Gardening Tips # 2

My last post featured a great seed starter pot idea.  And here I am with another one!

Hello everyone!

This pot features some origami action and is a fun, easy, and quick way to make a lot of pots.  All you need is some newspaper…or really, any kind of paper, but newspaper is best.  I think its best demonstrated via photos.  Enjoy!

Step Step # 2 Step # 3 Step # 4a Step # 4b Step # 4c Step # 5 Step # 6a Step # 6b Step # 6c Step # 7 Step # 8 Step # 9a Step # 9b Step # 10 Step # 11a Step # 11b Step # 12a Step # 12b Step # 12c Step # 13 Step # 14a Step # 14b Step # 14c Step # 14d Step # 14e Step # 15a Step # 15b Step # 15c Step # 16a Step # 16b Step # 17a Step # 17b Step # 17c Step # 18a Step # 18b Step # 18c Step # 19

I think that makes it quite clear…but if I have hopelessly confused you, I apologize.  Please feel free to contact me to clarify any of the pictures.  I’ll do my darnedest to help you.

All my love

Advertisements

Gardening Tips #1

What’s up, everyone?  Its been so long, too long!  I hope you are all doing well.

Now is about the time that anyone wanting to plant cool weather crops, namely broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and cabbage, will be wanting to start their seeds.  I thought I would pass on something I learned about making inexpensive seed starters.

Many people just go down to their local Wal-Mart and buy seed starting kits.  Some are plastic trays that you then fill with soil and seeds.  They usually come with a clear plastic cover.  The cover is important because it traps heat and moisture. Other trays are meant to decompose; you can plant them directly into the soil, and they will break down, adding to the texture of the soil as they do. Some are made of cardboard, some of pressed earth.  You can make the pressed earth ones yourself IF you have the press. I think the most cost-effective method is to buy a large count of eggs, in a cardboard carton.  They sell them in large flats of 30 eggs here.  If you can’t find them that big, or you don’t want to start that many seeds, just cut the top off of a standard 12 count of eggs.  The cardboard will breakdown in the soil.  You want individual cells because the less you disturb the seedlings the better for them.  As this stage in their life cycles, they are very delicate.

The only other things you will need are some plastic.  I am using plastic grocery bags but you can use plastic wrap, used bread bags, basically anything that is lightweight.  I am using one bag underneath to protect the surface and one on top.  Seeds are best started between 70 and 80 degrees F.  Be careful because the covers can potentially raise the temperature inside by 10 degrees. If you want, or if your house stays on the cool side, like mine,  you can add a heating pad underneath the starter.  I ordered a heating pad from Amazon, but as of this post, it has yet to arrive.

My seeds were started 3 days ago and I already have sprouts!  Remember to water your seedlings daily, and when they start to develop leaves make sure they get plenty of sun.

Blight on Tomatoes

Hello Everyone!  I hope you have been having fun and loving life since last we spoke.

The topic of discussion today is tomatoes, more specifically late season blight.  It is slowing killing my tomato plants though I think they may yet be salvageable.  It is, apparently, a very common problem in gardens and on farms.

CAM00593 CAM00591

I began to notice the dark brown spots on the leaves and fruits a couple of weeks ago.  As first I thought it was a result of too much water, since it had rained so much recently.  I soon discovered this was not the case.

Blight is a fungal infection (according to my research) which begins at the base of the plant and travels upward as the season progresses.  It affects the leaves first and eventually the fruit.  The fungal spores overwinter in the ground and are splashed onto the plants by watering.  It is for this reason that you should take care when watering tomatoes not to water the leaves, but the base of the plant.  The fungus needs wet leaves to be able to enter the leaf tissue.

You can help protect your tomatoes from blight by:

  1. Selecting healthy, stocky plants
  2. Rotating your crops so that you don’t plant them in the same place for 3-4 years(This can be difficult in small gardens)
  3. Space plants at least 3 feet apart.  This allows for good air circulation between plants.
  4. Grow your tomatoes in wire cages.  This keeps them off the ground and makes them less susceptible to the spores.  You can buy wire cages from a garden store or make them yourself if you are a DIY type of person.
  5. Use 2-3 inches of mulch made of dry leaves, dry grass clippings or straw around each plant starting in early June.  This helps to prevent splash back.
  6. Avoid wetting the tomato foliage when watering.
  7. Apply fungicides if needed.

I had no idea what is was when the blight first appeared on my plants and I had to go online to find the answers.  I got my information from the following websites and all credit goes to the individuals who maintain them.  I merely paraphrased it here.  Please click the links for more complete information.

http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1996/4-26-1996/tomato.html

https://extension.umass.edu/vegetable/articles/recognizing-tomato-blights

http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/plantpath/extension/fact_sheets/Tomato_-_Field_Staked_-_Late_Blight.htm

I hope that this proves useful to you and that your gardens are faring better than mine.

Small Potatoes…Literally

All that is left of my potato harvest.

All that is left of my potato harvest.

Hello everyone!

I hope you are doing well and enjoying success in your endeavors. 

This week’s topic is gardening.  It’s a very broad subject to be sure and there have been many books written about every aspect of it.  This was the first year that I tried an actual garden.  By actual I mean more than one sickly tomato plant in a pot. (That is what I did last year).  Even a garden in which all the plants are potted is still a garden. 

I dug up a section of my front yard where the grass was already thin.  I planted many things, some of which grew, some of which didn’t and some of which still are (once again, the tomatoes, not so sickly now).  I just recently harvested my potato crop which is what I wanted to tell you about.

I planted red potatoes.  Leftovers from some we had bought at the store.  16, all in a nice row.  I got 51 potatoes, when I dug them up, which might sound like a lot, except for the fact that most of them where the size of small marbles.  I learned quite a bit about growing potatoes this summer.

Potatoes are actually ridiculously easy to grow.  You can grow them in a large pot (Or bucket, 5 gallons at least), if you don’t have ground space.  When a potato gets old, it will sprout eyes.  If you are using large potatoes like russets, you should cut them into one inch cubes, making sure that each chunk has at least one eye.  Be careful not to break off the sprouts.  Since I used smaller potatoes, I didn’t even bother to cut them.  These sprouts will become the stalks of the plant.  If an eye has more than one, you can (only if you want to) remove the smaller one, so the larger will have a better chance of growing.

I dug a trench about a foot deep and lined the bottom with fertilized soil.  This particular stuff was formulated especially to amend depleted soils.  I put the potatoes in the bottom of the trench, with the sprouts facing up. I added more soil to the trench until I had filled it in.  I watered it well.  Within about 10 days, the sprouts had breached the surface of the soil and were stretching toward the sun.  Yay!

Here is where I made a mistake… Potatoes are tall plants but not very sturdy.  Because of this, the plants have to be hilled (Not sure if that is the correct term).  It means that as the plant gets taller, you add more soil around the base to prop it up.  This soil forms a hill, which is probably why I think of it as hilling.  I did not do this properly and the potato stalks soon fell over, looking more like vines on the ground.  Since it was too late to get them to stand on their own, I had to devise another option.

I pushed a stake into the ground at the head of the row, (which was eight feet in length), and another at the foot.  These stakes were about 2 feet tall.  I tied twine between them and allowed the stalks to lean on the line.  It kept them mostly upright and off the ground.  This is good because having the leaving laying on the ground can help the development of disease in the plant.  I didn’t have too much trouble with this, though one plant died prematurely.

Potatoes are ready to harvest when the stalks turn brown and die.  According to my research, it is best to dig for potatoes on a dry sunny day.  So I did.  I used a shovel since I didn’t at the time, have a potato rake. (I have since purchased one, since I can also use it to turn the compost pile)  Be careful not to scrape or cut the potatoes when digging them up, this can encourage the vegetable to mold or rot, apparently. 

I didn’t have any trouble throughout the summer, aside from what I mentioned above.  I have no insects attacking my plants and very few weeds to contend with.  The potatoes were delicious the next morning for breakfast.

Now, I should point out that most of the potatoes were much smaller than is typical for a red potato.  They were small because:

  1. They came from small potatoes
  2. They didn’t get enough sun and
  3. They weren’t propped up correctly

Probably…lol

I wish I had thought to take some photos of the plants as they were growing but I did not.  I started this blog after the potatoes had been harvested. 

The biggest potato by comparison.

The biggest potato by comparison.

The smallest of the potato marbles.

The smallest of the potato marbles.

Whew!  That was a lot of reading!  Well I hope you learned something from it.  Please come back for more of my garden related experiences.  Coming next time, Crochet! Yay!

Amber, Out