Thursday, June 07, 2007

Oh no why do I have fungus in my Grow-Box

I recently built raised garden beds and made the choice (mistake?) of using compost from my local landfill in these beds. We've planted all our vegetable plants and they are looking dry, dry, dry. So I water them more.

Yesterday morning I realize that I have tiny little gray toadstools through my entire garden especially near each of my plants. Obviously there is another water. What do I do now? Is the fungus the reason that my plants are doing poorly? Is there a way to salvage my garden? HELP!!!Thanks

I doubt the toadstools are hurting anything. Just disturb the soil surface with the 2-way hoe every few days, to keep those and any other volunteer growth in check. And hopefully there is not anything toxic or high in salt that will inhibit your plants' growth!Sometimes in Grow-Boxes people don't get the water close enough to their plants, and the plant roots are, indeed, suffering from lack of water. It may be also that the soil medium either doesn't hold as much water, or distribute it as well as what we recommend.

How far apart are your rows of plants? Are you using the pre-drilled PVC pipe? Are you using 3 holes drilled at 45 degree angles every 4"? How high off the soil surface are your pipes?Your rows of plants should only be 10-12" apart. YOur pipe should be 3+ inches off the ground, and the water should come within a couple of inches at most, from your plant stems.

You should be watering until water seeps out from under the bottom of your Grow-Box.Watering is critical to the success of Grow-Box gardening, and you CAN'T give your plants too much, but you can surely give them too LITTLE.Make sure that the watering is being done properly forst.Next, be sure that the fertilizers are being watered down into the soil. If that's not happening you may need to dissolve the fertilizers in water once each week and water them in by hand.

To do this, dissolve 3 ounces of Weekly Feed in 5 gallons of water, and water 6 feet of the bed. Repeat 4 more times, until you have watered the whole 30'-long bed with fertilized water.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Correct measurements for constant feed solution

The instructions for using the Weekly Feed mix as a "continuous feed" or "dilute fertilizer solution" mixed with water are in several places, including (but not limited to)Let's Grow Tomatoes - 1981, Gardening By The Foot - 1993, and The Mittleider Gardening Course - most recently published in 1999.

Those of you lucky enough to have the Mittleider Gardening Library CD can simply type in either of those phrases and find every place that subject is discussed in any of the books. Easy, huh!For the rest of you (until you get the Gardening Library :-))

I'll mention some of the basics.In Let's Grow Tomatoes, on page 49 Jacob recommended 8 ounces of Weekly Feed for a 25 gallon barrel, and 16 ounces for a 50 gallon barrel.In gardening By The Foot, on page 76, Jacob recommended using 1 ounce of Weekly Feed in 3 gallons of water.In the Mittleider Gardening Course, on page 183, Jacob also recommends using 1 ounce of Weekly Feed in 3 gallons of water.I don't remember where it might be in the books, but while working with jacob on several projects we have used 16 ounces of Weekly Feed in a 55 gallon drum, which is a bit less than the 1 ounce per 3 gallons of water.

Therefore, I recommend you use one of the following - depending on the size container you're using:1 ounce in 3 gallons of water, or8 ounces in 25 gallons of water, or10 ounces for 30 gallons of water, or16 ounces for 50-55 gallons of water.Always be CERTAIN that you have adequate drainage in your pots or flats. Failure to provide proper drainage will cause the fertilizers to accumulate, since the water will be eliminated mainly by evaporation, and you will can burn and even kill your small plants because of the salinity.Just this spring we saw 65,000 tomato seedlings dying from this very thing, until we rescued them by improving the drainage and flushing the salts out.Jim Kennard

P. S. Forgive Jacob for not always having the exact ratios in these things. The different books were written over the course of more than 20 years, and he continually experimented and changed as he saw the need.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Staking and pruning tomatoes correctly

My tomatoes are staked and doing great. I have a question concerning tying up the tomato stems - do I do just the main stem or all of the big stems?I tied up all the big stems to get them off the ground using "staking tape".

I hope most of you did a bit more reading before your tomatoes got to the pruning stage (9-12" tall).There should only be "the main stem". All sucker stems are to be removed as soon as they start to grow. This assures you a very large harvest from every plant - which are planted only about 9" apart - and grown up a baling twine string or tied to tall stakes.Leaving many stems on a tomato plant produces an unweildy mass of leaves and branches, and MUCH less mature fruit.Jim Kennard

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