Rainshine

Jun. 18th, 2009 04:50 pm
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This year has been wonderful for establishing perennials in the mid-Atlantic region. It seems that everytime I go on a random planting spree it rains directly afterward, sometimes for days!
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No, I'm not raising rabbits. . . . yet. The rhizomes I ordered from Pinetree Gardens back in November are on their way, as in, in the mail today! Two Nugget, one Cascade, and a Brewers Gold that I added at the last minute because, as the kind lady who processed the order commented, "because you ordered early". (Handled, packaged and delivered for $23.43, because the Mrs. will want to know. . .) Now I have to put up some arbors on the cheap for grapes and hops. It just may be springtime, afterall.
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  • Those little clear plastic boxes with lids that serve as packaging for everything from produce to pastries double as little greenhouses, especially those that have a clear lid and black plastic base (helps warm the soil). Just be sure to punch some holes in it somewhere if they aren't already.

  • Paper egg crates make awesome little sprout pots and work swimmingly in conjunction with the afore mentioned trashy little greenhouses. With a sharp knife I cut a large 'X' in the bottom of each cell which will maintain enough strength to retain soil but allow developing roots to push through when they're ready.

  • Clear plastic pop bottles make nifty trash greenhouses, as well. This is my first year attempting these, I only wish I had through of this 'n before the Mrs. gave up Diet Pepsi. Pull the label off and cut one or more X's into the bottoms of each for drainage. Using those slick mailer ads as a funnel, deposit a couple inches of potting soil in the bottoms and drop in a seed or two. Keep the lids off for ventilation. Line a southern facing window sill with a few of these until they sprout. When the plant is sturdy enough to be transplanted carefully cut the top off the bottle and remove the seedling.

  • Have access to a lot of boxes? Shallow corrugated cardboard boxes make a quick, easy and no-dig method for planting. Tape the bottom of a shallow corrugated box closed if it's broken down. Fill it with a suitable soil for the desired planting and plop the seedling(s) into that, or sow seeds directly into fine soil. The beauty of this method is that, with reasonable care, you can move these boxes inside and outdoors as weather conditions vary (frost at night? bring them in. . .) and when they're ready to be placed in the yard or garden, well, just drop 'em on the ground where you want them and ignore. It was also quite helpful yesterday when I decided to move the 4 boxes of A. pontica to the front yard where it will get better light from a place I think will be better suited for the raspberries I brought from 1006. Every perennial that I planted last using this method survived the winter and are thriving! A pile of leaves raked around the outside of the box both provided some insulation against freezing temperatures and helped the "box method" not make my yard look quite so trashy (not that I really mind, I lo♥e trash!)

  • Slightly unrelated - Wednesday is recycling day for the well-to-do suburban neighborhood that surrounds the office building I work in. On my lunch break I take a walk through there with a pocketful of those plastic grocery bags and pick the choicest cork-stopped empty wine bottles out of the recycling bins. Am I proud? Hell no! These, I'll take back to my secret underground lair, headquarters of the Short Attention Span Brew Works where they are delabelled, cleaned, and sanitized so that I have a supply of 750 ml bottles readily on hand when the mead is ripe!
Now I shall go sing to my favorite vermicomposting worm, "Slimy". Have a crappy day, everyone!
doodlemaier: (Default)
The re-used 2 gal. planter pot filled with moist paper, grass clippings and soil dropped in a large catch-all, "seeded" with spring red worms and covered with a cardboard lid, where it seems to have worked well enough especially for something I literally threw together in seconds upon discovering a shitload of worms, is too small for our weekly kitchen scrap dump. I just tore that thing apart and the worms have wintered surprisingly well in the basement. Even the night crawlers that many vermicomposting experts warn against employing for indoor composters seem well-fed, happy and huge. There're also some little white things that I originally thought were tiny maggots only, on closer inspection, look more like termites and they hop (most likely something called springtails)! So the entire thing has to be re-engineered to keep those things out.

Nonetheless I'm adapting plans located here and here to put together something that better accommodates the abundance of kitchen scraps Mrs. and I produce on a weekly basis. Not to mention I miss out on all that yummy worm tea that only coagulates into a dag-nasty clot on the bottom of the kitty-box drain pan I'm currently using. So, while everyone around me was busy battling it out for the last loaf of bread and rolls of toilet paper I procured three 8 gal. opaque plastic bins with one lid at the local Big Lots for $4 a piece.



Git it!
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Mrs. is making chicke'doodle soup in the crocker and I bet it smells wonderful. Everything to me smells like smoldering dust, even this cup of E. Grey tea smells like dust.

Got some Reliance seedless grape vines at the Lowes the other day that I've kept in the house in front of a south-facing winder. They say to transplant after the threat of frost has passed which, I guess will be April in these parts (zone 6 or 7?) and they've been putting off leaves like they mean it. I hadn't seen them for a week but then when I got up yesterday I noticed three great big beautiful grape leaves sprouting from the dead sticks poking up from the root bag, heralding Spring's arrival."Oh, can't wait to have a look at those later. . ." and then when I returned from my class they were gone! Did I dream that? No, there's still a piece of green where I imagined the huge leaves. . . .were. Where the wilted knubs are now. And it was at the point I realized Gnina had eaten them. Stoopid cat! I knew she'd be useless as defense against vermin and pests but I didn't know she would join them. . .

Outdoor pests have been making their presence known for a little over a week, which was when I sighted the first whistle pig of the year. Since it looks like it'll be a awhile before I can afford a decent crossbow I will be employing the use of a slingshot in the mean time. I love dangerous toys! I just ran out to fling some small rocks at a marauding deer, most likely snacking on my raspberry canes.

aight, on to get Pop's chainsaw to him.
doodlemaier: (Default)
Try refrigerating for 90 to 120 days(1-5 deg C), followed by warm stratification at 30 to 36 deg C for 2 days then soak in 0.5M hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours, then germinate at 30 deg C with 12/12 hours light /dark. Well drained, moist potting soil or a home blend of 1:1:1 sand:peat:perlite will work fine.

As for timing, once they have sprouted you must be able to provide them with Spring weather, either the real thing or a greenhouse/ growing room. Plant them out well after the danger of frost has passed.
http://www.grapebreeders.org/Gb/Articles/Seed/Seed.htm
Stratification of grape seeds:

The stratification or cold treatment of grape seeds is essential if you want to succeed with growing a grape vine from seeds.

After extracting the seeds from the berries, you need to put the seeds in peat moss or damp paper towel, inside a refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 months. The peat moss must be kept damp throughout the whole process, but not too wet (soggy). The ideal temperature for stratification is 35 - 40 ºF (1 - 3 ºC) and should be kept at this temperature throughout the whole process.

Grape seeds can be held in stratification for a long time (even years), as the seeds will not germinate under these cold conditions.

Planting out the seeds:

After stratification, take the seeds from the refrigerator and plant them in seed pots and ensure the temperature is about 70ºF (20ºC) during daytime. If your climate is cold, you can use heat mats to increase the minimum temperature. Heat up the seed pots at night if your temperature is lower than 15ºC.

After a few weeks (if you are lucky), then some of the seeds will germinate. After the seedling is about 1 - 2 inches high, it can be planted out in a bigger pot. Make sure you keep the soil moist, but not too wet. It is advisable to grow the seedlings in the pots for a full year, before planting them out.
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This time of year there are two important things to consider happening in the garden. The first is that we're seeing less rain and a close second is that this happens every year right at the time when my plants are larger than they've ever been and growing, demanding more water. Another precious resource I never seem to have enough of either is time. I, as a gardener, certainly haven't found any more time here in the dog days and what's more is that living between two houses divides what little I do find. Though as time and water permit and until they're big enough to transition to permanent places in the yard I keep a small container garden consisting mostly of sun-loving perennials which I have to regularly leave unattended over the weekend, and sometimes for several days in continuous 100º+ daily temperatures. When in the spring, with its uncertain weather, trying to insure the proper conditions for tender shoots of new sprouts was difficult and the survival rate was not high. But one thing that can be said about a heat wave is that it's consistent, and insuring proper conditions for the container garden is mostly a matter of keeping it well-watered. ONe of the advantages of a container garden and the best low-tech solution I've discovered for keeping them watered is a method of deep root saturation done by submerging the root balls of potted plants.

All that's required is a source of water and a container larger than that of the potted plants (leave enough room to get your fingers in, too!)

A close source of water and reservoir that can accommodate multiple plants makes dunk watering quick and easy


A. Place the plant(s) snuggly in a water tight reservoir.

B. Add water gradually until top of soil around plant roots is submerged. Allow time to saturate, then drain.

It helps also to have a separate container to allow the dunked plants to drain if you're interested in conserving as much water as possible (I am, especially this time of year). And to make the process more efficient in terms of both time and the amount of water one has to move around it helps to secure a watering reservoir large enough to accommodate multiple plants.

Read more... )
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My father still owns the house, but my brother and live there. I, at least, until I can find a job in the valley and move to 1006. My father always kept the lawn, the "compost pile", and the garden all very carefully segregated. Now it's my job, and it's a big one! I'm planning to integrate the three areas somewhat so as to make it more manageable to the point where it not only looks decent but is easily cared for by one single, very lazy stoner who could give two shits about (yard) work.

Even by myself, sober and properly motivated, I wasn't able to keep up with the raking last year, and got caught with leaves on the yard when the first snow fell. That's when I decided that I need to conceive of an alternative to the classic lawn, with its broad expanses of high-maintenance, otherwise useless grass. This season, since the lawnmowers at Medford have been out of commission, and Gilbertson up the street has been mowing our lawn with a riding mower I haven't been too motivated about fixing them. But that still leaves corners and grades left unmowed. My low-tech response has been to start collecting corrugated cardboard boxes from work (and I can get a lot of them, in increments if I'm willing to wait) that I've started slowly mulching the lawn grass to death with. That option leaves an eyesore too, but I can live with it temporarily. It's all part of a several year project to foster a low-mow to no-mow lawn, allotment-style garden around Medford.


I originally started by overlapping the edges and tacking them down with nails (which didn't work), and then old chop sticks (which didn't work for long) and finally decided just to simply throw some logs on top to weigh them down. Rain helps, too but is usually accompanied by wind - no good. By the time the leaves start falling in October Scotty will come looking for the logs I've borrowed. Which is perfect timing because by then the leaves should be falling and I'll simply rake them right over the top of the cardboard "mulch" instead of having to schlep them all to the single, centralized backyard compost heap (the lawn's a ½ acre with a dozen or so very big trees, and a hell of a lot of work for one guy and a rake!)

I'd initially conceived of pulling the cardboard back up after a couple months and planting my perennials there but the problem of keeping the cardboard down in the mean time has forced the idea to evolve to the point where the cardboard and the lawn clippings, dead leaves, and anything I weed become a permanent and integral part of the landscape. I don't believe the cardboard by itself is a very effective mulch, just like I learned the hard way the dead leaves, etc. raked off the lawn aren't a very effective mulch by itself. But together the two should work as a impervious barrier to any unwanted vegetation - including lawn grass! This way when I'm ready to plant, whether later this autumn or next spring, I simply dig a hole straight through the mulch and decomposing cardboard. There was a question raised about the safety of the formadehyde that's present in traces in corrugated, but guess what? Plants readily break that down and it becomes nitrogen in the soil! The plants that are planned for this area are such that can basically be ignored or admired all year long for their sagey goodness, harvested, or simply cut back in the fall and then more leaves from the lawn are raked over the top. The lawn becomes the garden becomes the compost heap becoms the garden.

So, the idea as it stands is to border the yard along the little slope with (3) artemisia absinthium, (2) hyssop officinalis, and a border of agastache foeniculum (so far I've only 3). In addition I'd like to check into getting a load of rip-rap dumped here to include some rock features. Voila! The Absintheur's Garden.

Later on in the fall, when I've photo-documentation and after I get a handle on how well this scheme works I'll hatch my plan to further reduce mowing, reduce leaf raking, and have an organic vegetable garden in raised beds made using cardboard boxes.
doodlemaier: (Default)
Very early spring (as soon as the ground can be worked)
  • Onions
  • peas
  • spinach

Early spring
  • lettuce
  • beets
  • carrots
  • radishes
  • dill
  • cilantro
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • celery
  • kale
  • potatoes

After last frost date
  • beans
  • corn
  • melons
  • cucumbers
  • squash
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • pumpkins
  • eggplant
  • basil



U.S. Climate Normals for first and last frost estimates.

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