Thumping a Watermelon for Ripeness

You go to the store to pick out a watermelon, so what do you do?

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Here is my method.

I start thumpin’ the melon with my thumb and index finger or rap it with my  knuckles.

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If I hear a high pitch sound the watermelon is probably under ripe. Plink

If I hear a low pitch sound or dull thud the watermelon is probably over ripe. Plunk

If I hear a pitch between the two sounds the watermelon is probably ripe. Plank

Try this method and watch the other shoppers make amused faces.

Yes, it works.

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Let me know how this method works for you.

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

 

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?

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circling Roots? Get to the Root of the Problem!

Yes, Spring is in the air and the garden centers and box store outside garden areas are filling with trees, shrubs and annuals. You have decided to plant flowering trees, fruit trees and shade trees on your property this year. Is there something you need to know prior to purchasing?

Absolutely!!

1 – Examine the potted tree and see if there are exposed roots or roots circling the tree trunk.

2 – Pull the root ball out of the pot and inspect the root ball.

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3 – Examine the root ball and see if there are roots growing on top of the soil. This is very easy to see.

4 – Are the roots circling around the edge of the root ball?

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5 -If the trunk of the tree  is loose or wobbly in the pot, it means it was grown from a smaller  container where the roots had earlier in development started the circling pattern.

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6 -If any or all of the above are observed/found, do not purchase the tree.

Why?

The tree will never pull out of this growth habit of circling its roots. The roots should be like the spokes of a wheel growing outwards in every direction.

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Consequences of planting a tree with this rooting growth:

1 – A tree never capable of developing strong lateral, supporting roots.

2 – The tree will have to be permanently staked.

3 – In many instances these roots will surface and girdle other roots and the trunk of the tree thus cutting off its life support.

Be wise and be an active observer as you purchase that  flowering, shade or fruit tree you desire for you property.

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Which tree would you choose?

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