The Joy of Fall!

The Fall season is my favorite time of year! Leaves changing color, final summer harvest and cool, delightful weather. The Fall mums are in bloom. Time to enjoy!

I almost forgot, beautiful sunsets!!!!

There’s more to come.

Papa

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Miss Kitty on a Heatmat!!

I suppose everyone knows cats love heat. Miss Kitty is no exception. Check out her cute pose while laying on a 70° heat mat. Miss Kitty shares her room with my environmental germination station.

Stay tuned for more adventures with Miss Kitty!

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

 

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

Little or No Flower Heads On my Broccoli! Huh?

I’ve grown broccoli for the last two years and all I get are huge plants with either little or no flower heads. What seems to be the problem?Broccoli

Timing is key!! Broccoli likes to stay cool.

Causes of no or poor flower heading:

  • Alternating periods of abnormal high temperatures followed by abnormal low temperatures stresses the plant  and causes heading to come to a complete halt.
  • Stress brought on by drought or inadequate moisture.
  • Excessive nitrogen can cause huge healthy plants with little or no head production.
  • Transplanting too late with root bound plants will keep the broccoli from heading.
  • Transplants when exposed to temperature of 40 degrees and below for 1 – 2 weeks triggers heads to form too early or not at all.
  • Transplants not properly hardened off will be stressed and perform poorly. https://papasgardens.com/2015/04/24/what-does-it-mean-to-harden-off-seedlings/
  • Overcrowding results in either little or no head formation due to competition for adequate water and nutrient.

Prevention:

  • Proper timing of transplanting for your specific area. Your County Cooperative Extension Service will supply the dates for planting.
  • Proper planting of transplants 2 feet apart.
  • Even supply of moisture. Drip irrigation is best.
  • Balanced nutrition/fertilization. Avoid excessive applications of nitrogen.
  • Proper hardening off of transplants.
  • Cover planting when temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Low tunnels with floating row cover or cloches will provide protection. Drawing low tunnels
  • plastic-bottle-clochesPlant in Fall.
    • Decreased pest pressure.
    • Plants are usually stronger. The flower heads are bigger.
    • Plants grow better into cooler weather.
    • Sow seeds for transplants 10 – 12 weeks before first frost.
    • Set transplants 2 feet apart for extended season planting.

Broccoli are sensitive to their environment. When treated with care, they will reward you!

Papa