Monday, July 10, 2006

Recent blog posts from Jim Kennard Food for everyone foundation

First-Time Greenhouse Mistakes
6 days ago

For the benefit of all who are growing in or considering growing in a greenhouse I want to document a few mistakes my friend Gnel made in this, his first season. Growing medium for his seedlings was a problem, along with the fertilizer mixture. Between them his seedlings had a slow start - but they recovered, thanks to Gnel's persistence in finding the sources of the problem. He wanted to try many different tomato varieties, and several of them were not very good for the greenhouse, therefore more than half of his space is in plants with small fruit and poorly shaped fruit, and some plants are only 1/2 as tall as his best plants. I recommend anyone growing in the greenhouse use Big Beef, Better Boy, or Tropic, as these three are excellent. Light is always an important factor in the greenhouse, and planting too many plants in a given space can be a BIG problem. This was the case with Gnel's Ashtarak greenhouse as well. He had deficiencies develop, due to under fertilizing, and once the plants became large and tall everything has suffered for lack of adequate sunlight. The lack of sunlight, along with high temperatures, have caused most of his plants to drop their blossoms in the past few weeks. After several MONTHS of hard work and a substantial financial investment as well, you can imagine the consternation when seemingly healthy plants fail to set fruit, and you see your hopes fading daily. I have recommended severe pruning to try and improve the light situation, and Gnel has his walls opened up completely for improved ventilation, so we hope the plants will respond with new fruit again. Gnel was so discouraged he was about to give up, but I reminded him that he still has 6 months of growing season left, and with proper care he should still have time for a good crop. It sounds so simple to say "just control the basic elements of heat, light, water, food, pests, and diseases." Best wishes to Gnel and all others who are trying their hand at greenhouse production.

Use 20% of Your Garden Space and Double Your Yield!
7 days ago

We teach and demonstrate how to grow as much as ten times the produce in the same space. This is a great sell, and it's the truth, but it sometimes creates a problem of its own. Many of us get excited at the prospect of growing ten times the healthy produce we have done in the past, and we proceed to plant the entire garden area using the Mittleider Method. Here's part of the problem: Multiplying your yield requires effort and skill. For example, growing plants vertically entails pruning and caring for many more plants in the same space as when they were allowed to grow horizontally. And the skills, such as pruning, are not acquired overnight. Another factor is increasing yield by extending the growing season - sometimes on both ends. Are we prepared to create and maintain mini-greenhouses" of metal rods or PVC pipe, and then be ready at all times to cover a large garden to protect it against unfavorable weather? For an example of this, see my previous blog. Sometimes people are overwhelmed with the work, and then everything suffers, and there's disappointment and discouragement. Therefore, as of this moment, I am changing my approach! Instead of telling folks they can get ten times the yield I will now recommend people use just a fourth or fifth of their garden space, work it properly and well, and expect to receive about twice the amount of food they received before discovering these methods.

Grow 10 Times as Much in Same Space? Or Use Less Space & Do a Better Job!
9 days ago

We teach true principles and highly productive procedures, which can greatly increase your yield - even by as much as 10 times in many cases. The procedures include protecting your plants against anything that will harm them, or that does not provide good growing conditions. Frequent watering, timely weeding, proper plant spacing, ample light, and safe temperature ranges are some of those conditions, How about protecting your tender plants against nature's occasional wrath, such as hail storms?? In the Shirak Region of Armenia we were told to expect hail, and we prepared wire arches and plastic, which served us well through several frosts in April and May, and some hail in early June. Congratulations, you've got a BEAUTIFUL garden, and it's growing large! Our plants were so large they grew beyond the wire arches, and the weather had been hot for more than 2 weeks. "Finally, it's time to remove the wire arches and set the plastic aside - we won't be needing it any more", I thought, as neighbors gazed in wonder and admiration. BAD IDEA! Only 2 days after removing the last of the wire arches we took some welding to a helpful neighbor, unaware of any weather threat. In no more than 20 minutes a savage storm came out of the West (Turkey), and for almost 45 minutes the village of Getk and our beautiful garden were subjected to the worst hail storm I've ever experienced. When we finally could get home we were shocked to see what looked like total devastation, and we felt as if 4+ months of hard work had just been wasted. And neighbors' gardens suffered the same fate. What a sad day! In the past two days we have made a careful survey, removed damaged material, given away mature crops subject to being wasted otherwise, fed the plants, and watched in amazement as many hundreds of strong plants begin to recover from what should have been a death-blow. It may take a month to 6 weeks before the garden looks as beautiful as it did 4 days ago, and it probably won't produce as much as it might have done, but we still have a garden! We credit the excellent size and health of our plants with helping most of them survive this TERRIBLE beating. And we have the wire frames in place again, as well as plastic in place on the T-Frames. This time they're staying through the season! Hopefully I've learned that knowledge is only useful if it's applied.