Clippings by terryj09

 Sort by: Last Updated Post Date Post Title Forum Name 

RE: Some observations that may be of help to newbies (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: springlift34 on 07.14.2011 at 08:06 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

I'll chime in. As a Texan, I open my post with the all-important conditional experience exactly as Californian did. Your soil/conditional/situation disclaimer. For me, space and failure is not a big concern, so through that I will share.

1. Do not be afraid to plant more than you may need. Although tomato and zuchinni are the most well-known over producers, planting more allows for more chances to learn.....
2.Experiment with personal hands-on boundaries. I started growing tomatoes a couple years back, and I learned that by doing alot of different things with different techniques you read about, greatly speeds up the process of knowing what you are doing.
3. Do not be afraid of killing your plant. There is only one way to know for sure what your boundaries are.
4. Learning about soil structure and type. The ability to understand not only what kind of soil you have,but the immediate change in structure following a severe downpour of rain, or maybe a drought, is good to follow up on.

5. The most important thing: Conditions,or better put the local weather forecast. Many people(including me) brush weather off as the variable beyond our control. And sometimes, many times there is nothing you can do about it. However, leading into the last and most critical for new growers,

6. Reading about weather and gaining superior knowledge of weather conditions and cycles,not only the basics along with localized weather history, but also in-depth discussion of high-level wind patterns(la nina or el nino) that truly determine, in general the actual moisture distibution that will occur.

6. Have faith in hard work.

Take care,


clipped on: 07.18.2011 at 06:18 am    last updated on: 07.18.2011 at 06:18 am

Days to maturity after pollination/flowering - see text

posted by: dancinglemons on 08.27.2009 at 03:49 pm in Pumpkins Squash & Gourds Forum

Hello all,

I did a search on GW for days to ripe/maturity for WINTER SQUASH after flowering/pollination. I could not find anything - nada, nothing! After a thorough search using Google and bing - I have the answer.


Most WINTER SQUASH and small PUMPKINS are ripe in 45-55 days after pollination/flowering. Some WINTER SQUASH take as much as 60 days. This is NOT after planting this is after flowering/pollination. This is basic information and there are variables which could cause your particular plants to behave differently. I only offer this information for folks who wonder when the squash will ripen. I needed to know because I planted late and wondered if my squash would have enough time to ripen before first frost. Below is a link.

Disclaimer: Your situation may be different than mine and you should determine when it is appropriate for you to harvest.


Here is a link that might be useful: Days to maturity AFTER pollination


clipped on: 07.09.2011 at 11:43 pm    last updated on: 07.09.2011 at 11:43 pm

RE: Squash bugs (Follow-Up #43)

posted by: GreeneGarden on 03.02.2011 at 11:11 pm in Organic Gardening Forum

I never have stink bug problems anymore since I started growing my squash up on a trellis. The bugs are so much more exposed so they are easy pickings for other insects and birds. Also using grass mulch encourages spiders which eat stink bugs.


clipped on: 07.02.2011 at 11:36 am    last updated on: 07.02.2011 at 11:37 am

RE: Squash bugs (Follow-Up #41)

posted by: kept on 02.26.2011 at 11:44 am in Organic Gardening Forum

An old timer told me to sprinkle a little sulfur in the ground where I plant my squash seed and the borer will not bother it. It works!


clipped on: 07.02.2011 at 11:35 am    last updated on: 07.02.2011 at 11:35 am

RE: Squash bugs (Follow-Up #39)

posted by: hoodat on 08.04.2010 at 10:47 pm in Organic Gardening Forum

There is a sneaky way to use rotenone without spraying it, which I don't recommend. You can plant jicama which has a natural concentration of rotenone as part of its chemistry. Only the root and immature pods are edible. Almost all bugs avoid it but it takes a lot of room. It's doubtful you will be able to harvest the jicama root unless you are pretty much frost free year round but it should last long enough to give you some seed for next year. It also has some very pretty flowers.


clipped on: 07.02.2011 at 11:34 am    last updated on: 07.02.2011 at 11:34 am

RE: Which is the REAL Box Car Willie? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: digdirt on 06.29.2011 at 09:32 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Is there a "list" of reliable sources or should one just inquire/search here first?

There are several lists of quality seed suppliers here in various 'where to buy seeds' and 'heirloom seed source' discussions that the forum search will pull up and there is also the Rate & Review Vendors forum here at GW.

Carolyn listed several of the frequently recommended ones above - Sandhill, Glecklers, Tatiana's, TGS (Tomato Growers Supply), Tomatofest, etc. I'll add Baker Creek and Johnny's. There are others of course but you can't go wrong with any of those for true heirloom varieties. On the other hand if the common variety hybrids are what you are looking for then source isn't as important.



clipped on: 06.29.2011 at 09:35 pm    last updated on: 06.29.2011 at 09:35 pm

RE: This is what squash vine borer eggs look like (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: engineeredgarden on 07.17.2008 at 10:12 pm in Pumpkins Squash & Gourds Forum

Hey Maureen - it's hard to see your pics. Did they look something like this? I found about 8 clusters of these today on my yellow squash.


These are squash bug eggs
clipped on: 06.28.2011 at 08:35 am    last updated on: 06.28.2011 at 08:36 am

This is what squash vine borer eggs look like

posted by: momamamo on 06.26.2008 at 12:14 pm in Pumpkins Squash & Gourds Forum

also posted in Vegetables

Thanks to some fine GW gardeners I found out yesterday that the eggs in the photo below are those of the squash vine borer. Thought you might like to see them.
I'd thought that the eggs were primarily laid at the base, but mine were mostly on the leaf tops. These eggs are miniscule - smaller than the head of a pin. Reddish-brown. Squishable.

I wish the photo was better, sorry about that. The eggs are mostly on the top leaf. Maybe this message will help someone like me that just wants some decent squash! Happy Gardening! Maureen



clipped on: 06.28.2011 at 08:34 am    last updated on: 06.28.2011 at 08:35 am

RE: Stink or soldier bug - how do you tell? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: squonnk on 08.25.2007 at 10:10 am in Garden Clinic Forum

The "shoulders" of the spined soldier bug are thinner and the points extend out farther in proportion to the body than they do on the stink bug. Also, the tips of the wings have brown spots. When the wings are folded, it looks like one spot at the very center of the back of the bug.

Spined soldier bug:

Stink bug:


clipped on: 05.23.2011 at 11:10 am    last updated on: 05.23.2011 at 11:11 am

RE: An observation about cowpeas (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: rodger on 08.23.2008 at 11:03 pm in Beans, Peas & Other Legumes Forum

Jimster, from someone up north, you surprized me with the chow chow and corn bread. Good eating. Peas corn bread fresh onion as a garnish on top and chow chow that is a meal. The only thing missing is a cold glass of buttermilk with crumbled up hot corn bread fresh out of the skillet tossed in.

Zeedman I will try to give a run down on types of southern peas as I understand them.
The first catogory would be shape. There is two types of peas based on shape. The kidney shape and a fat blocky shaped which is called a crowder pea because the peas are crowded into the hulls resulting in the peas forming fat blocky shapes. Within these two shapes there are several other types of peas based on color, size, taste, or time to maturity. These are, whipporwill peas, eye peas, 6week peas, calico peas, and cream peas.They can be either crowder type or kidney shaped and vary from the different regions of the south

Whipporwills are all small seeded peas mainly crowder types but not always. They are always speckeled and are some shade of brown in color. The brown hues with speckels and small size mimic the Quail or whipporwill fowl which is how the name came about. Within each region of the south even within counties and communities the colors or hues can vary. White whipporwill is an exception and resulted from a off type pea in a patch of standard whipporwills. White whipporwill has no eye is a crowder type shape and is cream colored making it more of a cream pea than a true whipporwill.

Eye peas can be kidney shaped or crowder types and have disticnt eyes that are black, brown,pink or green. They are usually in solid colors with some being bicolored commonly called calico peas. Such as pinkeye purple hull crowder and blackeyed peas and browneyed calico which is a tan and white crowder pea with a distinct dark brown eye.

6week peas usually refers to any type of solid colored pea that matures in about six weeks. I know of no speckeled 6week peas because those would be whipporwills and I know of no calico 6 week peas because those would be calico peas.I have also have not come across any eyed 6week peas because I quess those would be called a ----eyed pea. I have a black seeded six week crowder and a tan seeded 6 week crowder also a black seeded kidney shaped 6 week pea. Again each region has there own type of 6 week peas and they are not all crowders but are solid in color and have no eyes.
Lady peas are a named type referring to a very small seeded white pea with no distinct eye and kindey shaped. Rice peas are very similiar to lady peas ie small white no distinct eye but elongated like rice and about the same size as a grain of rice both of these peas are cream type peas.
Cream peas are typically any pea that is light colored mainly a cream colored and can be crowder or kidney shape but produces a mild creamy broth when cooked. Darker peas produce a more earthy richer brooth. Also the cream type peas tend to cook down quicker forming a creamy tectured broth.

There are also several calico peas which are bi-colored or two toned in various shades of red and white, or tan and white, or black and white that are standard kidney shaped or a crowder type pea. They can also have a distint eye but that is rare.I even have one that is red and white with speckels and a small crowder which would technically make it a whipporwill except for the fact that it is not a shade of brown. Other calicos I have are Hereford, pole cat, ham and gravy and a chicken and dumpling pea all of which are red and white. I have a holstien pea which is black and white and a few tan and white calicos.
I hope I have shed a little light on the types of southern peas and not confused anyone. And This is not gospel but my observations based on my travels and seed collecting and occasional readings on the subject. Rodger


clipped on: 05.16.2011 at 11:07 am    last updated on: 05.16.2011 at 11:07 am

RE: Tomato 'Purple Haze' (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: okiedawn on 11.09.2010 at 11:14 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


As I see it, there are several different ways we see tomatoes being developed these days. I am not an expert in tomato genetics, though, and know next to nothing about applied tomato genetics. If you want to learn more about tomato genetics, Mule has a great website and you can learn a lot there. If I can find it, I'll link it below.

DEHYBRIDIZING: With regards to hybrids, back in the olden days, a hybrid was created merely by crossing two (or sometimes more) stable, open-pollinated varieties. From that cross, breeders (whether professional or amateur) planted the F-2 seeds and began selecting for the traits they wanted in a tomato, and with each generation they selected for those traits and kept selecting until they had stability.

Stability occurs when every seed from every fruit produces identical plants and fruits. Stabilizing can be harder than it sounds because of the ways genes sort and resort.

It is an oversimplification for any of us to believe most commercial hybrids nowadays come from a cross of two simple varieties. Rather, a hybrid comes from two breeding lines, and I think each breeding line can have 4 inputs. Each input is selected for certain desired traits, and a trained tomato breeder knows which traits are dominant or recessive and how to select breeding lines that express the traits they're looking for.

Since breeding of modern-day hybrids has become so complicated, so has dehybridizing of a commercial hybrid but it can be done. I know that Dr. Carolyn Male dehybridized Ramapo F-1 into an OP version after it was dropped from commercial production years ago. (Ramapo F-1 has since been brought back by Rutgers/NJAES.) There are some other so-called stable OP versions of some popular hybrids available now, but opinion varies as to whether some of them are stable or not.


Many professional and amateur tomato breeders cross known, named varieties, whether OP or hybrid, all the time in an effort to create something else. In many cases, as with Purple Haze, they're trying to create a tomato with prized qualities like excellent flavor and production. That's one reason you see lots of Brandywine crosses. Brandywine's flavor is superb, but it doesn't produce heavily in hot areas, so everyone wants to create a tomato that has Brandywine's flavor but that produces more heavily all over the country, or over as much of the country as possible. We're seeing the same thing with Black Cherry because its flavor is so wonderful and so unique, everyone would like to breed that flavor into a beefsteak or slicer or saladette or paste tomato or whatever. I'm wondering how long it will be before we have a black cherry/currant currant cross because you can bet someone's already working on one.

When the initial cross between two varieties is done, the outcome is, by definition, a hybrid or F-1. After that, though, as you grow out, select, grow out, select and repeat endlessly, you use the F-number to keep track of what generation seed and plant you're dealing with, but no one that I know of actually labels plants or seeds like that once a variety is truly stable. They simply label it with its name and it is understood that it is now stable and the F-generation name isn't needed because if you save seeds and grow them out, your plants/fruits will resemble their parent assuming an accidental cross-pollination didn't occur in your garden. So, you see, once Purple Haze is stable, it will just be Purple Haze, as I think Jay mentioned above.

HYBRIDS THAT AREN'T: If you watch tomato 'trends' over the years and decades, you'll see fads or trends come and go. A particular kind of tomato will be 'in' for a while and then something new will come along and replace it.

Black tomatoes are an example of this. When I first started growing black tomatoes, you probably could count the number of black tomato varieties available commercially on two hands (maybe one hand!) and I believe they all were open-pollinated. Now there are dozens. Where did they all come from? Are they all new or are some of them just the same varieties under different names? I used black tomatoes as an example, but the same thing goes on with all tomatoes. A specific type becomes "hot" and lots of varieties in that group pop up out of seemingly nowhere. Some are said to be hybrids and, invariably, those seeds are more expensive than the OP ones. The cynical side of me wonders how many of those are truly unique and how many are renamed OP varieties. Or, maybe they're hybrids that retain 98% of the qualities of the original OP parent that was black. Is there any purpose in creating a hybrid that varies little from the OP parent other than to charge more for the hybrid seed? Real hybrids are supposed to be unique enough that they're worth buying, but there's no guarantee that they are.

Will we ever know what is a true hybrid and what is a renamed or barely-different OP called a hybrid? Probably not, because tomato varieties don't come with a set of breeding papers like an AKC dog, so you can't trace their lineage nowadays like you sometimes could back in the old days. Back in the old days, when someone like Livingston or Glecker came out with a new hybrid, they would often say which tomatoes they crossed to get it, or if it was a mutation, they'd say they found it in a field of whatever variety. So, back then, you knew that 'Honor Bright', for example, was a sport found in a field of 'Stone' because Livingston said so. Or, if "Fejee" was the parent of a specific variety, the breeder might say so. Nowadays, none of the commercial firms tell you where their plants come from because those are highly-guarded trade secrets.

For a long time we all believed hybrids were created through massive amounts of fancy crossing and backcrossing and that we normal people who lacked training in tomato genetics couldn't save seed from a hybrid and plant it and grow anything that remotely resembled the F-1 we started with. We now know that's not the truth in every case. In fact, there are quite a few so called dehybridized hybrid varieties out there that seem to be stable and seem to be identical to the F-1 parent or at least nearly identical, and so similar we can't 'see' a difference, although the difference might be just a slight change in production or disease-resistance or whatever. So, when a person dehybridizes a hybrid, you wonder: was the parent a true hybrid or was it an O-P labeled as a hybrid just to trick the American public into thinking they had to buy expensive hybrid seed and that they wouldn't get anything worthwhile if they saved that seed? Hmmm. There's no clear answer to that, but tons of suspicions.

And that, my friend, has exhausted what little I know about hybridizing, dehybridizing and hybrids that might not be hybrids. Except I'll add this. Back in the day, it was easier for natural crosses to occur because more tomatoes had exerted styles. Nowadays, most completely modern types have retracted styles so natural crosses do not occur as easily...and I'm talking about insect-caused crosses. So, you're wondering, if what I just said is true, then why do some people still see natural insect-caused crossing occurring in their gardens? Remember that I said "most modern styles" and not "all" and, of course, many OPS are not modern at all. There's still a couple of kinds of tomatoes that have exerted stigmas, and that includes true currant (Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium) tomatoes, potato-leaved varieties of regular tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), and any tomato which arises from the pollinated double flowers (aka megablooms or fused blossoms) on beefsteak versions of regular tomatoes (L. esculentum). That's why seed-savers still have surprises like Earl's Faux or Lucky Cross popping up here and there.

If you want to delve deeper into all things tomato, check out Keith Mueller's website, which I've linked below. For info on tomato breeding, click on the box labeled "Culture". For what it is worth, I think his crosses are some of the best new developments in the tomato world. I've only grown a couple, but I really like them.


Here is a link that might be useful: KM's Website


clipped on: 05.14.2011 at 08:45 am    last updated on: 05.14.2011 at 08:46 am

RE: figuring out when to plant for fall veggies (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: ncdirtdigger on 05.12.2011 at 08:23 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

Here's how I do my Bsprouts for example:
The variety of Bsprouts I grow take 120 days to begin to mature, and I need about a month to get the full harvest from my plants and they taste better when they have been exposed to some light frost. So I count backward from our typical first frost (Oct 31 in my area) 120 days. (I will need to cover them with row covers towards the end of harvest if we have a chance of a freeze). So I figure I need to have my transplants ready to go in the garden around July 1 (120 days from July 1 to Oct 31). I know that It takes about a week for seeds to germinate and it takes me about 4 weeks from germination to grow a seedling to the size I want to put out into the garden, and I need a week to harden the plants off, so I need to start germinating seeds 6 weeks prior to set out date of July 1, so that would mean I will be starting germinating seeds for Bsprouts this weekend.
I cover my transplants with row covers when I put them out for two reasons. First to shade them from our hot sun. Second to protect them from all the pests that are prevalent in mid summer.
You can adjust the start date by how long your selected variety takes to mature, and you can do succession planting to have your broccoli and cauliflower mature over a longer period of time. I will start 6 cauliflower seedlings all at the same time, but transplant them into the garden one a week over a 6 week span to stagger the harvest. This way I have one head a week for 6 weeks. I plant broccoli in batches of 6 plants a week (I like broccoli more than cauliflower) because one head of broccoli is not enough for a meal in our household whereas one head of cauliflower is.
I have never had any luck with direct seeding cole crops for some reason. But I have been told that if you are going to direct seed in summer, you need to sow the seed at twice the normal depth in order to get the seeds down to the level of moisture in the soil.


clipped on: 05.13.2011 at 10:30 pm    last updated on: 05.13.2011 at 10:31 pm

Victorian Violet Jelly

posted by: sheshe on 04.01.2011 at 10:18 pm in Violet Forum

This is an heirloom recipe from back in the days when
violets were sold in small bunches in the spring.
I have made this myself and it is amazing to watch it
turn to lavender pink when the lemon juice is added.

Violet Jelly

2 cups fresh violets
2 cups boiling water
juice of 1 lemon
1 pkg powdered pecton
4 cups sugar

Place blossoms in a glass jar. Cover with boiling water.
Put lid on jar. Set aside 24 hrs. Will turn a murky blue green. Strain into pan, discard violets. Add lemon juice.
It will transform into a lavender pink. Stir in pecton.
Bring to boil. Add 4 cups sugar. Bring to boil again.
Boil Vigorously 1 minute. Skim if necessary. Pour into
sterile jars. Steal.
( put into canning pot 10 min to boil,
I do this but it was not in original recipe.)


clipped on: 04.07.2011 at 10:23 am    last updated on: 04.07.2011 at 10:23 am

RE: What's best for pumpkin pie? Pumpkin or squash? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: torikei on 02.08.2009 at 08:14 pm in Pumpkins Squash & Gourds Forum

You know I love pumpkins and squash. My favorite pumpkin for baking and pumpkin butter is the winter luxury pumpkin. It makes a very mild pumpkin pie similar to old fashioned squash pie. Winter luxury pumpkins don't last long--so you basically grow, process and freeze. These pumpkins can't compare to anything you find in the grocery store. When processed, they are great for low fat cooking. Pumpkin butter from these is out of this world.

I use Queensland's Blue for pumpkin pie. They have a little more depth to their flavor. They are an Australian pumpkin that will last a long time in your cellar. I still have some in my basement--which is warmer than a typical cellar would be.

Now if you want beauty--plant the musquee de provence. It looks like a cinderella pumpkin and is absolutely beautiful. You can cook with it--but I don't. It just doesn't compare to the pumpkins above.

My favorite squash is the Potimarron. It's a French squash that has an unbelievable taste. I often wonder what it would taste like if made into pumpkin pie. We usually just eat it straight from the oven. These last a long time.



clipped on: 01.05.2011 at 05:35 pm    last updated on: 01.05.2011 at 05:37 pm

Wintersowing a cottage garden.

posted by: token28001 on 12.14.2009 at 09:33 am in Winter Sowing Forum

Just last year when I was a newbie, I read almost every thread in this forum. I'd stay up late at night trying to find more pictures of plants, how well this works, and so forth. I asked a lot of questions too. In the summer of 2008, I built a new bed in my side yard. I covered the existing soil with cardboard and leaf mold from the landfill. It's hard packed clay, so I needed to loosen it up a bit. Over the winter, I sowed my seeds, and planted out.

I also spent a lot of time in the cottage garden forum. There are some beautiful gardens there and wintersowing just seems to naturally go hand in hand with that type of garden. You can grow so many kinds of plants that it's hard to create a formal garden with so many choices and varieties available from seed. I wanted a cottage garden. Wintersowng made it happen.

Some things I learned from reading other peoples' blogs and posts on GardenWeb. Plant multiples. If you plant one of each plant, it tends to look like a hodgepodge. Planting multiples gives you repetition. I started with a hardy hibiscus, shastas, and rudbeckia. Then I scattered Hunks of Seedlings of various plants between those "anchor" points. Plant diagonally to the walkway, path, or street. It gives you a drifting look. Threes, fives, and sevens. Plant in odd numbers. Add in large foliage, vertical elements, mix small blooms with large gaudy blooms. Plant daylilies here and there for vertical interest. Add grasses. And shrubs. Don't be too worried about height and sizes. Cottage gardens tend to flop all over each other. If you don't like a plant, take it out. It's hard, I know. Next year, you'll sow more seeds of something you do like. Save seeds. Trade seeds. Spend time researching. Pay attention to sun exposure for the plants you're growing. Don't worry about the details of wintersowing. Provide drainage, a cover, label, and good soil. You will have some success. You will have some failure. Don't get too technical. It's supposed to be about having fun, right?

Just a few photos below of the process so you can get an idea of just how many plants you get from wintersowing. Not all plants were wintersown. Some were purchased, some were gifts, some were raised from cuttings and other means of propagation. Once you learn on technique, learn others. Plants do it in nature all the time. A stem touches the ground, gets covered with leaves, and roots to form a new plant.

December 15, 2008

February 12, 2009

February 26, 2009

March 2, 2009

March 29, 2009

April 10, 2009

May 24, 2009

June 12, 2009

June 21, 2009 - summer solstice.

July 19, 2009

On August 18, I injured myself with the lawnmower and a rock. The gardens went downhill after that. I couldn't get around much to water and rain wasn't coming as often as I needed it. Some plants thrived. Others wilted away.

August 30, 2009 - From the front porch, I was on crutches.

September 20, 2009 - the day before the official 1st day of Fall.

October 11, 2009. Lots of plants are done. Seeds collected. Seeds scattered. The garden is being put to bed for the winter.

Wintersowing works. Share your success for the newbies. Photos welcomed.


clipped on: 01.02.2011 at 11:39 pm    last updated on: 01.02.2011 at 11:40 pm

RE: V. kamtschadalorum, keiskei, mandshurica sowing? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: nathalie on 01.17.2007 at 05:20 am in Violet Forum

I've never tried ga3 but here is an article found on the web about use of ga3 for violet seeds..

Kim Blaxland discusses the germination of the seeds of Viola species
ln the article 'Doubts and DifficuIties' (Bulletin 63: 100, 1995) ther .:.vasa question from
Mrs A. M. (Betchworth, Surrey) askingt.about the sowing techniques required for Viola
species. As the Panel of Experts were able to offer only a litde help, l felt that l should
share my experiences and methods for germinating these seeds.
Firstly, it is important to examine th seeds with a magnifying glass to see ifthey are
intact. Viola seeds sent through the mailtare nearly always squashed by the mail sorting
machines, so it is important to wrap the seeds in bubble plastic before mailing. Damaged
seeds.will not germinate. Nearly aIl the' viola seed that l was allocated from the AGS
Exchange in 1994 and about half of thatlfor 1995 arrived squashed.
l have always believed that the best way to germinate seed is to copy what the plant
does in nature, viz. to sow the seed in the summer to autumn period, on the top of the soil,
and let nature do the rest. For violas the r~sults of this approach pro duce some seedlings
but l am always disappointed that so few'species grow.
. For the past two years l have used a method of treatment to encourage germination
described by Norman Deno in an article he wrote for the NARGS Bulletin (SI (1), 1993).
To be safe, l divided the contents of eachlseed packet in two, retained one halffor treatment
and sowed the other as l had always previously done, in a potting mix and placed
the pots outside for the winter. The retained seeds were sprinkled with gibberellic acid-3
powder (GA-3) on a numbered square of clamp paper towel, the towel was folded, placed
in a plastic bag (as many as will fit in the same bag), sealed and stored in the refrigerator.
Every two weeks each packet was opened and the seeds checked with a magnifying
glass for any germination. Germination started about four to six weeks after treatment
.- and coritinued for more than six months. Ally germinating seeds were picked out with
tweezers and potted up and the packets of ungerminated seeds were replaced in the refrigerator.
Theame potting mix was used for each method.
Germination of the treated seeds in the refrigerator has been much greater than for the
untreated seeds in pots outside. For some species l have tried both treated and untreated
seed in the refrigerator in separate plastic b~gs and in each case the number of germinated
seed was far greater for the treated seed. This year 86 out of 109 packets of treated seed
have germinated, with at least one seedling per batch, while most had several to many.
The improvement in germination rates has been so great that l have decided from now on
that l will only germinate viola seeds by ~A-3 treatment and not bother with my old
method, with a few exceptions.
Seeds from most of the pansy type violets (W. aetolica, dubyana, calcarata, tricolor,
stojanowii) will usually germinate quite readily without any special treatment. If these
species are treated with GA-3 the resulting;seedlings will become far too etiolated and
weak and may die off. This could also mean that the concentration of GA-3 that l am
giving them is too strong. ln future l will tryJl.lsinga smaller dose, especially for aIl small
seeds. If germinating seedlings are left in t~e refrigerator for too long they too will bel
OPPOSITE: Viola ~fllcarata iD the wild Photo: Muriel Hodgman
, 1:
corne etiolated, because they are still gr wing under the influence of GA-3. l have tried
sprinkling the GA-3 powder directly onto the top of pots of ungerminated seeds. This
produced some results as weil but as l &idnot run a control at the same time, l cannot
prove that my treatment was the cause
1 germination. This method may also encourage
the seedlings to become etiolated if thGA-3 remains in the soil. l am reminded of a
similar methodrecommended by Josef aida for treating seed with hydrogen peroxide,
of the strengthused for bleaching hair. .esaid that the seeds will germinate before your
eyes, but must be washed immediately!in fresh cold water to stp them growing too
quickly! l would only try this method o~expendable seed.
l have treated rosulate Viola seed wifhGA-3, producing 100%germination in some
species, but when the seeds were potteii up they continued growing at a rapid pace. l
have since been able to slow the growtThin some of the species by severely restricting
moisture, keeping the plants cool and growing them under strong grow lights. Others
just kept on upwards to more than 151m. Obviously it would be worth trying lower
doses on aIl the rosulate species. 1 Seeds of an annual rosulate violet ge
~ inated prolifically without any treatment, and
grew to their natural height under grow Ii' hts with restricted moisture. Some treated with
GA~3 became very etiolated and did not thrive like the untreated ones. Next spring l am
going to try growing the annual species n the open garden. .
This year l have potted aIl the treatedlseeds which are still ungerminated at the end of
six months. ln one pot a seedling has erberged but in future, experiments will be done
with different lengths of refrigeration tirpe followed by subsequent potting on.
Seeds from plants which grow in cliljnates where the temperatures do not fall below
freezing should not be placed in the refriperator, e.g. W. amiana, hederacea (except the
alpine subsp.fuscoviolacea if seed is ever available), tashiroi and diffusa subsp. apoensis.
The GA-3 treatment can be used adany time of the year, whenever seed becomes
available. l have successfully potted up ~erminating seeds in the heat of summer (3Y C),
placing the pots in shade and giving them constant moisture. Some seeds germinated last
year in early winter, so the pots were ke~t indoors under lights for the winter. The plants
grew weIl and produced cleistogamous pods and seeds but did not flower this spring.
For the collectors who contribute seed, care must be taken to collect mature seed.
Viola seed pods are usually carried hanglng downwards while they develop. A few days
before they are mature the pods start to tum upwards and when they are erect they will
usuallyopen within 24 hours. This is the,ltime to collect, preferably early in the moming,
before the pods have time to open. \
From my own experience, seeds remain viable for more than one year. l have had
success this year with a packet of seed ~f V. schariensis collected in September 1993.
Without any treatment seed may take more than one year to germinate (e.g. V.
tokubuchiana).ln my garden seed often ferminates a few years after the parent plant has
disappeared, which would be a natural protection for the survival of species. l store the
seed at room temperature, in paper enyelopes. l have no evidence that this treatment
reduces viability. Seeds that fail to germInate are usually either immature or damaged.
l must stress that this method of ge
~ ' inating seeds is very simple and easy. GA-3
should be available from a chemical sup Iy company. The smallest amount that l could
buy was 5 grammes for the cost of abo t $US 70. The chemical does not deteriorate
when kept in a screwtop botde. This ampunt williast one pers on for years, or could be
; ,
T l
~ li,t' !
i .1c"Ji;i
i :1 f"
1 ~
1 4
~ 324
.. ' -...
Viola tricolor ln the Auvergne, France
Photo: C. Grey-Wilson
divided among several people. ln the US chemical companies may have some restrictions
on selling to individu ais but are happy to sell ta a business, nursery or association.
Here are a few practical points for those who decide to give it a try. 1cut each sheet of
paper towel in half, number the paper in the top right corner with a waterproof pen, then
keep a record in a book. However, it would be simpler ta write the species' name on each
sheet. Turn the paper over so the number or name is on the outside of the final folded
packet. Dampen the paper by pouring a few draps of water in the middle, but do not
saturate. Too much moisture will encourage the growth of mould. Insert the tip of a dry
toothpick about 5 mm into the GA-3 and pick up the amount ofpowderthat sticks to the
toothpick. Sprinkle this onto the centre of the paper and if necessary spread it out evenl y.
Place the seeds in the centre spreading them out weIl so they are separate. If the seeds
group together mould may spread. Do not put too many seeds on one sheet for the same
reason. Try not to put any damaged seeds or parts of seeds onto the paper because they
will be the first to attract mould. Mould will develop on some of the seeds, which must
also happen in the soi!. Many seeds germinate when they have already bec orne mouldy
so do not throw them out too soon, but not aIl seeds will grow mou Id. Fold the right then
the left sides of the paper over the middle, so that the number or name is now on the top
right of the front. Fold the bottom third of the paper upwards, and the top third backwards
and down, so that the small packet now has the seeds in the middle, with several
layers of paper on each side. When the packets are sealed in a plastic bag, do not leave a
lot of air inside, because the moisture from the dampened paper will condense on the
inside of the plastic bag at the top and the paper towels will dry out too much. Some
brands of paper towel tend to disintegrate with constant folding and unfolding: if sa
change brand!


clipped on: 12.07.2010 at 07:48 pm    last updated on: 12.07.2010 at 07:49 pm

RE: adding to compost for heat? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: pt03 on 07.31.2009 at 05:33 pm in Soil Forum

I'm not sure I buy the claim that tumblers totally destroy the fungi. I don't think they are that fragile. If they were, then the mere action of digging up any compost pile and transporting it would also be detrimental. These things have apparently been around a long time and will outlast mankind in the end.

I also think that within hours of mixing compost (or any organic material for that matter) into the soil, the fungus begins it's process. Once again I don't think we as humans have to do anything. If there is food, water, and oxygen, the fungi and microbes will come.

And I agree, two weeks to achieve my definition of completely finished compost is bogus. But I can get compost past the thermophyllic stage in two weeks and let the curing pile/bin handle it from there.


P.S. Not all tumblers are small.

P.P.S Sorry for getting off topic again!


clipped on: 11.16.2010 at 11:43 am    last updated on: 11.16.2010 at 11:43 am

RE: adding to compost for heat? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: avid_hiker on 07.31.2009 at 04:32 pm in Soil Forum

One of the problem with tumblers is that they totally destroy fungi. Bacteria based compost is ok for veggi gardens but are not as beneficial to perenials. I will clarify that any compost is going add nutrients to the soil, but the constant turning of the tumbler will totally destroy the long thread-like structure of fungi. So, if you are hoping to use compost from your tumbler for anything other than your veggi garden you will not be doing as much good as you think. You see bacteria reproduce very fast and have a much shorter lifespan than do fungi. Annuals, like veggies, have developed a strong symbiotic relationship with bacteria because bacteria better suit their life cycle. Prenials, on the other hand, have a strong preference for fungi. Fungi live for yars and prenials have developed a strong preference for fungi. Have you ever left a complst pile alone for several months and then when you turned it you saw a lot of white threads running through the pile? These are the fungi that have established themselves in the pile. They are very beneficial to both annuals and perenials. By turing the pile you destroy them. Again, this is not a big deal if your compost is destined for the veggie garden. Although if you are growing artichokes or asparagus you might want to reconsider adding compost that has a good amount of fungi.

Alicev said, "I think that it is ok to keep on adding to your compost tumbler until you are ready to "harvest" it." You need to be careful here. You should never mix uncomposted material into the garden soil. If you do the microbes in the soil will have to finish the job that you started. Since you will not be adding a lot of food (energy) to the soil for the microbes theyt will take the food you intended for your plants in order to finish the job you started. If you are putting raw material into the composter to late in the process then there will be a lot of partially composted manerial mixed in with fully composted stuff. It is best to accumulate your ingredients for a batch of compost and then at some point stop adding material until that current batch is fully composted. Now, If you are going to use the compost as mulch then this whole discussion is moot. Mulches compost in a static (cold) form of composting - a process that is totally different than what we do in hot composting. In static composting only the material that is in direct contact with the soil decomposes, resulting in a slow process that occurs from the bottom up. This is the process our forests use. It is very different than hot composting. If you put raw material into the garden bed you will get the microbes so stimulated trying to break down the partialy decompsed material that you will actually upset the natrual order of what has been established.

Lets be very clear here. You cannot make finished compost in two weeks - I don't care what any commercial advertisement states. Any commercial compost bin manuracturer (tumbler or otherwise) who says they can is lying - not opinion but fact. You can create enough heat to darken the outside of the material to make it appear to look like fished compost but you will actually have material that is just as raw and green as the day it was put in the bin. I don't care if you are using the perfect carbon/nitrogen ratio with the optimal level of moisture, etc, etc, etc,; the physics just do not allow the tumbler to make finshed compost in two weeks because the pile inside the tumbler is simply not big enough. Not opinion but fact. I have been composting for years and I seldom get the "perfect" mix, well lets just say, not as often as I would like. If it sounds to good to be true then it probobly is.



clipped on: 11.16.2010 at 11:41 am    last updated on: 11.16.2010 at 11:41 am

Tell me about your square foot garden!

posted by: Polly_IL on 10.15.2002 at 09:40 pm in Square Foot Gardening Forum

I love to talk about my garden, but even more; I love to read about other folk's gardens! So, tell me about your garden, and I'll tell you about mine!

I have a series of raised bed garden sections that are worked in the square foot method. I amend my soil with compost, manures and other organic matter each year; sometmes using lasagne layering in specific beds. Some beds, I turn with a spading fork - usually the ones that I'm planning to plant seeds in; other beds I just plant as is, without turning the soil.

I live on a small farm in a decidedly rural area; at the end of a dead end road. My Pop, who lives with us, didn't quite understand raised bed gardening - "You got 30 bleep-blap acres out there! Why you think you got to grow grub in little bitty boxes?" was one of his more memorable statements! He's starting to come around a bit now, though; since he's seen the results. In fact, he's coming around a bit TOO much; as he's starting to take over my garden - telling me what I need to plant, and where and when and how. Can't complain too much, though; as he is a great one for pulling weeds!

My garden is in three 27'x27' sections; beginning at the south end of the side yard, near the road; and running north. All beds have wooden sides to them; made from rough cut 2x8's. Each section of garden is separated from the other sections by a 6' wide pathway of wood chips over cardboard. I love the woodchips for rainy season accessability! The all season, wide pathways allow me to bring in a small tractor and cart of amendments; and also makes my garden more handicapped accessible. The gardens are also surrounded with a 3' wide path of wood chips over cardboard. I am considering planting daylillies or some other perennial flowers on the outer edges of this path in the future.

The first section has a 3x3 bed in the center; surrounded by 2 sets of 4, boomerang shaped beds. Then center bed has 9 sqft of planting area; the 1st set of surrounding beds have 27 sqft of planting area each; and the 2ns set of surrounding beds have 63 sqft of planting area each. My beds in this area are each 3' wide; as are the pathways between the beds. I chose the 3' width because I am somewhat short and a bit more than somewhat plump - I hoped that I would be able to reach to plant and care for them comfortably. I discovered that I could have gone 4' without difficulty. This area has been planted to all vegetables in the past, but I am moving more to perennial plantings - such as rhubarb, and asparagus; and Pop would be delighted if we made it in to an ornamental grass, flower and herb garden. He just might get his wish!

Section 2 of the garden has an 8'x8' tea house/grape arbor sitting in a diamond shape in the center; surrounded by a 3' wide wood chipped pathway, and then 4 pentagonal beds. The beds are 12' on each outer side, with 4 1/2' legs and an 11 1/2' front; encompassing about 115 sqft of planting area each. In each of these beds is a dwarf peach tree, underplanted with nasturtiums (to help protect against borers) and June-bearing strawberries. Rhubarb and bee-balm also share these beds. There are 2 - 12" square stepping stones in each bed to allow for weeding.

Section 3 of the garden is still under construction. In the center is a large box (8x8) made of landscape timbers. This box will have a bench seat put around the perimeter; and will contain a small pond - this will hopefully be completed next year. This box is surrounded by - you guessed it! - a wood chip path. Then there are 10 raised beds, each 4x4 arranged in a square around the center box. The beds were used this past season for growing larger amounts of certain vegetables for preserving; but will be planted next year for fresh use crops, to make up for the loss of the 1st section to perennials.

I cannot expand my garden any farther to the north, as I have a clothesline at that edge. However, I DO have room to expand to the east, and will probably do so - just as soon as I can figure out a design that will complement the rest of the garden. I need more room for multiple tomato plants; pole beans and larger crops such as zucchini and cucumber. I would also like to figure out a way to put my chicken house in that area, so the birds could forage the garden in the off season (they're heck on those wood chips paths, tho!) Sweet corn, melons and pumkins are grown in an area about 1 acre in size, to the east of the garden; and will remain there, as we grow large amounts of these crops. I hope to plant about 16 more dwarf fruit trees next year, as well as raspberries and blackberries.

I use Mel's spacing in my garden beds; tho sometimes with a twist. For example - in a 3x9 bed I planted: a double row of snap peas down the center of the bed, 7 broccoli to each side of the peas, and radishes to the outside of the beds. Red cabbage this year went in a 3x3 bed - 8 heads on 12" spacing, with a salvia in the center square; green cabbage ditto. I planted okra on 12" centers down the center of a 3x9 bed; planting peppers on offset 12" centers in front of the okra; and taking advantage of the shade provided by the okra to plant late season squares of spinach and lettuce behind the okra. I do follow his recommedation to plant crops that grow on different levels together to take better advantage of your soil.

For spacing, all of the boards around my beds are marked at 1' intervals - this makes it quite easy to plop a yardstick across the bed for proper spacings. One trick that a friend taught me, that I have used with great success, is to pre-plant my garden squares. I use mostly brown kraft tri-fold paper towels for this - they are 8"x8" and I can fit 16 of them in my 3' wide beds per 3' length. They are also very inexpensive and break down well in the soil. I have also used regular paper towels (11"x11") and toilet paper (for rows) as the base in this method. Using Mel's recommended spacings; I made templates of poster board, and use them to mark the towels. I put dots of Elmer's washable glue on the towels at the appropriate spacings; then drop a seed into the glue and set them aside to allow them to dry. By working out my garden plan in the early to mid winter; I can spend those "late winter/early spring I'd kill to get out in the garden and it's still too early to even start seeds indoors" days engaged in a form of gardening by preparing my pre-planted seed squares. This saves me a lot of time in the main spring planting season; as I can prep and plant a 3x3 bed in ten minutes or so: I take a barrow about half full of compost to the bed to be planted. I turn the soil in the bed with a spading fork, tossing some of the larger clods and a shovel or two of soil onto my compost grater ( 1/2" hardware cloth on a 2x2 frame) that is sitting over the barrow. I sift the soil into the barrow and mix it in with the compost; then rake the bed smooth, lay down my squares and cover them to the appropriate depth with the sifted soil from the barrow. I tack a pre-cut section of chicken wire over the beds to keep the cats from digging up the squares, give it a bit of a drink, and - TA-DAH! - it's done! The towels seem to help prevent any weed seeds that are below them from germinating or pushing through, but do not provide any resistance to the roots growing down through them from the planted seeds. This makes it soooo easy to plant beds of mixed greens for salads; or to companion or succession plant in small areas.

Wow! This has turned from a note about my garden into a dissertation! Hope you all don't mind! I'd sure like to hear about your gardens as well - current or planned!


clipped on: 10.04.2010 at 08:37 am    last updated on: 10.04.2010 at 08:38 am

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: 10.04.2010 at 07:48 am    last updated on: 10.04.2010 at 07:49 am

RE: Enchilada Sauce for canning (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: readinglady on 06.01.2010 at 01:27 pm in Harvest Forum

Here is a recipe posted by Linda_Lou on a previous thread. The source was not indicated.

Enchilada sauce


12 cups halved cored peeled tomato (about 24 medium or 8 lb)
bottled lemon juice
salt (optional)

You will need
6 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt (optional)

1 add 2-1/2 tsp of spice blend to each pint jar. if omitting seasoning salt, use only 2 tsp.

2PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

3COMBINE tomatoes with just enough water to cover in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil gently for 5 minutes.

4ADD specified quantity of spice blend, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/4 tsp salt, if using, to each hot jar.

5PACK tomatoes into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Ladle hot cooking liquid over tomatoes leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

6PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner 40 minutes for pints and quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Regarding searching the forum: You will have the best luck using Google, not this forum's search feature. So in Google I entered enchilada sauce boiling water bath then in advanced search I entered as the domain to search.

The result will be that the google search turns up only threads on gardenweb that relate to that topic. In domain to search I could have narrowed even further by specifying and Google would have pulled up only Harvest threads.

Beyond that, if it's a long thread I could open the thread, go to edit at the top of the screen in Windows on the left-hand side and select find on this page. Then enter enchilada and it will locate everywhere in the thread the word enchilada shows up.

This sounds complicated but practice it a couple of times and the result will be much more accurate, efficient searches without the frustration of Gardenweb's utterly inadequate search feature.



clipped on: 09.30.2010 at 12:31 pm    last updated on: 09.30.2010 at 12:31 pm

RE: Eggplant recipe (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: mrsj on 09.06.2007 at 07:46 pm in Harvest Forum

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving 2006
Page 314
Yield 6 pints
Aubergine Pickles
4 cups water
5lbs eggplant
1 cups white vinegar
cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp pickling or canning salt
6 cloves garlic

In a stockpot, bring water to a rapid boil. Working quickly to prevent browning, peel and remove ends from eggplants. Cut into sticks approximately 3 inches long and inch wide. Immediately add to stockpot and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 min, pressing the eggplant under the water every 2 min to remove air, until eggplant is tender. Transfer to a colander placed over a sink and rinse with cold running water to stop the cooking process. Let drain for 1 min without pressing out excess liquid. Set aside.

Prepare canner, jars and lids.

In a large saucepan, combine white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, sugar, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add eggplant and return to a boil. Remove from heat.

Place 1 clove of garlic in each hot jar. Pack hot eggplant into hot jars to a generous inch of top of jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover eggplant, leaving inch headspace.

Place in jars in canner. Process for 15 minutes..


clipped on: 09.30.2010 at 12:22 pm    last updated on: 09.30.2010 at 12:23 pm

RE: 3 relish set ideas? (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: lpinkmountain on 11.22.2009 at 02:32 pm in Harvest Forum

Oh Prarie now you've got me going! I too can think of lots of red and yellow things, but green . . .
Cornichons would be perfect but I can't even find them in the summer!! I see them premade in the store though. If I get a garden next year I am going to try and grow them. I tried one year and got one bitter cuke.
Now that I think about it I might make like a chablis jelly or Dave's mustard pickle or a yellow onion relish for the middle one, and my pickled pepper recipe for the third. That one I used to make often when I was able to grow mixed peppers. I used yellow, red and green ones and it was so colorful. This year I didn't get my act together to grow peppers, I was sick all May.
Here's a picture of the peppers I used from years back. It looks kinds Christmasy doesn't it!

I broke down and got plums on sale today so I might do plum chutney for the red. Plum chutney, yellow squash relish and pickled jalepenos. That's one far out antipasta! I'd even do tomatillo salsa if I could find them. I didn't get any tomatoes this year for salsa and only have one jar of green tomato salsa left from last year. That stuff isn't very good plain to be honest. Awesome in guacamole though.
I made apple mint chutney once, the picture in the cookbook looked green but it turned out the most sickening brown color. Plus I didn't like it.
There's also beet relish for the red, but that didn't seem very Mediterannean. Not sure about beet relish on bruschetta either. On a corned beef on rye maybe . . .

Here's the onion recipe. It was posted in Aug. by June Lynn

This is from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by
Ellie Topp.
Caramalized Red Onion Relish
The recipe yields 2 cups of finished relish (makes 1 pint or 2 half pints).
2 large red onions, peeled
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. dry red wine
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1/8 t. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slice onions into very thin slices. Combine onions and sugar in a heavy skillet. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes or until onions turn golden and start to caramelize, stirring frequently.
Stir in wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. If canning, ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Add lids and rings, then place in boiling bath.
Process 10 minutes for half pint jars in boiling water bath.

Interesting to me because it has sugar and wine but very little acid. Although I don't know much about the acidity of balsamic vinegar. I imagine it varies greatly just as the taste does. I'll bet that stuff is reddish brown. I might try it because I have a bottle of merlot languishing in the fridge. Friends brought it to a dinner party at my house but I'm kinda allergic to red wine.


clipped on: 09.30.2010 at 12:14 pm    last updated on: 09.30.2010 at 12:14 pm

RE: Mes Confitures - Your Recommendations (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: readinglady on 08.29.2010 at 12:30 pm in Harvest Forum

Since we're talking preserves without commercial pectin, try this. Take your pan off the heat. Cool and refrigerate overnight. Cover with a cloth not a lid so condensation doesn't put extra liquid back into the preserve. Examine the preserve in the morning. That will tell you the degree of final set. If it's not enough, re-heat (It won't harm the preserve.) and continue cooking. Once you've made a batch or two with the proper set, you'll begin to get a sense of how it should look at that point.

When I first began making this kind of preserve I overcooked. Then I undercooked. I got to the point where I must have taken the preserve off the burner a thousand times checking for set before I finally "got it."

Remember also, if the fruit is dead-ripe odds are the best set you'll get will still be a little loose. A lot of Ferber's preserves are lower-pectin fruits anyway and just not meant for an "American-style" firmer set.

If you're using a thermometer, calibrate it. It may be off.


clipped on: 09.30.2010 at 12:02 pm    last updated on: 09.30.2010 at 12:02 pm

RE: Your Greatest Hit Recipes for Leesa (Follow-Up #87)

posted by: mrswhlbarrow on 08.31.2008 at 08:19 pm in Harvest Forum

I tested this recipe (by making just a pint) and it was so delicious I quadrupled the recipe and made eight 1/2 pints today - just BWB for 20 minutes. It is absolutely amazingly tasty and pairs with cheese, scrambled eggs, grilled chicken or fish. Hope you enjoy! - Cathy

Tomato Jam

1 1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes (Roma are best), cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh grated or minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeo or other peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced, or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste. (I used two Thai bird peppers and included the seeds)
1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week.
Yield: About 1 pint.


clipped on: 09.30.2010 at 11:52 am    last updated on: 09.30.2010 at 11:52 am

RE: ? for Linda Lou Re: Apple Pie Jam recipe (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: annie1992 on 07.25.2007 at 01:00 pm in Harvest Forum

Here's that recipe, Jamie, and it is VERY good.

Linda Lou's Apple Pie Jam
4 cups tart apples, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 box pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter

Add water to chopped apples to measure 4 cups. Place apples and water into large, heavy saucepan. Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice.

Measure sugars. Stir pectin into fruit. Add butter. Bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in both sugars. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle quickly into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands on finger tight. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

If you like this kind of jam, here's another favorite of mine from wizardnm, it's similar but adds maple, which I just love.


12 C finely chopped apples (about 6lbs) I used the food processor
6 C sugar
1 C Maple syrup (grade B if possible)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Combine all in a large deep pan. Slowly bring to a boil. Cook to the jellying point. Stir frequently, so it doesn't stick.Pour into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process 10 min in BWB.

Yields about 8 half pints. I double this recipe and it works fine.

Happy Canning!



clipped on: 09.30.2010 at 11:32 am    last updated on: 09.30.2010 at 11:32 am

RE: Zucchini Jam (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: linda_lou on 07.15.2010 at 05:03 pm in Harvest Forum

You would not be able to safely can the one with jello, anyway. Those need to be frozen or stored in the fridge. Since zucchini is a low acid veggie and not a fruit, added acid will be needed. I see no reason to not use the standard jello recipe, omit it, use the pineapple and lemon juice, and then flavor with an extract if you want more flavor.

Ok, this is British, so you would need to find conversions, and also process as you would any chutney.
They call zucchini courgettes.

1.4kg large courgettes, or marrow, weighed after peeling, chopping into 1cm thick pieces and de-seeding
1.8kg sugar
25g ginger, grated
rind and juice of 2 lemons, thinly peeled
rind and juice of 1 oranges, thinly peeled

1. Place the courgettes in a large bowl and sprinkle over about 450g of the sugar. Leave overnight.

2. Place the grated ginger, lemon and orange rind on a piece of muslin and tie up the muslin over the mixture. Place the muslin bag in a preserving pan with the courgettes, orange and lemon juices.

3. Simmer for 30 minutes, add the remaining sugar and boil gently until setting point is reached and the courgettes look transparent.

4. Remove and discard the muslin bag. Pot the hot chutney into clean, warm, sterilised jars, cover with waxed paper discs, set aside to cool and cover in the usual way.


clipped on: 09.23.2010 at 06:13 pm    last updated on: 09.23.2010 at 06:13 pm

RE: Mes Confitures rhubarb w/ honey & rosemary (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: readinglady on 05.06.2010 at 07:13 pm in Harvest Forum

As far as straining is concerned, I like to use the so-called French plunge method.

The macerated sugar-fruit (with or without honey) is gently heated until sugar is dissolved then the heat is raised and the fruit (in this case rhubarb) is cooked until it becomes translucent (i.e. candied). Usually at this point I leave the preserve to rest overnight. During this time the fruit absorbs the sugar syrup. This equalizes the weight and density of the syrup and fruit, greatly reducing the likelihood of "float" in the final product.

Then I strain out the fruit using a fine sieve and bring only the strained syrup to the jell point.

Finally, I re-introduce the fruit and cook one final time until the entire batch reaches jell. This last application of heat is more brief.

This method yields optimal texture and flavor with maximum control.

The old Time-Life Preserving volume in The Good Cook series actually uses multiple plunges of this sort with strawberry preserves. It yields fabulously flavorful syrup and distinct plump glac berries. It's a wonderful method for delicate fruit (though it will never work for raspberries).

The French plunge is the same method I use with the Pear Preserves Annie alluded to.



clipped on: 09.20.2010 at 03:38 pm    last updated on: 09.20.2010 at 03:39 pm

RE: Carrot Cake Jam (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: readinglady on 08.09.2006 at 12:35 am in Harvest Forum

Well, Beverly Alfeld calls it the French Plunge method in her Jamlady Cookbook, but I've seen variations of the same method used in many cookbooks that focus on traditional preserves, so it's been in use for a long, long time. I have a feeling that's her designation.

OK, basically what you do is cook the fruit in sugar syrup or sweetened juices, but only until tender or translucent. Then you pull the fruit out and continue to cook down the syrup to the jell point. At that point you return the fruit and cook briefly until the jell point is restored.

This is a method for creating preserves (as opposed to jams) where the fruit maintains its integrity as discernable whole berries (i.e. strawberry preserves) or chunks (i.e. peach, mango, pear, apricot, etc.)

Sometimes fruit is plunged into the syrup more than once at intervals then rested between. The fruit becomes tender and softens but does not disintigrate. Many fruits become almost translucent or like glace.

Here's an example. This is a recipe with very basic instructions. This isn't a recipe I've made, but one I'm thinking about. Below I'll explain how it might be modified.

Apple and Maple Preserves

12 cups finely peeled, cored and chopped tart apples (about 6 pounds)
6 cups sugar
1 cup grade A maple syrup (light or medium)
1-1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Cook all ingredients together until they thicken. Stir well so the jam does not burn. BWB 10 minutes.

OK. So first I would think about appearance and taste. The maple syrup will darken the preserve but I still want the general appearance of larger pieces of apple floating in a translucent syrup. So I'd skip the ground spices in flavor of whole spices in a bag or I'd use a drop of oil of cinnamon and perhaps skip the other spices for a cleaner taste so the maple stands out.

Cut the peeled, cored apple in wedges (8ths?) and cut wedges across into about 1/4" slices. Put in acidulated water (ascorbic acid) to retain whiteness.

Drain prepped apples and layer in a large bowl with sugar. Cover and let sit several hours or overnight (refrigerator) to weep juices. Stir whenever I remember.

Remove bowl, stir to distribute undissolved sugar and pour mixture into preserving pan. (At this point or later, spices and perhaps some lemon juice can be added. Depends on how pronounced you want spices to be.) Cook on medium until sugar has dissolved. Raise heat to medium-high and cook approximately 10 minutes until apple pieces are tender and glazed. Stir gently, using a spatula or wooden spoon. Skim foam if needed.

Pull preserves off burner. Let mixture cool and sit overnight again. (Apple pieces plump and absorb some of the syrup.) Next day drain off syrup. Reserve fruit. Add maple syrup to sugar syrup in pan. (I'd probably taste now and decide on spices - which and how much. Might skip spices in favor of vanilla, now that I think of it.) Cook at high or medium-high until syrup hits jell point. (220-221 degrees or use cold plate test). Return fruit and any syrup fruit exuded to pan. Cook a minute or so until mixture is back to jell point. Skim if necessary.

Pull pan off burner and let mixture rest 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute fruit. (This helps prevent floating fruit.) Bottle as usual and BWB 10 minutes.

So that's the French plunge method and some other strategies as well. There is another way to do this, but it's just a variation on the same technique.

As I said, I haven't made this recipe, but I've used this method with apricots, pears, strawberries, and most recently a pineapple marmalade. It may seem time-consuming, but most of the time, as with bread, is wait time, not hands-on.

You'll see on the Forum other members who use or mention this technique also, Annie and Melly among them, and you will run across a number of recipes for preserves that are similar in their approach. Christine Ferber's "Mes Confitures" uses the method and so does Madelaine Bullwinkel in "Gourmet Preserves Chez Madelaine." Bullwinkel is especially imaginative in her approach. I just made some raspberry-currant preserves from her recipe and her spiced blueberry preserves are wonderful.



clipped on: 09.20.2010 at 03:32 pm    last updated on: 09.20.2010 at 03:32 pm