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

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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

Questions About Biological Worm Spray (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki)

I get many questions regarding the use of biological caterpillar (worm) spray. There are many misconceptions about how this valuable tool is used. Let’s clear the air! Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki or Bt was discovered back in 1901. The name of the bacteria was given in 1911. I’ll not bore you with the rest of the history.

Suffice it to say, due to the use of synthetic pesticides, many were concerned about the toxicity and environmental issues. Fast forward to the 1980s. Bt became essential as an alternative to toxic pesticides. The effectiveness of Bt is remarkable to say the least. The bacteria with its crystalline toxins attack the gut of caterpillars and destroy the creature from within. When used on a frequent basis, it is almost 100% effective. It is totally safe for humans, pets, birds, fish, pollinators and beneficial insects. Bt may be sprayed up until the time of harvest!! Bt is no longer viable or effective after continued exposure to ultra-violet light and water.

The greatest misconception involves the insertion of the Bt genetic material into the seed germ. The Bt GMO* ready corn or potatoes has Bt as an internal mechanism to kill caterpillars. The agri-business companies use other genetic materials (from other bacteria and viruses) to potentiate the Bt gene. This really is scary stuff!!!

The externally sprayed Bt material is completely safe. It is not systemically part of the plant. Whereas, a Bt GMO* ready crop has the insecticide in all parts of the plant. This GMO creation was made for convenience and to save money. No one can say for sure what are the long term effects!!!

I started using Bt in 1978. Up until that time, my broccoli plants were full of caterpillars. I remember being served some broccoli, only to find dead worms on my plate. Ugh, nasty! Once I used Bt, there were no more worms!!! It really does work!! Plus, it is very cost effective and safe to the environment.

*GMO – Genetically Modified Organism – “A GMO is a plant or animal that has been genetically modified through the addition of a small amount of genetic material from other organisms through molecular techniques. Currently, the GMOs on the market today have been given genetic traits to provide protection from pests, tolerance to pesticides, or improve its quality. Examples of GMO field crops include Bt-potatoes, Bt-corn, Bt-sweet corn, Roundup Ready soybeans, Roundup Ready Corn, and Liberty Link corn.” University of Kentucky Entomology

Papa