What’s Happening?

Introducing our newest family member – Oakley (who doesn’t like her picture taken!) She is quite the lady and has started learning the skills of country life.

 

We like our birds!!!! A small showing of our “regulars”.

 

Hoop house growing! The spinach and cabbage remain delicious!

 

Let’s not forget Miss Kitty, our tomato transplant supervisor. As quick as the transplants were re-potted, she would playfully paw them out of the pot. She is a very curious kitty!!

 

Papa presenting at the Wabash Valley  Master Gardener Spring Conference in Terre Haute, Indiana. The topic , “Starting a Seed Saving Garden”. This wonderful group of dedicated Master Gardeners is very active in their community. Kudos to all your community service projects!!

Wabash Valley Master Gardeners

 

Spring  flowers are cheerful! It is a delight seeing colors once again! Real “eye candy” for the soul.

 

Papa

8 Steps for Successful Tree Planting

Now that you have selected a flowering, shade or fruit tree let it give you years of pleasure by following these steps.

1- Location is essential for flowering, fruit bearing and shade trees.

  • Full sun.
  • Preferably well drained soil.
  • Irrigation source.
  • Right tree for the planting site. Where do you desire shade for cooling properties and where do you want full sun during the fall and winter months?

Tree-planting

2 – Spacing of the tree in relation to buildings and other trees and plantings.

  • Flowering trees: refer to the tag or your local county extension/Master Gardener.
  • Shade trees need a very wide spacing due to shading capacity of the tree and its shape.
  • Fruit trees are planted depending on their characteristic. Does the tree selected require a pollinator tree?  Early, mid-season and late-season fruit bearing trees may each require a season specific pollinator. Your local county extension/Master Gardener will be helpful in your selections.
    • Standard should be planted 25 feet apart.
    • Semi-dwarf should be planted 12 to 15 feet apart.
    • Dwarf should be planted 8 to 10 feet apart.

3 – Make sure the planting site is free of overhead/underground utilities, structures and easements.

4 – Now you are ready to plant.

5 – Dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball and doubled the width of the root ball. Notice the tarp? This is the best way to save the soil you have dug plus it makes for an easier clean-up.

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  • This is the time to add soil amendments such as compost, peat moss, kelp meal, bone meal , sand, etc. These amendments should fill the hole 1/3 to 1/2, mixed with the existing soil. The amounts will vary depending on the size of the root ball.

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  • This establishes a good root system and enhances the transplanting thus reducing stress to the tree.

6 – When placing the root ball in the ground make sure it is 1/2 inch to one [1] inch above the ground level. Planting above the ground level allows for the settling of the root ball.

 

  • Where the trunk of the tree meets the root system is called the root flare. This juncture needs to be 1/2 to one [1] inch above the ground level.

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  • This step is crucial for a successful tree planting and continued growth and development of a healthy tree.

7 – Back fill and make a moat around the perimeter of the  hole with the dirt dug from the tree planting. This moat will act as a reservoir and capture water thus reducing run-off and enhance the growth of the tree roots. This insures the tree receives proper moisture.

 

8 – The use of mulch is up to you.

  • If mulch is used, do not place the mulch against the base of the tree.
  • The base of the tree may respond to this mulch as soil and may stimulate root growth above the tree flare.
  •  See the possible results from “volcano” mulching. Notice the rotted tree flare. Besides it looks dumb!!!!!

It is important to stick to these steps for a tree you will enjoy for years to come.

Papa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need a Garden Planner?

A friend of mine has created an easy to use Garden Planner.

Why would I recommend this helpful tool?

If you are like me, it is good to use a planting schedule to keep on course.

Clyde has created a tool helping you visualize your planting dates for Spring and Fall planting.

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Visit his website Clyde’s Garden Planner

Watch the video on the website as Clyde explains this valuable tool.

This planner is well worth the investment.

Papa

For Fast Cabbage Try Greyhound!!

For a sprint to the finish line try Greyhound (Ersterling) cabbage. Just 63 days for this heirloom variety from transplant and you will have lovely pointed head cabbages.

Eaten raw or cooked, this cabbage has a light sweet taste. Cold or hot weather will not stop this cabbage from performing its’ best. Greyhound did well grown in my hoop house. Plant it spring or fall. This one is a winner!

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Aren’t they pretty!

Papa

Papa is Published!

What a pleasure! The Heirloom Gardener magazine has published three of my articles. The 2016 Spring edition has highlighted the Etiuda orange bell pepper, Red Express red cabbage and Hilton Chinese cabbage.

Heirloom Gardener Spring 20161A

I am currently writing two more articles which may be in the Summer 2016 issue. I look forward to writing more articles for various other venues.

If interested, the magazine may be purchased online, Whole Foods, Home Depot and Barnes and Nobles.

Stay posted!!

Papa

Sweet Peas for the Sweet!!!

Now is the time to start Sweet Peas for winter and early spring production. Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are members of the legume family Fabiaceae which hail from Southern Italy, Sicily and the Aegean Islands.

Henry Eckford of Scotland is responsible for the incredible crosses which produced many of the famous heirloom varieties known today. The noted beauty and fragrance is a direct attribute of the careful breeding by Eckford in the late 1800s through 1906. The breeding production of today focus on stem length and lasting abilities of cut flowers.

Sweet Peas require scarification (nicking or abrading the seed coat to enhance seed germination). Warm water soaking of the seeds may also enhance germination.

Use a nail file or nail clippers to nick the seed coat. The nicking or “chipping” will speed up the germination process. By the way, this is a tedious process. Make sure you give your self plenty of time to keep on schedule for your planting area.

Planting in large cell packs or 4″ pots for transplants is a proper way to plant exactly where you desire. Start the process by using a soiless soil mix with generous compost added. Make sure the soil is adequately moist and plant the seed 1″ deep. I usually plant two seed per cell or pot. Once planted, water in the cell packs/pots and place where the soil temperature is  65° to 68° (F). I know that sounds pretty cold but that is what sweet peas prefer.

The correct germination temperature will insure proper germination in 7 to 10 days. When most of the seeds have germinated move the seed flats to a much cooler area (45° to 55° (F)). A mildly heated greenhouse, coldframe or hoop house will do the trick. Sweet pea seedlings can take it down to 32° (F). The added benefit is stronger and cold tolerant seedlings.

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Sweet peas may be bothered by aphids when planted outside. The aphids spread disease and stunt the plants and subsequent production. The other area for concern is powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is caused by too much shade and poor air movement. Watch cultural practices (such as full sun and planting further apart to provide air circulation) to prevent the scourge of this pernicious disease.
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Be careful with sweet pea seeds! They are toxic for consumption. If you have small children the seeds could be enticing!

I will keep you posted on future development.

Papa

 

Further Adventures of Chile de Árbol!!

I harvested the Chile de Árbol early in November. They are drying nicely in my Rock Room. Recycling cardboard flat boxes for drying racks is a worthwhile pursuit. The tall “trees” I cut back to 8″ in the hoop house. I covered the plants with several layers of row cover to overwinter.

These giant tree chilies grew 7 feet tall and produced a good crop of 3″ to 4″ Bird’s Beak or Rat’s Tail chilies.

 

These peppers are not as moist as some varieties. Therefore, they dry exceptionally well.

The next step is to store in a dry place for further use plus I want to try my hand at making ristras.

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Stay tuned! Have a spicy day!

Papa