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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tips for Inspecting and Buying Healthy Vegetable Transplants from Stores: Check the Roots!

Tips for Inspecting and Buying 
Healthy Vegetable Transplants from Stores: Check the Roots!

I do grow most of my own transplants but I can't resist browsing the vegetable transplants that are put and signal spring. They are out as of this week here in Maryland Zone 7.  And if I am browsing, assuming it's a fair price, then I am buying. There are several tips you can follow to make sure you get a healthy transplant for your garden. Remember by the time they get to be displayed, they have already been growing 4-6 weeks. They really don't have but 2 weeks shelf life in my opinion.


Vegetable Transplants - The Rusted Garden 2014

The plants arrive healthy but they are at risk of great stress. Sitting in the sun, they easily and often dry completely out. This will stress the plant. The plants are usually large and because of that they will quickly use up the nutrients in the soil of the seed cell. Very few place feed their transplants.

You really want to get transplants that have only been out on display for 1-2 weeks. There shouldn't be any yellowed or dried leaves but for the leaves that first emerged. Yellow leaves typically mean poor watering. Sometimes you will notice tomatoes that have a purple coloration through them and that is a nutrient deficiency. The leaves and stems of transplants should look vibrant and healthy like in the picture and video.




Look over the leaves. I have bought kale before that had green cabbage loopers on the leaves. You can bring unwanted insects and disease into your garden if you aren't careful. There shouldn't be any signs of bug damage. No holes in the leaves. No marking or trails on the leaves. They really should look picture perfect. This holds true for looking for sings of fungus and bacteria spots. Clean leaves!

Finally, check the roots. It is not bad etiquette to pop the plant out of the cell and check the roots.  The video shows you the best examples of how they should look. You basically don't want them overly coiled at the bottom of the cell or to have really massively covered the sides of the plug. Roots the have over grown the cell are signs of an older plant. An older plant might mean the plant is stunted and ready to turn to seed or start setting fruit. It tells you the transplants have been sitting a long time.

Good Luck in Your Gardens
Gary


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Monday, March 24, 2014

Basic Principles to Making Container Soil Cheaply & Fertilizing It: Organic Matter!

Basic Principles to Making Container Soil Cheaply & Fertilizing It


I am always cautious about offering recipes for the garden because I don't want people to think they are absolutes. There are 1000 ways to do most things in a garden and this holds true for containers soil mixes. I am introducing my general method that does vary based on what I have available and my general mood. So... please use this video and article for the principles. It is also the least expensive way to build container soil when you have to buy products. We all just don't have endless supplies of compost or a yard for that matter.




The key to container soil is moisture retention. I recommend making your container soil with at least 50% organic matter. Organic matter will retain water. You can use compost which will give it nutrient value. Or you can use peat moss or coco coir. They are outstanding at holding water but offer little if any nutrition to your plants. You of course could make a mix of these 3 items. Use what you have and what fits your budget. Remember, you want 50% of your container soil to be a water holder.

I dump all my container soil out onto a tarp from the previous year. Don't use container soil that had disease or insect problems. That is precautionary.  Use that soil in a bed that has unrelated vegetable plants or in your flower beds.

I fill my containers up up half way first, using  a mix ratio of 50% organic matter and 50% old container soil. I use peat moss. When I have compost ready I mix about 25% peat moss and 25% compost for my organic matter for my 50% organic matter. The other 50% again, is the old container soil. Remove any large clumps of unwanted debris. Remember 50-50 and fill up 1/2 of the container first.




Fertilizing doesn't have to be difficult although understanding the application directions can be. I recommend the tablespoon. You are not going to over fertilize your container soil. The primary feedings will come from the use of liquid fertilizers during the season. Container vegetables will suck the water and nutrients out of your containers. Regular water and feeding is a must for success.

This year I am using more organic products. The bottom half of the containers are getting 1 tablespoon of bone meal for phosphorous and 1 tablespoon of blood meal for nitrogen. They are both slow release and will sit in the bottom and get ready for future deep roots. I am also putting in 1 tablespoon of a general organic fertilizers that covers N, P and K and that is a  more readily available form for your transplants. If you don't have these items 1 or 2 tablespoons of a 5-5-5, 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 synthetic fertilizer is perfectly fine. Plants don't know the difference.

Peat moss is acidic. So I recommend a handful of garden lime in the bottom. It is also good for adding calcium to your containers to prevent blossom end rot and it helps balance out the acidity of peat moss. You could also add your crushed eggshells into the bottom half. This prepares the bottom half of your containers.

I finish the top half off the same way with 50% peat moss or organic matter and 50% container soil. You can add in 1 or 2 tables spoons of any type of balanced fertilizer. A 5 gallon container is loosely equal to a planting hole as directed on the backs of most fertilizers. Or it is equal to just over one square foot. Remember, less fertilizer is better to start and they key to great container soil is 50% organic matter for water management.


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Monday, March 17, 2014

Thank You! The Rusted Garden Just Hit 15,000 Subscribers and 2,000,000 Video Views: Free Seeds!

 The Rusted Garden Just Hit 15,000 Subscribers 
and 2,000,000 Video Views

Gardening is a passion that I paired with Google about 5 years ago. I started with The Rusted Vegetable Garden blog and eventually tried YouTube. Maybe you have seen my first nostalgic yet somewhat embarrassing first video Tending Zucchini and Squash and Finding Squash Bug Eggs. That video was from July 6th 2011. I started getting comments and meeting fellow gardeners via the digital world. I was hooked.




I decided my original channel would be short and to the point and this year created a new second channel.
My new channel for brand new gardeners would have videos that are a little bit longer and more detailed. I do have a goal to help families teach children were food comes from.... and that is the earth and not a grocery store. I believe vegetables want to grow and gardening shouldn't be seen as difficult.

My main channel YouTube channel  The Rusted Garden now has, and I am very thankful for all your comments and interest,

15210 Subscribers
2,011,726 Views

I have said before and I will say again, I think it is very cool that gardening is a global activity made up people with great character, heart and genuine warmth for humanity. I wish the world was more like well... gardeners. My enjoyment is getting to know gardeners from around the globe and getting to see what is being grown across the earth. Tell me that isn't cool!




So... I will be giving away 10 tomato seeds packages to celebrate. I wish I could buy everyone a beer and we could sit down and talk gardening. Random packs of tomato seeds I saved last year will have to suffice. I will give away 10 packages made up of 5 packs of tomato seeds. So there will be 10 winners so to speak.

I will take 10 random comments from this blog entry that share this blog with their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram social networks. Why? I have a new goal of 25,000 subscribers and 5,000,000 views. Let's see how it goes, a couple years from now.

Thanks and Good Luck in Your Gardens,

Gary

Join My New YouTube Channel Just for NEW Gardeners: My First Vegetable Garden

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250 HD Short and to Point Garden Videos: My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to Fertilize & Prepare Your Asparagus Beds in the Spring: Feed Them!

How to Fertilize & Prepare Your Asparagus Beds in the Spring: Feed Them!

Asparagus is a great tasting perennial vegetable. That means in many garden zones, even with freezing winters, it will come back year after year. It takes about 3 years to establish an asparagus bed but once it takes hold, it will bring you asparagus spears for the next 20 years or more.




Asparagus is best planted in a loose sandier soil for drainage reasons. I can tell you it will do fine in a heavier clay soil as that is what I planted it in. The key is to make sure your bed drains well so the root systems of your asparagus don't sit in water.

There are many ways to care for asparagus. Most methods agree on a pre-spring feeding of a balance fertilizer where NPK or nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are all equally present. That could be a 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 fertilizer. This is easier to find as a synthetic mix so if you want to go 100% organic, just get as close as that as you can to an equal balance.




Asparagus spears start to grow when soil temperatures hit and stay in the 50 degree F range. I fed mine about a week before spring. You want to give the fertilizer time to get rained on and work its way down into the root system of your clumps. So time your fertilizing accordingly. My video is my twist on a generally excepted way to maintain your asparagus bed.

Good Luck In Your Gardens,

Gary


Join My New YouTube Channel Just for NEW Gardeners: My First Vegetable Garden

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Slug and Snail Management: Iron Phosphate Bait Now!

Spring Slug and Snail Management: Iron Phosphate Bait Now!

When is the best time to treat your garden for slugs and snails?  The answer...  when there is nothing for them to really eat but the iron phosphate bait pellets. In Maryland Zone 7 that time is about mid March. As the days warm up the pests will start coming out of hibernation and they will be looking to eat.


Protect Your Greens Before They Get in The Garden

I once had a terrible problem with slugs and snails. I tried many methods and final found iron phosphate. It is extremely effective and on the very low end of toxic. It won't harm your garden soil, birds, frogs and other garden life.  A good way to deal with pests and problems is on their natural cycles. They will be coming out to eat with the approaching spring. Leave them a snack of iron phosphate!




Another snail and slug control poison is metaldehyde slug bait. It is an indiscriminate killer of wild life and very toxic. I highly recommend against its use. Iron phosphate works when eaten by the snails and slugs and it disrupts their digestive system. They crawl away and actually end up starving to death.





Join My New YouTube Channel Just for NEW Gardeners: My First Vegetable Garden

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (2500+ Members!)
250 HD Short and to Point Garden Videos: My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
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Welcome Gardeners!