Tag Archives: Heirloom

Garden Success And Failures

Gardening season is ending and the often bewildering holiday season will be dominating our life for the next 2+ months. Fall colors and cool weather will give way to barren and snow covered landscapes and the cold weather of winter.

Now is a good time to look back and evaluate our gardening successes and failures. None of us want to admit that many of our garden failures, both flowering and vegetable were self inflicted.

We often ‘want’ and plant plants that we know or should know are not well suited to our climate and weather conditions. I know avocados will not survive in my climate, but that does not stop me from wanting them in my landscape. Sometimes my wants and desires override my Common Sense.
These failed crops and flowering plants are self inflicted.

Just because a seed package list a plant as being hardy in zone 7(my zone) does not mean it it suitable to withstand my high wind and dry summer heat. Many plants will bolt and produce seed heads. Die from drought stress, will not properly pollinate in the heat of summer. Some plants like an acid soil when I know my soil is mildly to highly alkaline.

Carefully evaluate what crop and just as important, what variety will grow and produce given your climate and weather conditions.

Ask local gardeners that successfully grow flowers and vegetables if you can collect a few seeds or maybe even do a bit of seed trading to improve your gardening success rate.

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America And Organic Labeling

Organic can mean different things to different people, so, I will use (USDA) United States Department of Agriculture’s definition for Organic farming and labeling products as Organic.

USDA said “organic” might appear as one more piece of information to decipher when shopping for foods. Understanding what “organic” really means can help shoppers make informed choices during their next visit to the supermarket or farmers’ market.

Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Organic meat, regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones.

When it comes to processed, multi-ingredient foods, the USDA organic standards specify additional considerations.
Regulations prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and require that their ingredients are organic, with some minor exceptions.
For example, processed organic foods may contain some approved non-agricultural ingredients, like enzymes in yogurt, pectin in fruit jams, or baking soda in baked goods.

USDA labeling: “100 percent organic”

“100 percent organic” can be used to label any product that contains 100 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water, which are considered natural). Most raw, unprocessed farm products can be designated “100 percent organic.” Likewise, many value-added farm products that have no added ingredients—such as grain flours, rolled oats, etc. can also be labeled “100 percent organic.”

“Organic”

“Organic” can be used to label any product that contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Up to 5 percent of the ingredients may be nonorganic agricultural products that are not commercially available as organic.

“Made with Organic ______” can be used to label a product that contains at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water). There are a number of detailed constraints regarding the ingredients that comprise the nonorganic portion.

Principal display panel: May state “made with organic (insert up to three ingredients or ingredient categories).” Must not include USDA organic seal anywhere, represent finished product as organic, or state “made with organic ingredients.”

Use Caution when shopping and buying organic foods at Farmers Markets. Sellers can and sometimes do sell produce as organic when in truth the produce may or may not truly be an organic product.

Exemptions & Exclusions
Producers who market less than $5,000 worth of organic products annually are not required to apply for organic certification. They must, however, comply with the organic production and handling requirements of the regulations, including recordkeeping (records must be kept for at least 3 years). The products from such noncertified operations cannot be used as organic ingredients in processed products produced by another operation; such noncertified products also are not allowed to display the USDA certified organic seal.

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GMO crops, Roundup(Glyphosate) usage in America

The uninformed/under informed and in some cases totally ignorant people that hate GMO crops, Glyphosate, Monsanto, Bayer, DOW, DuPont and other seed and pesticide producers are at it again.

Glyphosate has been used in the USA for more than 45 years.
Whether you want avoid GMO crops or crops sprayed with Glyphosate is a choice only you can make and I will not debate the pro’s and con’s of your decision.
Before making that decision educate yourself about just what it takes our farmers to feed more than 7 billion people. In 1970 before the introduction of Glyphosate and GMO crops the world population was about 3.5 billion people.

Hybrids, GMO crops and the introduction of herbicides and pesticides are the main reasons that crop yields have doubled and tripled without adding additional acreage to feed the world’s ever increasing population at a lower production cost.

Hybrid crops: The scientific basis for today’s amazing hybrid crops goes back more than 150 years. The first commercial seed corn company to take advantage of hybrid vigor was Pioneer Hi-Breds, founded in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1926.

Genetically modified crops: A 2014 meta-analysis concluded that GM technology adoption had reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%.

There is a scientific consensus that currently available food derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food, but each GM food needs to be tested on a case-by-case basis before being introduced into our food supply chain.

GMOs crops were approved for commercial use, in USA in 1996, their production has increased dramatically. More than 90% of all soybean, cotton and corn acreage in the USA is used to grow genetically engineered crops. Other popular and approved food crops include sugar beets, alfalfa, canola, papaya and summer squash. Recently, apples that don’t brown and bruise-free potatoes were also approved by the FDA.

The Truth About Glyphosate and its use in the production of wheat in the United States.

Wheat production occurs in the United States across 42 states, in a wide array of weather conditions. Wheat growers face many challenges to growing a quality crop that is sustainable and economically viable. Growers are faced with threats to the viability of the crop from many pests across these 42 states.
One of these pests is weeds.
Glyphosate is one product commonly used by wheat growers that is very effective at controlling grass weeds prior to planting or after wheat is harvested.

Glyphosate use is limited in the wheat industry, if even used at all in some wheat fields. In fact, for 2016, it was applied to 33 percent of wheat acres in the U.S., according to an independent consumer research firm, GfK.
Typically, glyphosate application in wheat occurs during fallow times when a growing, eventually harvestable wheat crop is not present.

Pre-harvest Glyphosate applications made after the wheat plant has shut down, when wheat kernel development is complete and the crop has matured.
This is prior to harvest and used to dry green weeds and allow the crop to even its maturity.
This is an uncommon treatment used in less than 3 percent of all wheat acres.

National Wheat Foundation – The truth about how Wheat growers use glyphosate.

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Cannas On The Cheap – Plant Canna Seed

Most canna cultivars grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet. However, there are dwarf cultivars that grow only 1.5 to 2 feet tall. A few “giants” may reach a height of 8 to 10 feet.
Cannas can be used as temporary screens, accents, or as background plantings in borders. Smaller cultivars perform well in large containers.

Canna seeds need to be collected soon, before their seed pods open and drop seeds to the ground. Canna seeds are rather large being 3/16 to 3/8 inch in diameter. Canna seeds are generally black to dark brown in color.

Canna seed are easy to germinate, however they do require special treatment before planting to insure the seeds germinate.

Scarification is the process of removing a small amount of the ‘hard’ seed coating to allow water to reach the seed. Sometimes it takes a few attempts to get it right.

Examine your seed carefully and you will find a spot some people call an eye, some call it a scar. This is the top of your seed. It is beneficial to plant your seed with the eye/scar pointing skyward.
Using a small bit of sandpaper or a small file remove some of the seeds hard outer coating until the black hard coat is removed and you can see the white interior of the seed. Stop as soon as you can see the seeds white interior material.

Soak your seed 24 hours in warm, not hot water before planting. Plant in good quality ‘new’ potting soil about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch deep. Eye facing skyward. Cover with soil and water lightly.
Not all seed will germinate, plant 4 or 5 seeds in each 2 or 3 inch starter pot. Keep your seedling pot soil damp, Not Wet until the first leaf is about 6 inches tall. Transplant thinning as needed into 4 inch or larger pots.
Keep soil near 70 – 75 degrees F. Seeds planted in cool damp soil may rot before germination.
Planting seed to transplanting into your garden will take 45 to 60 days. So plant your seed 45 to 60 days before the first days of May. in USDA zones 7-9. June or later in USDA zones 5-7.

If planting directly into garden soil insure soil temperature has reached 70+ degrees F. before planting your canna seeds. Plant many seeds and thin as necessary after germination. Plant 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep and keep your garden soil damp Not Wet for best germination.

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Plant irises in your fall garden for beautiful spring blooms

Marianne Lipanovich, Houzz has a great informative article about irises. (Fox news website).

Fall is the prime time to plant irises, however some varieties can be planted in early spring.
250 plus species of iris can provide variety and continuous bloom in your garden.

Irises can handle a wide range of moisture and soil growing conditions, most require good drainage. Irises are relatively deer resistant, and many, especially the bearded irises, are drought tolerant and fairly pest free.

Irises are hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit(-40 degrees Celsius) USDA zones 3 to 10.

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Save Money – Save This Years Seed For 2018 Planting Season

At $3 to $5 dollars for a seed packet containing 10 to 30 seeds, it is worth your time and effort to collect and save flower and vegetable seeds for your 2018 gardens.

Collecting and storing flower seeds is a fast and easy project.
Cut flower heads and store in paper bags or envelopes. Next spring separate the dry seed from flower heads and plant them in your gardens.

Do not store seed in plastic bags or air tight containers. If the containers sweat the moisture can damage your seed and they may fail to germinate.
Generally speaking flower seeds are planted shallow, no more than 1/8 to 1/2 inch deep. Water often keep the first 1/2 inch of soil damp but not wet until seeds germinate. That’s generally from 7 to 10 days. Summer and fall blooming plant seed will reliably germinate after you soil tempeture has warmed to around 65 or 70 degrees F.

Don’t forget to label your saved seed. Many flower seeds look much the same. This will prevent you from planting tall growing flowers like sun flowers in locations that are better suited to smaller flowering plants.

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Native Plants Thrive With Minimum Investment

Native Plants Thrive With Minimum Investment in care, watering and seldom need to be fertilized.

Whether these plants be annual or perennials, ornamental or fruit bearing they are well adapted to your weather and soil conditions. After your imported plants, you know the ones you just had to have that you saw growing in yards and commercial landscapes while you were far from home on vacation have died. Local native plants will still be healthy, flowering and setting fruit.

Now is a good time to be collecting seed from summer and fall blooming native and naturalized wildflowers to be planted in your garden and home landscape. Time to locate and mark bushes and small trees that you can dig this fall and winter to be transplanted into you garden and lawn landscape.

When collecting native plants and wildflower seed, pay special attention to the location and soils this plant is established and thriving in. Plants located in shaded areas will not likely do well in your Full Sun landscape. The same applies to native plants that are growing in wet or dry soils. Don’t except a swamp/bog flowering plant to do well in a dry spot in your landscape.

With that said, natives are generally adaptable to a wide variety of shade, sun and soil conditions. Much more so than many imported non-native plants. The same rules apply to shrubs, ornamental and fruiting native trees.

Be kind to your environment, think adaptable, minimum supplemental water and fertilizer requirements of native plants.

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Summer Weather Pattern Settling In For A long Hot Dry Period

After receiving almost 3 inches of rain over the past 5 days, long term weather forecast is for many rainless days with day time temperatures ranging from 95F(35C) to 105F(40.5C). Nights will be at or above 75F(24C).

Tomato’s and Peppers stop pollinating and blooms drop occur when:
Daytime temperatures greater than 32° C (90° ) Pollen sterility occurs, flowers may drop.
35° C (95° F) Much reduced fruit set .
Night time temperatures less than 15.5° C (60° F) or greater than 24° C (75° F) will result in poor fruit set.

Take extra time to check your garden. Cucumbers, squash, zucchini and okra may need to be harvested every morning. A good rule is harvest while young, smallish and still tender.

It is the time of the year tomato horn worms are hatching and are active eating your tomato vines. Check your vines very carefully.
Late evening is a good time to find and remove horn worms as they come out of hiding from the days sunshine and heat and began feeding on your tomato vines.

As temperatures rise and rains are less frequent, observe you garden for signs of drought stress. If plants look stressed, drooping leafs in the early morning you may need to increase your irrigation schedule to 2 or even 3 times a week to your plants healthy.

Heavy mulching around your plants will help in weed control, reduce moisture loss and keep soil in your plants root zone cool.

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Fall Gardens

The official start of summer is still 9 day away, however if you plan to plant a Fall garden, now is the time to select your Fall garden plot and ready it for planting. It is also near the time to plant your seed to establish seedling transplants.

New Fall garden site selection.
The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure. If such exposure is not received by crops such as tomatoes, peppers and squash (vegetables that contain seed), the plants grow spindly, they have weak stems, drop blooms and are generally nonproductive. Shade in the afternoon (after 3 p.m.) is wonderful; shade in the morning is acceptable. There are vegetables which produce passably in the shade. Generally, those crops such as greens, broccoli, cauliflower, root crops (carrots, turnips) which do not produce a fruit with seed will yield sparingly in semi- shaded areas but even these crops will do better in a full sun condition. Crops such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and cucumbers may not produce anything if grown in the shade; plants will grow tall and spindly. The production potential of the garden’s most popular vegetables depends solely on the amount of direct sunlight they receive.

Turf grass MUST be removed. Don’t think that you can dig or till this existing grass into the garden soil and get rid of it. Even a well-tilled, pulverized garden soil will contain enough bermuda grass sprigs to cause troubles for years to come. New garden areas are doomed before they begin if all bermuda and other lawn grass is not completely removed BEFORE tillage begins. If a raised garden is being considered, sod should be removed BEFORE additional soil is put into the prepared frame.

Chemicals applied to the grass to kill it rather than pulling it out. There are several brand names which contain the weed and grass killer glyphosate. These include Roundup and Kleenup check ingredients on label for the term “glyphosate” and follow label instructions for application rate.

Quick (30-60 days) maturing vegetables are: beets (1 1/2 feet) FT; bush beans (1 1/2 feet) FS; leaf lettuce (1 foot) FT; mustard (1 1/2 feet) FT; radishes (1 1/2 feet) FT; spinach (1 foot) FT; summer squash (3 feet) FS; turnips (1 1/2 feet) FT; and turnip greens (1 1/2 feet) FT.

Moderate (60-80 days) maturing vegetables are: broccoli (3 feet) FT; Chinese cabbage (1 1/2 feet) FT; carrots (1 foot) FT; cucumbers (1 foot) FS; corn (6 feet) FS; green onions (1 1/2 feet) FT; kohlrabi (1 1/2 feet) FT; lima bush beans (1 1/2 feet) FS; okra (6 feet) FS; parsley (1 1/2 feet) FT; peppers (3 feet) FS; and cherry tomatoes (4 feet) FS.

Slow (80 days or more) maturing vegetables are: Brussels sprouts (2 feet) FT; bulb onions (1 1/2 feet) FT; cabbage (1 1/2 feet) FT; cantaloupes (1 foot) FS; cauliflower (3 feet) FT; eggplant (3 feet) FS; garlic (1 foot) FT; Irish potatoes (2 feet) FS; pumpkins (2 feet) FS; sweet potatoes (2 feet) FS; tomatoes (4 feet) FS; watermelon (1 foot) FS; and winter squash (1 foot) FS.

Using your Spring and Summer garden site. Once the decision to have a fall garden has been reached, a gardener must take action drastic action. You must pull out some of those plants that have been nurtured from “babies” in the spring to monsters now. This takes courage and faith! It is recommend that all plants, weeds included, be removed except okra, cherry tomatoes and pole beans if the foliage is healthy. Large-fruited tomatoes may have some small ones still hanging on, but unless you have at least 20-25 good-sized fruit, pull them out, make green tomato relish or chow-chow. Pull the old plants up and discard them. Give them to the garbage man. Don’t try to compost insect and disease ridden plants.

The two charts below are for planting Fall crops in zone 7.
You will need to adjust your planting dates to suite the USDA zone you garden in.

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Tomato Season Is Near

blossom end rot

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service provides many pictures to help you diagnose and treat your tomato disease problem(s).
Tomato Problem Solver and
Disorders of Tomato Leaves

You can’t treat your diseased tomato plants if you don’t know what disease they actually have. The secret to successful tomato growing is to check your plants everyday and start a treatment plan as soon as you see the first signs of a disease or insect problem.

University of Iowa Also has a great fact sheet on line with photographs and treatments for many common tomato diseases. This is a PDF file.

You may find what you thought was a disease problem is really an insect infestation. If this is the case take a look at Colorado state University Extension service: Tomato Insect Pests fact sheet for insect identification and controls.

This has nothing to do with tomato’s but it’s too good not to share.
I am relieved to know that my T-bone steak was ‘made’ by my market and growing a cow for 2 or 3 years is no longer required. Click picture to zoom-in.

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