It’s Tater Time Again!!

When my son Nathan was here, we planted potatoes in used tires with the sidewalls cut out. Three tires were planted with Red Norland and three tires were planted with Yukon Gold.

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We have an issue with standing water from time to time. Piles of composted tree trimmings were leveled out and covered with weed cloth. The tires were placed and the bottoms were filled with sand. The hardened off potato cuttings were placed in the bottom of each tire on top of the sand. Compost mixed with soil was placed on top of the cuttings to cover the cuttings. Subsequently, composted grass cutting were placed on top.

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I will keep you posted on the continuing results of this Spring project.

Papa

Who Wants to Volunteer?

Larkspur was planted three (3) years ago. The seed pods let go of their seeds and new plants come up every year!!! These self sown plants are an absolute joy!

 

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What beautiful tall plants with flowers of white, pink, lavender and purple. The plants look so fragile yet they are very sturdy! I look forward to seeing them every year.

What volunteers do you have in your growing spaces? What an encouragement that will be!!!

Papa

Spring has Sprung! A Month Early!

Garden peas and sugar snap peas were planted  a week ago! They should be up in about a week.

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Bachelor Buttons, Shasta Daisy, Pansies, Snap Dragons, Marigolds, Foxglove and other flower seed were planted in cell trays. Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower were started as well.

Tomato and Pepper seed will be planted tomorrow.  Full production has started in earnest!

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Flowers have started to bloom. The Crocus and jonquils are showing their lovely blooms!

Watch for more gardening goodies!!!

Papa

Tomato Cuttings Made Easy!

You desire to grow some late tomatoes, but you didn’t start more seed. What do you do?

Take an old shallow container, drill holes in the bottom and root tomato cuttings in vermiculite and water. It’s actually pretty simple. Tomato plants are actually very tough.

Find a container that will hold coarse vermiculite and water ( a plastic dishpan works great!!). Drill several 3/8 inch holes in the bottom of the container. By the way, you may use a large shallow nursery pot as well. Now place about 3 to 4 inches of coarse vermiculite in the container. Water the vermiculite to supply moisture to the cuttings. Allow excess water to drain prior to taking cuttings.P1040429

Carefully take cuttings from desired tomato plants using garden pruners. I have found, the larger the cutting, the easier to root! Place the cuttings in the moistened vermiculite about 3 inches apart. I place my rooting container in the shade to maintain proper hydration of the new cuttings. Usually it takes 10 to 14 days for proper rooting.

You may notice raised bumps or even small roots starting on the stem. These cuttings are the easiest to root.

Look at the results after just 10 days.

Now it is time to pot up your rooted cuttings in large containers to use for transplant in 10 days.

Water the newly potted cuttings and place in a lightly shaded area. Gradually move the pots into more sun light. Plant the potted plants as you would any transplant.

This an easy, effective way to start large, quick growing tomato plants.

Enjoy!

Papa

 

Sweet Peas Blooming! Dahlias Planted, Finally!

Sweet Peas are definitely worth the wait. I walked into the hoop house the other day and was overwhelmed by an incredible sweet fragrance. Whoa!

The range of colors, diversity and the heady fragrance, are quite a combination! This experience is quite a learning curve. The Elegance Mix and Spencer seedlings were started in cell trays using a compost enhanced potting mix. The seeds best germinated at 60° to 65° (F). The seedlings were placed 6 inches apart in a raised bed with plastic netting to allow the peas to climb to a potential height of 8 feet.

Next year I plan to direct seed some of the sweet peas for a comparison. I believe the plants and subsequent blooms will be stronger.

Next up are seedling dahlias. Started in cell trays with well nourished potting soil, cactus flowered and double flowered mixed colors should be a delightful opportunity for our local florists. The amazing fact is dahlias can grow in 120° (F) heat. Originally from Mexico, dahlias are a natural to grow in a hoop house. I am looking forward to a plentiful harvest.

We will keep you posted on our progress!

Papa

 

Spring Has Sprung!!

Plants are blooming early this year in the Missouri Ozarks. Add to that some crazy temperature swings. This morning (Feb. 29) it was 26° and in the 70°s this afternoon.

Papa planted Sugar Ann snap peas in the hoop house.

Check out these veggies growing in the hoop house!!

The Cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage & collards) were started January 29 and are now ready to plant.

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Gardening is such fun!!

Papa

 

Time to Prepare, Time to Sow!

It’s the season to start your spring Cole (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, etc.) and cool season perennial seedlings for transplant. We have snow predicted for today in the Missouri Ozarks. Sounds like a great day to start seeds for March transplants.

Using clean flats and cell trays filled with soil-less potting mix and compost, plant 2 to 3 seeds per cell about 1/4 inch deep. Make sure to label the cell packs or small pots with the date and variety of plant.

Gently water the flats (We don’t want to wash out the seed!). Allow water to thoroughly wet the entire soil profile. Once the water has drained, you may now start to sow the seeds.

I place my seed and cell flats in an environmental chamber constructed from a shelving unit, thermostatically controlled electric heat mats and artificial lights. With this station, the perfect germination temperature and light requirements are met. In addition, plastic domes are a great way to create a humid atmosphere to enhance germination.

Usually cool season transplants require 4 to 6 weeks to reach the proper level of maturity to plant in the ground or other container.

This topic will be continued in the near future!

By the way, I will be attending and presenting at the 2016 Missouri Organic Association Annual Conference in Springfield, MO. The conference dates are February 4 – 6.

2016 Annual MOA Conference

See you there!

Papa

 

Seed Saving Tip

Have you saved seed from your vegetable garden or traded for seed during a seed swap? Have you provided space for them in your spring garden?

Here’s a tip worth your consideration. Find those seeds and start germination testing. Why? Germination of 50% or below should send you to your 2016 seed catalogs for replacements. Doing this now insures you will find the replacements available instead of “out of stock”.

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Save time and money as a low germination rate will require double the seed sown for an expected yield.

An easy technique for germination:

  • Gather paper towels and zip-lock bags
  • Moisten the paper towel
  • For large seeds a minimum of 10 seeds ( ie.: watermelon, gourd, winter squash, summer squash, sunflower, pumpkin, beans, peas)
  • For small seeds a minimum of 25 seeds ( ie.: eggplant, sweet pepper, hot pepper, tomato, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, spinach)
  • Place seed in moistened towel with spacing between seeds and fold towel in half. Be sure to label the bag with the seed name.
  • Place in zip-lock bag and seal.
  • Place the zip-lock bag in a warm place providing temperatures of 70-85 degrees.
  • Check the bag every 3-5 days for signs of germination.The seed coat should be bursting and either a plant shoot should be on the top of the seed and/or a root on the opposite end.
  • All the seeds in the bag should germinate at the same rate of time for the seed type.germination600
  • A 50% germination rate for 10 seeds would be 5 seeds.
  • A 50% germination rate for 25 seeds would be 13 seeds.

Any questions? Do not hesitate to contact me!!

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

 

Papa is Back! Fall and Winter Growing in the Hoop House!

Howdy folks! I am glad to be back. The hoop house is in production for late fall and winter gardening.

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Cabbage, Collards, Broccoli, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Oriental Greens, Radishes and Beets have been started and are on the grow. Higher than average temperatures are making the plants grow faster than I expected. Every season is an adventure.

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Under the row cover, the environment is like an incubator. Germination is slow but sure. Tasty veggies will soon be on the menu!

Leeks for late winter/early spring harvest. Yum!!

Soon, Sweet peas will be grown on trellises on the northern most bed in the hoop house. Hopefully we will have flowers in late winter/early spring.

Using Christmas lights will supplement the heat needed to speed up production in the hoop house. The lights will be strung from the low tunnel hoops just above the soil and ground cover.

Stay tuned for continued updates.

Papa