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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Transplanting Seedlings Tips

I cover my hands in the rich, warm soil. I delicately pop every plant from its pot and tuck it into the garden bed, firming the earth around it. I take as much time as is needed, appreciating every seedling and envisioning the plant it will get to be. Here are a couple tips to help your spring planting go easily?

Set up your garden bed ahead of time, uncovering it over and breaking the dirt to a profundity of 6 to 10 inches. In the event that you have soil changes to include, for example, very much treated the soil leaves or compost, till them in. A dirt test can let you know whether you have to add whatever else to your dirt. In case you’re utilizing a no-till strategy like lasagna cultivating, this may be a decent time to beat up with a pleasant layer of manure. I get a kick out of the chance to uncover my garden a few weeks before planting out. Any weed seeds that rise to the top and sprout can be hoed up without disturbing my little plants.

Solidify off your seedlings by presenting them step by step to outside conditions. Try not to skirt this progression! Delicate indoor seedlings planted specifically out into the garden can get sufficiently stunned to capsize and bite the dust. This additionally applies to seedlings and plants purchased at a garden focus, in the event that they’ve been shielded.

Think about irrigation. It’s much easier to lay soaker hoses across your garden bed now, with no plants to worry about. A soaker hose will water plants for a foot or two out from each side. You can put together a whole system of drip irrigation and soaker hoses and connect it to a set of programmable, electronically controlled valves. Or you can simply lay the soaker hose along your garden bed and connect your garden hose to one end as needed. Quick-connect valves on the ends of your soaker hoses and on your garden hose make watering a snap.

Watch the weather. An overcast day is perfect for planting out, because seedlings will have a chance to adjust to their new spot before dealing with the bright sun. Similarly, I like to plant out in the evening if I know the night will be warm. The seedlings can recover from transplanting during the night and be ready for their first full sun day in the garden.

Plant deeply! With tomato transplants, burying part of the stem when you plant them into the garden will get them off to a great start. New roots will grow all along the buried part of the stem. If I have a tall tomato seedling, I don’t dig a 12 inch deep hole. That’s too much work, and the soil that far down will still be colder than the roots would like. Instead, I dig a sloping trench and place the tomato seedling sideways at an angle, with the rootball at the lowest point. At least one set of leaves and a bit of stem should stick up above the soil surface. Any plant that can be propagated from cuttings seems likely to grow more roots by burying part of its stem at planting time.

But not too deeply. Some plants, like peppers, don’t seem to be harmed by planting them a little lower than they were growing in their pot, whether or not more roots grow. Plants that have a definite crown, however, should be planted with the crown at or above the level of the soil. A “crown” is low central stem with a bunch of leaves radiating out from it. Salvias and strawberry plants, for example, have definite crowns. Don’t bury the crown, or the plant may die.

Be nice to the roots. With plastic pots, you can generally push up the bottom of the pot or squeeze the sides a little to release the rootball. Be gentle with the stem, and try not to yank on it. If the plant looks rootbound, with roots circling around the rootball, just tickle the roots with your fingers a little to loosen them up. You may need to break out the sides of the rootball just a little, too, so the roots “know” they’re no longer confined to the shape of the pot.

If your seedlings are in peat pots, bury the rim of the pot completely. Otherwise, water will wick away from the roots and evaporate into the air. Also, you may wish to tear away some of the pot. Many plants seem to have a hard time pushing their roots through peat pots. I’m trying a new product this year, CowPotsTM, which are said to break down more quickly so that this isn’t a problem.

Time release fertilizers (such as DynamiteTM or OsmocoteTM) and polymer moisture crystals can be added as you’re planting. I mix a big pinch of each into the planting hole, following label directions.

Water in the plants after transplanting. This will settle the soil around the roots. Watering with compost tea or a little water-soluble fertilizer gives new transplants a nice pick-me-up.

Plan ahead. Those little transplants will grow faster than you think! Now is a good time to put in stakes next to tomato plants, cages over pepper plants, and trellises for cucumbers and other vines. If you didn’t add soaker hoses or drip irrigation to your garden earlier, reconsider. Watering your garden will take up less water and less of your time with a simple irrigation system in place.

You may have started your seeds indoors under lights, or winter sowed, or bought seedlings at a local garden center. But any way you look at it, your seedlings are an investment in a beautiful, bountiful garden this summer. When you plant them out, you want to give them every advantage. With the above tips, they’ll get a good start, and you’ll be well on your way to a wonderful garden!

Building Critter Friendly Garden

We as a whole attempt to cultivate just plain silly and butterflies, yet shouldn’t something be said about alternate critters? Try not to shoo them away, make them cheerful too for a very much adjusted, solid garden. Here are a couple approaches.

Everyone loves to see butterflies and murmuring flying creatures in their greenery enclosures. Truth be told, we attempt our darndest to draw in them. The vast majority evade alternate critters yet they all make a commitment to the wellbeing of our patio nurseries.

Here are a couple approaches to keep every one of them glad and consequently we will be more joyful for it.

Every living animal need the nuts and bolts. Sustenance, water and asylum are the ones we can help with the most.

# Water

Most of us have a birdbath in the garden. Some of us even have ponds. A pond is a wonderful thing. It provides habitat for frogs, crayfish, dragonflies and a whole plethora of other critters. These in turn Imageprovide food for the birds we so love to have visit our birdbaths. You do not have to have a large pond to accomplish this, a simple tub sunk into the ground with a couple of water lilies and maybe a pot of bulrushes will suffice. A few large rocks on the bottom will provide added shelter. I always float a flat piece of bark in the water just in case something like a mouse falls in, the bark will give them a place to land so they don’t drown. I also keep a birdbath on a flat rock beside the pond. The birds come to bathe and eat any mosquitoes that happen to hatch!!

# Food

This is one of the easiest. Try to plant a lot of native plants in your garden if possible, you’ll have a better chance of attracting local wildlife. The flowers will provide nectar for humming birds andImage butterflies. In the fall, don’t be in a hurry to cut down and haul away all of the seed heads. Leave them until spring. They will provide a source of food for a number of critters throughout the winter. Birdfeeders and suet bags fall into this category too and most of us already have these. Make sure to keep them well-stocked for the duration of the winter.

# Shelter

This is the area a lot of people fall short in. To many folks the things that provide shelter to wildlife are considered eyesores, not pretty enough to be in a well-tended garden. Good shelter can be as simple as a half-buried pot that can be used as a home to toads. A small wood pile tucked to the side can provide shelter to a number of critters. Create small areas of shelter, that way they are inconspicuous. Plant an evergreen tree to Imageprovide a place for birds to nest and roost. Set aside a small area of the garden for native grasses. They provide a safe haven for snakes, insects and frogs. Leave a small brush pile along the back fence or beside the mulch pile. It will provide shelter for birds, rabbits and mice. Leave the leaves in your garden for insects to over-winter in. I have a dead tree on the fence line that the man next door is always after me to have cut down. No way!! That old dead tree provides food for woodpeckers and chickadees. Insects galore live in the holes and the bark. Fill your yard with bird houses, maybe even build a bat house.

Now, I understand that in some areas of the world people have to deal with poisonous spiders and snakes. In these cases I realize that you really don’t want to attract those critters. Understandable.

So much of the wilderness is being cut back and built on. We should be aware that in some areas our gardens are the only places for critters to find the means needed to survive, that includes year round inhabitants and migrating critters. The next time you’re in your garden, look at it with an eye towards nature. Maybe we can make the world a better place, one yard at a time.

Why Grown Your Own Veggies?

Life in the United States surely has changed. The atmosphere is in a condition of flux, the cost of gas has taken off, and the measure of nourishment being foreign made into our nation will soon exceed the sent out. There’s never been a superior time to begin developing your own particular vegetables and organic products. Why? Let?s analyze the circumstance somewhat further.

The Climate

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in a recent report that few components will influence mass nourishment generation sooner rather than later:

“Overall, food production is projected to benefit from a warmer climate, but there probably will be strong regional effects, with some areas in North America suffering significant loss of comparative advantage to other regions. The U.S. Great Plains/Canadian Prairies are expected to be particularly vulnerable. Climate change is expected to improve growing conditions for some crops that are limited by length of growing season and temperature. (e.g. fruit production in the Great Lakes region and eastern Canada).”

Climate change also has a widespread effect on plant growth: the behavior and aggressiveness of certain plant diseases and pests, adverse affects on beneficial insects, birds, and animals, the composition of soil, water quantity and quality…the list goes on.

Energy Use

When the cost of produce rises, it isn’t necessarily due to a sudden freeze in Florida or a drought in California. The price of gas greatly affects food costs due to transportation expenses. Remember when something as small and light as a bunch of scallions was 3/$1?

If enough people would grow their own food, it would make a dramatic difference in energy demand, traffic congestion, and the emission of greenhouse gases.

(On a related point, produce that hasn’t logged a bunch of “food miles” is better quality. It’s fresher and isn’t bounced around in transit. According to environmental writer Bill McKibben, 75% of the apples sold in New York City come from the West Coast or overseas, even though the state produces far more apples than city residents consume. Isn’t that ridiculous?)

Food Safety

Here’s a scary stat: The FDA inspects only about 1% of the imported foods it regulates, down from 8% in 1992 when imports were far less common. (The USDA, which regulates meat and poultry, is much stricter.) The FDA also doesn’t require that exporting countries have safety systems equivalent to those in the USA.

Here’s more from a story that ran in USA Today in March, 2007:

“The decline in FDA inspection resources has been pronounced in the past five years. While food imports have soared about 50%, the number of FDA food-import inspectors has dropped about 20%, the agency says.

“Meanwhile, more food imports come from developing countries, where pesticide use is often higher than in the USA, water quality is often worse and workers may be less likely to be trained in food safety, says Michael Doyle, head of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.

“A 2003 FDA study found pesticide violations in 6.1% of imported foods sampled vs. 2.4% of domestic foods. It has not been updated. Several years earlier, the FDA found salmonella and shigella, which can cause dysentery, in 4% of imported fruits and vegetables vs. 1.1% of domestic products.”
Ick.

Cost

A packet of tomato seeds will set you back, on average, about $3. Let’s say 50% of the 100 seeds in the packet germinate and become fruit-bearing plants, and that each plant bears a minimum of 10 lbs. of fruit. That’s 500 lbs. of fruit for $3.

Conversely, a bag of cherry tomatoes on the vine (about a dozen, if you’re lucky) also costs $3.

Of course, when growing your own, you could calculate the cost of soil additives, tomato cages, canning supplies, water, mulch, etc., and the value of your time and effort spent tending to the plants, but I think the benefits are pretty clear.

ImageMy message is, of course: grow your own stuff. Climate can be controlled more effectively, unless you opt to have a large farm; the management of your food crops shouldn’t be all that daunting. Cloth can protect from freezes as well as hot temperatures. Soil quality can be manually altered to your crops’ needs. Everything — including watering levels, pest and disease problems, etc. — can be more closely monitored under your own watchful eye.

Best of all, you will know what – if any — pesticides and fertilizers are being applied to your food crops, instead of being forced to buy mysteriously-produced food that wasn’t safely grown or properly inspected.

Even a family of five doesn’t need much yard space to host a highly productive garden. If you’re pressed for yard space, use containers. “Vertical gardening” – training vines to grow up instead of spreading out – is also effective and efficient. If you have a yard, consider ripping out some of the grass and making it into a veggie garden. That lovely green lawn is a huge and unnecessary water waster anyway.

If you’re a rookie to vegetable gardening, do plenty of research before jumping in. Learn what grows well in your area. Work to continually improve the soil. Read about crop rotation to ensure efficient production year after year. Can and preserve the wonderful food you’ve worked hard to grow so you can enjoy it all year round.

Lastly, if you absolutely don’t have the time, space or energy to grow your own fruits and vegetables, please do your best to support local organic food markets. Check out the website localharvest.org to find the one closest to you.

References:

IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Parry, Martin L., Canziani, Osvaldo F., Palutikof, Jean P., van der Linden, Paul J., and Hanson, Clair E. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1000 pp.

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2007-03-18-food-safety-usat_N.htm “U.S. food imports outrun FDA resources” By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY, Mar 18, 2007 © Copyright 2007, USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co., Inc.