Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The seed potatoes are sprouting too early

 How do you deal with early sprouts?
I have had 3 day of (50f /10c) outside temperature. I was keeping the tubers  in a cool unheated room. Most sunlight was blocked for a few weeks. But with that temp increase outside. Inside temps rose. So the Red Pontiac (Harvested July 08) &  Kennebec (harvested end of Aug), have started to sprout too early.

 I moved them to an area that gets indirect light. I hope to green up the sprouts and stop growth. The Yukon gold (Harvested Aug 08) is the only one not affected. I have been looking for info on Length of dormancy for them,

I will be adding some of the ones with really tall sprouts, to a mixture of cocoa core & organic potting soil. I will try to grow them indoors,for the winter. This is my first attempt to grow potatoes in the house  I may try some in straight core. See what happens.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winter window garden, Cranberry beans & potatoes

My winter window garden is an experiment to see what I can grow indoors.
I  was able to grow cranberry beans in the house. I started one plant from seed the beginning of Sept. Today I harvested the beans. I will see if they are sprout able. Or If the have to dry longer. This is the first time I have grown this type of bean. It is not a common type for my area. The bean origin is from Italy. But I was lucky to find it at a local store. The take is amazing. They are cooked like, pinto beans. But flavor is much better.
 The video will show you how much the Yacon plant has grown. I also will be  starting potatoes, from pull sprouts and cut of potato peals. 

The CFL light bulb. I bought is really nice.
 Note on light
 This one is a 20w CFL. 5500kelving 93 Cri. full spectrum. Color Technology W/ 6 Enriched Colors
CRI is Color Rendering Index- The quality of the light. The sun is 100 CRI
This bulb is 93+ CRI

 Balanced is pure white with 5,000-6,000K. If the temperature goes above that it will be blue (hazardous to your eyes) and below is yellow/orange in color.
Colors above 5000K are known as cool colors (blue) and closely resemble natural sunlight. Colors below 3,000K are known an warm colors (red).

Spring sun is more blue. Blue light induces vegetative growth
summer into Fall sun is gets more Red.  Red light induces flowering

Monday, November 10, 2014

Potatoes in the garden

This year I grew  Yukon gold and Red Pontiac potatoes. I used the raised hugalkuture bed, topsoil bags and grow bags of sorts. The Yukon gold did not do well with all the rain we had. The red did well. I learned you get larger tubers and health was good in the ground verses the bags.
But I will try some different types of bags next year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My winter window garden

It is such a joy to have the garden come inside with you for the winter. Even if it is only a few things. It keeps spring alive year round. And takes away the winter blues.
I have shelves up to keep the cats happy. Reba likes to check on the plants every day. She some times nips on the pineapple leaf. But no harm is done. I have plans for this window. it will be made about 4 inches deeper.
This is a rose bush cutting. I have it in a cup with some weeping willow branches broke up to create a rooting hormone. It is doing well. But no sign of roots yet.
This rose cutting was in water with the one above and then placed in this cup with willow water to wet the soil. It is alive but the leaves are not so happy.
This is a cranberry bean plant. Only 4-5 weeks old. And beans are growing on it. Yea! This one is as long as my finger. Did you know beans are able to self-pollinate?
This is a leek. i bought it at the grocery.I put it in the container with water for a week. Then added peat moss and vermiculite. Now a week later. It is starting to regrow.
I was giving up hope on this one. I planted seeds for pawpaw trees the end of July. I thought they were not going to sprout. So the sat on a shelf in the kitchen away from the window. They were covered in plastic like the photo below. I glanced at them yesterday. Surprised to find this on almost as tall as my finger. :) So today the cover comes off. And it will be re potted to a deeper container. So the tap root can get longer.  
The plant in the water to the left is an avocado pit. It has taken over  4 months for it to sprout a tap root. And 2 months more to get a stem to pop up less than 1 inch tall. I was about to give up hope on it too. But soon it will be put in a pot of soil too. So the window is happy for now.
Thanks for visiting my window garden.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Preparing garden for winter

Good day, friends!
Seems like Sumner did not show up this year.   We had so much rain for spring and early summer. Then cool to cold temps in July. Maybe a few hot days in Aug. Now it is time to prepare the beds for winter rest.

I posted this video of how I plant to both enrich the soil and feed the worms. I hope you enjoy it. I am adding kitchen scraps, old news papers. Mushroom compost, oats. And later will add layers of leaves. I placed a empty oatmeal container in the corner. To attract worms to make worm casting in it. The bottom was removed.  I hope to be able to collect castings from it, to use in other areas.
Thank for visiting and watching my videos.
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saving tomato seed

I have been collecting seed from tomatoes given to me. And from this years tomato grown in my garden. It is best to save seed from heirloom plants. Hybrids may not produce the same fruit  that you just ate. They may revert to one of the parent plants. But if you like what is grown from that seed. You can collect and replant it for a few years. And it may stabilize into the same plant year after year then. It is possible any plant can cross pollinate with another type of tomato. This would create a new hybrid. So if you want to have only 1 type of tomato it is best to not grow a variety near each other.
I forgot to drain my tomato seed after a few days and let it dry out. I left it to ferment from Aug 7 to Aug 21. So my seeds my not be good for next year. I should have waited only 3 or 4 days. But I was surprised the seed I collected from a tomato in my garden sprouted in the cup of water.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tomato suprise

We had a carnival held in our local fair grounds, last week. Parking for some was in the field behind out home. Normally this is not an issue. But I went out on Friday to find all of my tomatoes that were near the stage of ripe missing. It will be more than a week for the little ones left to grow and ripen. I was so sad. This is the first bounty I have ever had at this house. My no dig straw bail garden was successful. I told a local friend about this. And they surprised me with this. A very large head of cabbage, A very large Zucchini, 4 cucumbers.
 3 Tomato variety: Largest is beef master or steak. Roma &  Small German Lunch Box ((Heirloom)). Salad tomato. Red-skinned, egg-shaped, thin skinned; sweet. 62 days. Determinate.
I plan to save seeds from them to add to my collection.
I feel so happy just to have this many. As now at least I have some to eat. But I do not think,  I will get enough from my garden to store for the winter. I am so happy I was able to see a bounty in my garden though. They were beautiful! And I will now plan next years garden to include: some sort of fencing. And early netting to prevent the plants from being cut in half. This year was a struggle. But I am not giving up. Next year will be better.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Growing Stevia

Today I planted Stevia in a self watering pot
Growing Stevia Plants
It is a short lived perennial.
A South American perennial shrub (Stevia rebaudiana)

The 1990s the U.S.placed a trade embargo on stevia in because its safety was not proven,The  FDA (in 2008) found that stevia doesn't present any long-term dangers. In South America, stevia has been used for many centuries without any known side effects.

In northeastern Paraguay, stevia populations have been found in the watershed of the Ypane River
elevation of about 650 feet. Plants occur naturally on the edges of marshes or in grassland communities, that have soil with shallow water tables sites are continuously moist but not soggy. It is found near water growing in sandy mucky well drained infernal soil. It does bot do well competing with weeds. And cultivation has decreased its abundance in the area.

Growing Stevia

The majority of stevia plants are sold are produced by cuttings. Seed have a poor germination rate.
you can try to start from seed indoors in late winter, but it's best to grow it from rooted cuttings.

Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil. It like full sun, but cool temperatures. It is said to not do well in high heat. Where summers are extremely hot, stevia benefits from slight afternoon shade
3-5 plants may be enough for a years supply depending on how much you use it.

Wait a couple weeks after your last frost date to plant out doors, In loose, loamy,sandy well-drained soil Stevia doesn't like soggy soil!  Raised beds would be best for drainage. Stevia occurs naturally on soils of pH 4 to 5, but thrives with soil pH as high as 7.5. However,It grows best when soil pH ranges from 6.7 to 7.2.Stevia does not tolerate saline soils (high levels of salt)
It can grow 1 to 3 feet in height, And 18 to 24 around, depending on the length of your growing season

Srevia has fine roots that spread out on the surface of the soil, while a thicker part of the root grows deep into the soil.The root system is superficial with few lateral roots developed and it cannot be tolerated either in the lack of water or under the power of strong winds.

It grows best in Us Zone 9 and above. But will do well if covered over in Zone 8.
NOTE: You can dig it up and pot indoors for the winter.It is considered a perennial (4-6 years) second year plants are not as productive as first year. But it is better to take cutting and start new plants for next spring.

Stevia doesn't have any known diseases or pests.

you must trim back the plants several times to induce branching, or it will grow lanky

Harvest and Storage
You can cut the plant in half mid summer. Dry the leaves for use. And make new plants from cutting.
Leaves are sweetest in the cool temperatures of autumn. They also taste best prior to the plant blooming. in early to mid-Autumn.

Stevia grows well in containers. Like oregano and basil

At the end of September or beginning of October, harvest the entire plant once flower buds have appeared but before they've opened. Ideally, harvest in the morning when the plant is at its highest sugar content.

If you wait till  (4-5 buds) have open, or If most of the flowers have blossomed, they will leave behind a bitter aftertaste throughout the entire plant.

It is best to dehydrate the leaves. But you can place them in an oven at 150 degree till the leaves are crisp. It is best to grind them when you are ready to use them. In a coffee grinder or food processor. Store the dried leaves in an airtight container, placed in a cool dark area.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Garden in a bag

I did this the first time, back in 2008.
This way of gardening was so easy. No digging or weeds to worry about. I bought cheap topsoil bags, and added composted manure & peat to them. This time I paid 50c more per a bag for better topsoil. And just added a small amount of manure in the hole for the tomatoes and watermelon. They like a bit more fertility than this bag had already.You need to remember to water in the bag and not on the plant. Tomato leaves to not like allot of water on them. It can cause blight. Watermelons like moist rich soil.

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First break up the soil in the bag a bit. The cut an x on the back. flip over to make contact with the soil. You can lay news paper down first. I had some straw on the ground. Cut or poke holes in the bags and plant seed or plants. Space according to there needs. Like no more than 2 tomatoes to a bag. 1 watermelon with a companion that does not take allot of wide root space.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What to know aboutTomatoes

Did you ever wonder why, your tomatoes were not producing any more fruit?

You may have "determinate" tomatoes"
Or too much nitrogen. If you have amazing green growth, but no flowers after 65 or 70 days.

 What's the difference between "indeterminate" and "determinate" tomatoes?
Determinate tomatoes, are "bush" like tomatoes, that grow to a compact height (maybe 3 - 4 feet tall). determinate tomatoes bear their crop all at once, (usually over period of 1- 2 weeks) they are best for container growing. You should never prune a 'determinate' type tomato. As you will loose some of your crop.

Indeterminate tomatoes, are more vine like. They can grow 6-12 feet. They require staking or cage/trellis  support. After about  65 days in the ground,they produce fruit until killed by frost. So this is the one to choose if you want lots of tomatoes, from one plant. This plant you can remove suckers, and should remove most of the suckers at the bottom 10"to allow air flow. This may also prevent disease and insect damage. Pruning sometimes, helps to increase tomato size.

Regular Leaf, is the most typical leaf type with leaf edges that are serrated. There are more of these than potato leaf varieties available.
Potato Leaf, is thicker. Can produce more fruits and can be more tolerant of the common foliage diseases. But this is not a fact. Weather and environment, determine what can happen to any plant.

Heirloom verses Hybrid
Heirloom's are original plants. that you can collect seed from and they produce the same fruit or veggie. Unless the cross pollinate, with another plant.

Hybrids. Are the result of cross breading 2 or more plants to create another one. Some will produce viable seed. But may not create the same hybrid plant again. It could revert to the parent plants.  So seed saving on them is not a good choice if you want that same plant again.  

How temperature affects flowering:
Pollen does not develop if night temperatures are below 55°F.
Blossoms drop if daytime temperatures rise above 95°F before 10 a.m.
 Tomatoes grown in cool climates will have softer fruit with bland flavors.

Nitrogen is the nutrient most responsible for growing lush, vibrant leaves and stems. Indeterminate vines need it most when they are young. If after 65 day in the ground no bloom happens, too much nitrogen will keep the plants content and may not produce fruit. So stop using nitrogen.
Epsom salt
Spray them directly with a diluted mixture of Epsom salt and water; about 1 teaspoon to 1 quart of water. This will increase there Magnesium level. Epsoms salts help too if you are getting too much water, and the leaves are going yellow.
Egg shells: Wash them, then crush. Some people dry them out. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers. The calcium helps fend off blossom end rot. Eggshells are 93% calcium carbonate, the same ingredient as lime.
Coffee grounds mixed into the soil help with nitrogen and acidity.
Blood meal fertilizer can turn yellow leaves green again. This will also make your soil more acidic, because it  lowers the pH in the soil. It will last for 6 to 8 weeks.
 This is effective in repelling deer, rabbits and other pests away from garden  However, it also attracts dogs and raccoons. maybe even opossum.  You must use the correct amount, or it may damage your plants. Read the package for directions.

This post will be continued. When this statement is removed it will be finished.  I am recording all I need to rember on this blog. So I can refer back to is as needed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shade Tolerant Vegetables

At my old house I did not grow a normal garden. I mixed my veggies among the flowers. I use lettuces as a border. Many times put tomatoes at the foundation of the house. With colorful flowers in front. But at the home I am in right now. We had a termite treatment  applied to both the inside and outside of the entire foundation. So there is no way I will ever plant any edible plants near the house foundation. I do have many hostas planted in the front near the foundation. But even though some hostas are edible.  I will not try to eat them. I decided to compile a list of shade tolerant veggies. For my future reference.

 The following veggies will grow with as little as three to six hours of sun per day.
  1. Arugula
  2. Beans
  3. Broccoli
  4. Blackberries and raspberries
  5. Beets
  6. Brussels Sprouts
  7. Cabbage 
  8. Cauliflower 
  9. Cress
  10. Collards
  11. Currants
  12. Coriander
  13. Cardamom
  14. Carrots
  15. Cilantro
  16. Dill
  17. Endive
  18. Garlic
  19. Green onions
  20. Gooseberries
  21. Kale
  22. Kohlrabi 
  23. Lemon Balm
  24. Lettuce
  25. Mint
  26. Mustard greens
  27. Pak Choy
  28. Parsley
  29. Peas
  30. Potatoes
  31. Radishes
  32. Rhubarb
  33. Sorrel
  34. Spinach 
  35. Strawberries
  36. Swiss Chard
  37. Sweet potatoes and yams
  38. Tarragon
  39. Thyme
  40. Turnips
Shade Notes
Growing Tips
Arugula At least three to four hours of sun per day. Arugula welcomes shade, as this crop is prone to bolting as soon as the weather turns warm if in full sun.
Asian greens At least two hours of sun per day. Asian greens such as bok choi (also spelled “pac choi” and “pak choi”), komatsuna and tatsoi will grow wonderfully with a couple hours of sun plus some bright shade or ambient light.
Chard If you grow chard mainly for its crisp stalks, you will need at least five hours of sun per day; if you grow it mainly for the tender baby leaves, three to four hours of sun per day will be enough. Expect chard grown in partial sade to be quite a bit smaller than that grown in full sun. Baby chard leaves are excellent cooked or served raw in salads.
Culinary herbs At least three hours of sun per day. While many culinary herbs need full sun, chives, cilantro, garlic chives, golden marjoram, lemon balm, mint, oregano and parsley will usually perform well in shadier gardens.
Kale At least three to four hours of sun per day. You'll notice only a small reduction in growth if comparing kale grown in partial shade with kale grown in full sun.
Lettuce At least three to four hours of sun per day. Lettuce is perfect for shadier gardens because the shade protects it from the sun’s heat, preventing it from bolting as quickly. Often, the shade can buy a few more weeks of harvesting time that you’d get from lettuce grown in full sun.
Mesclun One of the best crops for shady gardens. Grows in as little as two hours of sun per day and handles dappled shade well. The delicate leaves of this salad mix can be harvested in about four weeks, and as long as you leave the roots intact, you should be able to get at least three good harvests before you have to replant.
Mustard greens At least three hours of sun per day for baby mustard greens. Mustard grown for baby greens is best-suited for shady gardens.
Peas and beans At least four to five hours of sun. If growing these crops in partial shade, getting a good harvest wil take longer. Try bush and dwarf varieties rather than pole varieties.
Root vegetables At least four to five hours of sun per day for decent production. Beets, carrots, potatoes, radishes and turnips will do OK in partial shade, but you'll have to wait longer for a full crop. The more light you have, the faster they'll mature. Alternatively, you can harvest baby carrots or small new potatoes for a gourment treat that would cost an arm and a leg at a grocery store.
Scallions At least three hours of sun per day. This crop does well in partial shade throughout the growing season.
Spinach At least three to four hours of sun per day. Spinach welcomes shade, as it bolts easliy if in full sun. If you grow it specifically to harvest as baby spinach, you'll be able to harvest for quite a

Friday, April 25, 2014

How to make a raised garden bed

I bought pre-cut  cedar boards to make this quicker and easier. I used 1inch wide by 8 inch tall in 4foot and 6 foot lengths. I will be making two, 4foot by 4 foot beds. And two, 4 foot by 6 foot beds. And to secure the corners together. I bought two 8 foot lengths of 2"x2 inch. I cut them down to 12 inch long.Total cost for lumber about $100.00 Us. And screws about $5.00
This first bed will be used to plant potatoes. The way I am doing this bed, I hope will help with both too much water and not enough.  It is called the Hugelkultur way to garden. Where you dig down a bit and add wood. The wood will act like a sponge. and wick it into the roots of the plant. And by it being raised. The water will not stay in the bed to flood the plants. When we have excessive rain. So I hope this combo. Will make the water level just right. 
 Part 1

Part 2

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Height chart for vegetables

Vegetable Size at
Vegetable Size at
     Artichoke   4' - 5'      Kohlrabi    9"-12"
     Arugula   8"-10"      Leeks  12"-24"
     Asparagus   4' - 6'      Lettuce   6"-12"
     Beans, bush  24"-30"      Okra   2' - 8'
     Beans, Lima (bush) 24" - 36"      Onions   8" - 24"
     Beans, pole  8' - 12'      Parsnips   6"-18"
     Beets  4" - 12"      Peas   2' - 6'
     Broccoli 18"- 24"      Peppers, hot 12" - 48"
     Brussels sprouts 24" - 36"      Peppers, bell 24" - 36"
     Cabbage 12" - 18"      Potatoes 12" - 30"
     Carrots 6" - 15"      Pumpkin 12" - 24"
     Cauliflower 12" - 30"      Radishes  2" - 6"
     Celery 18" - 24"      Rhubarb 12" - 36"
     Chard 12" - 30"      Rutabaga 12" - 18"
     Chinese           cabbage 12" - 24"      Spinach 6" - 15"
     Corn   4' - 8'      Squash, summer 12" - 24"
     Cucumber  1' - 5'      Squash, winter 12" - 24"
     Eggplant  1' - 3'      Sweet potato 12" - 30"
     Endive  6" - 9"      Tomatoes     2' - 8'
     Garlic 12" - 24"      Turnips   6" - 12"
     Kale 12" - 24"      Watermelon 12" - 36"

How deep are vegetable plant roots?

Shallow Rooting
12" - 18"
Medium Rooting
18" - 24"
Deep Rooting
24" - 36"+
     Arugula      Beans, dry      Artichokes
     Broccoli      Beans, pole      Asparagus
     Brussels sprouts      Beans, snap      Beans, Lima
     Cabbage      Beets      Okra
     Cauliflower      Cantaloupe      Parsnips
     Celery      Carrots      Pumpkins
     Chinese cabbage      Chard      Rhubarb
     Corn      Cucumber      Squash, winter
     Endive      Eggplant      Sweet potatoes
     Garlic      Kale      Tomatoes
Kohlrabi Bok Choy  Peas  Watermelon

     Lettuce      Peppers
     Onions, Leeks, Chives      Rutabagas
     Potatoes      Squash, summer
     Radishes      Turnips

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Seed starting 2014 Zone 5 b

I tried some new things this year. Only 2 days ago I just put in about an inch +/- potting soil and randomly sprinkled Heirloom Green sprouting broccoli seeds around the top. I used the see thru cover dome of a store bought cake. And placed aluminum foil on the top. Set it on a shelf away from the sunny window. And look at this growth.   

This container has failed 2 times. I tried pepper seed a few weeks ago. And lettuces a week ago. I looked closer to see it has a small vent for the hot food to release steam. So Today I put a plastic bag over it and will let it sit. To see if any thing happens. 
The cups in the window are doing great! I saved seed from the best watermelon we have had in years. And some tomatoes that were awesome. Name of seed is unknown. We bought them from local farms. 

Garden dates for Zone 5b 2014

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 5b: -15F to -10F
PlantMaps Hardiness Zone: Zone 5b: -15F to -10F
Days Where Temp Exceeds 86°F: 61 - 90 days Ecoregion: 39k -
Prairie Ozark Border Freeze Data: Average First Frost October 21 - 31
Average Last Frost: April 11 - 20

 To find USDA Hardiness Zone information for your area look at this link.