yourownvictorygarden

Greg Holdsworth, Plano, TX, US
contributor

Vegetable gardening has always been one of my biggest and most rewarding hobbies. My first garden "success" was harvesting a few radishes that I had planted in the family's home flower bed in 7th grade. It wasn't much, but it was enough to get me interested in it at an early age. It wasn't until high school when I could actually grow and maintain a full-size garden. By then, there was no turning back. I now had Green Thumb blood in my veins.

I had to take a gardening hiatus during college and through the first few years of my career due to not having the room for a garden. In 1999, I moved into my first home in North Texas, and again my gardening passion was unleashed. I give credit to a few great books that helped my knowledge; most notably The New Victory Garden by Bob Thomson. The first few years were tough, and a great learning experience (not that I've ever stopped learning).

My goal now is about refining my skills and experience, trying new things, decreasing my dependence on store-bought produce, and becoming a "greener" citizen. I want to give back to my community. One big way I'm doing that is volunteering my time at the local community garden in Plano. This has rewarded me with new friendships and knowledge without measure.

I'm now in my second year of a side business called "Your Own Victory Garden". It is a local business where I offer organic vegetable garden installation and maintenance, garden "structures" construction, compost system setup, and consulting.

Today there is a revival of the "Victory Garden" movement that occurred during World Wars I & II. The desire to be self-sufficient, save money, eat healthier, and enjoy the freshest produce possible is something I think we can all relate to. It is tremendously rewarding to help anyone start their first garden or to exchange knowledge with other experienced gardeners.

Cheers!

gardening interests: Composting, Culinary Herbs, Organic Gardening, Vegetables, Projects

Member Since: 06/22/2009


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contributions

Holiday Gift Ideas For Veggie Gardeners 2014

Here are some great holiday gift ideas for the veggie gardener on your list.

Hoop House Style Raised Bed Frost Protection

This small “hoop house" style structure can support whatever frost covering material you need, and can be mounted to the bed in a couple of ways.

Giant Pumpkins Weigh-Off at Topsfield Fair

The New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at the Topsfield Fair was held earlier this month, with a massive 1,900 pound pumpkin taking the first place prize.

Build Your Own Wheelie Bin Composter

This composter turns a garbage bin into a moveable compost machine.

Raised Bed Installation & Building Tips

Putting in a raised bed garden? Here are some “builders tips” to make the project easier.

Catalog Review: Pepper Joe's

Pepper Joe's offers a great variety of pepper seeds, including the Guinness Book of World Records' hottest pepper variety, the Carolina Reaper.

Preparing Your Garden For Fall

As the summer heat is (slowly) winding down, excitement is building for the best gardening season of the year. Here’s how to get ready for it.

Start Your Own Worm Compost Bin

Building your own worm compost (vermicompost) bin is an easy way to get a continuous supply of this great organic fertilizer.

Veggie Garden Tidbits, Volume I

Here’s the first volume of random, yet helpful tips and thoughts to feed your garden brain.

Growing Sunflowers

Sunflowers are hardy, easy-to-grow annuals, and come in a variety of sizes and colors. They say "summer" like no other plant.

Build Your Own Classic Compost Bin

This compost bin design has been popular for years. It features convenient removable sides and maximum air circulation.

There's A Garden App For That, Part III

Need to identify a pest, plant or disease? Look no further than your mobile apps.

Trapping Garden Pests With Yellow

Yellow can attract (and therefore trap) two of the worst gardening pests, the destructive cucumber beetle and the dreaded squash vine borer.

Build Your Berry (Own) Box

This berry box is simple, sturdy and versatile; and will keep fragile berries from being damaged during harvest.

Build Your Own Potting Bench

This potting bench is solidly built, and will serve you well for many years to come. It features plenty of work space and an extra shelf for storage.

Straw Bale Gardening (Part II)

After having success with my first straw bale, it was time to start seeds in them.

DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis 2.0

This updated a-frame trellis design features the "replaceable feet" like its predecessor, but is now anchors to the raised bed for more stability.

Catalog Review: NE Seed

NE Seed provides commercial growers and home gardeners with Non-GMO conventional, organic, heirloom, Italian and hybrid vegetable, flower and herb seeds.

Build Your Own Potato Growing Box

Like the floors of a building, this "growing" box can produce a bumper crop of potatoes in a small area.

Catalog Review: The Natural Gardening Company

The Natural Gardening Company is the oldest organic nursery in the United States.

Catalog Review: Sow True Seeds

Sow True Seed offers over 400 varieties of untreated, heirloom, open pollinated/non-hybrid, traditional and certified organic vegetable, herb and flower seeds.

Gardeners, Start Your Seed Search! (Updated)

Helpful ways to make the most of your seed catalogs, and getting seeds in general.

Get Ready To Start Your Own Seeds

It's time to prepare for next year's seed starting projects. After all, getting ready is (almost) half the fun.

Make Your Own Seed Bombs

Seed bombs are easy-to-make and allow you to "throw" away your seeds.

Holiday Gift Ideas For Veggie Gardeners 2013

Here are some great holiday gift ideas for the veggie gardener on your list.

Growing Your Own Zombies

As you are preparing to 'trick or treat', here's the 411 on how to grow zombies for your next Halloween party.

Scary Plants For Your Halloween Garden

Halloween is around the corner, and to celebrate, here are 10 examples of plants fit for a horror film.

There's A Garden App For That, Part II

Need convenient planting information for your veggie garden? Look no further than your tablet or mobile device.

Bush Bean 'Blue Lake 274'

Blue Lake 274 is the classic bean that comes to mind when you think of a green bean. They are a favorite among gardeners from their huge yields, great taste and reliability.

Make Your Own Seed Tape

Making your own seed tape can save you time, ensures your plants are spaced out correctly, and is a great "rainy day" project for kids.

Catalog Review: Dixondale Farms

Dixondale Farms is celebrating 100 years of onion plants and years of satisfied customers.

Brew a "Texas-Sized" Batch of Compost Tea

This method of brewing compost tea is on a much larger scale, so you can water larger areas more efficiently.

Book Review - Good Bug Bad Bug

Good Bug Bad Bug, by Jessica Walliser, is an indispensable field guide for quickly and easily identifying the most common garden pests and beneficial insects.

Setting Up A Garden Drip Irrigation System

Here are some general thoughts and tips for setting up your first drip system.

Straw Bale Gardening (Part I)

Having read Straw Bale Gardens, by Joel Karsten, I was ready to try growing in my first straw bale.

Protecting Your Tomatoes From Mockingbirds

This setup, utilizing water, movement, reflective lights, sound, and rubber creatures; will hopefully keep mockingbirds from destroying my garden's tomatoes.

Video: Protecting Your Tomatoes From Mockingbirds

This setup, utilizing water, movement, reflective lights, sound, and rubber creatures; will hopefully keep mockingbirds from destroying my garden's tomatoes.

Book Review - Straw Bale Gardens

Joel Karsten's book on this breakthrough method of gardening is well written, informative, and beautifully illustrated.

Holdsworth Victory Garden - Spring 2013

Photos of my Spring veggie garden. Cheers!

Growing Lacinato "Dinosaur" Kale

My first attempt at growing this beautiful and unusual kale and been a sweet success.

DIY Raised Bed (Removable) Pest Gate

This do-it-yourself pest gate is removable and can help keep out unwanted guests.

Seed Starting 202 - Preparing Seedlings For Outdoors

This video explains how to harden off your transplants and prepare them for outdoor conditions.

Seed Starting 101 - Part V

This video compares using seed starting mix with or without compost, and how it affects absorption and drainage.

Seed Starting 101 - Part IV

This video shows you how to protect your seedlings from cutworms, and cool tips on watering and marking your plant labels.

Seed Starting 101 - Part III

This video shows you how to plant and water your seeds, labeling the markers, and the "moisture meter".

Seed Starting 101 - Part II

This video continues the list of what you need to start your own seeds, and then shows you how to prepare the soil for planting.

Seed Starting 101 - Part I

This video explains the advantages of starting your own seeds, and goes over what you’ll need.

Keep Seedlings Warm Outside With Holiday Lights

Warm your cold-sensitive seedlings with repurposed holiday lights.

Catalog Review: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers more than 700 varieties of open-pollinated, heirloom, and traditional varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers, grains and cover crops.

DIY Starter Raised Bed For Kids

Got a young gardener in the family? Here's a starter raised bed just for them!

Veggie Garden Planning Tips

Fired up already about next year's garden? Then let's get planning!

Holiday Gift Ideas For Veggie Gardeners 2012

Here are some great holiday gift ideas for the veggie gardener on your list.

Protecting Your Plants From The Cold

There are a number of options available to you for protecting your plants from frosts and freezes.

Testing Your Soil

A soil test is a simple project that will provide helpful information about your soil.

Cucurbita 101: A Pumpkin Guide

Here's a breakdown of four common "Cucurbit" groups.

A Young Man's First Garden

My first experience as a gardening teacher and mentor to a young man.

Book Review: Texas Bug Book: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Texas Bug Book is a glossary of the most common pests and beneficials around the garden.

Fall Garden Planning & To-Do List

With good preparation, you'll have a great Fall garden.

Book Review: The Texas Tomato Lover's Handbook

This book is a must-have reference for any tomato lover.

Organic Weed Control Experiment

Garden weeds can be controlled with vinegar and boiling water, as shown in this experiment.

DIY Compost Sifter Screen, Wheelbarrow Style

This screen will give you finely-sifted compost, and save your back.

Protecting Your Squash Plants

This shield will help protect against squash vine borer attacks.

The Good Will Garden

A fitting tribute to the gentleman and gardener known as the "Pickle Man".

Repairing A Garden Hose

Got a damaged or leaking garden hose? Here's how you can repair it.

Building A Raised Bed, Part I

This video goes over the advantages raised beds offer, as well as what you will need to build one.

Building A Raised Bed, Part II

In this second video, the raised bed is put together from the pieces we prepared in the first video.

Growums - Garden Starter Kits For Kids

Growums gardening kits make it simple for children to start a fun and easy- to-grow vegetable or herb garden.

Catalog Review: The Growers Exchange

The Growers Exchange has been providing top-quality herb plants and garden-related products since 1985.

Asian Coleslaw

This unique coleslaw recipe uses many veggies that are coming out of your garden right now.

Catalog Review: Seeds From Italy

Seeds From Italy is the U.S. distributor for Franchi Sementi, Italy’s oldest family-owned seed company.

Catalog Review: Abundant Life Seeds

Abundant Life Seeds has been producing organic, Biodynamic & sustainably-grown seeds since 1975.

Plano Victory Garden - Summer & Fall 2011

My "Victory Garden" last Summer and Fall

Indoor Seed Starting Materials List, Part II

Here are more items that will make your indoor seed-starting more successful.

Catalog Review: R.H. Shumway's Illustrated Garden Guide

The R.H. Shumway's catalog is a vintage-illustrated gem, with a great selection of seeds and garden products.

DIY Heat Mat Speeds Seed Starting

This festive lighted heat mat will help warm your seeds. It's inexpensive to build, and it can be sized to suit your seed flats.

Holiday Gift Ideas For Veggie Gardeners

Here are some useful and unusual holiday gift ideas for the veggie gardener on your list.

DIY Square Foot Garden Planting Templates

These wood templates will save you a lot of time making evenly-spaced planting holes.

Surviving A "Texas-Sized" Drought & Heat Wave

2011 brought a record-breaking drought and heat wave. Here are three ways my garden got through it.

DIY Raised Bed Seat

This “bed seat” will offer you more comfortable access to your raised beds, or simply let you enjoy what you’re growing.

Be A Smart Gardener

SmartGardener.com is a great online tool that enables gardeners to easily plan, manage, inform and share their gardens.

Build An Outdoor Bokashi & Worm Composting Bin

This "casket-style" container produces compost below ground, and is a great container for outdoor worm composting.

Catalog Review: High Mowing Organic Seeds

High Mowing Organic Seeds has been offering only 100% Certified Organic seeds since 1996.

Your Back-To-School (Gardening) Shopping List

Shopping for school? Remember to get a few things for you and your garden.

DIY Self-Watering Transplant Tray

This system will save you a lot of time watering your transplants.

Video: Squash Bug Control

Here are some organic solutions to control squash bugs, featuring an insecticidal soap recipe.

Re-Growing Your Tomatoes

The rooting-along-the-stem power of tomatoes isn't just for transplants anymore.

A Squash Vine Borer Story

A short story documenting the events surrounding the dreaded squash vine borer and the damage it can cause.

There's A Garden App For That

Need awesome and convenient gardening information? Look no further than your Apple handheld device.

DIY Raised Bed Trellis

This trellis design uses a different style of string attachment inspired by, yes, a tennis racquet.

Plano Victory Garden - Spring 2011

My Victory Garden so far... cheers!

Pest-Fighting Flowers

Growing flowers alongside your veggies can greatly help in the fight against pests.

Will You Grow Up? A Trellis Can Help

When the need for more garden space arises, trellises certainly meet the challenge.

Brewing Your Own Vermicompost Tea

Vermicompost tea is simple to make and has multiple benefits to your plants.

What's In YOUR Bucket?

A good bucket (or two, or three) can be a loyal friend in the garden tool department.

Watering Your Seed(ling)s

There are basically three methods ror watering your seeds (or your seedlings).

Seed Viability Test

Here's a simple test to see if your seeds are ready to plant.

Catalog Review: Park Seed Co.

Park Seed Co. remains one of the oldest and widely-respected seed companies in the business.

DIY PVC Grow Light Stand

Here's a grow light stand your seedlings and wallet will appreciate.

Catalog Review: The Cook's Garden

The Cook's Garden is dedicated to cooks who love to garden and gardeners who love to cook.

Catalog Review: Kitazawa Seed Co.

Kitazawa Seed Co. is a great source for Asian vegetable seeds.

Giving Garden Thanks

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect, enjoy fellowship, and give thanks for what you have.

Do You Have A "Garden Room"?

As a green thumb devotee, I've set aside an entire room in my house to my passion.

Gardeners, Start Your Seed Search!

Now's the time to order those Winter and Spring seed catalogs.

"Chinese Cabbage" Stir-Fry

If you are into stir-fry or oriental cooking, the many varieties of Chinese Cabbage are a must in your Victory Garden.

DIY PVC Hoop Bed Cover

This bed cover is functional, lightweight, and quick to make.

Community Gardening - Sharing Your Green Thumb Passion

Volunteering for my local community garden has allowed me to share my passion and receive experience beyond measure.

Start Composting, Bokashi Style

In this video, I show you a way to set up and maintain a compost system using the Bokashi method.

Planting Large Seeds in a Raised Bed

It's Fall planting time again! Here I show you how I plant large seeds in a raised bed.

Raised Bed Pest Cover - Redux

With Fall planting right around the corner, it was time to re-cover my raised bed "defense system".

The Victory Garden Composter - Part 2

With the new compost bin in place, it was time to harvest my "black gold".

The Victory Garden Composter

A compost bin is simply essential in your garden. This two-bin design is simple, efficient, and won't break your budget to make.

Save It For Later

Now's the time to get into save-mode for anything you might need for the upcoming seasons.

DIY Seed Packet Storage Box

Here's a great way to organize your seed packets by the month. It's a great improvement over the "shoebox" method.

The Thrill of the Harvest

Harvest time is a great time to reflect on why we do what we do, and why we love our passion so much.

Edamame, The Soybean Snack

Here's a nutritious, easy to make snack from the orient.

The Holdsworth Victory Garden 05-29-10

Some recent shots of my Victory Garden shot a few days ago. Enjoy and cheers!

DIY Food Scrap Digester/Composter

Here's an easy to make pest-proof food scrap digester/composter.

Paying Your Gardening Skills Forward

A heartwarming gardening story you don't hear everyday.

Tools of The (Gardening) Trade

Here's your list of required and "oh, I forgot that!" tools for gardening the right way.

DIY Plant Spacer

Here's a simple and effective tool to space your transplants evenly in your raised bed

Protecting Your Investment

As green thumbs, we need to exercise every method available to protect our plants. Here are some options that really worked.

Tomato Musings

Tomatoes are truly the headliners of the show in my Victory Garden.

DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis

Here's an a-frame trellis design your climbing veggies will love you for.

Garden Supplies On The Cheap: Thrift & Dollar Store Edition

Here's a cool list of garden goodies you can score at your local dollar or thrift store.

Bring on the Bokashi!! Part One

This method of intensive composting has advantages over traditional composting.

DIY Soil Sifter

Here's a DIY project that will help you separate your soil

Garden Supplies On The Cheap: Your Home Edition

Here's a cool list of garden supplies you may not know you had at home.

Folia - Your Garden Tracking Partner

Folia is a free online social garden tracking app that you can use to track, journal and share the progress of your plants and gardens

The Anatomy of a Seed Packet

Understanding the information on your seed packets is crucial for a successful crop.

Trim Your Christmas Tree, Green Thumb Style

If you have a green thumb on your Christmas list, here's a stocking stuffer idea for you

W.O.W.... What A Difference!

I had purchased some Wall O' Water plant protectors but never tried them out. With cold temperatures this past week, I had the makings of a "cool" experiment.

Round Those Leaves Up, Y'all

I've come up with a quick DIY project that will help you ''corral'' the great and FREE garden resource - leaves. I call it the Fall leaf collection bin.

Starting a Garden - Step 1

I am currently converting a section of my back yard to a new garden area. This is a great time to go through the steps I have taken to realize a new garden - from planning to preparation to execution.

Your "End of the Year" Garden Checklist

As the nights are finally getting cool down here, I am reminded of those end of the season duties we green thumbs all have to keep up with. Even if you aren't "turning in the gloves" and can grow...

Raised Bed Pest Cover

If you have a raised bed garden, here's an "add-on" you can build to keep most pests from munching on your plants. You're basically building a "lid" that fits on top and inside your existing raised...

Border Edging For The Wine Enthusiast

Merlot? Cabernet Sauvignon? Shiraz? Edging material? Some creative folks at the local community garden I volunteer for think so. The process is fairly simple. Fill empty wine bottles with common...

Water Container Frost Protection

If you live in the North Texas area as I do, you don't really concern yourself with the first annual frost/freeze threat until late October at the earliest. I am always thinking ahead to the upcoming...

The Unsung Weeding Tool

One of the most effective weeding tools I've discovered isn't for the garden at all... it's for carving wood or chipping paint!

Mmmm... Free Coffee Grounds For Your Plants!

Starbucks doesn't just have great coffee. They also have a good amendment for your plants... coffee grounds. Here's the best part - it's FREE for the asking!

Plano Victory Garden

My "Victory Garden" in Plano, Texas. Mostly vegies, but a few herbs and flowers are growing as well.



recent comments

Re: Peppers with bugs on Leafs and etc. PLEASE HELP

The bugs in the pepper photos are aphids BIG TIME. They have destroyed many a pepper transplant. They go right where it hurts the most, the new growth areas. My weapons of choice are insecticidal soap and neem oil. Some sources say blasting them off with water, but that hasn't helped in my experience.

Re: Tomato Problems PLEASE HELP

Rotting, in general, almost always points to overwatering IMO. This can be affected by a fungus, though your plants look fairly healthy. As far as squirrels go, I definitely have them around but they don't appear to be doing anything to my tomatoes. I can only suggest floating objects above the plants the scare them off, or use one of those liquid or granular animal "barriers" that nurseries and home centers carry. Good luck.

Re: Growing Lacinato "Dinosaur" Kale

@LAMasterGardener: I use and love Nature's Guide products. Stuff stinks but BOY does does it work! They are local to my area. Here's the URL to the Fish & Seaweed product: http://www.natures-guide.com/Natural%20Products/liquidfishandsea.html

Re: Cabbagepalooza!... Sauerkraut and More

I lived in Seoul, Korea for a couple of years when I was a boy. I just finished my first attempt at Korean kimchi myself, and it was a success! Got a handful of Chinese cabbage heads growing right now for some winter Kimchi. Yum!

Re: 7 things I've learned this year and a mystery tomato plant

'Green Zebra' was my first choice. Hmmm... my only other guess would be 'Aunt Ruby's German Green'.

Re: QUESTION: best first plantings in raised beds

Congrats on buying your property, BTW. My gut says, if you're not in a hurry, plant a cover crop... whatever grows well in that area. If you don't do that, I would continue to add amendments and organic matter through the Fall. I would also consider putting in an irrigation system. It's easier to do it now than when it's hot outside and plants are in the way.

Re: Protecting Your Squash Plants

"Shear" out? Good one. Yes, just the foil should work fine.

Re: Growums - Garden Starter Kits For Kids

@Vicmark: Awesome! This site and Fine Gardening's site are great resources when you have any garden questions.

Re: DIY Heat Mat Speeds Seed Starting

@jwr12: Good question. If the rope light and commercial heat mat you had provided a watt rating, that would give you some idea. Since you typically have the mats on for a long period of time, I suppose you would have to have a device connected to that outlet that could measure the wattage output. I've just started using this, so time will provide a better idea.

@radevers: Regarding bugs, I don't think it would attract bugs any more or less than grow lights would. I would have to see if the type of light the rope emits is as attractive to light-loving bugs as, let's say, your porch light. Regarding safety, the rope is rated for indoor use as well as outdoor. The heat/light energy given off of the rope simply isn't enough to burn. You would obviously not want the plug to be in an area that could be wet.

@lonejack: I would say you could try it as a light source, but I don't think it would be as powerful as a grow light would. And, like you said, the layers would have to be very close to the seedlings to effectively give them enough light to not make them 'leggy'.

@thebrez1: The temperature of the room this is in is between 66-70 degrees. It would probably have to work harder if it was in a colder room or garage; for example, but I still think it would provide a boost of heat right at the soil where the seeds are germinating... which is the goal. I did not cover the trays and typically don't, due to damping off issues that I had in the past. I have the lights on a timer that turns them on for 12 hours a day, which is a recommended amount.

Re: Surviving A "Texas-Sized" Drought & Heat Wave

Wow... a fan of the podcast... sweet! I am quite humbled, thanks. I stopped it due to time and other priorities. I still have the microphone, so it isn't totally ruled out for the future. We definitely have our challenges growing down here in Texas. I don't want to think about the fact that this year is the new 'norm'.

Re: Plano Victory Garden - Spring 2011

@Turbotee: This year I spent about $200 and installed a drip/spray irrigation system. I wished I had done it YEARS ago. WOW, what I difference it has made! Especially with how bad Texas has been hit this year.

My garden is pretty large (approx. 25' x 50'), so that $200 was actually a STEAL, considering the lack of stress and time saved watering it. That said, I still am out there on a regular basis, looking at everything and keeping up with various maintenance tasks. In other words, the watering system is NOT an excuse to ignore your garden. Any help with watering is good in my eye.

Connections:
I have the larger tubing connecting all of the raised beds and the in-ground areas (vine crop beds and tomato 'cages'), and it all terminates at the main city faucet.

Timer:
I have a timer on it and it goes on every day (unless it rains or I am spraying/foliar feeding the plants) for an hour twice a day (6am & 6pm).

Watering Method #1:
At each raised bed, the larger tubing runs along one side of it, and then smaller drip hoses run perpendicular to that, forming a 'fork' shape.

Watering Method #2:
The vine crop and tomato cage areas (areas that are not planted in raised beds) have the larger tubing with spray nozzles placed right at the main stem areas. What's nice about these spray nozzles is that they are adjustable. I have them set to only spray the water about 4-5".

So, to get back to your situation, you would definitely need a good timer. The plants that needed more water could use the spray nozzles and the plants that needed less water could use the drip hoses.

I also have a line and spray nozzle going to my compost pile to keep it moist. It's usually off, but every 3 days or so I turn it on for that day, then shut it off again.

You should also consider shading the plants that can tolerate it (mainly your 'leaf' crops). It will keep the soil moist longer.

The construction or hardware cloth is a good solution to keep the big critters out. Don't skimp on the price and get the thicker 'gauge' stuff with smaller diameter mesh.

Don't know if any of that helped. Good luck.

Re: A First Year Gardener

Congrats Jillian, you've got the first year under your belt. It only gets better from there! If I may offer a green bean recommendation... Bush Blue Lake 274 has never failed me... very productive.

Re: Video: Squash Bug Control

@marnieplunkett - No. That would be the famous (I mean infamous) squash vine borer. Second & third questions... Yes & yes. They say to cover your squash plants until it starts to produce a lot of flowers, particularly the female ones that produce the fruit. Then the nets have to come off to allow critters to pollinate. At that point you can either try to cover or wrap the primary stems, or just be very vigilant about checking the plants often. You could also try an organic pest control powder such as spinosad.

Re: Lettuce Grow All Summer Long

This is a great idea and application. I'll be covering my lettuce in a similar way when I plant it later this month. I would question however, how well this would work in hotter climates. Denver has nowhere near the heat factor that we do in North Texas. We are "baking" down here! I've recently lost a couple of native perennials... ones that can usually handle the Texas heat.

Re: QUESTION: Help! Birds are eating my tomatoes

Our lovely state bird, the mockingbird, is the arch nemesis for tomato-lovers in North Texas; and, by the looks of the bite marks, is probably what caused your damage. Here's the bad news... the ONLY thing that works (that I've seen) is a semi-permanent cover enclosing your tomato plants. You can see what I did here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hvgarden/5728542075/in/photostream

It was a lot of work and wasn't cheap, but the tomatoes are certainly worth it.

Re: QUESTION: Tomatoes in pots - depth

I would lean towards the 5-gallon bucket. Tomatoes, when healthy, put out very deep and long roots. Consistent moisture and drainage are very important, and you're not going to get that with a smaller container.

Re: Raised Beds for Your Garden: Framing Materials

@MDGarden - That's definitely good to know... I've been wrestling with the "treated lumber" issue ever since I started using them (raised beds, that is). The wonder and concern of the Internet is that you can find both new and old information.

Re: Seed Viability Test

Absolutely, assuming it's the time you'd be starting the seeds anyway. Depending on how long the stems were, it could be tricky getting the 'leaves' part above the growing medium. That's not imperative, but would surely help the seedlings out a little. I had an oriental veggie that took forever to sprout in growing medium, but sprouted much faster the 'bag' way. Go figure. Good luck.

Re: Gardeners, Start Your Seed Search!

alethor: I had mixed results with my peppers this year. My banana, cayenne and serrano peppers did very well, but the larger square varieties were also small. To answer your question, I feel you can't go wrong with the undisputed bell champ, California Wonder. I also put in some bought transplants of the variety Big Bertha, which did OK.

Re: 2010 Tomato Roundup Winner and Results

I like (and can relate to) the points made in your last paragraph, Ruth. Unless all of our gardens were "farm" size, there is no way any of us will ever be able to try all of the different varieties out there. I have six "beds" where my tomatoes are grown. At least half of them have the tried and true varieties growing in them, while I leave a couple open to audition varieties I haven't tried yet. Kinda like the veggie garden version of American Idol.

Re: The Life and Death of a Pumpkin

Shame on them... they didn't seem to want to compost it! LOL.

Re: 2010 Tomato Roundup

Also in Zone 8a (Plano, Texas)

My "starting lineup" was:

Jetsetter
Celebrity
Keepsake
Bush Early Girl
Big Beef
& Rutgers

Of those, Celebrity, Bush Early Girl & Rutgers made it to full transplant size (I'm growing my own transplants again), and continued on to become full size and produce.

I grew a "backup" crop (glad I did) from 2009 seeds which included:

Celebrity
Jubilee
& Roma

All did pretty well except for Roma and Jubilee. You can't go wrong with Celebrity, which is why it owns a permanent place in my Victory Garden.

Re: The Victory Garden Composter

I've uploaded high-resolution photos of the composter project online:
http://gallery.me.com/gregsgraphics#100133

Re: All About Garlic

Thanks for the garlic info Ruth. I haven't grown it yet in my home garden, but it's grown at the community garden I volunteer for. I'll have to tap their heads on when exactly I can plant it down here.

Re: DIY Food Scrap Digester/Composter

Cayuga75: By not burying the composter in the ground, you are severely reducing the amount of surface area for the worms and other critters to get in via the holes. I would strongly recommend burying it.... even just a couple of inches would help. Plus, it would keep it from getting accidentally knocked over.

lisalisa545: Mine are in the shade half the day, then in the sun for the rest of it. The lid helps to keep the soil from drying out from the top, so you're OK there. The metal can get pretty hot if left in full sun, so if possible, opt for shade.

Re: Paying Your Gardening Skills Forward

onyourmark: From the back to the front - tomato plants, pepper plants, bush cucumbers, and beans (seeds).

Re: Paying Your Gardening Skills Forward

hometopo: For the 5x5-foot bed, we used about 4 bags of compost, 3 bags of manure, 4 bags of regular garden soil, 1 small bail of peat moss, and finally smaller amounts of molasses, coffee grounds and Epsom salt. The bags were the 2.x cubic feet or 50-pound size. We had an extra bag of compost and peat moss left over, which was good because the soil in the bed would settle in a couple of months and need to be 'topped off'.

Re: Tools of The (Gardening) Trade

I knew I left out something (scissors and a knife). That's what I get for relying on my memory, rather than doing a yard and house walk-though with my notepad.

Re: QUESTION: Heat-resistant lettuce variety for Texas

First of all, I'd like to say, "Howdy neighbor!" On to your question. If you've lived in this area for very long, you've already noticed that once Spring gets rolling, it gets warm in a hurry. This of course presents a problem that folks up north that have a longer cool season don't have to worry about. In the Fall, we're planting when the weather's still warm, but going into cooler weather. Although lettuce is a "cool season" crop, it gets a better start in warmer soil.

That said, my best recommendation is to avoid the varieties that have a long maturation time, and/or the "head" or "iceberg" varieties. Save those for the Fall. We usually don't get our really bad weather until late November. By then the plants will be large enough to handle it. So stick to the "looseleaf" or "crinkly" varieties.

I would also, if at all possible, plant them where they can get partial shade. Afternoon shade would be ideal. That's something I'm implementing this year as well. In addition to putting pest covers around them, I'm also going to put a shade screen over them. This will help discourage them from bolting.

Here some varieties that I have tried and/or researched that are heat-tolerant:

Oak Leaf
Black Seeded Simpson (bulletproof!)
Romaine (Green or Red)
Grand Rapids
Lollo Rosa
Buttercrunch
Nevada
Sierra

There are more, but these will hopefully get you started. Good luck and let me know if I help with anything else.

Regards,
Greg

Re: Video: Victory Garden (1942 edition)

Hi Ruth. My mouse clicking skills must be off today... I can't find a link that goes to the actual movie. I did find this one online:

http://www.cityfarmer.info/2009/01/27/jane-gorsuch-now-83-was-16-in-this-1942-victory-garden-movie/

I assume it's the same one.

Re: Ever Seen a Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Catalog?

Absolutely Chris. Definitely the most beautiful seed catalog I own. Deserves to be on each green thumb's coffee table (to admire while you're doing your armchair gardening). I just ordered some seeds from them for next year.

Re: Why You Want Redworms and Earthworms (Nightcrawlers) in Your Garden

As Homer Simpson would say... "Mmmmmmm... worm poop."

Seriously, I crashed and burned on my first attempt at vermicomposting, but have an interest in trying it again.

Re: Cool Weather Lettuce for Fall and Winter Gardens

Growing "Little Caesar" romaine and "Black Seeded Simpson" leaf varieties down here in the Dallas, Texas area. Like you, our winters haven't been that harsh the last few years and I expect to be able to grow through the winter. I have a cold frame but won't need it until early Spring.

Re: Plano Victory Garden

To BCDE Jones:

Send me an email to yourownvictorygarden at gmail.com and I can send you the higher resolution files and explain how I did it.

Regards,
Greg

Re: Plant a Second Crop for a Bountiful Fall Harvest

Here in North Texas, we don't really need to fear a frost until early November (at the earliest). My garden is fairly empty right now from the Spring/early Summer stuff having been finished and yanked out weeks ago. Folks down here are starting to plant Fall stuff with a vengeance.

Re: Pole Beans Versus Bush Beans

I'm not much help here Chris, except to tell you what I've done in the VERY trying and unpredictable North Texas climate.

The bush variety Blue Lake 274 has always done well for me every year except one. I grow it in Spring and Fall.

I've been wanting to do more pole varieties since I already have a couple of trellises to use. This year I tried Kentucky Wonder and it flopped. I may have planted it too late or the soil in the new raised beds I've build hasn't 'matured' yet.

I grabbed a packet of the bush variety Tendercrop and will try it in a few weeks, as soon as we're safely out of our yearly 'heat spell season'.

I suppose beans are just like tomatoes in that there are so many varieties you can try, and hopefully succeed with.

Re: QUESTION: What vegetables best to grow this fall and when

Sounds Rob, like you have the same dilemma we have up here in North Texas (zone 8) - two 'real' growing seasons separated in the middle by a very oppressive and unforgiving heat and drought period. Here's the good news: for the most part, we don't have a killing winter anymore. That means that you can start a second crop of many of the things you planted in the early spring. As I write this, I am starting pepper and tomatoes seeds - INDOORS. The ones I tried to start outdoors last week died instantly, in spite of my efforts to keep them hydrated. Then in September I will start the usual Fall crops (lettuce, Spinach, Onions, et al.). Hope this helps and good luck.

Re: The Benefits of Joining a Community Garden

Great article Chris. Plano, Texas has a vibrant community garden and has been very aggressive in the green movement. I manage a couple of plots there, as well as my home garden.

One a month, a group of volunteers get together to clean up and work on various projects in the garden. This group consists of the coordinators (most of whom are Master Composters), garden plot owners, and a bunch of students who need to earn college or scholarship community service hours.

As you said, it is great solution for people who are either unable to have the garden they want in their own home (size, sunlight, city rules, etc.) and/or who want to benefit from others in the community with the same passion for growing and sharing their knowledge.

Our community garden and it's volunteers donate a huge amount of produce to the local food banks and pantries. Everybody wins.

If your city or area doesn't have one, you're missing out. Starting one can be a big undertaking, but with the help of others, it can someday be a reality.

Here are some photos of a 'workday' we had in the beginning of the year. Talk about some frozen green thumbs!:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/planocommunitygarden/

Re: Best Weed Cultivator: The Hoe of Death

So true Chris. Also referred to the action or scuffle hoe, this tool can kick some major weed butt! A must for any gardener's tool arsenal.