crop Protection EC 5.0 II, *OMRI Listed

* OMRI Listed: The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a national nonprofit organization that determines which input products are allowed for use in organic production and processing. OMRI Listed—or approved—products may be used on operations that are certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.

Caution – You must read the label!! The label is the law!! Pyrethrins will instantly kill any insect that is sprayed. That includes beneficial insects (honey bees, bumble bees, lady bugs, parasitic wasps, etc.). Be very careful!! Remember, squash crops, cucumbers, and melons are dependent upon pollinators to produce fruit.

When you follow these steps you will enjoy a fruitful harvest. Let me know of your success!

Papa

You may purchase the above varieties of squash at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company by clicking on the links below.

http://www.rareseeds.com/red-kuri-squa-hokkaido-/

http://www.rareseeds.com/blue-hubbard-squash/

http://www.rareseeds.com/buttercup-squ/

Decisions, Decisions Buying Packs of Seed!

You’re poring over your seed catalog, looking at seed online or better yet choosing your seed in the seed store. Hopefully, you’ve narrowed your choices. Making a list is a wise way to finally make your decision.

Let’s see what the seed packet says. The description should entice you to consider your options.

  • Title of pack – the variety and color
  • Catalog number, Lot number, amount of seed, cost, sell by date
  • Days to maturity –
    • Direct sowing of  seeds- days from the time you sow the seeds to the time of harvest. i.e. – beets, carrots, beans, peas, kale, lettuce, borage, dill, zinnia, sunflower
    • Transplants from germinated seed – days from time of transplanting into garden to the time of harvest. i.e. – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, tomato, pepper, eggplant, basil, thyme, petunia, snapdragon
  • A more detailed description of variety – color, height/length, weight, health benefit and overall appeal.
  • Detailed planting instructions – seasons for sowing, planting depth, seedling care, possible succession planting (timed, multiple sowing), soil requirements, temperature requirements, moisture requirements.
  • Seed company – pertinent company information

Happy Planting!!!!!

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