Carolyn Blakeney, Annapolis, MD, US

gardening interests: Composting, Container Gardening, Cooking, Culinary Herbs, Edible Landscaping, Fruits and Berries, Gardening with Kids, Herbal Crafts, Medicinal Herbs, Organic Gardening, Ornamental Gardening, Square-Foot Gardening, Sustainable Living, Urban Gardening, Vegetables, Permaculture

Member Since: 06/27/2009

recent comments

Re: Preparing Your Garden For Fall

Elizabeth, you can try natural repellents- foliar sprays with garlic or mint in them. See the link for some ideas.

Re: 'Cayennetta' is New Pepper for 2012

Jodi, so this won't be marketed as just an ornamental variety? I like the idea of milder cayenne with a bushy habit. Also, is this a stable variety, or still a hybrid?

Re: DIY Square Foot Garden Planting Templates

OOPS, typo, meant to say "All in the name of healthy, home-grown veggies..."

Re: DIY Square Foot Garden Planting Templates

Love it! Having been a square-footer for years, I always just did the finger poke method, but this is a cool excuse to have another gadget. Especially the 16-hole version. I never minded poking nine or less holes, but with 16 it's easy to start getting some too close together, some too far apart.

This would work with wine corks too I bet, instead of the spools, and give me an excuse to drink more wine! All in the name of a healthy, home-grown veggies, of course...<|:o)

Re: QUESTION: Staked tomatoes

Concur with jfriz, I just cut the top off of the plant at the top of the stake. You will continue to get fruits from the rest of the (indeterminate) plant. Plus if your heat indices are what we have been having lately in the Mid-Atlantic (100 degrees F plus), your plant will lose less moisture to evapotranspiration!

Re: QUESTION: Tomato Trusses Keep on Growing

Should have clarified that pinching back on almost anything should encourage BUSHIER, stronger new growth, not just new growth.

Re: QUESTION: Tomato Trusses Keep on Growing

VG community, please correct if I'm wrong, but I believe that this is the nature of indeterminate plants. Pinching back on almost anything should encourage new growth, but if the growth is along a main growing stem, it seems that this is normal indeterminate tomato behavior. Just provide the appropriate support and fertilizer to support the extended growth.

Re: DIY PVC Grow Light Stand

Love that nice sturdy base- this baby is not going to fall over! Seeing this made me remember my first seed starting setup (many moons ago). Mom had given me a plastic 2' light stand, big enough for one standard flat, and I put that on the top shelf of a short three shelf bookcase. Then I installed a 2' shop light over each of the other two shelves underneath, and that served for many years. Even with an added timer, it was far cheaper than anything I could have purchased. DIY is the way to go!

However, I have a confession. I did succumb to the 'siren call' of a fancy commercial light stand about ten years ago, because it fit perfectly in front of the fixed pane of my patio door, and held eight flats (two per shelf). So much for DIY...

Re: Hot Things Come in Little Packages

If this is the same as the 'Cascabella' pepper I have grown in the past, I will add another testament to their 'prolificness' (and heat)- there were bajillions of them on each plant! OK, well, at least a few dozen. Very pretty and very productive pepper.

Re: DIY Seed Packet Storage Box

Greg, this is so cool I can't even stand it. I also have used the shoebox approach up until now. How about we also have to discipline ourselves to move the seed packets to the next month for any species which require succession planting. This is the circle of hell I find myself in, as I am not yet that disciplined- I usually plant one time and complain because the season is too short (duh). I swear I'm going to get organized and learn how to do this, and your method may just be the ticket.

And since I also have co-tenants like Ruth (but mine are 'desperate housecats' and an out-of-control hound mix) I may may have to fashion up a lid as well...

Re: Culinary Herbs That Grow Well in Shade

Chris, ALL of my leaf herbs grow fine in the shade- meaning pretty significant (but not total) shade, as the back yard (where they are growing) doesn't get but two or three hours of sun in any one spot anymore. The plants probably do not produce the crop that they would in 'full' sun (at least 6 hours per day here) but they produce, even the basil. I have Cameo basil finally starting to flower, after growing for many months on the back deck with very little sun. Which may be a good thing, as the Mid-Atlantic has been slammed by a period of unusual, almost non-stop heat and humidity for two months now. Keep that in mind if you live in a region that traditionally experiences brutal summers- more shade may be better for your leaf crops.

A week or so ago I set three small seed-grown large leaf basils in a pot on the front porch, which only gets a couple of hours of blasting afternoon sun every day, and is shaded or partially shaded the rest of the day, and they are shooting up pretty quickly. For me the take home message is you just gotta try a spot and see if it works. Leaves are a lot less picky than fruits, so what do you have to lose?

Re: Another Improved Meyer Lemon Tree in Suburbia

I am attempting Meyer lemons from seed as we speak (knowing they will not likely be clones of the parents)and will try growing the seedlings out in the coming year. Being in the Mid-Atlantic, indoors will be mandatory during the winter. But I have grown other lemons from seed that stood a good bit of frosty dips, just not for the entire winter. I need a bigger sunroom, I'm afraid! Even though the seedlings will not be guaranteed to represent Meyers, it's still fun to see what turns up.

Re: Tools of The (Gardening) Trade

Kitchen scissors come to mind. I don't know how many times I've tried to do the deed with a knife or other sharp and it was way too hard. Went back into the kitchen, got the kitchen scissors, and life was good.

Re: Sweet Bay (Laurus Nobilis): The Herb of Frankenstein

Clarification on my previous post: Keep it indoors during frost season if you are in a frost zone (but outside the rest of the time).

Re: Sweet Bay (Laurus Nobilis): The Herb of Frankenstein

In Zone 7, I have had bay laurel survive winters outside on the deck, close to the house, but only because the winters were rather mild for several years. Killed it dead two years ago, during the first of a series of Sent From Hell Winters, and am now trying to root yet another cutting from a friend who keeps hers indoors. If you want to constrain the beast, keep it in a pot, shake out the root ball at the end of the season, prune the roots, and repot (then keep it indoors if you are in a frost zone). That is what I used to do until I got cocky due to recent mild winters. Afraid this is what I will have to do from now on (where's that dagnab global warming when I need it???)

Re: The Roots of Square Foot Gardening

Great discussion Jodi, I've only in the past couple of years read about 'sunken bed' gardening. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, it would probably be the death knell for many gardens, as we have WAY more than enough moisture during a normal year, but everyone must adapt to their own local climate.

And that's the lesson- the techniques that work for any given climate have usually been in use for umpteen years, but may not be in use by local industrial ag. We all need to find what works and is sustainable in our own climates, and looking to traditional (i.e., non-industrial) methods is one of the best ways to achieve this.

Re: A Gopher in Your Garden

Install a separate gopher garden surrounding the burrow(s). Repeat weekly. Problem solved.

Re: Cheap and Easy Winter Greens

This is just a great idea- especially for those cloves that have gone a little past "fresh". I often have a number of cloves that are starting to sprout, and if they are really beyond the pale, they get composted. Not any more, thanks!

Re: Save Recycled Containers For Starting Spring Seeds

Chris, couldn't agree more- yogurt cups especially are the best and the strongest- far better than purchased seed starting containers (learned that from an old friend- thanks Ben!) My problem is that I recycled way too MANY of the round containers (like several hundred, and my garden is just not that big) so I had to start re-recycling them into something else. I do hold on to the rectangular plastic mushroom trays, my absolute favorite, as I've found they will fit eight to a standard flat, and will take multiple seeds (give them drainage holes first, of course). I arrange them with one tray's long side touching another tray's short side, and they fit almost perfectly in the flat. Haven't tried it with the Styrofoam mushroom trays, but I imagine they would fit as well.

If you already have enough round containers for holding dirt, the 'excess' is great for labeling what's in the dirt (http://whatsthemuck.blogspot.com/2009/05/having-repurpose-in-life.html). You can use some as dividers inside of the mushroom trays too, just cut the strip to the width or length of the tray and square each end. Even the lids and cut-off bottoms can be used as shrub tags!

I now have lots of plant tags and will never need to buy any again, but I do still keep an 'uncut' yogurt cup supply on hand for transplanting up from the mushroom trays.

Yikes, better get started cutting- there's only a few more weeks to seed starting...

Re: The Hardy Cucurbits: The Wonderful World of Winter Squash and Pumpkin

Just discovered Galeaux d'Eysines winter squash this fall, and made a wonderful curry-ginger squash soup tonight. I cut it up in about eight pieces first, because it was a good bit larger than a butternut, then roasted it, and the rest of the cooking was a breeze. I'm growing it in the garden next year, for sure!

Re: Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds

Have Chocolate Cherry tomato seeds fermenting right now- they are fabulous, a nice winey flavor but good sugar too. I've kept them on the deck with just a piece of tulle wrapped around the container to keep out the bugs, so no smell in the house. If there's going to be rain, I just pop a taller container over top to keep them from getting flooded out.

Re: The Tomato Sandwich: Summer's Ultimate Food

As another girl from Baltimore, I concur with most of the author's post.
A light toasting of a fabulous whole grain bread adds an extra dimension; you get the creamy mayo juicy tomato initial resistance of the bread crust experience. Said crust then succumbs to the above mentioned creamy juiciness, and hence reveals tomato nirvana.
And a basil leaf tucked in here and there ain't too bad either!

Re: Grow Black Tea in Your Garden

I think I actually bought and planted a C. sinensis a few years back only to have it die a cruel death during the first winter. In my little Mid-Atlantic piece of heaven (or hell, as it's Annapolis) the winters can be rather erratic so it's dicey. We are a solid Zone 7 here, but I think this is one of those that would need the south facing wall, burlap cover in the severe cold snaps, etc. Am willing to try again, as I long ago attained the rank of Tea Addict, but I know it may not be smooth sailing...

Re: Growing Potatoes in a Laundry Basket

Alouagie, very crafty! Container gardening taken to the next level, for sure. This is my first year doing potatoes (Yellow Finn), and I am also doing the 4X4 wire cage setup, like gordnan, but I am filling with grass clippings/chopped leaves as I go. The potato plants are going nuts, and the seed potatoes were not in very good shape when I planted them (my fault), so if I get anything it's a plus. My wire is a smaller mesh than gordnan's, the standard 2" I think, so I'll have to dig down from the top to get to the potatoes, but I'm hoping the mulch fill does not compact too tightly. I was skeptical about using grass clippings and such, but an article at the Garden City Seeds website said compost, mulch, or soil could be used. We shall see!