Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Information from The Garden Geek

My Christmas Rose in March 2013

I love printing off information such as this for my garden notebook so I can make notes on whether I've done it yet or not.  I found these tips from The Garden Geek on Facebook.  They also have a website that has lots of good information.  If you "like" the Facebook page, you will see when there are new post that might be just what you need to know.

Protect seedlings from cutworms by cutting flexible straws into 1.5" pieces. Then cut these bits lengthwise and slip around the stem of your seedlings after planting them into your garden. The straw will prevent the cutworms destroying your plants and the straw will gradually open as the stem grows.
Be sure to time your mulching just right. If you do it to early, you may smother tender shoots from seedlings or established plants trying to reach for the sun. If you mulch too late, you could have a full blown weed problem. Always try to mulch in early spring around shrubs and trees, and mid spring around perennials and seedlings. Early mulching may also slow plant growth because it takes longer for the ground to warm up. Don't forget to mulch your veggies and annuals once they are established, this helps keep their roots cool on those hot summer days.

To prevent soil from leaking out of a container bottom, line your pots with a paper towel, coffee filter, used dryer sheet or for a little extra nutrient boost and help in moisture, tea bags.

Tomatoes and Cabbage make great companions! Tomatoes are repellent to diamondback moth larvae, which are caterpillars that chew large holes in cabbage leaves.

Stop Ant's in their track with petroleum jelly. I have tried many things to keep ants out of my hummingbird feeders. The only thing that has been full proof up to this point has been when I smear petroleum jelly on the wire that the feeder is hanging on. They never try to cross that gooey stuff.

Remember that tilling is best done in the fall. If you plan on tilling a new bed, do in autumn because in the spring, the ground can be too wet to dig, and you just compact it even more. Tilling in the fall will save you work. The freezing and thawing of winter will work any large clumps loose, leaving you with soft, fluffy earth in the spring.

Did you know you can get rid of moles, gophers and groundhogs by planting jalapeno peppers within 4” from the area that they were invading. One bite of these babies and they pack their bags.  Gophers ate my entire garden last year!  They did leave me one bean plant along with broccoli.  I figure they must be Republicans since George Bush also hated broccoli.  

Cabbage, broccoli and related vegetables are vulnerable to many types of insects, including cucumber beetles and leafhoppers. To protect the plants, spray them weekly with a mixture of two tablespoons of hot red pepper powder, six drops of liquid soap and one gallon of water.

Plant your Nasturtiums with your Cucumbers. Nasturtiums are believed to repel cucumber beetles. They also look pretty sweet crawling in the cucumber plants

Tomato and potato plants are particularly susceptible to fungal infections. Spray early in the growing season with a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of mineral or canola oil and one gallon of water.

Use old car tires to give your plants a little extra protection from the weather. They can be used as windbreaks but also as great raised beds for heat loving veggies like tomatoes, peppers or egg plants. Just stack them 2 or 3 high, fill with a nice fertile soil being sure to put rocks on the bottom for drainage. The tires soak up the sun and help give you a head start in spring. Just be sure to give lots of extra water in the hottest part of summer because of the heat retention.

Mix one cup Beer, one cup Epsom Salt, one cup Listerine, and one cup Ivory Dishwashing Liquid in a one quart jar. Spray this on up to 2,500 square feet of lawn with a hose sprayer in May or June to fertilize your grass.

Make individual hot caps or cloches from empty soda pop bottles or milk jugs. Just cut off the bottoms and wash, then stick them over young plants to create a warm greenhouse around them or when there is a threat of bad weather. Be sure to remove the caps when it's warm again to give your plants good air circulation. If you are in a windy area, milk jugs work best because you can drive a stake through the handle to keep it in place.

Protect your cutting garden from blustery days and strong winds with a flower you wont cut until fall. The sunflower. With it's large leaves and thick stalks, it becomes a great natural wind break to protect leaves and petals of more delicate flowers, and who can resist those beautiful yellow faces? Just plant 2 or three rows on the windward side of your cutting garden and mix in some annual vines like morning glories or sweet peas to climb the stalks and add color. Makes a beautiful natural fence.

Give your raised bed a cozy warm jacket. Raised beds are warmer then the ground just because they are higher, but you can easily turn them into a mini green house by covering them with a clear plastic roof. It will use solar energy to heat it even more as well as give you that added protection in chilly spring or autumn nights.

Mix one cup of milk to nine cups of water to make a spray that rids plants of mildew. Apply twice a week

For those shady spots that grass struggles, plant perennial periwinkle, not only will you be able to enjoy the light blue blooms, but they work better on hillsides then grass (no mowing means safer for you) and they are low maintenance. Ground covers of any kind help tie together the various aspects of your landscape.

Prevent Blight, Blossom-end rot, and other common tomato diseases by sprinkling a handful of Nonfat Powdered Milk in the hole before planting transplants. After planting, sprinkle 2 more tablespoons on top of the soil. Repeat this topdressing every few weeks. You can also grind up chalk and do the same. These diseases are caused by calcium deficiency

I don't know about you, but my memory seems to be getting worse as the years pass. Don't trust your memory when you plant bulbs. Mark the spot with small tags made from cut up blind strips or milk jugs, or anything that wont deteriorate in the rain. This way you wont slice through them while planting something else in that empty space. When the bulbs bloom-mark the bare spots, this way you know where to add more bulbs! *Always remember, the best fade resistant writing utensil is a pencil. Everything else will eventually fade.

Always keep a watering can in the kitchen. If you do, you can collect the wonderful, nutrient rich water left over from boiling eggs or steaming vegetables. When the water cools, poor it into your watering can and water any indoor or outdoor container plants. They will love the boost.

Keep them apart!! Be sure to plant Dill and Fennel far apart in your garden if you are a seed saver. These two plants cross pollinate and create unusual tasting seeds.

Buying new terra-cotta pots? Be sure to do the ring test before you buy. Hold the pot upside down by placing your finger in the drain hole, and tap it's rim with your knuckle. Listen for a distinctive ring. A pot with cracks or imperfections like air bubbles, will have a muffled or muted sound. These imperfections can later cause the pot to break easier when cold weather hits.

Don't throw away your old holey hose! Give it a new life by puncturing the underside of the hose at regular intervals with a hot icepick. Lay it, holes down, in your garden bed between your plants. Attach one end to your new hose and plug up the other end with an end cap. Cover the hose with mulch and turn on the water. You have just made a 
FREE soaker hose! Enjoy!

Don't rush to plant Basil in the spring as they dislike temperatures that drop below 45ºF. To keep Basil producing, pinch back the shoots to not only ensure a bushy plant but also a longer producing one, and it produces more seed too!! Just don't allow flowers to develop until the end of the growing season, they sap energy and flavor from the leaves. Don't forget to plant it with tomato plants as they encourage stronger growth in each other.

Chase ants away with a candy cane. You can keep them away from your house and plants by grinding up peppermint candy and sprinkling it about. Make them move by sticking a candy cane or two in their ant hill near their entrance. Or just mix up an ant spray by mixing a teaspoon of peppermint extract in a quart of water. You can add a few drops of lemon ammonia just to give it that extra bite.

Don't worry about those nights the thermometer dips! Shovel warm ashes from a fireplace into a covered metal container and place in the center of a cold frame. The ashes will radiate heat for about 24 hours.

Propagate Lilies by scaling. Choose a healthy, uninjured bulb and detach the outer scales. Dust them with fungicide and place them into a plastic bag that has holes punched in it for ventilation and filled with damp peat or vermiculite. Store at 60º to 70ºF for 6 to 12 weeks. Once small bulblets have formed at the base of the scales and the roots are at least 1/2" long, place the bag in the fridge for 2 or 3 months. In spring, plant the scales with bulbets attached in beds or pots and they will grow into bulbs that are big enough to bloom in 1 to 2 years.

An easy way to tell if your soil is too compacted is, after a drenching rain, get a red surveyor flag and try to push it into the ground at least 12 inches. If it goes in, your soil is fine. If it gets stuck after a few inches, you may need to add organic matter to your beds

Here's a cool idea to do while waiting for warmer temps. To help with the boring look of terra-cotta pots in groups, paint them different colors with acrylic paint. For herbs, choose pastel hues and write the herb's name on the pot.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) has always been a plant I never live without in my beds and I try to convince everyone they should have at least one in their gardens. Having this plant not only helps make your gardens look beautiful and brings butterflies in droves, it can save you money on medicine! In summer, relieve the itch and stings of bug bites just by rubbing a crushed leaf on it. It works great on minor cuts and scraps, too. In winter, make a tea out of the leaves to boost your immune system and ease the discomfort of colds and flu. Now tell me again why you don't have at least one growing near by?

Want a quick way to measure the light coming in through a window? Here is a little trick. Hold your hand up to the window and watch your shadow. If you can clearly see the outline of your hand, you use this window for plants that tolerate high light. If you don't see a shadow at all, low light plants should be placed there, but if you see a fuzzy shadow, this area is just right for plants that require medium light. Simple huh?

Plants need calcium, especially seedlings. Everything from high humidity, cold, low transpiration and salt buildup can cause calcium deficiency and many of these things are present when starting seeds indoors in the spring. So try using non fat dry milk or even crushed up chalk (calcium carbonate) and sprinkle (I use and old salt shaker) some into the top layer of your seeds starting mix and plant your seeds. Remember calcium deficiency will appear in younger leaves (die back or burns) and in fruits (blossom end rot, bitter pit).

Don't like the look of your new terra-cotta pot? To quickly give it an aged look, coat the outside with yogurt and let it sit outside! This will attract lichens and mosses, making your pot an instant antique!
Don't like the look of your new terra-cotta pot? To quickly give it an aged look, coat the outside with yogurt and let it sit outside! This will attract lichens and mosses, making your pot an instant antique!

If your garden plot needs to be purged of weeds, fungi, and insect pests, sterilize your soil with solar power! All it takes is clear plastic and the sun. First ready the ground for planting, dig a trench around the bed and water it. Cover the bed with the plastic, anchor it in the trenches with backfill and let it sit for 4 to 6 weeks to sterilize the soil (best done in middle of summer in high heat but can be done in any season, it just takes longer). You can always check with your county extension to find out when solorization is best effective in your area.

More Hints and Tips from Pinterest:

 Sink pots for deep watering:   An ordinary 1-gallon plastic nursery pot with holes on both the sides and the bottom can be used to create a well in the center of the squash hill.  This information was taken from the website, Vegetable Gardener.
When we plant squash in the late spring, we are already thinking ahead about how to make summer watering easier. We begin by sowing squash seeds in hills 4 feet apart, though some garden guides suggest that 3 feet is sufficient. To prepare the bed, we mark where the hills will be and dig a hole 2 feet deep by 1 or 2 feet wide. Summer squash requires fertile soil to support its large leaves and rapid growth, so we put in a couple of shovelfuls of compost and build a hill with the garden dirt dug from the hole. As we backfill the hole, we bury a 1-gallon nursery pot in the middle. Landscapers throw these pots away by the dozen, so it's easy to find several for free. The rim of the pot should be an inch or two out of the ground when the hill is finished, and there should be no soil in the pot. We plant four to six seeds per hill, about 1⁄2 inch deep. We just poke them into the ground 2 to 3 inches away from the pots.

To prepare a planting hill, dig a hole 2 feet deep and fill lit half full with compost. The plant roots will respond with vigor when they reach the compost.

Place the pot in the center of the hole, with the lip extending above the ground 1 to 2 inches. Backfill the hole with the original soil.

Prepare the seed bed by raking the soil smooth around the pot and tamping it down with a soil rake. Try to avoid getting any soil in the pot.

Once the seeds have germinated, we thin each hill to the two or three strongest plants. The plants turn a deep green when the squash roots hit the compost. As the plants grow larger, the sunken nursery pots give us the advantage of watering at root level. We also shovel some compost into the pots later in the season to give the plants compost tea as we water. Summer squash is a thirsty plant; we water in the nursery pots once or twice a week, even if there has been rain.


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We moved to our current home on the Wild River Coast of Southern Oregon from San Jose, CA. Our family consist of Jim and Karen, two dogs and two cats. Karen's passion is gardening. Jim's obsession is building electric powered fishing kayaks and fishing.