Wednesday, November 04, 2009

When to Plant

You can plant your cool weather crops when there is no longer a
danger of a hard frost and most days are above 50 Fahrenheit. You
might need to cover once or twice.

Tender plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant should not be put
out until the average last frost date.

And very tender plants need to wait until all danger of frost is
past, days are warm, the soil has warmed up, and nights no longer get
really cold.

Always harden off your transplants in the pots before transplanting
by setting them outside for at least 2 days.

If you have clean manure you need to make use of, it is definitely
best to put it in the ground several weeks or months before
planting. Putting it in fresh puts you at risk of burning your
tender plants and emerging seedlings.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

What is the Mittleider Method of sustainable organic gardening?

The Mittleider Method combines the best features of soil-based gardening and hydroponic gardening, but without hydroponic expense! It's a complete, easy-to-follow plan that eliminates guesswork and ensures success anywhere: an apartment patio, a city yard, a country lot, or a farm.

The method is based on maximum utilization of space, time, and resources. Crops are large because plants are close together, nourished by supplemental feedings of natural mineral nutrients (as in hydroponics), but with no special equipment.

Also, unlike hydroponics, the Mittleider Method gives plants access to the natural soil for nutrients as yet unknown or that, while not essential to plant growth, are useful in human nutrition. You can use the Mittleider Method by raising crops in either soil-beds or grow-boxes.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Custom made soil

Q. In the past I have purchased bags of potting soil, cut out a portion and planted right in the bag in my little greenhouse. However the plants that I have transplanted a week or so ago in the custom made soil are doing really well. I made it with sawdust and washed sand. I would like to replace the bags with custom made soil in pots placed in plastic flats on the benches in the green house but I would like a lighter mix. Can I make it with peat moss or sawdust, perlite and vermiculite? I would also use this for seed starting.

A. We recommend any of several combinations of materials for your potting soil for seedling production. Normally we encourage people to find the items that are available and inexpensive - and in some countries that may include rice hulls and/or ground coconut husks, or even coffee hulls.

In America, sawdust is often the least costly available material, so it is first on our recommended list.

Peat moss and perlite are also excellent materials. Vermiculite is okay, but doesn't last as long as the others. We like sand as a part of the mix, to improve the drainage characteristics of the mix, and normally recommend 25-35% sand, along with any combination of the other materials you prefer.

Perlite and vermiculite can replace the sand if you prefer, but I personally would always include some sand in my mix - even if it is less than 25%.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

When to start seedlings?

Garden Wizard and Garden Master CD's have

When to start seedlings is an important question - no matter where you live,
and the answer is always the same - "When they won't freeze!" So when is
that? It depends on the plant and your weather. First find out the average
last frost date in your local growing micro-climate. The Garden Wizard and
Garden Master CD's do a good job of giving you that for over 3,000 places
in the United States. Others will have to ask your local government Ag.
Extension agent.

Next, determine the frost tolerance of the plant you're growing, to know
when to transplant into the garden. There are 4 levels of frost tolerance -
and I quote from the Mittleider Gardening Course:
1. Hardy plants tolerate frost and cold and can be planted 3 to 6 weeks
before the average date of last frost.
2. Moderately-hardy plants handle a certain amount of cold. Plant these
2-3 weeks before the average date of last frost.
3. Cold- and frost-sensitive plants don't like cold or frost. Plant them
on the average day of last frost and protect them against late
4. Frost-intolerant plants will not survive any frost and must be
planted 2-3 weeks after the average day of last frost.

With dozens of plant possibilities, I can't tell you here what each plant's
frost tolerance is, but again the Garden Wizard and the Garden Master CD's
give you all of that.

And finally, you need to know how long your plant needs to be in the
greenhouse before being transplanted, in order to get back to the date on
which you plant in the greenhouse. And again I refer you to the Garden
Wizard and Garden Master CD's as the best place to find that information.
Remove the uncertainty and confusion in this very important step by looking
in the Preview Plants section of the Garden Designer. You will learn the
number of days required from planting seeds to transplanting in the garden,
for all the common garden vegetables.

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