Tag Archives: Heirloom

Something for ‘almost’ every gardener

April was an unusually cool April for my tiny zone 7b garden.

60 degrees F is kind of, sort of the magic soil temperature needed for many garden vegetable seeds to germinate. It was the last week of April before we approached the 60 degree soil tempeture.

May arrived and my soil has warmed to 71 degrees F and it is still a month until the start of the summer gardening season. Leaving plenty of time for most gardeners to plant summer and fall producing vegetable gardens.

I’m happy with our bamboo project. We planted bamboo in a well contained garden plot about 25 feet long by 12 feet wide near Christmas time 2015 and I have been concerned that I wasted my money on two 6 inch pots of bamboo. However after 2 summers of putting down a good root system this spring bamboo canes have jumped up and some canes are more than 11 feet tall and still growing taller everyday.

I invite new visitors to my tiny blog to search my previous posting. At sometime in the past I have information about almost every vegetable from A – Z as wells as info on raising chickens, rabbits, composting and water saving irrigation ideas.

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Better Late Than Never, Spring Is In The Air

It’s a week past my normal last frost date and maybe, just maybe I have had my last spring frost. A few nights ago it went down to 26 degrees F. and did a lot of damage to tender new plant buds and plants that had leafed out. It, the frost, has set my grapes back at least 1 if not 2 weeks.

Hummingbirds have started arriving. Everyday it seems that I have one or two more than the day before visiting my feeders.
Just my opinion but I think it is a good investment to buy feeders with what sellers call bee and wasp guards. After replacing my old style feeders with new feeders with bee guards having bees and wasp feeding at my hummingbird feeders is no longer a problem me and the hummingbirds must contend with.

The Purple Martin house is open and raise to a height of about 12 feet. My first pair of Martins arrived Saturday and have given their nod of approval.

Chicken have finished molting and have started laying about 1 egg per bird everyday. Just for the record I have 4 hens that are now 4 years old and 3 that are 2 years old.
Grin … now me and extended family have more eggs than we can eat every week and that’s a good thing.
Smiling… as my hens get to old to be useful egg producers, I keep putting out feed and they become yard ornaments for my viewing pleasure.

Cataract surgery on my left eye went well. I’m seeing things that I have not seen well for at least 4 or 5 years. I have a followup doctors visit set for the 18th and he will operate on my right eye on the morning of the 25th.

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Vinegar as a herbicide – Not what you may think

Available alternative products, non-glyphosate based products rarely generate 100% weed control. They perform better on broadleaf weeds than grassy weeds. They are best used in conjunction with optimizing cultural practices such as improving soil health, turf/plant nutrition, irrigation, cultivar election, proper moving, and seeding/plant establishment and overseeding. Avoiding conditions that favor weeds (compacted soils, overwatering, excessive or ill-timed nitrogen applications) and adjusting soil pH to favor desirable plants over weeds increased effectiveness. Most alternative herbicide products are not chemicals, so they are exempt from EPA pesticide registration.

Alternative herbicides fall into 7 product categories: Natural acids (vinegar + citric acids), Herbicidal soaps, Iron-based herbicides, Salt-based herbicides, phytotoxic oils (clove, peppermint, pine, citronella), corn gluten, and combination products (including ingredients from multiple categories).

Alternative herbicides may not be regarded as long term single application herbicides like glyphosate, but as short term “burn-down” products. An initial germination treatment followed by spot treatments later in the season is necessary to minimize persisting perennial weeds. A single application once (or twice) a year is not sufficient to keep “trim” areas (pavement, sidewalk cracks, skin surfaces on playing fields, etc) weed free. Moreover, the cost of alternative products may be higher compared to glyphosate:
higher per application and more applications per year , resulting in higher labor expenses. Alternative herbicides also require higher volumes of water, higher volume pumps and larger nozzles on sprayers.

Ways to improve effectiveness when using alternative herbicides include:
•Thorough spray coverage (to runoff); A large, flat nozzle (ie. 8006) is preferable in turfgrass production
•Add the high label amount of surfactant/adjuvant to improve control
•Treat when weeds are small (2-5 leaves)
•Repeat applications for larger weeds are necessary in most instances.
•Lower concentrations at high spray volumes (i.e. 10% concentration in 70 gallons per acre) appear to be more effective than high concentrations at low spray volumes (i.e.20% concentration in 35 gallons per acre).
From an economical perspective, alternative herbicides cost more than chemical herbicides due to the concentrations and number of applications required. For example, a lawn study in NY found that acetic acid herbicides were more than three times more costly on a square foot basis than glyphosate.

Another study by the U. Mass Transportation Center, showed that glyphosate cost ~$20/mile to control weeds along roadways. They also found that alternative materials (Citric Acid, Acetic Acid, Clove Oil, Scythe® , etc) varied in cost from $360 to $2400 per mile.

Vinegar – Acetic acid, commonly known as vinegar, but also known as ethanoic acid, affects the cell membranes of a plant, causing rapid breakdown/desiccation of foliage tissue on contact.
Herbicidal vinegar is stronger than household vinegar, the acetic acid concentration for herbicidal use is 10 -20%, compared to 5% (household) acetic acid. Acetic acids of 8% or less inert ingredient are exempt from registration by the EPA as a pesticide under EPA Minimum Risk Pesticide, FIFRA. Most states require registration for use of acetic acid as a pesticide.

PROs:
•Excellent control when contacting very small annual broadleaf weeds
•Rapid kill rate (Over 90% of treated plants should die within 24 hours).
•Acetic acid products break down quickly in the environment.
•Most useful for managing weeds in gravel and on patios/sidewalks.
•These contact herbicides fit into an integrated pest management program; although weeds require monitoring for best control timing.
•Non selective, but mainly kill broadleaf weeds. Burns back grasses temporarily.

CONS:
•No residual activity. Will kill or damage any plants they touch.
•Weeds must be small (timing is important – within 2 weeks of germination)
•Roots are not killed; repeat applications are needed for larger weeds and perennial weeds
•Good spray coverage is essential (70 GPA+)
•Sharp vinegar odor may be unpleasant
•Spray equipment must be cleaned after application, particularly metal equipment. Avoid using spray equipment with metal working parts such as metal spray lines or metal nozzles.
•Spray drift may damage desirable plants.
•Do not apply to reactive metals such as aluminum, tin, iron, and items such as fencing or lawn furniture. Avoid spraying the material onto masonry sidewalks and structures. If the product contacts these surfaces, staining, mottling, etching, or other harm to the finishes or surfaces may occur.
•Do not apply more frequently than every two weeks
•Treatments must be delayed 24-48 hours or more after rain
•Severe eye irritation, burns, and possible irreversible damage potential. Vinegars with acetic acid concentrations of 11% or greater can burn the skin and cause severe eye injury, including blindness.
•Severe skin irritation and possible allergic sensitization.
•Prolonged or repeated exposure may cause dermatitis, chronic bronchitis, and erosion of teeth.

SUMMARY
Research has found that 5-10% acetic acid herbicide products can give viable control of very small, young weeds that have only 1-2 leaves (or within 2 weeks of germination). Larger weeds (with 3-4 leaves) are likely to survive treatment, but using higher (20%) concentrations of acetic acid and increasing the application volume (from 20 to 100 gpa) can improve weed control. Total crabgrass and grass weed control in a 2006 USDA study occurred with 20% acetic acid applied at 100 gpa, resulting in weed control that ranged from 28 to 45%. Multiple applications improve long term control. Broadleaf and annual weeds tend to be more susceptible than grassy weeds and perennial weeds, which show initial signs of damage but generally recover. Nonetheless, using acetic acid on weeds with tap roots (dandelions, Canada thistle), may only result in top kill unless the weed is very young.

COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE ACETIC ACID PRODUCTS
Check with your state to determine if a product is registered to be used as a pesticide.
Bradfield Natural Horticultural Vinegar – 20% vinegar (acetic acid) + yucca extract. (Bradfield
Organics) NOT OMRI Listed Burn-out – 25% acetic acid (St. Gabriel Laboratories).

Grotek Elimaweed Weed And Grass Killer – 7.15% acetic acid (GREENSTAR PLANT PRODUCTS)

Maestro Gro’s Organic Vinegar. 20% acetic acid (Ag Organics/Nature’s Wisdom) 1 gal %15.79

Natural Weed Control – 0.2% citric acid, 8% acetic acid + water. (Nature’s Wisdom/Ag Organics).

Soil Mender 10% Vinegar – 10% acetic acid (made from grain alcohol and not from glacial acetic acid), orange oil, molasses, and a natural surfactant.

Vinagreen Natural Non Selective Herbicide- 20% acetic acid (CMC Chemical)

Weed Pharm Fast Acting Weed And Grass Killer – 20% vinegar (acetic acid) (PharmSolutions.

Things you may or may not know about Glyphosate

Glyphosate was patented by Monsanto under the trade name ‘RoundUp’ in 1974. Glyphosate is now widely available from many manufacturers under numerous trade names after patent protection ended in 2000: RoundUp, KleenUp, Accord, Imitator, Eraser, Pronto, Rodeo, etc.. There are over 750 products containing glyphosate for sale in the U.S according to the National Pesticide Information Center.

As a non-selective herbicide, glyphosate will kill most plants it contacts. Accordingly, it can be used for vegetation cleanup prior to all types of planting, e.g. field/bed/turfgrass preparation or renovation. It can be spot sprayed for general weed control or sprayed directly over top of specific crops at certain times of year (e.g. over Christmas trees/conifers in the fall). No other herbicide works as well on perennial grasses as glyphosate particularly late in the season.

Glyphosate does not leach through soil like some herbicides and has low mammalian toxicity, it has been considered to be very safe toxicologically and environmentally, with hundreds of studies showing the active ingredient to be less acutely toxic than common table salt or aspirin.
The EPA does not consider glyphosate to be a human carcinogen.

If you have a problem with the Glyphosate information above, take your concerns to the USDA, FDA, EPA or Monsanto

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Lunar new year – year of the dog

2018 will be the first Year of the Earth Dog since 1958.
Anyone born in an Earth Dog year will be communicative, serious, and responsible in the workplace.
Chinese New year – year of the dog – begins February 16, 2018.

Plant something different in that sunny spot that is difficult to maintain.
Plant back rows with beautiful Hollyhocks. There are many colors to choose from to give just that right color to a corner flower bed. Hollyhocks are perennials and will come back for many years enjoyment.
In front of the Hollyhocks plant Okra. Even if your growing season is a short one you will still be able to enjoy its flowers.
The same is true for Cotton.
In the front row plant Cotton. Cotton varieties range from about 18 inches tall to some long season varieties that will grow to heights exceeding 3 foot tall.

All have beautiful hibiscus style flowers, are almost care free and will add interesting fall and winter viewing as well as food and cover for birds that may visit your yard.

Happy Gardening

Dry and windy start – 2018 garden

Weather wise 2018 is not starting off well for those of us that chose to live in the southwest corner of Oklahoma.
January I logged a total of 0.08 inches of rain and during the past 3 months, November 2017 – January 2018 my tiny garden has been blessed with 0.66 inches of rain. The National Weather Service classifies my area as being in a severe drought.

It’s still 70+ day until I will see my last freeze/frost and begin spring planting. That doesn’t stop me from planning my new wildflower and vegetable garden.

As with all real estate, planning a garden will be much involved about location, location, location.
Selection and preparation of the garden site is an important key to growing a home garden successfully.
An area exposed to full or near full sunlight with deep, well-drained, fertile soil is ideal. The site should also be located near a water supply and, if possible, away from trees and shrubs that will compete with the garden for light, water, and nutrients.
While these conditions are ideal, many gardeners have a small area with a less than optimal site on which to grow vegetables.
Yet, it is still possible to grow a vegetable garden by modifying certain cultural practices and types of crops grown.
Areas with light or thin shade can be used, such as those under young trees, under mature trees with high lacy canopies, or in bright, airy places which receive only one to two hours of direct sun per day. There are several vegetables which will grow under these conditions, including beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and turnips.
Unfortunately, few vegetables will grow well under full, dense shade.
If the site is not well drained or if the soil is thin, the use of raised beds can help with this problem.

In order to have a successful garden, the gardener must follow a few rules. The following tips may help to prevent some common garden problems from occurring, or help overcome those that do arise:
Sample soil and have it tested every three to four years.
Apply fertilizers in the recommended manner and amount.
Make use of organic materials such as compost when and where available.
Use recommended plant varieties for your area.
Thin plants when small.
Use mulches to conserve moisture, control weeds, and reduce fruit rots.
Avoid excessive walking and working in the garden when foliage and soil are wet.
Examine the garden often to keep ahead of potential weeds, insect, and disease problems.
Wash and clean tools and sprayers after each use.
Rotate specific crop family locations each year to avoid insect and disease buildup.
When possible, harvest vegetables during the cool hours of the day.

Bonding with your garden – Seeds and Seedlings

This article appeared in the May 2002 web issue of Horticulture Update,
edited by Dr. William C. Welch, and produced by Extension Horticulture,
Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

How to Start Seeds Indoors

Gardening is a wonderful pastime and filling your garden with plants you started yourself from seeds simply doubles the pleasure. If you think growing from seed is difficult and takes too much time and equipment, the steps and tips here will dispel those apprehensions.
Basically all you need to know about specific seeds is whether or not they require light to germinate and the number of days germination takes. With a fluorescent light or a very sunny window, a few containers – purchased or found – and a good germinating mix, you will be on your way.

The magic: watching a seedling push up above the soil surface creates a bond between you and your garden.

Materials You Need

Containers: any shallow receptacle that holds soil, such as flats with or without individual cells, peat or paper pots, egg carton bottoms or halved milk cartons. For transplanting seedlings, 2-1/2 to 4-inch diameter plastic, clay or peat pots. To ensure even moisture for seeds – and save yourself time – look for self-watering seed-starting kits.

Germinating mix: commercial or homemade.
DIY: Mix your own seed starter soil, with a 50-50 combination of fine sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite.

Transplanting mix: A good potting soil will do, but a mix specifically formulated for young seedlings is better. The latter usually contains a coarser grade of sphagnum peat moss than a germinating mix and often contains fertilizer.

Fertilizer: balanced all-purpose fertilizer. If you prefer to grow with organic rather than chemical fertilizers, use fish emulsion is very odoriferous but nutritious for plants.

Getting Started

Wet the germinating mix thoroughly and let it drain. It should be moist but not soggy.
Fill flats or individual pots with the mix to within about an inch of the top.

Make shallow row indentations with a ruler or your finger in the flats. It’s easier to separate seedlings when transplanting time comes if you sow in rows. Sow thinly so you do not waste seed. If using pots make shallow holes and set 3 to 4 seeds in each.

Check your seed packet to see if the seeds need light to germinate. If they do, press them lightly into the surface. If they require darkness, cover with l/4 to l/2 inch of mix or vermiculite and tamp it down.

Mist the surface with water to settle the seeds.

Cover the flats with a sheet of plastic wrap or set them in plastic bags. Set pots in plastic bags and close with twist ties. This keeps the mix from drying out while the seeds germinate, but check the mix occasionally and moisten if necessary by spritzing with water.

Place the flat in a warm, bright location or under a fluorescent light. Check the seed packet for specific soil temperatures for germination. Generally, seeds germinate with soil temperatures of 70-75 degrees F.
Hot peppers sometimes will not germinate until soil temperatures reach 80 to 85 degrees F.

When the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic covering. Seed packets give you an idea of germination time, usually 7 to 10 days, sometimes as long as 2 to 3 weeks.

Keep the mix evenly moist, not soggy. Water from the bottom by setting flats and pots in a sink filled with a couple of inches of water; remove them when you see moisture on the surface of the mix.

The first leaves on a seedling are cotyledons, not true leaves. Their shapes usually do not look like the plants familiar leaves. When seedlings in flats grow at least two sets of true leaves, transplant them into larger pots.

Moisten the transplanting mix and let it drain. If you use an all-purpose potting soil, add a handful of vermiculite for each quart of mix to lighten the texture.

Fill 2-1/4 inch pots about three-quarters full.

Use your fingers or a pencil to pick each seedling out of the flat, carefully holding each by the leaves not the stem (plants readily grow new leaves but not broken stems).

Set the transplant in the pot, filling in around the roots with more mix and firming the mix down.

Place pots on a sunny windowsill or under a fluorescent light.

Water transplants regularly from the bottom until they grow 3 to 4 inches tall. Then you can begin to water from the top.

Feed as you water by diluting a water-soluble fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, to half the strength recommended on the label. Or, feed at regular strength every week to 10 days.

You do not need to move most flowering plants into larger pots before setting them outdoors in the garden. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes, produce extensive root systems and grow quickly into lush plants; transplant them at least one more time into larger pots before the weather warms up enough to put them in the garden.

To encourage compact, bushy plants, occasionally pinch off the growing tips of herbs and most flowering plants.

Many seeds germinate best – more quickly and more abundantly – if you do not cover them with a mix when you sow.

Ageratum Lettuce Begonia
Nicotiana Coleus Petunia
Columbine Parsley Dill
Feverfew Savory Salvia
Gaillardia Impatiens Yarrow

A Few Do’s

Know the date of the average last spring frost in your area; you need to start most plants indoors a certain number of weeks before that date. Seed packets include that information.

Give pots on windowsills a quarter turn every week so plants grow straight instead of bending towards the light.

Opt for the easiest plants to start indoors if this is your first attempt.
These include basil, coreopsis, dianthus, gaillardia, gloriosa daily, marigold, oregano, yarrow and zinnia.

Label your seed containers as you sow.

A Few Don’t s

Combine different varieties of seeds in one flat unless they germinate in the same number of days.

Let seedlings in flats grow large before you transplant them. Their roots become too entwined, making them difficult to separate without damage.

Start root vegetables indoors.

Over water seedlings. Soggy soil promotes fungus and root rot.

Outdoor Preferences

Some plants resent being transplanted, but if your growing season is short, you can start them indoors in individual peat or paper pots, which biodegrade; set plant in its pot in the garden.

Annual Phlox Fennel Chervil
Lupine Cucumber Nasturtium
Dill Poppy

2018 Tomato Season

Disclaimer. I do not work for nor do I receive any benefit from this seed seller, however I have had good success using seed I purchased from them.
The big thing is they have more than 600 different types of Tomato seed that are Hybrid or Heirlooms to choose from.

Tomatofest Seed sale Annual Heirloom Tomato Seed Sale through Friday, January 19, 2018.

Our Annual Heirloom Tomato Seed Sale is designed to reach our newsletter subscribers and past customers as our “thank you” for choosing TomatoFest® for your organic heirloom tomato seeds.

From our online heirloom tomato seed catalog of more than 650 tomato seed varieties, we are currently offering you 350 of our most favored heirloom tomato varieties.

We selected many of our most popular and rare heirloom tomato varieties for this sale pricing. Up to a 50% savings off our regular price.

Take advantage of this Tomato Seed Sale to acquire tomato seeds for varieties that you want to grow, even if you do not have the space to grow them this year, as some varieties may not be offered in the future.

Tomato seeds will last 3-5 years if stored properly.
We guarantee the quality of TomatoFest® Heirloom Tomato Seeds

(Note: The balance of our 650 varieties will be at our regular price and we still require a $15 minimum order. Your order may mix sale items with regularly priced items).

Tomatofest Seed sale

“Top Ten” Heirloom Tomato Collection
Dagma’s Favorites Tomato Collection
Gary’s Favorites Tomato Collection
Gourmet Tomato Collection
Sauce Tomato Collection
Favorite Canning Tomato Collection
Cherry Tomato Collection
Rainbow Tomato Collection
Novelty Tomato Collection
Giant Tomato Collection
Short Season Tomato Collection
Cooler Coastal Tomato Collection
Tropical/Hot/Humid Tomato Collection
Tropical Container Gardening Tomato Collection
High Altitude Tomato Collection
Patio Container Collection
Indoor Container Collection 1
Indoor Container Collection 2

Happy 2018 Gardening Season

Pruning Correctly Will Enhance Fruit Production #2 – Fruit Trees

Before you start pruning fruit producing trees and bushes you must know and understand it’s fruiting habits.

Prune trees when they are dormant. Wait until a tree is dormant before pulling out the sheers! This is best for the tree and easiest for you. It’s easier to see where to make your cuts when the leaves have fallen. Pruning should be done in late fall, winter, or early spring. Exact timing will vary by zone, as winter months differ by zone.

Prune fruit trees to attain certain shapes. Remove weak, diseased, injured or narrow angle branches (the weaker of any crossing or interfering branches), and one branch of forked limbs. Also remove upright branches and any that grow toward the center of tree. You want to keep your tree from becoming too thick and crowded and to keep its height reasonable. All these objectives promote improved bearing, which is your overall aim.

Pruning Apple, Pear, European Blue Plums & Cherry Trees.
These trees do best when pruned and trained to a central leader tree. This type of tree has a pyramidal shape with a single upright leader limb as its highest point. This leader is the newest extension of a long, upright growing trunk from which all lateral branches arise. As with all strong growing branches, the leader should be headed back each year. The uppermost bud on the leader produces a vigorous new leader, and no other shoot should be allowed to grow taller. Lateral limbs should be selected from shoots growing out from the central leader. These should be spaced vertically 4-6” apart, have growth that is more horizontal than vertical and point in different compass directions from the trunk.

Pruning Peach, Nectarine, Japanese Plums & Apricot Trees.
These trees do best when pruned and trained to a vase-shape. This type of tree should have no central leader. The shape of the tree is controlled by selecting and maintaining three to five main scaffold limbs arising from the trunk. These limbs should point in different directions and originate no less than 18″ and no more than 36” from the ground balancing growth evenly between the scaffold limbs.

Miniature Peach, Nectarine & Apricot Trees.
These do not require shaping cuts. However, because they grow so densely, they require regular dormant thinning cuts to remove competing and crossing limbs.

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2017 – Rushing into the history book

Christmas eve fades into Christmas morning and we have had our first really cold temperature forecast to be near 19 degrees. Not that cold by many northerners standards but by my standards, frozen chicken trough water is ‘Cold’.

Looking back I see that my tiny garden has received 1.90 inches of rain during the past 90 days. Getting pretty dry in my neighborhood. The sad part of this story is the long range 30 day forecast looks no better for a good soaking rain.

Colder weather, short daylight hours and chickens in molt my daily egg count has fallen from 6-8 eggs a day to 1-2 eggs. Grin, of course with the colder weather they are eating more and producing less. At present my eggs are only costing me about $1.00 an egg in feed and water cost. It would save me a lot of money if were to have a lot of chicken soup and buy eggs at the supermarket.

It has been a tough year for trees and vines in my tiny part of southwest Oklahoma.
Last June(2017) we had a thunderstorm that packed 104 mph winds along with golf ball size hail. It has taken all summer for my trees and grapevines to recover.
Still trees and grapevines will need pruned soon after new years day to be healthy and productive during the 2018 growing season.

This marks the end of year 2 of the bamboo screening project. So far it has been less successful than I had hoped. Still people that have used bamboo as screens say year 3 is the magic year that bamboo will begin to become an effective screen. Only time will tell.

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