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RE: compost or mulch (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: okiedawn on 01.15.2013 at 08:40 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

I put deep mulch on my beds for that very reason--to sheet compost in place.

I also sheet compost in the pathways of my garden all year long. I pile up hay, grass clippings, weeds I've pulled, etc. in the pathways throughout the growing season. I do have cardboard unerneath the material to keep weeds from sprouting and growing in the pathways. I walk on that stuff all year and it breaks down. By the following late winter/early spring, it is compost and I shovel it up into the beds on either side of the pathway before planting time arrives. Then, I put down new cardboard and start another round of sheet composting. To me, it is a lot easier to use a compost scoop to scoop up compost from the path and put it in adjacent beds than to have to haul wheelbarrow loads of compost from the compost pile to the garden.

I do keep a compost pile going year-round too, though its' compost is normally used in new planting beds to get them off to a good start. I also am using a combination of hugelkultur beds with sheet composting on top of them to heal badly eroded land on our sloping property. After putting down a good sized number of woody material first as the base, I sheet compost on top just by adding stuff to the top continually. After you've done that for a few years, the once-bare, eroded land heals, the erosion stops, and eventually native plants sprout and grow on what was once eroded gullies with naked red clay. It takes a long time, but once we get one bare area on the road to healing, we start working on another one.

Sheet composting is my favorite way to compost.


clipped on: 06.08.2014 at 10:29 am    last updated on: 06.08.2014 at 10:29 am

RE: Help please... (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: okiedawn on 03.27.2014 at 01:50 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Hi Lauren,

Welcome to the forum.

To a certain extent, it is merely a personal preference for raised bed gardening versus grade-level, in-ground gardening. If the soil you are starting out with drains well, or if you can amend it enough to ensure it drains well, you don't need to build raised beds. However, if you are starting out with heavily compacted, dense clay soil, then raised beds become almost a necessity because plants in raised beds will have better drainage than plants planted at grade level in clay soil. If you happen to have a loamy-clayey soil, it even may drain well enough that you don't have to build raised beds.

If you are unsure what sort of soil you have, you can do a jar soil test that will help you understand how much of your soil is made up of clay, sandy or silt. I'll link a Fine Gardening magazine article on how to do the soil jar test. It is really easy and really helpful. If you don't have an empty jar sitting around, you can use a plastic bottle as long as the mouth of it is wide enough that you can pour the soil into it.

Another advantage of raised beds is that the soil in them tends to warm up a little earlier in springtime so that you can plant early

A third reason a person might like to have raised beds is that the roots are up in the soil in the raised bed, so when you walk down a row of plants, your feet are compacting the soil beneath your feet, but your plant roots are up in the raised bed so they aren't in soil that is being compacted by feet and equipment,

One way to have the advantages of raised beds without going to the time and expense of building them is simply to take hand tools and rake up long, low mounds of soil within your garden area. Plant your seeds and plants on top of the mounds. You get the benefits of raised beds without the expense of building permanent raised beds. Sometimes it is, in fact, better to use these mounds for planting the first few years until you have decided how you like to grow your garden. Then, if you still want raised beds, you always can build them at that point. My big garden started out with only 4 raised beds, and now has 14 with more in the planning stage. I waited until I understood a lot more about my particular garden site before I added to the initial 4 raised beds. I wanted to understand how much shade from trees to the north and west of the garden would impact the areas closest to the trees, and also how much tree root trouble I'd have. I wanted to understand how the heavy rainfall would flow across my sloping garden. I wanted to understand the pattern of light from the sun at various times of the year. As I gained an understanding of those different factors, we added more raised beds every year, and that is largely because we started out mostly with dense, compacted red clay. At the west end of the garden where we have a band of sandy-silty soil, we currently grow the plants at grade level. The sandy-silty soil, even when well-amended, drains so quickly that I have had better luck there in our mostly-dry climate, with grade-level plantings.

So, don't feel like you have to build raised beds. We built a new garden out back of the barn last year and there's not a raised bed in it. It has sandy soil that drains really well in about 80% of it. In the 20% of that area that is largely dense brownish-red clay, I was able to grow corn, okra and flowers last year, at grade level. Still, I eventually want to put raised beds in that clay area. The raised beds would be essential in a really rainy year. My last really rainy year was 2010, so I haven't been in a big hurry to build new raised beds. Next year might be a real rainy year, but I don't think this year necessarily will be.

I hope all the above helps you understand why a person might want or even need raised beds, but also that they are not absolutely essential except in the worst clay areas.

When you rototilled your garden soil and added soil amendments, you likely exposed some weed seed to sunlight and those seeds likely will sprout when the soil reaches the right temperature for them. This is pretty much unavoidable. Some weed seeds can survive 50 years or longer in the soil and will sprout after being exposed to less than 1 second of sunlight. If the weeds already are sprouted when it is time for you to sow seeds or to transplant plants into the ground, remove them before planting so their roots are not competing with the roots of whatever you are planting. You can remove them in whatever way makes the most sense to you. You can hand-pull them, slice them off at the ground level with a hoe, hoe them out of the soil, hand-dig them if they are deeply rooted, or you even can cultivate the soil lightly if you own or have access to a rototiller or soil cultivator. I have rototilled my corn plot twice and have cultivated the soil shallowly once with my Mantis cultivator in order to eliminate as many weeds as possible before I sow the corn seed in the ground. I'll still have to do a lot of weeding because that patch of ground has bindweed seeds in it, but I've already removed the cool-season weeds and grasses by cultivating so I'll have less weeding overall to do.

Rake your soil level. Remove any clumps of grass roots or perennial weed roots you find.

Seeds or seedlings also are largely a matter of personal preference. It is pretty important to at least start tomatoes, peppers and eggplants indoors a minimum of 6-8 weeks before transplanting time. The reason for this is that the hot temperatures that typically arrive in most of Oklahoma in June can cause pollination issues. We start the plants I listed above from seed indoors so the plants are large enough to flower and set fruit before the air temperatures get hot enough to shut down pollination and fruit set. With everything else, you mostly can start from seed sown directly in the ground. For cool-season crops, I have better success with broccoli and other cole family crops started from seed indoors and transplanted into the ground when the plants have 3-5 true leaves. Our spring weather is so erratic that seed of those sown directly can sprout irregularly and the plants can be bitten back by freezing temperatures.

We are just now sort of at the end of the cool-season planting time and not quite warm enough to start planting most warm-season plants. If I was a new gardener with cool-season seeds like carrots, lettuce, beets, kale and radishes, I'd go ahead and sow those seeds now. You'll likely get a good harvest from all the above, plus you will have the benefit of becoming "experienced" in growing them this year. Next year you can build upon what you learned this year and maybe focus a little bit more on planting them on time. Here in OK, most cool-season plants and seeds should be planted in February and March but the world won't end if some of them aren't planted until April. (I firmly believe every garden rule was made to be broken!) You also can sow a second round of cool-season seeds in the late summer for a fall or winter harvest.

When you companion-plant mixed beds of different kinds of plants together, you have to make sure you give each plant the kind of spacing that it needs. Otherwise, the larger and more rapidly growing plants can shade out the slower growing and smaller plants. When I plant potatoes and beans together, the potatoes go into the ground first and generally have emerged from the ground before I sow bean seeds. My beds run east-west because our ground slopes and east-west beds slow down soil erosion on our property, so I plant the potatoes on the north side of the bed if growing them with bush beans. Later on, I come back and sow the bean seeds a couple of feet south of the potato plants. If I am growing pole beans with the potatoes, I plant the potatoes in the middle of the 4'-wide bed. Then, when I come back and plant the bean seeds, I plant them on the north of the potato plants. I put up the trellis on the same day I sow seed. Usually, the potato plants are not yet so tall that I have to worry they will shade the bean plants. Pole beans grow quickly once they sprout.

Horseradish is a special plant. How special is it? It is so special that experienced gardeners know it is best to only grow it in containers. You can put the containers on top of the ground right there next to the potatoes, but what you do not want is for the horseradish to gets it roots down into the soil. If that happens, before too long, you'll have a 20' x 20' patch of horseradish, and you'll have it for the rest of your life.

I grow tomatoes, peppers and basil together in some beds, along with borage and other herbs and flowers. Normally, I have them in east-west running rows, with the tomatoes on the north side and the shorter peppers on the south side. I put basil plants (and other companion plants) in the middle between the tomato and pepper plants. I believe the basil plants are largely responsible for the fact that I very rarely have any tomato hornworm problems even though I grow anywhere from 100-300 tomato plants a year, and grow tons of other flowers and veggies the hornworms like (potatoes, peppers, nicotiana, petunias, daturas and brugmansias, for example). Tomato plants go into the ground first and are more widely spaced. Pepper plants go into the ground anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks later (mostly depending on just how early I first put tomato plants into the ground). Companion plants are put into the ground whenever it is the right time for them. I use both cool-season and warm-season companion plants, so they are planted at different times. Whatever spacing you choose to use, be sure you have the pepper plants where they won't be totally shaded by the tomato plants. While pepper plants can benefit from some shade in the worst of the summer heat, they won't produce well if they are too shaded.

You also can sow your lettuce seeds and carrot seeds in the same bed as tomato plants and use them as a living mulch. Have fun trying different things in different blocks of soil. I think the best carrot and lettuce crops I've ever had came from seeds sown in early April right after I put the tomato plants in the ground. They make a lovely, living and edible mulch. What's not to like about that? After the lettuce starts to bolt in the heat, you can yank them out and compost them, and put down mulch to keep the soil cool. The same thing is true with the carrots---once you harvest them, you can mulch the ground to keep it cool, or sow marigold or miniature zinnia (something small like Lilliput or Tom Thumb zinnias) seeds to grow in the now bare soil.

Marigolds move around a lot in my garden. I'll preface the explanation by saying I am in a really rural area surrounded by thousands of acres of mixed grassland and hickory/pecan/oak forests, all of which appear to be populated by trillions of spider mites. There is never a year that I don't have a severe spider mite issue. Why does this matter? Spider mites love marigolds. They love them a lot. Some of my gardening friends here won't plant marigolds anywhere near their garden because they feel the marigolds are a spider mite magnet. I'm not sure I totally agree with that, at least not in each and every year, and I am pigheaded and stubborn so I always plant marigolds in my vegetable garden. Some years I plant them near the tomato plants, which also are spider mite magnets. Sometimes I plant them far away. I try to keep them away from lettuce because I don't want to eat spider-mite infested lettuce. If you live in town and don't discover that trillions of spider mites live there around you, you might be able to grow marigolds anywhere and everywhere and never have a spider mite problem. Spider mites are worse the hotter and drier the weather, so in the worst of drought years (let's face it---if rain isn't falling in April and May in good amounts, it is going to be an awful drought year and an awful spider mite year), I plant the marigolds up near the house in a flower bed or in containers and don't put them anywhere near the veggie garden. I don't know if it helps, but likely it does.

Some years, my marigolds are spider mite infested in May. Some years the spider mites don't hit them hard until June or July. Some years the mites aren't much of a problem at all on the marigolds. So, I plant them every year, but am prepared to yank them out if I have to. Some years I am yanking them out of the ground, putting them in a black plastic trash bag, and disposing of them in the trash in early June. The reason I don't compost them is because that does nothing to get rid of the spider mites. With each heavily-infested spider mite-covered marigold plant that I dispose of, hundreds if not thousands of spider mites are going with them. I don't want to just put all those spider mites on the compost pile because they will travel right back to the garden and get on the tomato or cucumber plants.

When you use a plant like marigolds in that manner to attract and "trap" spider mites so you can dispose of them, that is called a trap crop or a trap planting. You also can plant marigolds far away from your garden in order to attract the mites away from your garden. Often, for the first few years you garden, you won't have much of a spider mite issue. Sometimes it takes some pests a few years to find a new garden. It took squash vine borers about 8 years to find me here and forever ruin my pumpkin-growing.

Amaranth and sunflowers get big, unless you are growing dwarf versions. Sunflowers are a great trap crop for stink bugs. I like to plant sunflowers away from the main veggie garden in order to attract the stink bugs away from the garden plants. I used to grow sunflowers right in there, mixed in with all the veggies, and it just seemed like they were such stink bug magnets that it was smarter to move them away from the main vegetable-growing areas. Amaranth is one of my favorite garden plants. I grow both the ornamental types and the grain types. The grain types produce tons of material for your compost pile, and the seedheads make lovely autumn decorations, but the plants can get huge. I usually grow them on the north side of the garden along with lion's tail, so they can get as big and tall and wide as they want without crowding out or shading out anything else. Sometimes I put the shorter ornamental ones, like love-lies-bleeding, inside the garden proper, but even then I have to be careful with spacing because they still get 3-4' tall in a good year. I also use the closely-related celosias as companion plants, mostly just because they are so pretty and they tolerate heat and drought so well.

It is unlikely you will kill anything merely by interplanting or intercropping it with other plants. Sunflowers, however, can stunt the growth of some other plants, so it is wise to keep them a little further away from the rest of your plants. Their roots exude a substance (maybe a phenolic compound, but I'm just guessing at that) that has an allelopathic effect on some plants and can slow or prevent their growth. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes less so, but I remove it from the list of possible problems by putting the sunflowers further away from the veggies than I once did.

If you are in a rural to semi-rural area where skunks roam at night (and hopefully not during the daylight hours, because in that case they likely are rabid), there seems to be some attraction to the sunflowers. I think maybe there is a grub worm of some type that is common in soil underneath sunflowers. Before we had our garden fenced with a very sturdy fence, the skunks would crawl underneath the then-more-flimsy fence and prowl the garden at night. One year, on the evening before Mother's Day, they got into the garden. I had sunflowers growing along all four sides of the garden just inside the fencing. The skunk dug up each and every sunflower plant to get at whatever was in the soil beneath them. They also dug up vegetable plants here and there, but you could tell their focus was on the sunflower plants---they didn't miss a single plant. We spent that day, frantically replanting and trying to save those sunflower and vegetable plants (some lived, but most died) and working to make the fence more secure. We still refer to that day as the "Mother's Day Massacre". Based on that experience, we quickly improved our fencing to make it skunk-proof, but also moved the sunflowers further and further from the garden every year.

I'm in the process of removing a large, old compost pile and am starting a new one in a somewhat less visible location. When I've removed most of the compost, I'll rototill what is left into the soil there and plant sunflower seeds. In my location, that means we'll have to erect a fence to keep the deer from eating the sunflowers, but it will give me a nice place to grow a lot of sunflowers to use as cut flowers without having them growing too close to the veggie garden.

I hope you get the answers you're searching for. It sounds like you have done your research and carefully planned and prepared, and I expect you'll have a very successful garden this year.


Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Jar Test for Texture/Composition

This post was edited by okiedawn on Fri, Mar 28, 14 at 9:49


clipped on: 03.28.2014 at 03:12 pm    last updated on: 03.28.2014 at 03:12 pm

RE: High phosphorus level (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: okiedawn on 03.06.2013 at 10:54 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


You're welcome.

You can use virtually anything you can get your hands on. Purchased mulch in the form of pine bark, cypress bark, hardwood tree trimmings, etc. would work fine.

I add alternating layers of grass clippings from the yard (bermuda grass clippings that never had have any sort of herbicide sprayed on them and that do not get fertilized with chemical fertilizers), clippings from the pastures/meadows, chopped/shredded leaves of all kinds that fall from our woodland trees, etc. I have used purchased pine bark fines some years but with a large garden that gets pretty pricey. I like using them on the mixed border (the mix leans heavily towards flowers most years but last year it was more tomato plants than flowers) that is on the driveway side of the garden simply because it looks so nice and everyone that comes to our house drives right by the garden and sees that bed up close as they drive by.

A long time ago an organic gardening guru from the area where I then lived said that leaves not only contain virtually all the nutrients your plants need but that they contain them in the proportion that the plants need. He went on to say that a person could greatly improve their soil by only adding chopped and shredded leaves to it. When I learned that, a light bulb went off in my head and I stopped spending so much money for mulch.

It has taken a while, but this is our 15th year here (it sure doesn't seem like we've been here that long) and our once dense, heavy red clay soil that broke ever tool we had back when we started to break the ground initially in 1999 is now a rich, loamy brown soil rich in humus. Although I added a lot of compost and other organic materials the first few years here, increasingly all I add is mulch of chopped leaves, grass clippings, and old hay or straw. Even though hay can contain weed seeds, I prefer it to straw. Straw doesn't pack down as well and blows around and then washes downhill in my strongly sloping garden. Essentially, I am sheet composting by putting mulch on top of the garden beds and letting it decompose in place to enrich the soil. In late winter or early spring, I use a compost scoop to scoop up all the compost in my pathways and to add the compost to each raised bed in the garden. The mulch breaks down into compost every year and it is a whole lot easier to scoop it from the pathways to the beds than to haul compost from the big compost pile one wheelbarrow load at a time I usually save the compost in the compost pile to use for new first-year beds when I am building them, or I do sheet composting in place over a large-ish area for 3 or 4 years and never remove the compost. I just keep adding new stuff on top of the older stuff. After a few years, I start a new big compost pile adjacent to the old one and start putting material there to decompose, and then I just plant stuff into the former compost pile. You wouldn't believe how well this works over the years to improve dense red clay soil. I got the idea to do that about a decade ago when we dug tiny oak saplings from our woodland to transplant into our yard. When we dug them, we noticed the beautiful dark brown, rich humusy soil in our woodland was only 8-10" thick and beneath that we had the same dense red clay found elsewhere on the property. That helped me understand I didn't have to rototill or dig organic matter down deeply into the soil if I didn't want to...all I had to do is pile stuff on top of the ground and let nature take its' course..

Now, this is where it gets tricky in terms of 'importing' material onto your property from elsewhere. I used to get lots of animal manure from some local ranching friends and I loved it, but I don't use any imported animal compost at all in my garden any more and tI horoughly compost the chicken manure and bedding from our own chicken coop before I use it. I still sometimes add Black Kow cow manure to my container plantings. When friends give me oldhday, I let it sit for a couple of years before I break the bales apart and use them. The hay I've been using this spring is from the final cutting of 2010. The risk of losing part or all of my garden to killer compost containing certain strongly persistent herbicide residues has changed how I garden and how I use locally-sourced hay, straw and manures. I also test the hay and straw and my own compost by putting some of it in paper cups and sprouting beans or peas in it. I only add it to my garden if I am sure it is safe.

One of our neighbors has had issues in her garden in recent years that she believes originated with hay or manure from her own property that she used in her garden. The last time I spoke with her about this issue, she was planning to abandon her current garden plot and make a new garden in a new area. I don't ever want to find myself having to do that.

Whatever you choose to use as mulch, if you will put down cardboard or newspaper several pages thick on top of the soil, it will help keep weeds underneath the paper/cardboard from sprouting and coming up through the mulch. Likewise, it will keep any weed seeds that are in your mulch from sprouting and growing down into the soil beneath before you have a chance to yank them out of the mulch. As a bonus, both newspapers (only use newsprint, not shiny advertising inserts) and cardboard attract earthworms like mad. They will do a lot of the work of improving your soil for you if you have enough of them.

If you use purchased mulch, be sure it is good quality. Some mulches are dyed pretty colors, and I'd avoid those. Some mulches are made from old wood pallets, and I wouldn't like to put those in my garden. Some mulches smell to me like they were made from old whiskey barrels and I avoid those.

If money were not an issue, I'd mulch all my beds with nothing but alfalfa. It enriches the soil tremendously and because it is a broadleaf legume, the persistent herbicides that are an issue in 'killer compost' cannot be sprayed on alfalfa since they'd kill it. If I have to go and buy a bale of hay for any reason, I only buy alfalfa because I can use it with no worry.

It doesn't really matter what you use as mulch, as long as you avoid anything that could be contaminated and could kill your plants. You can use a short clover, for example, as a living mulch in your rows of corn. Sometimes I use lettuce, sowing it directly in the ground after the other edible plants are growing...or I use carrots, nasturtiums, chamomile, sweet alyssum or buckwheat or I'll sow an insectary mix as a living mulch. Living mulches are underrated and under-utilized. I think people often are afraid to use them for fear that their roots will compete too much with the intended crop. I don't think they do. When I walk on our property, it doesn't matter if I am in the meadows or woodlands, I observe many kinds of plants growing together and they all do just fine. The smaller plants serve as a living mulch for the taller ones, and the taller plants shelter the lower growing ones from the hot sun. It is a win-win situation where they benefit from one another.

As much as possible in my garden, I try to mimic nature. Nature doesn't grow monocultures of plants in rows, and neither do I. The only things I grow that remotely resemble row crops are onions and corn, and even with them I use block plantings with the plants spaced equidistant from one another and with other companion plants mixed in.

One of my favorite forms of mulch is fresh compost, but unless you have a compost pile the size of a football field, it will be hard to come up with enough fresh, home-made compost to mulch a huge garden.



clipped on: 03.18.2013 at 07:04 pm    last updated on: 03.18.2013 at 07:04 pm

RE: Potatoes (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: okiedawn on 02.17.2012 at 10:55 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


You know, you could just go ahead and rototill the entire back yard at one time? Then you could plant all you want. : )


Chitting refers to the practice of allowing your potatoes to form sprouts at the eyes before you plant them. This gets them off to a better start after they are planted into the still-cold ground, and you have the bonus of knowing your potatoes are ready to grow when you plant them. I don't like planting unchitted potatoes because if they are duds that are not going to form sprouts, you won't know that for a while and then you'll have empty gaps in your rows of potatoes. I consider those gaps wasted space, so I won't plant a seed potato until it has sprouts.

I buy my seed potatoes as soon as the stores have them. Then I put them in the floor of the pantry where they just sit there, eventually forming sprouts. Sometimes they have pretty good sprouts formed by the time I take them out of the pantry to cut into pieces, but sometimes they don't really form the sprouts until I've cut them and am letting them cure.

About 5 to 7 days before I intend to plant the seed potatoes, I cut the potatoes into pieces. I like to have two eyes/sprouts per piece, but it all depends on how the eyes are located on the potatoes. Sometimes they just have one eye/sprout. I try to cut my seed potatoes into pieces that are about 2 to 3 ounces in size and that have 2 eyes, and 3 eyes is even better.

I put some garden sulphur into a bag, add the potato pieces and shake it gently (don't want to damage the early sprouts) to coat the cut potato pieces with sulphur. The sulphur acts as a fungicide, lessening the chance the potato pieces will rot in the cold soil. I take them out of the bag, line them up in planting flats, cardboard boxes or something similar and set them in a cool, shady place to cure for a few days. You want for them to have some light, but not necessarily bright, direct sunlight shining right onto them. This works best if your temperatures are around 60-70 degrees and you have high humidity (which we normally do have in winter), so sometimes I use the shady north side of the sun porch, out of direct rays of the sun, and other times I use the garage or shed. If we are having low humidity at that time, I put a moist piece of cloth, like a burlap potato sack, over the potatoes.

Letting your cut seed potato pieces cure for a few days allows the cut portions of the potato to dry and heal, further lessening the chance of them rotting once they're in the ground. As they dry and heal, they'll shrivel up a little which is perfectly normal. If they haven't chitted before you cut them, they'll usually start to sprout some during that curing period.

You don't want for big long sprouts to form before you plant them. If that happens, handle the plants extremely carefully because you don't want to damage the sprouts that are going to give you potatoes.

You can plant potatoes in trenches dug into the ground, about 8" deep, which is how I usually do it. I only throw a couple of inches of soil on top of the potatoes when I first plant them. Then, as they emerge from the soil, I gradually fill in the trench. Potatoes form in between the seed potato piece and the surface of the ground, so by planting deeply, you will get potatoes forming along the main stolon the grows upward from the seed potato. If you only plant a couple of inches deep, the potato stolon doesn't have much space to form potatoes.

Growing in a trash can likely would work, but you have to be careful you don't keep the soil inside too wet, and be sure you have drilled holes in the bottom of the trash can for drainage. I've grown potatoes in large containers and they grow fine. The one thing I don't like about growing in containers above-ground is that it can reduce your yields because of the soil temperature, which I'll explain below.

Potato plants grow and produce best during the late winter and early spring when the daytime high temperatures are between about 60 and 75-80 degrees and the nighttime low temps are between 45 and 55 degrees. For the maximum harvest, potatoes need to set and size their tubers before the soil temperatures reach 85 degrees. That is very important because one the soil hits that temperature, new tubers are very slow to form and to size up. If you are growing in containers above-ground where the sun shines on those containers all day, the soil temp in them is likely to hit 85 degrees earlier in the year than the soil temp in the ground. So, if using containers, I think you'd have success but you might get smaller yields than the same potatoes would give you in the ground. In the years when I plant potatoes into containers, I only plant early varieties of potatoes in containers, and put mid-season and late-season ones in the ground where they'll stay cooler for a longer period of time.

If I'd never grown potatoes in the ground, I'd think the yields from containers were great, but I know from long experience that I'll get twice as many potatos from in-ground plants than from container-grown plants of the same varieties. If the yields were the same, I'd never plant potatoes in the ground at all because I hate digging potatoes in the summer time. Even the improved clay gets hard to dig once the temperatures are high and rain isn't falling.

The soil temperatures' effects on tuber initiation and sizing are why we have to plant when the soil is still pretty cold--so our plants can form lots of tubers before the soil gets too hot. With in-ground plants, if you mulch the beds heavily with 4 to 6" of mulch, it will keep the ground cooler longer and give you a better crop.

Some people grow potatoes by planting them shallowly in soil and heaping tons of spoiled hay or straw on top of them over time. That might work in some areas, but it doesn't work for me in our rural area with tons of wildlife because the field mice and voles get into the straw and nibble at the developing tubers.

You can plant potatoes in the summer for a fall/winter harvest too. To do that, I save the smallest potatoes from the spring harvest and plant them about 90 days before my first killing freeze. An even easier way to do that is just to leave some of the small potatoes in the ground when you dig, and they'll sprout in the fall....or sometimes not until the next winter/spring. The yields of fall potatoes are generally smaller, but the potatoes taste just as good as those grown in spring/summer.

When you plant, you want your soil moist but not sopping wet. If it is too wet, the seed potatoes can rot before they sprout. That might never be an issue for someone with well-draining soil, but for those of us who have soil with a high clay content, it is a big issue.

Hope I answered all the potato-planting questions that were rolling around in your brain.



clipped on: 02.23.2013 at 11:36 pm    last updated on: 02.23.2013 at 11:36 pm

RE: Finding Pine Bark Fines around Tulsa (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: gardenrod on 01.28.2011 at 06:28 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

No wonder you were confused- I also googled for Worleys location and was ready to drive to downtown Tulsa, but fortunately I called to make sure of their location. The google location is in error. They are located st 7400 S Owasso Expressway (Hiway 169) in Owasso.

Anyone who is not familiar with them MUST check them out. Their nursery is HUGH! They grow their own container annuals, tomatoes,etc. and have all kinds of soil conditioners. This is not a plug for them, but I have gardened in Oklahoma for decades and have never met anyone so knowledgeable and helpful as Doug Worley. If they do not have it, they will order it for you.
I ended up buying the Pro-Mix, some pine bark fines, Worleys own container mix, and straw.
They are concerned about the misleading address, but have not been able to get it corrected. They also have a nursery in Skiatook, and someplace else that I do not remember.
Ron Z


clipped on: 01.28.2011 at 10:48 pm    last updated on: 01.28.2011 at 10:48 pm

RE: Still Learning From OK Gardening Forum (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: gardenrod on 01.11.2011 at 02:31 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

I will use the cold treatment method on tomatoes for the first time this year- I was just stating what I had picked up from the forum. Dawn and Soonergrandmom have both posted good information on tomatoes and peppers (see Sweet Peppers posting, etc).
I think they should start a posting for temperature impact during seeding activities.

I do not know the rules regarding the copying of other members posts, but here is a detailed description in the Garden Web " How to grow seedlings with thick stems? " posting by "miesenbacher" :

Ever wondered how commercial seedling providers get these beautiful, stalky, plants with thick stems to market? It's called the cold treatment and has been going on at commercial greenhouses for over 30 years. Here's how they do it.
This was taken out of the book "Greenhouse Tomatoes, Lettuce & Cucumbers" by S.H. Wittwer & S. Honma where they recommend 'Cold Treatment' for hardening off tomato seedlings.
The cold treatment should be started just as the first true leaves emerge, whether the seedlings are still in seed rows or pricked-off. Air and soil temperatures should be lowered to 52 to 56 deg F for ten days to three weeks. A ten to twelve day cold treatment is adequate during periods of good sunlight. Three weeks are usually necessary in the fall and early winter when most of the days are cloudy and plant growth is slow. The amount of cold during the ten-day to three week period is more important than the time of day in which it is given. Cold exposure during either the day or night, or both, is effective. Night temperatures of 52 to 56 deg F are recommended when the days are sunny and partly cloudy.
Following the cold treatment, night temperatures should be raised to 58 to 62 deg F. Cool daytime temperatures (60 to 62 deg F) should be maintained in cloudy dull weather. On bright sunny or partly cloudy days, temperatures of 65 to 75 deg F accompanied by good ventilation are suggested.
Tomato plants properly exposed to a cold treatment develop large cotyledons and thick stems, with fewer leaves formed before the first flower cluster, up to double the number of flowers in the first, and often the second clusters, and higher early and total yields.

Basically this cold treatment is used to give healthier, more stalky seedlings that will give increased yields and earlier harvests. In regards to light intensity and duration they had this to say.
The tomato is a facultative short day plant which flowers and fruits earliest if the day is not extended beyond 12 hours by artificial light. Young tomato plants do not need the light intensities of full sunlight. Where there is no overlapping of leaves, light saturation is reached at intensities from 2000 to 3000 foot candles, or about one-fifth to one-third the intensity of direct sunlight at high noon. If artificial lights are used, an intensity of at least 500 foot candles should be provided at the leaf surface. Tests with fluorescent fixtures reveal that Wide Spectrum Gro Lux is slightly superior to cool white.
Hope this helps. Ami

Another topic that I have benefited from is the use of a fan to brush tomato seedlings. I had always used the "wave your hand" method, but I will be using a fan this year.


clipped on: 01.11.2011 at 03:55 pm    last updated on: 01.11.2011 at 03:55 pm

RE: Blooming today, 3/30/10 (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: gldno1 on 03.31.2010 at 07:32 pm in Ozarks Region Forum

Very nice. I lost my Star Magnolia to the last ice storm. It never returned.

My hellebores have never bloomed but are spreading. I still have hopes.

From Gardening 2010

Right next to it is brunnera 'Jack Frost' just beginning and the tulips in the same bed are budded out. They are pale lemon. I hope they can make it into bloom at the same time.

I just found out my buxus koreana 'Wintergreen' is very fragrant in bloom. The bloom is insignificant but the fragrance is not! I opened the back door and was immediately aware of a new wonderful was the Wintergreen. I am very pleased about that. I guess it wasn't old enough to bloom until now.

Finally one little clump of grape hyacinth has appeared
and the Erlicheer daffs have begun to open. They were hurt more by the freezes than anything because they send up green leaves way before bloom. They are very fragrant.

All the pics are clickables.


clipped on: 03.31.2010 at 09:02 pm    last updated on: 03.31.2010 at 09:02 pm

RE: real red brandywine vs not real red brandywine (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: carolyn137 on 03.19.2010 at 05:59 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

When someone is asking for pretty much round red fruited varieties that have great taste I usually list:

Red Brandywine
Break O Day
Bulgarian #7
Box Car Willie ( not an heirloom, bred by Joe Bratka's dad

Darrel, I got my Red Brandywine from an SSE member back in about 1992 and it was perfectly smooth, yes slightly oblate, and so is the one that Tom Hauch offers.

To the best of my memory and of course like Hoosier I'll qualify that memory. LOL

If it weren't for Seeds by Design in CA spreading RL and PL NOT RB's in the US there wouldn't be the problem we see now. They also distributed seeds for Lillian's Yellow Heirloom that were ridiculous.

How true seeds are from any one place depends on the way they obtain their seeds. Some produce their own, some subcontract out and some buy wholesale off the shelf and some do a combo of those methods.

Secondarily it also depends on how a retailer grows their tomatoes, once having recieved true seeds, in terms of possible crosses, etc.

For several years I did a wrong varieties thread here and the feedback was very interesting. One thing I found out was that many folks who buy seed and it's an offtype don't feel comfortable reporting that fact. So I had offered to report back to the owners those offtypes, But then that annoyed a couple of them who said they wanted the person who had the problem to contact them directly so they could confirm that the seeds came from them.

The one owner told me that it wasn't uncommon for some to THINK he or she got seeds from him, but their records showed they hadn't. And I can understand that since there are several retail places with similar names or were at that time.



clipped on: 03.21.2010 at 01:04 pm    last updated on: 03.21.2010 at 01:05 pm

RE: if you could only grow one heirloom variety for taste? (Follow-Up #30)

posted by: carolyn137 on 05.04.2008 at 02:16 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Carolyn, thanks for organizing my thoughts.

Please give me a few (3) of your favorites with a sweet and spicy flavor. smile


Sorry for the delay Sue Ellen but I'm a tennis nut and I had to watch the Final from Barcelona this AM and then finish reading the Sunday paper. LOL

I use the words sweet and spicy to describe certain green when ripe varieties I've grown. Some may not taste what I taste as far as the spicy goes, but I do. Some say they taste a smoky salty taste for the so called blacks, but I don't, so there you go.

Three that I perceive as sweet and spicy are:

Cherokee Green
Green Giant
Green Doctors ( better than Green Grape and a cherry also)

And while I'm here I might as well do what Suze did and give some other faves and we do share quite a few faves in common.

Red: Neves Azorean Red, Wes, Chapman, Red Penna, Aker's West Virginia, Cuostralee, Prue, German Red Strawberry, to name a few.

Pink: Omar's Lebanese, Large Pink Bulgarian, Tidwell German, Nicky Crain, Stump of the World, Brandywine, etc.

Orange; Earl of Edgecombe, Kellogg's Breakfast, Sungold F1

Gold: Aunt Gerties Gold, Galina ( Cherry)

Pink/Blacks and Red/Blacks; Cherokee Purple, Indian Stripe ( a version of CP), Black from Tula, Black Cherry

Gold/red Bicolors: Lucky Cross, Virginia Sweets, Big Rainbow, Marizol Gold, Burracker's Favorite

White; not much taste with any of them. I think White Queen is the best of the bunch and does have some taste.

So those are a few of my favorites and I'm sure I've forgotten some of the best, but whatever. ( smile)


clipped on: 02.17.2009 at 02:44 pm    last updated on: 03.20.2010 at 11:05 am

RE: favorite bicolors? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: mulio on 11.17.2009 at 06:12 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Authorities do not apply such limited criteria to defining a bicolor.

There are other manifestations of fruits which have two (bi) colors on the interior. Such as red coloration in the outer pericarp wall while the rest of the interior (septa and columella) are yellow/gold. One of the European photodatabases have an example but don't recall the variety.

There are tricolors too. It is hard to say whether Ananas Noire or others like it

are tri or bicolor. To me they seem to have at least 3 colors.

It just depends on which stage of ripeness one looks and whether or not one wants to count placental tissue, which does vary in color, as well.

But there are also fruits with multicolors (

I still fail to see what's "natural" about plastic milk jugs.


clipped on: 02.17.2010 at 06:50 pm    last updated on: 02.17.2010 at 06:51 pm

RE: Winter Storm for Thurs 6 AM thru Fri 6 AM (Follow-Up #30)

posted by: mulberryknob on 01.28.2010 at 04:17 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Yesterday was my father's 83rd bday. One year ago on his bday, our ice storm hit and by this time of the day, hundreds of limbs were down,(One through the thin tin of our mobile into the living room), the electricity was out and a huge limb bigger than my waist fell into the field where we had parked the cars, just brushing the rear bumper of our son's van. This year it can't possibly be as bad for us as we had a metal roof built over the trailer and a carport built, and there just aren't that many limbs left to fall. We also bought a generator and a couple battery operated lanterns to go with the candles and oil lamp. We survived 9 days in our home because we have a wood stove and propane cookstove, but no electricity because the small generator that we borrowed was only big enough to keep the freezers cold, although DH did disconnect the freezers each evening long enough to pump hot water into the house for showers.

I've prepared though. Filled several gallon jugs full of drinking water and brought in 2 five gallon buckets of rainwater to flush toilets if need be. Done laundry, charged cell phone, filled woodboxes. Now need to take a shower and I'll be prepared.

Right now here in extreme eastern Ok, it is either 27, 30 or 33 depending on which of the outdoor thermometers is right. There is a thin coating of ice on the porch railing and 3" icicles hanging from the roof, although the sidewalk is still just wet. So far we have only had light rain and right now it has stopped. I pray it stays stopped until DH gets home this evening.

George, we also cook on our woodstove a lot in the winter, soups, stews and beans mostly. Thanks for the idea of making bread. I ground the last of my wheat yesterday and will make 18 hr no-knead bread for tomorrow. The recipe is simplicity itself.

4 cups flour (I use a mix of whole wheat, 7 grain, and unbleached white)
1 & 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
1/3 tsp yeast

Mix everything briskly in a glass or crockery bowl, cover with a towel and set on the counter overnight. The next morning beat it down and let it rise again--twice. Then oil your hands good and form it into a loaf and allow to rise for the final time. Cook at 375 til done. Great stuff. Develops a bit of a sourdough taste. The 18 hours is an estimate. How soon it will be ready will depend on the room temp.

Everybody stay safe.


clipped on: 01.28.2010 at 05:24 pm    last updated on: 01.28.2010 at 05:24 pm

RE: Annie's Salsa Recipe (Follow-Up #61)

posted by: readinglady on 08.09.2006 at 08:39 pm in Harvest Forum

Annie's at Canning Camp right now, but here's her recipe with her comments. Note her comment there are two amounts of vinegar, depending upon whether you water bath or pressure can.

"Sure I do, here's mine. Please note that it is pressure canned, because I cut the acid ingredients down by half. The original directions were to use 2/3 cup of vinegar and waterbath, but I wanted less of the acidic flavor and so cut the vinegar in half and process according to the Blue Book instructions for non-acidic vegetables. If you want to waterbath it, add that extra vinegar. If you want it mild, use the smaller amount of jalapenos.

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
3 5 chopped jalapenos
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar (for BWB or 1/3 cup vinegar for PC)
16 oz. tomato sauce
16 oz tomato paste
Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process at 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes for pints. Or BWB 15 minutes.
Makes 6 pints

Good luck and happy canning. I get a lot of compliments on this recipe, and one of the local attorneys actually paid me $10 a pint for the last jar a couple of years ago (He NEEDED it for a Super Bowl party). Fine by me, I wish I had made more!! Annie"

Posted by Carol


clipped on: 01.14.2010 at 09:19 pm    last updated on: 01.14.2010 at 09:19 pm

stronger solutions help mama hummingbird (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: carolreese on 04.21.2009 at 02:46 pm in Hummingbird Garden Forum

I meet with lots of resistance on this topic, but let me stress that I have read many scientific papers on hummingbird feeding and metabolism before I began making my solution 1 part sugar to 2 parts water. I will mention the scientific studies throughout, so that you may do your own investigations.

First of all, make it easy on yourself, you do not need to boil the water. The sugar will melt with a little extra stirring, and the solution will not be prevented from spoiling by boiling it. The first hummer to stick his tongue in it introduces microbes. Of course, the feeders should be cleaned and refilled anytime you see cloudiness, usually every few days.

If you read the studies, you will find that many of the flowers that hummingbirds prefer have nectar concentrations anywhere from thirty percent sugar to an astounding forty-three percent (jewelweed). Some of the desert salvias have even higher concentrations. Here is a link that will list a number of studies on this topic.

Researchers found that some of the "hummingbird flowers" that have lower sugar concentrations, are that way in order to discourage bees, which on certain floral structures are NOT good pollinators. Apparently the flower needs hummingbird business but not bees. If you average the sugar concentrations of the flowers a hummingbird visits, it runs around 31-33%.

For starters, I recommend reading a report by two scientists, Hainsworth and Wolf, biologists with Syracuse University. They studied the feeding habits of hummingbirds presented with different sugar solutions. They found that a hummingbird takes in about the same amount of calories per hour. If the solution is strong, they visit the feeder just a few times an hour. If the solution is weak, the birds visit much more often to take in the same number of calories. Here is the link.

Hummingbirds are actually insectivores, but require a lot of sugar to fuel their search, and fuel is the operative word. A hummingbird must take in an enormous amount of nectar, several times its body its body weight each day. The feeding day is a balance between energy expended for the calories gained. Thats one reason hummingbirds prefer feeders with perches. In fact, hummingbirds spend as much as 80% of the day perched, conserving their energy.

After learning this, I began making my solutions stronger, two parts water to one part sugar, or about 33%. Those who insist a solution this strong is dangerous, must be unaware of this study, or arent thinking it through. The little birds are eating the SAME AMOUNT of sugar per hour, they just dont have to work so hard to get it. I feel entirely comfortable making my sugar solutions stronger after reading that hummingbirds take in about the same amount of calories per hour regardless of the strength of the sugar solution. Weaker solutions just make the hummingbird visit the feeder more often, making it work harder, burn more fuel...and no, a thicker syrup is NOT hard for the hummers to lap up, this is another of those silly unfounded claims.

I want to make the case for a stronger solution helping out the mama hummer. She is a single mom, getting absolutely no help from the male. She alone incubates the eggs, and has only a few minutes away from them each hour to feed. Once the eggs hatch, she must struggle to keep the hatchlings fed as well, regurgitating nectar and small insects, as well as meet her own needs. A stronger solution means she has to work a little less hard.

Also realize that all hummingbirds actually need to put on weight later in the summer to bulk up for the coming migratory flight. Hummingbirds drop about 40% of their body weight during the flight south to Central America.

Speaking at a conference in Pennsylvania a few years ago, I made my case for stronger sugar solutions to an audience that apparently did not take it well.

A few days after returning home, I received a scolding email stating that my recommendations were dangerous for hummingbirds. One of the claims made in the email was that the hummingbirds might become diabetic. Apparently this person did not know about the study done by Dr. James Hargrove in Georgia that explored the reasons hummingbirds were able to take in so much sugar without becoming diabetic. You can read about it here.

Another claim made in the email was that the hummingbirds would need straight water after drinking such a rich mixture and would sip from puddles that might contain pesticides or radiator fluid, poisoning the thirsty little birds. Apparently they did not know about the studies by Drs. Hiebert and Calder, among others, that discussed the problems created by too much water intake. It seems that maintaining a balance of necessary minerals and salts is difficult for a bird that must drink so much fluid throughout the feeding day. Dilute nectar results in more frequent urination which results in loss of minerals and salts, just as you would lose electrolytes if you drank excessive amounts of water. Hummingbirds have occasionally been observed (Adams and Des Lauriers) licking soil, that was later tested and found to have high levels of phosphorous, potassium and calcium. Hmm, seems like a weaker solution is more likely to have birds licking up dangerous compounds, rather than the opposite - though that claim was ludicrous from the start.

I was also scolded for using more sugar since that might cause more land to go into sugar production. This is where I realize this person did not even understand the first study I recommended she read - where Hainsworth's research showed that the hummingbird will take in the same amount, I repeat, the same amount of sugar each hour, it is just that it takes fewer visits if the sugar mixture is richer. Maybe she can't understand that means that I am not using more sugar, I am just making the hummers caloric needs easier to satisfy. Of course the amount of sugar I use in my feeders compared to the sugar in the soft drinks, candy and cookies in this country is miniscule, so that objection was laughable to start with.

Its astonishing how some people react to new information, especially information that may question long held beliefs. When I asked the person who wrote the email for references to back her claims, she quoted several "hummingbird experts", people who had written books, for example. When I pressed her for the science that supported their recommendations, there was no response. I supplied her with my references, and hoped to hear that shed learned from their research. Im still holding my breath.


clipped on: 01.11.2010 at 07:41 pm    last updated on: 01.11.2010 at 07:41 pm

RE: best tasting paste (or other low-seed tomato) (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: carolyn137 on 05.23.2009 at 10:45 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Cleo, I think some of the best tasting paste varieties are:

Mama Leone
Martino's Roma
Sarnowski Polish PLum

But in general I think that non paste tomatoes have the best tastes and there are many that have few seeds.

First on my list would be the many heart shaped varieties, all of which have few seeds and great taste and there are at least two threads here at GW already devoted to heart shaped varieties which you find by doing a search at the bottom of this page.

Off the top of my head I'd suggest:

Anna Russian
Linnie's Oxheart
Russian #117
Indiana Red
Nicky Crain
Anna Maria's Heart
Ukrainian Heart
German Red Strawberry name just a few

And there are beefsteak varieties that are meaty and have dense flesh and few seeds as well. Here's just a few:

Red Penna
Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Red
Omar's Lebanese
OTV Brandywine
Neves Azorean Red

......and many many more.

If you want me to rank them for just a few in the heart and non hearts and paste ones listed above, I can do that as well. Just my own opinion having grown most of them several times.



clipped on: 01.09.2010 at 02:47 pm    last updated on: 01.09.2010 at 02:47 pm

RE: How do you cook these things? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: jeana2009 on 01.04.2010 at 12:11 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

I cook greens but it is one of those throw together recipes no real measurements. This is how my grandma taught me the first time I made them before I turned it into my way of cooking which is just throw it

1 bunch of greens (tough stems cut out)
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic (more if you want)
1/4 cup of vinegar
2 hot peppers (more if you want)
2 large ham hocks or bacon or ham bone
1/4 cup of chicken broth ( not bullion it will be too salty)

Saute onion and garlic in a large pot. Mix broth, vinegar and chopped peppers together and add to onion and garlic.
Add hocks and greens and stir until greens are wilted and lower heat and cover pot and let cook for about 2 hrs. Stir every once and a while and taste to see if you want to add anything else.

You can search on for other recipes also.

I love to cook now I have to learn to cook healthy because hubby is on a health kick now so either him or the bacon has to I love cooking with bacon grease.


clipped on: 01.04.2010 at 01:36 pm    last updated on: 01.04.2010 at 01:37 pm

RE: Concrete mushrooms (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: dee54 on 08.14.2008 at 04:16 pm in Garden Junk Forum

Jeanne S. First thank-you for the link. From reading I have learned that to fully cure cement you must keep it in water for 28 days. Not sure why but 28 is the magic number. I have also read that smaller things such as the mushrooms are like 75% cured like after a week or more in the water. The water makes the cement harder. I really do not know how this works. I have not always done the full 28 days and everything has been fine with my mushrooms and leaves that I have made for me or gifts. Now I have a childs size pool full of concrete things that I am leaving for the full length of time. It is hard to wait so long though.


clipped on: 01.04.2010 at 01:23 pm    last updated on: 01.04.2010 at 01:23 pm

Concrete mushrooms

posted by: dee54 on 08.12.2008 at 06:32 pm in Garden Junk Forum

Here are three of the 14 concrete mushrooms that I have made in the last three weeks. They are so much fun to see what they look like when unmolded. I use a variety of plastic and glass items like fast food big drinking cups, glass or plastic sundae glasses, glass footed candy dishes, and metal bowls.
When using the cups or sundae glasses I first spray Pam and then line the inside of the glass with plastic. For the tops I just line with the plastic unless it is a deep bowl. It then is easy to pop or pull out the hardened form. Then they go into the water to cure. I also use another cup like the stem that I cover in plastic and place in the middle of the top so the two will fit right into each other when finished.

Image link: Concrete mushrooms (38 k)


clipped on: 01.04.2010 at 01:21 pm    last updated on: 01.04.2010 at 01:21 pm

RE: Concrete mushrooms (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: dee54 on 08.12.2008 at 10:16 pm in Garden Junk Forum

morninglori I use
1 portland
1 sand
No, I have not painted any but I do want to try. I also have made leaves and have painted them before. I want to try hypertufa for the mushrooms so that I can carve them a bit.


clipped on: 01.04.2010 at 01:20 pm    last updated on: 01.04.2010 at 01:20 pm

RE: faces (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: doodys on 12.02.2009 at 05:11 pm in Garden Junk Forum

I mixed it up just like for a cement leaf.One cups of sand with two cups Portland cement.The mask I bought from walmart. I had to tape up the eyes,nose and mouth.The tape held the stones in place till I could cover it all with cement.I used a dremel on the eyes later to remove some of the cement.Before I could pour the cement I had to place the mask in sand in a plastic container.The sand helped me shape the mask and stabilized it while drying.


clipped on: 01.04.2010 at 01:06 pm    last updated on: 01.04.2010 at 01:07 pm

RE: Tomatoes that suck (Follow-Up #90)

posted by: moosemac on 03.08.2008 at 11:25 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

I roast them in the oven at 250 until soft leathery, (it takes quite a while depending on the humidity). Then I cool and freeze them in layers with plastic wrap between each layer. That way I can grab a few at a time for sandwiches, etc.

If I'm pressed for time I roast at 350 until they exude juice then drain off the juice and reduce the temp to 250. They are not quite as good but it is quicker.


clipped on: 12.22.2009 at 07:45 pm    last updated on: 12.22.2009 at 07:46 pm

RE: To Tomato Gurus, especially Dawn (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: okiedawn on 07.30.2009 at 10:18 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Hi Bella,

Only 10? Oh my. Are you trying to kill me? Trying to make me cry? The thought of only growing 10 varieties just makes me feel so sad.

I'll try to list 10 but it will be very hard. I have a lot of favorites, so if someone asked me this question 14 days in a row, I'd probably come up with 14 different lists. Furthermore, on the day I wrote any one of those 14 lists, I'd be convinced..."All right, these ten really are my faves...."

So, here's my top ten. And, just so you know, I adore the flavors of the Black Tomatoes (which really aren't black) so the list may skew heavily towards them.

1. Black Krim
2. True Black Brandywine
3. Indian Stripe--for fresh eating (or Cherokee Purple...they're almost identical in taste, but IS produces slightly better and slightly earlier in my garden)....and, oops, now the list is really 11
4. Black Cherry
5. Sun Gold Cherry (Sun Sugar is almost identical but has better crack resistance and I really can't tell them apart when I grow them side by side)....and, oops, now the list is really 12
6. Nebraska Wedding
7. Jet Star
8. Brandy Boy (if I lived in a cooler climate where Brandyine produced well, I'd replace this with Brandywine Sudduth).....and, oops, now the list is really 13
9. Dr. Wyche's Yellow
10. Supersonic

That's my basic top ten.

If I was growing only heirlooms, though, it would be...

1. True Black Brandywine
2. Black Krim
3. Cherokee Purple
4. Indian Stripe
5. Black Cherry
6. Ildi Cherry
7. Nebraska Wedding
8. Estler's Mortgage Lifter
9. Dr. Wyche's Yellow
10. Neve's Azorean Red

If I were growing only hybrids, this would be my list....

1. Sweet Million Cherry
2. Better Bush (because it is so early)
3. Lemon Boy
4. Sun Gold Cherry
5. Jet Star
6. Supersonic
7. Ramapo
8. Better Boy
9. Beefmaster
10. Big Beef

If I were growing only small bite-sized tomatoes for dehydrating for winter, and for summertime snacking in the garden, and for salads, this is the list....mixed hybrids and heirlooms.....

1. Black Cherry (black cherry type)
2. Sun Gold (golden-orange cherry type)
3. Tess's Land Race Currant (red currant type)
4. Ildi (yellow grape type)
5. Riesentraube (red cherry type)
6. Black Plum (black plum type)
7. Orange Santa (orange plum type but with a pointy end)
8. Rose Quartz (pink grape type)
9. Red Grape (red grape type)
10. Coyote (yellowish-ivory colored currant type)

And, if I was going to grow only paste-type tomatoes for canning, cooking, saucing, freezing as crushed tomatoes, or dehydrating, this would be my list...

1. Martino's Roma
2. San Marzano Redorta
3. Amish Paste
4. Viva Italia
5. Principe' Borghese (for dehydrating)
6. Super San Marzano
7. Grandman Mary's Paste
8. Rio Grande
9. Jersey Devil
10. Black Plum (for dehydrating)

So, it isn't quite a Top Ten list, but it is five top ten lists.

I can't wait to see what other avid growers list as their top ten.

But, if you asked me tomorrow or the next day, my ultimate top ten list might be different.



clipped on: 12.17.2009 at 04:59 pm    last updated on: 12.17.2009 at 04:59 pm

Sun Dried Tomatoes

posted by: brokenbar on 08.20.2008 at 09:54 pm in Harvest Forum

I raise tomatoes for sun drying. I do about 1000 to 2000 lbs a year which I sell to the upscale restaurants in Cody Wyoming & Billings Montana. I wanted to pass on my favorites for you considering doing some drying. Any tomato can be used for drying but some varieties are better than others.

I grow 15 mainstay varieties that I have kept as I culled others that did not meet my criteria.
I also try at least 5 new varieties of paste types each year and am lucky if one makes it into my herd. I am looking for specific things:

Meaty with a low moisture content
Few seeds
A rich and tangy flavor
Size-Small tomatoes are just more work for me.
Not fussy-Take heat and cold and wind. No primadonnas!
Bloom well and set lots and lots of fruit
Dry to a nice pliable consistency

These are my Top Five
Chinese Giant
Carol Chyko
Cuoro D Toro
San Marzano Redorta

I wanted to add that were I to be stranded on a desert Island with only one tomato it would be Russo Sicilian Togeta. This is my gallstarh that sets fruit first, ripens the earliest, bears heavy crops in any weather and is producing right up until hard frost. It is not a true paste but rather a stuffing tomato. None-the-less, the flavor of these dried is as good as it gets. It is also wonderful for just eating or slicing and the fruit is extra large.

For those wanting to know my Secret Recipe for drying, here you go:

Wash, stem and slice each tomato into 1/4" thick slices. Place in a very large bowl or clean bucket and cover with cheap red wine. I use Merlot but if you prefer something else, knock yourself out. I have a friend that swears by cheap Chianti! Soak tomato slices 24 hours in the wine. Drain well. Lay tomatoes just touching on dehydrator shelves or on screen in your sun-drying apparatus. Sprinkle each slice with a mixture containing equal parts of dried basil-oregano-parsley and then sprinkle each slice with Kosher Salt. You may choose to forego the salt if you wish but tomatoes will take longer to dry. Dry tomatoes until they are firm and leatherlike with no moisture pockets, but NOT brittle. (If you get them too dry, soak them in lemon juice for a few minutes.) To store, place in vacuum bags or ziplock bags and freeze.

IMPORTANT!!! If you will be storing sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil you !!!MUST!!! dip each slice in vinegar before adding to oil.

To pack in oil:
Dip each tomato into a small dish of white wine vinegar. Shake off theexcess vinegar and pack them in olive oil adding 1/4 cup red wine. For tomatoes in oil I am selling, I put the tomatoes into the oil two weeks ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure they are completely immersed in the oil. When the jar is full, cap it tightly. I use my vacuum sealer to seal the canning lids on. Store at *cool* room temperature for at least a month before using. They may be stored in the refrigerator, but the oil will solidify at
refrigerator temperatures (it quickly reliquifies at room temperature however). As tomatoes are removed from the jar, add more olive oil as necessary to keep the remaining tomatoes covered. I have stored oil-packed tomatoes in m root cellar for over a year. . I have tried a number of methods to pack the tomatoes in oil, but the vinegar treatment is the difference between a good dried tomato and a great one. It is also important from a food safety standpoint, as it acidifies the oil and discourages growth of bacteria and mold. Soaking in the wine also acidifies them.

****** WARNING ********

Do *NOT* add fresh garlic cloves or fresh herbs of any kind to oil-packed dried tomatoes, UNLESS you store them in the refrigerator and plan on using them within 7 days. Garlic is a low-acid food which, when placed in oil, creates a low-acid anaerobic environment just
perfect growth medium for botulinum bacteria if the mixture is not refrigerated. Be safe and add your garlic to the dried tomatoes as part of the recipe for them *after* they come out of the oil.


clipped on: 11.24.2009 at 12:34 pm    last updated on: 11.24.2009 at 12:34 pm

RE: Name brand potting soil root rot warning (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: garyfla on 10.13.2009 at 04:52 am in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Wild guess but I'll bet they're making what sells. The local box stores here carry almost nothing else. according to a clerk it sells 10 to one over other brands.
Only thing you can do is experiment with what works for you. Some interesting formula on the "Container " forum. Generally I use 5 parts pine bark fines 2 canadian peat 1 perlite throw in some builders sand for succulents. Again all mu pots are outdoors not in a GH gary


clipped on: 10.22.2009 at 11:30 pm    last updated on: 10.22.2009 at 11:30 pm

RE: My hillbilly trellis, anyone else add your trellises (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: aka_strawberrygoat on 03.12.2009 at 04:49 pm in Garden Junk Forum

Bohemian here,


clipped on: 09.01.2009 at 09:54 pm    last updated on: 09.01.2009 at 09:54 pm

RE: Green tomato salsa (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: missdixielee on 10.02.2007 at 02:54 pm in Harvest Forum

I have a recipe that I made up one year....I never measure when I cook so I'll give you the ingredients and you all can make it to your taste..
Quarter your onions and green tomatoes, place in large bowl, add garlic cloves (whole is fine) juice from 2-4 limes depending on how you like, cilantro, salt, peppers (I use jalapenio,anaheim,green, red, yellow all and whatever I can get my hands on. drizzle olive oil all over and toss to coat, Spread out on a baking sheet and roast in a 250 degree oven for approx 3 hours then place in food processor and chop to desired consistency. this has the most wonderful flavor. put into jars and cold-pack for 20 min. enjoy!!


clipped on: 08.25.2009 at 02:21 pm    last updated on: 08.25.2009 at 02:21 pm

RE: Anyone have a salsa recipe to share, please? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: jessaka on 07.21.2008 at 07:43 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


Mimis Moms salsa

6 medium tomatoes (approx. 1 1/4 lb)
3 bell peppers
1 onion
4 to 5 cloves garlic
6 jalapenos
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2 t. salt

Mimis version

I triple all ingredients except the salt (I use 4 t. salt) and I also add 6 to 10 habaneros and 6 to 10 serrano peppers, and 1/2 seeded and 2 bunches cilantro. Chop all veggies into small pieces cook everything togehrer for 45 mintue to an hour. If too hot add can of tomatoes, chopped in pieces, if too thick add small amount of water. I use pint canning jars and pressure can for 30 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.

Recipe tripled yields 10 to 12 pints.

8-10-07 Tripled using 6 lbs. home grown tomatoes. Used 4 medium onions, 5 t. salt, roasted small pablanos and added rone tomatoes, jalapenso, garlic and bell peppers, decided not to run bell pepper through salsa screen. Chopped onions, 8 habinaros, 2 serrano (cause jalapens were fairly warm ) rest of bell peppers added, 2 bunches cilantro, very last yield 12 pints.


clipped on: 08.25.2009 at 02:13 pm    last updated on: 08.25.2009 at 02:13 pm

RE: Salsa Recipes (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: granygreenthumb on 06.10.2009 at 08:24 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Here's my salsa recipe:

3 c. tomatoes, diced
1 c. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, fresh minced
2 jalapenos, diced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped and optional
salt to taste

You can add more or less to your liking.
We like to mix it up and let it rest overnight but it doesn't always last until then.

My hubby likes it over eggs.

Hope you like it.



clipped on: 08.25.2009 at 02:08 pm    last updated on: 08.25.2009 at 02:09 pm

RE: Sun dried Tomatos (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: chefgumby on 06.22.2009 at 10:45 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

I've used lots of different techniques for drying tomatoes and capturing the summer goodness, but by far the easiest method I most use at restaurants and at home is to dry them in the oven on the lowest setting possible (best in a convection oven). If you have a gas stove, sometimes you can actually dry them with just the pilot light! That way you don't even have to turn the oven on. The best part is adding your own touches, such as fresh herbs and olive oil like Dawn mentioned. Sky's the limit, right? The main thing is getting the size right so the moisture evaporates consistently. You want all the pieces to be the same size. I generally halve (half?:) paste types, cut cherries in half or leave whole, and....must admit I don't generally like to dry large tomatoes, but you would definitely want to at least quarter them. You'll never buy "sun-dried tomatoes" again.

happy hot gardening


clipped on: 08.15.2009 at 09:52 pm    last updated on: 08.15.2009 at 09:52 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: annie1992 on 08.06.2005 at 09:53 am in Harvest Forum

That's it, Patris!! I'll send a jar of my salsa to Oprah and she won't be able to resist us. Bwahahahahahah.....

And it only took me five YEARS and countless batches before I got it to the point where I love it. Piece of cake.

Here's the recipe. Note that I cut the vinegar way, way down and pressure cook mine. If you want to HWB it you may, but the vinegar will have to be increased to one cup. You can also sub lemon juice or lime juice for the vinegar for a different flavor (although I tried taking out the cider vinegar altogether and that wasn't right either).


8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 cups chopped onion
1 cups chopped green pepper
3 5 chopped jalapenos
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
16 oz. tomato sauce
16 oz tomato paste
Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process at 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes for pints.

Makes 6 pints

Enjoy this, and happy canning.

Annie (blushing)


clipped on: 07.28.2009 at 10:54 am    last updated on: 07.28.2009 at 10:54 am

RE: Vietnamese Cilantro (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: digit on 05.07.2006 at 09:53 am in Asian Vegetables Forum

Culantro doesn't get much use in our household - mostly used on fish as a change from the more usual dill.

Remember that cilantro can be used up until the white flowers form - only the stems get coarse. Except for volunteers, we plant LATE (end of May, first of June). That way it is still around when the early cherry tomatoes show up.

Cilantro may be used anytime in a salad or on top a bowl of noodles but, of course, it is wonderful in salsa. Cilantro is first wilted with green onions and tomatoes under the broiler, then the tomatoes is peeled and everything is beaten to a pulp with hot pepper in mortar with pestle.

A little salt . . . enjoy.



clipped on: 07.14.2009 at 04:20 pm    last updated on: 07.14.2009 at 04:20 pm

Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention V

posted by: tapla on 04.09.2008 at 08:08 pm in Container Gardening Forum

A thread similar to this has been posted four other times. Each of the other postings have reached the maximum allowable - 150 replies. I would like to preface this post by saying that over the last few years, the thread & subject has garnered a fair amount of attention, evidenced by the many, many e-mails I find in my in-box, and has been a wonderful catalyst in the forging of new friendships and in increasing my list of acquaintances with similar growing interests. I welcome these individual exchanges, which alone are enough to make me hope the subject continues to pique interest and curiosity. Not an afterthought - I should add that there is equal satisfaction in the knowledge that some of the information provided in good-spirited exchange might be making a significant difference in some growers' success or satisfaction.
I'll provide links to the previous three threads at the end of what I have written. Thank you for looking into this subject - I hope that any/all who read it take something interesting and helpful from it. I know it's long, but I hope you find it worth the read.


Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention

A Discussion About Soils

As container gardeners, our first priority should be to insure the soils we use are adequately aerated for the life of the planting, or in the case of perennial material (trees, shrubs, garden perennials), from repot to repot. Soil aeration/drainage is the most important consideration in any container planting. Soil is the foundation that all container plantings are built on, and aeration is the cornerstone of that foundation. Since aeration and drainage are inversely linked to soil particle size, it makes good sense to try to find and use soils or primary components with particles larger than peat. That components retain their structure for extended periods is also extremely important. Pine and some other types of conifer bark fit the bill nicely and Ill talk more about them later.

The following also hits pretty hard against the futility of using a drainage layer in an attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the amount soil available for root colonization. A wick will remove water from the saturated layer of soil at the container bottom. It works in reverse of the self-watering pots widely being discussed on this forum now.

Since there are many questions about soils appropriate for use in containers, I'll post basic mix recipes later, in case any would like to try the soil. It will follow the Water Movement info.

Consider this if you will:

Soil need fill only a few needs in plant culture. Anchorage - A place for roots to extend, securing the plant and preventing it from toppling. Nutrient Sink - It must retain sufficient nutrients in available form to sustain plant systems. Gas Exchange - It must be sufficiently porous to allow air to the root system and by-product gasses to escape. And finally, Water - It must retain water enough in liquid and/or vapor form to sustain plants between waterings. Most plants could be grown without soil as long as we can provide air, nutrients, and water, (witness hydroponics). Here, I will concentrate primarily on the movement of water in soil(s).

There are two forces that cause water to move through soil - one is gravity, the other capillary action. Gravity needs little explanation, but for this writing I would like to note: Gravitational flow potential (GFP) is greater for water at the top of the container than it is for water at the bottom. I'll return to that later. Capillarity is a function of the natural forces of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion is water's tendency to stick to solid objects like soil particles and the sides of the pot. Cohesion is the tendency for water to stick to itself. Cohesion is why we often find water in droplet form - because cohesion is at times stronger than adhesion, waters bond to itself can be stronger than the bond to the object it might be in contact with; in this condition it forms a drop. Capillary action is in evidence when we dip a paper towel in water. The water will soak into the towel and rise several inches above the surface of the water. It will not drain back into the source. It will stop rising when the GFP equals the capillary attraction of the fibers in the paper.

There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .125 (1/8) inch.. This is water that occupies a layer of soil that is always saturated & will not drain from the portion of the pot it occupies. It can evaporate or be used by the plant, but physical forces will not allow it to drain. It is there because the capillary pull of the soil at some point will surpass the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is "perched". The smaller the size of the particles in a soil, the greater the height of the PWT.

If we fill five cylinders of varying heights and diameters with the same soil mix and provide each cylinder with a drainage hole, the PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the pot is where roots seldom penetrate & where root problems frequently begin due to a lack of aeration. Water and nutrient uptake are also compromised by lack of air in the root zone. Keeping in mind the fact that the PWT height is soil dependent and has nothing to do with height or shape of the container, we can draw the conclusion that: Tall growing containers will always have a higher percentage of unsaturated soil than squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. Physiology dictates that plants must have oxygen at the root zone in order to maintain normal root function.

A given volume of large soil particles has less overall surface area when compared to the same volume of small particles and therefore less overall adhesive attraction to water. So, in soils with large particles, GFP more readily overcomes capillary attraction. They drain better. We all know this, but the reason, often unclear, is that the height of the PWT is lower in coarse soils than in fine soils. The key to good drainage is size and uniformity of soil particles. Mixing large particles with small is often very ineffective because the smaller particles fit between the large, increasing surface area which increases the capillary attraction and thus the water holding potential.

When we add a coarse drainage layer under our soil, it does not improve drainage. It does though, conserve on the volume of soil required to fill a pot and it makes the pot lighter. When we employ this exercise in an attempt to improve drainage, what we are actually doing is moving the level of the PWT higher in the pot. This simply reduces the volume of soil available for roots to colonize. Containers with uniform soil particle size from top of container to bottom will yield better and more uniform drainage and have a lower PWT than containers with drainage layers. The coarser the drainage layer, the more detrimental to drainage it is because water is more (for lack of a better scientific word) reluctant to make the downward transition because the capillary pull of the soil above the drainage layer is stronger than the GFP. The reason for this is there is far more surface area for water to be attracted to in the soil above the drainage layer than there is in the drainage layer, so the water "perches".

I know this goes against what most have thought to be true, but the principle is scientifically sound, and experiments have shown it as so. Many nurserymen are now employing the pot-in-pot or the pot-in-trench method of growing to capitalize on the science.

If you discover you need to increase drainage, you can simply insert an absorbent wick into a drainage hole & allow it to extend from the saturated soil to a few inches below the bottom of the pot, or allow it to contact soil below the container where it can be absorbed. This will successfully eliminate the PWT & give your plants much more soil to grow in as well as allow more, much needed air to the roots.

Uniform size particles of fir, hemlock or pine bark are excellent as the primary component of your soils. The lignin contained in bark keeps it rigid and the rigidity provides air-holding pockets in the root zone far longer than peat or compost mixes that too quickly break down to a soup-like consistency. Conifer bark also contains suberin, a lipid sometimes referred to as natures preservative. Suberin is what slows the decomposition of bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains.

In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they starve/"suffocate" because there is insufficient air at the root zone to insure normal water/nutrient uptake and root function.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and the effectiveness of using a wick to remove it, try this experiment: Fill a soft drink cup nearly full of garden soil. Add enough water to fill to the top, being sure all soil is saturated. Punch a drain hole in the bottom of the cup & allow to drain. When the drainage stops, insert a wick into the drain hole . Take note of how much additional water drains. Even touching the soil with a toothpick through the drain hole will cause substantial additional water to drain. This is water that occupied the PWT before being drained by the wick. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper, so water begins to move downward seeking the "new" bottom of the pot, pulling the rest of the water in the PWT along with it. If there is interest, there are other simple and interesting experiments you can perform to confirm the existence of a PWT in container soils. I can expand later.

I remain cognizant of these physical principles whenever I build a soil. I havent used a commercially prepared soil in many years, preferring to build a soil or amend one of my 2 basic mixes to suits individual plantings. I use many amendments when building my soils, but the basic building process starts with conifer bark and perlite. Sphagnum peat usually plays a minor, or at least a secondary role in my container soils because it breaks down too quickly and when it does, it impedes drainage and reduces aeration.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, though it can improve drainage in some cases, reduces aeration by filling valuable macro-pores in soils. Unless sand particle size is fairly uniform and/or larger than about BB size I leave it out of soils. Compost is too unstable for me to consider using in soils. The small amount of micronutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources.

My Basic Soil

I'll give two recipes. I usually make big batches. I also frequently add agricultural sulfur to some soils for acid-lovers or to soils I use dolomitic lime in.

5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime (or gypsum in some cases)
controlled release fertilizer (if preferred)
micronutrient powder, other continued source of micronutrients, or fertilizer with all minors

Big batch:

2-3 cu ft pine bark fines
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
2 cups dolomitic (garden) lime (or gypsum in some cases)
2 cups CRF (if preferred)
1/2 cup micronutrient powder (or other source of the minors)

Small batch:

3 gallons pine bark
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
4 tbsp lime (or gypsum in some cases)
1/4 cup CRF
micro-nutrient powder (or other source of the minors)

I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all are highly organic) container soils are productive for up to 5 years or more. I disagree and will explain why if there is interest. Even if you were to substitute fir bark for pine bark in this recipe (and this recipe will long outlast any peat based soil) you should only expect a maximum of two to three years life before a repot is in order. Usually perennials, including trees (they're perennials too, you know) ;o) should be repotted more frequently to insure vigor closer to their genetic potential. If a soil is desired that will retain structure for long periods, we need to look more to inorganic components. Some examples are crushed granite, pea stone, coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface or Schultz soil conditioner, and others.

Thank you for your interest.

Al Fassezke

If there is interest, please find the previous postings here:

Posting I

Posting II

Posting III

Posting IV


clipped on: 05.09.2009 at 03:39 pm    last updated on: 05.09.2009 at 03:40 pm

RE: white fringe tree (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: christie_sw_mo on 04.27.2009 at 02:14 pm in Ozarks Region Forum

Was your last fringe tree under a walnut?
I've found the easiest way to search is to put in the botanical name and the word juglone on google. Then if you click on the word "cached", it will highlight the search words for you.
I'm afraid it's not going to help much to search the lists though because I looked at a few and it's listed as tolerant on some lists and susceptible on others. I wonder if it's just inaccurate information or maybe fringe tree is only slightly susceptible and will sometimes do ok under black walnut. I've seen flowering dogwood listed both ways also.

From what I've read, the amount of juglone in the soil can vary depending on drainage, age of trees etc. The article below talks a little bit on how to reduce the amount of juglone in your soil if you scroll down about half-way. Fringetree is listed as Chionanthus spp. on the list at the bottom of the article and according to this one it's tolerant. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Black Walnut Trees and Juglone


clipped on: 04.27.2009 at 04:25 pm    last updated on: 04.27.2009 at 04:25 pm

RE: veggie dishes (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: lillyjane on 04.11.2009 at 05:39 am in Ozarks Region Forum

Hi everyone, I've don't think I have posted here before, but there are so many good ideas here for veggies that I will try, maybe some one will get some good out of these recipes. ")
I cook baby carrots & then add just a small amount of butter & maple syrup, also we eat alot of cabbage,
Fried: is just cut up & put in a skillet & fry with a little salt & pepper then when it has some brown color to it I add water & cover with a lid to steam it, I sometimes add corn beef,
A different way is to quarter cabbage & cook it in a slow cooker with chicken breasts & chicken broth, salt & pepper.
Cole Slaw is another favorite with carrots, red cabbage & mayonnaise dressing

One good for pot luck dinners is;
Ramen Noodle Cole Slaw
mix 1/4 cup veg oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
The packet of beef seasoning (set aside)
smash the packet of noodles
add about 2 cups thinly cut cabbage
tiny cut red onions
sunflower seeds
mix & let chill in fridge
double for family gatherings

Elbow macaroni cooked & then add a can of tomatoes with salt & pepper

Also instant rice & add salsa to it & cook, sometimes we add sausage or what ever kind of meat we have left over.(we eat this one in the morning for breakfast with white gravy & it is also good for supper)

Oh, another one is a can of cut green beans, a can of french style green bean, cut up taters, onions, a beef bouillon cube, & cook till taters are done, it is really good with bacon or polish sausage.

I cut taters up into bitesize chunks add some cut onion & fry then when brown I add some hot dogs cut in half & some water & cover with a lid to steam.

lilly ")

When the kids were little they would NOT eat anything that they saw an onion in, DH & I really love onions & garlic so I just added in the onion & garlic POWDER & the kids just loved it & never knew the difference. I know this is underhanded but at least everyone was happy & I got to cook everything in one pot instead of one with & one with out onions. Tee-Hee-Hee ") Now that they are grown they love onions & garlic. Big Grins


clipped on: 04.11.2009 at 11:37 am    last updated on: 04.11.2009 at 11:37 am

RE: I'm going to try: (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: sweetwm007 on 09.13.2008 at 07:35 pm in Ozarks Region Forum

i don't know if i do it correctly but i fill a 5 gal bucket with water. put in about 2 8 oz cans of alfalfa pellets and 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses. i drop in the aquarium stone from the pump and let it brew 24 hrs. there should be foam on the top of the bucket. be sure you clean your lines and stone with some diluted bleach when you are finished. i do 2 buckets at a time for like 5 days. that will give me 50 gals for our 10 raised beds.



clipped on: 03.28.2009 at 02:57 pm    last updated on: 03.28.2009 at 02:58 pm

RE: Lotus Barrel Pix (and other bowl lotus pix) for Rodney (Follow-Up #30)

posted by: joyce on 02.25.2008 at 08:57 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Hi Catherine! Sorry it took so long to reply. I read this a couple days ago but the page kept on locking up when I went to reply.
Also, we've been house hunting like maniacs....and this morning we got the good news that an offer we made on the one house we really loved, was accepted! YAHOOOOO! :)

Anyway, The first month or so of each season, the lotus covers the surface with floating pads. They start off small, but as it gets warmer, the pads get bigger and bigger. Once they cover the surface, and it seems to me when the pads get crowded and start overlapping, the aerial leaves start to emerge. Once there are enough aerial leaves to shade the surface, the floating pads on the surface rot away, and are replaced by a few smaller, feeble versions of floating pads. I think the reason for this is because there is so much shade.
As you can see from the first photo, the aerial leaves fan out a bit, almost bouquet style, creating a tree-like canopy, trying to get as much sun as possible.
Also, I only keep 3-6" of water above the soil line.

My lotus and potted container ponds get dragged into my garage (attached, never freezes but hovers around freezing on the coldest nights) for the winter and stacked with wooden slats on top of each other. Looks terrible, and I keep them barely submerged, but it works for me. Right now the lotus tubs do not even have any standing water....just mud. Looks NASTY. Here are some pix from a few years ago of my garage swamp.

Not very pretty, huh? LOL!


clipped on: 03.26.2009 at 03:12 pm    last updated on: 03.26.2009 at 03:12 pm

RE: Lotus Barrel Pix (and other bowl lotus pix) for Rodney (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: joyce on 01.11.2008 at 04:05 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Thanks everyone!

Sarah, cold will not cause the tubers to rot.
I plant mine very early in the spring, and often the lotus tubs have thin coats of ice over them in the morning. Lotus are VERY hardy to cold. The only way you can kill a tuber is to freeze it solid...rock hard.
Lotus are not tropical...they are hardy through zone 4.
I plant mine in March, usually before March 15th...and they sit outside in their tubs up against the sunny side of the house on the patio. For WEEKS they are subjected to near freezing and light freezing night temps, and maybe getting in the 50s and 60s during the day until the end of April. April they start putting out little pads, and the REALLY get going by the end of May. By July they are blooming or in bud. :)

The best way I have rotted tubers was to start them indoors, where they do not get sufficient sunlight. In my experience, starting them indoors is a death sentence for lotus. Unless you have a greenhouse or a sunroom where the surface of the water is in the sun for at least 6 hours a are asking for trouble....ROT.

Here is my planting method, which for me, gets blooms by mid summer through fall, no matter what kind of lotus you start with.
I fill my wine barrels about 3/4 with composted cow manure, but plain old compost can be used too. Before putting the compost in, put one cup of Osmocote (Veggie Formula) or Multicote (Veggie Formula) at the bottom (these are NOT your typical water soluable fertilizers...please read the entire label on the container to understand exactly how they work). I do NOT recommend any other kind of fertilizer with my lotus in a barrel planting method. You will NOT get the same results as I do unless you follow my instructions precisely: PLEASE NO SUBSTITUTING!
Gently lay the lotus tubers on top of the compost. (you can make a little depression and nestle the tuber into it) Then gently cover the tubers with about 1-2" of pea gravel, keeping the growing tips above the gravel. Gently, slowly add water until 3-4" of water covers the gravel. Then do nothing but top off the barrel(s) when the water gets low, and watch the lotus grow and bloom. DO NOT ADD ANY MORE all. Osmocote and Multicote are time released, and will last through fall.

Remember, besides the Osmocote/Multicote, compost is LOADED with all sorts of micronutrients which your lotus will devour.
Regular potting soil or clay, or topsoil does NOT have all the micronutrients that compost has.
That is why composted cow manure is the best, with regular compost coming in second place.


clipped on: 03.26.2009 at 03:06 pm    last updated on: 03.26.2009 at 03:06 pm

RE: veggie dishes (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: christie_sw_mo on 03.12.2009 at 03:53 pm in Ozarks Region Forum

Welcome Beth! Glad you decided to check out the Ozarks forum. It seems like kids just make up their own minds about what they're going to eat. My oldest daughter LOVED green peppers when she was a toddler. I thought it was strange that she would turn her nose up at other vegetables and then eat those like they were candy.
Your salad was similar to Helen's so I combined the two and put Zesty Italian on it. I didn't have Swiss or Feta but had other cheese. What a colorful salad! It turned out very good. It would be great for potlucks.

Helen - Here's the recipe for Trees and Raisins. It sounds healthy. It would be if you left out all the mayo, sugar and bacon. lol

1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. chopped red onion
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
10 strips bacon cooked and crumbled

Mix together and pour over broccoli florets.
Tastes better if you let it sit in the frig for an hour or two to marinate before serving.

I've never tried asparagus with bacon but it sure sounds good. My little patch is same as gone. It was in too much shade. It's hard to keep the weeds out and I was having trouble with asparagus beetles laying eggs on the spears. I almost ordered some to plant this year but didn't. The fresh asparagus you buy at the grocery store just isn't as good, usually tough.

Sunny - I can remember eating "greens" when I was a kid but it was't a favorite. I might like them better now. Bacon helps just about anything. lol

The potatoes Mulberry described sound good and I've had the confetti potatoes at SDC but haven't tried to make them myself. I should do that.

My mother always creamed asparagus and also peas. She makes creamed peas with new red potatoes when those are available.


clipped on: 03.12.2009 at 09:20 pm    last updated on: 03.12.2009 at 09:20 pm

RE: veggie dishes (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: razorback33 on 03.12.2009 at 08:20 pm in Ozarks Region Forum

Had Broccoli salad with dinner this evening and then logged on to find that it was one of the subjects here. Great minds think alike!
We use the recipe posted by christie, with some modifications.
1/2 c. raisins (we use California Gold Raisins)
1/4 c. chopped red onion ( large red onion, thinly sliced)
1 c. mayonnaise ( cup)
1/2 c. sugar (2 Tbsp)
2 tbsp. vinegar (Apple Cider vinegar)
10 strips bacon cooked and crumbled (6 strips)

With less Mayo, it's less creamy, but more crunchy and by mixing the Mayo, sugar & vinegar ahead of time, the sugar completely dissolves. We use very little sugar in cooking, except for making jams & jellies.

That was the green vegetable dish for the meal of southern fried chicken, butterfly shrimp, cheese/garlic biscuits & iced tea (peach flavored).

We have bacon for breakfast most mornings, so cut back on it's use in other recipes.
Our local Kroger has a special this week on Smithfield Hickory Smoked bacon, at $3.99lb./BOGO. That's cheaper than the unseasoned ground pork trimmings everyone is passing off as country sausage!


clipped on: 03.12.2009 at 09:19 pm    last updated on: 03.12.2009 at 09:19 pm

RE: Tried & True Vegetable Varieties Grown Locally? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: gldno1 on 03.09.2009 at 09:49 am in Ozarks Region Forum

Violet, I don't think I really answered your original question.

Here is what does really well without a lot of work for me:

Illini blackberries (Miller Nurseries, NY)
Supermale Asparagus (Miller Nurseries, NY)
Sour Cherry tree (Miller, either a Meteor or a North Star, redskin, yellow flesh). No spraying whatsoever.
Various strawberries from various sources.
Kwintus Pole Beans (Park Seed Co., grown on cattle panel hoop frame)
Cimarron lettuce, romaine type from Jung and Pinetree
Various potatoes, Yukon Gold is the favorite (from various sources including small potatoes I save and sprouted ones from the pantry)

Beauregard sweet potato (usually from Dorothy's Digs, local greenhouse close by)

Bodacious Sweet Corn (Hummerts in Springfield) also Peaches and Cream and Candy Corn....Bodacious is the favorite)

Various tomatoes, mostly heirloom varieties from various online sources....favorite last year was Granny Cantrell (sorry ceresone, Anias Noir got more disease for me)

All peppers do well: Parks Thickset, Cal. Wonder, Sweet and Hot banana, cayenne, Anaheim and Ancho, Valencia

Bloomsdale Long-Standing spinach

Onions: Only Candy and Super Star (from seed, Harris Seed Co. NY) am trying a sample of plants to see how they compare to seed started. They are the only onions that have ever made any size for neutral type.

Hope this you will see, I don't grow exotics...or haven't before.


clipped on: 03.09.2009 at 10:25 pm    last updated on: 03.09.2009 at 10:25 pm

RE: Container Toms (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: okiedawn on 04.03.2008 at 08:11 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


I grow tomatoes in anything and everything that will hold dirt, including (but not limited to) the following: white (or colored) 5-gallon buckets, the white or yellow buckets that large quantities of cat litter comes in (I spray paint them a lovely dark green with the Fusion paint made for spray-painting plastics), galvanized tubs, clay flower pots, plastic flower pots, window boxes (very dwarf tomatoes), cheap black plastic nursery pots (the size that large shrubs or small trees come in) and (as Terrence mentioned) Sunleaves Grow Bags. I haven't tried Smart Pots yet, but trying them is on my "to do" list. My gigantic containers are somewhat larger than a half whiskey barrel--about as big around or a maybe a little larger, and a few inches taller. One of my "old rancher" gardening friends gave them to me. He gets some sort of cattle feed or supplement in them. Some of them are black, others are beige or white, and one is pale pink!

Over the years, I've tried many soilless mixes and potting soils. I also tried ordinary garden soil just to see if it would be as awful as everyone said it would be (and it was).

One of the worst was the Miracle-Grow Moisture Control Soil. I had though it might be a good thing to use, but it held too much moisture and did not drain well enough. (I had thought that in our heat, it would be impossible for it to hold too much moisture--but I was wrong.) It might have worked well in summer's heat, but it kept the plants way too wet in the spring.

Any soilless mix is preferable to a really heavy bagged potting soil. In my experience, the cheaper the potting soil, the poorer the quality, too, and some of the cheaper ones are really heavy and just do not drain well at all.
So, I've finally gotten to where I just mix up a tomato-growing version of Al's Mix (from the container forum).

I start with his basic recipe and make a few changes. My changes to his original ingredients are noted in the parentheses:

3 cu. ft. pine bark fines
5 gallons peat or compost (I prefer compost)
5 gallons perlite (I substitute composted manure because I don't want the containers to drain too quickly in our heat)
1 cup lime
2 cups controlled release fertilizer (I use Espoma Tomato-Tone 4-7-10)
1/2 cup micro-nutrient powder or 1 gallon composted manure (I skip this since I use compost instead of peat and manure instead of perlite, and the tomato tone gives me all the trace elements I need.)

Then, to this soilless brew, I add a few of the amendments from the Earl's Hole Method of Growing Tomatoes from the Tomato Forum:

1 handful of epsom salt (per plant)
1 handful of bone meal (per plant)

And then I make my own addition:

1 handful of greensand (for potassium)

I mix all the major ingredients (but not the 'handfuls') together, usually in a blue plastic wading pool. Then, I put the mix in the container I'm going to use, and then I add the ingredients that are measured by the 'handful'. In an average container (5 to 10 gallons), I add one handful. In a large container (10 to 20 gallons) I add two handfuls. In a gigantic container (over 20 gallons) I add three handfuls. I stir the 'handfuls' into the soilless mix really, really well and then add the plant.

I water the plant well to settle down the soilless mix. Sometimes I use plain water, but if it is a really hot, dry day and I am worried about transplant shock, I'll water it in with whatever liquid organic fertilizer I have handy--liquid fish, compost tea, Garret Juice, liquid seaweed, etc. THEN, I add mulch....either bark or grass clippings, whicheve is handy. THEN, I scatter a handful or two of Tomato-Tone on the soil surface so it can slowly wick its way down into the soil over time. Depending on how much I find myself watering, I top dress with Tomato Tone throughout the growing season (I go though lots of it each year) every 2 to 4 weeks.

I do not bottom water. I think bottom watering tends to have an adverse effect on the roots since they always stay wet. I top water, using either a water hose/watering wand or drip irrigation. (The advantage to drip irrigation is that you can put it on a timer if you are going to be away a lot.) Sometimes, during the worst part of the summer heat, I have to water all but the gigantic containers twice a day.

The pots probably do get too hot but I choose not to obsess over it. (EVERYTHING gets too hot in our heat, so I just don't worry about it.)

One advantage to using containers is that you can move them around to suit you, if you want. In the early spring, I keep the early-planted pots on the concrete apron that is attached to the garage/barn so they can soak up the heat from the concrete slab. If a heavy rain or hail threatens, I drag them up under the patio cover (like I did early this afternoon).

In the summer, I just put them wherever.....but I will move them to a spot where they get some late afternoon sun in the late July to mid-August timeframe if we're having our typical relentless heat.

I take great pains to match the mature size of the tomato plant to the size of the container. For example, in five gallon or smaller pots I only plant the smallest determinate or ISI tomato plants--like Better Bush, Bush Early Girl, Bush Celebrity, Bush Big Boy, Extreme Bush, Polish Dwarf, New Big Dwarf, etc. Window boxes are for the tiniest tomatoes like Red Robin or Yellow Canary or Window Box Roma. Medium-sized containers (10-20) are great for almost any standard determinate or semi-determinate (or ISI) , and I save the largest containers (the ones I call 'gigantic') for the most vigorous indeterminate plants--Better Boy, Sweet Million, Brandy Boy, Porterhouse, Neves Azorean Red, Brandywine, and Black Krim, for example.

This is my first year to try SunLeaves Grow Bags. I actually ordered them last year when the rain wouldn't quit, but never got around to using them. They only hold 10 gallons of soil, so I'll probably only plant dwarf, determinate, or semi-determinates in them. I don't know if they are big enough for ISIs, but I have some Husky Red and Husky Gold that I might try just to see.

If I ever come across Smart Pots in a store, I'll probably buy a couple so I can see how they do.

I don't just grow tomatoes in containers....but herbs, peppers, and flowers as well. I use the same soil for them all, pretty much, but substitute Plant-Tone for the Tomato-Tone plant food for the herbs and flowers. (I use Tomato-Tone for the peppers, though.)

So far this year, the only tomatoes I've been growing in containers are the ones I planted for really early tomatoes: Better Bush, Husky Red and Grape. On those eight plants, I have a total of seven tomatoes so far, and lots of blooms. Yesterday, I planted a few more plants (Husky Red, Husky Gold, Bush Big Boy, and some others) in containers of various sizes. I'm going to try to plant my Grow Bags next week, if life and weather permits.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask.



clipped on: 02.28.2009 at 11:50 am    last updated on: 02.28.2009 at 11:50 am

RE: Best Nurseries (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: violet_z6 on 02.23.2009 at 06:46 pm in Ozarks Region Forum

If you want great heirloom vegetable plants, plan on attending the Baker Creek Seeds Spring Festival.

Baker Creek Seeds Spring Festival and The Greater Springfield Farmers' Market.

Unless you have a greenhouse, there's little point in planting tomatoes out before May simply because they won't grow until it gets warm anyway. So you've got plenty of time.

Garden Adventures Nursery
Nixa, MO
Telephone: (417)725-3223

Hilltop Farm - The Gardener's Greenhouse
Hilltop Farm
3307 N. State Highway F
Ash Grove, MO 65604
Telephone: (417)-672-2259

Dave's Violets
1372 S. Kentwood Ave.
Springfield, Missouri 65804-0220
Phone: (417) 887-8904

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.
2278 Baker Creek Rd
Mansfield, Missouri 65704
Heritage Days
Held the first Sunday of every month, year-round!
From Mansfield, MO take Hwy. 5 north 1.5 miles to London Rd and follow signs.

Hummert International
1851 East Florida Street
Springfield, Missouri 65803
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
February-June & Sept-Oct.: Saturdays 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Phone No: 417-866-0230 800-288-3131

Schaffitzel's Flowers & Greenhouse
1771 E Atlantic St
Springfield, MO 65803
417-866-6222 1771

Then there's Wickmans, Carson's, the place across from Sam's Club, the place that pops up in the Brown Derby International Wine Center's parking lot... Lowe's, Home Depot...

If you want to make a day trip, try:

Arnold's Greenhouse
'A Gardener's Paradise'
Hwy 58
Le Roy, KS 66857
(620) 964-2423

I promise you will not be disappointed.


clipped on: 02.28.2009 at 12:05 am    last updated on: 02.28.2009 at 12:05 am

RE: Best Nurseries (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: violet_z6 on 02.27.2009 at 11:51 am in Ozarks Region Forum

If any information is outdated, please post updates to this thread.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
44 North School Avenue
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72702
(479) 443-6638
he impressive 86 acre site currently includes seasonal plantings around the sign, an immense meadow where you can spot deer and other wildlife, a scenic lakeside hiking trail, and a self-guided tree identification tour.

C & H Retail Greeenhouse
South State Hwy PP
Republic, MO 65738.
The owner is Cheri Hamilton. She has a Bachelor of Arts in agronomy from Missouri State University. She also has a Masters from the university in Jonesboro, Ark. Cheri started in wholesale business, but she has expanded to include retail sales. She began the current season with 1200 hanging baskets, 6000 four-inch pots of annuals, and 500 perennials. She also has several varieties of vegetable plants. She is open 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Monday through Saturday, and from 1 to 5 P.M. on Sunday.

College of the Ozarks Arboretum and Greenhouses
Located East of Edwards Mill
Point Lookout, MO 65726
(417) 334-6411
Includes the Clint McDade orchid collection. Mr. McDade, one of the school's first students, donated the nucleus of the collection, which today numbers more than 7,000 plants. Individual orchids and other houseplants are for sale at the greenhouse.

Compton Gardens
312 North Main Street
Bentonville, Arkansas 72712
(479) 254-3870
Dr Compton was a noted physician, writer, photographer, founder of the Ozark Society and savior of the Buffalo River. His home and the treasured grounds are now available to the public. Compton Gardens showcases 6.5 acres of native woodland plants, walking trails and prairie. This natural woodlands garden unites plants, wildlife, and people.

Holland Wildflower Farm
290 O'Neal Ln., P.O. Box 328
Elkins, AR 72727
(479) 643-2622
Wildflower seed for projects or gardens. 60+ varieties in packets, ounces, or bulk. Seed mixes and custom blends for naturalizing. All seeds packaged with specific growing instructions.

The Ozark Folk Center
PO Box 500
Mountain View, AR 72560
Located North of Mountain View, AR, There are herb gardens, medicinal gardens and classes on raising herbs.

Ozark Wildflower Company
HC 70 Box 169,
Jasper, AR. 72641
(870) 446-5629
This nursery is located 5 miles west of Jasper which produces over 400 species of native and nonnative perennials, shrubs and trees. All plants are seed or vegetatively propagated - no wild collecting. Call for an appointment.

Pine Ridge Gardens
832 Sycamore Road, London, AR 72847
Phone (479) 293-4359
Call for visiting hours.

Ridgecrest Nursery and Gardens
3347 Hwy. 64 East
Wynne, AR 72396
(870) 238-3763
Specializes in native southeastern plants, but also have a broad palette of interesting hardy exotics and a few tropicals. If you're "into plants" you'll enjoy a visit to Ridgecrest with 5 acres of container plants and display gardens. Call for hours of operation.

Wayside Park Trail
East Highway 60
Mountain View, MO 65548
(417) 934-2794
Features an 1800s log cabin, a Frisco railroad caboose, wood sculptures depicting pioneers, and three botanical gardens of native flowers and plants. Says open year-round. Please call before planning a trip.


clipped on: 02.28.2009 at 12:05 am    last updated on: 02.28.2009 at 12:05 am

RE: Best strawberries?? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: gldno1 on 05.19.2005 at 05:09 pm in Ozarks Region Forum

The only ones producing for me right now are Cardinal, they are very good, exceptionally sweet. I eat a few in the garden while picking. My others are more shaded and much later. The cardinals seem a little tough if that is the way to describe them. I am please though, huge berries.


clipped on: 02.24.2009 at 09:22 pm    last updated on: 02.24.2009 at 09:22 pm

RE: Best Nurseries (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: violet_z6 on 02.24.2009 at 01:42 am in Ozarks Region Forum

Ah... you'll find meats, honey, jams, jellies, and crafts and you can call Donald Bauer 417-267-2371 to inquire further. The Winter Market continues through April 4 and the regular market starts Saturday, April 11. But really, most people just stop by to see what it's all about. You're sure to find something that will catch your eye. It's the largest Class A Farmers Market in the state of Missouri, meaning that everything sold must be grown or made by the vendors themselves.


clipped on: 02.24.2009 at 09:15 pm    last updated on: 02.24.2009 at 09:16 pm

RE: woodstove ashes?? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: val_s on 01.19.2009 at 08:02 am in Soil Forum

patrick -

Let me start out by saying I have not used ash in my garden or my compost....yet. But I plan to. After reading all the advice on this forum and reading all the links, I have decided to use it. I am going to have ash this next spring and summer and wanted to have a way to get rid of the ash. You too will have to form your own opinion.

Here a couple of more links that have been posted on this forum in the past in which you can read and judge for yourself.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension

On the above link there is a paragraph at the bottom about using wood ash.

York County Home Gardner

The above link is a whole article about using ash.

Just thought I'd throw some more info at you :-)



clipped on: 02.23.2009 at 12:44 pm    last updated on: 02.23.2009 at 12:44 pm

RE: Requested Tomato Seeds Are On Their Way (Follow-Up #31)

posted by: okiedawn on 02.13.2009 at 10:47 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


Just like Bluebell Ice Cream always says "We eat all we can and sell the rest...." No, just kidding, we don't actually sell any. LOL

We absolutely eat all we can. The first few ripe tomatoes always go into bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches, which is ALL we eat in spring when the first tomatoes are available. Then, after we calm down from the excitement of having tomatoes, we began to eat them in salads, sliced, or even held in our hands and eaten the same way you'd eat a fresh peach. When the tomatoes start getting ripe, that's about all I eat--tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes.

Here's a typical "tomato day" early in the season when the tomatoes are ripening: I'll chop them up and stir them into an omelet (along with garden-fresh green onions and mini bell peppers) for breakfast, eat handfuls of little ones while working in the garden, and then come inside for lunch. Lunch will be a BLT (turkey bacon most of the time, but really good, high-quality "real"bacon for the first few) or even fried green tomato BLTs with cilantro mayo. Then, if I work outside in the garden in the afternoon, you know I'm going to eat several handfuls of cherry types like Black Cherry, Sungold, Tess's Land Race Currant, etc. Dinner? At the very least, it will include a salad with fresh tomatoes. Maybe a sauce if there's that many ripe or tomato-onion pie, or salsa, etc. When tomatoes are in season, we can't get enough of them. I also like to make gazpacho, a tomato-based chicken tortilla soup, taco soup or tomato-basil soup.

I also dehydrate larger ones, but cut them into quarters or even eighths so they dry more quickly.

I used to give a whole lot away, but now I put up more for winter and give fewer away. You can even freeze them whole. Just pop them into a freezer bag and freeze them after you've washed them and let them dry. In the winter, you can take them out of the freezer and use them in sauces or soups.

I love to make sauce from a combination of different kinds. The best tomato sauces I've ever made have been a combination of many kinds of heirloom tomatoes--not all paste ones. The blacks and the Brandywine types, in particular, makes the most amazing sauces and salsas.

For drying, you can use a small food dehydrator (Wal-Mart usually has the round ones with several trays), a large and fancy dehydrator like an Excaliber (sp?) or even an oven. You can dry them in a regular oven by slicing the cherry, pear, and currant tomatoes in half and placing them skin down/cut side facing upward on baking sheets, setting the oven on its lowest setting "warm", and 'baking' them until they are sufficiently dry.

If you have a convection oven, you can use the convection oven to dry them even more quickly. My stove (which certainly is smarter than I am and has feature I've never even tried to use) has a "Dehydrate" feature meant to be used with the convection oven. I just love it. I can dry six cookie sheets of tomatoes at one time, and the house smells heavenly when they are drying. I feel like I've died and gone to tomato heaven when the house smells like that! I dry thousands of small tomatoes every year, pack them into zip-lock bags and put them in the freezer. During the "off-season", I pull out a bag and eat them. You can eat them dry--they resemble raisins except with intense tomato flavor--or you can rehydrate them in a bowl of water for a couple of hours. Or, you can use them in any recipe that calls for sun-dried tomatoes. I like them any way at all.

In an exceptionally rainy year, the excess rain "waters down" the flavor of tomatoes and almost ruins them because it makes them so bland. (People who over-water and over-fertilize often "ruin" their tomtoes in the same way.) In a year like that, you can "salvage" your crop, though, by either dehydrating them, which removes the excess moisture and intensifies the flavor, or by cooking them down into sauce, which does the same thing.

I have recipes to prepare tomatoes many different ways and I'll share some of them with you as the tomatoes ripen. I even have recipes for tomato pie and tomato cake! (Tomatoes are VERY versatile.)

Here's how I use them:

Cherry, Grape, Currant types: eat by the handful all day long straight off the vines while working in the garden. If you don't spray with chemicals, you can do this. If you spray your plants with Daconil (chlorothalonil) or any other chemical sprays (whether natural or chemical in nature), you obviously have to wash the fruit first. We eat them in salads daily, dehydrate them for the winter months, etc. If you raise Principe' Borghese, you can pull it up by the roots and air-dry it by hanging it upside down in a dry basement, attic, cellar, etc. but you can't really "sun-dry" them here in OK the way they do in Italy because we have too much humidity. Well, people in SW OK might be able to sun-dry, but I can't even do it here in southcentral OK except in the hottest, driest droughts when humidity is insanely low.
With the paste tomatoes, we use them for salsa. You have to have several paste tomato plants to get enough ripe ones at one time for tomato sauce. It takes a LOT of tomatoes to make a pot of pasta sauce. Remember that tomatoes are largely water and most of that water boils away so what seems like a "lot" of tomatoes cooks down over the hours into a relatively small amount of sauce. So, most of the paste tomatoes we raise are used for salsa or pico de gallo.

Yellow pear and other similar yellow tomatoes make wonderful tomato marmalade or tomato preserves, but you can only make small batches of a few jars unless you have multiple plants.

When you start getting lots of tomatoes, you can use them so many of my favorite is a tomato-onion pie that is sort of like a quiche. They make great, fairly quick pizza sauce and then you can make pizza using home-made crust or Boboli crusts. If I want to make a pizza or pasta sauce for dinner, I fill up a crockpot with tomatoes in the morning after breakfast, set it on low and let them cook down all day. Sometimes I remove the lid so more moisture cooks off more quickly. Then, when I come in at 3 or 4, I transfer them to a pot on the stove, boil them down as needed, and add the remaining ingredients, simmering the sauce for an hour or two for dinner at 5 or 6 p.m. Kathy, there are so many ways to prepare them! Sometimes, I think people get "bogged down" or "stuck" eating them fresh and forget how versatile they are. Maybe we can start a "favorite tomato recipe" thread in a few weeks and just keep adding to it and adding to it.

One plant of each variety is fine, unless you want more. If I am planning on making and canning a LOT of sauce, I plant a couple of dozen paste tomatoes--they grow very well in buckets. You don't have room for that many, and I can't can as much as I used to because my new stove, purchased last summer, has a ceramic top and canning is not recomended. The old stove is in the garage, though, and I can plug it in and use it for canning because it was the oven that went out on it, not the burners. (For some reason, DH really wanted a "new" stove, although I would have been happy fixing the old one's oven.)

Tomato plants are self-fertile, so they pollinate and fertilize themselves via air movement, so only one type of each is needed. Of course, as space allows you can add more. If you want to save seed AND you want to avoid the possibility of having insects like small bees and flies cause cross-pollination, you have to bag your blossoms even before they open. For blossom bagging, just go to the wedding part of the craft section at your local Wal-Mart (tee hee) and buy a set of the litle bags sold there for rice or whatever. I think one package has ten bags? After the fruit form, you can remove the bags and re-use them, but be sure to mark that branch so you know to save seeds from that cluster of tomatoes. I usually use surveyor's tape as a marker when I bag blossoms, but I don't do it all that often because I'm so busy during the garden season that I don't save a lot of seeds.

I hope I answered your questions. If I didn't, ask more or ask again.

And, if you want to see which tomatoes are "in favor" this year, watch when I type up the list of what actually went into the ground. I often plant two of each variety, but then maybe 4 of a few of the ones we really adore. Well, except for Tess's Land Race Currant. It gets so huge that one is all you need and, even at that, I leave hundreds and hundreds of them on the plant for the birds because I get tired of picking the thousands of tiny tomatoes that one plant makes over the course of the growing season. In the "old days" they used to plant hollyhocks to "hide" the outhouse from view. Well, if I had an outhouse, I'd just plant one Tess's Land Race Currant and it would hide it from view all by itself!

Happy tomato growing and eating! Now that I have tomatoes on the brain, I'm going to go take a bag out of the freezer now to rehydrate for lunch.



clipped on: 02.18.2009 at 09:18 pm    last updated on: 02.18.2009 at 09:18 pm

Sun Dried Tomatoes

posted by: brokenbar on 08.20.2008 at 09:57 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

I raise tomatoes for sun drying. I do about 1000 to 2000 lbs a year which I sell to the upscale restaurants in Cody Wyoming & Billings Montana. I wanted to pass on my favorites for you considering doing some drying. Any tomato can be used for drying but some varieties are better than others.

I grow 15 mainstay varieties that I have kept as I culled others that did not meet my criteria.
I also try at least 5 new varieties of paste types each year and am lucky if one makes it into my gherdh. I am looking for specific things:

Meaty with a low moisture content
Few seeds
A rich and tangy flavor
Size-Small tomatoes are just more work for me.
Not fussy-Take heat and cold and wind. No primadonnas!
Bloom well and set lots and lots of fruit
Dry to a nice pliable consistency

These are my Top Five
Chinese Giant
Carol Chyko
Cuoro D Toro
San Marzano Redorta

I wanted to add that were I to be stranded on a desert Island with only one tomato it would be Russo Sicilian Togeta. This is my allstar that sets fruit first, ripens the earliest, bears heavy crops in any weather and is producing right up until hard frost. It is not a true paste but rather a stuffing tomato. None-the-less, the flavor of these dried is as good as it gets. It is also wonderful for just eating or slicing and the fruit is extra large.

For those wanting to know my Secret Recipe for drying, here you go:

Wash, stem and slice each tomato into 1/4" thick slices. Place in a very large bowl or clean bucket and cover with cheap red wine. I use Merlot but if you prefer something else, knock yourself out. I have a friend that swears by cheap Chianti! Soak tomato slices 24 hours in the wine. Drain well. Lay tomatoes just touching on dehydrator shelves or on screen in your sun-drying apparatus. Sprinkle each slice with a mixture containing equal parts of dried basil-oregano-parsley and then sprinkle each slice with Kosher Salt. You may choose to forego the salt if you wish but tomatoes will take longer to dry. Dry tomatoes until they are firm and leatherlike with no moisture pockets, but NOT brittle. (If you get them too dry, soak them in lemon juice for a few minutes.) To store, place in vacuum bags or ziplock bags and freeze.

IMPORTANT!!! If you will be storing sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil you !!!MUST!!! dip each slice in vinegar before adding to oil.

To pack in oil:
Dip each tomato into a small dish of white wine vinegar. Shake off theexcess vinegar and pack them in olive oil adding 1/4 cup red wine. For tomatoes in oil I am selling, I put the tomatoes into the oil two weeks ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure they are completely immersed in the oil. When the jar is full, cap it tightly. I use my vacuum sealer to seal the canning lids on. Store at *cool* room temperature for at least a month before using. They may be stored in the refrigerator, but the oil will solidify at
refrigerator temperatures (it quickly reliquifies at room temperature however). As tomatoes are removed from the jar, add more olive oil as necessary to keep the remaining tomatoes covered. I have stored oil-packed tomatoes in m root cellar for over a year. . I have tried a number of methods to pack the tomatoes in oil, but the vinegar treatment is the difference between a good dried tomato and a great one. It is also important from a food safety standpoint, as it acidifies the oil and discourages growth of bacteria and mold. Soaking in the wine also acidifies them.

****** WARNING ********

Do *NOT* add fresh garlic cloves or fresh herbs of any kind to oil-packed dried tomatoes, UNLESS you store them in the refrigerator and plan on using them withing 7 days. Garlic is a low-acid food which, when placed in oil, creates a low-acid anaerobic environment just
perfect growth medium for botulinum bacteria if the mixture is not refrigerated. Be safe and add your garlic to the dried tomatoes as part of the recipe for them *after* they come out of the oil.


clipped on: 02.15.2009 at 01:28 pm    last updated on: 02.15.2009 at 01:28 pm