Calling All Organic Gardeners and Producers!!

February 4th through the 6th is the 2016 Missouri Organic Association Annual Conference, University Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, Springfield MO. Those attending will be from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and Kansas.

University Plaza

2016 MOA Annual Conference

The topics will include: Grain production, Livestock production, Commercial  Vegetable production, High-tunnel small fruits and vegetable production, Sustainable living skills, Culinary and medicinal plants, and a whole lot more!

The “Top Chef competition”, featuring 6 of the premier chefs from St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia, scheduled for Friday, February the 5th, is by now a tradition of the MOA Conference.

One of the surprises prepared for this year is the “Consumer Health Education Seminary”, scheduled for Saturday, February 6th and open to the general public. The discussion will focus on organic foods and their connection to a healthy diet and balanced nutrition. The session will be presented by dietitians and medical physicians and will include definitions and discussion regarding “health food terminology”. Our guests will learn about the difference between organic, non-GMO, natural foods, free range, cage free, etc.

I will be one of the speakers on Thursday, February 4th. My topic will be “Making a Seed Saving Garden” from 11 am to 12 pm.

2016 MOA Annual Conference

This will be my third year attending this incredible conference. This is a well organized conference including friendly vendors and volunteers, relevant topics of the day, organic meals as well as a beautiful conference center and hotel with free parking.

Hope to see you there!!

Papa

Advertisements

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.

P1030984           P1030991

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.

P1030981

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

Floating Row Cover Saves the Day!!

Frost warnings were issued October 16th. Floating row cover saved our crops from cold damage and frost.

Three days ago we had a freeze in the Missouri Ozarks. Floating row cover saved our zucchini, green beans and zinnias from disaster.

P1030899P1030900

Check out the harvest after the row covers were removed from our green beans and zucchini!

P1030901

P1030904     P1030905

After the row covers were removed our zinnias remain in wonderful condition. There are plenty to cut and additional side shoots are on the way!

P1030908 P1030909

P1030910P1030914

The bees and butterflies are enjoying the flowers too!!

Row covers will extend the growing season up to 2 – 3 weeks!!!  Air and moisture pass through the covers while providing protection from the cold weather and frost.

So, invest in floating row cover, extend your fall harvest and enjoy the fruit of your labor.

Papa

Question and Observation About Saving Seed.

Nathan writes, “Why do you need to put bags on your veggies if you want to get their seeds?”

Great question!

  • First and foremost, blossom bagging is an excellent way to prevent pollinating insects from cross pollinating varieties from which you want to save seed.
    • The netting material is a physical barrier to insects that are drawn to the flowers of vegetables that you intend for seed saving.
    • This method is preferred where one has limited space and resources.
    • Air and moisture is allowed to pass through the netting to maintain a healthy environment for the subsequent fruit to be used for saving seed.
    • Online horticultural supply distributors and high end garden centers will be your resource for the net bags.
    • Reba writes, “I’m growing 5 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in my garden this year. I was planning to save the seed but now realize I have a bit more prep to do in order to make that possible. If I saved it now there would be cross pollination between all the varieties. Thank you for making this more clear. Next year I’ll be ready!”
  • There are two (2) types of flowers for tomatoes. It is important to know the distinction between the two.
  • Inserted stigma: the female part of the flower is encased inside the anther cone in the center of the flower.
    • inserted stigma You will notice in this picture a small hole in the tapered tube (corolla tube) in the center of the flower. The stigma (the female receptive part of the flower) is inside that small hole. The stigma is protected in the corolla tube which makes it unlikely that the flower will be cross pollinated.
    • Most tomato varieties have this blossom structure.
    • Blossom bag around the blossom cluster if garden is small and isolation distances cannot be met. (10 – 20 feet is the required isolation distance between tomato varieties)
    • Normally, 10 plants are sufficient to save adequate amounts of seed. However, you may only have space for a few of each variety you choose to save.
      • Under the above circumstances you will have to blossom bag all the blossom clusters to garner adequate seed supplies.
    • Blossom Bags may be purchase online or at horticultural supplies and high end garden centers.
    • Blossom Bagging of Tomato
  • Exposed stigma: the female part (stigma) of the flower is outside the anther cone in the center of the flower.
    • exposed stigma
    • In this picture you will see the stigma is clearly protruding out of the corolla tube. This type of flower is very susceptible to cross pollination from other tomato varieties.
    • Potato leaf and black/purple varieties of tomatoes have this blossom structure.
    • Caging is the preferred method if the garden is small and isolation distances cannot  be met. The use of floating row cover (similar to dryer sheet material) will absolutely insure there will be no cross pollination from other tomato varieties. The floating row cover will allow for air and moisture to pass  freely to the caged plants. (20 – 50 feet is the required isolation distance between tomato varieties) Ten (10) plants are the requirement for saving seed from your caged tomato plants.
    • Floating Row Cover may be purchased online from horticultural suppliers or high end garden centers.
    • seed saving cages 3whole     seed saving cages 5bce525c5436aa03bad5992585ea16d21-001

And to all a good night!!

Papa

Floating Row Covers? Let’s Learn How!

I just uploaded a new video documenting how to make and install floating row covers.

Supplies you will need:

  • Rebar – 3/8″ x 10′, cut into 5 – 2′ lengths
  • Electrical PVC – 1/2″ diameter pipe x 9′
  • Floating Row Cover fabric
  • Angle Cutter or equivalent for cutting lengths of rebar
  • Hack Saw or PVC Pipe Cutter
  • Gloves and Safety Glasses

Low tunnels using floating row covers is of great benefit  for several reasons.

  • Floating row cover is a light weight, breathable fabric that allows air, moisture and sunlight to pass through the material.
    • There are various fabric weights to meet different needs.
      • Agribon 15 is lightweight fabric that is used for insect protection and shading.
      • Agribon 50 is a heavy cloth used for freeze and frost protection. This cloth will protect a crop down to 26° (F)
  • Insect protection – when properly sealed, insects cannot penetrate the covering which protects the crop from damage and disease.
    • Problem insects such as Japanese beetle, squash bugs, squash vine borer, cucumber beetles and flea beetles are blocked from doing their usual mayhem.
  • Isolation chambers – Low tunnels are ideal for seed saving of crops such as squash, pumpkin, melons and watermelons. Bumble bee hives may be inserted at one end of the enclosure to insure proper pollination. Plus, there is not a chance of cross pollination. You may grow several varieties side by side. That is a huge advantage.
  • Season extension – row covers placed over a crop will allow for early planting by trapping 2° – 8° (F) higher temperature. Likewise using a row cover late in the season will protect the crop from early frost. By using this method you can easily extend your growing season by one month!!!!
  • Hoop houses, high tunnels and greenhouses – row cover gives added protection and benefits the grower with lower fuel costs. The insulatory value of the row cover will block some of radiant cold that may damage a crop.

This is another method and tool for your gardening arsenal!!!

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

Leaf Miner, huh? What’s a Leaf Miner?

Jan  My organic garden plague is leaf miners! Suggestions?

I get this picture in my mind of a small creature with a miner’s hat and a pick. In reality, they are the larvae of a fly that burrow through leaves. Usually the damage is not aesthetically pleasing. However, if left unchecked, leaf miners can cause major damage.

Here are some solutions:

  1. Monitoring – kill leaf miner larvae in the leaf if possible.
  2. Nutrition –  a healthy plant has thicker, healthier leaves. Plus, biochemically, the plant is not as appealing to the leaf miner.
  3. Floating Row Covers – creates a mechanical barrier that keeps the leaf miner fly away from the crop.
  4. Parasitic Wasp – Diglyphus isaea is a parasitic wasp that prey on the larvae of the leaf miner fly.
  5. Neem Oil – Neem Oil may break the life cycle of the leaf miner larvae to keep them from growing to maturity.

Getting rid of this pest takes diligence!