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RE: Ball Pickle Crisp gone? (Follow-Up #21)

posted by: ksrogers on 08.04.2008 at 10:02 am in Harvest Forum

Just an FYI for those who have no Pickle Crisp, but instead, have the generic version. Here is a photo of the back of the PC box, so you can see the amounts needed. The meausre of 1 1/2 teaspoons per quart of PC should be increased to TWO teaspoons of the generic version from Bulk Foods. This increase is due to a larger granule size. There is alo a mention of a presoak in PC, and that might also work wll, compared to. Each packet in the PC box contains enough PC for about 5 quarts of pickles. The weight is 26 grams each packet. The use of a whole PC packet mixed into a gallon of water equates to about to about 8 teaspoons of the calcium chloride per gallon of the generic version.


clipped on: 06.29.2010 at 11:04 pm    last updated on: 06.29.2010 at 11:04 pm

RE: When to harvest dill for pickling. (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: ksrogers on 02.01.2009 at 08:23 pm in Herbs Forum

Dill can be mammoth dill, fern leaf dill and regular dill. They all produce the same things with mammoth dill being 5 foot tall or more, fern leaf gives more leaves and is slower to produce seed heads. The regular is common and they all can be used. Ideally, you use both the green fern leaves as well as the seed heads. I pick the seed heads when the seeds are still swelled and green color. Later on they do turn tan color, and then drop into the soil if not picked. Usually you can leave the dill seeds in soil and they will sprout the next year. For pickles, try an option of a half sour, using a Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle mix, as the flavor and salt source. Just add enough water to make a string brine, then add VERY FRESH pickling cukes that have been washed and the end tips removed. Once they 'ferment' only about 3 days at room temperature, add a tablespoon of white vinegar and store in the fridge for up to a year. I have three half gallon jars there now and even by ths year June they are still very crisp. I also add several cut up cloves of garlic and plenty of the dill weed and whole seed heads. If making with a vinegar based brine, add a teaspoon of food grade calcium chloride per quart of pickles. Ball made a product called Pickle Crisp, but discontinued it about 2 years ago, so you can find it at Bulk Foods. This buffers the acidic vinegar and keeps the pickles crisper longer. See the Harvest forum for more info.


clipped on: 06.29.2010 at 10:54 pm    last updated on: 06.29.2010 at 10:54 pm

RE: Pickle Crisp? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: ksrogers on 07.17.2009 at 10:37 am in Harvest Forum

The Ball Pickle Crisp photo is located in another post about this product. According to the Ball package, they use 1.5 teaspoons per quart and 3/4 teaspoon per pint. Because of the larger granule size of the Bulk Foods CC, I recommend 2 teaspoons per quart and 1 teaspoon per pint jar of pickles. I add it just prior to filling each jar with the brine. But it can also be added at the top of the packed cukes just before they get the boiling brine added. In that step, you do hear a fizzing noise when the acid comes in contact with the alkali CC. In that same thread of the Ball PC photo, it also can be used in place of a lime presoak.


clipped on: 06.28.2010 at 11:10 pm    last updated on: 06.28.2010 at 11:11 pm

RE: Frozen Beans (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: jrslick on 12.03.2009 at 01:04 am in Harvest Forum

I boil my frozen beans for 2-3 minutes depending on the amount. Drain, put in 1-2 tbsp butter or olive oil and stir around until melted and coated. Add some garlic salt or garlic powder. Yum! Not as good as fresh of the plant, put a thousand times better than from the store!


clipped on: 06.15.2010 at 05:11 pm    last updated on: 06.15.2010 at 05:11 pm

Tapla's 5-1-1 Container Mix in More Detail

posted by: goodhumusman on 02.26.2009 at 12:44 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I recently joined the forum and discovered Al's 5-1-1 Mix, but I had several questions that Al was kind enough to answer by email. I also found the answers to other questions in several different threads. I thought it would be useful to organize all of the info in one place so that we could have easy access to it. 98% of the following has been cut/pasted from Al's postings, and I apologize in advance if I have somehow misquoted him or taken his ideas out of proper context. The only significant addition from another source is the Cornell method of determining porosity, which I thought would be germane. I have used a question and answer format, using many questions from other members, and I apologize for not giving them proper credit. Thanks to all who contributed to this information. Now, here's Al:

Tapla's 5-1-1 Mix

5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime
controlled release fertilizer (not really necessary)
a micro-nutrient source (seaweed emulsion, Earthjuice, Micro-max, STEM, etc,)

Many friends & forum folk grow in this 5-1-1 mix with very good results. I use it for all my garden display containers. It is intended for annual and vegetable crops in containers. This soil is formulated with a focus on plentiful aeration, which we know has an inverse relationship w/water retention. It takes advantage of particles, the size of which are at or just under the size that would guarantee the soil retains no perched water. (If you have not already read Al's treatise on Water in Container Soils, this would be a good time to do so.) 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 ensure normal water/nutrient uptake and root function.

I grow in highly-aerated soils with the bulk of the particles in the 1/16"-1/8" size, heavily favoring the larger particles, because we know that perched water levels decrease as particle size increases, until finally, as particle size reaches just under 1/8" the perched water table disappears entirely.

Ideal container soils will have a minimum of 60-75% total porosity. This means that when dry, in round numbers, nearly 70% of the total volume of soil is air. The term 'container capacity' is a hort term that describes the saturation level of soils after the soil is saturated and at the point where it has just stopped draining - a fully wetted soil. When soils are at container capacity, they should still have in excess of 30% air porosity. Roughly, a great soil will have about equal parts of solid particles, water, and air when the soil is fully saturated.

This is Cornell's method of determining the various types of porosity:

To ensure sufficient media porosity, it is essential to determine total porosity, aeration porosity, and water-holding porosity. Porosity can be determined through the following procedure:

* With drainage holes sealed in an empty container, fill the container and record the volume of water required to reach the top of the container. This is the container volume.

* Empty and dry the plugged container and fill it with the growing media to the top of the container.

* Irrigate the container medium slowly until it is saturated with water. Several hours may be required to reach the saturation point, which can be recognized by glistening of the medium's surface.

* Record the total volume of water necessary to reach the saturation point as the total pore volume.

* Unplug the drainage holes and allow the water to freely drain from the container media into a pan for several hours.

* Measure the volume of water in the pan after all free water has completed draining. Record this as the aeration pore volume.

* Calculate total porosity, aeration porosity, and water-holding porosity using the following equations (Landis, 1990):

* Total porosity = total pore volume / container volume
* Aeration porosity = aeration pore volume / container volume
* Water-holding porosity = total porosity - aeration porosity

The keys to why I like my 3-1-1 mix:

It's adjustable for water retention.
The ingredients are readily available to me.
It's simple - 3 basic ingredients - equal portions.
It allows nearly 100% control over the nutritional regimen.
It will not collapse - lasts longer than what is prudent between repots.
It is almost totally forgiving of over-watering while retaining good amounts of water between drinks.
It is relatively inexpensive.

Q. Why do you use pine bark fines? Bark fines of fir, hemlock or pine, 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, more scarce as a presence in sapwood products and hardwood bark, dramatically slows the decomposition of conifer bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains.

Q. What is the correct size of the fines? 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.Pine bark fines are partially composted pine bark. Fines are what are used in mixes because of the small particle size. There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .125 (1/8) inch, so best would be particulates in the 1/16 - 3/16 size range with the 1/16-1/8 size range favored.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, as most of you think of it, can improve drainage in some cases, but it 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 micro-nutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources.

Q. Do you use partially composted pine bark fines? Yes - preferred over fresh fines, which are lighter in color.

Q. I found some Scotchman's Choice Organic Compost, which is made of pine bark fines averaging about 1/8" in size, and, after adding all ingredients, the 5-1-1 Mix had a total porosity of 67% and an aeration porosity of 37%. Is that all right? Yes, that is fine.

Q. What kind of lime do you use? Dolomitic.

Q. What amount of lime should I add if I used 10 gal of pine bark fines and the corresponding amount of the other ingredients? @ 5:1:1, you'll end up with about 12 gallons of soil (the whole is not equal to the sum of the parts when you're talking about soils), so I would use about 10-12 Tbsp or 2/3-3/4 cup of lime.

Q. What grade of coarseness for the lime? Most is sold as garden lime, which is usually prilled powder. Prilling makes it easier to use in drop & broadcast spreaders. The prills dissolve quickly. The finer the powder the quicker the reactive phase is finished. Much of the Ca and Mg will be unavailable until the media pH equalizes so the plant can assimilate the residual elements. Large pieces of lime really extend the duration of the reactive phase.

Q. Does this mean that I need to make up the soil in advance? Yes. 2 weeks or so should be enough time to allow for the reaction phase to be complete & residual Ca/Mg to become more readily available from the outset .

Q. During those 2 weeks, do I need to keep turning it and moistening it? No

Q. Can I go ahead and fill my 3-gal. containers, stack them 3-high, and cover the top one to prevent moisture loss during the waiting period? Something like that would be preferred.

Q. The perlite I use has a large amount of powder even though it is called coarse. Do I need to sift it to get rid of the powder? Not unless it REALLY has a lot - then, the reason wouldn't be because of issues with particle size - it would be because you had to use larger volumes to achieve adequate drainage & larger volumes bring with it the possibility of Fl toxicity for some plants that are fluoride intolerant.

Q. What about earthworm castings (EWC)? I think 10% is a good rule of thumb for the total volume of fine particles. I try to limit peat use to about 10-15% of soil volume & just stay away from those things that rob aeration & promote water retention beyond a minimal perched water table. If you start adding 10% play sand, 10% worm castings, 10% compost, 10% peat, 10% topsoil, 10% vermiculite to a soil, before long you'll be growing in something close to a pudding-like consistency.

Q. Do you drench the mix with fertilized water before putting in containers? No - especially if you incorporate a CRF. It will have lots of fertilizer on it's surface & the soil could already be high in solubles. If you added CRF, wait until you've watered and flushed the soil a couple of times. If you didn't use CRF, you can fertilize with a weak solution the first time you water after the initial planting irrigation.

Q. How much of the micronutrients should I add if I am going to be fertilizing with Foliage Pro 9-3-6, which has all the micronutrients in it? You won't need any additional supplementation as long as you lime.
Q. Just to make sure I understand, are you saying I don't need to use Foliage Pro 9-3-6 until after the initial watering right after planting even if I don't use a CRF? And no additional micronutrients? That's right - on both counts.

Q. Do I need to moisten the peat moss before mixing with the pine bark fines? It helps, yes.

Selections from Notes on Choosing a Fertilizer

A) Plant nutrients are dissolved in water
B) The lower the nutrient concentration, the easier it is for the plant to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in the water - distilled water is easier for plants to absorb than tap water because there is nothing dissolved in distilled water
C) The higher the nutrient content, the more difficult it is for plants to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in water
D) To maximize plant vitality, we should supply adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients w/o using concentrations so high that they impede water and nutrient uptake.

All that is in the "Fertilizer Thread" I posted a while back.

Q. Do you use the Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro 9-3-6 exclusively throughout the life of the plant, or change to something else for the flowering/fruiting stage? I use lots of different fertilizers, but if I had to choose only one, it would likely be the FP 9-3-6. It really simplifies things. There are very few plants that won't respond very favorably to this fertilizer. I use fast soils that drain freely & I fertilize at EVERY watering, and it works extremely well.

If you are using a soil that allows you to water freely at every watering, you cannot go wrong by watering weakly weekly, and you can water at 1/8 the recommended dose at every watering if you wish with chemical fertilizers.

Q. What about the "Bloom Booster" fertilizers? To induce more prolific flowering, a reduced N supply will have more and better effect than the high P bloom formulas. When N is reduced, it slows vegetative growth without reducing photosynthesis. Since vegetative growth is limited by a lack of N, and the photosynthetic machinery continues to turn out food, it leaves an expendable surplus for the plant to spend on flowers and fruit. There are no plants I know of that use anywhere near the amount of P as they do N (1/6 is the norm). It makes no sense to me to have more P available than N unless you are targeting a VERY specific growth pattern; and then the P would still be applied in a reasonable ratio to K.

Somewhere along the way, we curiously began to look at fertilizers as miraculous assemblages of growth drugs, and started interpreting the restorative effect (to normal growth) fertilizers have as stimulation beyond what a normal growth rate would be if all nutrients were adequately present in soils. Its no small wonder that we come away with the idea that there are miracle concoctions out there and often end up placing more hope than is reasonable in them.

What I'm pointing out is that fertilizers really should not be looked at as something that will make your plant grow abnormally well - beyond its genetic potential . . . Fertilizers do not/can not stimulate super growth, nor are they designed to. All they can do is correct nutritional deficiencies so plants can grow normally.

Q. Should I use organic ferts or chemical ferts in containers? Organic fertilizers do work to varying degrees in containers, but I would have to say that delivery of the nutrients can be very erratic and unreliable. The reason is that nutrient delivery depends on the organic molecules being broken down in the gut of micro-organisms, and micro-organism populations are boom/bust, varying widely in container culture.

Some of the things affecting the populations are container soil pH, moisture levels, nutrient levels, soil composition, compaction/aeration levels ..... Of particular importance is soil temperatures. When container temperatures rise too high, microbial populations diminish. Temps much under 55* will slow soil biotic activity substantially, reducing or halting delivery of nutrients.

I do include various formulations of fish emulsion in my nutrient program at certain times of the year, but I never rely on them, choosing chemical fertilizers instead. Chemical fertilizers are always immediately available for plant uptake & the results of your applications are much easier to quantify.

Q. Should I feed the plants every time I water? In a word, yes. I want to keep this simple, so Ill just say that the best water absorption occurs when the level of solutes in soil water is lowest, and in the presence of good amounts of oxygen. Our job, because you will not find a sufficient supply of nutrients in a container soil, is to provide a solution of dissolved nutrients that affords the plant a supply in the adequate to luxury range, yet still makes it easy for the plant to take up enough water to be well-hydrated and free of drought stress. All we need to do is supply nutrients in approximately the same ratio as plants use them, and in adequate amounts to keep them in the adequate to luxury range at all times. Remember that we can maximize water uptake by keeping the concentrations of solutes low, so a continual supply of a weak solution is best. Nutrients dont just suddenly appear in large quantities in nature, so the low and continual dose method most closely mimics the nutritional supply Mother Nature offers. If you decide to adopt a "fertilize every time you water" approach, most liquid fertilizers can be applied at to 1 tsp per gallon for best results.

The system is rather self regulating if fertilizer is applied in low concentrations each time you water, even with houseplants in winter. As the plants growth slows, so does its need for both water and nutrients. Larger plants and plants that are growing robustly will need more water and nutrients, so linking nutrient supply to the water supply is a win/win situation all around.

You can tell you've watered too much (or too little - the response is the same - a drought response) when leaves start to turn yellow or you begin to see nutritional deficiencies created by poor root metabolism (usually N and Ca are first evident). You can prevent overwatering by A) testing the soil deep in the container with a wood dowel ... wet & cool - do not water, dry - water. B) feeling the wick & only watering when it's dry C) feel the soil at the drain hole & only water when it feels dry there.

Soils feel dry to our touch when they still have 40-45% moisture content. Plants, however, can still extract water from soils until they dry down to about 25-30%, so there is still around a 15% cush in that plants can still absorb considerable moisture after soils first feel dry to us.

Q. When you water/fertilize, do you give it enough that 10% leaches out the bottom each time? Yes, I try to do that at every watering. Remember that as salts accumulate, both water and nutrient uptake is made more difficult and finally impaired or made impossible in severe cases. Your soils should always allow you to water so that at least 10-15% of the total volume of water applied passes through the soil and out the drain hole to be discarded. This flushes the soil and carries accumulating solutes out the drain hole. In addition, each thorough watering forces stale gases from the soil. CO2 accumulation in heavy soils is very detrimental to root health, but you usually can't apply water in volume enough to force these gases from the soil. Open soils allow free gas exchange at all times.

Q. Should I elevate my pots? The container will not drain the same % of water if it's sitting in a puddle, but the % won't be particularly significant. What will be significant is: if water (in a puddle) is able to make contact with the soil in the container through surface tension and/or capillarity, it will "feed" and prolong the saturated conditions of any PWT that might be in the container. However, if water can soak in or if it will flow away from the containers, there's no advantage to elevating when you're not using a wick.

Q. I like a pH of about 5.7. Is that about right? That's a good number, but you won't have any way of maintaining it in your soil w/o some sophisticated equipment. I never concern myself with media pH. That doesn't mean you should ignore water pH, though. It (water pH) affects the solubility of fertilizers; and generally speaking, the higher the water pH, the lower the degree of nutrient solubility.

Q. How do you repot? Some plants do not take to root-pruning well (palms, eg), but the vast majority of them REALLY appreciate the rejuvenational properties of major root work. I'm not at all delicate in my treatment of rootage when it comes time to repot (completely different from potting-up). Usually I chop or saw the bottom 1/2-2/3 of the root mass off, bare-root the plant, stick it back in the same pot with ALL fresh soil, use a chopstick to move soil into all the spaces/pockets between roots, water/fertilize well & put in the shade for a week to recover. I should mention that this procedure is most effective on plants with woody roots, which most quickly grow to be inefficient as they lignify, thicken, and fill the pot. Those plants with extremely fibrous root systems are easier to care for. For those, I usually saw off the bottom 1/2 - 2/3 of the roots, work a chopstick through the remaining mat of roots, removing a fair amount of soil, prune around the perimeter & repot in fresh, well-aerated soil.

I find that time after time, plants treated in this fashion sulk for a week or two and then put on a huge growth spurt (when repotted in spring or summer). Growth INVARIABLY surpasses what it would have been if the plant was allowed to languish in it's old, root-bound haunts. Potting up is a temporary way to rejuvenate a plant, but if you look ate a long-term graph of plants continually potted-up, you will see continual decline with little spurts of improved vitality at potting-up time. This stress/strain on plants that are potted-up only, eventually takes its toll & plants succumb. There is no reason most houseplants shouldn't live for years and years, yet we often content ourselves with the 'revolving door replacement' of our plants when just a little attention to detail would allow us to call the same plant our friend - often for the rest of our lives if we prefer.

Q. Is there any rule of thumb as to how often to root prune? I'm going to answer as if you included 'repotting' in your question. There is no hard, fast rule here. Some of you grow plants strictly for the blooms, and some plants produce more abundant blooms in containers when they are stressed in some manner. Often, that stress is in the form of keeping them root-bound. I'll talk about maintaining a plant's vitality & let you work out how you want to handle the degree of stress you wish to subject them to, in order to achieve your goals. Before I go on, I'd like to say that I use stress techniques too, to achieve a compact, full plant, and to slow growth of a particularly attractive plant - to KEEP it attractive. ;o) The stress of growing a plant tight can be useful to a degree, but at some point, there will be diminishing returns.

When you need to repot to correct declining vitality:

1) When the soil has collapsed/compacted, or was too water-retentive from the time you last potted-up or repotted. You can identify this condition by soil that remains wet for more than a few days, or by soil that won't take water well. If you water a plant and the soil just sits on top of the soil w/o soaking in, the soil has collapsed/compacted. There is one proviso though: you must be sure that the soil is wet before you assess this condition. Soils often become hydrophobic (water repellent) and difficult to rewet, especially when using liquid organic fertilizers like fish/seaweed emulsions. Make sure this effect is not what you're witnessing by saturating the soil thoroughly & then assessing how fast the water moves downward through the soil. The soils I grow in are extremely fast and water disappears into the mix as soon as it's applied. If it takes more than 30 seconds for a large volume of water to disappear from the surface of the soil, you are almost certainly compromising potential vitality.

I'll talk about the potential vitality for just a sec. Plants will grow best in a damp soil with NO perched water. That is NO saturated layer of water at the bottom of the pot. Roots begin to die a very short time after being subjected to anaerobic conditions. They regenerate again as soon as air returns to the soil. This cyclic death/regeneration of roots steals valuable energy from the plant that might well have been employed to increase o/a biomass, and/or produce flowers and fruit. This is the loss of potential vitality I refer to.

2) When the plant is growing under tight conditions and has stopped extending, it is under strain, which will eventually lead to its death. "Plants must grow to live. Any plant that is not growing is dying." Dr. Alex Shigo Unless there are nutritional issues, plants that have stopped extending and show no growth when they should be coming into a period of robust growth usually need repotting. You can usually confirm your suspicions/diagnosis by looking for rootage "crawling" over the soil surface and/or growing out of the drain hole, or by lifting the plant from its pot & examining the root mass for encircling roots - especially fat roots at the container's edge. You'll be much less apt to find these types of roots encircling inner container perimeter in well-aerated soils because the roots find the entire soil mass hospitable. Roots are opportunistic and will be found in great abundance at the outside edge of the soil mass in plantings with poor drainage & soggy soil conditions - they're there looking for air.

3) When the soil is so compacted & water retentive that you must water in sips and cannot fully flush the soil at each watering for fear of creating conditions that will cause root rot. This isn't to say you MUST flush the soil at every watering, but the soil should drain well enough to ALLOW you to water this way whenever you prefer. This type of soil offers you the most protection against over-watering and you would really have to work hard at over-fertilizing in this type of soil. It will allow you to fertilize with a weak solution at every watering - even in winter if you prefer.

Incidentally, I reject the frequent anecdotal evidence that keeping N in soils at adequacy levels throughout the winter "forces" growth or "forces weak growth". Plants take what they need and leave the rest. While there could easily be the toxicity issues associated with too much fertilizer in soils due to a combination of inappropriate watering practices, inappropriate fertilizing practices, and an inappropriate soil, it's neither N toxicity NOR the presence of adequate N in soils that causes weak growth, it's low light levels.

Q. Is there any rule of thumb as to how often to remove and replace the old soil? Yes - every time you repot.

As always, I hope that those who read what I say about soils will ultimately take with them the idea that the soil is the foundation of every container planting & has effects that reach far beyond the obvious, but there is a snatch of lyrics from an old 70's song that might be appropriate: "... just take what you need and leave the rest ..." ;o)


clipped on: 04.18.2010 at 10:35 pm    last updated on: 04.18.2010 at 10:35 pm

Best 'Basic' Mix For Vegetable Growing SWC's?

posted by: donna_h on 08.28.2009 at 01:33 am in Container Gardening Forum

This is my first year with SWC's and I'm looking to improve the growing medium since I've had mixed results with a mixture composed of peat, compost and perlite.

I've been reading a LOT about Al's mixes and was wondering if anyone had come up with a basic all-purpose mix for veggies that worked well in this type of container. I would also be interested to know what type of fertilizer schedule was used in conjunction with the mix.

I did run across this posting from Al:

"7 bark fines
2 peat
1 perlite
1 vermiculite
1 tbsp garden lime/gallon
would probably be a very good mix for SWCs.

For a fertilizer program, I would use something with a 3:1:2 ratio like MG 24-8-16 for the first month after potting, then switch to a 1:2:2 ratio like 5-10-10 or even a 1:1:1 blend such as the 14-14-14 you're using. Please be sure your plants are getting the secondary macronutrients and all the minors. Ca and Mg are particularly important."

Just wondering if anyone has improved and/or modified Al's mix and what the experiences of those using SWC's has been.

Thanks for the help!

Donna H.


clipped on: 04.18.2010 at 10:28 pm    last updated on: 04.18.2010 at 10:28 pm

RE: Question about Al's mix, tomatoes, peppers, and CRF's (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: tapla on 04.19.2008 at 10:35 am in Container Gardening Forum

In container culture, which is more like hydroponics than gardening, it's always better to use a fertilizer or supplement your fertilizer with something that provides all the secondary macro and all the micronutrients. Almost any soluble fertilizers you'd choose to use provide NPK in various %s. Many also provide Fe, Mn, and Zinc (Miracle-Gro formulations e.g.). Usually glaringly absent are the secondary macronutrients Ca and Mg. Including a micronutrient supplement and liming your soil insures a full compliment of all the nutrients.

In short - choose a fertilizer that HAS ALL the nutrients or use a micronutrient supplement, and lime homemade soils with dolomitic (garden) lime.

Hard to find, but very effective at supplying the micronutrients are Micromax and STEM. Easier to find is Earthjuice Microblast. One fertilizer in the 3:1:2 ratio that contains ALL the elements (including Ca and Mg) is Foliage-Pro 9-3-6. This fertilizer alone should be excellent for most things you would grow. Use it at a reduced rate & combine it with Pro-TeKt 0-0-3 for a lower N mix for tomatoes. The silicon on the Pro-TeKt will also improve cellular health & make for a stronger plant that resists cultural adversities (heat, cold, insects, disease . . . better.

Though irrigation water DOES have an impact on nutrition (usually mostly Ca/Mg), unless you know it's content via analysis, you shouldn't rely on it to insure adequate levels of any of the nutrients.



tomato fert
clipped on: 04.18.2010 at 10:13 pm    last updated on: 04.18.2010 at 10:13 pm

RE: Double row of green beans (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: never-give-up on 09.24.2009 at 11:33 am in Vegetable Gardening Forum

jrslick I do this with bush beans and bush type peas only I do it seven rows across. Every square inch of soil here is precious, as we mostly have rocks. I make raised beds with a sifter (out of necessity because of the rocks). It was too tricky to get 7 rows in the space with string so I made a planting board. By the way I chose 7 rows because that was what I could reach working in from both sides. Peas and beans go in 3 inches apart in either direction. The planting board I made can make 7 rows across and 5 seed holes down each row. I just lift the board with the handles and line it up and press again. It goes pretty fast by myself and even faster with a person on either side. Then just drop the seeds in the holes and tamp.

I learned about planting wide rows from a book by Dick Raymond. Joy of Gardening. I plant carrots, beets, swiss chard, onions, cabbage, kale, etc in wide rows. I just adjust the width of the row and method of planting to the vegetable I am growing.

I will never plant any other way unless the space I am using won't allow it.


clipped on: 04.07.2010 at 12:26 pm    last updated on: 04.07.2010 at 12:33 pm

RE: Planning for next year. Schedule (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: joe-il on 08.15.2009 at 12:27 am in Fruit & Orchards Forum

I dont think you want to fall fertilize, usually you dont want a flush of growth before winter. Someone advise when the best time to fertilize and why please?

75% petal fall. I dont agree with spraying pesticides while bees are still interested. Usually a storm knocks the flowers off here before it even gets to 75% petal fall.

If you dont want to use imidan, spectracide trizide once and done labled for fruit, has worked well for us in pc alley. Its cheap also, and is almost odorless unlike imidan.

I stopped spraying on 1 tree june 20th , the others july 12th. Just to see what I can get away with. Seems like im in the clear. I think my schedule here next year looks like this: Green tip to pink oil and immunox ,100 % petal fall (imidan immunox + captan) and 3 cover sprays(also imidan immunox + captan).

I am channeling harvestman..

"OK, I don't know where you live and your spray issues are going to be greatly affected by your location but here's my spray schedule for the scores of orchards I manage around SE NY.

No dormant oil- do an oil spray somewhere between the point where emerging shoots are 1/2" and the flower clusters begin to show pink. Mix Nova (myclobutinol =immunox) at highest legal rate with 1 to 2% oil. If it's closer to pink use 1%.( Remember oil and captan are not compatible.)

Don't spray again until petal fall when petals have mostly gone from latest flowering varieties and bees have lost interest. Than spray Imidan + Nova + Captan mixed together at highest legal rates. Repeat in 10 to 14 days.

Where I manage orchards, the space between earliest flowering Japanese plums and latest flowering apples is only 2 weeks or so which usually allows me to wait until the latest flowering trees are ready to begin spraying anything. Plum curculio seems to time its appearence conveniently to the rythm of the last flowering varieties. This may not be true where you are.

Sometimes it leaves me with plums too far along to spray oil by the time I do the apples and Euro plums sometimes get mites because of this- so you may need to spray oil on different trees at different times.

If you can't find or bear using Imidan- an organiphosphate that is restricted in a few states, you best use Sevin instead but add an extra spray and apply at about 7 day intervals. (OR spectracide trizide once and done labled for fruit 10-14 days)

All this is based on plum curculio being your primary insect problem which is the case most areas east of the Mis. River. These sprays will also absolutely control scab, CAR and Mildew as well as most of the crop fatal insects. Apple fly maggot is an exception, but I haven't had much of a problem with this pest in the orchards I manage. This pest can be controlled with a lot of fake apples smeared with tangle trap.

If you don't want to use synthetic chemicals, you will probably have quite a battle on your hands. You'll probably have to do at least 4 applications of Surround about a week apart.

Stone fruit will require the addition of another fungicide application or 2 (Indar) starting 2 or 3 weeks after final insecticide spray.

Because I manage so many orchards so far apart I have to resort to a spray schedule that is based on expectations rather than actual monitoring. You may be able to reduce insecticide sprays with monitoring but PC are quick and sly.

Other problems may occur later in the season and you will in time learn to monitor and react to the pitfalls.

Good luck, Alan Haigh- The Home Orchard Co.


clipped on: 04.07.2010 at 08:53 am    last updated on: 04.07.2010 at 09:20 am

RE: Anyone using low tunnels?UPDATE (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: heidi41 on 05.15.2007 at 02:44 pm in Market Gardener Forum

I had also tried planting out some tomatoes under low tunnels. About a week ago the temperature dropped to 28 you guessed, I lost those tomatoes. The low tunnels did not save those tomatoes. However, my string beans were NOT hurt by that saame frost. I replanted the tomatoes...bad news, another LIGHT frost on Sunday nite wiped them out again. I think the whole catch to this tunnel thing is using a different(heavier) type of covering. I will definetely look into it for next year. I will still be using the tunnels for my cukes and melons to see if there is a difference thru the summer. Heidi


interesting that the green beans tolerated a light frost.
clipped on: 09.21.2009 at 07:12 pm    last updated on: 09.21.2009 at 07:13 pm

RE: Cupro 2005 T/N/O = Kocide ?? (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: glenn_russell on 11.25.2008 at 12:36 pm in Fruit & Orchards Forum

Ahhh yes, thanks for the info Scott! I see the 4lb bag for $55 which is certainly getting to be more reasonable. Thanks! -Glenn

Here is a link that might be useful: Kocide 3000 - 4lb bag


kocide for tomatoes and fruit trees
clipped on: 09.06.2009 at 11:31 am    last updated on: 09.06.2009 at 11:31 am