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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Harvesting Round and Cylindrical Beets: Two Types of Beets to Grow


Harvesting Round and Cylindrical Beets: 
Two Types of Beets to Grow

Beets are probably one of the best vegetables to have regularly in your diet. Many people are familiar with the standard red round beets like the 'Detroit Dark Red' variety. There are also cylindrical beets that carry the same flavor, color and benefits of round beets. Cylindrical beets, 'Cylindra' for example, offer an easier to slice beet that is a great size for pickling and for salads. The video quickly shows you the harvest of round beets and cylindrical beets.





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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Update: Using A Fabric Tent to Stop Cabbage Looper Damage on Your Vegetables: It Works!

Update: Using a Fabric Tent to Stop 
Cabbage Looper Damage on Your Vegetables
(It Works!)

The green cabbage looper is often the answer to what is eating holes in your cabbages, kales, collards, kholrabi and other leafy green vegetables. They come from that white psychotic flying moth. It lays eggs on the leaves of your garden vegetables and that starts the cycle of devastation. I have used the product Bacillus Thuringeiensis or Bt in the past. It is effective and works as long as you don't miss dosings and as long as the rain doesn't quickly wash the product away.

This year I came across a fabric called tulle, pronounced tool, and it makes an outstanding fabric tent. It is strong, you can see through it and most of all it is effective against the white moth that lays the green cabbage looper eggs. I don't have a single hole in the upper leaves from worms as the update video will show you. I highly recommend making a fabric tent. The tulle is inexpensive and can be found at craft stores. I also included the construction video for the fabric tent and the video that shows you the moth that lays the eggs.


Update Video on Kale Growth and Cabbage Looper Protection


Construction Video for the Fabric Tent Over Your Kales & Collards


 The White Moth and Green Cabbage Looper



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Monday, June 24, 2013

Growing Cucumbers Vertically in Sunken Garden Containers

Growing Cucumbers Vertically in Sunken Container Gardens

Sunken containers allow you to concentrate the 'best' soil in one location for the vegetables or in this case the cucumber plants. This can save you money. The bottoms are removed or a large portion is cut out of the container to allow the roots to grow beyond the size of the container. This allows the vegetables to grow to full size without worry of root constraints and it allows them to get moisture.

Cucumbers are heavy feeders and should be fed 1 to 2x weekly, based on your choice of fertilizers, once they start producing cucumbers. Cucumbers in my area are prone to soft bodied insect attacks. Growing them vertically not only saves space in your garden but it helps you better manage pests and disease. It is much easier for me to get my soapy water spray on the undersides of the leaves when they grow up a tomato cage.




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Friday, June 21, 2013

How to Easily Clone Tomatoes and Root Tomato Suckers

How to Easily Clone and Root Tomato Suckers


A tomato 'sucker' is essentially a growing tip that will form a full size tomato plant. There are many ways to clone a tomato by rooting a tomato sucker. I show you an extremely easy method to root the sucker in water.

You can watch the roots establish and grow and when they are long enough (about an inch), you can put them into an 8 ounce cup of growing medium. Just keep the medium moist for about a week and you will have a clone of your original tomato plant that is ready for planting in your vegetable garden.





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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fennel: Attract the Entire Life Cycle of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly - The Rusted Garden 2013

Fennel: Attract the Entire Life Cycle 
of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly 


The herb fennel will attract the entire life cycle of the black swallowtail butterfly. It will host eggs, caterpillars and the chrysalis. You can plant clumps of fennel in your flower garden and the plants will host the the life cycle of many kinds of butterflies.


If you remove a branch of the fennel with a mature caterpillar... you can put it in a jar and watch the chrysalis form and the swallowtail emerge. A great project for kids!








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Monday, June 10, 2013

From Garden to Grill: Grilling Garden Beets - A New Rusted Garden Video Series

From Garden to Grill: Grilling Garden Beets
A New Rusted Garden Video Series
(Copyright June 2013)

I started a new video series called: From Garden to Grill. I will be grilling vegetables as they mature in the garden this season. Each video will be about 5 minutes long and it will cover harvesting the vegetable, the basic recipe, cooking and finally plating. My first video in this series is - Grilling Garden Beets.

Garden vegetables, in this case beets, offer a taste and flavor you will never find with grocery store vegetables. No matter how fresh they are... they don't compare to your home grown vegetables. As soon as a vegetable is picked the sugars begin to convert to starches and they begin to lose moisture. Events that change their flavor. From Garden to Grill, takes a freshly pick vegetable to heat and plate all within the same day.

Grilled beets take 45-60 minutes based on your grill. You initially roast them in foil and let them releases their juices. They are finished over heat to caramelize the sugars and bring out a great earthy sweet flavor that only beets can give you.




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What is 'Bolting' Lettuce and Why Does It Happen? or My Lettuce is Bitter!


What is 'Bolting' Lettuce and Why Does It Happen? 
or My Lettuce is Bitter!


Lettuce and greens are typically cool weather crops. They like 60 to 70 degree days and cooler nights. While the temperature is cool... your lettuces, endives and spinach happily produce leaves for your garden salads. Great tasting greens!

As the days regularly break the 80's and the 90's creep in lettuce begins the process of 'bolting'. Warm days with 70 plus degree nights starts the flower and seed production process for many garden greens. That is called 'bolting'.

Your lettuce stops producing leaves as starts producing a flower stalk. The chemistry of the plant changes and often a bitter taste comes to the green. The video shows you what 'bolting' looks like and it explains the changes in your now bitter lettuces.




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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Making Eggshell & Banana Peel Tomato Fertilizer: Blossom End Rot Prevention

Making Eggshell & Banana Peel Tomato Fertilizer: 
Blossom End Rot Prevention

There is nothing wrong with crushing up few eggshells in a planting hole or composting your banana peels. Eventually it all becomes the same stuff for your garden... nutrients. You can, however, speed up the process of taking eggshells and banana peels to workable nutrients for you tomato plants and other vegetables. Dry them and grind them. Create more surface area.

The video will show you the whole process. There is no exact recipe or ratio so don't worry about that. You simply dry out your shells and peels at about 170 degrees and grind them down in a coffee grinder. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons to your planting hole for tomatoes and peppers and you are good to go.

Eggshells bring a great source of calcium to your tomato plants which is a great way to prevent blossom end rot. The browning of the bottoms of tomatoes. Banana peels are a great source of phosphorous and that is one of the three main nutrients needed for thriving vegetable plants. Shells and peels are also a good source of micro-nutrients.

By pulverizing them you create more surface are and with more surface area you have greater microbe and 'break down' activity. The homemade fertilizer will starting breaking down and feeding  your plants. Enjoy! You can always ask your neighbors to save you their eggshells.





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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Saving Container Tomatoes: Frost, Stress & Purple Stems - Foliar Feeding

Saving Container Tomatoes: Frost, Stress & Purple Stems
Foliar Feeding for the Win

Tomatoes are resilient. The container tomatoes I am growing on my deck were hit by a late frost that damaged many of their leaves and even growing stems. The frost broke a 100 year record. There was direct damage from the frost but the cold in itself stressed the plants. Following that frost we had temperatures that were up and down and varied by nearly 30 degrees. More stress was placed on the plants from fluctuating temperatures. Towards the end of May and beginning of June we even hit 90 degrees.

One of the responses to this general stress was significant purpling of the leaf stems and productions stems. Some tomatoes got it worse than others. Some tomatoes looked generally stunted compared to other tomato's growth. Purpling of tomato plants typically has to do with phosphorous. There could be a lack of phosphorous in the ground or in this case, I believe, stress made it more difficult for the tomato's systems to pull in nutrients. I knew may container soil was tended and managed as I had for 10 years of great tomato growth. The difference... this extraordinarily stressful month of May.

I had to make a decision to either pull the stunted weaker looking tomatoes or treat them. The video highlights the problems showing the frost damage, purple stems and the recovery of the tomatoes after about 1 week of treatment. I did not have to pull and replace any of the tomatoes.

The treatment was giving the tomatoes a foliar feeding every day for a week. The green color returned. The weather normalized and the combination of both factors relieved the stress. The tomatoes greened up and started growing nicely.

The key is to NOT over fertilizer your tomatoes when something is wrong and you know they are fed. I used 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer that had phosphorous.  I poured about 1 cup over the leaves daily. Miracle Gro or organic fertilizer alternatives that focus on 'easy' foliar uptake is needed for this treatment. The theory is that the tomatoes had a hard time, due all the stress, using their roots to get what the needed. Providing nutrients over the leaves gave the tomatoes some help. A boost.

This type of feeding won't over fertilize or damage your plants. If you were to use full concentrations in the soil, on top of having container soil that was fully fertilized you could potentially harm the plant in various ways. If the tomatoes don't perk up in about 7-10 days, using this type of treatment, then you probably need to consider replacing them.

The frost hit May 3rd. I waited 3 weeks for them to recovery on their own. I started the daily foliar feedings toward the end of May with hope they would perk up.




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Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Use Aspirin (Salicylic Acid) to Trigger Tomato Defenses: Beef Up the Beefsteaks!


How to Use Aspirin (Salicylic Acid) to Trigger Tomato Defenses: Beef Up the Beefsteaks!


Tomatoes use salicylic acid to trigger a response called 'systemic acquired resistance' or SAR. This response helps a tomato plant fight off bacteria, fungi and other diseases. This defense response is a naturally occurring internal plant process that can be started manually (so to speak) by spraying your tomato plants with aspirin. The salicylic acid in the aspirin will trigger the tomatoes defenses as if it were being attacked.  You can preemptively trigger the SAR response in tomatoes. Why is this a good thing?

The defenses of a tomato are typically triggered when a disease takes hold. Be it bacteria, fungi or a virus, the tomato responds once it is attack. Very often the disease has already taken hold and has spread before the tomato's SAR or defense is triggered and fully utilized. It is often too late by the time the natural response is triggered and in full defensive swing... the tomato is already fully infected. By spraying your tomatoes you can activate your tomatoes systemic acquired resistance response before a threat is present. You set your tomato's defenses on alert and they are looking for a disease.You have beefed up your beefsteaks!

The theory goes like this... the tomato has its SAR response or tomato defense activated before a disease is present. All the defenses are acting as if the plant is being attacked. This makes it much more difficult for future bacteria, fungi or other diseases to take hold and get established. It also slows the progress of the potential future diseases. Two good things. Your tomatoes can prevent diseases from taking hold and you can have a better chance of treating symptoms that may take hold and show up on your tomato plants. The goal is to maintain a mostly healthy tomato plant until you get lots of fruit from it.

This is not a 100% solution to tomato diseases. It is a method that I can says seems to work. I have not gotten Septoria Leaf Spot in my garden for several years after having it severely attack most of my tomato plants. It doesn't completely prevent Early Blight, another common disease, but I have had fewer tomatoes get the disease. And the aspirin sprayed plants that got the Early Blight seemed to have the disease progress much more slowly than untreated tomatoes from the past.

What else do I do with my tomatoes to managed diseases? I prune out leaves to allow air flow. I remove 8-12 inches of lower leaves to prevent soil splash. I mulch to prevent soil splash. I spray with either a baking soda spray or a wettable sulfur spray as a disease preventative.  I have been doing all these things before I started using aspirin spray. 

I believe aspirin spray works. It is one significant tool in combating tomato disease. You may notice a thicker tomato leaf. I have had this happen on several plants. You might also get some leaves that curl. This is only cosmetic. I recommend you do an internet search on aspirin, salicylic acid and tomatoes. There are extensive research studies that support this entry. It is very interesting. There is evidence it my also work on other vegetable plants. I have not tried the spray on other plants.

I spray my plants about every 2 weeks with 1 standard strength aspirin mixed in a gallon of water. Here is a video that explains the basic process. There is no exact recipe. Just get some aspirin in water and briefly spray the plant down. Good luck!










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How to Get 2 or 3 Harvests from One Loose Leaf Lettuce Plant

How to Get 2 or 3 Harvests
from One Loose Leaf Lettuce Plant


This is the kind of information that once you know it makes sense. When you are harvesting loose leaf varieties of lettuce, leave the roots in the ground. Cut your leaf lettuce off about 1/2 inch above the ground as to leave the stump and attached roots in the ground.

In about 5-7 days you will see new leaves sprouting up and in about another week you will have more leaves to harvest. If your weather stays cool enough... you can often get another harvest or two from one loose leaf lettuce plant.




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Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Fabric Tent for Kales & Collards: No More Cabbage Looper Holes!

A Fabric Tent for Kales & Collards:
No More Cabbage Looper Holes!

I love growing and eating kales and collards. They over-winter in my zone and I get to enjoy them in the spring along with their flowers. I don't like the cabbage looper that eats holes in many leaves and for the last two years I have been getting white-flies on my plants.

The product Bt is effective for cabbage worms but you do have to reapply it. I used it last year and it was successful as long as I didn't fall behind on applications but it did not stop the white-flies. And of course I fell behind on applications. Come July I get a bit lazy.

I have been looking for a cost effective or better put cheap fabric that has a fine mesh. The fabric is  Tulle and pronounced tool. I found it at a fabric store for a $1.79 a yard a couple weeks ago. The fabric will keep out the white moth that lays the cabbage looper eggs and I am hoping the mesh is fine enough to keep out the white-flies.  When I found the mesh I decided to build a fabric tent. A common practice for gardens.

With a few thin bamboo stakes and some clips you can by at any office supply store you can cover up your collards and kales and protect them from all kinds of insects. You can build this fabric tent for under $15 and have pieces to spare for another tent. The video shows you a finished fabric tent with an outline of how to construct one. Enjoy! Good luck with your gardens.





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