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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:56 pm 
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:drinks:

Sometime last week, or the week before..time flys...
I was digging at the ground in an effort to plant some potatoes when a truck pulled out from the auto/truck repair business across the alley. The man asked me if I was digging a well lol! So we talked about growing potatoes, the how-to's and what-for's. At the end of the discussion he promised to return with some potato varieties that I didn't have such as purple ones and some other one similar to the Yukon Gold, but produces better.

I just dug 4 holes and got some of the purple ones planted. It'll be interesting to see how any of them do. My rows are very small..only 10 foot rows with sets about a foot apart.

In the first 4 rows, I dug trenches about a spade's depth deep, removed the soil and put some to the side, while some went into the barrel to be amended.

Amendments include chicken manure compost, mushroom compost, miracle grow garden soil or a generic soil of the same type. I think I way overused the mushroom compost, but we'll see how it goes. Anyway, I added soil from the ground to these, in the wheelbarrow, mixed well and filled the trench. It took 3 wheelbarrows to fill each trench.

On top of this amendment I added the potato set, then covered with the dirt from the ground.

My goal is that the potato will utilize the amended soil for it's root system, and that later hilling will provide the 'nests' for the growing potatoes.

The soil here is weird. It's heavy like clay, silty, somewhat sandy in places. It dries hard like a rock, and very quickly, but soaks up moisture quickly but doesn't retain it for long. It's filtration is very poor. When it's dry, it's fine like dust, it will blow away and make a sanddune so fast it'll make your head spin.

On the other hand, when you dig it, you can excavate all kinds of shapes such as stairs or chairs, or even couches, in your water garden without having to use structural supports to hold them in place!

There's NO organic matter in it, and It's fertility is low. To make matters worse, the water here is very high in minerals and salts which dries hard and smothers the soil surface. Additionally, the water PH is very high so trying to maintain a balanced soil is very difficult. It's a mixture of river bottom with piles of rocks buried underground or deep fine sand, or heavy clay or a mixture of all.

Another obstacle to overcome in these parts is arid air. You CANN
OT make an above ground pen for composting. Every e
USDA Extension officer here will tell you that, and for the most part...it's true. They dry before they rot. They will dry and petrify before they rot! There are great piles of manure 30 feet deep in some places, that never rotted, but only dried.

We have tons of dinosaur bones out this way to prove it, and we even have a Ripley's Believe it or not, petrified wood/rock building here.

Therefore, if you're going to compost, you must contain it so that you can regulate the moisture so that the heating/rotting can occur. That's why trenches work well. The ground itself acts like a clay pot. As long as the ground is moist, but not wet, it's good. If the ground gets dry, it will wick moisture from your good garden soil.

Our next challenge is hail. These eastern plains are the hail capitol of the USA. We get a few twisters, and once in a while they create a bit of damage, but most of them tend to occur in the fields, and we are sparsely populated. However, for no good reason on G-d's green earth, we produce copious crops of hail. Anything from pea size to baseball size is on the menu. We are guaranteed at LEAST one destructive hail per season. Big wind can be a problem, too. There goes your on the ground compost pile. You've got to contain it.

In all of my life, as many places as I've lived in the USA, I've never had to work so hard for so little, as I have here, in Lamar, Colorado. Yet, in any given season, I somehow manage to pull off crops that nobody else has had any luck with. Yah does that.

Bugs are a huge issue in this town. They've oversprayed the crop fields so badly, that the balance is destroyed. They've poisoned the birds to reduce damage to grain and to kill off pigeons, and so the imbalance is pronounced, especially within the city. We have NO humming birds here...ever. They used to come here, but they don't anymore.

Cucumber beetles, Squash bugs, and potato beetles are ferocious and it doesn't matter whether or not they over winter in your soil, they find you just the same. And some of them spread fungus. Flea beetles are horrid, and you never know which crop they'll be hungry for from year to year. Cabbage moths/worms will wipe you out so fast ..you can't pick enough, or destroy enough of the eggs to make a dent.

Thrips pose a problem as well as root magots.

You never know what to expect with spring. This year was a very early spring even for these parts, but not unusual to have that happen. It means if you start early, you can garden for up to 11 months if you do things right.

The problem is this. You can have a relatively warm spring, and then on mother's day have a deep, killing frost. Or, the frost man waits for the fruit trees to bloom and then kills the blossoms. Or, you can have 90 degree days in November with tomatoes still ripening on the vine, and have the temps drop to 20 below over night with moisture...and the trees will burst because the sap is still up. This isn't a yearly event, but happens every few years. You just have to gamble.

What I've described above is a NORMAL gardening year. Some years it's much worse.

So, I'll put in what I can, then pray and hope Yah helps me.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:44 pm 
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Thanks for this post Judy. I am coming back to read it again as I am able. I am doing potatoes this year, every year my DH somehow talks me out of it by using the 'potatoes are so cheap to buy' speil, but really they are not I tell him, they are quite high in price now compared to the past. But I want to can quite a large amount of potatoes this year. I am going to try some container methods I watched on youtube. I'll post them later if I can find them again.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:42 am 
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I wish you good luck with your potatoes Simone. When I was a kid, we'd get hundreds of pounds of them from just one 20 lb sack of potatoes. We had extremely fertile soil because at one time years before, the area was used as a chicken yard. It's where the chicken house was.

He tilled it well and then dug an 8 inch furrow. We set pieces of potato, each containing no less than 2 eyes about 18 inches apart and then covered them with soil..the full 8 inches. Once they sprouted and got to be about a foot tall, he went back through with a small plow he had for a teeny tractor, and hilled them on each side so that they got fully covered except for a couple of inches worth of leaves.

Again, he let that grow till nearly a foot taller and hilled them AGAIN till there were only a few inches of leaves left.

Once they flowered, he let the plants die back...absolutely and completely.

Durring growth, he watered deeply and kept moist, but not wet. it's the ROOTS that need the water, not all the area that got hilled although that got some too, but the roots are below that, in the ground, below the potato set that you put in.

After flowering was done, he reduced the watering quite a bit.

The result was hundereds of pounds of potatoes. I know...i dug them.

The potatoes grow along the stems that are the plants. Plants that are exposed to air don't seem to produce anything, that's why the hilling is necessary. The hills are where the potatoes form as well as in the ground.

If they get too much nitrogen, the put out a lot of leaf, and little fruit..like a tomato, they are related so when you rotate your crops, you need to remember that and not plant potatoes where tomatoes were and vice versa.

The big deal for water is before they bloom. After they bloom is when the fruit gains its size. That's why you let the vines die back completely. That can take a few weeks and so the fruits will get larger. If over watered at this point, the fruit will sprout! You don't want that. You don't want the roots to go dry either.

We would dig 2 feet from the vine, and into the isles and find taters there as well as in the hills.

After the final hilling, it's good to spread thick mulch to keep the ground/hills cool. They grow better if they don't get over heated.

I watched youtube to see how people were doing with container potatoes. Each of them..I mean each and every single one (except one) made the same mistakes. First, there wasn't enough soil in the bottom to feed the roots, and they tended to over plant the containers. Second was over heating..setting these bags in direct sunlight without mulching the bags to keep them cool.

Third was container height. You need HEIGHT, because you need length of vine for the fruit to form along. Furthermore, the soil got compacted.

As a result, most of the container plantings were lucky to put on 2 or 3 potatoes to the container! And they were little ones!

I watched one man empty 15 containers and he got a grand total of 7 lbs of potatoes. I thought that was pathetic.

I watched another use hay bales and that man got one potato from it.

One woman had 4 or 5 tall cans in her greenhouse, and she had nice soil in them, as well as air and drainage holes. She harvested around 270 lbs from what she was doing.

Well, that's my 2 cents worth on the subject lol!

I can see we're going to have problems with the garden in general. The rutabagas sprouted well over a week ago, and they've not grown an inch. That's not good. So..I pulled out the miracle grow and mixed it with some water and gave them a good drink. Hope that helps. It took them some time to even sprout..over 10 days.

Now, about 5 days ago I planted 2 types of peas. One is a pole pea sugar snap, and the other is a regular pea that gets about 28 inches vine. Planted some lettuce and kolrabi. Lettuce is up, peas are starting.

About 4 days ago I put in a greek oregano plant, and planted some chive seeds as well as some dill. I'm letting the herbs have the poor soil and see how they do.

The first potatos I planted...Red pontiac I think..are coming up, and they look good and healthy. I put a lot of good soil amendments into those beds. According to the write ups, they do pretty well. I have Yukon gold in and the write ups say they aren't very prolific, but the potato guy said he had excellent results with them.

I tossed in some sprouted russets so we'll see how they do, and the potato man gave me some purple ones, and a yellow that he said does even better than the yukon. He said they taste nutty, but he also said that the purples didn't do good for him..wire worms got them. This soil is so dead that there weren't even any wire worms, or cut worms. Next year will be different.

I pull the cutworms out by hand, toss into a baggie and then destroy them when I'm finished working. There weren't any. Nada..none. But I see a lot of millers already so I'll keep my eye out for disappearing plants lol!

It has felt sooo good to be able to work in the garden. My body needs the exercise, but so does ME inside. I can't do much..but I get out there every day and do a little bit. Just soaking up the sun is a pleasure. I bring my laptop out, plug in the speakers and just kick back and enjoy.

Right now I'm out of soil amendments but there's plenty of other stuff to do. I hope next week to have enough amendments, and I'm hoping night time temps level out so I can go ahead and put in some tomatoes and squash, as well as some mellons. Oh..the container onions are happily growing away!! I'm thinking I might transplant the thinnings. We have purple salad onions, and walla wallas.

I don't like wallas, but that's what was available for seed.

I sure hope you get better quick so you can enjoy the out doors.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:07 pm 
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The potato guy came by today and brought me MORE potatoes! These purple sets are small, but they have eyes on them well over 2 feet long!! Some are 2 1/2 feet long! I'll have to lay them sideways in the ground lol!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:13 pm 
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Judith,

This is our first year of relatively large-scale (for us) potato planting. Last year we planted three 3' X 15' plots, but this year we've tilled a field near to the garden and will be putting in wheat, corn and potatoes. Do you have any advice for field potato planting? Direction of rows vs. prevailing winds, spaces between rows, etc. Should we dig a furrow or trench for planting like you did? Is hilling necessary? I'm just wondering if continuously adding mulch would be better.

btw, I found the watering/flowering bit very helpful.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:10 pm 
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Yes..hilling IS necessary. The potatoes form along the stem of the plant, above the root so the more of that stem that you cover, the better. I've never had any luck with just piling 2 feet of hay around the plants. Any fruit that formed was always in the dirt and never in the hay.

Furrows and wind..if prevailing wind is from the west (for example) I would put rows running north and south. When the wind blows, the dirt can't blow very far. I don't know what kind of terrain you have, or from which part of the country you are in, but I lived in New England where wind wasn't an issue so it didn't matter.

It's a lot easier to furrow and drop in the potatoes than to dig individual holes!

Width between rows is dependent upon the size of your equipment. We had 48" between rows to allow for our small wheel-horse tractor to get between for hilling. Of course the base of the hills are going to be wider than the top of the hill and even then we had potatoes which extended even into those isles below the hills..the darn things went nuts!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:39 pm 
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Thank you, Judith, for all your advice.... As mentioned, it was very helpful.

Just as an aside -- Priest, Texas Jon, and seekingHistruth have all recommended the Back to Eden documentary, which essentially discusses the incredible importance of cover (mulch) and bio-mimicry principles in a garden. The doc profiles Paul Gautschi who, among many other things, never hills his potatoes because his soil *never* compacts. His potatoes lift the soil and always remain covered. Granted, this is after years of adding mulches that compost in and create extremely fertile porous soil. I just found that very interesting.... though I think we will need to hill this year and perhaps work to that end...

:s_smile



Any advice on corn?

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 10:33 am 
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I also prefer that method. Due to circumstances however, I am not in a position to utilize it. If I could, I would especially since I don't have a huge garden area to prepare, nor do I have the resources it takes to do it. Even if I did, it takes time for the stuff to break down and make the soil nice.

In the meantime, I use a modified method since mine is a first year garden. Hence..the 'trenches' for the potatoes. I am, in my case, literally removing the nasty soil from the ground and putting it to the side to be used for hilling since I'm not needing it as a nutritional soil. It has no nutrition. This soil is as dead as anything can be and is good only for weeds that can't grow in good soil..like cosha, tumbleweed and bind weed. Those are the ONLY things that can and will grow in this dirt.

The stuff I'm putting back into the trenches is amended with fully composted (chicken) manure, mushroom compost, and organic roughage such as the kind found in miracle grow garden soil, and in some cases, ruined wood stove pellets.

I'm having to purchase those materials as the city will no longer deliver wood chips and organic matter to the people. I don't have a pick up truck to go and get truck loads of the materials I'd really prefer to have. Therefore, I can only do a little at a time, and I need to eat THIS year too lol! But if I had my 'druthers', the time and space, I would begin the process so that next year, the land would be in better shape.

I've done what I call 'lasagna' gardening in the past, ( I used enclosed intensive beds) and it's definitely the way to go! But in the past, I had resources I don't have right now so I'm personally rather stuck. If you have the time and space, go for it! If you don't, then do the best you can with what you do have.

There are tons of fields around here with old moldy bales of hay that I'd love to get my hands on. However, they won't let go of it for less than $6.00/bale..A crying shame, they'd rather let it rot in place than sell some cheap and free up that space.

We've got a huge cow 'concentration camp' (feed lot) here as well so you can imagine how much manure there is. But, I've got NO way to get any of that here. At one time I had a family member who worked there and he used to fill his pickup with the stuff he cleaned out of his horse pen..a mixture of alfalfa hay and horse manure. To me, it was 'gold'.

For me, it's like having the only fresh water lake in the desert, but you can only use a glassful at a time when you need to water the whole field :(

In the meantime, what I AM producing is good. Not excellent, but good. I can stuff my arm a foot down into the soil, and my plants are healthy.

I would have preferred to build UP rather than dig down, but a little at a time, in time.

If YOU have the time, space and resources...go for it! Just remember, it takes time for it to brake down and become safe for plants, rich and alive. Oh..and I'm told that potatoes shouldn't be manured in the same season as planted. I don't know how true that is. It's suggested that manure should be put down in the fall so it can be planted in the spring, that some potatoes will develop disease if done differently. I'm not sure if that's composted manure or raw manure.

I prefer to use the raw..in the fall because it does take time to compost. It just depends on your circumstances, resources etc.

Also If I had my 'druthers', I'd have my worm farm back again.


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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:08 am 
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I'll try and see if I can get a decent size picture here.

Image


Oh kewl beans, I figured it out!! Yay! That potato plant only sprouted last week. It's looking good!


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 11:01 pm 
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Ok, I guess this thread is going to become my garden blog lol!

I got a bed prepared day before yesterday and by the end of the day, the bed contained 20 pepper plants. A dozen are bell peppers, and the remainders are Anaheims. Today in that same bed, I put a border of mixed lettuce seeds.

Then I dug 2 more post holes and since I don't have a pressure washer, I used the highest setting on the nozzel to stream water into the holes to make them deeper for the posts. It helped, tons. My fence is sloppy so I added the extra T-posts because I intend to use the fence for support for the tomato plants.

I have a dozen early girls, and a dozen big beef. Both are hybrids, but I've noticed that heirlooms don't do well here. The last time I planted early girls here, they did well. So far I have 4 planted and I hope to get the rest in tomorrow. I have a pumpkin plant that has to go into the ground tomorrow too. The plant was given to me. It seems the best I can do at a time is 6 holes but that's a big improvement over what I could do when I started this project. In the beginning it took me 2 days to dig ONE hole, that's how out of shape I was :( And then it took me nearly a week to recover so that I could dig the second hole.

Two years ago I could walk for miles, and I could ride my bike 10 miles a day, easily, in the Oklahoma heat. I was very fit, but that car accident did a number on me, and my circumstances were such that getting good physical activity was an impossibility.

My left hand is in a major flare-up and that's slowing me down (chrystal arthropathy & tendonitis), and the right one is threatening. I hope I can get the garden in before my hands kick my a$$ :( My back spasms terribly, but I use a bicycle tire innertube in a certain way to relieve that somewhat. It's a physical therapy thing.

My garden plot is 30'x50'.

Oh, did I tell you, I got my pineapple planted? I'm so excited about that! I cultivated it from a pineapple I'd purchased at the store according to some instructions I found on line. It took a long time for it to finally root, but it did and so now it's in a large planter. I used a commercially prepared mix for cactus and citrus fruit, for it.

I've got sweet potatoes sprouting on the counter, One of the slips was ready to root so it's in water. It should only take a couple of days for it to root. The elephant ears bulb wants to go into the ground now, too.
I'm not sure where to put that, yet.

I purchased some what was supposed to be 1"x1"x8' poles, but they gave me 2x2x8 instead so I'm going to see if I can get someone to make me a little wishing well planter for the garden. You cut them into roughly 12" pieces and stack them somehow...I just can't recall how. Or maybe I'll use them for pole beans.

There is a lot of cosha weed and tumble weed plants still in the garden plot. I'm waiting for the parrots to fly out of them, any minute. Right now a horse could have a good lunch on what I have growing in there!

Yesterday I felt so very nasty I couldn't do much. I'd over done it the day before, so I just sat on the swing in the shade with my sketch pad and pencils and learned to draw photo realistic eyes..well, that's what I was trying to draw anyway. Learned how to sketch a baby's face, too. I'm trying to get my eye and hands working together so I can paint my helmet. It's been too many years since I've had the brain power to pick up a pencil or a brush.

Yah is good. He's helping me, a lot.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 5:43 pm 
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Yea! Got four more tomato plants in the ground! Repotted a pumpkin to hold it over till I can prepare the ground, and got one English lavender planted. I need to go back to the new tomatoes and put some marigolds in with them. Mulched the pepper plants. Put down some organic fertilizer made from a molasses base. Hope that will add some life to the soil.

Checked the rutabagas..not good. Think I've got a cut worm, and the few plants which remain are slightly yellowed and stubby. It's like they quit growing after they sprouted. They should be three times the size they are. I'm seeing some secondary leaves though. Added some of the molasses mixture to them, too.

The potatoes are happy though!! They're gowing like weeds and look totally happy and healthy. All of them are up except for one row, the last row planted. Those should be up any day now. The pit I dug for the russets aren't up yet either, but it's only been 2 weeks. I never did put those purple ones with the 2/3 foot long eyes in. I've gotta get other things in the ground first.

Still haven't planted carrots, spinach, beans, beets. seed onions, cukes and squash yet either. I think I'll put some carrots into that turnip bed since it isn't going to do much. There's no point in wasting space. It's already hot so I've missed the window for some of the cold crops. Spinach will only bolt now.

I've got a compost started in an old trash can. Found a nice old beer making bucket I can use for some compost tea. I hope to bring home a bag of horse apples next weekend. That' will help!


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 6:31 pm 
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Here I was today, happily digging away thinking..this is it! Just 4 more holes and I'm done with tomatoes! I go and get what I thought was the last of the tomatoes and discovered I had 8 plants left, not 4! So, now I have 4 more holes to dig lol!

I did get the last of the peppers in though. And, the 4th row of potatoes as well as the 'pit' have started pushing up potato plants.

So, off to the hardware store I went to purchase some eye hooks and string, and a box of miracle grow. Everything is gathered to make the frames for the pole beans as soon as the tomatoes are in the ground. I sure hope this batch of 'maters produces well. I have busted my rump in an effort to make the best I could make for these plants. The rest is up to Yah. d

I CAN say that the pepper plants that have been in the ground for the week are looking good. They have begun to have a shine to their leaves that they didn't have when planted. They look...'happy'. I thought I was going to loose them..dunno what happened but they keeled over and wilted, and some leaves were missing on some of them so I thought there was a cut worm. I dug all around trying to find it and never did. Put the soil back, kept watering and bingo! They stood tall all of a sudden and they look good. Potatoes are really looking good, but impressive plants are no guarantee of plentiful fruit especially where tomatoes and potatoes are concerned. But at least the growth rates seem normal and so far, no disease.

I found 2 bags of stove pellets that had holes in them, and have taken on water. Room mate said to go ahead and use them so I scattered them among the peppers and wet them down. They GROW! An inch of pellets makes 3-4 inches of mulch! Good stuff! Too bad they aren't available year round. I'd buy a few bags. They run around $5.00/bag. Mulch is crucial here. Right now, I'm having to moisten the ground twice a day in order for seeds to germinate. The soil dries down a full inch in 12 hours where ever the soil is unamended, and half that where it is amended. Seeds are in the top half-8th inch.

And finally, I got my first garden harvest today...a hand full of Greek oregano. :) It smells absolutely wonderful! So far, the best oregano I've ever grown. I didn't amend the soil where I placed it. Normally I do and haven't been satisfied with the results despite good growth. This time, I let it be a 'weed' and gave it nasty soil, and it's producing good stuff! Something there for me to learn methinks. Maybe I should be growing herbs to trade for tomatoes!


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 10:22 pm 
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That is so interesting about the stove pellets. They're pretty common around these parts as we're in a rural area and there are no natural gas lines running up this way. We all have to depend on oil, propane, or electric furnaces and most also have wood or pellet stoves. I'm not sure if the pellets are available now, but that's a great idea for mulch...

Speaking of mulch, dh and I hit jackpot today in the mulch department. Last week my neighbour said there are large old wood and bark mulch piles on public land left by an old saw(?)/lumber(?) mill that seem to be free for the taking. We went for a little drive and hunted for it (there's no signage) and wowsers!! You should have seen all this beautiful mulch composting away into gorgeous fertile soil oblivion. I was like, "hon, back up the mini van -- we struck gold."

I'm going to be contacting the regional district to make sure it is free for the taking. But if it is -- this is the most exciting thing that's happened in a while (well, since we welcomed two floppy eared Nubian kids a few weeks ago)!

We'd love to cover all planting areas with at least a few good inches of mulch for weed control at the very least, but that would be a GIANT amount of mulch (probably at least a third of an acre). But if we can get enough to do our lasagna garden, I would be very happy.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:34 pm 
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Got a thought and an idea for the mulch Toshav...One that would help me too if I'd thought of it sooner! How bout renting a Uhaul for a day? A couple of wheelbarows and portable back-hoe's (shovels) along with a few helping hands should do the trick. UNlike manure, it shouldn't be corrosive and would require nothing more than a good broom to clean it out at the end of the day. You could also put down a tarp to pile the stuff on.

Our local landfill used to allow us in to collect wood, or organic matter, but they don't allow us to do that anymore. On the one hand, I really don't mind, because some of it is infested with beetles that these elm trees get, and you never know what chems might have been used on someone's lawn, or how much wormy dog crap can be mixed in with it. You wouldn't have the unsanitary issues with what you found.

I was trying to figure out how I could get some old moldy straw here since we don't have a truck...and the uhaul idea could be useful! I'm soo glad you said something! Sometimes it's easier for me to think of ways to resolve issues for others, than for myself lol! Dunno why that is, but it IS!


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 5:06 pm 
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Ooo Lots to read here, thank you Judith and all. Well I decided to try a little idea for here at the house, the idea of starting seedlings in milk jugs with the top of the jug left partially attached in order to have 'mini' greenhouses you can shut if frost is possible. Where I live we have danger of frost clear up until Memorial Day, and once in a while we have had frost in early June. I think I remember even snow in early June once. The seedlings are coming up and so far I am liking this little idea. No worries about trying to come up with enough containers or sheets to cover them if need be. It is difficult back here, also due to lack of enough sun and various forest animals that dont' think they need to be afraid of the barking dogs. Last year every bit of our beans here were ate down to nothing by groundhogs.
I have located some larger containers and will be trying some potatoes in them, love all the advice I see in this thread, thanks!

Here is the video for the this corny little idea, it was really for winter sowing of seeds, which I think I will try this coming winter. Seems like a good idea for me as I cannot deal with having a greenhouse, at least right now.




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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 9:04 am 
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You know, Judith, we really need a truck. There's been so many times where we've said, "Boy we really need a truck." Unfortunately, finances don't permit right now, but renting a U-haul is not a bad idea. I'll have to look into the cost. Last year we rented a pick-up truck for the day to do some hauling and after all was said and done, it was a little pricey and we wondered if it was worth it. We may just have to take the seats out of the van, put a tarp down and shovel it in!

As for municipal compost and mulch piles, I feel the same way. You don't know what's in there and what chemical imputs have been applied before they came there. I read an article that talked about lingering damaging herbicides found in backyard gardens that originated from large commercial farms and feedlots. The farms would sell/give their manure, compost and organic waste to municipalities, which was then used by city residents. Even though they had never used these pesticides, they still found their way into their gardens. Yuck.

Simone, I've seen that idea, and thought I really should try it! Thanks for mentioning it.

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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 3:41 am 
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Judith wrote:
:drinks:

Sometime last week, or the week before..time flys...
I was digging at the ground in an effort to plant some potatoes when a truck pulled out from the auto/truck repair business across the alley. The man asked me if I was digging a well lol! So we talked about growing potatoes, the how-to's and what-for's. At the end of the discussion he promised to return with some potato varieties that I didn't have such as purple ones and some other one similar to the Yukon Gold, but produces better.

I just dug 4 holes and got some of the purple ones planted. It'll be interesting to see how any of them do. My rows are very small..only 10 foot rows with sets about a foot apart.

In the first 4 rows, I dug trenches about a spade's depth deep, removed the soil and put some to the side, while some went into the barrel to be amended.

Amendments include chicken manure compost, mushroom compost, miracle grow garden soil or a generic soil of the same type. I think I way overused the mushroom compost, but we'll see how it goes. Anyway, I added soil from the ground to these, in the wheelbarrow, mixed well and filled the trench. It took 3 wheelbarrows to fill each trench.

On top of this amendment I added the potato set, then covered with the dirt from the ground.

My goal is that the potato will utilize the amended soil for it's root system, and that later hilling will provide the 'nests' for the growing potatoes.

The soil here is weird. It's heavy like clay, silty, somewhat sandy in places. It dries hard like a rock, and very quickly, but soaks up moisture quickly but doesn't retain it for long. It's filtration is very poor. When it's dry, it's fine like dust, it will blow away and make a sanddune so fast it'll make your head spin.

On the other hand, when you dig it, you can excavate all kinds of shapes such as stairs or chairs, or even couches, in your water garden without having to use structural supports to hold them in place!

There's NO organic matter in it, and It's fertility is low. To make matters worse, the water here is very high in minerals and salts which dries hard and smothers the soil surface. Additionally, the water PH is very high so trying to maintain a balanced soil is very difficult. It's a mixture of river bottom with piles of rocks buried underground or deep fine sand, or heavy clay or a mixture of all.

Another obstacle to overcome in these parts is arid air. You CANN
OT make an above ground pen for composting. Every e
USDA Extension officer here will tell you that, and for the most part...it's true. They dry before they rot. They will dry and petrify before they rot! There are great piles of manure 30 feet deep in some places, that never rotted, but only dried.

We have tons of dinosaur bones out this way to prove it, and we even have a Ripley's Believe it or not, petrified wood/rock building here.

Therefore, if you're going to compost, you must contain it so that you can regulate the moisture so that the heating/rotting can occur. That's why trenches work well. The ground itself acts like a clay pot. As long as the ground is moist, but not wet, it's good. If the ground gets dry, it will wick moisture from your good garden soil.

Our next challenge is hail. These eastern plains are the hail capitol of the USA. We get a few twisters, and once in a while they create a bit of damage, but most of them tend to occur in the fields, and we are sparsely populated. However, for no good reason on G-d's green earth, we produce copious crops of hail. Anything from pea size to baseball size is on the menu. We are guaranteed at LEAST one destructive hail per season. Big wind can be a problem, too. There goes your on the ground compost pile. You've got to contain it.

In all of my life, as many places as I've lived in the USA, I've never had to work so hard for so little, as I have here, in Lamar, Colorado. Yet, in any given season, I somehow manage to pull off crops that nobody else has had any luck with. Yah does that.

Bugs are a huge issue in this town. They've oversprayed the crop fields so badly, that the balance is destroyed. They've poisoned the birds to reduce damage to grain and to kill off pigeons, and so the imbalance is pronounced, especially within the city. We have NO humming birds here...ever. They used to come here, but they don't anymore.

Cucumber beetles, Squash bugs, and potato beetles are ferocious and it doesn't matter whether or not they over winter in your soil, they find you just the same. And some of them spread fungus. Flea beetles are horrid, and you never know which crop they'll be hungry for from year to year. Cabbage moths/worms will wipe you out so fast ..you can't pick enough, or destroy enough of the eggs to make a dent.

Thrips pose a problem as well as root magots.

You never know what to expect with spring. This year was a very early spring even for these parts, but not unusual to have that happen. It means if you start early, you can garden for up to 11 months if you do things right.

The problem is this. You can have a relatively warm spring, and then on mother's day have a deep, killing frost. Or, the frost man waits for the fruit trees to bloom and then kills the blossoms. Or, you can have 90 degree days in November with tomatoes still ripening on the vine, and have the temps drop to 20 below over night with moisture...and the trees will burst because the sap is still up. This isn't a yearly event, but happens every few years. You just have to gamble.

What I've described above is a NORMAL gardening year. Some years it's much worse.

So, I'll put in what I can, then pray and hope Yah helps me.


I see it is a wee bit late to suggest this now. LOL

I have always had bad luck growing potaoes. Darn doodle bugs always seem to find them.

This year, I got a bunch of 5 gallon buckets from the deli. (I kept getting them through the winter.) I put a potting soil, cow manure mixture in them with the potatoes. They plants look very healthy. I will not know till harvest how well this works. I will keep adding more soil as the plants grow. I did not fill up the buckets with soil. I filled them maybe a 3rd full with dirt. I just didn't have the money for a ton of topsoil. LOL I have 14 buckets of potatoes, if I remember correctly.

I just thought it might be something that you would like to try.

An interesting note: Last year I had dug up a bunch of tiny potatoes (the size of large grapes.) I just put them in the basement in a box and forgot about them over the winter. Well, at the beginning of Spring, I noticed they were sprouting.

I planted, those and some seedling potatoes that I bought this year and cut up. The ones from the basement cam up much quicker and even look healthier. Go figure.

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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 3:55 am 
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Simone wrote:
Ooo Lots to read here, thank you Judith and all. Well I decided to try a little idea for here at the house, the idea of starting seedlings in milk jugs with the top of the jug left partially attached in order to have 'mini' greenhouses you can shut if frost is possible. Where I live we have danger of frost clear up until Memorial Day, and once in a while we have had frost in early June. I think I remember even snow in early June once. The seedlings are coming up and so far I am liking this little idea. No worries about trying to come up with enough containers or sheets to cover them if need be. It is difficult back here, also due to lack of enough sun and various forest animals that dont' think they need to be afraid of the barking dogs. Last year every bit of our beans here were ate down to nothing by groundhogs.
I have located some larger containers and will be trying some potatoes in them, love all the advice I see in this thread, thanks!

Here is the video for the this corny little idea, it was really for winter sowing of seeds, which I think I will try this coming winter. Seems like a good idea for me as I cannot deal with having a greenhouse, at least right now.




That video is neat, Jazzy. I will have to try that. :s_thumbsup

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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 6:15 pm 
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That's a neat video! I've done half-hoop frames with success too just using pvc pipes and 3 ply plastic sheets that you use for protecting your floors when you paint. I've also done lasagna beds using 2-deep 1x10x10 so that there was an angle facing south and a plastic sheet such as mentioned above. You can set your plants right in on top of the stuff that isn't broken down yet and when it's time to plant, just plant right into the bed.

One year I had a kiddy pool that I'd converted into a small garden pond so in the winter I left the pump on so that the water would continue to circulate. I covered over the pond in a home-made hoop type covering so that I could get in there and add water for the fish as needed. Well, it got nice and warm in there on sunny days, and the water moderated BOTH the heat and cold so that I had straw berrry plants and other plants that grew all winter long!

Another handy dandy are those clear cello plastic containers that strawberries come in. They have built in drainage so you can add soil to them, and put perennnial seed that NEEDS frost to germinate. Just set them on a table and they'll sprout when it's time, I'm told. But I can see using them like the milk jugs above, too.

I was hoping to get some fresh horseapples this weekend, but that didn't work out.

My potato plants are almost a foot tall now. I'll be giving them their first hilling, soon.

Thanks for the vids!


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 1:19 pm 
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I hilled the potatoes Friday, and hope it's not too late. I've noticed the first buds of blossoms. Since I have a succession crop of potatoes, I'll do the remaining rows a little different and see if it makes a difference.

Built the frame for the greenbeans a few days ago, and got them in along with some carrots. Yesterday I built a frame for the cucumber plants, go the ground amended and planted. Transplanted the pumpkin plant that a friend gave me which was potted. It's got several secondary leaves already, but I was able to extract them from their container without disrupting the roots, even a little. These went into a couple of stacked tires with amended soil. By the end of the day, they hadn't even bothered to wilt even a little, so they'll be ok.

Also, got a second tire stack prepared and planted with butternut squash.

There's still so much to do, and I am running late. Mellons need to mature and fruit, and the fruit needs to mature during the heat of summer for maximum sweetness and flavor. With the odd ball season this year, it's hard to know when to do things.

Even the sun seems at peak a month early going by my shadow at noon The spring solstace seemed early by a few weeks also using my broom as an indicator. In other words, for those who don't know, you can stand your kitchen broom in the middle of the floor, unaided and it will just STAND THERE all by itself! Even an angled broom will just stand there without falling. It has something to do with the earth's tilt and gravity being an equalizer..dunno the specifics but it's a trip!!

The tomato plants are still small, and they are blooming profusely. I didn't expect to see that for at least another month!

I picked the blooms off of some of the strawberry plants so they would concentrate on runners for next year, I left some to produce fruit. I read some wrong information but that's ok. More runners means I shouldn't have to purchase strawberry plants next year. That's a savings. I can't believe how large my plants are though! I've NEVER had them get this large! And the fruiting plants are putting on lots of berries. The birds will probably get them before I do, but so far, I've liked this variety..."Jewel" so far for it's hardiness, quick growth, and plenty of fruit. This one is a June bearer.

I also had an ever bearer.."Albion" which is supposed to be most excellent for our area, and is supposed to replace other cultivars as the primary source of everbearers. I lost each and every one of them. ALL of them died. They started out good, and died. Planted in the same soil, at the same time as Jewel, only the Jewel survived. I don't get it...but oh well. I really don't care about the variety as long as it's a good producer and the fruit tastes good.

I put the jewels into a peck of good potting soil, 3 plants to a peck, and the plants are giants! Those in smaller containers, even though there is only one plant per container, aren't doing as well. Same soil. Not sure of the difference, but probably has to do with aeration. The air can penetrate the natural fiber of the pecks better than it can 1 gallon cans. At least that's what I think. Could be drainage as well.

I need to get the soil ready for the sweet potato slips. They're ready to go into the ground also. I have them outside to harden them off a bit before I shock them with too much sunlight lol! The sweet potatoes I've gained the slips from keep producing more and more as I remove the slips.

That's it for now!


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 5:54 pm 
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The sweet potatoes are in the ground! And the beans are up already! That pumpkin plant is happily growing away. Planted a few seeds of swiss chard today too. They get big and I don't have proper space for them yet, but I wanted to get a few in to start.

Tomorrow my goal is to get the squashes in the ground like the zucchini and i've GOT go get the cantelopes and mellons in along with some birdhouse gourds. Slowly but surely, I'm getting there. I hope I've got enough soil amendments to do the job or else some is going to have to wait till June. The biggest problem right now is that i've only got small amounts of this and that when I really need LARGE amounts. Maybe i can do some succession plantings for a fall harvest, but in any event, I really do need a large harvest. Also need to be thinking of where, and how to store some of this stuff.

It seems that hilling the potatoes has stimulated them to grow some more. They've already shot up several inches since hilling. i wonder, can I pick the buds off before it blossoms? Will that help the harvest amount? I've never heard of anybody doing that with potatoes, but I have seen it done with indeterminate tomatoes if the plants were too small to support fruit.


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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 6:08 pm 
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I over did myself yesterday, and so am useless today. I did end up planting the zucchini last night while I had the momentum going, so all I've done today is a deep watering for the potatoes, watering the sweet potato slips and watering the seed beds.

You know, sometimes I think some plants have 'personalities', for lack of any other way to explain it. That silly pumpkin plant acts like it's rejoicing in getting into the soil! It never wilted even the tiniest bit, and it's gone hogwild into growing! New leaves coming out already and the little baby buds are already setting themselves into the joints where buds like to nestle themselves. I mean, this plant hasn't skipped a beat. He looks so happy and healthy, merrily growing along.

I love to see happy plants with their leaves having a healthy sheen to them, no browning along the edges, no wilting, or leaves curling or otherwise discolored, steady growth, blossoms and blooms on time, with appropriate fruiting...to me, that's pleasure. And when these things are happening in the ground that my hands and back worked so very hard to put together, I can only thank G-d for his provision, and feel good about the way things are.

I pray over each bed that we make..I say we because I can't do this on my own and I fully believe Yah is enabling me to even be able to do it. And then I pray and ask yah to make it healthy & fruitful. Anybody can stick some seeds in the ground, but only Yah can make them grow, be healthy, and fruitful. Only Yah can protect the plants from extreme and destructive weather. Only Yah can make the fruit plentiful, nutritions, and tasty.

So, back to the original premise, when plants are happy, you can see it, and it's like a short term reward for the long term hard work. I pray Yah to keep the potato bugs, cucumber bugs, and squash bugs away!


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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 11:29 am 
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I noticed last night that the carrots are sprouted! Yippie Skippie they sprouted in record time lol! Less than 2 weeks even!

We ended up with yet another nasty storm last night which thankfully went to the north of us, so we only got the edge. In some places it was putting down golf-ball sized hail with heavy rains. We got some dime size with light rain. However, I only found one broken leaf in the entire garden...one of the pumpkin leaves. I can't complain, and I thank Yah for sparing the garden.

I don't know what it is with these night time severe storms here lately. That's WAY out of the realm of normal for these parts. Severe storms usually occur here between 4-6pm when they do happen.

One year we had some golfball sized hail that totally stripped every single leaf off of the tomato plants. The plants were 2 feet tall at the time, and they never recovered to the point of bearing fruit. They did leaf back out, but no fruit.

Another year, we had a truly nasty storm which totally shredded the few plants I had in that year..cantelopes. And they had been doing so beautifully. I think I need to get some sort of netting to protect my garden. Any thoughts?


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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 8:45 am 
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No thoughts on the netting, but I must say you are one remarkable lady.

:s_thumbsup

Strange weather out here this year...below 40 last night (cabin); near freezing down in the garden area (below cabin). Expecting some thunderstorms today and tomorrow.

I was going to do my garden this year, but since my neighbors wife passed away, I'll be working with him in his garden and let mine sit.

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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 12:16 pm 
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Is it usually warmer than what you mention, Temu?

It's like that weather-wise in the mountains in Colorado, too. I remember one year we got snow on June 12! We got 3-4 inches and at the time, my peas were 3" tall. It was the first time in my entire life I'd ever seen snow fall in June!

In that area, it was common to make those little cloche tunnels over the garden beds or else the season would be entirely too short. We tended to use short season varieties, and tried to buy our seed from local seed producers in an effort to get seed that was already acclimated to our area. Alaskan varieties also worked well..short season. The truth is, my very best gardens were up in the mountains, but I had to forgo heat loving crops.

I like the warmer areas much better!!

That's good that you're helping your neighbor. I'm sure he's absolutely grateful and thrilled by your kindness! If I were in his shoes, I know I'd be.

All of a sudden, the strawberries are trying to die...I'll bet those nasty cats are peeing on them :(


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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 3:25 pm 
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Usually MUCH warmer; was mild last year also.

Global cooling.

:s_dunno

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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 2:51 pm 
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July weather in May in some places, March weather in May in others...enough to make one's head spin!


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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 5:04 pm 
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Good day in the garden. :smile:

Got all the:

Tomatoes-3 different kinds
Potatoes-4 different kinds
Bell Peppers-3 different kinds
Eggplant-2 different kinds

Planted.

Cabbage went in 3 weeks ago.

Full day.

Tired.

:dirol:

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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 7:39 pm 
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Kewl beans! As tiring as it is, it sure feels good to get it in! Can't you just taste it all now? :)

Course it's enough to make my back ache just thinking about lugging heavy wire baskets full of jars in and out of the canning water even as I envision the beautiful results all in a colorful row on the shelf!


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 8:08 pm 
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I just have a few more things to put in -- pepper plants, the rest of the heirloom tomatoes, the parsley that I forgot to put in while doing herbs, and garlic, which really should go in early spring or late fall but I'm going to give them a try now. Need to weed the cooler weather greens already that went in a month ago. Spinach, lettuce, kale peeking out but the quack grass is towering over them.

Other half spent the morning desperately trying to weed the potatoes. Weeding between 250 potato plants is no easy task, especially when it's newly tilled ground that was dominated by weeds. Only quick way to do it is rototilling between rows (hoeing next to impossible to get up the three-foot long clover tap roots!), rake it out, then shovel between each individual plant. Phew!

Corn is not doing so well. Either germination rate was less than 25% or we have a major pest (birds!! geese!!) problem. I need to get into the corn field and do a little digging to see if the seeds are still there and if there are signs of germination. ALSO geese have been having a feast on our experimental wheat plot. Tips of the wheat grass eaten off :s_mad -- No chance of those guys developing cancer. Note to self: Planting wheat on the banks of a river is probably not a good idea. I'm thinking of spraying neem oil or making a bunch of scarecrows.

Frustration abounds here. I think we may have to replant. :s_sad Maybe we should pitch our tents beside the field and live there until harvest.

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Last edited by Toshav on Thu May 31, 2012 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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