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RE: Glecklers (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: skatcon on 02.25.2011 at 03:16 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Thank you Caroline for the quick response. I am growing indeterminate heirlooms in a high tunnel. I have been watching this list for a while and have many of the varieties that have been recommended. I still haven't found a black that is very high yielding. I love the flavor of Cherokee purple but the seed I got grew out a plant that only reached about 4' tall and was very low yielding. Watching this list has me wondering if that was due to the strain I purchased (Bakers Creek).I do grow for a small CSA and farmers market. Problem is that trying to grow out several varieties of each major color is difficult. I would be such a happy camper to have one exceptional variety of each color, great flavor, least cracking, and good yields. Could you suggest one black, red, pink, bicolor, yellow, orange of slicer type?
My second challenge is that I live in a short season area, z3MN. I would love to find one or two midseason varieties for canning, determinate, good tasting, heavy yielding. Then I could continue to save seed, hopefully selecting and improving for my climate and environment. Right now I feel as if I would have to try at least a dozen just to find out what might work. It would be so great to have the field narrowed. It is difficult to try to earn a living and experiment at the same time. I truly apreciate any help or sharing of experiences from anyone in the group. Thanks in advance.
Kathy

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clipped on: 02.28.2011 at 07:43 am    last updated on: 02.28.2011 at 07:44 am

RE: Heirloom tomatos tested for disease resistance (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: corbie on 10.31.2010 at 02:05 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

I just found your forum and might be able to offer some help.I have been working with late blight for the last 40 years and have some relevant observations. Here in Wales, we have wet summers and lots of blight in our potatoes every year. In our Sarvari Research Trust we are selecting new varieties of potatoes for sustainable and low input growing, the Sarpo varieties.

Tomatoes are grown commercially in UK within glasshouses mainly by big multinational companies supplying the supermarkets. Only gardeners and smallholders try to grow tomatoes outside and many lose their entire crop most years. There is clearly a need for varieties that can ripen fruit in years when blight pressures are heavy. Seedsmen in UK offer several blight tolerant varieties and these can be useful in delaying the onset of blight by a few days or even weeks, depending on the season. We have varieties like Ferline and Fantasio from a French breeding programme and Jim Baggett’s Oregon cv Legend.

The thing to remember about the pathogen (Phytophthora infestans) is that many strains exist and these will come and go over the years and what looks like a resistant variety one year can be almost totally susceptible the next year. The blight that hit the eastern states so badly last year was caused by new strains of blight that had not been seen previously. Also the blight strains that you have across the pond are quite different from the ones we have here. This means that a variety that is resistant in one region or country may be susceptible in another. So it is necessary to be vigilant and keep sceening potentially resistant material with the newest strains of blight for the region you want to grow in. The breeder’s work is never done.

And heirloom varieties? These are old favourites which have survived because they have a great flavour or are good do-ers. You often find that some of the old varieties are a bit more tolerant of disease as these are the ones that are easiest to keep going over the years. But it is rare to find any that are highly resistant.

And what other methods can help to control the disease? Glasshouse growers don’t get blight because the plants are kept dry to prevent the “fungus” forming swimming spores on the leaf surface just before infection. This means that if we keep our plants dry by growing them under an umbrella, they will escape infection. I did some trails some years ago to test out the use of polythene cloche “umbrellas”. The results were spectacular. Protected plants remained healthy and gave a massive crop whereas the unprotected ones yielded no healthy fruit.

Another way is to avoid the blight by raising the tomato seedlings early and planting out, initially under cloches to hasten maturity. Many gardeners here use the variety Red Alert because it ripens many weeks before the others, and usually before blight arrives, usually in late July here. Also Red Alert is a fairly weedy looking plant and its sparse foliage means that the fruits are exposed to the air and dry off quickly after rain. Varieties like Legend do far better if plants are severely pruned to keep a minimum of foliage around the fruits.

Another trick is to use a high temperature treatment to cure fruit that are still green but will not ripen as the blight takes over before the fruit is red. In an article I wrote for The Organic Grower (vol. 11) earlier this year “No more green tomato chutney” I describe experiments with fruits that have a latent infection that is not yet visible. These are kept at 40C (104F) for at least 12 hours and then keep in a dry warm spot indoors to ripen completely. Untreated batches of green fruit rapidly developed nearly 100% blight. So if your plants become infected with late blight, it is often best to pick all the fruit and heat treat in an egg incubator or similar before ripening indoors.

Good luck with your growing.

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clipped on: 11.02.2010 at 07:34 am    last updated on: 11.02.2010 at 07:35 am

RE: Home Depot Shop Light 732-334 (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: wordwiz on 01.29.2009 at 08:23 pm in Growing from Seed Forum

Machese,

Here's the entire article. A buddy paid to get the entire thing instead of the abstract.

here is an excerpt from the article....that talks about Optimal Photoperiods and Negative Effects of Continuous Lighting...pretty detailed explanation...

OPTIMAL PHOTOPERIODS
For tomato, best growth and yield were obtained under a photoperiod of 14 hours (Vzina et al., 1991; Demers et al., 1998b). Photoperiods longer than 14 h did not further increase yield. Photoperiods of 20 and 24 h can even decrease yield and caused leaf chlorosis (after 6 to 8 weeks) (Vzina et al., 1991; Demers et al., 1998b). Although long term use of a 17-h photoperiod does not increase growth and yield compared to 14 h, it might be interesting to extend the photoperiod to 17 h in order to increase total light provided to plants especially during the months with the lowest natural light levels (December-January). However, if a 17-h photoperiod is used, it is important that the dark period be uninterrupted, since splitting the dark period of 7 h in two short nights of 3.5 h (separated by a light period of 4 h) caused leaf chlorosis and decreased growth and yield (Vzina et al., 1991).

For sweet pepper, a 20 h-photoperiod was optimal for plant growth and productivity (Demers et al., 1998a). Yield under continuous light (24-h photoperiod) was equivalent to yield under photoperiods of 15 or 16 h (Costes et al., 1970; Demers et al., 1998a). Extension of the photoperiod from 15 or 16 h to 24 h decreased the average size of pepper fruits (Costes et al., 1970; Demers et al., 1998a).

Continuous light caused some leaf deformities (wrinkles) but no chlorosis in sweet pepper grown in greenhouses. Although long term use of continuous light is detrimental to tomato and pepper plants, tomato and sweet pepper plants can take advantage of the extra light energy provided by continuous lighting for a short period of time. Early vegetative growth and fruit production of tomato and pepper plants were generally improved under continuous light compared the 14-h photoperiod (Demers et al., 1998a, 1998b). However, after that initial period, plants under continuous light grew more slowly than plants exposed to 14-h photoperiod; so that tomato and pepper plant growth and yield under 14-h photoperiod were then equal to or higher than under continuous light at the end of the experiment.

Costes et al. (1970) also observed that continuous light improved the early performance (hastening of flowering and fruit set, increased early yield) of sweet pepper plants compared to a 15-h photoperiod. Therefore, it might be possible to use continuous light for a short period of time (5 to 7 weeks) to improve growth of tomato and sweet pepper, especially during the months with the lowest natural light levels (December and January). However, such a practice should be investigated in order to determine if short term use of continuous light might have residual negative effects on tomato and sweet pepper plants.

NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF LONG PHOTOPERIODS AND THE FACTORS INVOLVED IN THEIR DEVELOPMENT
Tomato and sweet pepper plants do not take advantage (no increase in yield) when grown under photoperiods longer than 14 h (tomato) or 20 h (pepper). Tomato plants, but not sweet pepper, develop leaf chlorosis under continuous light. In the next sections, we will examine the role of the carbon metabolism, pigments, light spectral quality and day/night temperature differential in the development of these negative effects of long photoperiods.

Carbon Metabolism
High starch and soluble sugar accumulations were observed in leaves of tomato plants grown under long photoperiods, and it was suggested that these accumulations could be related to the development of the leaf chlorosis (Bradley et al., 1985; Logendra et al., 1990; Dorais, 1992).

Studies on other species support the hypothesis of a relationship between leaf chlorosis development and starch and sugar accumulations. For example, continuous light caused increased leaf starch and hexose accumulations and leaf chlorosis of eggplants (Solanum melongena L.) (Murage et al., 1996). However, eggplants growing under continuous light but in a CO2-free atmosphere for 12 h per day accumulated less starch and hexoses, and did not develop leaf chlorosis.

Exposure of tomato and sweet pepper plants to continuous light resulted in increased foliar contents in starch in tomato and sweet pepper, in hexoses (glucose and fructose) in tomato and sucrose in sweet pepper (Dorais et al., 1996; Demers et al., 1998a, 1998b). However, the reduction of the number of fruits on the plants did not modify the pattern of accumulation of starch and sugars in leaves of tomato and sweet pepper plants exposed to photoperiods of 14 and 24 h (Demers et al., 1998a, 1998b). Moreover, the reduction of the number of fruits on the plants did not influence the severity nor the date of appearance of the foliar chlorosis in tomato plants grown under continuous light. This indicates that accumulations of starch and soluble sugars are not caused by a limiting sink capacity. If there is a relationship between the excessive starch and soluble sugar accumulations and the development of the negative effects (leaf chlorosis, decreased growth and productivity) of the long photoperiods on tomato and sweet pepper, it is most likely a limitation of the carbon metabolism at the leaf level which is responsible for these accumulations.

In tomato, the use of continuous light caused, in addition to the foliar chlorosis and increased foliar contents in starch and hexoses, a reduction of the photosynthesis rate and of the activity of the sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS) enzyme (Demers, 1998). These reductions in photosynthesis and of SPS activity occurred between 6th and 8th week
under continuous light, i.e. about at the same time as the foliar chlorosis appeared, while starch and hexoses contents in leaves increased during the first 4 weeks of the experiment.

Since the reduction of the SPS activity occurred after the increase in starch and hexoses, it is thus impossible that the reduction of the SPS activity is responsible for these accumulations. However, it is possible that the SPS activity in vivo is limiting, which would explain the hexose increase. This suggests the limiting step of the export of photosynthates is the synthesis of sucrose in tomato and would explain the absence of growth and the productivity increase under continuous light. Furthermore, the increased hexose levels in the cytoplasm, by a feedback effect, would limit the export of the triosephosphate (photosynthesis products) out of the chloroplast, which would then be redirected towards starch synthesis, thus explaining the increased starch contents.

Moreover, the increased accumulation of starch would generate, by a feedback effect, an overload of the Calvin cycle, which would gradually cause the observed decrease of the CO2 fixation rate. Are the starch accumulations responsible for the leaf chlorosis in tomato? It is possible that the overload imposed on the Calvin cycle (decreased photosynthesis) could limit the use of the reducing potential (ATP, NADPH) produced by the luminous phase of photosynthesis, thus causing an overload on the electron transport chain and the photo-oxidation of the chlorophylls (decrease in the leaf chlorophyll contents), and thus explaining the observed leaf foliar chlorosis. Transgenic tomato plants (in which a gene coding for the SPS enzyme was incorporated and overexpress this enzyme) could be used in future studies to test if accumulations of starch in leaves are responsible for the development of chlorosis observed in tomato plants exposed to continuous light. Transgenic tomato plants (overexpressing SPS) have higher photosynthesis rates and accumulate less starch and more sucrose than non-transformed
plants, especially under conditions of saturating light and CO2 (Galtier et al., 1993, 1995; Micallef et al., 1995). One can put forth the assumption that, under continuous light, leaf starch contents would be lower in transgenic plants than in normal plants. If this is the case, the reduction of the leaf starch content in transgenic plants should thus prevent the development of the leaf chlorosis, or at least decrease its severity.

In sweet pepper, the use of continuous light caused an increase in the leaf starch and sucrose contents, but did not affect leaf hexose contents, photosynthesis rates and SPS activity (Demers, 1998). The increased foliar contents in sucrose indicate that SPS activity in sweet pepper is not limiting as in tomato. Increased accumulation of starch in
sweet pepper plants exposed to continuous light would be explained by the fact that continuous light results in a longer period of time over which starch synthesis occur, but without overloading the starch synthesis pathway. Thus, starch accumulation in sweet pepper under continuous light would not be important enough to cause a reduction in CO2 fixation (no overload of the Calvin cycle). Increased leaf contents in sucrose suggest that sucrose export would be possibly limiting. In sweet pepper plants, the export rate of carbon (as sucrose) out of the leaf is constant, and the export rate would be limited at the level of the loading of sucrose in the phloem (Grange, 1985, 1987). This would explain why the growth and the productivity of the sweet pepper plants do not increase under continuous light.

Pigments
In growth chambers, continuous light caused leaf chlorosis, decreased photosynthesis rates, and reductions in leaf contents in pigments (chlorophyll a and b,
carotene, xanthophylls) in both tomato and sweet pepper plants (Demers, 1998). Leaf chlorosis, decreased photosynthesis rates and loss of pigments were more important and occurred earlier in tomato plants than in sweet pepper. Compared to sweet pepper plants, EPS ratio (epoxidation state of the pigments of the xanthophyll cycle) was lower in tomato, indicating a greater need for energy dissipation and a more important state of stress (caused by excessive light). Pigments such as carotene and xanthophylls (violaxanthin, antheraxanthin, zeaxanthin) play a significant role in the protection of the photosynthetic apparatus against damage that could be caused by an excess of light.

Carotene and xanthophyll levels were higher in sweet pepper plants than in tomato. Thus, sweet pepper has a better protection against the degradation of chlorophylls, which would explain why leaf chlorosis appeared later and were less severe in sweet pepper.

The abstract of the article is here:
http://www.actahort.org/books/580/580_9.htm

The forum thread that deals with this is here:
http://www.thehotpepper.com/showthread.php?t=9418

Let me know what you think.

Mike

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clipped on: 01.30.2009 at 02:39 am    last updated on: 01.30.2009 at 02:40 am

RE: Questions about winter gardening - cold frames and containers (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: pnbrown on 07.12.2008 at 01:59 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

Anybody who wants to send me an SASE I'll send as many dry topset bulbils as will stay under the weight limit. I have untold hundreds of them by mid-august. September is a good time to start them most places. Po box 2492 tisbury ma 02568

yoohoo, I wouldn't say that I "grow" anything during the winter months. It's question of stuff standing live through heavy frost. I'm merely talking about the traditional so-called "fall" crops, kale and other brassicas, even chard often holds out til january in a mild winter.

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clipped on: 07.13.2008 at 12:53 am    last updated on: 07.13.2008 at 12:53 am

RE: Fava Beans. What to expect? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: david52 on 06.11.2008 at 01:32 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

I grow them every year. There are three basic techniques to snarfing them.

- pick the small pods, say 3" long 1/2" in diameter, and eat those whole - stir fry is good.

- let the pods get to the point the seeds inside are half - formed. Discard shell, eat really tender beans. These are wonderful, and what I shoot for - think risotto, adding to pasta, and so on.

- let the pods get really big and the seeds inside develop a thick skin. They need to be blanched and then peeled - a major PITN. But still good. I don't bother, I just blanch them a bit, then fry them in olive oil and salt, and chew up the skins. Thats not quite as bad as not peeling a banana, but close.

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clipped on: 06.12.2008 at 03:38 am    last updated on: 06.12.2008 at 03:38 am

RE: Asparagus beans (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: zeedman on 07.14.2007 at 05:30 pm in Beans, Peas & Other Legumes Forum

Yes, Ruthie, those are the two commercial varieties that I would recommend.

"Liana" (a black-seeded cultivar) is the earliest, bears heavily, and tolerates cool weather better than most. Pods are medium green, and are best when harvested at around 18" in length (less than pencil thick). The table quality is good, with the real "asparagus bean" flavor when lightly cooked (stir frying is best). It is the most reliable variety for the North, or perhaps for a Fall planting in the South. There are many sources... it is pretty much the standard, with good reason.

I first saw "Chinese Red Noodle" offered by Baker Creek, but it has since gained in popularity & is now offered by several others as well. It is slower-growing than many, and not the best climber; it requires a considerable amount of training to get the vines started. It also requires - and tolerates - more heat... bad for those of us in the North, but good for those in the warmer Southern climes.

In addition to "Red Noodle's" reluctance to climb, it matures fairly late, has some of the shortest pods (around 12" at prime), and is not the highest yielder... so why do I recommend it? Because the table quality is _outstanding_. It has a firmer texture when cooked, a slightly sweet nutty flavor, and a beautiful purple color. Unlike purple snap beans, the color does not disappear when cooked... the beans may turn bluish, but a touch of vinegar added to the kettle (or the dish) will restore them to a deep purplish-red. In soups (with a small amount of vinegar added) it produces a deep wine-red broth. The beans also freeze well.

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clipped on: 08.03.2007 at 01:58 am    last updated on: 08.03.2007 at 02:26 am

RE: Recommendations (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: sunsi on 06.12.2007 at 06:25 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Companies that I have dealt with and can highly recommend:

1) http://www.selectedplants.com/

2) http://krackinpremium.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=KPP&Category_Code=TPH

Companies that I have bookmarked for future reference for specific tomatoes I want:

3) http://www.appalachianseeds.com/catalog.html

4) http://www.heirloomtomatoesoftexas.com/varieties.asp

5) http://members.tripod.com/jonsplants/jonsplants2.html

6) http://www.backyardgardener.com/tomato/grown_to_order.html

7) http://www.chileplants.com/aboutus.asp?section=2

Remember it quite late in the year to be purchasing tomato plants and some of these companies are not longer selling them but I pass them along to you for bookmarking, good luck.

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clipped on: 06.13.2007 at 03:45 am    last updated on: 06.13.2007 at 03:47 am

RE: Zeedman - details on your awesome pepper cages? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: zeedman on 05.03.2007 at 12:05 am in Vegetable Gardening Forum

Thank you, Dtownpiker, for your interest. Wish I knew how to post a diagram... but my HTML knowledge isn't up to the task. Violet, I could really use a tutorial one of these days... by the way, how did you post my photo? ;-)

Fortunately, the photo provides almost a blueprint view. This is the plan for the cages:

Materials (per cage):
- PVC pipe/conduit (five 10-foot lengths)
This is cut into ten 3' top sections, and eight 2' legs
**Do _not_ use the thick-walled 1/2" PVC, since it will fit too tightly over the ground stakes.**
- 4-way connectors & corner connectors, (four each)
- 3/8" rebar (cut into eight 2' lengths)
- 1/2" rebar (two 10' lengths, optional)
- Cover (either a floating row cover like Remay or Agribon, or shade cloth) 8' width, about 15' long

You can get 2 each of the 2' & 3' lengths from each 10' section of PVC pipe, with almost zero waste... especially if you reduce the lengths by 3/4" to compensate for the connector lengths. The 2' rebar is often sold in 24" pieces at home improvement stores, but is more economical if you cut it down yourself from 10' or 20' lengths.

The fittings (both 4-way & corner) are available from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply. For the cover, I used Agribon, which is sold in economical sizes by both Peaceful Valley & Johnny's Selected Seeds (through their commercial side). If you choose to use shade cloth to _reduce_ heat, Peaceful Valley carries several densities.

Refer to the photo above. The cage is designed to be broken down for easy setup & storage, so it is assembled as two "cubes" of four 3' sections, four 2' legs, two corners, and two 4-ways. All joints in the cubes are glued. The remaining two 3' sections will run between the 4-way connectors of the two cubes, and are _not_ glued, to make them removable.

The legs of the cubes slip over the eight 2' lengths of 3/8" rebar, which are driven halfway into the ground (I made a jig of equal dimensions to the cage, to simplify spacing the stakes properly). Be sure the 4-way connectors face each other. After both cubes are placed, press-fit the two removable 3' sections between them (some PTFE oil on the joints simplifies their later removal).

The dimensions of the cage are 2' high by 3' wide, and 9' long. Since the Agribon comes in 8' width, these dimensions allow the row cover to be run lengthwise, with 6" of slack on each side to secure the sides.

At this point, attach the cover by whatever means you choose. I secure the ends with long ground staples made by cutting off a row of construction remesh, but you could use rocks, bricks, or bury the ends. For securing the sides, I use the 10' lengths of 1/2" rebar, rolling the excess around them on each side. The rebar is easy to remove for weeding or harvest, as you can see in the photo. If you are saving seed, bank earth against all sides to keep bees from crawling underneath.

There are several grades of Agribon, and of shade cloth... one of them should be suitable for almost any climate. I used the lighter grade of Agribon, for better light penetration... but it has the poorest frost rating. The heavier grades, while transmitting less light, are more durable, and retain more heat at night.

These cages are cheaper if built in numbers, since the connectors (which are pricey) have volume discount (or they used to), and the row cover is more economical in larger rolls. I built 10 of them, and the cost was between $20-25 per cage, including the first year's cover.

Each cage (at 9-foot length) will hold 8 pepper plants, in two staggered rows of 4, with each plant 9" from the edge of the cage.

I have included the link to Peaceful Valley, since they are the best one-stop for the materials. They also, incidentally, carry inoculants for most cultivated legumes.

Here is a link that might be useful: 3-way & 4-way connectors

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clipped on: 05.03.2007 at 03:45 am    last updated on: 05.03.2007 at 03:49 am

RE: Zeedman - details on your awesome pepper cages? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: violet_z6 on 05.02.2007 at 04:57 pm in Vegetable Gardening Forum

This is what dtownpiker is referring to:

Look for smaller hardware stores like Ace Hardware, etc. Also look for plumbing suppliers, you could even call plumbing companies to find out where they go to find the parts.

I believe the fabric is reemay. Garden centers will know it as a "floating row cover". This should help until zeedman confirms.

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clipped on: 05.03.2007 at 03:34 am    last updated on: 05.03.2007 at 03:38 am

Growing Gourds, Start To Finish, Final Chapter:

posted by: Gourd_Guy on 06.14.2004 at 09:09 pm in Pumpkins Squash & Gourds Forum

Caring for developing Gourds:
Yah for you! You`ve got a gourd that`s been pollenated, it`s putting on size, so your job`s done, and you`re in fat city, right? Oh no-no-no-no-no-no! Couple of things you need to know. Gourds have far fewer pests than most crops you`ll grow, but it`s still something you need to be aware of. I have a greenish, 1/4 inch little chewy bug that seems to love bushel gourds. And, since I don`t want these guys drilling holes in a $150.00 Nigerian Bushel gourd, steps must be taken. First thing: when a gourd gets a little size on it, I`ll stand up the gourd and put a layer of white plastic underneath it. I usually use kitchen garbage bags. the white keeps it from getting too hot, and the plastic protects it from ground contact. ground contact is not evil in itself, but the plastic barrier will protect it from the lower-level food chain members that live there. By standing up the gourd, you also get it to flatten out the way you want it to. left to their own devices, a lot of gourds will develop on their sides, creating flat, marred spots that most folks find objectionable. also, if you notice insects chewing on your gourds, dust them with a little sevin dust. follow the package directions, and only dust the developing gourds. If you broadcast it, you`ll kill the beneficial pollenating insects as well. Should you have a gourd begin to grow hanging from something, and the weight looks as if it`ll be enough to snap the stem, build yourself a sling to bear the weight load. I use burlap, but any durable material will work. also, once your gourds begin to grow, often you`ll notice older leaves near the roots will begin to yellow and drop off. don`t panic, this is normal. usually you`ll see that new leaves are still growing and the gourds are doing fine. The gourd vine is just putting the majority of it`s enegry into developing its fruit. This is what we want!

Harvesting:
Patience is key, here. Let your gourds grow until the vines die. The first killing frost you get will do this. For me, that`s usually the 1st or 2nd week of November. All the leaves will shrivel as if they`ve been shot. Don`t collect them yet! You wait until the stems of the gourds are brown and dry, about a week later. Use pruning shears to cut them from the vines, leaving as much stem as possible. some folks leave their gourds alone thru the winter, and collect them after they`ve dried. probably ok, but I`d worry about mine too much to do that.

Curing:
Time for me to shoot at another notion that I believe to be a myth: I pile up my "common" gourds, and let them dry in a stack. I just don`t have the room to seperate 1500 gourds and let them dry without touching one another. If you have this kind of room, great. spread them out to dry. BUT...I`ve found that my percentage of gourds that don`t make it when seperated is about the same as the ones that don`t make it when they`re piled up.

I do make allowances for the huge and exceptional gourds that I get. these I will keep seperate and dry them in a building with fans circulating air. When they begin to slosh fluid in the inside, I drill a 1/16th inch hole in the bottom to speed up the process.

Gourds can go thru some horrible looking moldy stages, but as long as they don`t shrivel, they`re ok. some will dry in very short order, some will take 5 months or more. depends on the individual. If you have the patience, you can remove the outer greenish layer of the gourd by gently scraping it away. You`ll get a gourd that dries quickly, and has the skin texture of sanded lumber. If you try this, practice on a gourd you`re not real attached to, just to get a feel for it. I always do a few like this, and they turn out nice, but I also like the patterns that are etched on a natural-dried gourd.

any other questions, feel free to e-mail me. Hope this stuff helps out someone!

~Kevin aka The Gourd Guy

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clipped on: 04.21.2007 at 04:24 am    last updated on: 04.21.2007 at 04:25 am

Part II : Gourd Growing, Start To Finish

posted by: Gourd_Guy on 06.06.2004 at 12:25 pm in Pumpkins Squash & Gourds Forum

Watering:
It`s almost impossible to water a gourd too much. They`re rather shallow-rooted, and need massive amounts to grow as big as they do, and to develop thick-shelled fruit. I use overhead irrigation, and I run it everyday, 20 minutes for each zone. I don`t use a rain sensor, and unless we're having a monsoon, I let the irrigation run even when it rains. About the beginning of September, I cut the irrigation back to 3 times a week, and on October 1st, I cut it off altogether. This will help keep big gourds from cracking late in the year. I run the irrigation about 9 am, to let the flowers stay as dry as possible when they`re open. I used to try to mulch around the gourds to help them retain water, but their leaves are usually an adequete defense. I no longer mulch them, and I don`t notice a difference.

Feeding:
The best thing you can do to feed your gourds is to give them massive amounts of compost in their soil. I hardly use any fertilizer at all once I`ve set them out. I add a LOT of earthworms to the gourd area...you can`t put a price on those guys, they do wonders for any garden. If your soil isn`t what you`d like it to be, I recommend tilling in some 8-8-8 before setting out your plants. you can go higher on the potash number, but don`t go too high on the nitrogen. It`ll help the leaves, but not the fruit production. If you top-dress with fertilizer after setting out, keep it off the vine stems.

Cutting Back:
This is a trick not too many people know about, but if you want lots of gourds on a vine, here it is: Gourds have male and female flowers. Male flowers develop on the main stem, females on the side runner vines. I let the main vines grow to about 10 -12 feet, and then I nip off the very end. this encouranges the side runners to develop. if you don`t trim the main runner, you`ll still get some side runners, but not near the number you`ll get on a cut vine. It can make the difference of having 4 gourds on a vine and having 20 gourds on that same vine. And if your soil is good enough and water adaquete, a gourd vine is easily capable of supporting that many. I`ve had 12 and more 50 lb. and over gourds growing on the same vine.

Pollenating:
The bane of many novice gourd-growers. As mentoined before, gourds have both male and female flowers. male flowers develop on the main stem, and grow on a stalk, female flowers develop on side runner vines, and have a tiny gourd directly under the flower. An unpollenated female gourd will shrivel and drop off the vine within a week. Gourds are night flowerers, and the blossoms seldom last more than about 12 hours. the majority of natural pollenation will be done by moths. You may have lazy, or non-existant moths, and therefore you have only one option: Hand pollenation. Here`s what you do: each night when the blossoms open, check to see if you have any female flowers open. if you do, find a male flower, off the same vine, if possible, and break it off. tear off the petals from the male flowers and then dust the pollen from the stamen onto the female flower by gently daubing it to the female flower`s center (the pistle). You can use the flowers from a different kind of gourd to pollenate another type and the gourd will develop just fine, but if you plant the seeds from this cross-pollenated gourd the next year, there`s no telling what the gourds will look like. This isn`t an altogether bad thing-some cross breeds are pretty darn cool, but if you want to grow true seed type, then be sure the male flower that you use is the same gourd type as the female flower you`re pollenating.

later, part III ... caring for developing gourds, harvesting and curing. Ciao!

NOTES:

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clipped on: 04.21.2007 at 03:48 am    last updated on: 04.21.2007 at 04:18 am

Part One: Gourd Growing, Start to Finish, As Requested:

posted by: Gourd_Guy on 06.05.2004 at 05:28 pm in Pumpkins Squash & Gourds Forum

This posting is for those of you who have asked me for seed starting/planting/feeding/pollenating/watering/harvesting/curing advice. I`m going to attempt an outline of what works well for me. I live in South Carolina, where we have heavy red clay soil, and summers that have very unpredictable rainfall, so keep that in mind. It`d be best to treat this outline as a salad bar...look it over, take what you think you`d like to have on your plate, and leave the rest.

1. Soil Preparation
Immediately after the gourd harvest, I begin getting the soil ready for the next season. I begin by mounding all the fall leaves over the field. I have arrangements with individuals, and a city grounds dept. that I`ll dispose of all their leaves. They bag 'em, I dump them on the soil. works great for all of us-ask your neighbors, they`ll probably be thrilled for you to have theirs. I also live near a cattle and buffalo farmer, and he`s good enough to give me all the manure I can haul. I mix this with the leaves, and allow them to sit on top of the field through the winter. About one month before I plan to set out plants, I till the whole area in. once that`s done, I gather up all brush, down tree limbs, any burnable yard waste, and start a huge bonfire on the field. Again, I enlist the neighbors...they don`t want to have to deal with old wood, and they nearly fall over themselves to give it to me. Once the fire has burned out, and is completely cool, I till again. This completes my soil prep part of the process.

2. Seed Starting
Even though my growing season is plenty long enough to direct seed, I like getting a jump on things. plus, it`s fun, and It eliminates the need to thin, or have to try and plug holes where nothing germenated. I start the seeds 6 weeks before set-out day. I soak them overnight in warm water in styrofoam cups with paper towel wads on top to keep them from floating. the seeds with really tough shells, I razor-cut a small nick near the point of the seed. check the seeds the next day, if they have sunk, they`re ready, if they still float, they need to soak some more. when they`re ready, I start them in the little peat moss disks, and put them in the greenhouse. Check them daily, and sprinkle if they`re not damp to the touch on the top of the disk. usually within a week, they`ve germenated. Once they`ve sprouted, I pot them up into medium sized peat pots. a word here: GOURDS DON'T MIND BEING TRANSPLANTED! I don`t know why this started, but it ain't so! I've potted up and transplanted MANY gourd plants. 99% do just fine. I begin feeding the seedlings miricle grow root builder every other day. once I see roots begin to poke out of the pots, I pot up again, this time into quart sized plastics. for soil, I use 50% potting soil, 25% spaghnum moss, and 25 % pearlite. I don`t remove the smaller peat pots, I just plant that into the big plastic one.

3. Hardening off
this is where you can really screw it up. New plants that have been grown indoors MUST get used to sunlight gradually! once day temps are over 50 degrees, you can begin. I follow this method:

day one - 20 minutes of direct sunlight
day two - 30 minutes direct sunlight
day three - 1 hour direct sunlight
day four - 2 hours direct sunlight
day five - 3 hours direct sunlight
day six - 5 hours direct sunlight
day seven - can be set out

you MUST check in on the plants while they`re out in the sun! if you see any signs of leaf wilt, GET THEM IN THE SHADE IMMEDIATELY! adjust your sun schedule accordingly.
Keep a close eye on the soil as well-be careful they don`t get too dry!

4. setting out
I plant my gourds at the same soil level as they`re growing in their pots. I space them out on 4 foot centers. I have a large arbor that I grow ornamentals on, but I like to keep large gourds on the ground. It`s easier for them to root off their vines that way, and a large gourd that grows hanging is doomed, if you can`t support it somehow.

Part II tomorrow. I`ll cover watering, feeding, trimming and pollenating then.

~G.G.

NOTES:

Gourd Growing
clipped on: 04.21.2007 at 02:39 am    last updated on: 04.21.2007 at 02:53 am

RE: big zac a no show //from totally tomatoes (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: carolyn137 on 12.30.2006 at 09:36 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Can you list a few others that you think could grow as big as Big Zac?

I just did in that other thread, LOL, and I forgot Tidwell German and Neves Azorean Red, so thanks for reminding me of those varieties as well.

I think I listed

Delicious, still the record holder at 6#12 oz ( Gordon Graham)
Zogola
Cuostralee
Large Pink Bulgarian
Omar's Lebanese
Red Barn

.... and with you promting me I'd add

Tidwell German
Neves Azorean Red

and then

Milka's Red Bulgarian
Russian Bogatyr

As I've said before I don't grow for taste, but for all of those I've had fruits in the 3# range and perhaps a bit higher b'c I don't take the time to weigh each and every one. And it also depended on how wet the season was in plumping them up. ( smile)

Carolyn

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clipped on: 12.31.2006 at 02:41 am    last updated on: 12.31.2006 at 02:44 am

How Do You Cook Your Beans?

posted by: gardenlad on 12.20.2006 at 07:48 am in Beans, Peas & Other Legumes Forum

I've had this recipe kicking around two days longer than forever, and finally got around to making it. Thought I'd pass it on, as it's great.

Green Beans with Poppy Seed Dressing

1 1/2 lb green beans, prepped and cooked until just tender
2 tsp poppy seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbls white-wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
2 tbls shallot, minced
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add poppy seeds & toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Add the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, sallot, salt & pepper. Whisk until well blended.

Warm the dressing in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beans and toss to coat them. Let cook until beans are heated through. Serve.

Who else has some interesting bean recipes?

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clipped on: 12.20.2006 at 10:14 pm    last updated on: 12.20.2006 at 10:17 pm

RE: hot weather greens (Follow-Up #74)

posted by: everettFL on 06.11.2005 at 09:40 pm in Market Gardener Forum

I've been so busy making my farm work I've tuned out any of my web time! I've got 5 years under my belt now of growing greens through the summer and I feel I've peaked at a level of what I can do working by myself & would need to figure out how to hire help if I did more. I do 30-40 lb salad and 20-25 lb arugula a week, though I'm nosediving right now because of the weeds... September-early December will bring the next surge of greens.

After 3 seasons of haybale tables, I did decide to convert my planning to the ground... I can handle the harvesting, the bales rotted too fast for me here, and the expense of rebuilding new ones got too hard to ante up for. But it was part of my start-up at this new farm site... I did indeed make some fantastic beds out of the old hay bale areas, and have greatly enjoyed having the mulch for other areas. Although for me June-August now I'm wondering if a few tables would carry me through my worst weed season. I can verify that the greens grow fine all through the heat and humidity (with occasional disease/ spotting problems in prolonged wet weather). I now grow spinach-mustard, red giant mustard, red russian kale, tokyo bekana, mizuna, radish greens, and turnip tops for my mix. If some one takes this recipe and runs with it, more power to you! I'm maxed out on what I can do, and my market is still very strong. Not to let the cat out of the bag about the arugula, either, but regular arugula grows great for me through the summer without any shade cloth, etc.

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clipped on: 12.20.2006 at 01:27 am    last updated on: 12.20.2006 at 01:30 am

RE: Recipe, Beans and Greens (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: gardenlad on 12.12.2006 at 09:10 am in Beans, Peas & Other Legumes Forum

Makes plenty of sense, Remy, and sounds great.

I have to agree with you. It's amusing how peasant food in now haute, and commands big bucks in restaurants. Of course they call it "rustic" rather than "poor peoples."

I mean, the idea that beef short ribs are a gourmet treat leaves me cold. We ate them when I was young because we couldn't afford top cuts.

Anyway, there's a southern variation on your theme. Traditionally, on New Year's Eve, black-eyed peas are served for luck, and greens for money. There are several interesting recipes in which the two are combined, such as

Black-Eyed Peas and Chard

1 lb dried peas
2 lb Swiss chard
4 tbls olive oil
2 onions, choped
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup black olives, pitted & halved
Salt

Cook peas. Drain, reserving 1 cup liqid.

Wash chard and cut in 3-inch pieces. Set aside.

In a large saucepan heat oil and saute onions and garlic with the red pepper and allspice until onions are lightly browned. Add the reserved broth, raisins, and chard. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until chard is cooked.

Add olives, peas, and salt. Bring to boil again, lower heat, and simmer 5 minutes to meld flavors.

NOTES:

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clipped on: 12.13.2006 at 03:07 am    last updated on: 12.13.2006 at 03:08 am

Recipe, Beans and Greens

posted by: remy on 12.11.2006 at 11:11 pm in Beans, Peas & Other Legumes Forum

Hi all,
It has slowed down here now that is cold out, so I figure I would post how I make one of my favorite things to eat, Beans and Greens. I grew up eating this poor Italian persons' food. Now, it can be found in nice restaurants which I find very amusing. I cook like an old Italian lady, maybe because I'm becoming one, lol, so my directions/amounts are not exact take each amount as an about number, you know, 1lb more or less. I think it would be very hard to mess it up. People love to eat this very simple dish.

1lb cooked beans, Great Northern or a mix of Great Northern and Cranberry(you can use all Cranberry but the white looks nicer)If you are in a hurry and all you got is a can of beans, use it.
Garlic chopped, I like lots, use at least 4 cloves if not more
1lb at least of greens cut up, traditionally Escarole or Endive is used, but other greens or spinach can work too. If you are in a hurry those 1lb frozen bags work good, just defrost in the microwave.
Olive Oil
Butter( you can use just all oil, but we always added both.)
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan or Romano Cheese
Good Italian Bread

In a good size pot, saute the garlic in olive oil. Add the greens and a bit of water to wilt it down. Once wilted down, add enough water to cover greens, but don't add too much, just enough so that once the beans are added it will be like a good thick soup.
Add some pepper and salt.(Be careful with the salt if you are adding canned beans, and remember too Parmesan Cheese is added at the end.) Simmer until the greens are done to your liking. Escarole/Endive ribs get tender when done.
Add the beans. Give a good swirl of olive oil over the top and a couple pats of butter. If it is too thick add just enough water so it isn't. Bring back to a simmer, and taste. Add more pepper, salt, or oil if needed. If it isn't garlicy enough, you can always add some garlic powder and make note of needing more for next time. Let simmer for a few more minutes, and give one last taste test.
Ladle into bowls and top with fresh grated cheese and serve with good bread.

I have seen variations where chicken stock is used in place of some of the water. I have also seen where bacon is cooked and the grease is used along with the bacon bits added to the mix. sometimes other beans are used like Cannellini. I've had a prosciutto ham and Fava bean version that was very good.

If I didn't make sense somewhere, please tell me! If you try making it,(I hope some people do.) tell me how it came out.
Now that I posted a recipe, it would be nice to see someone else post one too!
Remy

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clipped on: 12.12.2006 at 11:43 pm    last updated on: 12.12.2006 at 11:49 pm

RE: Need recommendations for trials (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: carolyn137 on 12.08.2006 at 08:37 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

I cut and pasted this post that I wrote from the other place where you posted.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Why 5 plants/variety?

Are you selling commercially?.
Again, I'm not sure of what to list b'c I don't know what the purpose is.

But roughly in that size range and being indet I might suggest the following and I've starrred the ones I think are best, but can't discount the others depending on your location, how you grow them, what amendments you use and the weather:

*Bulgarian Triumph, early midseason
*Bulgarian #7, early midseason
Silvery Fir Tree, early midseason
*Camp Joy, which is a large cherry, same
*Break O Day, same
*Matina, early, alookalike for Stupice but I think taste is better
*Lida Ukraianian, midseason

There are darn few REAL earlies that I think have much taste, to be honest, so stretching it out to early midseason might be something to consider.

And since DTM are really pure guesstimates, a few days either way on a variety if you see DTM's published, would be considered quite normal.

In some years I've had my mids come in before my earlies and my lates before the mids, so one just cannot predict what will happen until they are grown for trial in any given year.

Carolyn


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clipped on: 12.09.2006 at 03:06 am    last updated on: 12.09.2006 at 03:12 am

RE: Potato Leaf? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: carolyn137 on 11.25.2006 at 02:23 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

This past summer Martha, (gardenmama) custom grew 12 plants for me, and they were all past faves.
Carolyn,
I wonder if you would tell us which 12 they were?

Aker's West Virginia
Aunt Gertie's Gold
Black Cherry
Bulgarian #7
Cherokee Green
Wes
KBX ( PL Kellogg's Breakfast)
Omar's Lebanese
Sungold
Tidwell German
Mama Leone
Sara's Galapagps
Virginia Sweets ( I forgot we added this 13th one)

And I sent her the seed for Sara's Galapagos and Mama Leone, both of which I just must have. She had the rest already in her seed inventory. I think I may have also sent her the seed for Virginia Sweets, but I'm not so clear on that from my notes.

And someone else drove over from Massachusetts, no less, to bring me:

Dr. Carolyn
Kimberly

And they were faves, yes, but my faves list is a very long one, so I can't say the above faves are definitive , but they're the ones I asked her to grow and she's already offered to do it again and I'll probably have some of the same and then add some different ones as well.

Carolyn

NOTES:

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clipped on: 11.26.2006 at 10:19 pm    last updated on: 11.26.2006 at 10:22 pm

Container soils and water in containers (long post)

posted by: tapla on 03.19.2005 at 03:57 pm in Container Gardening Forum

The following is very long & will be too boring for some to wade through. Two years ago, some of my posts got people curious & they started to e-mail me about soil problems. The "Water Movement" article is an answer I gave in an e-mail. I saved it and adapted it for my bonsai club newsletter & it was subsequently picked up & used by a number of other clubs. I now give talks on container soils and the physics of water movement in containers to area clubs.

I think, as container gardeners, our first priority is to insure aeration for the life of the soil. Since aeration and drainage are inversely linked to soil particle size, it makes good sense to try to find a soil component with particles larger than peat and that will retain its structure for extended periods. Pine bark fits the bill nicely.

The following hits pretty hard against the futility of using a drainage layer in an attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the soil available for root colonization. A wick will remove the saturated layer of soil. It works in reverse of the self-watering pots widely being discussed on this forum now. I have no experience with these growing containers, but understand the principle well.

There are potential problems with wick watering that can be alleviated with certain steps. Watch for yellowing leaves with these pots. If they begin to occur, you need to flush the soil well. It is the first sign of chloride damage.

One of the reasons I posted this is because of the number of soil questions I'm getting in my mail. It will be a convenient source for me to link to. I will soon be in the middle of repotting season & my time here will be reduced, unfortunately, for me. I really enjoy all the friends I've made on these forums. ;o)

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

Water Movement in Soils

Consider this if you will:

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

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

There is, in every pot, what is called a "perched water table" (PWT). This is water that occupies a layer of soil that is always saturated & will not drain at the bottom of the pot. 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 equal the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is "perched". If we fill five cylinders of varying heights and diameters with the same soil mix and provide each cylinder with a drainage hole, the PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This is the area of the pot where roots seldom penetrate & where root problems begin due to a lack of aeration. From this we can draw the conclusion that: Tall growing containers are a superior choice over squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. Physiology dictates that plants must be able to take in air at the roots in order to complete transpiration and photosynthesis.

A given volume of large soil particles have less overall surface area in comparison 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 PWT is lower in coarse soils than in fine soils. The key to good drainage is size and uniformity of soil particles. Large particles mixed with small particles will not improve drainage because the smaller particles fit between the large, increasing surface area which increases the capillary attraction and thus the water holding potential. Water and air cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Contrary to what some hold to be true, sand does not improve drainage. Pumice (aka lava rock), or one of the hi-fired clay products like Turface are good additives which help promote drainage and porosity because of their irregular shape.

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

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

If you discover you need to increase drainage, insert a wick into the pot & allow it to extend from the PWT to several inches below the bottom of the pot. This will successfully eliminate the PWT & give your plants much more soil to grow in as well as allow more, much needed air to the roots.

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

In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they starve to death because they cannot obtain sufficient air at the root zone for the respiratory or photosynthetic processes.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and the effectiveness of using a wick to remove it, try this experiment: Fill a soft drink cup nearly full of garden soil. Add enough water to fill to the top, being sure all soil is saturated. Punch a drain hole in the bottom of the cup & allow to drain. When the drainage stops, insert a wick several inches up into the drain hole . Take note of how much additional water drains. This is water that occupied the PWT before being drained by the wick. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper, so water begins to move downward seeking the "new" bottom of the pot, pulling the rest of the PWT along with it.

Having applied these principles in the culture of my containerized plants, both indoors and out, for many years, the methodology I have adopted has shown to be effective and of great benefit to them. I use many amendments when building my soils, but the basic building process starts with screened bark and perlite. Peat usually plays a very minor role in my container soils because it breaks down rapidly and when it does, it impedes drainage.

My Soil

I'll give two recipes. I usually make big batches.

3 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat)
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime
controlled release fertilizer
micro-nutrient powder (substitute: small amount of good, composted manure

Big batch:

3 cu ft pine bark fines (1 big bag)
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
1 cup lime (you can add more to small portion if needed)
2 cups CRF
1/2 cup micro-nutrient powder or 1 gal composted manure

Small batch:

3 gallons pine bark
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
handful lime (careful)
1/4 cup CRF
1 tsp micro-nutrient powder or a dash of manure ;o)

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

I hope this starts a good exchange of ideas & opinions so we all can learn.

Al

NOTES:

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clipped on: 11.23.2006 at 01:08 am    last updated on: 11.23.2006 at 01:10 am