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RE: Start Dates for Toms (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: an_ill-mannered_ache on 11.22.2009 at 04:06 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

mid-january is too early, but that's when i'm starting mine this year... same zone, deland. they transplant well, so i'll sprout them, transplant to gallons, then again to their final resting place... we're usually pretty frost free by the end of february. six weeks seems a reasonable span to worry about them.

i've already started my pepper seedlings... plan to nurse them thru the winter and grow them in containers... it's SO HARD to start pepper seeds when it's cool out, i figured, why not do it at the end of fall? 25 seedlings up so far...


clipped on: 11.22.2009 at 04:58 pm    last updated on: 11.22.2009 at 04:58 pm

RE: Painted Serpent Melon (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Carolyn137 on 06.03.2005 at 04:06 am in Heirloom Plants & Gardens Forum


Armenian/Lebanese cukes are my favorites and I've grown every one available including Painted Serpent which isn't that different from any of the rest except in terms of looks.

They are all Cucumis melo, in the melon family, rather than being Cucumis sativus, true cukes.

I find they aren't as susceptible to bacterial and viral wilts as spread by yellow and black cukes beetles and I find the taste to be outstanding.

Just don't let them get too long b'c they have that capacity. I don't let them get much bigger than about a foot long. Some folks will trellis them to keep them straight b'c they all have a tendency to curl, aka the serpent part of the name, but I could care less and let them curl when and if they want to.

Carolyn, who says rare in that blurb? Hardly. Speaking for myself I've been growing them for at least 30 years.


clipped on: 11.21.2009 at 11:44 pm    last updated on: 11.21.2009 at 11:44 pm

RE: Pesto? (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: whgille on 04.21.2009 at 07:50 am in Florida Gardening Forum

This is a simple and healthy dish. I made it last week.

I love all basils, especially Genovese. But basil fino verde can take the heat better, I have seen it with other names too. It is the small leaf variety. That was the only one that took the heat in Phoenix.

I hope your hubby likes this one, it is very easy to make!


Here is a link that might be useful: Whole Wheat Penne Genovese


clipped on: 11.21.2009 at 06:57 pm    last updated on: 11.21.2009 at 06:57 pm

RE: Pesto? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: whgille on 04.20.2009 at 04:13 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Here is a pesto recipe that I like
1 or 2 plump garlic cloves
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves, stems removed, leaves washed and dried
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 to 3 tablespoons grated pecorino Romano to taste
2 tablespoons soft butter, optional
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

By hand
Smash the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pine nuts to break them up, then add the basil leaves a handful at the time. Briefly work in the cheeses and butter, then stir in the olive oil. Taste for salt.

In a food processor
Use the same ingredients but in the following order: Process the garlic, salt, and pine nuts until fairly finely chopped, then add the basil and olive oil. When smooth, add the cheeses and butter and process just to combine.

I hope you like it.


clipped on: 11.21.2009 at 06:54 pm    last updated on: 11.21.2009 at 06:54 pm

RE: fall vegetable garden (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: tomncath on 07.29.2009 at 07:09 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Hi James, get ready for the agony and the ecstasy ;-)

When to do second plantings: the main thing is to avoid ALL your veggies getting hit by a freeze but if you wait till after freeze season you will be very late starting for spring.

The same rings true for starting the fall season in early September. It may be too hot, too rainy and too buggy early depending on the weather, AND it is the most active hurricane month traditionally so your babies may get either drowned or blow away, so I usually plan a set and sow date of September 15th, then shift the date out a week or two if we have lots of storms coming off of Africa or it's just too hot....



clipped on: 11.21.2009 at 06:22 pm    last updated on: 11.21.2009 at 06:22 pm

RE: Onion sets at the big box yet? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: whgille on 11.21.2009 at 04:36 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Hi Michael

I put about 6 inches of soil or compost in the bottom, it can be a mix of anything you have. Put a little hay on top. When you see some leaves keep adding hay and a little bit of soil. I added more hay than soil and they grew fine. If we get any freeze they are lightweight for me to move them to the porch. Water only if dry.

I started 6 potato buckets, I need to get the hay. When I go to the feed store I ask them for hay with no seeds. Whatever they give me it works for me.:o) I love to shop in the feed store!

Did you get your onion sets already? they also have shallots for cheap, cheap!

I also noticed that they are selling at Publix garlic, grown in USA, that is good news for us.



potatoes in buckets
clipped on: 11.21.2009 at 06:09 pm    last updated on: 11.21.2009 at 06:10 pm

RE: When to start veggie seeds (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: an_ill-mannered_ache on 09.03.2009 at 01:24 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

i don't use a chart or calendar... i think it's hard to err on the side of too early in planting seeds... too often i've had bad seeds or bad conditions and have had to restart a whole crop; starting early gives me that option. big healthy seedlings, planted as early as possible, are key to exploiting our two vegetable windows (late fall, early summer).

i agree with you w/r/t garden pests and diseases and being too early; but you can hold plants for weeks as seedlings if you use a good seedling mix, shade, morning sun, dry areas under eaves, etc.. right now i have a bunch of large (5 and 6 inch) broc, chard and cauliflower seedlings in 4" pots, ready to go into the ground. but i won't have space for them until mid-september when i clear one of my sweet potato spots.

i've started a bunch of lettuce seedlings indoors in turface and coir. it's too early to start them outdoors (too hot, soil's too active for their thin seedcoats and slow germination)... but in a couple of weeks i'll transplant them into buckets in the shade, and then in october into the garden...

anyway, i'd rather be too early than too late. those dates on the ifas calendar are too late for me by a good two weeks.


clipped on: 11.07.2009 at 12:05 am    last updated on: 11.20.2009 at 11:09 pm

RE: Tomato Harvest (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: whgille on 05.07.2009 at 09:33 am in Florida Gardening Forum


I get Spinosad at Peaceful Valley.

I am going to try to grow the Hawaiian for the summer, it is a pea size, sweet tomato that packs a lot of flavor.

Here are some pics of my tomatoes.

Hawaiian tomatoes

Good different purpose tomato: Goose Creek

Good producers: Goji, Aliana


The big guns! Brandy Boy (Thank you Cindee), German Red Strawberry, and Beefmaster (Thank you Tom).


Here is a link that might be useful: spinosad


clipped on: 11.20.2009 at 09:34 pm    last updated on: 11.20.2009 at 09:34 pm

RE: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention IX (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: lathyrus_odoratus on 07.20.2009 at 10:51 pm in Container Gardening Forum

And, one more link. For those who need a refresher, are looking for something specific withing the threads and are unsure where to find it, or looking for common names of the items used, please see the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Compilation Thread


clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 09:57 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 09:57 pm

Tips II (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: lathyrus_odoratus on 07.15.2009 at 01:24 am in Container Gardening Forum

Use 1/2 c of CRF (continual release fertilizer) per cu. ft of mix and 1/3-1/2 c of dolomite lime per cu. ft of mix.

A cubic foot is approximately 7.5 gallons.

A 50 pound bag of Gran-I-Grit is equal to 5.33 gallons.

Tilting a pot is a way to make the pot think the PWT (perched water table) is higher, so it will drain more quickly.

Particles sized 1/16" to 1/8" are ideal of inorganic mix items.

Particles sized 1/8" to 5/16" are better for bark (am imagining that fines are different, but not sure).

1/8 t of Epsom salts per gallon of water will provide Mg (magnesium).

Lime, at the rate of 3-5 pounds to 1 cu yard of soil, will raise pH .5-1 point. Also can use 1/3-1/2 cup per cu. ft or 1 T per gallon.

Gypsum will provide Ca (calcium) and will reduce pH.

Coir and peat have nearly identical water retention. Coir is easier to rewet. Coir breaks down a little faster. (I have read differently, but I won't say I know the truth. Below is one source that says different).

If you are using a soil mix that drains well, fertilize at 1/4 of the recommended rate at every watering.

Screens used to prevent insects from coming into your house can be used to cover holes in bottoms of pots to prevent soil mix from escaping. So can the needlepoint mesh sold at fabric stores.

Here is a link that might be useful: Source comparing peat to coir


clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 09:54 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 09:54 pm

Self Watering Container (SWC) Mix (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: lathyrus_odoratus on 07.15.2009 at 12:37 am in Container Gardening Forum

Self watering containers are a bit different than regular containers. For the science and explanations of the WHY for all of these, read the original 8 threads with 150 posts each ;-).

Al listed two potential SWC mixes.

5 parts bark
2 to 3 parts peat
1 part perlite


5 parts bark
2 parts peat
1 part perlite
.5 part vermiculite

justaguy also tried several mixes through the course of the threads. He started with a 2:1:1 of bark, peat, Turface, but found this too fast (it dried out too quickly and he needed to water more frequently). Next, he listed a 3:2:1.5 of bark, peat, and perlite.

After some trial, he seemed to settle on the following:
4:1 bark (partially composted) to Turface. He doesn't use peat, but also points out this is NOT for a SWC using the EarthBox technology. This is for something that is both bottom and top watered and adding fertilizer through the waterings. If you are using EarthBox technology of having a covered top and the fertilizer inset, he found that he needed a 5:2:1 bark fines, peat and perlite to be successful.


clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 09:52 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 09:52 pm

Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

posted by: tapla on 03.11.2009 at 11:13 pm in Container Gardening Forum

This subject has been discussed frequently, but usually in piecemeal fashion on the Container Gardening forum and other forums related. Prompted originally by a question about fertilizers in another's post, I decided to collect a few thoughts & present a personal overview.

Fertilizer Program - Containerized Plants II

Let me begin with a brief and hopefully not too technical explanation of how plants absorb water from the soil and how they obtain the nutrients/solutes that are dissolved in that water. Most of us remember from our biology classes that cells have membranes that are semi-permeable. That is, they allow some things to pass through the walls, like water and select elements in ionic form dissolved in the water, while excluding other materials like large organic molecules. Osmosis is a natural phenomenon that is natures attempt at creating a balance (isotonicity) in the concentration of solutes in water inside and outside of cells. Water and ionic solutes will pass in and out of cell walls until an equilibrium is reached and the level of solutes in the water surrounding the cell is the same as the level of solutes in the cell.

This process begins when the finest roots absorb water molecule by molecule at the cellular level from the surface of soil particles and transport it, along with its nutrient load, throughout the plant. 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 (this is where I get to plug a well-aerated and free-draining soil), ;o). Deionized (distilled) water contains no solutes, and is easiest for plants to absorb. Of course, since distilled water contains no nutrients, using it alone practically guarantees deficiencies of multiple nutrients as the plant is shorted the building materials (nutrients) it needs to manufacture food, keep its systems orderly, and keep its metabolism running smoothly.

We already learned that if the dissolved solutes in soil water are low, the plant may be well-hydrated, but starving; however, if they are too high, the plant may have a large store of nutrients in the soil, but because of osmotic pressure, the plant may be unable to absorb the water and could die of thirst in a sea of plenty. When this condition occurs, and is severe enough (high concentrations of solutes in soil water), it causes fertilizer burn (plasmolysis), a condition seen when plasma is torn from cell walls as the water inside the cell exits to maintain solute equilibrium with the water surrounding the cell.

Our job, because you cannot depend on an adequate supply of nutrients from the organic component of a container soil, is to provide a solution of dissolved nutrients in a concentration high enough to supply nutrients in the adequate to luxury range, yet still low enough that it remains easy for the plant to take up enough water to be well-hydrated and free of drought stress. Electrical conductivity (EC) of, and the level of TDS (total dissolved solids) in the soil solution is a reliable way to judge the adequacy of solutes and the plants ability to take up water. There are meters that measure these concentrations, and for most plants the ideal range of conductivity is from 1.5 - 3.5 mS, with some, like tomatoes, being as high as 4.5 mS. This is more technical than I wanted to be, but I added it in case someone wanted to search "mS" or "EC". Most of us, including me, will have to be satisfied with simply guessing at concentrations, but understanding how plants take up water and fertilizer, as well as the effects of solute concentrations in soil water is an important piece of the fertilizing puzzle.

Now, some disconcerting news - you have listened to all this talk about nutrient concentrations, but what do we supply, when, and how do we supply them? We have to decide what nutrients are appropriate to add to our supplementation program, but how? Most of us are just hobby growers and cannot do tissue analysis to determine what is lacking. We can be observant and learn the symptoms of various nutrient deficiencies though - and we CAN make some surprising generalizations.

What if I said that the nutritional needs of all plants is basically the same and that one fertilizer could suit almost all the plants we grow in containers - that by increasing/decreasing the dosage as we water, we could even manipulate plants to bloom and fruit more abundantly? Its really quite logical, so please let me explain.

Tissue analysis of plants will nearly always show NPK to be in the ratio of approximately 10:1.5:7. If we assign N the constant of 100, P and K will range from 13-19 and 45-70 respectively. (Ill try to remember to make a chart showing the relative ratios of all the other 13 essential nutrients that dont come from the air at the end of what I write.) 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 often 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. If you decide thats too much work, try halving the dose recommended & cutting the interval in half. You can work out the math for granular soluble fertilizers and apply at a similar rate.

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.

Another advantage to supplying a continual low concentration of fertilizer is it eliminates the tendency of plants to show symptoms of nutrient deficiencies after they have received high doses of fertilizer and then been allowed to return to a more favorable level of soil solute concentrations. Even at perfectly acceptable concentrations of nutrients in the soil, plants previously exposed to high concentrations of fertilizer readily display these symptoms.

You will still need to guard against watering in sips, and that habits accompanying tendency to allow solute (salt) accumulation in soils. 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.

I have recently switched to a liquid fertilizer with micronutrients in a 12:4:8 NPK ratio. Note how closely this fits the average ratio of NPK content in plant tissues, noted above (10:1.5:7). If the P looks a little high at 4, consider that in container soils, P begins to be more tightly held as pH goes from 6.5 to below 6.0, which is on the high side of most container soils pH, so the manufacturer probably gave this some careful consideration. Also, P and K percentages shown on fertilizer packages are not the actual amount of P or K in the blend. The percentage of P on the package is the percentage of P2O5 (phosphorous pentoxide) and you need to multiply the percentage shown by .43 to get the actual amount of P in the fertilizer. Similarly, the K level percentage shown is actually the level of K2O ( potassium oxide) and must be multiplied by .83 to arrive at the actual amount of K supplied.

To answer the inevitable questions about specialty fertilizers and "special" plant nutritional requirements, let me repeat that plants need nutrients in roughly the same ratio. Ratio is an entirely a separate consideration from dosage. Youll need to adjust the dosage to fit the plant and perhaps strike a happy medium in containers that have a diversity of material.

If nutrient availability is unbalanced - if plants are getting more than they need of certain nutrients, but less than they need of others, the nutrient they need the most will be the one that limits growth. There are 6 factors that affect plant growth and yield; they are: air water light temperature soil or media nutrients. Liebig's Law of Limiting Factors states the most deficient factor limits plant growth and increasing the supply of non-limiting factors will not increase plant growth. Only by increasing most deficient nutrient will the plant growth increase. There is also an optimum combination?ratio of the nutrients and increasing them, individually or in various combinations, can lead to toxicities.

When individual nutrients are available in excess, it not only unnecessarily contributes to the total volume of solutes in the soil solution, which makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water and nutrients, it also often creates an antagonistic deficiency of other nutrients as toxicity levels block a plant's ability to take up other nutrients. E.g., too much Fe (iron) can cause a Mn (manganese) deficiency, with the converse also true, Too much Ca (calcium) can cause a Mg (magnesium) deficiency. Too much P (phosphorous) can cause an insoluble precipitate with Fe and make Fe unavailable. It also interferes with the uptake of several other micro-nutrients. You can see why its advantageous to supply nutrients in as close to the same ratio in which plants use them and at levels not so high that they interfere with water uptake. I know Im repeating myself here, but this is an important point.

What about the high-P "Bloom Booster" fertilizers you might ask? 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. Plants use about 6 times more N than P, so fertilizers that supply more P than N are wasteful and more likely to inhibit blooms (remember that too much P inhibits uptake of Fe and many micro-nutrients - it raises pH unnecessarily as well, which could also be problematic). Popular "bloom-booster" fertilizers like 10-52-10 actually supply about 32x more P than your plant could ever use (in relationship to how much N it uses) and has the potential to wreak all kinds of havoc with your plants.

The fact that different species of plants grow in different types of soil where they are naturally found, does not mean that one needs more of a certain nutrient than the other. It just means that the plants have developed strategies to adapt to certain conditions, like excesses and deficiencies of particular nutrients.

Plants that "love" acid soils, e.g., have simply developed strategies to cope with those soils. Their calcium needs are still the same as any other plant and no different from the nutrient requirements of plants that thrive in alkaline soils. The problem for acid-loving plants is that they are unable to adequately limit their calcium uptake, and will absorb too much of it when available, resulting in cellular pH-values that are too high. Some acid-loving plants also have difficulties absorbing Fe, Mn, Cu, or Zn, which is more tightly held in alkaline soils, another reason why they thrive in low pH (acid) soils.

So, If you select a fertilizer that is close in ratio to the concentration of major elements in plant tissues, youre going to be in good shape. Whether the fertilizer is furnished in chemical or organic form matters not a whit to the plant. Ions are ions, but there is one major consideration. Chemical fertilizers are available for immediate uptake while organic fertilizers must be acted on by passing through the gut of micro-organisms to break them down into usable elemental form. Since microorganism populations are affected by cultural conditions like moisture/air levels in the soil, soil pH, fertility levels, temperature, etc., they tend to follow a boom/bust cycle in container culture, which has an impact on the reliability and timing of delivery of nutrients supplied in organic form. Nutrients locked in hydrocarbon chains cannot be relied upon to be available when the plant needs them. This is particularly an issue with the immobile nutrients that must be present in the nutrient stream at all times for the plant to grow normally.

What is my approach? I have been very happy with Miracle-Gro 12-4-8 all purpose liquid fertilizer, or 24-8-16 Miracle-Gro granular all-purpose fertilizer - both are completely soluble. I incorporate a granular micro-nutrient supplement in my soils when I make them (Micromax) or use a soluble micro-nutrient blend (STEM). I would encourage you to make sure your plants are getting all the micro-nutrients. More readily available than the supplements I use is Earth Juices Microblast. Last year, I discovered a fertilizer by Dyna-Gro called Foliage-Pro 9-3-6. It is a 3:1:2 ratio like I like and has ALL the primary macro-nutrients, secondary macro-nutrients (Ca, Mg, S) and all the micro-nutrients. It performed very well for me.

When plants are growing robustly, I try to fertilize my plants weakly (pun intended) with a half recommended dose of the concentrate at half the suggested intervals. When plants are growing slowly, I fertilize more often with very weak doses. Its important to realize your soil must drain freely and you must water so a fair amount of water drains from your container each time you water to fertilize this way. This year my display containers performed better than they ever have in years past & they were still all looking amazingly attractive at the beginning of Oct when I finally decided to dismantle them because of imminent cold weather. I attribute results primarily to a good soil and a healthy nutrient supplementation program.

What would I recommend to someone who asked what to use as an all-purpose fertilizer for nearly all their container plantings? If you can find it, a 3:1:2 ratio soluble liquid fertilizer (24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6 are all 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers) that contains all the minor elements would great.

How plants use nutrients - the chart I promised:

I gave Nitrogen, because it's the largest nutrient component, the value of 100. Other nutrients are listed as a weight percentage of N.
N 100
P 13-19 (16) 1/6
K 45-80 (62) 3/5
S 6-9 (8) 1/12
Mg 5-15 (10) 1/10
Ca 5-15 (10) 1/10
Fe 0.7
Mn 0.4
B(oron) 0.2
Zn 0.06
Cu 0.03
Cl 0.03
M(olybden) 0.003
To read the chart: P - plants use 13-19 parts of P or an average of about 16 parts for every 100 parts of N, or 6 times more N than P. Plants use about 45-80 parts of K or an average of about 62 parts for every 100 parts of N, or about 3/5 as much K as N, and so on.

If you're still awake - thanks for reading. It makes me feel like the effort was worth it. ;o) Let me know what you think - please.

Here is a link to the first posting of A Fertilizer Program for Containers

Another link to information about Container Soils- Water Movement and Retention


clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 09:41 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 09:41 pm

RE: tomatoes... who's planting what, when, and how? (Follow-Up #88)

posted by: whgille on 11.10.2009 at 11:18 am in Florida Gardening Forum


We all have to deal with the bugs. My approach is always preventive rather than the cure.

Tomatoes and peppers get a weekly light dose of spray, I use Serenade for disease, Spinosad for bugs and a drop of Dr Bonners peppermint castile soap just for the scent.

You can use other things that are available in the stores like BT for bugs, insecticidal soap, neem and others.

I never used Sevin, I always try to use things that wont harm the environment, my pets or family.

Organic sprays are needed if I want to get a harvest, later on when is cooler here I don't need to spray. Also keep your plants with a good fertilizer program, stronger plants resist more to bug attacks.

Hope that you get your problems under control and get a good pepper and tomato harvest!



Silvia's bug spray
clipped on: 11.12.2009 at 11:33 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 09:09 pm

RE: tomatoes... who's planting what, when, and how? (Follow-Up #63)

posted by: whgille on 08.22.2009 at 05:54 pm in Florida Gardening Forum


I have in my porch growing now the dwarf poincianas seeds that you sent me. I will be planting them in the spring in my front yard.

I still have some arugula that you sent me. It is great, that reminds me to plant it again. Cilantro too in a little while when it is cooler.

I planted the ground cherries around March and they are still around , with the heat they stopped producing, but they are fruiting again now. And yes, they are the same we remember, hard to describe the flavor, but I like it! Very, very different than the Cossack pineapple variety.

I do have Arkansas Traveler, and is a good variety for the heat, I also have a lot of peppers that I grew for me and friends. I started the peppers before the tomatoes.
If you have trouble with the germination of peppers, sometimes is a good idea to soak them between paper towels and plant only the ones that take off.

I am also going to send you the Table Dainty squash, it is a vining type and is a strong variety, that I think will do good in your area. Use young as a zucchini, and later you can peel it and roast or sauteed. Good flavor!

Don't worry about sending me anything, I will take a rain check on your offer.:)



clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 08:58 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 08:58 pm

RE: tomatoes... who's planting what, when, and how? (Follow-Up #54)

posted by: flyingfish2 on 08.20.2009 at 02:37 am in Florida Gardening Forum

Mr Tom,

Thought you were not starting seeds until mid Sept?

I got 12 for 12 in your little bits of "hot dog" from Burpee :>)
Putting 4 in "new" raised bed, 4 in the old Brandywine box from last year and 4 in a series watered 5 gal SWC. All will be on drip timers!

Potted up a test BW in a 6 in clay pot with 40% horse compost, 40%peat, 10%perlite. Hope the horse compost works in the SWC as good as the cow since can make my own easy.

Do you have your 80 5 gal buckets from Jerry yet?

Did you pull that great looking stalk of bananas? I would like to get one of the pups from that stalk whenever they are available.



clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 08:51 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 08:51 pm

RE: tomatoes... who's planting what, when, and how? (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: castorp on 06.29.2009 at 02:03 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Ill, thanks! I'll start a black cherry for you.

Sandandsun, I live in DeLand. I'm up on a sandhill and within the city limits so I have slightly warmer microclimate.

As for the treatments, I just looked up what I needed and bought them at the corner hardware. I didn't seek out any special brand, but they are:
Green Light Bt worm killer
Bonide pyrethrins
Southern Ag Liquid Copper
I'll check out Marcia's post.

Bernie, I water every day, unless we get a good rain. I have a drip system. For each pot I use an adjustable 1-10 gallon emitter. When I first put in the seedling, I turn the emitter down as low as it will go, and I open it up as the tomato grows, but even now I don't have them anywhere near the max. If I'm wondering if they need more water I just push the pine bark around a little, and see if it's damp. Because I put a little compost on top, and because the bark does break down some, the medium is more soil like than I would have thought, and holds more moisture than I would have thought. I think also because half barrels are such big containers the bark stays moist longer.

Silvia, thank you! It's quite a compliment coming from you. I really like those black cherries too.



clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 08:38 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 08:38 pm

RE: Best source for Serenade? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: whgille on 04.29.2009 at 07:55 am in Florida Gardening Forum

I think Serenade is best use as a preventative rather than a cure. But you can give it a try. I don't think there is anything out there that works 100%.
I get all my organic sprays including Serenade from Peaceful Valley Farm.
I get a few things at the same time to justified the shipping charges.
32 oz. concentrate was 17.99 plus shipping.


clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 08:28 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 08:28 pm

a report on fall season tomatoes

posted by: imagardener2 on 12.28.2008 at 06:59 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

From my notes (yes they help) about growing tomatoes in the fall season

Seeds started July 17: Zogola, Earls Faux, Bulgarian #7, Russian Bogatyr, Goose Creek, Big Zac, Giant Oxheart, Neves Red Azorean, Cuostralee, Marianna's Peace, Black Cherry, Dr. Carolyn, Oplaka, Russian #117, Galina-Hazera (only hybrid)

all germinated 3rd week July--those big enough went in the ground just 8/22/08 after Hurricane Fay, others went in ground September.

These completely wiped out due to TYLCV: Cuostralee, Goose Creek, Earls Faux, Russian Bogatyr, Russian #117. Some others named above died too but not every seedling.

These are currently most productive: Galina-Hazera, Giant Oxheart, Marianna's Peace, Opalka.

My notes say first tomato (G. Oxheart) on 11/10 (small, cracked, wormhole) but things got better after a couple weeks :-)

October 1st-Stupice seeds were started and there are small fruits on several plants today 12/28.

Conclusions: it took 5 months from 1st seeds planted in September to get to the point of having a steady supply of tomatoes. However Stupice only took 3 months to get going and would have changed the date of first tomato.

Fall season is really warm and prevents blossoms from pollinating so next year I'll start seeds later (October?) and make sure Stupice is in the first batch.

There are other tomatoes growing now, started at various later times (Jersey Devil, Snow White, Giant Italian Paste, Early Goliath, Lillians Yellow (died) and second try on Cuostralee and Goose Creek (died 2nd time too) but nothing fruiting on them yet.

Today: started new seeds for the winter season, thinking ahead 8 weeks.
Growing tomatoes is fun but would be SO much easier without TYLCV. Everything else is controllable (except the heat/lack of pollination).

formerly naplesgardener

Photos WILL be posted next week (really)


clipped on: 11.19.2009 at 08:47 am    last updated on: 11.19.2009 at 08:47 am

RE: Automatic watering for self watering containers (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: schwankmoe on 07.06.2007 at 10:34 am in Container Gardening Forum

i like it, but as an engineer i like to keep it simple with no moving parts if possible. i don't want to go on vacation and find out the power went out or something broke and my plants all croaked.

i use a different system for automatic feeding. i run a tube down into the bottom of the planter reservoir and run that tube up and over into a long rubbermaid-type container that's wide and long enough to hold 2 5-gal water cooler bottles. i cur holes in the lid for the rubbermaid to keep the bottles in place as they'll be upside down.

i fill the planter reservoir with water and then the rubbermaid up to the same level as the overflow holes in the planter. then i suck on the tube to fill it up from the planter reservoir and shove it into the rubbermaid, i.e. creating a siphon. so now as the plant sucks up water from the planter reservior, water is drawn in from the rubbermaid reservoir which holds another 3 gallons or so.

then i fill the 5-gal water cooler bottles with water and cap them and drill a hole in the neck just a bit less distant from the cap as the water level in the reservoirs are tall. so if the water level in the rubbermaid and planter works out to 2.5 inches, the hole is drilled so that the bottom of the hole is no more than 2.5 inches from the top of the cap.

this is based on an old chicken feeder. when i turn over the bottles and shove em in the rubbermaid, the water level covers the holes and no water can flow out. but after the plant drinks enough water from the planter reservoir, water is drawn from the rubbermaid and the level in the rubbermaid drops below the holes in the bottles, opening them up to air and water flows out of the bottle until it covers the holes and water stops flowing.

i also have a little extra room in the rubbermaids so i stick in a few 1-gal water bottles, drilled in the same manner as the 5-gal ones. overall, one of these rubbermaids will add about 16 gallons of water to the overall reservoir of the planter.

i use one rubbermaid per 2 tomato plants and the water lasts about a week with no moving parts or electrical doodads to worry about.


clipped on: 11.16.2009 at 09:35 pm    last updated on: 11.16.2009 at 09:35 pm

RE: fertizer for als mix (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: an_ill-mannered_ache on 11.14.2009 at 06:20 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

miracle-gro bloom booster at 1/4 strength, alternated with regular miracle-gro --at least once a week, get it all over the leaves, soak the soil. that's what i've been doing and i've been happy with the results, in and out of pots.

don't overwater. you can get the micronutrient powder at lots of places--i got mine at a feed store. one bag lasts a little longer than forever.


clipped on: 11.14.2009 at 09:25 pm    last updated on: 11.14.2009 at 09:25 pm

RE: Hey, Tomcath.... (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tomncath on 01.12.2009 at 07:25 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Hi Anna,

Like I said in your other post, I'd sacrifice one of the containers if covered, pull the cover and eyeball and feel the soil from top to bottom, you have nothing to lose...may just need to mix a drier soil. I think lots of folks are very successful with SWCs and I'll be toying with the concept myself in an attempt to reduce water waste.

Having said that if I'm unsuccessful with SCWs I'll resume my current practice, but here's what I currently do:

- I grow everything in plan old black nursery containers (You can get nursery containers reasonably priced locally if you're willing to buy in bulk....)

- I grow the indeterminates in 7 gallon containers

- I grow Cherries, determinates, squash, cukes, zukes, okra, pole beans and most everything else in 5 gallon containers (exception peppers go in three gallon containers)

- I sunk 10 gallon containers in the ground to put the 7 gallon containers in

- I sunk 7 gallon containers in the ground to put the 5 gallon containers in

- I laid a bed of oak tree leaves in the bottom of the "bunkered" containers to discourage nematodes since they don't like highly organic debris

- Nothing between the inner and outer pots, just an air layer to promote good oxygenation and gas exchange. The real purpose of sinking the pots is just to get them below ground level to keep the soil cooler during the spring and summer

- I use Al's mix, 70% pine fines, 15% perlite and 15% peat to promote good drainage and oxygenation/gas Nurticote CRF, and dolomite for a calcium source. Since the Nutricote I'm using is a 180 day product and takes 2-3 weeks to kick in I supplement weekly weakly with Foliage Pro 3-1-2 during weeks #2-4. When in doubt, better to put less fertilizer in your potting mix than too much, you can always supplement with a liquid fertilizer if warranted.

I'm sure something is missing so fire away with questions ;-)


clipped on: 11.14.2009 at 09:04 pm    last updated on: 11.14.2009 at 09:04 pm

RE: Sample of harvest (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: happy_fl_gardener on 05.24.2009 at 10:38 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Well, Michael, I am going to share the zucchini relish recipe.


10 cups ground zucchini
5 cups ground onion
1 red pepper (ground)
1 green pepper (ground)
5 tablespoons salt

2 1/4 cups white vinegar
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric

Put ground zucchini, onion, peppers and salt in a bowl. Let stand covered overnight.

Rinse and drain very well in cold water. Squeeze out excess water.

Put rinsed zucchini mixture in a large dutch oven (large pot) with remaining ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer until cooked, about 10 minutes. Pour into warm canning jars. Process in a waterbath for 5 minutes. If omitting the waterbath process, then refrigerate. Makes 4 1/2 pints.

Zucchini relish

I made a batch of zucchini relish last week. When I cut up the zucchini I do not use the pithy center. I use only about 3/8 inch of the outer part of the squash. I throw away the center. It is pictured in the center plate. As I mentioned it is best to use overgrown zucchinis.

One time I forgot to rinse the salty ground mixture. Big mistake! Be sure not to forget this step.

For grinding the zucchini, peppers and onions I use a food processor. As for salt, I only use canning salt. In the picture, the large bowl on the right has the ground mixture with the salt added. All I needed to do is to add plastic wrap on it so it could sit covered. I ground this mixture in the morning, and I cooked the relish in the evening. This is the best tasting relish you have ever tasted---honest.



clipped on: 11.14.2009 at 08:44 pm    last updated on: 11.14.2009 at 08:44 pm

RE: Too many tomatoes? (Follow-Up #25)

posted by: bluesky7 on 05.28.2009 at 12:25 am in Florida Gardening Forum

Hi guys,

I'm finally posting my salsa recipe. I think you will really like it. Some people like cilantro and some don't, so this ingredient is optional:

3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 small cloves garlic, minced
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 hot chile peppers, serrano, or jalapeno, finely chopped (more or less to taste)
2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
salt and pepper

Preparation: Put chopped onion and garlic in a strainer; pour two cups boiling water over them then let drain thoroughly. Discard water. Cool.

Combine onions and garlic with chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours to blend flavors. Makes about 2 cups of salsa.

Please let me know how you like this. Of course, I eat it with tortilla chips. It can also be spooned over other Mexican and Spanish dishes.




Salsa Dish
clipped on: 11.14.2009 at 08:30 pm    last updated on: 11.14.2009 at 08:30 pm

RE: Anyone live near me and would share their wisdom (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: dpflanzer on 11.13.2009 at 11:10 am in Florida Gardening Forum


I live fairly close to you in New Tampa (Bruce B. Downs/I75), probably no more than 5 miles south of your location.

You can get some good advice reading the threads here. Tom and Sylvia were of great help to me when I started, although I don't post much I do read the forum on a daily basis.

We are definitely in a much different climate than Tom, my tomato blooms were setting while his nights were just too warm. I also believe that St. Pete is much more nematode infested than North Tampa but the jury is still out on that.

I have about 250sq/ft of raised beds that I used for my garden. Some of the overflow is put into containers. My garden is set up on an irrigation timer which makes it much easier to maintain.

The University of Florida has a gardening guide that you may have read (see below link)

Florida Gardening Guide

I usually use the "central Florida" dates they list as my transplant dates. Most of my plants are started from seed and I do this 30-60 days earlier than the dates quoted. My seeds are started indoor under grow lights.

Ive attached a picture of my garden. My house is only on a acre but I manage to have a good yield by devoting a 15x30 space in my backyard. The picture attached is from last year. Currently I have growing 11 varieties of tomatoes, 15 varieties of peppers, asparagus beans, Chinese cucumbers, 5 varieties of eggplant and just about every herb imaginable.

Best of luck and let me know if you would like to get together and share notes.



clipped on: 11.13.2009 at 08:30 pm    last updated on: 11.13.2009 at 08:30 pm

Easy Photo Posting Instructions

posted by: solstice98 on 09.25.2008 at 07:44 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

This topic comes up over and over so here's some basic instructions. If this doesn't work for you or if you have problems, send me an email and I'll see if I can help. I love to see pictures so I'm happy to help anyone make that happen!

DON'T BE NERVOUS! This may sound complicated the first time but once you've done it you'll see it's easy and fun. You'll be posting pictures every time you visit the forum!

First of all, you need an account on a photo sharing site where you can store some pictures. You can't link directly to photos in your computer so you need to have them on a 'photo hosting site'. Photobucket is the one I use the most and I think it's very, very easy, but Picasa, Kodak Gallery, and several other sites work just as well, I'm sure. These sites all have free accounts available and so you can start posting photos today without any expense. Cool, huh?

You can get to Photobucket at

So, once you have the account set up, follow the instructions for uploading pictures from your computer. You can add them one at a time, or upload several at once. (See below for some thoughts on setting up albums.) Don't worry about losing them. You are just copying them to Phtoobucket and you'll keep them on your computer. Besides being able to share them, it's also a good backup for your most precious pictures.

When you have some photos loaded, your page will look something like this:

To add a photo directly into your forum message, click once on the line under the photo that's labeled HTML Code. Then go to your message in the Florida Garden Forum (or whichever forum you want) and paste it into your text message. It will show up just as text until you hit the "Preview Message" button. Then the picture should show up. If it doesn't, check to be sure you selected the HTML Code line instead of one of the others.

You can add as many pictures to a single message as you want, but if you do more than 3 or 4 it gets very slow to open for people who use dial up.

Here's a good thing to understand: your picture doesn't really get transferred to GardenWeb. What happens is that the HTML code is telling GardenWeb (with magic computer instructions) where to go in Photobucket to find the photo AND it's also telling it to display the photo. If you delete the photo or even move it in Photobucket to a different album, GardenWeb will still have the old instructions and won't be able to find it. The link will be broken. If you edit the picture in Photobucket, making it smaller or adding a border, that will show up the next time someone looks at the message in GardenWeb. The real picture stays in Photobucket - GardenWeb just temporarily imports it each time someone opens your post. I hope that makes sense. If it doesn't let me know and I'll try again!

Another good thing to know is that you can make pictures smaller in Photobucket by resizing them but you can't make them bigger again. If you go too small, you'll have to reload the photo from your computer as a new picture.

About albums: When you first set up your account, you'll see where you can "Add a new album". Since you won't want to move photos later (because you'll break the link), it's a good idea to set up a few albums right away. I suggest one for Home (house pictures), one for pets, one for garden, one for hobbies, one for vacations, etc. It's easy to add them at any time so they don't need to all be set up right away, but a couple are a good idea. I even have one called Miscellaneous for any pictures that don't seem to fit anywhere else!

Hope this helps!


clipped on: 11.12.2009 at 08:56 am    last updated on: 11.12.2009 at 08:57 am

RE: Cucuzzi seeds available -just ask (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: tomncath on 07.14.2009 at 08:09 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

I've been way to busy at work, been away from this post for two whole days!

Tom, just saw your post with your calabash. How are they different from the cucuzzi? They sure to look very similar. I'm still getting Metki Painted Serpent melons. I'm really, really hooked on them.

The cucuzzi and the Tromboncino's gave out way before the Asian calabash gourds, although they are all in the calabash family I think. you a new pic of the Thai Serpent. Just started picking them last week....

I was not wild about the Thai Serpent snake gourds but I'm definitely sold on the Metki Painted Serpent cukes and probably will grow them in the fall, but I sure want to try Silvia's Japanese cukes too.

For those of you who want to see the seeds we were spreading around this spring here's the original post, with links to descriptions....


clipped on: 11.12.2009 at 08:48 am    last updated on: 11.12.2009 at 08:48 am

Fall veggie seeds

posted by: tomncath on 08.01.2009 at 10:48 am in Florida Gardening Forum

Well, I'm done experimenting with tomato varieties but I am still looking for more resistant, good producing zukes, cukes and peppers so here's my updated seed list if anyone wants to try a few seeds, just drop me a line.



clipped on: 11.11.2009 at 09:47 pm    last updated on: 11.11.2009 at 09:47 pm

Paper towel germination of peppers, yikes! What now? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: an_ill-mannered_ache on 09.06.2009 at 06:29 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

coir is coconut fiber. i buy it in blocks from golden harvest organic products, the same place i get my awesome SUPREME NEEM. one block gives you a LOT of coir. al uses sphagnum, but you could also use peat. anyway, his recipe (i think he sent it to me... it might not be on gw) is 1 part coir/peat/sphagnum to 6 parts screened turface. it's a great, sterile mix. very cheap. i've only just started to use it and my initial reaction is WOW--the seedlings are very quck to germinate and very quick to grow. no damping off, which plagues me this time of year.

try it out with peat if you don't have finely chopped sphagnum or coir... and you should order a bunch of supreme neem and coir bricks from gh!


seed starting medium
clipped on: 11.10.2009 at 10:42 pm    last updated on: 11.10.2009 at 10:42 pm

RE: The garden in September, follow up (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: whgille on 09.23.2009 at 10:35 am in Florida Gardening Forum

Thank you linchat
Now about the questions. I have been planting at different times, once the bed is harvested, something new goes in, depending on the season and also rotating the crops to avoid soil diseases.

The raised beds when started get layers of newspapers, hay, peat moss, well composted manure, I use Black Cow, bagged soil, I use Miracle Grow for garden. After harvesting I add more Black Cow.

I mostly grow tomatoes in containers with a combination of Miracle soil for containers, pine bark fines, perlite.

I use 13-13-13 Nutricote as a fertilizer when planting in beds. Tomatoes also get liquid fertilizer in very diluted solutions.

I hope that I answer some of your questions.



clipped on: 11.09.2009 at 10:46 pm    last updated on: 11.09.2009 at 10:46 pm

RE: can you can/preserve betterboy or beefmaster tomatos? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: gardengrl on 10.02.2009 at 02:30 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Ktmeyer, Christine has it doesn't matter what type of "mater" you use for canning/preserving tomato sauce. Some are juicier than others (paste). If I want a thicker sauce, I peel, seed, and chop my maters, then drain off the excess liquid.

Here's an AWESOME general purpose tomato sauce BTW. I make this every year and have used it in soups, sauces, name it!

Chunky Basil Pasta Sauce

8 cups (2 L) coarsely chopped peeled tomatoes -- (about 9-12 tomatoes or 4 lb/2 kg)
1 cup chopped onion -- (250 mL)
3 cloves garlic -- minced
2/3 cup red wine -- (150 mL)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (5 % strength) -- (75 mL)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil -- (125 mL)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley -- (15 mL)
1 teaspoon pickling salt -- (5 mL)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar -- (2 mL)
1 6-oz/156 mL) can tomato paste

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, wine, vinegar, basil, parsley, salt, sugar and tomato paste in a very large non-reactive pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency, stirring frequently.

Remove hot, prepared canning jars from canner and ladle sauce into jars to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of rim (head space). Process 35 minutes for pint (500 mL) jars and 40 minutes for quart (1 L) jars in a boiling water bath.

Yield: "8 cups"

Note: This sauce also makes an excellent base for a quick pizza.


Tomato sauce
clipped on: 11.09.2009 at 09:53 pm    last updated on: 11.09.2009 at 09:53 pm

RE:,, veggie gardeners: amending vs. 'capping' vs replacing (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: whgille on 04.14.2009 at 10:01 am in Florida Gardening Forum

I always have a bag of soil available, sometimes I use Black Cow manure too. It meets the requirements (no smell).
Everything I reuse. For example, I harvest a cabbage, there is a big hole after taking the roots out. I put in the space fresh soil, only in that part of the bed. Sometimes it is just like a handful, sometimes is more depending on what I take out.
The soil in the containers that I use for tomatoes, after the season is over, gets put around the bananas, other fruit trees, herbs, ornamental. I always use fresh soil for containers. Usually a mix of soil and pine bark fines (is cheaper and it drains faster)

The rotation goes something like this (Of course this is flexible)
Root crops

Let's take bed N1
I planted lettuce, spinach and other greens.
Then carrots and beets
Now it has beans
Later it will be something else.
And I always plant flowers that I grow from seed. It helps with pollinators and visual effects.

If I am not too clear in my explanation,please feel free to ask me any other question you have.



clipped on: 11.09.2009 at 08:05 pm    last updated on: 11.09.2009 at 08:05 pm

RE: tomatoes... who's planting what, when, and how? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: castorp on 06.29.2009 at 09:09 am in Florida Gardening Forum

I'm trying to carry mine over into fall. It's a risky experiment, I realize, but they're doing pretty good so far. The pictures below were just taken this morning.

They have at least two hard months ahead, maybe more, depending on how harsh Sept. is. If I can carry them through, I'll have large plants as soon as the temps drop enough for them to start setting fruit again.

Actually they're all still setting fruit. The cherry type "Black Cherry" is setting the most, followed by tigerella and Green Zebra. Goose Creek is trailing way behind, but only Black Cherry is setting a lot of fruit.

I'm growing them in sunken 25 gallon containers (barrels cut in half) filled with pretty much pure coarse pine bark. I had a cup of lime in each, and just enough mushroom compost to get the plant started. Nothing else. It's basically crude hydroponics. The advantage is that it takes a LONG time for this medium to break down, because the pine bark is so coarse.

In fact the pine bark is working so well that I'm considering growing many more of my vegetables in it--if I can find some attractive way of doing it.

I'm spraying with copper (for molds, fungus, etc.) pyrethrum (sp?) for stink bugs and leaf footed bugs, and Bt for worms. I'm also doing a lot of trimming with a bleach-cleaned knife.

Sometime in August I may cut the vines back to the leaders or the thickest vines (each attached to a conduit, more or less). Hope fully they'll produce a lot of new growth, which will start flowering about the time the temps drop enough for better fruit setting.

If I fail, I'm just going to pull them out and plant some early types and patio tomatoes.






clipped on: 11.08.2009 at 08:15 pm    last updated on: 11.08.2009 at 08:15 pm

Mushroom compost today

posted by: tommyplyer on 09.11.2009 at 09:20 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Guy's I can't bleave how excited when i get my load of mushroom compost from my dlivery guy. 5cu./yd.s is a big pile in my case it is in 2 big piles. lot's fall gardening ahead .if any of you need that much my guy has 5cu./yd. dump truck and can bring it to you for $150 thats a lot of trips with my trailer .if so call Tim @ 407-295-6069
Happy Gardening Tommy


clipped on: 11.08.2009 at 12:06 am    last updated on: 11.08.2009 at 12:07 am

RE: Vegetable highlight: String Beans (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: whgille on 04.24.2009 at 06:08 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Hi Christine
Thank you very much. Maybe we have similar recipes.:o)

2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup 1/2-inch pieces cooked green beans
1 cup 1/2-inch pieces cooked yellow wax beans
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
Sweet-and-Sour- Vinaigrette
Whisk together in a small bowl:
1/3 cup tarragon or red wine vinegar
1/3 cup of sugar
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Add in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly
1/3 cup oil (I use olive oil)
Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours, or overnight. Serve cold.



clipped on: 11.07.2009 at 11:37 pm    last updated on: 11.07.2009 at 11:37 pm

RE: Vegetable highlight: String Beans (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: happy_fl_gardener on 04.24.2009 at 02:11 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Yes, Michael, I have the magic powder. I use half strength Miracle Gro, (gen.purpose) on the bean seedlings. When they get half grown I use half strength bloom booster once or twice, then that's it. Keep them well watered.

The pictured beans were planted Feb. 28th in the original garden site. The remaining varieties didn't get planted until March 6th because they are in the new addition which wasn't ready until then.

The pole beans are behind with only tiny beans, but they are supposed to be later season beans. All of the March 6th beans have half grown beans on them.

Tom-- OK, I'll be watching for your Rattlesnake harvest next fall. I have some Kentucky Wonder pole beans growing. They seem to be the latest with only flowers for the last couple of weeks. I expect a harvest from them very early May which would put them at the 60 day harvest time.

Silvia--my great gardening an excellent cook friend! I would love to prepare your recipe for "Three Bean Salad". I have one but I bet yours is better.

Hi Cora, Your recipe sounds good and easy to fix. I have TONS of beans coming, so I will fix some your way.




clipped on: 11.07.2009 at 11:36 pm    last updated on: 11.07.2009 at 11:37 pm

RE: Zucchini and cucumbers? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: tomncath on 11.04.2009 at 07:51 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Beautiful Silvia, you are truly amazing :-)

Anna, sometimes the Big Box Burpee seed display has Butterstick but I didn't find them there this fall. Since Burpee mail order is rather pricey I got them from Jung seeds, I hope you can find some as I don't have but a few left.

When you get the cukes going it's critical you spray the buds and new growth at the vine tips with BT, that's where the eggs are laid, then worms so small you can't see them migrate down to the bigger leaves where they become monsters. Keep the buds sprayed and you'll see them dropping like files before your leaves are riddled with holes :-)

The red cups are to wick moisture out of the cuke and zuke containers. They will easily suffer from PM/DM if the mix stays wet too long, and being right on the lake the soil mix will stay too wet at night if there is no breeze, dew laden in the morning. Not an ideal environment for veggie gardening but I love my fresh veggies and I'm not giving them up :-) :-(


clipped on: 11.07.2009 at 10:19 pm    last updated on: 11.07.2009 at 10:19 pm

RE: My 9 yr old is planting vegetables in JULY, help! (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: an_ill-mannered_ache on 06.25.2009 at 07:53 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

since we don't have a faq, i thought i'd just write this up and paste it whenever this question comes up...
Here are a baker's dozen of crops that I've had some success with for the months of June through September. They can all be started/added to the garden anytime in june and the first weeks of july...

1. Cassava. You'll need to find someone with cuttings. The cuttings root without a problem. I have started with pieces no larger than my thumb and, by the end of the season (Thanksgiving), they produced nice tubers. They are an easy, undemanding crop. The more care you take of them, the better they'll produce, but even without additional water or fertilizer, they'll still look good and produce something edible. Delicious boiled and mashed, or boiled and fried.
2. Malanga. You can get tubers for these Elephant-ear lookalikes from Publix or any market that caters to folks rom the Caribbean. Look for smallish ones that are heavy for their size. Stick 'em in the ground and wait. Like cassava, these plants are pretty indifferent to conditions--they are, for instance, the only tropical staple that can be grown in shade. Mine last year produced poorly--bugs got them. I think that if I had planted them somewhere with more sun, added some compost, and fertilized them, they would have produced well. This year I was pleased to see half a dozen little plants appear where I'd pulled the original plants. Much like other alocasias, they must produce lots of little corm-lettes. We'll see if they produce better this year with all the rain.
3. Okra. It does very well in large pots--better even than in the ground. Productive and tasty. I grow the burgundy available from Southern Exposure. The pods are edible even when they get large (six inches or longer). Not at all a fussy vegetable to cook--I slice it and fry it in olive oil and it's delicious. Deep-fried ain't half bad...
4. Hot peppers. I've always had great luck with Tabascos, jalapenos, and habaneros. They do best in pots for me, and require daily watering and a bit of shade in the afternoon. When grown in pots, they're perennial--my Tabasco is four or five years old and produces better with every year.
5. Caribbean seasoning peppers. There are several, and all look just like habaneros but are very mild. I grow a St. Lucia Yellow Seasoning pepper that's sweet and fruity and tasty. Prolific, too. Perennial in pots.
6. Sweet potatoes. Couldn't be an easier, tastier, more prolific crop. I save back small potatoes from the winter garden, leaving them all winter on the back gazebo, then plant them in some well-drained compost in spring and cut the slips as they form. You can stick the slips directly in the ground and cover with compost, but it's a better bet to pot them up in the shade for a week. Give them room and a bit of water now and again.
7. Roselle. I'm growing this mallow for the first time, in the same bed as the okra--they look great. Very pretty. Tasty drink made from its calyxes. I guess not technically a vegetable, but grown like one.
8. Peanuts. Go buy some raw green peanuts from Publix, stick them in the ground anytime during the summer. Forget about them. Dig them out in November or December. Enjoy. Really, that easy. They need nothing.
9. Okinawan spinach. Tasty, perennial, incredibly prolific, totally care-free. You'll need to find someone with cuttings... Good cooked or raw. High ornamental value.
10. Small (100s or smaller) cherry tomatoes. These can be started anytime. I grow Matt's Wild, which are very motile and something of a pest... But tasty enough and low-maintenance. Just make sure to keep it in bounds.
11. Cowpeas. I love my Mississippi Silver (from Southern Exposure). Totally undemanding, prolific and pretty. Very tasty. Belong in every garden.
12. Limas. This year I'm growing Willow Leaf Lima (from Southern Exposure). Planted in the spring sometime, it's just now coming into production, but it's a great plant--vigorous, twining, pretty, drought-tolerant and prolific. The beans are smallish but tasty.
13. Eggplants. They're perennial if you nurse them through the winter. I grow the "Little Fingers" which can be used small or left to grow large. (Interestingly, the "Little Fingers" have the largest leaf of any eggplant I've seen.) I love eggplant in Pasta Nora and as baba ganoush.

On the herb front: Basil (especially Thai), scallions (which I start from roots bought at the grocer), Mexican tarragon (pretty, too!), wild arugula, fennel (currently under serious attack by the swallowtail cats), epazote, ppalo (not for the faint of heart!), leaf celery (which I use as a replacement for parsley). Rosemary, mint, and thyme struggle, but generally survive the summer. Summer savory and certain oreganos (large leafed) thrive. I also grow chaya, which is OK but more of an ornamental than a food plant. The butterflies love it.

I'm sure there are other tropical crops to grow, but all of these crops are pretty easy. Many are perennial, and those that aren't can be started from saved seeds.


summer plants
clipped on: 11.07.2009 at 08:50 pm    last updated on: 11.07.2009 at 08:51 pm

RE: mildew control!! (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: orchid923 on 05.26.2009 at 10:31 am in Florida Gardening Forum

I hope the following remedies can help. I'm a Master Gardener in Brevard County, and we give these "recipes" out to the people who call or drop into the office.
Home made soap and oil spray for insect control
Mix: 2-1/2 Tbsp cooking oil + 2- Tbsp baby shampoo. Mix well in 1 gallon of water.

Note: Shake well before and during application. Water the plant well the day before you spray. Do not spray during the heat of the day in full sun. Reduce potential injury by rinsing the plant with fresh water a few hours after the soap spray application. Thorough coverage of the pest is necessary so spray both sides of the foliage thoroughly until it drips form the leaves.
Spray every 5-7 days as needed.

If a fungus is also present then add to the above formula: 2 Tbsp baking soda

Note: Shake well before and during application. If the weather is humid or the threat of disease is high, spray every five to seven days. Spray both sides of the leaves thoroughly. Always test any spray on a small area of the plant. Can be used against blackspot and mildew on roses, powdery mildew on summer squash, early blight on tomatoes and alternaria leaf blight on melons, and who knows what else !

The use of soap or oil for insect control will control the insects but will do nothing to correct the condition that is making the plant susceptible to the insects. Using foliar applications of fish emulsion and seaweed may help ill plants do better.

Another control for the fungus Powdery Mildew
Spray a milk solution (a minimum of a 10% concentration which is 1 cup of milk in 9 cups of water) sprayed twice a week. The milk was shown to be as effective or better than conventional fungicides.
(Research conducted in Brazil and published in the journal Crop Protection vol. 18, 1999, pp 489-92)

Use aspirin to fight fungus too ! Dissolve of an aspirin in a gallon water and spray every two to three weeks. The aspirin will boost the plants defense mechanism. (Testing done at the University of Rhode Island showed that tomato and other plants tested also yielded more fruit than those treated with commercial fertilizers,.)


clipped on: 11.07.2009 at 09:58 am    last updated on: 11.07.2009 at 09:58 am

RE: Too many seeds to choose from!!! (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: tomncath on 08.23.2009 at 06:32 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

The red okra is Little Lucy, the green is Bullhorn. From now on I'm sticking with the Baby Bubba and Little Lucy because they are dwarf plants that are wonderful producers of tasty okra that grow well in containers, only 14-16" in height and produce as well as the big boys in much less space...did I mention that in Zone 10 they are perennial and will produce year around, they slow down in the winter but amazingly still flower and fruit :-)



clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 11:34 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 11:34 pm

Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention VI

posted by: tapla on 01.28.2009 at 09:37 am in Container Gardening Forum

I first posted this thread back in March of 05. Five times it has reached the maximum number of posts to a single thread (150), which is much more attention than I ever imagined it would garner. I have reposted it, in no small part, because it has been a wonderful catalyst in the forging of new friendships and in increasing my list of acquaintances with similar growing interests. The forum and email exchanges that stem so often from the subject are in themselves, enough to make me hope the subject continues to pique interest and hopefully, the exchanges provide helpful information. Most of the motivation for posting this thread again comes from the participants reinforcement of the idea that some of the information provided in good-spirited collective exchange will make some degree of difference in the level of satisfaction of many readers growing experience.

I'll provide links to the previous five threads at the end of what I have written - in case you have interest in reviewing them. Thank you for taking the time to look into this subject - I hope that any/all who read it take at least 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. Soils are the foundation that all container plantings are built on, and aeration is the very 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. Durability and stability of soil components so they contribute to the retention of soil structure for extended periods is also extremely important. Pine and some other types of conifer bark fit the bill nicely, but Ill talk more about various components later.

What I will write also hits pretty hard against the futility in using a drainage layer of coarse materials as an attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the total volume of soil available for root colonization. A wick can be employed to remove water from the saturated layer of soil at the container bottom, but a drainage layer is not effective. A wick can be made to work 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 information.

Consider this if you will:

Soil fills only a few needs in container culture. Among them are: Anchorage - A place for roots to extend, securing the plant and preventing it from toppling. Nutrient Retention - It must retain enough nutrients in available form to sustain plant systems. Gas Exchange - It must be sufficiently porous to allow air to move through the root system and by-product gasses to escape. Water - It must retain water enough in liquid and/or vapor form to sustain plants between waterings. Most plants can 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; in other words, 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, and 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. This water can be tightly held in heavy (comprised of small particles) soils and perch (think of a bird on a perch) just above the container bottom where it will not drain; or, it can perch in a layer of heavy soil on top of a coarse drainage layer, where it will not drain.

Imagine that we have five cylinders of varying heights, shapes, and diameters, each with drain holes, and we fill them all with the same soil mix, then saturate the soil. The PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the container is where roots initially 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 dependent on soil particle size 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. From this, we could make a good case that taller containers are easier to grow in.

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. An illustrative question: How much perlite do we need to add to pudding to make it drain well?

We have seen that adding a coarse drainage layer at the container bottom does not improve drainage. It does though, reduce the volume of soil required to fill a container, making the container lighter. When we employ a drainage layer 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 using the same soil 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 on soil particles 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 employ 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 in the container to a few inches below the bottom of the pot, or allow it to contact soil below the container where the earth acts as a giant wick and will absorb all or most of the perched water in the container, in most cases. Eliminating the PWT has much the same effect as providing your plants much more soil to grow in, as well as allowing more, much needed air in the root zone.

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.

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.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and how effective a wick is at removing 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 and allow the water to drain. When drainage has stopped, 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. The water that drains is water that occupied the PWT. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick or toothpick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper than it is, 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 in the thread.

I always 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 suit individual plantings. I keep many ingredients at the ready for building soils, but the basic building process usually starts with conifer bark and perlite. Sphagnum peat plays a secondary role in my container soils because it breaks down too quickly to suit me, and when it does, it impedes drainage and reduces aeration. Size matters. Partially composted conifer bark fines (pine is easiest to find and least expensive) works best in the following recipes, followed by uncomposted bark in the <3/8" range.

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.

My Basic Soils

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)
micro-nutrient powder, other continued source of micro-nutrients, or fertilizer with all nutrients - including 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 micro-nutrient 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 (if preferred)
micro-nutrient powder (or other source of the minors)

I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all container soils 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) 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.

For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.

1 part uncomposted pine or fir bark
1 part Turface
1 part crushed granite
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil
CRF (if desired)
Source of micro-nutrients or use a fertilizer that contains all essentials
I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg.

Thank you for your interest.

If there is additional interest, please find previous postings here:
Posting V
Posting IV
Posting III
Posting II
Posting I



clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 10:54 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 10:55 pm

RE: a report on fall season tomatoes (Follow-Up #38)

posted by: flyingfish2 on 01.01.2009 at 01:54 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

Hi, I am a newbie to list and growing tomatoes in S Florida, half way between Stuart and Okeechobee. My wife is the green thumb in the household. I planted Brandywine and Cherry tomato seeds in Oct. The cherries seem to be doing fine. Lots of small tomatoes, but the Brandywines bloom alot, but the flower withers and the whole thing drops off about 1/2 inch. Any suggestions ??

I made my wife a raised bed on east side of our hangar wall (12'X4'). We filled it with cow compost and dirt I dug out from palmetto from droppings. She also put some 6-6-6 under each plant. We purchased Beefsteak and Heatwave plants at WalMart. She chooses a pot with double plants, separates them and puts them in potting soil in clay pots. We then cut off 1 gal fruit plastic containers so that the bottom of the clay pot is held up about 4-5 inches from bottom of plastic. Put a wicking string in to bring water up from bottom to plants. She did this about end of Oct. We were gone for 16 days and the 5 inch plants were very healthy with blooms (2 feet tall) when we got back. She transplanted these 4 plants into the raised garden. They are doing great so far. About 50+ tomatoes between marble and tennis ball size. Her system must work. The clay pots were left on a screened south side porch. I would send pics but Denise scared me off :>)

The problem with 1/2 of all tomatoes eaten is almost definitely RACOON! Exactly what they do to my mango's. I have trapped 14 in the last two months. Possum's will typically devour a whole fruit before moving to next. I sweat the deer because we have seen tracks.

Man, I can't believe you guys planted 30 different variety of "maters"



self watering pots
clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 10:07 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 10:07 pm

RE: a report on fall season tomatoes (Follow-Up #25)

posted by: corrie22 on 12.30.2008 at 05:52 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

I never saw a problem with Pantene water in the pots, if anything, my tomatoes were more shiny and manageable. ;-)

I'm in the tomato'aholics anonymous group down here and everyone was insisting that I try Serenade and Spinosad, mixed together.
I did.
I'm hooked.
Spinosad is rated for almost every bad bug we have, leaves the good bugs alone, and is rated organic.
Serenade is supposed to actually stop and treat a lot of fungus and bacterial problems, unlike daconil that does nothing after you have it, and Serenade is also rated organic.
So far I'm more than impressed with both of them.

Other than that, I'm getting TSWV and Curl again, which is not a problem that can be fixed with any spray.



organic bug killers
clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 09:58 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 09:58 pm

RE: a report on fall season tomatoes (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: tomncath on 12.29.2008 at 02:22 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

I got a late start, started seed mid-August and didn't set plants until mid-October...been getting fruit now for about three weeks. It was so consistently cool up here I really have not had to spray but I am starting to see bugs now since its been warm the last few weeks.

Beef Master - great us usual, tasty, productive

HCR - tons of fruit, as usual

Tumbling Toms - loaded with fruit, I've given nine hanging baskets away as gifts, they are just a pretty as the pictures in the catalogs....


Big Beef - productive, plants doing well, too soon for final assessment of taste.

Jetsetter - Big Beef ditto

Brandy Boy - Comparable to the Beef Masters, will probably become a regular in my garden if it does well in the next season.

Black Cherry - monster plants, set fruit slowly probably because of my late start and our cool weather. I have not been impressed with the taste but it might just be the factors above.

Dr. Carolyn - ditto the Black Cherry

Yellow Pear - ditto the DC & BC

Sweet Chelsea - huge cherries, very productive, nice taste. If a repeat goes as well this one will become a mainstay in my garden.

Amazingly, out of 35 plants I've only had one get TYLCV, and that was about mid-November, a month after setting the plants.

I may have started too early but seed I started the second week of December; Beef Master, Big Beef, Jetsetter, Brandy Boy, Parks Whopper CR, Cherokee Purple, Indian Stripe, HCR, Super Sweet 100, Rutgers, BN444.

Seed I started yesterday; Goose Creek, Earl's Faux

Hummm, just looking at this list I'm in real trouble again, going to have to give away a LOT of plants. I really am going to cut down to only THIRTEEN plants for each season from here on out ;-)

Still working on the vertical garden concept for maximum space utilization.


clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 09:49 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 09:49 pm

if you HAD to choose...

posted by: an_ill-mannered_ache on 08.04.2009 at 01:31 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

one or two veg seeds per crop, what would they be?
anyone want to play? i probably forgot a crop or two...

Tomatoes: Sungold, Tiffany, Bella Rosa (determ.)
Peppers: Sweet Spot X3R, Fat 'n' Sassy
Pole Beans: Rattlesnake
Limas: Willow-Leaf Lima (no contest!)
Southern Pea (Crowder): Mississippi Silver
Lettuce: Jericho
Chard: "French" Swiss Chard (hard to find...)
Carrots: Carrot Sweet Treat Hybrid
Beet: Cylindra
Cuke: Cucino (traditional)
Squash: Cucuzzi
Eggplant: Little Fingers
Okra: Burgundy


clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 09:40 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 09:40 pm

RE: if you HAD to choose... (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: tomncath on 08.05.2009 at 06:22 am in Florida Gardening Forum

I'll play too, but remember I have no room so my list will be limited....

Tomato - Beefmaster, Brandyboy, Big Beef, Black Cherry, Dr. Carolyn
Peppers - Giant Marconi Hybrid
Pole Beans - Kentucky Wonder, Purple-pod (Baker Creek)
Peas - Super Sugar Snap
Cuke - Spacemaster, Bush Champion
Squash - Butterstick
Okra - Baby Bubba, Little Lucy



clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 09:39 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 09:39 pm

RE: if you HAD to choose... (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: thonotorose on 08.05.2009 at 12:46 pm in Florida Gardening Forum

This is a wonderful idea. I don't have much veggie experience though.

I do also highly recommend Marconi peppers. One plant from HD produced about a bushel last fall and winter. Excellent taste and fairly thick walled.

Yardlongs are a must for us. Great productivity and we love the taste.


clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 09:37 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 09:37 pm

RE: Perennial Peppers (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tomncath on 09.25.2009 at 06:41 am in Florida Gardening Forum

I'm surprised nobody has chimed in on this one yet. Yes John, trim them back hard and give them a weekly dose of liquid fertilizer starting in about two weeks. You'll find that the sweet non-Bell's do better as perennials.



clipped on: 11.06.2009 at 09:16 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2009 at 09:17 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: 11.01.2009 at 08:34 pm    last updated on: 11.01.2009 at 08:38 pm