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RE: Cucumber Beetle Solutions? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: anney on 04.08.2010 at 07:28 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

Jim

That thread seems to have disappeared into outer space along with hundreds of others because of the problems GW has had with its software.

Maybe the three links below will be useful until I can do an update.

This link lays out the principles for devising a lure for cucumber beetles along with a poison of some kind that will kill them when they feed on the lure: Cucumber beetles "Bitter End". The lures attract and the poison kills only cucumber beetles, no other insects.

In the past I used Sevin in cups as the insecticide along with a mixture of tayuya powder as a cuke beetle lure, ordered from the internet. It worked very effectively, and even though the Sevin never went into the garden or on the plants, some people wanted another beetle killer that was not as potentially poisonous to the environment. Red dye #28 has been successfully used as an insecticide that works on cucumber beetles, as the first article discusses. It is phototoxic to the beetles and kills them in a matter of moments after they've fed on the lure impregnated with the dye. The dye is sometimes used as the red color in dental disclosing tablets and can also be bought in its pure form, though it isn't cheap.

Since any number of cucurbits are very attractive to cuke beetles, the following link is useful because it contains a ranked list of plants that attract cuke beetles and can be used as a lure: Cucumber beetle ranking of cucurbits.

This year I'm trying Caserta zucchini squash, and those who are interested in trying to eradicate the beetles this way can use any of the cucurbits as lures that are ranked high for beetle attractions. Just cut the fruits and impregnate them with the dye in some form or with the Sevin. Just be sure to set the fruits on something in the garden that will protect the soil from exposure to the Sevin. If you use the dye, you don't even need to worry about that.

The lures should be placed first into the garden, somewhat away from the curcurbits (cukes, melons, squash, etc.) that you want to keep the beetles from.

You should also note that NO insecticide will kill every one of the pests you're aiming for. You just want to keep them under control enough that they don't decimate your crops. So if you see a few of the beetles and are afraid the process isn't working, they may have just flown in from elsewhere. They tend to fly northward high in the air, and unless you already have them in your soil or in the vicinity, they'll probably find your garden.

And just for information... This link claims that cuke beetles do not seem to be a problem when gardens are grown in sandy soils: Cucumber beetles & sandy soil. Some people in coastal areas don't have any problems with them at all!

As I say, I'll do an update on the process, though it's too bad that the other posts were lost. A number of people had discussed how they handled the lure-poison principles and how it worked or didn't work for them. Most used clove oil as the lure, which attracts only female beetles. I suspect other lures are more effective.


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clipped on: 04.08.2010 at 11:05 pm    last updated on: 04.08.2010 at 11:07 pm

Be a plant P.I. (very long post)

posted by: tapla on 12.26.2009 at 03:04 pm in House Plants Forum

Be a Plant P.I.

I have been intimately involved in many forms of container gardening and in other plant-related pastimes for more years than I usually care to admit. Fortunately, as the years mount I have also grown increasingly proficient at being able to maintain increasing levels of vitality in the plants I tend, and at helping others do the same. As you might expect, I attribute a large part of that to both my continuing studies and accumulation of practical experience, but I also feel the systematic way I deal with plants that are showing symptoms of stress or steady decline is one that you might find to be of value. When I initially share the framework, it is entirely possible you may think it too simplistic, but after I flesh it out a little, I hope you will discover you have been left with another way of looking at plants that becomes as useful a tool to you as I have found it to be.

Sick plants are stressed plants. Stress is a condition that can be caused by interference in the plants ability to manage or allocate energy in the manner it normally would, or by the plant operating at or near its genetically programmed limits. Stress is reversible, but if unchecked will lead to strain, a much more serious condition. Strain causes injury and is not a reversible condition.

You may notice in this and other writings, my regular use of the term vitality. It is actually a plants vitality that we can hold sway over, not its vigor. Vigor is constant. Mother Nature provides every plant its own, predetermined level of vigor by building it into each plant. Vigor is the genetic potential every plant is encoded with, and its measure is the plant's ability to resist stress and strain. Vitality, in contrast, is variable - a dynamic condition that is the measure of a plant's ability to cope with the hand it's dealt, culturally speaking. A good way to look at the difference between vigor and vitality is to look to genetics for the level of vigor and to things cultural for the plants vitality. It's up to us to provide the cultural conditions that will ensure our plants' vitality. Vigor and vitality are distinctly different, and a good case could be made that they are unrelated, but there is no need to delve deeper into that point. A plant can be very vigorous and still be dying because of poor vitality. Far more often than not the term 'vigor' or 'vigorous' is misapplied, where in their stead the terms 'vital' or 'vitality' would have been more appropriate. Poor vitality is what we witness when our plants are growing under stress or strain and in decline.

I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation to the late Dr. Alex Shigo for his works, which have helped distill my understanding of stress, as opposed to strain, and vitality as opposed to vigor.

When you first realize you have a containerized plant that is struggling, its important to determine the cause. You should also realize that it is very unusual for plants in decline to reverse course without your intervention - without you acting to correct the cause(s) responsible for the condition.

You will remember my mentioning in the introductory paragraph that you might think my approach to determining the underlying causes of various plant problems AND the solution too simplistic? Let me give you an example of WHY I said that:
If you came to me and with a sick plant and began to tell me about it, the conversation COULD go something like this.

"Al, I have a sick plant, and " (I might interrupt here - sorry for the interruption)

"Its the soil"

"Huh?"

"Its the soil "

And I would be right about 90% of the time. I could increase the accuracy of my diagnosis at least another 5% if I listen to the rest of what you had to say, but the message I want to bring to you is that >90% of the problems I see in other peoples containerized plants are caused directly by the growers choice of soil, or can be traced indirectly to that choice.

What I am about to offer for your consideration is the idea that if we can eliminate light issues as the source of decline in our containerized plants, the odds overwhelmingly favor the soil we chose, as the direct source of the problem, or, as the indirect source because of other negative effects come into being as a result of the decline in vitality and decreased resistance caused by a poor soil. If there is any serious argument to be mounted against this writing, it should focus on the premise contained within this paragraph.

Because Im stating the odds favor your plants reduction in vitality as being caused by a poor soil, I should list one important condition and some other possible causes of stress or decline not soil-related so you can systematically eliminate the possible causes other than those soil-related before we move forward.

If your plant is in steady decline, its important to first eliminate the possibility that the decline is being caused by chronic insufficient light levels. The most obvious symptoms are long internodes and weak stems. The obvious corrective measure is to move the plant to a position where it receives greater photo-intensity, longer photo-exposure, or both. I dont consider abscising (shedding) leaves to necessarily be a symptom of steady decline, as this condition can be caused by a sudden cultural changes, but it certainly can be soil related.

Being extremely root-bound is an issue quasi-related to soils but not an issue directly related to the quality of the soil. It will appear later in a list as something to be considered as causal of stress and decline, and something to be remedied. As the second step in our process of elimination, we need to be able to discount tight roots as a source of decline.

Nutritional deficiencies or toxicities need to be eliminated as possible sources of decline. Over-fertilizing is a logical source of toxicities and soluble salts levels, but Im going to make the case that an appropriate soil and a considered nutritional supplementation program should virtually eliminate nutritional issues, which again brings us full circle to soil choice as a major player in toxicity issues and a distinctly possible player in deficiency issues. I make mention of the fact that soil conditions can induce nutrient deficiencies even when adequate levels of certain nutrients are present in the soils because poor soils impair root function and metabolism, making nutrients unavailable, even when present.

You also need to eliminate chronic over-watering as possibly causal of steady decline, though we shall see in a moment that over-watering is most often directly related to soil choice.

When there are symptoms of insects or disease, they need to be identified and treated appropriately with the least noxious remedy that will reduce their populations to acceptable levels; and diseases with the least noxious remedy that will get the job done. Insect and disease identification are beyond the scope of this writing, but a case will be made that your soil choice is extremely important in reducing or eliminating the incidence of diseases and infestations.

Let us take a moment to consider the cultural effects of growing in a poor soil as opposed to a good soil. While soils can be considered poor for a variety of reasons, like not holding enough water, or containing phytotoxic (poison to plants) ingredients, most of soils we consider poor, are those so water-retentive they support varying amounts of perched water. Perched water is the water that occupies the lower reaches of the container and will not drain by the force of gravity alone. Roots deprived of oxygen begin to die very quickly, and the roots first affected are the workhorses - the very finest roots that absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in water. These roots have to go through a process of regeneration, which is expensive to the plant in terms of energy outlay. The cycle of death and regeneration that occurs every time we water heavy (water-retentive) soils saps the plants stored energy reserves, which the plant would have allocated to blooms, fruit, or an increase in the plants overall mass. In other words, this stresses the plant. Most commercially prepared peat-based soils are actually very water-retentive, fresh out of the bag, and grow increasingly water-retentive over time as soil particles break down into smaller size. Particle size is the factor that determines the soils degree of excess water retention

When using poor, water-retentive soils, we automatically find ourselves on the horns of a dilemma. On one side, if we water appropriately so at least 10-15% of the total volume of water applied escapes through the drain hole and flows away from the soil, carrying accumulating soluble salts with it, we run the risk of soils remaining saturated so long that roots begin to rot, a major source of soil-related decline. The other horn of the dilemma is the net effect of the decision to water in sips to avoid the saturated conditions that promote root rot. The habit of watering in sips allows no water to escape through the drain hole, so ALL the salts from both fertilizer solutions and the soluble salts in our tap water accumulate in the soil. The net effect of this accumulation of salts is to make it increasingly difficult for plants to absorb water, and, the nutrients dissolved in that water. When soluble salt levels in the soil solution get high enough, they can actually pull water OUT of plant cells via the very same process by which curing salt pulls water from the cells of ham and bacon. Osmosis is the diffusion of water through cells semi-permeable membrane, and the process by which plant cells absorb water. When salt levels get too high, a process you might think of as reverse osmosis occurs. The process actually has a technical name - plasmolysis - but we commonly refer to it simply as fertilizer burn. Here, high levels of salts pulls water from plant cells, tearing plasma from cell walls and killing the cells and the tissue formed by cells, thus the term plasmolysis. This is an extremely significant and very common cause of severe stress and decline in houseplants and other long term plantings being grown in poor soils - especially during the winter months. The effects are generally found to be most adverse in houseplants and other long term container plantings where the condition is more likely to reach chronic levels with time.

We can see that poor soils induce stress and cause decline on multiple fronts by impairing root function and metabolism, which in turn significantly affects growth rates, development, appearance, yields and bloom profusion, to mention a few. Unseen is its effect on the plants ability to fend off insects and diseases.

Plants mount a number of genetically encoded responses to the wounding of insects or the chemical signals released by disease, ALL of which require energy allocation. In plant cells, there are genes that control proteins functioning in actual defense, sending defense signals/ chemical messengers, altering metabolism, controlling cellular maintenance, regulating photosynthesis, - and many more genes of unknown function. In short, plant energy reallocation is prioritized in the plant's own defense, while other things, like every day metabolism and photosynthesis are put on the back burner. The higher the plants level of energy (the greater it's vitality) and the faster its metabolism - the faster the response and greater the amount of energy and defensive bio-compounds the plant can mobilize and devote to its own defense.

When wounding occurs (insect attack) there is a "wound response" that occurs both at the site of injury as well as distally (in other plant parts away from the wound). Plants can even differentiate between the wounds of a pin and those of insects, and they react in different fashion to the "attack". Without getting more technical, the plant produces various anti-feedants, anti-metabolites, and toxins that make the insects feel rather unwelcome - as long as the plant is in good vitality or has high energy reserves - in other words, as long as the plant is in good health. The speed with which the response occurs, and the effectiveness of the defense response are also both energy driven, so it should be no surprise that plants grown indoors under stress are highly susceptible to a variety of insect marauders and various diseases.

If you want to keep the bugs away - it goes without saying that your first line of defense should not be to reach for a systemic or other harsh poison, but to keep your plants growing with as much vitality as possible as a preventive measure, which is a cultural - not a chemical thing. It is important to remember that most of the problems we find in houseplants involving disease and insect attacks can usually be linked to the reduced vitality and lower metabolism rates resultant of soil-related issues.

In summary

I think I have built an excellent case around poor soils as the major player and source of an extremely high percentage of the stress issues we encounter with our houseplants. Ill enumerate the steps I take when I evaluate someones container plant and what remedial action I usually take.

1) Determine the problem is not light related.
2) Determine the plants are not exposed to excessive heat or cold.
3) Determine the plant is not excessively root-bound. If so, correct at the appropriate time. Plants should be repotted as soon as possible after the root mass has become cohesive (sticks together w/o crumbling) when the plant is lifted from the pot. Allowing it to remain root-bound once it has reached this point affects growth potential. Allowing a plant to become severely root-bound will permanently affect growth, no matter how large a container you bump it up to later - unless you actually correct the root-bound condition by pruning roots, which will restore the plants ability to grow as close as possible to its genetic potential within the limits of other cultural conditions. (Thanks in part to Dr. Carl Whitcomb for some of the information on root-bound conditions.)
4) Determine if there is an insect infestation. If so, identify the pest and treat with the least noxious treatment that will bring populations to an acceptable level. Keep in mind that it is likely the infestation likely occurred because of compromised defenses due to stress. Suspect a soil related problem and low vitality as the underlying cause.
5) Determine if there is a disease issue. If so, identify and treat using the same guidelines offered for insect infestations. Suspect a soil-related problem as the underlying cause.
6) Determine if there appear to be a nutritional issue - either a deficiency or toxicity. This is probably the most difficult challenge a Plant P.I. faces because nutritional issues can be difficult to identify and treat. Poor soils can compound the problem and hamper treatment. I will say that not only are individual deficiencies difficult to diagnose and treat without sophisticated testing or unless you have good diagnostic skills, but trying to add singular elements to correct deficiencies can lead to unforeseen problems like antagonistic deficiencies and actually cause more problems than they remedy. A sound and regular nutritional supplementation program that supplies all the essential elements in a favorable NPK ratio AND in a ratio to each other that is favorable is best.
7) Determine humidity levels are appropriate. Keep in mind that most problems blamed on low humidity actually originate in the problem of high soluble salt levels in the soil. We already learned that these high salt levels inhibit water uptake. Low humidity levels are usually only a secondary cause of necrotic leaf tips and margins. Suspect equally, water-retentive soils that impair the plants ability to move water to distal parts, and, individually or in combination with water-retentive soils, a high level of soluble salts as the actual cause. Only then, look to low humidity simply as a contributor to the problem.

When poor soils are directly or indirectly responsible for any one of a number of reasons for stress and decline, it is not unreasonable to suspect that treating the symptoms might be of some help for the short term, but as a long term fix will more likely be shown to be an exercise in futility. The most logical course of action is to treat the symptoms as soon as discovered to minimize their affect and slow the decline as much as possible, then replace the soil with something more suitable as soon as timing is appropriate.

I hope I have effectively illustrated the benefits of growing in soils that are durable and that promise to retain their structure, thus ensuring appropriate aeration and drainage for the expected duration of the planting, or for the interval between full repots (as opposed to simply potting-up). Virtually every issue raised, with the exception of the effects of too little light, can be directly or indirectly associated with soil choice, while none of the issues can be said to be even close to commonly associated with high quality, durable soils that remain well-aerated.

Learning how to determine what a quality soil is and how to use it effectively, or how to make a quality soil from what is commonly available, is a (if not the) key factor in determining your effort:reward quotient and how successful you will ultimately become as a container gardener.

Al

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clipped on: 02.09.2010 at 08:33 am    last updated on: 02.09.2010 at 08:33 am

RE: Norton trial about to expire. (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: ravencajun on 01.27.2010 at 01:26 pm in Computer Help Forum

you will need to use the specific norton removal tool to get rid of it, very intrusive program and getting it off takes time and effort.
The top choices in free are AVAST, Avira, AVG
I use AVAST and really like it, a new version just came out version 5.
If you want a pay product my choices would be Nod32 and Kaspersky

If your's was a suite and you want to replace a firewall also let us know, however if you are using windows 7 the windows firewall is pretty decent.

Antivirus Product Removal Tools

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clipped on: 01.29.2010 at 08:00 am    last updated on: 01.29.2010 at 08:00 am

RE: Suggestions on controlling cucumber beetle? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: anney on 06.24.2009 at 05:45 am in Vegetable Gardening Forum

Jim

I'm still working on it!

For those who might be interested, the rationale for this insecticide is to combine two ingredients, a cucumber beetle lure and a cucumber beetle poison. The lure must not attract any other insects to the poison.

The quickest insecticide using these principles to dispatch cuke beetles is to combine clove oil and dental disclosing tablets (made with red dye #28 -- no other red dye works) with water and set it around your plants.

Dissolve one tablet containing the red dye in a half-cup of water. Then mix 3 tablespoons of the dye mixture and one teaspoon of the clove oil and put it in a shallow non-plastic container like a jar lid or even a small metal catfood can so the cucumber beetles can feed on it. Set it in your garden or hang it about 24" high on your trellises. (Clove oil melts plastic so don't use plastic cups.) Save the rest of the dye mixture in the refrigerator and your clove oil separately. Replenish after rain or when it evaporates.

Female cucumber beetles are attracted by the volatiles in the clove oil and will flock to eat it -- but no other insects are attracted to it. The red dye that they ingest along with the clove oil is phototoxic, meaning that it causes a reaction when the insect is in sunlight, killing them in as little as five minutes.

You can replace the red dye #28 with Sevin if you don't have ready access to the red dye and don't mind going chemical. The Sevin does not go in your garden or on your plants, so you aren't contaminating your garden with it. It stays in its container, and it must eventually be discarded, so that's something to think about.

You can also use cucumber "boats" as your container. Just slice a cucumber the long way, scoop out some of the seeds, and soak them in the clove oil and dye mixture for several hours so they absorb them. Then set them around your garden. (They'll disintegrate in place with no harm done to anything.)

Cucumber beetles will decrease in number as the females die. Using this insecticide, I don't see any but one or two stray cuke beetles after a few days.

=====

There are also other lures for both male and female cucumber beetles that can be used. Unfortunately perhaps, they're usually in the form of plants that you must grow as trap crops, so you must plan ahead for cucumber beetle invasions. That's something we don't tend to do until they've really done a number on our plants and we say "never again". (This was the motivation for my efforts to find an organic control for them.)

I am currently growing three buffalo gourd plants in a large garbage can to harvest the roots to use as a lure next year. Cucumber beetles are extremely attracted to this plant and particularly the roots. The plants grow wild in the dry west and midwest and are considered to be very invasive, so I didn't want to set them loose in Georgia soil! When allowed to grow unmolested in their native habitat, the roots get to be huge, weighing in at 40-60 pounds after a couple of years! I don't think they'll get that large in my garbage can growing for just one year, but I don't want to take any chances.

If anyone wants seeds to grow them yourself, just email me. It isn't too late to plant them to use next year. The vendor was delighted at what I wanted to do with the plants and gave me an extra pack of them if anybody else wanted to grow them for this purpose. Later you can save the gourd seeds yourself since it's an OP plant.

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clipped on: 01.01.2010 at 06:51 pm    last updated on: 01.01.2010 at 06:52 pm

RE: Bluetranes...Bug Juice/Compost Tea/ etc. (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: blutranes on 02.16.2009 at 07:27 pm in Soil Forum

Pepprz asks:

"What is this bug juice? I read the link and I see it as being a tonic, but still no correlation to why BUG is in the title?"

From the Bug Juice web site:

"This is what you need in order to make Bug Juice.
One 5 gallon bucket.
Corn starch
Bread yeast
MaxGro our fishmeal product, or another source of protein. Blood meal will work.
Ripe fruit, such as plums, apples, apricots, peaches, watermelons, peeled bananas or whatever. No citrus."

And later says:

"You have now mixed the ingredients, a handful of good compost and added water. Mix periodically to aerate the mix and leave the bucket in the sun. After one week, start applying the Bug Juice to the compost or table scraps you have collected, or directly to poor soil. Bug Juice can be directly applied to plants, trees, grass, whatever. It is disgusting to look at, but it is a powerful organic "nutrient soup" for the soil."

Thus one takes the mixture, put into 5-gallon bucket, and add compost (about two (2) handfuls) and water. The microbes (bugs) in the compost will thrive on the added mixture. The resulting tea is strained (if so desired) and added/sprayed on plants, compost pile, lawn etc. As stated above, I suggest diluting the mixture 10:1 based on strength of compost used.

Greenwood85 asks:

"Can I make a request. If you're going to start a new thread to continue a discussion from somewhere else can you at least clue us in to where we might find the rest of the conversation?"

See Link Below...

Blutranes

Here is a link that might be useful: Easy-To-Make Charcoal

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clipped on: 02.17.2009 at 10:53 am    last updated on: 02.17.2009 at 10:53 am

RE: Roberts' (soilguy) Methods (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: soilguy on 12.11.2008 at 03:59 pm in Soil Forum

In case other folks would like to see the additional photos, the photobucket page is at:
http://s429.photobucket.com/albums/qq18/soilguy2469/
More photos soon - other things to see.

The 16" tall frame is one 4'x 8' treated 1/2" thick plywood. 2x4 lumber is also treated. 4 corners, 2 ends and 2 sides all held together with 16 screws. In 8 pieces, very easy to handle.

Frame is therefore adjustable from 6' wide by 8' long, to only 3' x 3' x 3' as pile materials shrink - to maintain height of pile for biomass compression (very important).

Frame is assembled on an empty pad. 3-5 minutes.
Can work the pile 360 degrees (for 'scalping').

Each 4" to 6" layer is watered-in until 'tea' runs out from underneath and collected in the troughs. This type of pile cannot be over-watered, because it drains well, and no leached nutrients or microbes are lost.

As 'tea' builds up in the trough, it is simply put back onto the next layer - and therefore becomes concentrated.
When the pile is finished, I pump the last 30-50 gallons of 'tea' concentrate into the blue 1,000 gallon tank.
More on my 'tea' methods later.

The frame keeps water on the pile being built (or turned).
When material gets 3"-5" from the top, simply raise each corner in succession, placing a brick under each corner.
Laid down, then next, stand it up on end; next brick on top of the first, on long edge, then with both bricks standing up, etc. High as you want to make it.

See the vertical 2x4's on the sides? For screwing on 2"x 2" legs if you prefer - the 2x4's allow the legs to stick out beyond the pad (into the trench) so you don't put holes in the tarp that covers the pad/trench.
And help raising the corners.

If you do not follow this next procedure, the pile will NOT stand on its own after a 1st turn (as material becomes decomposed). Garden rake. Points facing/touching the frame, pointing to the outside. Tamp down the entire perimeter - snug (matter of experience).
Every single layer, with no exception.

Tamping accomplishes several purposes which I'll expound on later, as well as the benefits of 'blocking'.

No, absolutely no air flow is needed in a properly-built compost pile, which can also be fully covered. Insulation is a key to maximizing internal pile heat.

A pile made with my method will retain sufficient oxygen for 3-5 weeks depending on how hot the initial pile got (thermometer is essential using this method). Pile MUST be turned when cooling between 105F and 110F (running out of O2).

After pile is completed, remove all bricks. Unscrew 2 screws and let the frame gently slide to the ground.
Dismantle the frame and use it on the next pad.

Robert

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clipped on: 01.12.2009 at 11:52 pm    last updated on: 01.12.2009 at 11:52 pm

RE: Growing tomatoes from seed? (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: sweetannie4u on 01.11.2009 at 12:57 am in Vegetable Gardening Forum

"keepitlow",

Yes, you certainly can grow them by direct seed sowing in the garden. I have done it most of my life. Although the plants seem to be a bit behind in their size at first, the in-ground ones soon catch up and even surpass the ones I babied all winter in the greenhouse. They are sturdier and healthier.

Here's what I do:

I dig some compost and composted manure into the soil in a chosen spot in the garden. I then sink a bottomless large pot into this prepared ground up to within and inch of the top rim. I use the top half of a 2 or 3 gallon black plastic pot, but you could use any size or type of plastic container, like a gallon ice cream bucket for instance or even a cottage cheese container.
Sprinkle on your seeds, spacing them about two inches apart so their roots won't become entangled. Lightly cover them with some compost and press them into the soil. Then gently water them in, being careful not to wash them out of their positions. Cover the inside of the pot with straw, chopped leaves, pine straw or dried grass clippings to hold moisture in the soil. Sprinkle them occasionally to keep the soil just damp. You don't need to do anything else. Nature will take care of the rest. In the Spring when the soil is warm enough and the night temps are more stable, those little guys will come up and grow. They grow really fast, too.

When they get two sets of true leaves, transplant them out where you want them to grow. Do this on a cloudy day when there is little or no wind for best results.

I set mine in bottomless pots in the ground. You can use large coffee cans or any kind of large pot or container, even cat litter buckets work great, but cut off the bottoms and sink them down into the ground where you intend to plant your tomatoes, leaving them about 3 inches above the soil level. Then when you water them through the growing season, all you do is fill up the pots a couple of times - no wasted water. It all goes to each tomato plant. When I feed them, all the good stuff goes right to the plants.

I put a cardboard cylinder collar around each one to protect them from cutworms. I use toilet paper roll cylinders, paper towel roll cylinders or even the cylinders from gift wrap for the plant collars. Cut them into 2 inch collars. (I am big on recycling things). Cutworms can't wrap around and chew through your tender plants. I do this with all my newly planted veggies, like cabbages, broccoli, and peppers, and even tender bedding plants and flowers, like petunias and asters. Eventually the little cardboard collars will disintegrate, so no need to remove them, and by that time the stems of your veggies will be too tough for cutworms to chew through.

I have found that tomato plants grown from seed in the ground are much sturdier and hardier than in-house or greenhouse plants. Even when there came a late cold front, they did just fine, whereas my greenhouse plants got nipped pretty badly.

Give it a try. Seeds don't cost much and if it works for you, it is definitely worth a try. No pampering tomato plants through the winter and wondering if it is time to set them out. When the ground is warm enough, you'll know because they will come up.

I sow them outside in March when the moon is in the right phase and the sun sign (astrological sign) is in the best house - the most fertile, moist signs, like Scorpio or Pisces. Consult your 2009 Farmer's Almanac for "best growing days for ABOVE Ground Crops". It really does make a big difference.

The great thing about direct seed sowing anything is that you do not have to "harden them off". They harden off as they grow out of the soil. :)

Hope this helps.
~ Annie

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clipped on: 01.11.2009 at 08:57 am    last updated on: 01.11.2009 at 09:08 am

RE: When Do People Start Growing Indoors For Spring Planting? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: denninmi on 12.06.2008 at 05:40 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

Well, obviously, it depends on what you're growing and where you're growing it. I believe, if memory serves me, you're in the Toronto area, so your climate is essentially the same as mine here in the Detroit area, give or take a few days either way. I'd suggest the following timetables:

Leeks, onions -- by the end of January, but grow them cool. Can plant outside by mid-April, after a few weeks of hardening off.

Peppers, Eggplants, Globe Artichoke -- by late February, outside in May. Be sure to use lots of light.

Early Tomatoes, for large transplants -- late February to early-mid March, outside in May.

Main crop tomatoes -- late March is a about right, outside in May

Vine crops -- cucumbers, melons, squash, similar crops - early April, about 4 to 5 weeks ahead of transplant time.

Peas -- actually, these can be done as transplants, but there really isn't much of an advantage to doing so. If you do transplants, just do them about 2 to 3 weeks before planting out, and start them warm to get them to germinate, but move them as soon as they're up to a cool greenhouse or coldframe. You can direct sow as soon as the ground thaws (although I'd use treated seed, and wait a few weeks later for the sugar snap types), and really anytime for about the next 4 or 5 weeks.

Greens -- lettuce, etc -- about 4 weeks before transplanting.

Brassicas, cabbage, etc. -- about 6 weeks before transplanting. Don't get too much in a rush to get broccoli or cauliflower going, though, as these will just "button" or make tiny, premature heads, if they go out when it's too cold.

Root crops -- with the possible exception of beets or the round, Parisian type of carrots, which can be done in cell packs, all of these need to be direct sown. Times vary by crop, from radishes as soon as the ground thaws, to about 2 weeks before last frost for carrots and beets.

Hope this helps a bit.

NOTES:

NOT FOR THE STATE OF GA
clipped on: 12.07.2008 at 03:39 pm    last updated on: 12.07.2008 at 03:40 pm