Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garden research. using red and silver ground cover

I am testing colored mulch in my garden this year.
This is my garden today. We finally have sun shine today here in Missouri.
This is my Hillbilly (Flame) tomato in a self watering 5 gallon bucket. I added the red plastic mulch to the top. It will help to conserve watter loss and we will see if the red color will enhance production. Feel free to click on the photos to enlarge for a better view. I am recovering from sinus surgery so my garden is far from complete this year.
There seem to be a difference already The cauliflower on the red side it getting a bit bigger than the silver side
I used aluminum foil on the inside. And silver reflective mulch on both out side edges.I have silver plastic mulch I ordered on the left end and red material on the right.
Peppers in front tomatoes on fence.
The broccoli seem to have small tops. This is caused from heat increasing too soon.
The tomatoes are making a complete recovery from having yellow and damage leaves.
I added more soil and removed all the damaged leaves on the bottom. Then topped it with cypress mulch. Today I added egg shells crushed. This will detour slugs and add calcium to the soil. I snapped off the suckers on the leaves today also. I will be adding a bit of coffee grounds to the soil latter today. They add a bit of fertilizer and deture some animals.
The bush beans are growing by leaps and bounds with no mulch as yet. I will be placing dry grass on them as soon as I can get it done.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

June planting calendar

This is the moon calendar I am using for the month of July 2009
I have color coded it as to fruit flower root & leaf to plant on what day.
on day like the 4 th this day is good for fruit flowers and roots.
on the 13 The ^ root in the morning changing to flower in the evening.
the 18th is leaf am fruit pm.
Refer to my companion guide to see which veggie fall into each category.
Like tomato & corn are fruit.
Trees are planted according to leave, fruit or root.
As in you plant an apple or oak tree in on a fruit day.
Willows on leaf, and maple on root.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Colored mulch 101

I have decided to experiment with colored mulch this year.
I have both the silver and red plastic. But have not installed it as yet. I used red cloth and tin foil first to see if it works. I have read that the plastic only is usable for 1 season. Which makes it an expensive buy. Also there are more than one brand sold. Some are of better quality than the others. And if we can use our recycling skills we can look around and find things that may work just as well.
The scientific theory behind using red mulch is a specific pigment system in plants (phytochrome) responds to specific red wavelengths of light. If we enhance those wavelengths in the plant canopy, we should be able to change plant growth. Much like the red and blue LCD lights. I read the mulch need to be placed in wide areas around the plat to be affective. As a tray directly under it will not have muck affect if it is covered up by the plant.

research results from studies examining red mulch under tomatoes is very conflicting- in some cases, a yield benefit was observed, in others, no benefit.

Some say you need to use it more in mass on 10 plus plants to see any results.

One University study showed in 1999 no benefit was seen, but in the year 2000 tomatoes and peppers plants mulched with either silver or red mulch set more fruit earlier than those on the other treatments & bore more fruit than plants.
Different tomato varieties also appear to respond differently to the red mulch.
There is also some indication from different trials that red mulch may also be reducing the severity of early blight on tomatoes. Fruit grown on yellow produced the smallest fruit

At this time I have cypress mulch under my tomatoes.
I always use this under flowers in my garden but I am trying it under the tomatoes. And it is helping them to regain health. The was signs of early blight and insect damage. I had yellow leaves. See photos here.

One week ago Saturday I placed the aluminum foil under my cabbage and I already see less bug damage to the new leaves .
silver mulch has s a reflective, silvery sheen. The finish tends to confuse insects, thus discouraging them from attacking the plants. Silver mulch is especially effective against white flies, aphids, and thrips.
I am mixing up the silver and red in the broccoli and cauliflower plants.
I will add red to one tub and silver to the other to see if any help is had.
The asparagus is doing well. by it's self.
Tomatoes with get red and silver to see what works best.
Lettuce is sprouting.
My corn is starting to grow.

I have a blue pool cover and brown tarp I will try on the melons and cukes.
I will try diffrent colors on the bean rows.
University study Notes.
Blue-colored mulch improved yields of zucchini & honeydew.

Muskmelons. Plants (cv. Cordele) grown on green IRT, blue, red, silver mulch produced significantly more fruit (total yield) than plants grown on white mulch. In addition, plants grown on green IRT or blue mulch produced significantly more fruit compared to plants grown on black mulch. Larger fruit was harvested from plants grown on brown IRT mulch and the smallest from plants grown on black mulch.

blue and red, can have a dramatic impact on the soil temperatures, raising soil temperatures to 167o and 168o F, respectively, at the 2-inch depth when the ambient air temperature was 104 o F in Kansas

Mulch Color
Benefits Best crops


Increase soil temperature, change light quality
Eggplant, tomato, onion, potato
Black Increase soil temperature Potato, onion
Blue Increase soil temperature, change light quality Cucumber, summer squash, cantaloupe, Muskmelon
silver, Aluminum Reflective Decrease soil temperature, deters insects Pepper, onion and potato
Yellow Attracts insects Basil grown over yellow and green surfaces produced significantly higher concentrations of aroma compounds .
White Decrease soil temperature
Larger fruit



Soil solarization




University of connecticut

potato tuber production can be influenced by colored straw mulches

Colored mulch starves nematodes

(Penn State Center for Plasticulture)

(University of Minnesota)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cherry tomatoes in my garden

Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato
Lycopersicon esculentum Indeterminate Heirloom Regular Leaf 1 oz. (70-80 days)
I already have blooms on my plant today. This is a popular mild flavored, pear-shaped fruit that has been grown since the late 1800s Said to be low in acid; crack resistant It should bear clusters of fruits all season long.
Resistant to alternaria stem canker disease. They require substantial caging and/or staking for support Plant 4-6 ft. apart. Bushes can grow up to 8-10 ft tall.
Parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested

Sweet 100 Hybrid (Lycopersicon lycopersicum) 'Sweet 100' Indeterminate.Regular Leaf multiple-branched clusters of 1/2 inch Cherry tomatoes. 65 day
This is the only Hybrid tomato I have in my garden this year.
American : plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed. Sweet fruit with high vitamin C. Vigorous vines that as said to bear abundantly until frost and need staking for best results. Disease Resistance to Fusarium Wilt , Verticillium Wilt , Root Nematodes , Tobacco Mosaic.
. Sweet 100's grow like crazy regardless of pruning. It is said this can get up to 20 feet tall. This plant takes allot of space.

The Lunar planting calendar for this month is located at the bottom of the page

The garden is growing

The tomato plants are looking better.

The bush beean are growing
The broccoli .
The cauliflower in front peppers in back.
The cover over the tomatoes is helping.
Looks like a bean plant with the squash.
The zucchini is yellow. It was under water and I replanted it to higher ground.

The Lunar planting calendar for this month is located at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday update

The over view of my garden for 2009. Please do not mind the weeds I am lucky to get the garden planted this year.
I removed all the lettuce around the tomatoes here to aid in air circulation. I have replanted more in it's place.
I place the lettuce leaves on the sides of the bean crop to decompose and add to compost.
The top of the photo is where I added composted manure top soil peat moss on top of news paper to create a no dig garden for my corn seed I planted yesterday.
On the fence line is melon and cukes
This leave is from my peonies it seems to have early blight, I removed the affected leaves.
We were expecting hail and storms with heave winds yesterday. So I pulled the bad leaves from the tomato on the back fence added composted manure and mulch . In hope of saving the plants I added the soda bottle tops to protect them from more rain.
I places a pallet at a tilt on the fence ,added Plastic in hope of keeping more WATER OFF THE Leaves. This may help save them from early blight.
So far my tomatoes in the up side down containers are the only healthy tomato plants.
The Lunar planting calendar for this month is located at the bottom of the page.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

This years garden will be a challenge to fight off pest and disease.

To much rain is the cause of most of this years tomato problems.
Tomatoes like water on the roots not on the leaves.
Because leaves need to be able to evaporate water to pull more up from the roots

See the withered leaves are from to much water then not enough.

tomatoes need about 1 inch of water per week 3-5 gallons of water per plant. With the the summer heat , they need 11/2 to 2 inches per week. If the roots are shallow the plant will likely dry out faster (causing wilting). Watering once every 2-3 days is a good idea. By using a stick to check the depth 8-12 inches deep is about right where the water should reach.
Anoth cause of wilting is Fusarium and Verticillium Wilts
Is a soil borne fungus, the first symptom is wilting during the hottest part of the day, along with lots of yellow leaves. There is no cure for this .

So this was not the reason for this one plant to wilt.
hot, humid weather could have done this too. As the plant has now recovered.
This plant is a diffrent story
With all the rain I think I may have early blight,
The leaves are turning yellow. Spots and holes are on some leaves.
This is both pest and disease caused by aphids and ants.

But the leaves are damaged

Then to top it off the soil under one of the tomatoes has more ants than soil. So is this a insect problem? Or a disease? Or all of them? I would say All !
1. over-watering, which causes blight. Is the main reason.
2. Ants are the 2nd reason. They are attracted to aphids.
Which contributed to the disease of the plant.

Water only the bases of your tomato plants, and try to water in the morning. Plants sitting in dampness overnight may become more susceptible to blight. But this in my case is too much rain. All I can do is make an umbrella for them with soda bottles for the small ones and plastic tarps for the bigger ones.

Ants and Aphids Usually an ant problem is a symptom of an aphid infestation.
aphids suck plant juices from leaves, stems and fruit. They cause distorted and stunted growth as well as discoloring and wilting. They are also vectors for virus diseases. They attract ants, bees, wasps and flies because of the production of honeydew. Ants farm them and protect them from predators for food.
Link to more information on aphids

What I did to stop the damage.

I did not like to do it but I added seven dust to the ground for a day . Then removed the top soil and replaced it with fresh clean soil. removed all the damaged leaves and covered the plant higher with soil and cypress mulch. This made a big improvement to the plants health. When it rains, I covered them with plastic this also helped to protect them from too much water on the plant leaf.

Click here for an update.
The plants are doing better now.

Friday, May 8, 2009

More rain

Another 2 inches of rain fell since yesterday. My squash are under water.

The asparagus is doing well with the tomato in the self watering container. But the tomato is still a bit yellow.
This tomato plant is showing signs of disease or pest.
The Lunar planting calendar for this month is located at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why are the leaves turning yellow?

Here is a look at the garden today.
Allot of the plants are turning Yellow. So I applied some Epsom salts around them to see if this will green them up a bit. I found that to much or to little water can be the cause of the yellow leafs. Also temperature change . We have had too much water the last week or so. And temps up and down. Also this could be a lack of nitrogen or iron. As to much rain could have washed all the minerals or nutrients out of the soil. You may click on photos to enlarge.
The bottom photo is 2 days later. The new growth is greener.
After the Epsom salts. We have had 2 more inches of rain though.
These 2 photos are melons and cukes
You may ask why the clover is in the above photo. It is a good source of nitrogen so I let it grow freely and pull it to add to the soil.
The new pepper plans are looking well so far.
The Lunar planting calendar for this month is located at the bottom of the page.