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Monday, April 30, 2012

Creating A Newspaper Tomato Disease Garden Barrier: Prevent Blight and Spot Diseases

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A weeks worth of warm days and 50 degree nights means it is time for tomatoes to go into the ground here in Zone 7. With tomato season officially here, I wanted to offer a solution for preventing or reducing spot and blight diseases on your tomatoes. These diseases are quite prevalent in Maryland. The best way to handle any potential problem in the garden is through a management plan. Here is one idea for you to mull around... a disease earth barrier.

Leaf Spot and Early Blight are spread by spores that hang around on the ground. I don't have the luxury of space for full plant rotation. Creating an earth barrier is a great way to reduce the chances of spores splashing up onto the lower leaves of your tomato plants. I am going to do this for all my tomatoes this year. Well... at least that is my intention. Big plans often slip away.

Picture a room in your house. The carpet is the disease barrier. That is what you are going to create with newspaper, sand, dirt and maybe some hay. The goal isn't following my materials but the idea. Newspaper is, however, the key.

I plan to photograph or video the process later but here are the nuts and bolts of creating a newspaper disease barrier for tomato plants.

  • Cover the enter planting area with 4 layers of newspaper. (Barrier One)
  • Place sand, in handfuls, on the newspaper to weigh it down.
  • Water the newspaper in.
  • Cover it with about an inch of bagged garden soil.
  • Cover the area with straw or other similar material. (Barrier Two)

I use 4x8 raised beds. They are easy to cover. If you are using an earth bed you want to go about 4 feet in each direction from the tomato plant. The key is newspaper. You are creating a barrier between your garden soil and the tomato plant. This will absolutely reduce the chances of soil born pathogens getting to your tomatoes. It is one step in managing disease in the garden. Just punch a hole in the barrier for planting and seal it up again once the tomato is planted.




Saturday, April 28, 2012

Video: How to Transplant Tomato and Pepper Seedlings into Cups

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This is about the time to transplant your tomato and pepper seedlings into cups. The vegetable seedlings  can continue to grow in the cups and begin the process of acclimating to the outdoors. A process typically called 'hardening off'.  In short your seedlings don't have sun-screen yet because they have been indoors. Over a 5-7 day period you should slowly expose them to the sun and elements. Start with an hour or so of morning sunlight and build up daily. You have to do this or the sun will burn the leaves.

The videos show you the whole process but I wanted to highlight the main points:

  • The root-balls should be medium moist. Not dry and not soaking wet. Nicely damp. If the root-ball is too wet the weighted starting mix will tear the roots. If it is too dry, the roots tend to be more brittle and break. Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
  • Make a hole in the center of the planting cup and make sure you let the roots extend downward as much as you can. You don't want the roots to pile up in a wad in the middle of the cup.
  • Bottom water. Make sure you label the cups and put a hole in the bottom. You should water your new transplants from the bottom for the first week. After that... let the rain come down.



Transplanting Tomatoes Seedlings into Cups Transplanting Pepper Seedlings into Cups

Friday, April 27, 2012

Video: Seed Starting 7 Kinds of Basil: Save Money and Try New Varieties!

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This video shows you a strategy for seed starting basil indoors. That part isn't too exciting. What I really wanted to convey is that there are dozens of different kinds of basil you can grow in your garden. You don't need to do this indoors under grow-lights either. A sunny window or an outdoor step will work just fine.

You can save a lot of money by starting basil seeds in trays and you can grow all kinds of varieties. Basil plants need to be continually replaced in the garden. If you are buying plants at $3 a pop, you are spending too much. For about $15 or $20 you can seed start basil and try out different varieties. And you can keep basil in your garden all season long. Starting seeds in trays, lets you experiment and try new varieties of herbs and vegetables.




Monday, April 23, 2012

Cool Weather Vegetable Crops: Facts and Planting


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Cool Season Vegetable Crops: Facts and Planting

by Gary Pilarchik

A  Mix of Cool Weather Vegetables: The Rusted Garden



What Makes A  Vegetable a Cool Weather Vegetable?
The cell structures of vegetables differ in that some vegetables have plant cells that will burst if they freeze or get frosted. Cool weather vegetables tend to have the ability to freeze without celldamage. They are designed for the cooler temperatures.


Fully Frozen and Survived: The Rusted Garden

Cool season vegetables prefer the cooler weather. This group of vegetables grows best and tastes their best with 40-50 degree (F) nights and 60-70 degree (F) days. Cool weather vegetables can bebroken into two sub-categories which are Hardy and Semi-Hardy.


Why Can’t I Plant Them When It Is Hot??
Many of the cool weather vegetables try and set seed when it gets warm. Lettuces, for example, don’t mature to full heads and grow quickly to flower and set seeds when the warmth comes. This is aprocess called ‘bolting’. Most lettuces will also become bitter tasting when it is get regularly warm.


Radishes become woody and also ‘bolt’. The cool weather allows vegetables time to mature slowly and it inhibits (slows) the ‘bolting’ process. Kale is a hardy cool weather crop that tastes sweeter when‘cool grown’ but it can be grown through the whole season in many locations.


Hardy Cool Weather Vegetables: This group of vegetables can manage with 40 degree days and can survive a good frost or two. Many vegetables in this group can over-winter in your garden and bring you early spring greens. Vegetables in this group can be planted up to 4 weeks before the average last frost date in your area. You can probably even get away with 6 weeks if you like pushing garden limits.


Semi-Hardy Cool Weather Vegetables: This group of vegetables doesn’t fare as well with frost although they can handle a light frosting with minimal damage. They prefer day time temperatures in the 50’s and nights that don’t fall below 40 degrees, although they can handle the cold 30’s. Vegetables in this group can be planted up to 2 weeks before the average last frost date in your area.


A Cool Weather Tip
In places with warm to hot summers, you actually have two cool weather seasons. I plant in Maryland Zone 7. I can start my cool weather planting March 1st and I can plant them again mid August for a fall cool season. I actually plant at this time to also establish vegetables that I will let over-winter.


Different Types of Cool Weather Vegetables

The exact split, between hardy (H) and semi-hardy (SH), and where to place a vegetable in the sub-categories is debated. It is best used for general planting guidelines and understanding they simply like the cool weather. My guidelines for each vegetable is based on my growing area (Zone 7). I am giving you the general range for first planting of these vegetables. You can plant successive crops every 2 weeks as you wish based on you planting zone.


Some Cool Weather Vegetable Crops: The Rusted Garden

Asparagus (H) (Perennial) It takes about 3 years to establish a viable crop. It is a perennial plant that will start sending up stalks in March when planted the previous year. If you are planting it for the first time to establish it your garden, it is best to use transplants. You can grow them from seed in cell trays. They should be planting in the garden in May.


Arugula (SH) It can be started indoors and planted in the garden 2 weeks before last frost date. You can also plant seeds at the same time.


Beets (SH) It can be planted as seeds 2 weeks before last frost date. I have had success growing transplants.


Bok Choy (Pak Choi) (H) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I do recommend growing it indoors and transplanting it into the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Broccoli (H) It is best planted as a transplant 4 weeks before last frost date. I would not recommend starting it as seeds in the ground in Zone 7.


Brussels sprouts (SH) It is best planted as a transplant 2 weeks before last frost date. I would not recommend starting it as seeds in the ground in Zone 7.


Cabbage (H) It is best planted as a transplant 4 weeks before last frost date. I would not recommend starting it as seeds in the ground in Zone 7.


Carrots (SH) Carrots should not be grown as transplants. They can be seeded in your garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Cauliflower (H) It is best planted as a transplant 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I would not recommend starting it as seeds in the ground in Zone 7.


Celery (SH) It is best planted as a transplant 2 weeks before last frost date. I would not recommend starting it as seeds in the ground in Zone 7.


Cilantro (SH) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Collard Greens (H) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I do recommend growing it indoors and transplanting it into the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Fennel (H) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I do recommend growing it indoors and transplanting it into the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Kale (H) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I do recommend growing it indoors and transplanting it into the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Kohlrabi (H) It can be started indoors and planted in the garden 2 weeks before last frost date. You can also plant seeds at the same time.


Lettuce (H) It can be started indoors and planted in the garden 4 weeks before last frost date. You can also plant seeds at the same time.


Mustard Greens (H) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I do recommend growing it indoors and transplanting it into the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Onions (H) If you are using bulbs you can plant them 6 weeks before last frost date. I have not used seeds.


Parsley (H) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I do recommend growing it indoors and transplanting it into the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Peas (H) They should be planted directly in the ground 4 weeks before last frost date. Peas do not like soggy cold soil.


Potatoes (SH) They should be planted directly in the ground 4 weeks before last frost date.


Radishes (H) They should be planted directly in the ground 4 weeks before last frost date.


Spinach (H) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I do recommend growing it indoors and transplanting it into the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Chard (SH) It can be planted as seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date. I do recommend growing it indoors and transplanting it into the garden 2-4 weeks before last frost date.


Turnips (H) They should be planted directly in the ground 4 weeks before last frost date


More Cool Weather Vegetable Crops: The Rusted Garden


Please let me know what other cool weather vegetables I missed. I would be glad to add them to the list.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Video: Different Methods of Planting Lettuce (Succession)

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Lettuce is a great garden vegetable. Some quick points.

  1. Succession planting is planting in waves. You plant in waves so you don't end up with all your lettuce at one time. You can do this with any fast growing vegetable like radishes or spinach. Plant some every two weeks for example.
  2. Lettuce will continue to grow leaves if you leave the roots in the ground. If you cut a mature head of lettuce, cut it right in the garden and leave the roots in the ground. You will get more lettuce. Who doesn't want that?
  3. When transplanting lettuce, it is best transplanted on cloudy or rainy days or in the evenings. Lettuce is 90% water and the sun is bad for lettuce transplants.
Succession planting can refer to the same vegetables or other vegetables. You might have a radish bed,  have another vegetable started in seed trays and when the radishes finish... you immediately get the new vegetable transplants in. This saves time and maximizes your space.

If you had a small space with lettuce and couldn't plant waves of lettuce at different times in the actual garden, you could plant your garden with lettuce and wait 2 weeks and start lettuce in cell trays. Once the garden planted lettuce was close to harvest, the lettuce transplants could go out next to it.

Let me know if you have questions! Ill write more on succession planting this week.
                               

The Problem: (Peppers) They Do Well, Mature, Flower, Set Some Fruit then Wither and Die.

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I got a question from a self proclaimed chilly serial pepper killer. Her chilly peppers seem to follow the pattern of: They grow a good size, flower, set some fruit and then the leaves wither/wilt and the plant dies. If you have the time, I would appreciate some help from all our experience (out there) with helping her figure out what might be wrong.

My thoughts were this....

  1. Peppers can suffer from too much love. They need moisture but too much soaking water can harm them. Perhaps let them hang on the drier side of moisture.
  2. If they were in containers, maybe try a different heavier soil
  3. If they were in the ground, a rotation might be in store.

If you need more information. Leave a comment. I am sure you can get more details.

Thanks for the Help!

ARGH! Slug and Snails in the Vegetable Garden

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Any suggestions out there on how to GREATLY reduce the number of slugs and snails out there in our gardens? Reduction is the key. What are some methods you use that would help us all out in this never ending war?


I don't know why I find a comment about another gardener's garden being invaded by snails as painful as if it were mine. Well... I guess I know the devastation they can rain (or is it reign) on months of hard work in transplants and preparation. It is awful.

The war on slugs and snails is never won but the damage can be greately reduced. I just shot this video about iron phosphate. It works. It works really well.  Beer traps help capture those pest ASAP but you can't make enough to cover the garden if you have a huge problem. Plus it becomes a waste of good beer, you soon feel like you are paying for the slugs to party. Consider Iron Phosphate. The ability to scatter it... is outstanding and that is what differs then a slug trap. And it wont KILL toads.

Good luck Heather



Saturday, April 21, 2012

So What Did You Do in Your Vegetable Garden This Week?

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I am curious to see and read what you are all doing in your gardens. Don't be shy and feel free to leave a comment or more... like a picture.

I was able to mange my blog and tweak it a bit over the last few days.  I shot 4 more garden videos but that was the technical 'gardening' work. For actual earth work...

Let see. I planted my leeks and will be getting my mustard greens, red kale and lettuces in tomorrow. I was able to pick radishes today and as well as pull a bunch of greens together for a salad. I put down my iron phosphate to start my annual war on slugs and snails and I transplanted a bunch of peppers and tomatoes into cups.

Tomorrow I am actually dreading cutting down all the dead tall grasses from last year and weeding. PAINFULLY BORING WORK.  Yes, I am way behind on that stuff and I have to cut the grass and all that. I like to clean the yard up so the garden stands out but I always seem to get distracted. Go CAPS (hockey fan).

I also want to put together another 4x4 raised bed. Believe it or not in my area they are calling for a string of 40 degree nights and 50 degree days with rain. Horrible weather - nothing like muddying up and catching the wrath of the wife for hand prints and feet prints in the house.

I hope all is well in your Gardens!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Vegetable Planting Instructions: What is This?

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I will be adding five menus/navbars to The Rusted Garden. I feel there is no easy way for visitors to search and find information so... I've decided to create modern menus/navbars for the blog. There are going to be five main vertical high end navbars to organize information. The old stuff will stay. The trick is finding the free code.

If anyone knows of sites that build vertical navigation bars that expand when highlited, I would love the link. Thanks.

The five new main navigation bars will be:

Vegetable Nutrition Value
Vegetable Planting/Tending Instructions
Vegetable Seed Starting
Vegetable Recipes
Garden Videos
Maybe Pest and Disease Control (so six)

The sub menus of each main title would be broken down by vegetable or topic and a further menu may define that for instance. Something like this:

Vegetable Planting/Tending Instructions
                                                           Radish
                                                                      Radish Round/Globe
                                                                      Radish Long Root


Vegetable Nutrition Value will highlite the nutritional benefits of a vegetable and what it contains. I figured it is nice to know what you get out of eating a specific vegetable.

Vegetable Planting/Tending Instructions will provide information about the basic planting instructions for plants in the earth, raised beds and in containers. It will also talk about tending and harvesting.

Vegetable Seed Starting will provide information about starting specific vegetable seeds indoors and transtplanting outdoors.

Vegetable Recipes will include recipes for your garden produce. Recipes I have created and found.

Garden Videos will be a quick method to navigate the videos I am making.

If feel these five buttons will provide visitors and readers with an easy way to find the information they may need to better enjoy gardening. So if The Rusted Garden is in a bit of disarray... I'm constructing.

Thanks and Good Gardening!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Complete Spring Salad Snipped for the Rusted Garden

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There are several ways to harvest salads from the garden. The method I use is to pick leaves and flowers from greens and herbs. I don't typically grow lettuces to maturity anymore. I just cut leaves or cut the lettuces when small and leave the roots in the ground. They will grow again. I prefer the freshness versus a big cut head sitting in the refrigerator.

Here is what you can get from an early Spring garden. Keep in mind I have greens and onions that over-wintered. Something you can prepare for in the Fall.


Batavian Endive - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik

The 'Batavian' endive is slightly bitter and has a creamy texture. Most greens are less bitter in the Spring because of the cool weather. I cut three clumps from my containers and left the roots in the soil. I just set it on the deck and picked out the good leaves.


Greens Cut at the Roots so it Regrows: Gary Pilarchik
A Few Leaves of 'Red Russian' Kale: Gary Pilarchik
Peas I Planted Back in March: Gary Pilarchik

Do you know what pea leaves taste like? Have you used them in salads? They are a great tasting sweet green with a hint of pea taste to them. Take a few from plants here and there. You don't want to harm growth. A few leaves won't matter.


Pea Leaves are Great in Salads: Gary Pilarchik
An Onion from the Container that Over-Wintered: Gary Pilarchik

You need an onion in any respectable Spring salad. You can use the whites and green stem. The parsley is what I started in January in seed trays. Next year I can start it in February. It is getting to large for the cups. A few parsley leaves adds a nice flavor contrast. Parsley is also sweeter in the cool weather.


Parsley in a Cup - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik

Here are the Food Network money shots. I think I would love having a job taking pictures of vegetables. The salad is dressed with vinegar, oil and salt. Nothing fancy as to let the flavors of the salad come through. It tasted great. I had it right after work and it was picked to order and packed with flavor. It went from garden to bowl in about 20 minutes.


Fresh Picked Garden Greens - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik
A Dressed Mixed Greens Spring Salad: Gary Pilarchik

Eating Arugula and Kale Flowers in Your Salad: Spring Salad from the Garden

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I wanted to let people know that over-wintered lettuces, kales and greens typically go to seed in the Spring. All that means is they flower and try to set seed. You can eat the flowers! They taste like the plant and if you catch the yellow flowers from kale at the right time... they are sweet like nectar. I eat them right out in the garden while I tend to what needs tending.

Flowering Over-Wintered Greens - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik
Arugula Flower is Different Stages: Gary Pilarchik

Here are two plants with different flowers. You can see buds and flowers. You can eat both. You really want to eat them in either of these stages. If you wait to long, they begin to form seeds and they don't taste that great. In these stages they taste like the plants and if the flower has just opened, you get the sweetness of the pollen. Ah, tap for tiny bees before eating.


Kale Flowers in Different Stages: Gary Pilarchik

A bowl of flowers from arugula and 'Red Russian' kale. It will be mixed with other greens in the next blog entry for a Spring salad. I really like that picture. I might have to highlight it in a blog.


Arugula and Kale Flowers for a Spring Salad: Gary Pilarchik


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's Been Growing on at The Rusted Garden: Scatter Plots

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Well, I have about 300 tomatoes out and growing in cups. I started more tomatoes to make up for the 100 I killed off. I was able to plant a 2nd wave of radishes a bit back and they are up. I have my herbs in cups, I planted cukes and beans in cups and transplanted other stuff too. Here are some pictures of some of my progress. Oh... and I have been making videos (garden videos that is) and have a hot-house tomato growing. I hope to get some 'Black Krims' before June.


1st Wave of Radishes and Over-Wintered Russian Kale: Gary Pilarchik
Scattered Carrot Plot, Celery and Beets: Gary Pilarchik

The scattered carrot plot is doing really well. I just weeded it yesterday. The carrots are up and growing pretty quickly. A scatter plot is a method of sowing seeds. I'll update there growth but I can tell you there are pretty evenly spaced and probably won't need much thinning. The beets are from cell trays as is the celery. I bought them at my local nursery.

Below is another scatter plot and you can see how the lettuces were spaced out. This is for baby lettuce and therefore planting them closer together will work. I am not waiting for mature heads. I'll cut and snip and leave the roots in the ground. If you leave lettuce roots in the ground, they will support new leaf growth.


Scatter Plot of Mixed Lettuces - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik
Asparagus and Over-Wintered Onions: Gary Pilarchik

I did cook some asparagus in the house. But I typically just break stems off and eat it while I am in the garden.


'Black Krim' Gets a Hot-House Tomato Cage: Gary Pilarchik


And here are all my plants in cups. I am praying for NO MORE FROST. Ah well... a gardener's life.


Maturing Garden Transplants - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik

An Outstanding Planting Mix For Monster Container Tomatoes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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I have talked extensively about moisture control for growing monster container tomatoes. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to figure out what planting mix is best for containers. I can tell you that MIracle-Gro Expand 'n Grow Concentrated Planting MIx is container gardening perfection. It is made from coconut coir husk and it expands to 3x times its size. What does that mean? It means that moisture is being held in the planting mix and it is available for your container tomatoes. It is also pack full of nutrients that you have come to expect from Miracle-Gro. You can grow your plants and vegetables 3x's larger versus your standard soil. It feeds for up to 6 months. This is what your container tomatoes need - nutrients and moisture. It is the perfect planting mix for your container gardens.

Expand ‘n Gro™

You can use Expand 'n Grow to amend your garden soil too. The natural fibers used in the planting mix holds up to 50% more water than your standard potting mixes. Not only does it help manage moisture and feed your vegetables so you get maximum production, it also improves your soil for years to come. Adding this product gives your garden an immediate benefit for the current growing year and for years to come. Your garden soil only gets stronger when adding a product like this to it. I have clay soil and clay soil becomes rock hard in the sun. Expand 'n Grow added organic matter to my garden and helped transform parts of it into a lush planting bed.

I suggest you give it a try. Unsure? Try it out in one of your containers or in part of your garden and you will immediately see the benefits of this product. It makes container garden that much easier and your tomatoes that much larger... monsters! 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Video: How to Build a Hot-House Tomato Cage: Get Your Tomatoes Out Earlier!

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Here is my newest video. This works! Get your tomatoes out early and get red tomatoes by the close of May.

How to Manage Moisture in Container Tomatoes: Fruit Cracking/Blossom End Rot

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Part One of Two:

The key to growing large bountiful tomatoes in containers is moisture control. Moisture control is the goal with control being the operative word. Tomatoes and most vegetables need even moisture. Periods of prolonged drought followed by too much water damages plant systems. I am going to focus on the tomato plant and how moisture control impacts the growth of the container plant.

A container tomato needs continued, mostly even, moisture. A single day of a fully dried out container, which can happen in a day when your tomato plant is a good size and the day time temperatures are in the 80’s, will harm your tomato. At face value, drought will limit growth. The plant will pull moisture from the tomatoes to survive. Fruit production will be limited and plant and fruit size will be smaller than designed. Many other things can happen with your tomato plant when moisture is uneven. Uneven means totally dried out, then soaked, mostly dried out, soaked again and another day of drying out completely. This is the bane of growing tomatoes in containers.

A dry container tomato followed by an excess of water can crack your tomatoes. You have seen cracked tomatoes before. This comes from a plant that is struggling with uneven moisture. They gorge themselves on the excess water, swell quickly and crack. The other problem has to do with a combination of factors but uneven moisture plays a huge role. Blossom end rot is the browning of the bottom of the tomato where the blossom was once attached.

Blossom end rot is physiological disease. It is not spread by a virus or fungus. It has to do with moisture, root systems and the ability of the plant to use calcium. It is most prevalent during vigorous tomato development but can occur at any time while the plant develops fruits. If a plant is struggling to absorb water, it cannot transport minerals properly throughout its system. A lack of calcium in the soil or the lack of the plants ability to transport and use calcium will cause blossom end rot. There are 2 ways to address this: correct moisture control and the addition of calcium (lime). Most container soils have sufficient nutrients in them and the main cause of fruit cracking and blossom end rot is due to moisture control.

The best way to manage your container tomatoes so that they grow large and stay healthy is a plan to address moisture management from the beginning. Seriously, tomatoes start out small and visually we assume an under sized container can handle them. You have to imagine how a 5-6 foot tomato will look in the container. At minimum you will need a container that holds up to 5 gallons of soil mix. I recommend using paint containers from your local do-it-yourself stores.

I have a basic design that works. It is a semi-self watering container system that will buy you the extra umpf for maintaining even moisture control. Unless you can water daily and sometimes twice daily on every hot day, you want some sort of self watering system to help you out. The supplies required for this are: 2 five gallon paint containers, a bag of moisture control garden soil, a funnel, a drill with a ¼ drill bit and an old bathroom towel.

Part Two: Coming This Week.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vide0: How to Easily Transplant a Tomato into the Garden

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Another video I just finished.

How to Make the Ulitmate Garden Beer Slug/Snail Trap

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A new video I just completed.

Update on My Now 100 Tomatoes I Killed: Argh!

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I still have plenty of tomatoes but wanted to review my mistake. Like I said I watered the new transplants from the top. What that did as I compared them to my other transplanted tomatoes (that are doing well!) was:


  1. They did get a shock of cold water on their leaves. That is something they never felt. Seriously.
  2. The water filled the top of the cup and compacted the soil down much more tightly then the bottom watered tomatoes. That is less air and more pressure on the freshly disturbed roots.
  3. The plants seemed to die from 'damping off' which is the collective name for many types of fungi. Right at the base of the stem where it meets the soil... the stem got soft and the plant fell over and died. 
I have more tomatoes to transplant and more to get ready for my upcoming sale. A perfect day today for gardening. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Start Your Basil and Basils Indoors: There is More Than One!

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5 Kinds of Basil - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik

Basil like the warmth and the nights here are to cool but... you can start them indoors right now.

There are many kinds of basil beyond the standard large leaf. I plant many kinds.

  1. Cinnamon Basil: Smell like it states and adds nice flavors to fish, salads and salsas.
  2. Lemon Basil:  Has a clear lemon taste that I enjoy in salsa.
  3. Large Leaf Basil: Your standard go to basil.
  4. Purple Ruffle Basil: Not as strong as Large Leaf but has a basil taste and is really appealing in salads and other dishes.
  5. Dwarf Bush Basil. A strong taste for small leaves. Great for cooking.

When in doubt for a recipe to use all the basil... Cooked white rice mixed with a roughly chopped mixed of all the above. Saute the basil for about 1 minute in olive oil, turn off heat and then add as much cooked rice as you'd like. Salt and pepper to taste. This is an easy outstanding side-dish.



You Can Start Your Cucumbers in Cups Now!

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Cucumber Seeds - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik

There are many different kinds of cucumbers. The picture covers 5 varieties. It is a good idea to plant several varieties of cucumbers. They will arrive at different times, bring different sizes to the table and have different disease resistance.

You can put 2 seeds in an 8-12 oz cup and start them indoors. As soon as they break the surface, get them in the sun.

Don't start cukes in seed cells. That is to little dirt for their roots and they won't transplant well.

Good Luck!

Bottom Water! Just Killed 75 Tomatoes

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Well wouldn't you know I forgot to bottom water my transplant tomatoes. I put about 120 transplants into cups and into holding containers. For no reason but forgetting, I just watered them from the top. What happened... 75 dead tomatoes from 'damping off' disease.

How should I have done it. I should have filled the tray they were in with water and let it absorb up the cups from the bottom.

How do I know this would have worked... the third batch of tomatoes were watered properly and they look great.

Morale... woops.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thanks You So Much For 100,000 Views and 5,000 Monthly Visits

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I never thought my passion for gardening and true enjoyment of this blog would be more than a place to get the occasional visitors. It has really grown into a fun hobby and a rewarding life experience. I hope to keep the blog going and hope to keep meeting new people and discovering new ways to garden as well as new things to grow. What good is life if you aren't out in the dirt enjoying it? If you find my blog helpful, I kindly ask you to Facebook it and spread the word.

My gardening passion started years and years ago when my grandfather taught me how to plant tomatoes. He planted that proverbial seed and it has stuck with me. When I purchased my home 10 years ago, the only thing I looked for was if the backyard got full afternoon sun. It did and I thank my wife for finding a great home. As I dug the earth for the first raised beds, I also began writing Google Knols. A venture Google has now closed. From their, I discovered Google Blogspot and the Rusted Garden was born. Recently, I started making YouTube Garden videos. I hope to have 50 made by the end of this Summer. I've expanded to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You can find me on Pinterest here: The Rusted Garden on Pinterest but it is a lot of what you find here. It is really cool format though if you don't know what it is.

The Rusted Garden blog is closing in on 100,000 page views. I can tell you about 5,000 visitors come here a month. Most of them are quiet but I would love to hear about their gardens and see the pictures of things they have done. If you have time please let us know who you are and show off some of the things you do in the great world of vegetable gardening.

Thanks and Good Growing!
Gary

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Great Tomato Aspirin Experiment for 2102: JOIN US!

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What I would like to do is invite any interested gardener in testing the theory that aspirin or salicylic acid triggers a natural tomato response called Systemic Acquired Resistance or SAR.

My understanding is that the salicylic acid in aspirin mimics a natural hormone that would naturally stimulate or initiate the SAR response in a tomato.

Rather than wait for a fungus (Leaf Spot or Blight) or a pest attack (Spider Mites) to occur that would naturally trigger SAR, we are going to spray (a few of) our tomatoes with aspirin and trigger theSAR response while the plant is healthy. And we are going to keep the response going until August 31st.

I used aspirin spray last year but not in a consistent structured manner. I did write, in blogs, that I noticed thicker leaves and stronger plants on tomatoes I treated regularly with aspirin. I even planted an aspirin with some plants. I was also able to keep different fungi to a minimum. I believe the aspirin along with my wettable sulfur spray helped me maintain a successful tomato crop. Prevention is the key to pest and disease management. Easier said than done, I know.

If you would like to participate, this blog entry, is going to be the data collection page and you can just use the comments to let us know that you are participating and how you are going to use the aspirin. I will outline a basic experiment (below) that you can follow and report on or you can create your own variation of the experiment. The goal  is the use of aspirin and to gather our opinions on how effective aspirin spray was on the tomatoes we grew and treated. No pressure, no stress, just some gardening fun…

I will be copying this entry to one of my blog pages called JOIN the 2012 TOMATO ASPIRIN EXPERIMENT. The blog page (different than an entry) is permanent and can be visited easily to read about the progress and outcomes of our experiment.

Again, this blog entry dated 4/10/2012 is the place to sign up for the experiment and comment on the progress of your experiment. Don’t worry it will be clear and easy to find what is what.

The Great Tomato Aspirin Experiment for 2012

Materials:
A (1) or (2) gallon sprayer.
Mild Soap Detergent
Vegetable Oil
325 mg Aspirin with NO Coating

 Spray Formula:
(1) 325mg aspirin crushed and dissolved in (1) gallon of water

 Options for Spray: (last year I just did straight aspirin and water)
½ teaspoon of mild soap detergent to help the spray stick
(1) teaspoon of vegetable oil to help the spray stick

 You can use just soap or just oil or both or none. It is your creative choice.

The Aspirin Spray Routine:
 Thoroughly soak you experimental tomato or tomatoes every 10-14 days with the aspirin spray mix.

 Some variables (for fun) to consider are:
  1. Growing two of the same type of tomato in different parts of your garden and documenting the differences over time.
  2. Planting an aspirin with a tomato when you transplant it.
  3. Varying intervals of spray frequency with different tomatoes.
  4. Using Baking Soda Spray or Wettable Sulfur Spray with non aspirin sprayed and aspirin sprayed tomatoes. Perhaps see if a tomato sprayed with aspirin and one of these fungicides does better than the rest.

Home Remedies for the Garden: Powdery Mildew and Baking Soda

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I want to bring a few ideas for pondering to the garden. I have used my on versions of these recipes. Remember the key is prevention and a structured plan for application.


http://pubstorage.sdstate.edu/AgBio_Publications/articles/fs934.pdf: Managing Plant Diseases in the Home Garden. This is a 46 page document that lists different products for disease control if you ever wanted to know what is available and how to apply them. I found the Powder Mildew Recipe most interesting.

Home Remedy for Powdery Mildew
This is the home version of ‘Remedy’ fungicide. ‘Remedy’ is potassium bicarbonate based, while this mixture is sodium bicarbonate based. The sodium version is not quite as effective as the potassium product.Sodium bicarbonate homemade fungicide recipe:

1 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 gallon of water

Shake to mix thoroughly. Spray on plants to runoff. Reapply on a short (frequent) interval of 5–10 days. Use a shorter interval during rainy weather.

Aspirin for Tomatoes: A Good Step for Prevention

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I have been using aspirin for 2 years now (on my plants) and this will be my third. It activitates a defense response in the plant and is believed to help them 'be stronger' in warding of fungi and pest attacks. That is Leaf Spot and Blights. I think it is true. Some of my plants got Leaf Spot and prevention allowed them to make it through Augusts. My incidence of Early Blight (by my diagnosis) was much less than previous years.

Prevention works!

Here is a link to a very good article: http://www.plantea.com/plant-aspirin.htm. Below are some passages I copied from the link.

"What caught my eye in the original Avant Gardener article was it said that aspirin is an activator of Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR). And that plants, when under stress, naturally produce salicylic acid, but not fast enough and in sufficient quantities to really help them out in time. So the bugs get them, and diseases get them, and they show even more stress.
"But if you give them aspirin, it helps boost their immune system, kind of like feeding people echinacea so they don't get a cold."

The dosage that Martha used was 1.5 [uncoated] aspirins to 2 gallons of water. She also added 2 tablespoons of yucca extract to help the aspirin water stick to the leaves better. (The yucca extract can be substituted with a mild liquid soap.) Martha explained that the yucca (or soap) prevents the aspirin water from beading up and rolling off leaves of broccoli and kale leaves. Finally, she sprayed the plants every 3 weeks.
The summer when Martha first started testing aspirin water, was not the best, weather-wise. It was cool, rainy and damp. "But what happened was, by the end of the season, the plants in the raised beds with the aspirin water looked like they were on steroids!


"The plants were huge, and green and with no insects. We even saw some disease problems that reversed themselves. We think we got a virus on the cucumbers, and they aspirin water seemed to reverse it. The cucumbers ended up being very healthy."

Check out the site it is very informative: http://www.plantea.com/

Monday, April 9, 2012

It is Not to Early to Think Disease Prevention on Tomatoes: Blights and Spots

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I want to stress the importance of disease prevention in the garden for Leaf Spots and Blights. There is no cure. There is no cure. Only prevention.

These classes of diseases are fungi. Fungi grow based on optimal environment and moisture. They need moisture to spread and the right environment to breed and spread.

Prevention for the gardener (I will detail more over time) is based on routine. It is important to remove diseased leaves ASAP and to spray your garden tomatoes and other plants preventatively.

Last year I used a sulphur spray I made and it kept the fungi in check. This year I am going to experiment with baking soda spray. What the sprays do is create a too acidic (sulphur) or too alkaline (baking soda) environment for the fungi spores to germinate (or whatever spores do).  This requires spraying at least one time weekly but I would recommend two times weekly.

I'll be blogging my recipes. Check out a web search on baking soda on tomatoes. It is very interesting.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

VIDEO: What the Pak Choi is Chinese Cabbage: Planting Chinese Cabbage and Raab

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VIDEO: Transplanting 'Black' Kale to a Raised Bed

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Transplanted Kale, Chinese Cabbage and Broccoli Raab

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I got my transplants out into the garden finally! They were getting to large to wait out frosty nights. They are cool weather vegetables but I was hoping I wouldn't have to deal with frost.  Two night of frost possible this week but I couldn't wait. The root-balls were getting tight.


Kales, Chinese Cabbage, Broccoli Raab, Leeks: Gary Pilarchik

A raised bed is great to use because you can plant vegetables closer than the recommended distance. The main reason is the bed soil stays loose to a good depth. Roots can grow downward and the garden doesn't get compacted by foot traffic.


'Black' Kale, Pak Choi, Broccoli Raab: Gary Pilarchik

Now the slug and snail battle begins!




Dirt Basics: Preparing a Raised Bed for Transplants

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I don't want to even pretend there is a set way to prepare your soil. What is important is that you add some organic matter and fertilizer if fertilizer is even needed.  And the biggest key is turning it and loosening the soil. I am trying something different with fertilizer this year and that is a few pinches in a planting hole rather than handfuls in the whole bed.

Fertilizer has its uses. I buy a bag of 10-10-10. It is cheap and basic enough to cover the ranges.  I also use composted manure in the planting holes. My compost is close to ready and I will be using that too at times.

One year I got great radish TOPS and little radish roots. Yep... too much nitrogen.


This garden bed was used for two videos. It was double turned about a week ago and I only added peat moss. It is now ready for planting and I needed to take care of the top 4-6 inches of the bed.

I have clay soil. It is still problematic at times but I decided along time ago that I would fix it slowly over time.

A Turned Raised Bed Hard as Dried Clay: Gary Pilarchik

Now my beds are by no means pure clay and they do well but because I double dug this bed again, a week ago, I brought up some clay chunks from the bottom. Clay dries hard! Soak your raised bed before you go into work with it with your hands. The clay crumbles when damp!


Soak Clay Soil  Down Before You Break It Up: Gary Pilarchik
Added Peat Moss and Lime - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik
I added about 5 shovel fulls of peat moss to be worked in the top of the garden and 4 handfuls of lime. The peat moss is acidic and the lime is not. It is a way to gently balance the two so the garden stays closer to neutral. If you want to know exactly what you soil needs in way of PH, you have to test your soil. Lime also adds calcium which is good in the prevention of tomato blossom end rot.

The lime was pelleted but it got rained on and well, I broke up the clumps in the picture to spread it as best I could.


Work Over and Mix the Top 6 inches of the Bed: Gary Pilarchik

I used my hands to mix in the top of the soil together to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. It is actually really good exercise. After it is mixed, soaking your soil will hyrdrate the peat moss and turn the lime to liquid. The peat moss and lime will begin their mix. Don't over soak.  In about 30 minutes you can go plant. The crumbled clay will also mix with the peat moss and make it a bit more friendly for planting.


Soak it Down a Bit Before Planting: Gary Pilarchik











Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Stab at Planting Potatoes: Step One Planting in Containers

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Last year I made 2 mistakes. I started too late and I baked my potatoes by using green grass to cover potato growth. Basically the black trash bag and green grass began a compost process that raised the temperature of the cut grass to well over 100 degrees. In the middle of the heat was my potato stalks. Baked potatoes and not in a good way!

This year my old potatoes began sprouting in their pots. I took that as Nature's cue to plant potatoes now.

You basically want to plant potatoes 2-4 inches below the surface in 6-8 inches of soil when using containers. As the growth (stalks) reach 6 to 8 inches, you cover 1/2 the stalks with soil. You raise the soil up 3 to 4 inches every time the stalks get (as stated) 6 to 8 inches high.

The reason you do that is to increase the yield of your potato plant. Potatoes grow out from the stalk. The more you cover the stalk by 1/2 with soil... the more potatoes you will get.

Here is the planting step of potatoes in containers. Ill show the other steps as these grow. I hope.


Seed Potatoes from Walmart- The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik

The seed potatoes have stalk growth on them. The reason they have so much is because they sat in my car trunk for 7 days. Who knew?  The container below has about 6-8 inches of fluffed soil in it. It is very loose.


3 Potatoes for this Container: Gary Pilarchik
Potatoes 2-4 Inches Deep - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik

Fill a 5 gallon container about 1/3 the way and plant a potato in the middle about 2-4 inches deep. Two potatoes would be fine... just space them out. The potatoes in the 5 gallon bucket probably will be smaller but this fine for baby potatoes. I am not a seasoned potato grower! One day maybe but the great thing about gardening is there is always something to learn. Advice is appreciated.


Potatoes in 5 Gallon Containers: Gary Pilarchik