My cobbler cobra

 

Sinfonian had commented about the watering system in my potato tower and I realized that, that post did not get transferred from the old journal to this one. I wish I had access to the old journal to see what else is missing. Anyway here it it again

While converting the rest of my garden areas to RB/SFG, I decided to try potato towers at the end of the pathways that would be wasted space. As I was roughing in the plumbing for the irrigation system, the back half of my pea brain was thinking about the water requirements on an elevated potato tower. The base of my towers will be 10″deep and each addition will be 6″ deep.001

 

My solution was a plumber’s nightmare. The soaker hose will be just below the surface where I plant the spuds. As I add height to the tower, I can move the soaker hose just below the new surface and repeat for each height increase. All I need to do now is learn to play the flute so the hose will rise to the new height it self.  As usual all comments are welcome.        John005003

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Sometimes your mind is changed for you

While cleaning up the shop, I checked the potato chitting progress. To my surprise, some of the sprouts were turning black near the very tip. I do not know if it was the low humidity or the temperature variation but it never happened when they sprouted in the fruit cellar. I decided to plant them as soon as possible.p50802252 

 

My potato beds are 2’ wide and I use a folding rule as a guide to plant location. I will start 6” form the end of the bed with the first row and 12” from the end of the bed with the second row which stagers the plants from row to row. A bulb planter works nice in compost to produce a 2” hole 5” deep which is perfect for the small seed potatoes.p5100228 

 

Here you can see the full bulb planter and the hole I just made with the spud in place. I use the small end of a dial rod to poke the compost out of the planter and back into the hole. The pieces of mini-blind slats are used to mark the location of the last spud in a row. If I have to leave for some reason, it can be difficult to see where I stopped.p5100229

 

After all seed potatoes are planted, I top-dressed the beds another 3” bringing the depth of the seed potatoes to 8”.p5100230

 

I also planted the potato tower and top-dressed it. All potatoes that were planted today were Kennebec and were planted in the same fashion.p5100227 

 

I could not help noticing how the Yukon Gold potatoes were growing. They were planted two weeks to the day before this photo. If the Kennebec potato in the tower grows this fast, it will require daily attention and early in the morning before the sun hits the plant stem. I think I understand why some people say they got additional potatoes but it was not worth the effort. Nevertheless, I am going to try to do it correctly and we will see what happens. As usual, all comments are welcome.   Johnp5100231 

Categories: Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Tomatoes are planted. (both of them)

We are supposed to have a day and one half with out rain and the grass is too wet to mow so I planted my tomatoes. Another attribute of gardening in a soil less mix is you can plant right after a rain and not ruin the soil. In this photo, I have dug a trench about 6” deep and about 10” long. I add about a hand full of garden tone and a tablespoon of Epson salts and mix them into the soil. Then I will trim the bottom leaves off for about 8” above the root ball and lay the plant horizontally in the trench. p5060222

 

I temporarily tie the plant to a stake until it grows upright on its own. Then I will install the tomato cages after any danger of frost is past.p5060223

 

As usual, all comments are welcome.    John

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Chitting Potatoes among other things

About twelve days ago, I removed the Kennebec seed potatoes from the fridge and placed them in a standard nursery flat and covered them with another flat upside down. p4220171 

 

This photo taken yesterday shows the sprouts starting to grow.p5020854 

 

As you can see, the spuds are forming many sprouts. After all the sprouts are formed, I will remove all but the two nicest ones in an effort to reduce the number of small potatoes. It is claimed that this will increase the size of the remaining potatoes, we shall see.potato3

 

Speaking of potatoes, I added four inches to the top of my sweet potato bed, bringing the depth to twelve inches (11”).p5020853 

 

Some of the plants are on the way to there new home. I have several to get rid of yet and mine will be planted this week or next. The GH will then be closed down until mid to late August when I will start the winter garden.p5040219 

 

As usual all comments are welcome.     John

Categories: Greenhouse Gardening, My Gardening Journals, soil blocks, Square Foot Gardening, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

I am not very good at this

 

I am not good at receiving or giving awards. I read Cheryl’s blog early this morning and thought about what to say all day. If you read my journal, you know I am not a wordsmith. I try to use as few words possible while telling my story with photographs. Therefore, Cheryl, I very humbly accept the award.

 

I did a Google search on the Bloggers Award and did not find where a blogger could not receive more than one award or you could give an award to only five recipients.  If there were one blogger that stood out from the pack, I could not point him/her out to the others that were trying. So I am passing my award on to all the bloggers that I follow, Annie’s Kitchen Garden, Blunders with shoots, blossoms ‘n roots, Cheryl’s Garden Goodies, Gamine’s Garden, Luke’s Square Foot Victory Garden, Engineeredgarden, Sinfonian’s Square Foot Garden, Tales of a Transplanted Gardener, The Corner Yard and  Urban Veggie Garden Blog

 

John

Categories: My Gardening Journals | 5 Comments

Yesterday was a beautiful day

While yesterday was a beautiful day, I cut grass and got some planting done. The SFG/RB accessories worked great and I could have planted all day. I used scallions and radishes to make my grid, which should/could have been planted earlier. Oh well it will be there for the second planting. 

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I planted two types of lettuce, Bibb and Little Gem along with direct sowing spinach and endive. The tomato plant is an Early Girl and should give me some toms very early. J

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The winter onions look great but I only use these for onion sets that I grow all winter in the GH.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 

 

My hardiness zone has changed form 5 to 5B. The minimum temps. and frost dates have not changed so the USDA has confused me again. I am going to take a chance on an early spring though with the planting but keep some buckets and hot caps handy in case of frost/freeze. So here is to a fantastic 2009 gardening season. As usual all comments are welcome.     John 

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Anxious for warm weather

Today the hi temperature was about 54 with rain and I am as anxious for nice warm weather as anybody is. Saturdays hi temperature is supposed to be 83 and warm for about a week after that. Some of the apple blossoms are wide open and by next week, they all will be open. If we get a frost, it will be the end of the apples. If they have enough time to develop into little green apples then it will take a killing frost or freeze. I am keeping my fingers crossed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Since the apple blossoms are opening, I had to turn the orchard bees loose. The bottom two houses contain the new bees. The one on the left is partially filled tubes and the one on the right are filled tubes. The two on top are new tubes for this years bees. I only hope they get enough pollen and nectar to survive.

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As usual, all comments are welcome.   John  

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

My Junk Yard Dog

While a junked-up shop dog anyway. It’s raining too hard for us to go out and play in the garden, so we will just sit here and I can pick my nose and he cal lick his you know what.   It was good timing though for planting the asparagus and potatoes. The soil should be well saturated by now. The apple blossoms are ready to bust wide open and next week it is supposed to be in the mid to high 70s. I hope we have an early spring because a frost/freeze now and it is good by for apples this year.  The second photo is the first tomato for 2009. I won’t count it in my 2009 harvest though because it was born and raised in the GH.   

As usual, all comments are welcome.    John

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New Asparagus Bed

The asparagus crowns arrived yesterday. My goal today was to get them planted before the roots dried out.  I dug two trenches about 16ins apart and will place the crowns about 16ins apart in the rows.

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The light colored material you see is wood ashes. They have been there for 3-4mo and should be well leached out. The crowns are planted about 5ins deep and as soon as the shoots appear, I will top-dress the beds another 2-3ins.

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All the crowns are in place and all I have to do now is to water them good.

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If the weather holds out long enough tomorrow, I will plant my Yukon Gold potatoes in the first two boxes. As usual, all comments are welcome.   John

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Categories: My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening, Uncategorized | Tags: | 5 Comments

Back to where I thought, I was

I wanted to lookup something from an older post and I found out that many of the older posts no longer had photos. It turns out that when photos are uploaded, they are resized to the requirements of the domain. When you backup/export a journal/blog, the photos are also back upped with the old size included. Subsequently, I had to download all those photos resize them and upload then to the new domain, what a pain. It took me some time to correct the new journal but I think everything is ok now. I have been neglecting the journal and forums for several days but hope to correct that also.

 

Today was a near perfect day 71 Degs low humidity and I got a lot accomplished. The lawn was mowed, the asparagus arrived, I top dressed ½ of the RBGs and I am ready to plant (a secret (later post)).

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The apple blossoms are ready to burst open but it is too early yet. Maybe we will get some cooler temperatures after this warm spell.

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The quince is in full blossom, but we have not had any quince for years. I do not know if it is the lack of bees or what.

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An update on the seedlings;

The toms are doing quite well and will probably be in blossom by the time they are plated in the beds.

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The peppers are about where they should be at this time.

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 The eggplants are a little behind but that is ok. They will catch up.

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 As usual, all comments are welcome.   John 

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

A case for saving my own seeds

I planted sixty tomato seeds this year. Today when checking there condition, there was one and only one out of sixty that had potato shaped leaves. Something similar happened to Granny this year. The tomato seeds were from the big “B” seed company and cost about $0.10 per seed, which is ridicules. If it is a Brandywine Pink, I think I would keep it but it may be a German Johnson, which I did not like. Maybe my daughter who has a large garden will grow it and I can keep some seeds if it is a BP. Some if not all of the big seed companies are having there seeds packaged over seas and I am afraid this will be a common occurrence. Next year, I will be buying very few if any seeds.

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As usual, all comments are welcome.    John

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Seedling Update

It has been about four and a half weeks since sprouting for the tomatoes and peppers and five days since repotting. One thing I learned today was you have to be aware of when the auto misters are due to come on. Fortunately, I was using my kick-about camera and not my good one it is waterproof. I am keeping the GH cool and will only turn the heater on when the temperatures go below freezing. I do not want the plants to get leggy before planting in the garden about five weeks from now.

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The eggplants did not sprout until about March 20th but they will be fine come planting time.

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The Early Girls behind the poinsettia will stay in containers in the garden. However, as soon as the Big Beef toms start to produce the EGs will become compost.

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As usual, all comments are welcome.   John

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Inclement weather potting bench

When the weather is bad I move into the GH. I use a shelf extension with a pull out basket attached holding a container to catch the potting soil that I miss getting into the pot. When it’s not needed it is pushed back under the main shelf.
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All comments are welcome.       John

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Soil Block Recipe–Again–And–Again

Time is running short and I have to get some seeds in the SBs.  My trials to date have been;  In the following photo the SB on the left is 50/50 CS/compost. The one on the right is 100% compost.

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After drying for a couple of days, I split the blocks like you would a ripe Georgia peach.  This photo shows the 50/50 block split in half with little fragmentation. I think much too dense for seed starting.

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The 100% compost block, split but did not just fall apart. I think it would be acceptable for starting seeds.

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In this photo the block on the left is the two blocks from the first photos crumbled and a third block made from that material. It would be about 25% casing. The block on the wright, has more compost added bringing the casting down to about 15%.

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This block is about 25% casing.

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And this block is about 15% casings.

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At this point, I think that since the top several ins of my RBs are compost, the percentage of casings are irrelevant. The seedlings will be growing through 100% compost before reaching any worm casings. On my next go around, I am going to use 100% compost, you probably knew this is where I was headed. As usual all comments are welcome.    John

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Soil Block Recipe Continued

This morning I got 16 core samples from eight beds just like the one in an earlier post. I put them in a homemade tumbler for 10 min along with about a dozen #3 river rock. The coarse compost on top of the core sample must be structurally week because there is not much sign of it now.

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I then put the blocking soil in a microwave for 15 min. to kill all of the weed seeds and any living critters that might do the seedlings harm. This is what the soil looked like after nuking.

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I made one test block to see how it would hold together. It is more porous than it looks in the photo also; I am considering using some vermiculite to make it a lighter soil.

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As usual, all comments are welcome.     John

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Daaah—-Soil Block Recipe

The soil blocks are doing fine except the Cole seedlings. With the dried blood, they are just too eager to grow. I have been thinking of using 100% compost and trying different things to bind it together, after all that is what they will be growing in when planted in the garden. The right side of my head said yes do it while the left side said, no, you already have the answer. It was something somebody said in one of the comments but I could not remember. I do not know how many times I scrolled through the journal reading and rereading the comments on all the soil block posts. I just could not find it. In a deep sleep at 2:00 this morning, my eyes popped open and I said to myself “Core Sample”. You know that was the end of my sleep, I came down stares and looked up the Core sample post and there it was. And here it is:

 

Sinfonian says: March 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm  (Edit)

Cool idea John. And yes, it does look like a soil block. Maybe when I make more I’ll just do it in the garden pulling mix from the beds. Hehe.

 

The core samples will contain worm casings, garden soil that the worms brought up and all stages of decomposed compost. To produce 100 SBs I will need 16 cores, guess what I will be doing today? Also the SB composition will be the same as the garden.

 As usual all comments are welcome……John

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Seedlings Transfered

Well everything planted so far is transferred to the GH to make room for the next go around in the chamber. My assessment so far is; I like the soil blocks and will probably pitch the seed tapes/squares I have made and go with the all soil blocks. I think that I did make a mistake by adding just dries blood though. I was thinking only of the adhesion properties of the DB and not the ‘N’ value. The tomatoes and peppers did not seem to mind but the Cole seedlings went crazy. The Brussels sprouts germinated the second day and by the end of the third day, they were more than an inch tall. I quickly transferred them to the GH and they seemed to cool down. Today, I gave everything a drink of 9-59-8, which should help. I plan to reseed the Brussels but before I do, tomorrow I will make one block out of 100% compost and one out of 100% compost plus wheat flour to see if they hold together. If one or the other is satisfactory, I will go with it. If not I will use the DB and add enough P+K to balance it out.

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 The plants in front are the Brussels.

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The peppers germinated great and are getting there true leaves. The only ones that did not germinate were “free Midway reds”, which I have had for about three years.

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 The tomatoes all sprouted but four or five succumbed to damp off. The rest are doing fine and most are developing there true leaves.

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The eggplants are very small yet because I had to remove that flat/Brussels from the heat bed so quickly.

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Composting 2009

I was not planning on Bloging about this today but decided it would be of interest to composters and soon to be composters. I finished shredding yesterday, last falls garden debris along with grass clippings, a few leaves, all the annual flowers, 11 hanging baskets, about 15 rotting pumpkins and 4 bundles of corn with ear corn attached. I thought I would have enough shredded material to fill one of my 3 X 3 X 3 bins and was planning to add some urea to get it to heat up. This morning, about 36-38 HRS after I started shredding, I was going to build my compost pile. To my surprise there was steam vapor coming off like crazy. I think I was grinning from ear to ear. Now I am planning on letting it set until it cools to about 120 DEG then add some urea and fill my bin.

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I inserted my compost thermometer and sure enough, it was at 150 deg. I am hoping that, adding the urea and the aeration from filling my bin, it will reach or exceed 165 deg to kill any weed seeds that may be present.

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Baby worms in my soil blocks—-Reprint

Baby worms in my soil blocks is reprinted here with the permission of the author applestar. The post appears in the Composting section of The Helpful Gardener Forum.

 

John

 

Applestar’s post

Early this month, we had daytime high of mid-20’s and enough snow for the schools to close and for my kids to go sledding 3 days after the fall. So when I collected some sifted compost to make seed starting mix, I was just happy the compost pile wasn’t frozen.

About a week ago, I started noticing holes in the side of the soil blocks. Not a whole lot, just one here, one there. This being my first experiment with soil blocks, I didn’t know what to make of it. Then one day, I was re-arranging the soil blocks (yep, my soil blocks are passing the “can you pick it up?” test using a plastic fork to loosen it where it was stuck to the bottom of the tray, and (I must have accidentally stabbed it:roll:  a baby worm wriggled out! 

Like I said, I sifted the compost so I know it wasn’t there before. There must be worm eggs hatching in the warmth of the seed starting area. I’ve found 4 more since then.  Aside from the holes that potentially weaken the blocks, I don’t think they’re doing any harm, and now that I’m looking for them, I’m finding castings among the blocks, so I figure I’m spared the trouble of giving fertilizer to the transplants as they grow. 

BTW, it’s also my first year making home-made seed starting mix with unsterilized compost mix, and so far, it’s working wonderfully. No damping off, no damaged transplants (except those very first trial of 3 brassica seedlings that got eaten by something) It hasn’t happened since. I’m thinking it might have been a mouse in the garage, but I haven’t had any more trouble … possibly because I had my kitties thoroughly explore the garage several times….

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Soil Test

Since I had the core sample, I decided to do a soil test. The test chambers on the left side of the containers are lighter in the photos than they were with the negated eye. I think the light averaging of the camera screwed it up. The Nitrogen test was between N1 and N2, the Phosphorus test was between F2 and F3 and the Potash test was between K0 and K1. I think I will add some 10-10-10 sparingly this year.

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The pH test indicated between 6.5 and 7. I also had some pH test paper and it indicated between 6 and 7. I will not do anything for the pH this year.

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SFG core sample

While I could not take, it anymore and just had to see what is going on down there so I took a core sample today. The SFG bed is 8” deep so I cut a piece of 3” drainpipe 8” long and drove it into the bed. I then sliced the drainpipe length wise to free the core. I was not surprised when the top portion just fell apart. I was surprised though when the bottom portion had a smeared surface. It had a good percentage of organic material but there seemed to be a material that was like plain old garden soil. Could it be worm casings?

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I broke up part of the bottom portion just to look-see. There were several wormholes that did not show up on photos but they were active. I still cannot believe that they could make that much casing in a year’s time.

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 This is a close up of the bottom portion of the core and it almost looks like soil blocks. Does that mean that through time the beds will fill up with worm casings? As usual, all comments are welcome.

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Got Peppers

All of the garden seeds are planted and all of the heated sand bed is occupied. Next will be the posies which I dislike planting because they are so tiny. They are like dust and you cannot plant just one.

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About 15 peppers stuck there heads out this morning and when they are all sprouted and develop there second set of leaves, they will be moved to the greenhouse. They have been under the humidity domes for 10 days and you can see they are still very damp.

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For seedlings, I like using misters. They do not beat the seedlings down and each mister cover’s app. 24”dia. I have a mister every 12” of shelf length so the coverage overlaps and insured good coverage. After about 2-3 weeks in the greenhouse, I will transplant them in to 4” pots.

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Mother Nature finally relented

Well maybe not with aging but the weather was beautiful. Sixty-five deg f and partly sunny. I was able to get the rest of my apple trees pruned and I am hoping to get them sprayed twice with oil spray before they blossom. She (MN) has not been very kind since early fall, I am hoping she will have a conscience and give us a nice growing season.

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 While I was pruning the apple trees, the UPS truck showed up with my block of coco coir and new burners for the BBQ grill. Both will require there own entry for the journal. 

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When I was a cool dude.

Back in 1956, I had just graduated from New Kensington High School. I landed a good high paying job and I bought a brand new Ford Fairlane convertible with a Police Interceptor engine. Man, I was cool. All us cool guys had flattops with a ducktail haircut, wore our collars turned up, wore pegged pants and listened to Elvis. Back then, we walked with a strut not a shuffle. Our pastime consisted of waxing the cars including the engine, drag racing and cruising the local Big Boy hamburger shop looking for quail (chicks). When somebody says remember the good old days, my mind flashes back to this period of time, I wonder why. I was fulfilling my military obligation during the Cuban crises and after that; I spent five years in night school. I looked up one day and I had a wife and four children, driving a station wagon and building a house. What the hell happened? Just recently, I looked up and it happened again, I have a lovely second wife, ten grand children counting step grand children and soon to be a great grandfather. I now drive a pickup truck so I can haul horseshit for the garden. Oh boy, remember the good old days?

John

My first car

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Hooray hooray—-they are sprouting!! Yipee

I wonder if I could sell these to GNC???

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Happy New Gardening Year

After watching, Granny, EG and Safonian and eating my heart out, it is finally time for me to start my plants. Today I started my peppers:

Ten Big Dipper

Ten Red Bell

Ten Poblano

Five Picante

Five Sweet Bananas

Five Midway Red

 

The first photo shows the pepper seeds in the little divots. I placed two seeds in each divot, with this being my first time trying soil blocks, I wanted a little safety factor for success.

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 The brass acorn nut makes a divot close to ¼” deep, which for most of my plants will be ideal. I filled the divots with fine grind vermiculite.

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  I placed the seed flat on a heated bed of sand @ about 80 deg f and placed a humidity dome over it. The air temperature inside of the cabinet ranges from 60-65 deg f during the day and 50-55 deg f at night. Which I think is ideal.

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Just a few minutes later, you can see the condensation collecting on the inside of the chamber. It seams that everything is working the way it should. Any way the 2009 growing season is underway and I feel like celebrating.

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The humidity dome app. 24 hours later.

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If you snap your finger on the dome, the condensation runs down the sides and you can see what is going on inside without opening the dome.

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This is my seed germinating station

This is my seed germinating station. I have room for five standard trays and two half trays. On occasion, I have been known to place two flats on top of the florescent lights also.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe three and one half trays in the center are setting on three ins. of heated sand at 75 DEG F. Once a flat is fully germinated, it will be moved to the GH and one from the right or left will be moved into its place. When all veggies are germinated, then I will start on the wife’s posies.

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All flats are empty except for the one on the left setting on the heated sand.

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I pored about a quarter cup of water on the bottom for demonstration purposes. The thermometer shows 73 and ½ DEG F and 100% humidity. You can see the condensation draining from the sides back into the bottom of the flat. I do not think I will have to add water until I remove the humidity domes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 

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Square Soil Blocks

Well, I found a square container the size I wanted. It is a Tupperware type and if my DW does not find out, I will be in good shape. I followed the same procedure as the round one and it produces a 2″ X 2″ X 2″  soil block with a divot.

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.My mix of 50/50 fine compost and fine vermiculite + 1/2 cup of dried blood per cubic ft of mix seem to be holding together well

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Now if I can get the rest of my apple trees pruned, I will be able to start planting seeds in about 2-3 weeks.

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One down and four to go

One tree is completed but at 34 DEG this morning, I got a late start.  By the end of this week I should be more than half way done. Every thing is on schedule. I am feeling good about this years growing season, And if mother nature coroperates, It should be a very good year.

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Apple Blossum Time

My friend EG reminded me with his journal post yesterday, that I had a lot of work to do before spring gets here. People think that willow trees grow fast, well my apple trees grow many shoots from 6ft to 7ft long every year and they all have to come off. They along with any branches that are crisscrossed or growing back toward the center of the tree will fill my 4ft X 8ft utility trailer twice. The last few years it is a three-day job for me. What is holding me back now is, this morning when I got up, it was eight DEG outside. It is supposed to be in the 40s in a couple of days so I will get a good start on them. I would like to spray them twice with dormant oil spray before green tip. 

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This year will be my third year with orchard bees for pollinating. There pollinating activity is like a honeybee on steroids. The second bundle of tubes from the right are completely filled with bees and the first bundle on the right are partially filled tubes. They both went into the fridge yesterday. I will not put them outside until the blossoms show white tip.

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Soil Blocks

I decided to try soil blocks for starting garden plants. Before I invested $$ in a soil block maker, I did a Google search on DIY soil blocks. This web page had the ideal solution for me. http://toppertwo.tripod.com/soil_blocks.htm I get my prescriptions mail order in 90-day quantities and use the containers for seed storage. I had two containers where one was slightly smaller in diameter than the other.

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 I used the bottom of the smaller container for the plunger. My containers were also taller than Toppers and I decided to take advantage of the increased length. I added a nylon nut to adjust the height of the blocks. I have read that you do not want to distort the taproot of carrots and parsnips. The additional length of the block will give me additional time to plant those plants in the garden.

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The little brass acorn nut is for making the divot for the seed/s.

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The divot is not evident, but it is there.

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Categories: soil blocks | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I could not resist posting this

And my wife thinks I get goofy ideas. Actually, they could be some of my relatives. I will let the video speak for it self.

 

Comments are always welcome.   John

Categories: My Gardening Journals | 2 Comments

Gardening Survey

 

I screwed up and broke the link between the survey and the database located on the host. If I try to reconnect, I may lose all the data. I only received a hand full of votes in as many days out of 165 votes, so I will just let it end here.

John

 

 

 

What style of garden do you have?

The Traditional row garden replies surprised me; I thought they would be a large majority. In addition, I should have supplied more answers like Wide Row, Lasagna, and container.

Answer

Replies

%

Traditional row garden

53

32

Raised bed with sides

51

31

Square foot garden

31

19

None of the above

30

18

 

 

How long have you been using your current style?

The last answer on this question should have been, More than 10 years.

Answer

Replies

%

1 year

30

19

2 – 5 years

61

38

5 – 10 years

44

27

None of the above

27

17

 

 

What type on media do you use for plant growth?

I think the none of the above replies on this one probably uses lasagna style or a commercial media of some kind.

Answer

Replies

%

Traditional garden soil

84

52

SFG recommended mix

13

8

Modified SFG recommended mix

14

9

100% compost

21

13

None of the above

31

19

 

 

How do you prepare the bed for planting?

Some people that responded as none of the above did not think that spading by hand was tilling.

Answer

Replies

%

No till just plant

54

34

Till in the spring

41

25

Till in the spring and fall

45

28

None of the above

21

13

 

 

How do you amend your soil?

The number of organic replies surprised me; also, some do not think fertilizer as being an amendment. I think anything added to anything, is an amendment. 

Answer

Replies

%

Organic

118

73

Synthetic

2

1

Combination organic/synthetic

36

22

None of the above

5

3

 

  

 How do you irrigate your garden?

I just asked this one out of curiosity.

Answer

Replies

%

Automatic

21

13

Manual

118

74

I do not irrigate

17

11

None of the above

4

2

 

 

What best describes your over all yield?

I think I asked this one out of devilment since there is no standard to judge by. Data that you can find is usually geared toward the commercial farmer and is very conservative.  

Answer

Replies

%

Below average

11

7

Average

81

49

Above average

70

42

None of the above

4

2

 

Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life on the farm as I remember it

 

 

When I was a very young boy, my family would spend almost every weekend on the farm. My grandmother died at a very young age and my mother being the oldest child felt a responsibility of taking care of her father and sisters and brother. My grandparents on my dad’s side were elderly when I was young and I only have a vague memory of them. My dad had four brothers and three sisters and they needed little help running the farm. Next to my immediate family, it is probably the most memorable part of my life.

The first thing I would do upon arrival would be to check the pie chest to see if any of my aunts baked any pies. Usually there would be one piece left, what a coincidence. As I got a little older, it became my job to clean all the chimneys on the oil lamps and take the chambermaid to the outhouse and empty it. That was one job I wish I never had. I would usually help collect eggs for breakfast and sometimes we would find an egg that everybody else missed for some time. That is another odor you do not want to experience. The garden was located between the house and the barn with a grape arbor running the length of the garden. On the other end of the house was a large old orchard with pears, plums, sweet and sour cherries, peaches and several apples with different ripening dates. The apple trees were huge and there was no way we could pick the apples on top, we could only pick the apples on the lower branches from a ladder. The apples from the tops would be collected as they fell. The orchard was covered with a very dense growth of orchard grass and many fallen apples would be undamaged. The damaged apples would be made into sauce and pies or sliced and dried for storage. Other jobs that I had were taking the horses to the watering trough twice a day and taking the cows to pasture in the morning and bringing them back to the barn in the evening for milking. Milking was one job I was not good at. Cows that were never known to kick, tried to kick me and that job went to someone else. My grandfather had a 60 GAL wooden barrel that was used for hog swill, it would be filled with mash, the excess milk along with table scraps except for meat, and bones and they went to the dogs. When the butter would turn rancid, it would be mixed with lye and used for soap. It was also my job to keep out of the way of the farming activities.

On my grandfather Best’s farm, my aunts and uncles married at an older age and two of my uncles never did marry. So labor to run the farm was less of a problem and most of our time there was just visiting. The most memorable times on both farms were mealtime. There was a brick oven in the back yard and it never cooled down, my grandmother would bake every single day. I use to travel in my employment to most of the states including Canada and Mexico. I was on expense account and ate at some very fine restaurants, including one of the worlds ten best located in Lancaster, Pa. None of them even came close to an everyday meal on a productive farm.

While, I am in school now, we still spend weekends on the farm, and I still have the jobs as before. In addition, my brother, cousin, and I are spending most of our summer vacation helping my grandfather. The garden and farm crops have all been planted. In the morning, we have to get the hay in the barn that my grandfather cut with a scythe and raked into windrows. I am still too small in stature to pitch the hay up onto the hay wagon, so it was my job to stack the hay as my brother and cousin pitched it on the wagon. My grandfather drove the team, Jake and Clyde. When a fork full of hay would come extra close to me, I knew there would be a black snake in it. It seems that when a field is cut the black snakes head for the windrows to get in the shade. When my brother or cousin seen one it would come straight at me. They just wanted to see me dance I guess.

Once in awhile my grandfather would leave and go shopping or visiting and let us boys alone with my aunt. My aunt was young but older than we boys were. You know the old saying,”boys will be boys” well we decided to ride the old sow. We put some corn in the trough and when she was distracted, my brother slung his leg over her back and grabbed both ears. Well between her and the pen was all this slop and the opening she was headed for was only big enough for her. You guessed it, my brother ended up on his back in the middle of all that slop. Pay back time for the snakes, HA HA. On another occasion, we decided to ride the calf. She did not go for that shit, threw my brother, and jumped a fence. It took my grandfather three days to find the calf. To say my grandfather was a little POed is an understatement but I thing it reminded him of his own children.

At the end of the day, we had to clean the horse stalls, put down new bedding, feed and water them. After that we had to take showers, oh my. The shower consisted of a pipe coming from a spring into a horse-watering trough and from the overthrow of the trough over a bank above a wood platform that looked like a skid, maybe it was. There was a community washcloth and a bar of soap but no towels.  The water was so cold, it was like someone standing there and hitting you with a baseball bat. After that, you stood in the sunshine until you were dry enough to get dressed. Soon we would hear my aunt calling, “suppertime” you would be so hungry that you could eat the north end of a southbound skunk.   Soon after dinner, the sun would start to go down and you headed for bed. On each bed was a feather mattress, feather pillows and a feather comforter. All I can remember is laying there listening to the owls, foxes chasing rabbits, katydids singing for mates and watching bats flying in one window and out the other trying to catch insects. All of a sudden, it is morning, not quite daylight yet and that damned rooster is out there crowing his ass off. Oh my it starts all over again I wonder when school starts.

Usually on Saturday evening we would head for New Bethlehem, Pa to do some shopping or get a haircut. Even if we were farm boys at that time, we were not permitted to look shabby. We had to get back to the farm in time to listen to the Judy Kenova show and the Grand Old Oprey on a battery operated radio, our only contact with the outside world. My grandfather may have known that once we boys started chasing girls that we would not be much help on the farm and decided to retire. Soon after, he sold the team and the farm equipment. We continued to visit quite often but it was not the same. In the fall of 1954, my father and I were getting dressed to go deer hunting on the farm when we got a call from a neighbor who said that my grandfather was fine but the house burned down. What a loss, most of the furniture was from my great grandfather and every single piece was an antique. My grandfather then sold the barn and a Sears one hole outhouse. Surprisingly, he got more $ for the outhouse than he did for the barn.

Any comments will be appreciated.

 

 

 

Categories: Life on the farm | Tags: , | 13 Comments

Top dressing a raised bed

 
Having no formal education in gardening I am always questioning what I do. Recently there was a discussion on one of the forums about vermiculite. I do not remember the specifics about the discussion but it led me to this inquiry.

I had sent this email to the Schundler Co. the largest vermiculite/pearlite producer on the east coast.

Hi my name is John and I have used vermiculite extensively in the garden and a hobby greenhouse. I have read that vermiculite does not breakdown do they mean chemically or structurally? After about three years I cannot find any of it. Should I be replacing it after so many years?

This is their response.

It is a “soft” rock which is to say it may have just been crushed to the point that you don’t recognize it.  For aeration and water retention you should replenish it.

Now I get in trouble it got me to thinking. I have put literally tons upon tons of compost on my garden every year for 36 years. After all that time and compost the height of my garden has not changed. This leads me to believe that when compost is totally decomposed it must be about as thick as a layer of dust. Also I have learned that it takes a very long time for peat moss to decompose. Some of my friends from the forums are SFG purest and justly so they use the recommended mix of 1/3 peat 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 compost with very excellent results. Can I assume if I had a 6” raised bed and filled it with the recommended mix and did not top dress it for 3 to 4 years I would end up with about 2” of peat with just a residue of compost and vermiculite?  If this is true then shouldn’t you top-dress with a mixture of 50% compost and 50% vermiculite and blend/till it with the remaining mix from the previous year to maintain the integrity of the SFG?

Any comments to set my thinking straight would be appreciated

John

Categories: My Gardening Journals, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

My largest project this year

My largest project for the year was converting my garden to raised beds. It was time consuming and a good deal of work. About half of the project was completed during the 2007-2008 winter months and the second half after the 2008 growing season. While converting the garden, I was thinking SFGing but have concluded that my garden does not qualify for a SFG since I do not use Mel’s mix, the grid system, companion planting or the plant spacing. What I have is raised beds in a box.


People that say that you cannot grow vegetables in 100% compost have never tried it. I have always used more compost in my gardens than what is recommended but this is the first year for 100% compost. After the growing season, I dug into the beds and the red worms are very active. This photo is during the mid growing season.

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In my opinion, Mel’s suggested plant spacing is too congested. A plant’s roots will usually extend in all directions as far as the foliage. If a plant’s foliage is competing for space, then the roots from both plants are competing for the same nutrients. In addition, nobody told the plants, they were supposed to stay inside the box. This photo was also taken during the mid growing season.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cabbage and eggplant were planted one plant per 1.5 squares. Harvest was ½ size compared to my conventional garden. Also with abundant rain every cabbage split, I had this problem before but not to this extent and not with heads this small. The eggplants were 1/2 size and only two eggplants per plant.

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Cucumbers did fantastic with conventional spacing exceeding 10# per plant. Photo taken early in the growing season

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Zucchini is doing even better; I have picked about 35# per plant at one plant per five squares. Tomatoes have patches of beautiful fruits scattered thought the vines. The Supersteak seems to be more sensitive to the night temperature and we have had some chilly spills off and on thought the summer. Spacing was at five squares per plant. Photo taken mid season

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 Potatoes did very well exceeding 1.5# per plant at one plant per square. Next spring I am going to chit my seed spuds so there are only two plants per spud. I hope to get fewer small potatoes and more larger ones. Photos taken early season and after harvest.

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Bell Peppers did ok with less than 1# per plant, at one plant per 1-1/3 square. Photo taken early in the season.

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Cantaloupe is too early to tell but some nice fruits on the vines. Spacing is one plant per four squares. Harvest was one lope per vine. A waist of time and space. Photo taken early in the season

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Salad greens did only average. Photo taken early in season.

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Weeds were virtually nonexistent. I pulled less than a coffee can full all year, previously it would have been several 5 Gal. buckets. My biggest contribution to the garden this year was installing an irrigation system.

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Cuttin Farwoood (thats for EG)

After they got finished logging the farm there were several logs the sawmills would not take because of bad spots in the center of the logs. You can zoom in on the logs and you will never guess what kind of wood they are. It was a chance to get some easy firewood for the fireplace. It was very easy to park right beside the logs and start cutting. It would only take two logs to fill the trailer and the truck, almost a full cord. I keep my equipment behind the seat in the truck. In the first photo, the trailer is almost full and the cut pieces and the log closest to the truck filled the remainder of the trailer and the truck.

1stload

In this photo, I have the second load cut and loaded, and about to head home, about 50 mi. I estimate there were about 4 – 6 more loads. Because of limited space, I had to split and stack the wood to make room for the next load. A week later I returned for the next load and guess what, the pile was gone, vanished into thin air. I got my third load but not quite as easy and there was enough wood left to last my lifetime. Well guess what again, that was in 2006 and today, all the wood is gone. It makes it difficult to keep a rosy mental photo of mankind.

2ndload

 

p.s. the logs in the photo are sassafras and it smells great in a fireplace.2ndload2

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Camp and feed plots for critters

A good friend of mine has owned a camp in McKean Co. PA for about 40 years. I retired in the spring of 1993 and spent all of May at camp except for two weekends. I still do not know how we got away with that. The camp is centrally located on about 40 acres of bottomland, which is bordered on two sides with trout streams and a small stream through the center of the property that has native brook trout in it. It is common to see deer, black bear, turkeys, grouse and songbirds. It is uncommon to see a coyote though but it does happen. I have put together a few photos at camp and a short video of planting feed plots for the critters. Hope you enjoy it.

 

John

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Timbering

We had about 15 – 20 acres of pine trees that the CC boys had planted during the great depression. In addition, because of blight in the NE part of the country, they had to be harvested. Several of them had died already and as a result, we decided to clear-cut the area. Because of the blight, there is so much pine available that the only market is pulpwood for paper products. The good news is since the clear cutting, the area is covered with volunteer Black Cherry and Maple.

 

John


 

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Propagation chamber for Violets

 

I used two plastic containers that you buy strawberries in. I cut the tops off and hold them together with rubber bands and paper clips. The ventilation slots permit watering from the bottom.

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Categories: Greenhouse Gardening | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Compost VS Peat

I have allways started my seeds in a 50/50 mix of vermiculite and peat. This year I had many extra tomatoe seeds and planted them in a flat of 50/50 vermiculite/compost. Next year I will be planting all my seeds in the compost mix.

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Almost finished composting for 2008

About the middle of June, I had one bin full of composted grass and 2007 leaves and the semi-finished compost in two bins on either side. The material in the foreground is wood chip mulch that is going in the first bin on the left. This material along with two loads of composted HM and composted leaves from 2007 went in to my new SFG boxes.

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The second bin from the right, is annuals, canna lilies, dahlias, potted plants and of coarse HM.

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This is my third load of HM and it is fresh, right out of the horse’s dupa. It will be used for my fall composting. The third bin back, contains the early crops from the garden and the pile of debris in front of the bins is essentially my 2008 garden.

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 I shred everything that goes into the compost bin. This debris along with about ½ yd of HM filled the first bin.

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 After about three weeks, the three bins had reduced in volume to where I could put the contents of the three bins into two bins. The debris in the foreground is some fall leaves, grass clippings, more cannas, hanging baskets and mums.

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At the time of this photo, it was 45 deg and you could see some vapor coming from the piles after composting for three weeks.

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Categories: Composting | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My favorite hobby

Gardening has always been my favorite hobby. It was those pesky ancestors that got me started in the first place. I have enjoyed gardening and the thoughts of those ancestors all my adult life. It was gardening that got me browsing the internet for information, where I have met many people and I consider most of them my friends. However, as usual I get too many irons in the fire, epically in the spring and fall of the year. Lately I have been thinking why I started this damn journal in the first place. Well I came up with several answers, to further communicate with my friends, collect all my posts in one location, to get more information and most important ( forgive me friends) to give my grandchildren some insight in to there Pap. Three of four children are gardeners, and I think the fourth will be when he gets his landscaping finished. One of ten grandchildren is married and is a gardener. The rest of the grandchildren are ether too young or single yet and not ready for the domestic life. I am very proud of all of them and the number of gardeners. I hope that one of my descendants will print and save my journal for there descendants to read, although they will probably think, what kind of fruitcake was he? I hope that this winter and next summer, I can devote more time to the journal and not let it become stagnant also in the spring and fall to keep it more current. Thanks for reading.   John

Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Equipment needed for a meaningful garden ????

Assumptions that I will make are:

(1)   You are a family of four, husband, wife and two children.

(2)   You and/or your wife are employed full time.

(3)   Gardening is a therapy, but you enjoy the benefits of growing your own produce, financially and quality.

(4)   You have space available for gardening activities, including composting.

 

In my opinion, what you will need is:

(1)   You will need approximately a 20 cubic ft freezer or equivalent Ball/Mason jars and associated equipment.

(2)    I assume that you have two vehicles. One should be a pick-up truck or at least one should be equipped for towing a utility trailer. To be used for transporting,  free compost, manures (horse boarding, racetrack or zoos, to name a few?) or removing unwanted debris (should be minimal).

(3)    My boss when I was employed once asked me, when vegetables were so cheap, why did I bother gardening? My reply was, every time I pulled a weed, I thought of him (he did not know it at the time, but I was being truthful).  If you use the price/lb for any vegetable at the produce dept, I would save enough from the harvest from one vegetable to pay for the seeds and fertilizer for the entire garden. In addition, mine looked better and had much better taste.

(4)   In my opinion, If you use SFGing style, you will need app. an area about 20’ X  70’ for a family of four for a full years worth of vegetables. Also an area about 10’X 50’ for composting, based on a ½ acre lot with an average amount of garden, landscaping and trees. This area could very greatly based on the vegetables you decide to grow.

 

A few people tend to over complicate gardening. In addition, I think that many of them never did any gardening they just read textbooks. They are probably turning many young people off from gardening by there implied complexity. I strongly believe in NIKE’S slogan “Just Do It” and any corrections should be small. Also, keep checking the many gardening forums for help.

 

Any comments, additions or corrections, positive or negative will be appreciated.

 

Thanks, John

Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

2008 a Year full of promise and disappointment for gardening.

By early spring, the first stage of converting my conventional garden to SFG was complete. The orchard bees are doing a fantastic job at pollinating the apple blossoms, the cool season crops have been planted, nice warm spring, perfect rains and no late frost, wow what a year it is going to be. By mid May, still have perfect gardening weather all crops are planted and growing gangbusters, harvesting some salad greens and spending early mornings, sitting on the back porch, drinking coffee and admiring my handy work. From the beginning of June until mid July, the weather is unseasonably cool and way too much rain but the garden seems to be doing well, lots of blossoms and young veggies. From mid July until now Sept 09, it has been hot and windy with two drizzles, less than 0.1ins. I have an irrigation system in place but only to supplement Mother Nature not to replace her. My sewage bill is tied to my water bill and the cost is prohibitive. No new blossoms or young veggies and harvest has been average at best and almost all apples have dropped. Oh well I will get an early start at composting and converting the rest of my garden to SFG. Gee I can’t wait for spring.    

Categories: My Gardening Journals | 2 Comments

Propagation Chamber

Let me start by saying that, I used the propagation box from Freeplants.com with great success. The box filled with wet coarse sand and an aquarium weighed 60 to 70 lb, which was a little to heavy for me to be moving around (I’m almost 70 yrs old). I made 6 boxed and they are still in good use by my Daughter and Son in law. I liked the idea of little_dani’s Easy Propagation Chamber but thought it would be a little to small for my use.
I found 2 food storage containers at Walmart one a 20 quart and one a 12 quart with the same dimensions around the perimeter. I drilled six 5/8 in holes for drainage in the 12 quart container, and lade a piece of hardware cloth on the bottom to keep the potting soil from washing out. (photo 1) There is a little gap at both ends of the containers, allowing for ventilation, no need for further holes. ( photo 2) . For the potting soil I use 50/50 peat moss and vermiculite. What I like about the near transparent container for the bottom is you can see root development and water needs. Photo 3 shows root development and beads of condensation which indicates adequate air space and water. Each container will hold 120 to130 cuttings and all seem to be doing well and pass the tug test. (photo 4) When I stick the cuttings, I will leave them outside in the shade for 1 week and then move them to the greenhouse. Six chambers fit on an 8 ft shelf very nicely. (photo 5). I also use a 24 in bungie cord to keep the two containers aligned.




Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Assembling a Rion GH44 Greenhouse

Make sure the foundation is absolutely flat and square. The PVC extrusions and castings are very stiff and unforgiving. Almost all problems are due to small variations in the foundation. I/we followed the instructions precisely and every thing went together easily without soap or a mallet. If you run into a problem, go back and recheck the foundation. If it required adjustments, you may have to dissemble what you have completed and start from scratch. I cannot imagine building the roof in place. A friend and I built the roof separately and lifted it in place with out problems. Rion should caution the builder, do not have your fingers between the roof and sidewalls. When we lined up all the columns with the mating pieces, the roof slammed shut like a guillotine. Two of us built the GH44 in about a week spending the majority of time on installing the weather stripping. I am 70 years young and the friend that helped me is 76 years young. I just finished installing the window openers today. That should finish it up for this year. If I ever build another GH it will be a Rion. The only two things I did not like about the Rion is the way they attached the roof polycarb panels and the brackets that hold the one door closed.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI put three equally spaced stainless screws about 1 ½ INS long through the moldings that hold the polycarb in place and into the pieces that makeup the rafters (Photo1). I also put 1-½in screws down through each leg of the caps on the peak (Photo2). I did not want to be chasing parts in a windstorm. Approx. 74 screws total.
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Some people who have assembled a Rion GH have commented on the gaps and Rion supplies foam tape to seal them. If you install these screw’s it should reduce these “gaps”. The following photo shows these gaps and the Latex caulk I used to close them. The caulk is wider than the actual gap, I could not get the camera at the right angle to show the other side. Do not use silicon caulk, it will not adhere to the polycarb panels.
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I also replaced the brackets they provided with slide bolts at the top and bottom. The catch for the slide bolt on the bottom is just a piece of scrap angle with one leg of the angle under the Rion threshold. I kept it low enough as not to cerate a tripping hazards.
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 The catch for the slide bolt on the top is a piece of 3/4 in X 1 1/2 in sheet that I screwed through the angle above the door and into the top of the doorframe. I kept it high enough as not to plow a furrow through my head.

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I also used the overage from the doors weather stripping on the bottom inside and top outside of the vent. It goes into the groves in the frame, same as on the doors.

Categories: Greenhouse Gardening | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Auxiliary Shelves for the Greenhouse

In the early spring when its time to start the garden plants and flowers. I always need more shelf space. But the rest of the year it’s nice to have more space to move around. I used the wire closet shelves but I think you could use this with other shelves.These are the slides used.

 

 

 

I cut the front of the stationary shelf to clear the pull out shelf.

 

 

 

 This is the back view of the slide mounted on the shelf support. I used 3/16″ pop rivits
the shear strength for each rivit is more than the weight I will put on the pull out.

 

 

 

I attached ½” aluminum angle to the drawer slides. I then attached a 23″ piece of shelving to the angles. I used 1/4″ nylon straps to hold the pull out to the aluminum angle. You can get them at Ace hwd in the electrical dept.

 

 

The first photo shows one auxiliary shelf extended and the second photo shows two auxiliary shelves extended.

 

 

 

 

When the weather is bad I move into the GH to do my potting. I use a third shelf extension with a pull out basket attached holding a container to catch the potting soil that I miss getting into the pot. When it’s not needed it is pushed back under the main shelf.

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Superficial Conservation

Something has been bothering me for some time now. Its people that make a superficial effort at conservation then feel good about it. They claim that if you scale it up to millions of people it would make a big difference. What bothers me is the assumption that millions of people are also doing it. In addition, if you put many of these people under the microscope, you find out that they are extravagant with unrenewable resources in other areas and will not hesitate to tell me how I can be more conservative.

Descendants of PA Dutch farmers, who lived through the great depression, raised me, my parents. I have been a conservative all my life because of the standards, they instilled in me. Of coarse the motivation has been financial and not concern for the planet. The only way to curb today’s appetites for more energy, apparently regardless of price, is for a major life stile change by the masses. I do not think that is going to happen voluntary with the, me, I want it and I want it now and buy a cheap one if it breaks, throw it away and bay another one syndrome. As much as I hate government in my life, I thing it will take legislation in more areas than one.

 

John

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What happened where have I been?

           Through the mid 50s to the mid 60s my hobbies consisted of gardening, hunting fishing, golf, woodworking and photography don’t ask where I got the time. In the later 60s, I gave up golfing and started camping. From the mid 50s till now gardening has been my most serious hobby, probably because its roots run deepest into my heritage. During the mid 50s to mid 60s I subscribed to the Organic Gardner, Mother Earth News, The farm Journal and the Pennsylvania Farmer magazines. I read all form cover to cover trying every month to stay current. After about 10 years they all seemed to become redundant and I dropped my subscriptions. Through this time I tried to concentrate on working 8 hrs a day raising my family and of coarse my hobbies. From then until now because of age and health I have given up woodworking, camping, hunting and fishing. I’m still active in gardening and photography. In 1993 I was offered a golden handshake I couldn’t pass up. All of a sudden my family is raised and they are raising there own families and I have additional time to spend on my hobbies.

 

I decided to try my hand at propagation by stem cuttings which led me to the internet and various forums all with interesting subjects. I got hooked by the internets benefits and downfalls and have spent many winter months reading and participating in these forums. I’m astonished at the complexity that gardening has become. There are many self appointed experts making statements of fact based on feelings alone. Anytime you read something that just doesn’t add up, ask for a link to the original data that judgment was based on, not a link to another person that made the same statement but to the original data/report the statement was based on. Be tactful though most of these people seem to be very thin skinned. What concerns me is with the young people that may be interested in starting to garden may be scared off with all the complexity. I was taught gardening by people that depended on gardening for there very existence. It is very simple and straight forward. That’s why I say ”Give me that old time gardening, its good enough for me”.

 

John

 

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Making Potting Soil

This is my system for mixing my own potting soil. It was made from a recycled dryer drum. I use a microwave to pasteurize the compost when making soil to propagate from seed. The microwave is from a yard sale at $5.00. A plastic shoe box with lid fits in the microwave and usually takes about 10 min to get to 165 deg f depending on moisture content of the compost.

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The door consists of ¾” plywood, two hinges and six pull clasps. There is a 2” hole in the center of the door to permit inserting a wand of a tank sprayer to spray water just before completion of tumbling to eliminate dust from the vermiculite. The top of the door folds down to permit loading of material.
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 The top of the door folds down to permit loading of material and inspection of results after blending. I can load about 2 cubic ft or 15 gallon of material at a time. If the material is lumpy, I also add about one dozen #2 gravel (recovered after blending) to aid in breaking up the lumps.

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I don’t think the standard drive unit or motor on a dryer would handle the added weight so I used a 3/4 HP motor and a worm gear speed reducer. I also used a heavier belt from the speed reducer to the drum.

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When a batch is finished, I attach a plywood funnel to the front panel to reduce spillage. I also use a 40 gal trash can to store the soil in. I usually fill it about 2 times a yr.

 

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SFG Accesory for Old F#%ts

Certain limitations are creeping in due to age. I can kneel on something soft but getting back up can be a problem. I made a kneeling pad to slip on the edge of my SFGs. The handles for getting back up are from a recycled lawn mower handle and I don’t know what the grips were on.

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My plunge into Square Foot Gardening

Early December, 2007 I was in the process of building the boxes for the raised beds. I was a little apprehensive about setting them on top of excellent garden soil I had built up over a 35 year period.  They will be 8ins deep and filled with finished compost, hopefully before the hard winter sets in.
Mid December, My progress to date is, the two boxes on the left and the three boxes in the center are finished and in place. I am currently building the three boxes for the right. The poly tubing will be about six ins. below ground level and the soaker hose will be about three ins. below the bedding surface. Can’t wait for spring!!
sfgMid April, Every thing is in place and ready to plant. A good amount of effort later I’m still hoping I did the right thing.
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Mid June, I’m feeling very good about making the move to SFG. Some people say you can’t grow vegetables in 100% compost or you should have between 5% and 8% compost well these are growing in 100% compost. Every thing is doing well except for two boxes because of a pesky wabit but I think he has moved on.
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My experience with Greenhouses

My experience with Greenhouses has been nothing less than great. Even a lower shelf GH that proved less than desirable. I didn’t know if I needed or wanted a GH but an opportunity came up in the mid 1970s to get many used church basement windows free including delivery. The frames were made of steel and had matching holes on all 4 sides for mounting. I used the windows as they were without any additional frame work on the walls. The only frame work was a steel angle for the peak of the roof. Through the mid 70s to 1980 we had some hellish summer storms and snow loads, the GH just sat there without a wimper. The GH was only used to support a vegetable garden but I spent many enjoyable hours there with much success and nice garden plants. The GH/kennels had to eventually give way to a Garage/shop but I had plans for another GH. I apologize for the photo but it is a scanned Polaroid.

1stgh 

The second GH is a simple lean-to on the back side of a tool shed. The GH isconstructed using 2 X 4s and fiberglasssheeting. There is a shelf with a heated sand bed and worked very well for starting garden plants and storing semi hardy perennials and tubers through the winter. But things never stay the same, the neighbors trees have grown to the point the GH is now in dense shade. I have added florescent lights and continue to use it for seed propagation in the early spring and hardwood stem propagation in the fall. You will have to excuse all the junk setting around I’m geting ready to pressure wash the garage and GH

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The third was a 6ft X 8ft Harbor Freight GH. I worked for 37 yrs for a light metals Co. My division was Mechanical Testing and Design Div. and I am very familiar with the various alloys. I was astonished upon opening the cartons at the alloy that HF used. It had to have been chosen on ease of extrusion and not on strength of material. I didn’t think that the recommended modifications to the GH would add significantly to the structural integrity of the GH and after chasing down polycarb panels after every windy day, I decided to replace it.
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My fourth and hopefully my last GH is a Rion GH44 the rigidity and air tightness is very impressive. I am heating a larger GH with the same gas heater at a substantially lower setting for the same temps inside the GH. I was concerned enough to install a carbon monoxide detector but every thing is ok. If any of the polycarb panels need replacing, the roof will be easy but the walls will be a bear to replace. 

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