gardening interests: Composting, Cooking, Edible Landscaping, Fruits and Berries, Organic Gardening, Sustainable Living, Urban Gardening, Vegetables, vermicomposting, gardening for wildlife

Member Since: 02/26/2011

recent comments

Re: What's the Best Way to Heat a Small Greenhouse?

Not trying to heat a greenhouse yet (though planning a solar room on my south porch someday). Meanwhile, I DO heat my chicken coop with a clamp light (ceramic based for safety), a coop heat lamp (cheaper than regular ones, got a farm store, about 4 bucks), and a farmer's plug with built-in thermostat (exact name is Farm Innovators TC-3 Cold Weather Thermo Cube Thermostatically Controlled Outlet - On at 35-Degrees/Off at 45-Degrees).

Been using it for three years w/o problems.

Will use on sun-porch once I get saved up for storm windows out there. Elliot whoosis (that New England small-farm gardening writer) says he uses something that goes on at 32 degrees and off at 35 and that with double row-covers, his spring-type crops keep going.

Re: Swiss Chard Rolls with Quinoa

Here's a great recipe to use those chard stems that are left over:

Put a quart or so of homemade chicken broth into a good sturdy kettle. (If using store-bought, simmer with a quartered white onion, a 1/2 cup of white wine, and a tsp or so of basil. After 1/2-hour, scoop out the onion.) You want scarcely enough fluid to cover the vegetables:

Cube up six potatoes and brown them in scant olive oil in a cast-iron skillet. Lift them out of any oil and put them into your broth, on simmer.

Then add about a cup of shredded zucchini and continue simmering.

Finally, add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of chard ribs cut like celery into 1/2-inch (or less) bits.

Simmer until potatoes are just barely done. (More and they disintegrate and the soup goes to mush--edible, just not as nice.)

Add ground pepper but no salt (store-bought parmesan cheese is already loaded with it).

Serve with a HUGE lot of parmesan cheese and a good tasty cottage loaf (I like sourdough or Italian garlic bread with it.)

My own concoction, and great on days you have a dicey stomach.

Re: Build a Compost Pile to Suit Your Style

bigrusty, I've learned that weed seeds go right through the 'ruminant' animals like cows and horses--but get ground up and destroyed by poultry, with their "crops" to grind up their food. So for the "hot manure", you're 'way better off to look for a source of chicken or goose manure than to dig horse poo to compost (I admit, more readily available and something I used for years, until I realized...bringing in weeds is not that helpful!)

Re: Getting Ready to Garden

Sometimes I think we clean up our gardens too MUCH in the fall. BENEFICIAL insects overwinter, too, in "garden debris" (which for me is mostly flower stalks I leave standing for the finches to eat seeds from in wintertime and leaves I deliberately leave in the garden beds to shelter my earthworms and perennial plants both, from sudden temperature changes (so common here on the Iowa prairie).

Also, did you know your American ladybugs overwinter only by hiding in piles of leaves? If you don't HAVE piles of won't have ladybugs!

So our cleanliness can be a fault, not a virtue. Sure, clear away all the plants that began to show disease. Powdery mildew haunts my zucchini, so those were cut in situ and tucked quickly into trash bags for removal entirely off the property.

But I treasure my layer of leaves and though I admit they're ugly, my stands of dried-up seedheads on prairie coneflower and monarda (beebalm). I have only to see even the songsparrows enjoying those in January to be glad I'm a bit of a lazy housekeeper, out there in the garden.

Re: 5 Best Container Gardening Ideas from 2013

Tried the 'wall o' water" plant protectors freezing weather, the little critters are desperate for water, and guess where they find it? (Unfrozen, too.) So. Those got holes chewed in them pretty quickly.

Love the wading pool idea, but remind readers not to FILL the pool with water. Roots need oxygen and may well rot if flooded. (I lost several fig bushes left in wagons, during a vacation, because heavy rains soaked the soil and put the plants in three inches of water. Roots rotted, plants died.)

Did have great luck heaping compost into a worn-out "turtle sandbox", propping the edges up a tad with pieces of wood, to assure drainage through holes I made, and planting....snow peas! HUGE harvest! (To move it later, don't move it; unload it by the bucketful.)

Just some ideas for y'all!

Re: Vegetable Gardening Made Easier

Sorry, but that Cornell site is just dreadful! Took the trouble to create a profile (a long drawnout process in and of itself) and got completely lame geek-speak refusal when I tried to post a (helpful, I swear!) review of Early Contender Beans (which are great, btw).

Here's the gobbledegook they responded with:

The review has not been saved.
Cannot add or update a child row: a foreign key constraint fails (`vegvar`.`review`, CONSTRAINT `FK_review_country_id` FOREIGN KEY (`country_id`) REFERENCES `country` (`id`) ON UPDATE CASCADE)

I totally filled in my country. Duh.

I do NOT RECOMMEND this site AT ALL.

Re: How to Grow Potatoes in a Trash Bag

Montmorillon_novice , Like you, I got tempted by regular store-bought potatoes that sprouted. And I ignored the garden books that said not to, and...planted them. Sure enough, the resulting crop was COVERED with scab disease (round brown scaly splotches). And once that's in your soil, you can't plant potatoes there again for something like 20 years.

I still sometimes use sprouted food potatoes, but in pots or bags--and then I dump that particular soil in the flower beds, not the veggie garden.

Re: How to Grow Potatoes in a Trash Bag

Tested this last summer and have some additional suggestions:

• Potatoes are heavy feeders, so you really need at least EIGHT inches of soil in the bag before you cover your seed potatoes with two or three more inches of soil.

• Yes, compost with worms makes a great mix to add or use for these potatoes.

• Most potatoes, in a temperate climate, form the majority of their crop just barely above the seed potato. That business of rolling the bag up and up and up turned out to be nonsense for me.

• No, do NOT crowd the seed potatoes in the bags. Ten is ludicrous (sorry). I put only one in my re-cycled dog food and chicken feed bags (20-30 lbs). Even putting two in cut my yield size to teensy little marble-sized potatoes. For your 30-gallon bags, I'd say your maximum seed potatoes should be TWO, not TEN.

Happy potato growing!

Re: Using Compost and Manure Teas in the Home Garden

I often wondered why waste my good compost by soaking it--and then having to haul the water around my garden.

So I did some research. What compost tea does is multiply the beneficial microbes in your compost exponentially--at least, at first. (After 24 hours, the aerobic microbes use up all the oxygen and you start to get anaerobic critters that are not good in the garden.)

Two ingredients missing from the article: something sugared, preferably unsulfured molasses, about 1/4 cup; and air, which you can best instill with vigorous swishing about with a big stick. Toss that water!

Then be sure to apply the compost tea very gently so you don't squash your tiny organisms (they actually do break and die if applied through a pressure sprayer or dumped too vigorously).

Good luck with it!

Re: How to Support Tomatoes

I can't recommend that "Florida weave". One of Iowa's summer windstorms blew through and took the whole thing down. (It gets extremely heavy as the plants get taller and are loaded with fruits.)

Re: QUESTION: Too late for cover crops?

You still have a couple of opportunities to add cover crops now. If you can spare a bed for part of the summer, you could use buckwheat. But it doesn't sound like you want to give up any precious garden space during the food-growing season.

What I would do (in fact, what I do) is use all kinds of peas--inoculated, of course--as your cover crop.

I plant peas super-heavily in wide swaths, even in yard-square sections. Then, as the peas are just finishing, it's time for my heavy summer feeders, like tomatoes or melons or squash. I cut a small center section of my peas out of the ground and plant the summer crop right in the middle of the pea patch.

The peas serve as a ground cover; then when they die, they're a mulch; and throughout the season, they provide nitrogen and become a "lasagna garden" layer of mulch for your summer veggie plants.

Re: Build a Support System for Your Strawberry Netting

Actually, there's a cute little copper pipe-cutter that can save you the hassle of that hacksaw. If the price of copper is too high, try PVC pipe or electrical conduit, both of which have the same sort of elbow joints available.

Re: Greenhouse, Vegetable and Flower starts!

From one scrounger to another, WOW! Nice going! Love the chutzpa of the "dock" beside the "boat", too!

Re: QUESTION: Guinea Pig Poop as Garden Fertilizer?

I have used guinea pig doo in my compost heap, and tossed the layers of newspaper from the very bottom of the cage down to hold back weeds (all that nitrogen-soaked paper actually worked very well as a weed-deterent). The poo is great. Be sure you're not using a tough-to-break-down bedding like wood chips or sawdust. That can acidify your compost heap (and garden), plus the woody parts don't break down fast and all the while they take to deteriorate, they are stealing nitrogen.