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RE: Heirloom tomatos tested for disease resistance (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: corbie on 10.31.2010 at 02:05 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

I just found your forum and might be able to offer some help.I have been working with late blight for the last 40 years and have some relevant observations. Here in Wales, we have wet summers and lots of blight in our potatoes every year. In our Sarvari Research Trust we are selecting new varieties of potatoes for sustainable and low input growing, the Sarpo varieties.

Tomatoes are grown commercially in UK within glasshouses mainly by big multinational companies supplying the supermarkets. Only gardeners and smallholders try to grow tomatoes outside and many lose their entire crop most years. There is clearly a need for varieties that can ripen fruit in years when blight pressures are heavy. Seedsmen in UK offer several blight tolerant varieties and these can be useful in delaying the onset of blight by a few days or even weeks, depending on the season. We have varieties like Ferline and Fantasio from a French breeding programme and Jim Baggett’s Oregon cv Legend.

The thing to remember about the pathogen (Phytophthora infestans) is that many strains exist and these will come and go over the years and what looks like a resistant variety one year can be almost totally susceptible the next year. The blight that hit the eastern states so badly last year was caused by new strains of blight that had not been seen previously. Also the blight strains that you have across the pond are quite different from the ones we have here. This means that a variety that is resistant in one region or country may be susceptible in another. So it is necessary to be vigilant and keep sceening potentially resistant material with the newest strains of blight for the region you want to grow in. The breeder’s work is never done.

And heirloom varieties? These are old favourites which have survived because they have a great flavour or are good do-ers. You often find that some of the old varieties are a bit more tolerant of disease as these are the ones that are easiest to keep going over the years. But it is rare to find any that are highly resistant.

And what other methods can help to control the disease? Glasshouse growers don’t get blight because the plants are kept dry to prevent the “fungus” forming swimming spores on the leaf surface just before infection. This means that if we keep our plants dry by growing them under an umbrella, they will escape infection. I did some trails some years ago to test out the use of polythene cloche “umbrellas”. The results were spectacular. Protected plants remained healthy and gave a massive crop whereas the unprotected ones yielded no healthy fruit.

Another way is to avoid the blight by raising the tomato seedlings early and planting out, initially under cloches to hasten maturity. Many gardeners here use the variety Red Alert because it ripens many weeks before the others, and usually before blight arrives, usually in late July here. Also Red Alert is a fairly weedy looking plant and its sparse foliage means that the fruits are exposed to the air and dry off quickly after rain. Varieties like Legend do far better if plants are severely pruned to keep a minimum of foliage around the fruits.

Another trick is to use a high temperature treatment to cure fruit that are still green but will not ripen as the blight takes over before the fruit is red. In an article I wrote for The Organic Grower (vol. 11) earlier this year “No more green tomato chutney” I describe experiments with fruits that have a latent infection that is not yet visible. These are kept at 40C (104F) for at least 12 hours and then keep in a dry warm spot indoors to ripen completely. Untreated batches of green fruit rapidly developed nearly 100% blight. So if your plants become infected with late blight, it is often best to pick all the fruit and heat treat in an egg incubator or similar before ripening indoors.

Good luck with your growing.


clipped on: 01.29.2012 at 04:43 pm    last updated on: 01.29.2012 at 04:43 pm

RE: Heirloom tomatos tested for disease resistance (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: carolyn137 on 10.29.2010 at 05:23 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Late Blight is a real problem in the PNW and it isn't a foliage disease, it can kill a plant within a week of infection and all you'd see would be a stinking mass of black tissue.

The most up to date varieties with LB resistance are two hybrids developed by Dr. Randy Gardner, formerly of NCSU. I've been distributing seeds for the two hybrids Mountain Magic F1 and Plum Regal F1, seeds from him and with his permission, which have the latest genes for LB incorporated and are better than the genes used for Legend which was bred by Dr. James Baggett at OSU, now retired, but I have no more seeds to give away. And many have reported that Legend isn't all that good in terms of preventing Late Blight (P. infestans)

So where does one buy seeds for the two above hybrids? Bejo seeds in the Netherlands is doing the placement and so far Mountain Magic F1 has been placed with Seedway, about $32 for 100 seeds. There's an outside possibility that Johnny's may carry it and while several of us are in contact with Bejo reps no final decisions have been made and we're led to belive that it depends on how much seed production there was to go around.

The best way I think to help prevent LB is to spray on a regular basis with Daconil. LB can be lethal and there are many many threads here about it if you search, with links to especially the Cornell FAQ links and more.

Of the common foliage diseases the two fungal ones, Early Blight ( A. solani) and Septoria Leaf Spot can nicely be prevented with Daconil but you'd have to use something different for the two common bacterial foliage diseases which are Bacterial Spot and Bacterial Speck.

LB and the two fungal foliage diseases are spread by air as well as in rain, so ensuring good air circulation and composting is not going to help that much as I see it.

YOu certainly can prune off any affected LB leaves ASAP but that isn't a sure fire way to prevent the disease IMO.

YOu can also do as Trudi suggested and contact your local Coop Ext for recs for older varieties, but there wouldn't be any info about LB b'c the major problem with LB started back in about 1990 and 91 with the disease, a new serotype, being imported into the US, not that it hadn't been here before, but it never was the problem it is today.

As to older varieties and disease, I'm an old lady, was raised on a farm where we grew acres of tomatoes and back then there was little to no disease, honestly. And none of the varieties we grew back then in the 40's had any known tolerance/resistance to any foliage diseases and where I live and garden there are no really prevalent systemic diseases , or weren't then, and aren't now, with just some local limited outbreaks.

But do see if your Coop ext suggests anything that they KNOW is tolerant of LB, which is the biggie concern here, and ask them for data. ( smile)




clipped on: 01.29.2012 at 04:34 pm    last updated on: 01.29.2012 at 04:35 pm

RE: I have no new compost this Spring (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: kimmsr on 05.10.2011 at 06:38 am in Soil Forum

What is the level of humus, residual organic matter, in your soil?
What is your soils pH?
What is the nutrient level of your soil?
How well does your soil drain?
How well does your soil retain moisture?
What kind of life is in your soil?
How is the workability of your soil?
Many people do not seem to realize that the seeds from the straw they often use as mulch is just from the plant that the straw comes from, Oats, Wheat, Barley, etc. and that it is not a problem. Small compost piles do not get digested during the winter because there is not enough volume to keep the bacteria that digest the material working, or the material is quite wet and freezes deeply.

start by contacting Cornell Cooperative Extension Service about a good, reliable soil test and then dig in with these simple soil tests,
1) Soil test for organic matter. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. For example, a good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains� too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
to see if your soil is in good tilth.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell soil testing


clipped on: 06.02.2011 at 11:08 pm    last updated on: 06.02.2011 at 11:08 pm

RE: Endless supply of seed envelopes (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: pitimpinai on 02.06.2006 at 08:01 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

Thank you, lblack, Raney & mmcq. I am glad that you are interested in making these envelopes. Making them relaxes me. I hope youll enjoy making them too. They are adorable, practical and cost nothing. In our small way, well take part in recycling as well.

1. Cut paper into a 3 1/2" square, wider if you need a larger envelope. I might make my next batch with a 4" square for larger seeds:
Image hosting by Photobucket

2. Fold the square into a triangle. I forgot all the geometric terms, so please forgive me if the explanation is unclear:
Image hosting by Photobucket

3. Fold the two flaps almost all the way to the base of the triangle:
Image hosting by Photobucket

4. Fold the two corners of the triangle toward the center:
Image hosting by Photobucket

5. Unfold the flaps. Place a piece of tansparent tape over the two corners as shown in the photo above. The envelope will look like this:
Image hosting by Photobucket
Please note the base of the flaps. If the two corners of the triangle are folded a little deeper so that the flaps are not perfectly triangular, small seeds will not leak out.

6. Seeds go in between the two flaps:
Image hosting by Photobucket

7. Fold down the flaps and tape the tip or insert it into the envelope, like so:
Image hosting by Photobucket

I usually fold the squares up to stage 3 on the train to and from work. I do the rest at home where I have more space. It is not easy balancing all my supplies on my lap during the train ride. :-)

Have fun and please let me know how they turn out.


clipped on: 02.14.2011 at 10:20 pm    last updated on: 02.14.2011 at 10:20 pm

RE: Anybody wrap their squash stems to prevent SVB? (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: vikingkirken on 01.27.2011 at 09:54 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum


From what I've read, any small, shallow flowers will work... parsley, dill, cilantro, cosmos, etc.

In my garden, I noticed the most pronounced effect when the flowers were mixed RIGHT in with the squash vs. even a few feet away. Once I started noticing the difference (and figured out that the wasps weren't going to bother me), I definitely loved seeing clouds of them hovering over the flowers!


clipped on: 02.14.2011 at 07:56 pm    last updated on: 02.14.2011 at 07:56 pm

RE: Anybody wrap their squash stems to prevent SVB? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: zeedman on 01.24.2011 at 11:31 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

I'll second Emmers' recommendation of "Tromboncino"; it is highly SVB resistant, and has replaced Zucchini in my garden chiefly for that reason. I slice & freeze the long seedless sections... which is 90% of the squash!

Although I don't grow C. pepo varieties as summer squash, I like to grow others in the same species, such as acorns, or naked-seeded pumpkins. SVB is terrible in my area, and I would get severe losses - sometimes total - without protection. I cover the young plants with floating row cover, burying all edges. When female flowers appear (or when the vines outgrow the cover) I remove the cover. In my area, it appears that the egg laying period for SVB has passed during that time, and there is no infestation. This also cuts down on squash bugs & cucumber beetles... I had no squash bugs whatsoever last year.


clipped on: 02.14.2011 at 07:53 pm    last updated on: 02.14.2011 at 07:53 pm

RE: Anybody wrap their squash stems to prevent SVB? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: vaherbmom on 01.21.2011 at 12:43 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum


Last year I wrapped all my squash and melon stems with aluminum foil. Before wrapping I smeared each one with a Vicks Vapo-rub type ointment. This treatment was suggested to me by another gardener and though it sounded like an old wives' tale it really did seem to work. I eventually lost some of the vines to SVB but it wasn't until the end of the summer, and since i had not kept up with wrapping and smearing the stems, the foil had mostly come off by that time. I had harvested plenty of squash by then so I didn't mind losing the plants at that point, but if this year I want more squash I will try to keep up with the stem's growth. Before this I lost almost every plant to SVB--they are really bad here.


clipped on: 02.14.2011 at 07:50 pm    last updated on: 02.14.2011 at 07:50 pm

RE: Eggplants grow list and why? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: gryffin on 01.24.2011 at 10:32 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

I just asked a similar question and did a lot of online research on new varieties to try. Last year I grew Rosa Bianca which I had grown several times before at my old house. I enjoy it because it seems like it just melts in your mouth.

I chose the following for this year:

Swallow: Several people listed Ichiban as a favorite and this cultivar is supposed to be similar and is recommended by Fedco for my zone.

Pingtung Long: Another oriental type that looks attractive and seems to have lots of good feedback for taste/texture.

Rosa Bianca: Don't want to not grow it unless I find something I like better.

I've read about so many interesting varieties, that I am thinking about making this summer an eggplant trial year and adding two additional varieties:

Ichiban: I found a source for it even though the seed is supposedly no longer in production. I wish I knew just how similar Swallow is supposed to be!

Dancer: An improved version of Neon. I had grown Neon many many years ago and I recall it was a good variety, particularly in northern areas.

I just don't know if I can eat 5 plants worth of eggplant!


clipped on: 02.14.2011 at 07:26 pm    last updated on: 02.14.2011 at 07:26 pm

RE: Looking for eggplant, cucumber, and watermelon suggestions (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: gryffin on 01.21.2011 at 12:50 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

I've decided that I am definitely going to try Pingtung Long- I'll get it from either Fedco or Pinetree depending on what else I decided to order. I'm also going to grow Rosa Bianca again- as an engineer, I need to have a "control" plant to compare to. :)

For the third variety, I am still undecided. Here are the ones on my list:

Listada de Gandia - Some say better than Rosa, others say bland. Later harvest than Rosa, so it could be pushing it.

Ichiban - Lots of great reviews- not carried by my "local" suppliers- will it bear fruit in northern New England?

Thai Long Green - Lots of great reviews, but sounds like it really needs a lot of hot weather.

Lavender Touch, Nubia, Dancer and Rosita - all sound interesting, all sold by vendors specializing in seeds for northern New England.

There are so many choices, anyone care to help me pick? Feel free to suggest something not on my list!

For watermelon, I think I am leaning towards Renee's Garden- they have a mix with Sorbet Swirl orange, Yellow Doll and Tiger Baby. I could put have one of each plant in my hill. The alternative is Little Baby Flower from Johnny's, for which I haven't found as much anecdotal information.

For cucumbers, it will be Green Fingers from Renee's or Rocky from Johnny's.


clipped on: 02.14.2011 at 07:00 pm    last updated on: 02.14.2011 at 07:00 pm

RE: Overwintering rosemary hints...? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: cathy-c Zone 4-5 (Guest) on 07.03.2006 at 11:42 pm in Herbs Forum

I love rosemary - it is my favorite herb. I'm in Upstate NY.

•First I tried to bring it inside under gro-lights but the second winter it died of powdery mildew. It also tends to get leggy from lack of light regardless.

•Then after the next summer outside, the rosemary had grown through the bottom of the pot into the soil, so I tried planting it in the ground and mulching it and putting a plywood "V-tent" over it with burlap around to protect it from weather. I almost killed it since it really needed water and only the one branch peeking out the edge lived! Then it came back for the summer. So the next winter I mulched it, put the plywood V-tent on its side and burlap over the top so snow moisture could get through. In the spring I found it dead since a rodent took refuge in this protected cozy spot and gnawed around the trunk!

• After last summer, in November I took my potted rosemary into my unheated breezeway where there is some indirect light. I figured it would get cold enough to go dormant and protected from weather. It dips to about 10 degrees here, so I was unsure. I watered it sparingly just enough to keep it from completely drying out(about a cup a month). It worked! It stayed green but didn't grow, and I didn't snip any.

• After this summer, in November I will cut about 2" off the bottom of the roots and 2" of the sides before repotting it in the same pot and pruning it back about a third. I'll try to give it enough time to grow back a bit before I bring it in to the breezeway again. It is about 2' by 2' right now.

I hope you have not given up!! You can do it. Good luck!


clipped on: 10.16.2010 at 12:39 pm    last updated on: 10.16.2010 at 12:39 pm

RE: Squash bugs (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: palmclubber on 07.17.2008 at 04:19 pm in Organic Gardening Forum

i,m a garlic farmer, but grow other things too i juice a lot of garlic try to get about 6 oz of pure garlic juice then mix soap, water and cayanne pepper to make about a quart they dont like it at all kills em dead cant seem to find a sprayer that will spray the cayanne particles though so i pour it on them


clipped on: 09.17.2010 at 02:28 pm    last updated on: 09.17.2010 at 02:29 pm

RE: Squash bugs (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: kimmsr on 07.02.2007 at 06:38 am in Organic Gardening Forum

These gals seem to be a continuing problem every year and the usual first thing you hear is be sure to clean up your garden in the fall to eliminate hiding places for the adults, however that also eliminates the potential wintering over places of the predators of the Squash Bugs.
A general very early method of control is floating row covers to keep the early adults off the newly emerging plants, but these need to be removed at blossoms time unless you wish to hand pollinate a lot. Planting an icycle radish next to each squash plant has been reported to help deter the buggers and I have seen some reports that reflective material on the ground below the plants seems to keep them off too.
Other controls, for the larva after they have hatched, would be Bacillus thurigiensis - Kurstaki, Neem Oil sprays, and pyrethrine based sprays and dusts.


clipped on: 09.17.2010 at 02:26 pm    last updated on: 09.17.2010 at 02:26 pm

RE: Best Melons for Zone 5 (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: gardendawgie on 09.03.2010 at 10:38 am in Vegetable Gardening Forum

I found this on the internet.

Diplomat is comparable to our very successful Passport, but tolerant to powdery mildew. The thick flesh has excellent quality and flavor. Nearly a globe, Diplomat is similar to Galia but two weeks earlier to mature. The fruit remains on the vine, so that the stem can be left on the fruit to avoid infection of the blossom scar.

Approximate Days to Maturity: 75
Fruit Size: Globe, 2.25 - 2.75kg (5 - 6 Lbs).
Resistance / Tolerance: Powdery Mildew


clipped on: 09.17.2010 at 01:59 pm    last updated on: 09.17.2010 at 01:59 pm

RE: Best Melons for Zone 5 (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: digit on 09.01.2010 at 12:23 am in Vegetable Gardening Forum

I used to think that Minnesota Midget was the only melon I could grow. Cool nights right thru the growing season limit melon growth but very cool springs are an actual threat.

First of all, I've grown Sugar Baby watermelon a few times. They can be quite good but are also quite seedy.

I discovered Honey Girl Charentais 6 or 8 years ago and it always did well thru some very hot summers. I was absolutely delighted with this melon. Then, we had a very cool June and the Honey Girls, transplanted out at the end of May, died.

The only "trick" with Charentais melons seems to be to pick them at just the right moment. Too early, and they will have little flavor and sweetness; too late, and they will have spoiled. There fragrance is a good indicator of ripeness, for me.

I tried an early cantaloupe several years ago: Sweet Granite. As I understand it, Sweet Granite was developed in the 60's at the University of New Hampshire. Honestly, like the Minnesota Midget, I thought I could do better and tried Fastbreak. Bingo!

This is about the 4th or 5 year that I've harvested Fastbreak and they are very tasty! I had the 1st one of the season today.

Still, that cold June -- most of the Fastbreak melon plants also died. What came thru just fine was the Passport melons. Passport is a Galia melon and I've got ripe ones in my garden right now! They look like they might be a cantaloupe but the interior is very nearly the same as a honeydew.

Last year, I played it too safe and grew only Passport. I went back to a little more variety in 2010 and we had another wet, cold and windy June! Fortunately, the melons didn't die this year. They are a little late but coming along just fine.

New this year is a different Charentais: Edonis. I really hope this one is as tasty as Honey Girl but I'm still waiting for one to ripen. . .

. . . just my 2 on the subject of melons.



clipped on: 09.17.2010 at 01:57 pm    last updated on: 09.17.2010 at 01:57 pm

RE: Killing Brush-Help! (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: Jasper_Storm on 03.19.2005 at 12:31 pm in Woodlands Forum

From the smallest weed to the largest stump, the only correct time to apply herbicide is when the plant is actively growing, and to a surface that will absorb the solution (e.g. freshly cut wood cross section on stump).

When I cut down a tree, I apply undiluted 2,4-D immediately to the top of the freshly cut stump with a brush. If the tree is in a period of rapid growth (i.e. springtime) the stump will rapidly absorb the 2,4-D syrup, allowing several applications. Always wear nitrile or rubber gloves, as
2,4-D is much nastier than glyphosate.

Although this method is "safe", if the herbicide label does not list stump poisoning as an approved use of the product, the company CANNOT legally give advice on this particular use of their product. They will get in big trouble. You could also, so you must do it carefully.

Notice that every label starts with " It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with this label."

P.S. 2,4-D contaminated brushes can be neutralized in a (fairly dilute) solution of sodium hydroxide and water.


clipped on: 08.29.2010 at 11:08 pm    last updated on: 08.29.2010 at 11:08 pm

RE: Plants that do well in the shade? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: booberry85 on 08.17.2010 at 09:04 am in Vegetable Gardening Forum

Here is a list of the more shade-tolerant vegetables. However, some of these don't like a lot of heat.
mustard greens
pak choi
chives (can be invasive)
garlic chives
mint (invasive)
bush beans


clipped on: 08.18.2010 at 08:07 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2010 at 08:07 pm

RE: Do your summer squash last all summer? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: denninmi on 08.10.2010 at 10:17 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

Well, you CAN get them to go a lot longer, but it takes a bit of work. Three things really do them in -- A) disease, especially powdery mildew; B) insects, squash borers and so forth; C) letting them go to seed, not picking soon enough.

So, if you spray them regularly with fungicides and insecticides, be really good about picking them all young, and keep them watered and fertilized, you can keep them producing a lot longer.

HOWEVER, it's actually a lot easier just to plant a couple of batches of them -- you can do an early one, started about a month before your last frost and transplanted, one planted just after the lost frost date, and another planting about end of June/1st of July.

Now,I used to do this some years. But frankly, we get kind of bored of them by late summer, and I've usually put up all I need by that time.

Also, in September, I will usually pick and use the small winter squash and pumpkins as summer squash, since they usually won't have enough time to make mature squash anyway.


clipped on: 08.10.2010 at 11:49 pm    last updated on: 08.10.2010 at 11:50 pm

RE: clay soil (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: borderbarb on 06.14.2010 at 09:54 am in Soil Forum

lovestogo .... The operative word in kimmsr's advice is EVENTUALLY. And it comes wrapped in a lot of sweat. But there is one thing about clay .... once you add the OM and sweat, it will outshine all other kinds of soil.

One thing that worked for my clay/DG-combo was double-digging. In the pathways, I dug [to China]and burried twigs and newspaper etc topped with soil mixed with steer manure then carboard and a thin layer of chopped tree trimmings. Then, for the planting beds, something similar wi/o the twigs and newspaper. At first I used bagged compost combined with the soil. Then used my own compost when it was ready. In a few years, I repeated the same routine in the pathways .... mostly as a way to dispose of tree trimmings too big to mulch ...and the previous stuff had melded into very nice loamy soil. That got put into my raised beds and replaced with more sticks, paper,steer,etc. Well, you get the idea ... dig, and dig some more.

Re: what to plant with clay-busting roots. Swiss Chard worked well for me. The roots go to China, the plant is easy to grow, nice looking, tasty, and unused leaves great on the compost pile.

This link shows the root structure of various vegetables.
You'll note that Swiss Chard roots go down 6'

Here is a link that might be useful: Double digging


clipped on: 06.14.2010 at 10:07 am    last updated on: 06.14.2010 at 10:08 am

RE: Using compost to help prevent foundation damage (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: sandhill_farms on 06.07.2010 at 02:00 pm in Soil Forum

Dogwind - One of the very best irrigation hoses, (systems), on the market (IMO) is Netafim: I've had Netafim drip hoses out in my garden for (10) years and none of them have ever split-cracked or leaked, nor have any of the emitters clogged-up. You may want to check them out if you decide to go that way.


clipped on: 06.10.2010 at 09:36 pm    last updated on: 06.10.2010 at 09:36 pm

RE: How to prepare a garden the year before (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: kimmsr on 06.09.2010 at 12:47 pm in Soil Forum

Start with a good, reliable soil test. Check with your local AgCanada office to see if they will suggest a good soil test lab to do that. Then dig in your soil and do these simple soil tests,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.
2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
which will help you get to know your soil and what needs to be done to start making that a good, healthy soil. Start to work this year on making the soil better so you do not need to rush into that part of planting a garden next spring.


clipped on: 06.10.2010 at 09:30 pm    last updated on: 06.10.2010 at 09:31 pm

RE: Squash frames - seen 'em? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: zeedman on 09.27.2006 at 05:01 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

P.T., I've grown "Zucchetta Rampicante" (a rampant vining summer squash) on a 6' vertical trellis of 6" remesh, and the kabocha squash I grew last year got into several of my 5' remesh tomato cages & climbed aggressively (until the heavy squash pulled the vines down). When I lived in SoCal, I grew Chayote squash on a large _horizontal_ trellis, 6' off the ground.

In previous years, I have grown cucumbers on a setup very similar to what you describe - and I highly recommend it. The cukes were very straight, and easy to harvest.

My recommendation of this method for squash is conditional. Many of the squash that I grow root at the nodes - I try to select varieties that do so, since they tend to yield more heavily & the extra roots are "insurance" against Squash Vine Borer attack. These are generally either C. maxima (kabocha, buttercup, hubbard, banana, and the "trophy" pumpkins) or C. moschata (Zucchetta, butternut, and "cheese" squashes). Both species tend to have longer vines (20 feet for me is not unusual).

If you have the room, any varieties that root along the vine should be allowed to trail. You can train them along a non-shaded fence line, or around the edge of your garden. If your space is limited, you may wish to trellis; but be aware that if you have SVB in your area, the vines will be vulnerable to total loss if attacked by SVB (C. maxima in particular).

The teepee method sounds good, but for C. maxima & the more rampant butternuts (such as "Tahitian", which I recommend for your climate) I would recommend dimensions larger than those described - at least 5' wide (the widest remesh width, standing on end) and 5-6' apart, and as high as you can reach. Some home improvement stores sell precut 6-inch remesh in 8' lengths, and I would consider that to be the minimum size for a side. Even at this size, with one plant at each corner, the larger vines will overrun it; so for the larger varieties, 10' width (2 remesh pieces, side-by-side) would probably be more appropriate.

Remember that you will need to provide additional support for the squash as they become larger, so allow yourself room to get underneath. Mesh bags (such as onion bags) and cheesecloth are both excellent for this purpose.

One last note... I always recommend Chayote squash, for anyone who lives in SoCal. It is an aggressive climber that _must_ be grown trellised. I grew it when I was there, and if you have the space to dedicate to it (it is a _perennial_) you will be richly rewarded. You can search other GW threads for more info.


clipped on: 06.03.2010 at 01:11 pm    last updated on: 06.03.2010 at 01:11 pm

watering (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: violet_z6 on 06.06.2006 at 07:21 pm in Asian Vegetables Forum

There are two schools of thought on watering. Frequent shallow waterings or less frequent long, deep waterings. The general rule of thumb is that mature plants need 1-2 inches of rain per week in summer. You should provide whatever portion of this moisture is lacking. One inch of rain equals 65 gallons per 100 square feet of garden space. But this is just a guide. Time of the season, stage of the plants, soil composition, and many other factors affect the amount of water required.

Mulched plants require less water than plants that are not mulched. Raised beds require more than non-raised beds.

If a good amount of compost is incorporated into the soil, less water is needed. Compost holds 6 times it's weight in water.

Watering too frequently and too heavily is just as hard on plants as too little water. Roots require oxygen just as much as they require water and nutrients.

Dry winds dehydrate plants.

Cooler temps require less water.

Those using drip irrigation whether from a soaker hose or milk jug are likely getting the best use of their water which is going right where it needs to go and the ground has time to absorb it.

There are many, materials you can mulch with. Avoid hardwood mulch, dyed mulch, and cypress mulch. Mulch is also fantastic for your garden soil because it adds organic matter over time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mulching Your Vegetable Garden


clipped on: 06.03.2010 at 11:55 am    last updated on: 06.03.2010 at 11:55 am

RE: Al's Mix and enhanced Calcitic Lime (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 05.24.2010 at 09:13 pm in Container Gardening Forum

Hi, Michele. I think you would do better if you used a lime product that contains a fraction of Mg equal to 1/4-1/3 that of Ca. Garden (dolomitic) lime will do this nicely, and it's not very expensive.

I'll let you decide what you should use as a fertilizer, but I can't think of a case where it would be to your, or your plants' advantage to use a fertilizer for containers with the middle number higher than the first or last (N or K) numbers. I understand if you would rather use a fertilizer that says 'organic' on the label, but delivery of nutrients from organic soil amendments (like your fertilizer) in containers is erratic and unreliable. If results and simplicity are your primary focus, I would suggest a soluble fertilizer like MG 24-8-16 or 12-4-8, or Foliage-Pro 9-3-6. If staying 'organic' is more important, it's kind of a learn-as-you-go affair.

No matter what you do, we all wish you lots of success & satisfaction with the fruits of your efforts.



clipped on: 05.30.2010 at 10:27 pm    last updated on: 05.30.2010 at 10:27 pm

RE: Planting in compost (Follow-Up #23)

posted by: jonhughes on 05.25.2010 at 08:02 pm in Soil Forum

Check out my video's on how I built the raised beds (9 of them /one minute apiece) and if you have any more questions ,please ask ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Raised Beds by Jon (see all 9 short videos ;-)


clipped on: 05.28.2010 at 07:38 am    last updated on: 05.28.2010 at 07:38 am

RE: Planting in compost (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: marquette on 01.13.2008 at 06:19 pm in Soil Forum

Here's the link that was omitted above. Hope Ceresone in the Ozarks finds the information he/she's looking for and comes back. Hint, hint..... ;-)

Another comment to the hotbed method: it really extends the season several months. I'd love to try it but need a way to transport the manure from there to here.......

Here is a link that might be useful: Swedish hotbed: composting and veggie cultivation


clipped on: 05.28.2010 at 07:37 am    last updated on: 05.28.2010 at 07:38 am

RE: plastic container safety (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: drayven on 04.20.2010 at 12:16 pm in Frugal Gardening Forum

As someone who is about to start using cheap containers myself I just learned some of what you are asking.
It sounds like you have type 1 plastic which is PET (polyethylene terephthalate).
This is the same plastic used to make soft drink bottles.
It is considered food safe. That being said no plastic is considered food safe once poisonous chemicals have been stored in it. If it is new than no worries.
If you were actually storing the food in the container or using it to brine then the current favorite is Type 2 HDPE (high density polyethylene) since it is even more stable.
For gardening a doubt there is any difference since the food is not in direct contact with plastic and even if it was we are talking about only a few parts per billion difference.
The smell you describe is a common complaint. The link below will give you more info on the different plastics, ways to identify them, and even instructions to get rid of the smell.
Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plastics explained


clipped on: 05.24.2010 at 12:56 pm    last updated on: 05.24.2010 at 12:57 pm

RE: adding compost to window boxes? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: nygardener on 05.16.2010 at 10:05 am in Soil Forum

I find that mixing worm castings, bone meal, and a little greensand into potting soil adds enough slow-release, organic nutrients to last a season. Adding the same mix in successive years, together with potting soil to replace the lost volume, keeps it growing for five years or more.

There is a huge difference in the quality of purchased potting soil mixes, though. Some seem to be 95% peat and are next to impossible to wet if allowed to dry out. Others, like Hyponex, seem to be mostly sand, are very heavy, and become very compacted; I have found it to be pretty useless. My favorite is Ocean Forest soil from FoxFarm.

Also, if you let soil sit outside in closed bags for a year, or in a closed trash can, or in an unused planter, it can "sour" and develop a musty smell. If this happens, chuck it, hose out and scrub the planter, and use new soil.

Whether garden compost will work as an additive depends on the quality of your compost. I'd try it, but a third of your mix is a bit much. Top-dress one of the planters with a few inches of your compost and compare the results for the season to others that use products from the farmer's market or nursery.


clipped on: 05.21.2010 at 06:31 pm    last updated on: 05.21.2010 at 06:31 pm