Posts Tagged With: horse manure

Cannot wait for spring!!!

My Mother use to stand on a box and harness a team of horses like these and go out and cultivate corn, she was 10 Years old at that time. When I was 10 Years old, my Grandfather would drive the team (different team of course) and my brother and cousin and I would follow the hay wagon and pitch the hay into the wagon. When the wagon was full we would pitch the hay in to the barn loft. When I reached 14 years of age my Grandfather was to old to farm any longer and I was busy chasing girls.


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Worlds largest compost operation (at one time)

The photo is from Google Earth and it is of the composting area of the Creek Side Mushroom Co. now defunct. The company was started by the Butler County Mushroom Farms in 1937 and provided 90% of the worlds mushrooms. You probably have seen them on the grocers shelves under the Moonlight Mushrooms brand. The mushroom growing area used 150 miles of abandoned limestone tunnels encompassing 800 acres beneath the surface with production capability of 60 million pounds annually. Creek Side Mushroom Co. downsized the operation and recently closed its doors.

What looks like two sets  of tire marks are the remains of the last four compost piles. They measure 330’ long and were 16’ wide and 16’ high. At the peak of business there were 8-10 rows of compost on that pad.

Categories: Composting, My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Soil test is in and I think I will have a BM

After I seen the third year core sample of the raised bed, I just had to get a soil test to see what was going on. I have always known that garden worms were beneficial to the garden. But I did not know just how much work they did.

Unless you follow my Journal there are three Posts that you should read to get the background on the raised bed soil.

Penn State claims a 4-5 day turn around on soil samples. I sent the sample in on Tuesday and received an eMail copy today and a hard copy will be sent via snail mail. I requested the standard test($9) and % organic matter($5) and eMail data($1) for a sum of $15.

I was interested in the PH and Fertility of the soil but I was curious as how much organic material was present since the only thing deposited in the beds was organic but the soil did not seem as it was only humus. As it turns out at 25% organic material, I have just been feeding the worms and they have been building up the soil. John



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Three years of core samples

Four years ago I filled my new raised beds with composted lawn and garden debris rich with horse bedding. My gardening style with these beds has been no till and I top dress the beds each fall with composted horse bedding. As the red worms bring bottom soil and casings in to the beds I have to top dress less and less. The next three photos are of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year core samples in that order. In the first photo you can see what looks like soil and/or worm casing on the bottom and many recognizable wood chips and pine needles on the top. The core sample in the second photo fell apart when trying to remove it from the mold. It may have been drier or smaller particle size that caused it to fall apart. There was a good bit more material that looked like soil/casing and just a few recognizable wood chips and no pine needles. The core sample in the third photo looked homogeneous from top to bottom with no recognizable material. It fell apart easier than the second core sample and I am more convinced it has to do with particle size and moisture. When this sample dries out (to save on postage) I will send it to Penn State University for analysis. One of there tests is percentage organic material. Since the only thing I have put in the beds was organic, I think I can assume that anything that is not organic is either soil or worm casing. John


Categories: Core sample, My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

I have been taking to much credit for my garden

As it turns out I have had a lot of help through the years, like 24/7/365. The photo is of an area under huge maple trees and the grass is very sparse because the trees are taking all the water and sun from the grass. I chose this area because the worm casing showed up in the photo very nicely. The photo is about 5-6 sqft but representative of the hole yard and garden. From late summer into winter, there is no sign of worms. They are somewhere between here and China. But as soon as the snow pack melts the casings are everywhere they must move up to just under the freeze line or snow and are active all winter. John

Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

My 2010 gardening year has started

Today is the last rain day of a series so I was able to plant the peppers. For the soil mix I have several containers of various materials sitting around that I would like to get rid of. My first batch will be; 2 parts(plastic shoe box) composted horse bedding, 1 part(plastic shoe box) coco coir, 1 part(plastic shoe box) medium vermiculite. To this I will add ¼ cup Osmocote and 2 tbs Epson Salts. Just prior to making my soil blocks I will saturate the concoctions with Ferti-Lome 5-59-8. When I use up the coco coir and vermiculite, I will be using just composted horse bedding with the Osmocote, Epson salts and Ferti-Lome. The soil blocks were easily picked up and moved around. In the container on the left are 12 Red Bell peppers, in the container in the center are 12 Big Dipper peppers and the first 6 soil blocks in the right container are Picante peppers the next 3 are Sweet Banana peppers and the next 3 are Poblano peppers. The air temperature in the chamber is about 60 deg and the sand bed is 75 deg the temperature in the domes will be somewhere in between the two. The lights are on 24/7 until the chamber is shut down. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer with lots of sunshine so I will be back on the apple trees. The next rain day I will be planting the tomatoes and eggplant. John

Categories: My Gardening Journals, soil blocks | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Winter gardening activities

All the raised beds have been top dressed with composted HM and dusted with lime except the potato beds and they were dusted with garden sulfur. As soon as it warms up a mite, I will dust them with some 5-10-10. The porcelain German garlic is finally poking its nose through the surface and was rudely greeted by a dusting of snow.
 We have had some pretty hard freezes but the outside endive and lettuce are doing great.

All the GH veggies are growing in 100% composted HM. Inside the GH the tomatoes are coming along fine. I have a small fan running for germination and it looks like its doing the job.


The inside lettuce and endive will be ready soon but the outside stuff is too good to pass up.


The onions are ready and as one is picked a set will be put in its place.


I think the peppers would like more sun and heat than they have been getting.


Categories: Greenhouse Gardening | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Second year RB/SFG core sample

This year’s core sample was taken adjacent to last year’s sample. There was only about an inch of recognizable compost on top and it spilled out onto the floor when I tilted the tube to remove the sample. When I removed the sample, it just fell apart. The bed is about 88% full of what looks like plain old garden soil thanks to the many worms. At the end of next growing season I expect the beds to be nearly 100% filled with soil/worm casing. Then it will be interesting how the moisture retention will be and how the plants perform.


A close-up photo of the core sample.


This is a photo of semi-finished compost that the beds were top dressed with this spring. As usual all comments are welcome.    John


Categories: Composting, Core sample | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet Potato harvest for 2009

This is my sweet potato harvest for 2009. A total of 21lb 9oz or about one lb per square. I planted 20 squares with one slip per square (SFG style). At $0.52 per slip, I am not sure they are worth the space. They are Georgia Jets and I would be interested in what others have harvested this year, particularly in the northern climates. As usual, all comments are welcome. John


Categories: sweet potatoes | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

The last potato tower for 2009

I should give a recap on the tower. The base of the tower is 8” deep. Two Kennebec seed potatoes were planted 6” deep, then two tiers added and filled with compost. The seed potatoes ended up about 16”+ deep. This was not an incremental filling of the tower. The tower was filled within 15min of planting. After about 2-3 weeks the one sprout broke through the surface and the other never showed up. When harvested there were no signs of it ever trying so it turned out to be a dud spud.


This is the first spud harvested. The stolen is coming from an area very close to the surface. I do not know if it was above or below ground but not any where near the seed potato or root zone of the main plant. The stolen is bent around so as to get a continuous view from potato to stem.


Here you can see three stolen near the top of an underground stem. On the end of that stem is a portion of the seed potato that is about 16” away from the upper most stolen.


The next three photos are a closer photo of each stolen so you can trace it from potato to stem.




The total weight of the potatoes were 4lb 14oz.



The largest was 1lb 3oz.


As Usual, all comments are welcome.   John

Categories: Potato Tower | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who sez potato rhizoms don’t grow on the stem?

Because of the Late Blight hitting my tomatoes this year, I terminated the potato plants in an effort to save whatever crop I had. The Yukon Gold potatoes look great and the Kennebec potatoes are smaller but the perfect size for DW and me. I could have left them grow but I did not want to take the chance. Since I did terminate the plants, I decided to harvest the first potato tower. I covered the building of and the growth of the tower in an earlier post. Now it is time to see what I got.


The tower is 20 ½” tall. I tied garden twine around the main sprouts and attached a bungee cord to keep the plant in position as I remove the compost from around the spuds and rhizomes.


This is the first spud I came to. It is about 16” above the seed potato I had planted. The rhizome and potato were growing horizontally not upward like many people say.


The second spud was located about 13 1/2 “from the seed potato.


Here I started to remove the next level.


There seams to be rhizomes with marble size potatoes everywhere.


This is the potato plant as removed from the soil. It is about 20” from the tip of the green to the seed potato. There were three nice potatoes below the seed potato. I hope this answers some questions as where potatoes grow on a plant.


The weight of the potatoes on this plant is meaningless but it was 3 lb 3 oz. As usual, all comments are welcome.


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The anxiety of gardening.

After the devastation of my tomatoes by the Late Blight, I was more than a little anxious about the condition of my potatoes. The Yukon Gold potatoes had been dying back but I thought it was the normal time for them to be doing so. Two 2’ X 8’ beds back to back in the foreground are YGs and had been cleaned off. The two beds behind them are Kennebec potatoes and look great, I do not think they are affected (yet). Both types of spuds exceeded 40” in plant growth and as you can see, my pathways should have been about 6’ instead of 18” wide.


This photo is of the bed on the left. I lifted the spuds for the first 14” only on Aug 07th

P1010005 copy 

These two spuds were harvested on July 20th from the same 14” area and weigh 1lb 7oz


These spuds are the same ones in the first photo and weigh 6lb 2oz. The total weight for 2.33 squares is 7lb 9oz or 3lb 6oz per square. If these two squares are representative of all the squares in the potato beds that will be 204lb of potatoes. Do any of you have tomatoes that you want to trade for potatoes? Hummm….. I wonder how a slice of potato would taste on a hamburger.



Categories: Potato | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A remarkable potato.

After the garden had been planted, I had a volunteer potato sprout. I soon pulled it out, after a few days, another sprout appeared, and I removed it. Eventually two more sprouts appeared from under the frame of the RB/SFG. I thought if that potato wants to grow that much I will let it go and see what happens. Well I needed to access the backside of the pepper and eggplant beds to harvest and the potato plant had to go.


I found a pile of potatoes on top of the path and a couple under the edge of the bed. That crazy potato had raised the bed from 3” to 4”. There is about 2” to 3” of wood chip mulch on the path.


That one potato plant produced 31/2 lb of potatoes not counting the many small ones. The scale looks like crap but weighs very accurately. The basket weighs exactly one lb. Make sure to read the rest of the post after this next photo as this potato also raised some interesting questions.


The next series of photos are of a portion of the stalk that I cut off that shows various views of potatoes that were growing totally off the ground and potato stolons above leaf branches. In addition, these are Yukon Gold potatoes that are not supposed to do well in a tower, now I am wondering why. Maybe another experiment is coming next spring. As usual, all comments are welcome.   John






Categories: My Gardening Journals, Potato, Potato Tower, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Who said it was a “dud-spud”?

It may have been late but it finally showed up. It must have done some loop de loops or a barrel role. I hope I will learn something from these two spuds.


Yesterday’s harvest brought the potato total to 27oz.


A little OT for my journal, but I have never had ten blooms at the same time on my cacti.           John


Categories: Potato Tower | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

TPT sprouts part two (short post/photos)

I have set the TPT upright. I do not know if light was leaking in (I do not think so) but there are definitely leaves forming at the end of the sprouts. As long as they do not begin to rot, I will let them grow.



This is the largest sprout that is visible and you can see the leaves. They have 10”-11” to go to break the surface. I will continue to take photos of there progress and keep you posted. As usual, all comments are welcome.    John


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I do grow veggies other than potatoes

I have been posting about potatoes so often I thought I should show you my other veggies. This is my asparagus bed. I planted two-year-old crowns and supposedly, I can make limited cuttings next spring. They look so spindly I sort of dough it.


The bell peppers are Big Dippers and are loaded with blossoms.

Bell Peppers

The Bibb lettuce is fantastic and will be my annual lettuce. It also did very well in the GH last winter.

Bib Lettuce

The broccoli looks good and is about to develop heads. The three plants in front are purple cabbage.


I have not grown Brussels sprouts for a while and will not be able to predict outcome until late summer. And another three purple cabbage in front.

Brussels Sprouts

The Butterbush winter squash have sprouted and have to grow about 10” North to reach the trellis. I will tie them to the sticks to get them off the soil as soon as possible to help me combat the squash bugs.


Cauliflower is not showing any sign of heads yet but it usually takes longer than the broccoli.


The eggplant is chucking full of blossoms and looking great.


I free sowed the endive and thin it as we eat. As soon as I thin it, it fills back in.


Onion plants are just taking root and hard to see. I also planted 12 Alisa Craig onions that can get up to five pounds each.


Cannot say much about the tomatoes except they are on there way to higher places.


The Zucchini are on there way to the first rung of the ladder. I will see how this goes.


The sweet potatoes are growing slowly, the weather has been very cool but I hope the roots are developing well.

Sweet Potatoes

Ok, I have to say something about the potatoes. The ones in the foreground are the Kennebec and the ones in the background are the Yukon Gold. The fence to the right is four ft tall. As usual, all comments are welcome.


Categories: My Gardening Journals, Potato, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Sprouts in the TPT (transparent potato tower)

The seed potatoes have sprouted and have about 18” to go to reach the surface. The first photo shows three and possibly four sprouts and minimal roots growing. Once the roots get into the compost, I expect the sprouts will grow much faster.p61003601


This photo is the second seed potato, which shows only two sprouts. The curious part is the sprouts look greener and appear to have leaves forming. I do not know what to expect from either one. It would be great if they made it to the surface though. I will make regular updates in my journal if you are interested in potato towers. As usual, all comments are welcome.   Johnp6090885

Categories: Potato Tower | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some think there is no intrigue in gardening



Today, I was filling a compost bin from a pile of kitchen, lawn and garden debris that had accumulated from late winter/early spring. While doing so, I noticed a particularly long sprout. Upon investigation, it turned out to be a potato sprout about 16” to 18” long. There were several small sprouts along the length of the main sprout (see red arrows, there are several on the underneath side you cannot see). Are they lateral stem sprouts or stolons?



The next two photos are enlargements of the areas of the red arrows. The plot thickens and what timing for my experiments in my journal with potato towers. Stay tuned for further developments. As usual, all comments are welcome.   John




Categories: My Gardening Journals, Potato | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

I dig potatoes



While not yet, but I am looking forward in anticipation. The Yukon Gold potatoes are growing gangbusters.



They were planted 8”deep 16 days ago and are now 16+” tall.



I do not remember what day I planted the Kennebec potatoes but they broke through the surface about 4-5 days ago.



Which brings me to the potato tower; I planted one Kennebec spud in the tower 8” deep the same time as the other Kennebec spuds.



It broke through the surface the same day as the first Kennebec spud in the beds and I quickly put the first tier in place.



This is a close-up of the previous photo.



The next morning I filled the tier about half way and placed some compost up against the plant to the leaves.



This is a close-up of how I covered the plant. It is about 2-3” below the surface of the compost.



By the next morning, it had grown another couple of inches and I pulled some compost into the hole covering the stem.



I repeated this for two more days and the tier was full.



I added the second and last tier and will repeat the process until it is full. The tower is 20 ½” tall and that should be enough to show if the process works for me or not. As usual, all comments are welcome.    John


Categories: My Gardening Journals, Potato, Potato Tower, Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

One thing leads to another



The trellis in yesterday’s post is 15’ long and I used 16’ hog panels which gave me two12” pieces of scrap panel. I wanted to try growing summer squash vertically and needed to come up with a trellis to grow two summer squash plants on. I had some old fence posts on hand and some outdoor electrical cable ties and the two scrap panels was all I needed. Now if I can encourage the Zucchini to grow up the trellis, I will be in Hog Heaven.



Tonight will be the second night in a row with freezing or below freezing temperatures. I gathered up enough containers to cover the veggie plants but the apples are in jeopardy. All I can do now is to hope for the best. As usual, all comments are welcome.   John 


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A trellis for winter squash


I was calling my trellis the ‘Mother of all trellises” but that was being a little presumptuous. The cyclone fence around the garden was four feet tall and I thought that would be a little small for summer squash. My DW and I love the Butterbush squash and it vines about five or six feet so I wanted to increase the height of the existing fence to six feet high. The problem was the fence producers do not make couplers to extend the height of the corner or line post. I knew there had to be something out there I could use.



What I found was automotive tail pipe couplers and since line/corner post came at a minimum of six-foot lengths and I would be scraping two feet, so I also used two-foot lengths of tail pipe.


 I reinstalled the original top rail on top of the extensions.



The trellis will be holding about 110 to 120 pound of squash so I added a line post in the center of the span.


I added cross members also to tie in the seams of the panels.


 I checked Tractor Supply’s web site and they claimed to have cattle panel on stock. After driving 20 miles I found out they only had hog panel. The hog panel is made using the same gage steel and the same size, 36” X 16’ so that is what I used. I wish I had taken a photo before I unloaded the truck. Can you imagine hauling 16’ long panels in a Ranger with a 6” bed? You can see at the far end of the trellis where I added a diagonal support to the corner post. When I finish the fence and gates at the open end, I will also add diagonals at the corner and on the line post. We get some strong summer storms with high winds so a little support will not hurt. As usual, all comments are welcome.    john




Categories: Square Foot Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

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

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

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.



As usual, all comments are welcome.    John

Categories: Greenhouse Gardening, soil blocks | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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.


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.


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


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%.


This block is about 25% casing.



And this block is about 15% casings.


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

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

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.



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.


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.



As usual, all comments are welcome.     John

Categories: soil blocks | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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

Categories: soil blocks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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.


 The plants in front are the Brussels.



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.


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


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



Categories: My Gardening Journals, soil blocks | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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.


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.


Categories: Composting | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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.


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.


Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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?



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.


 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.




Categories: Composting, Core sample | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Hooray hooray—-they are sprouting!! Yipee

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



Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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.


 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.


  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.

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.


The humidity dome app. 24 hours later.


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.



Categories: My Gardening Journals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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.



.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


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.

Categories: soil blocks | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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. 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.


 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.


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


The divot is not evident, but it is there.



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

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.


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


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.


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


 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.


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.



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

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