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Monday, October 28, 2013

Part 4 of 6: Feeding and Watering Greenhouse Greens & Frost Update

Part 4 of 6: Feeding and Watering 
Greenhouse Greens & Frost Update


A couple of things on frost. The greenhouse I am using in the video is not effective at stopping frost if the temperatures hit 30 degrees alone. And this was only about 3-4 hours of frost temperatures. If you are planning on using this type of greenhouse going into the winter you will definitely need an electric heating system. 

I think it will be an outstanding greenhouse come spring or coming out of the winter. It heats nicely, the radiating heat sources help edge up the heat (but don't stop frost) and because of that the tomatoes that were growing, really excelled until the frost got to them. I can see having tomatoes 30-45 days earlier next year.

I am growing greens and cool weather crops in my greenhouse. The greenhouse should be effective for this purpose, well into December. And that is without a heat source. I , again, am using all organic products. I plan to feed my vegetables every 10-14 days with a full strength application of fermented beet molasses which is an 8-0-0 organic water soluble nitrogen fertilizer. Mixed with the beet fertilizer, in the water, at half strength, is fish emulsion and kelp extract to balance out the needs of my plants. 

This is just ONE feeding method. You don't have to follow this but to make sure you are using water soluble fertilizer with a solid nitrogen component.

Watering, in my opinion, for seed trays and small containers is best done by bottom watering. I show you the basic method and explain the reasons in the video. Because I am using a water soluble leaf friendly fertilizer, it is important to give the leaves a quick drink on your more established plants. Don't wet the leaves of your seedlings if you can avoid it. Keeping seedlings dry helps reduce the risk of diseases like 'damping off' disease.






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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to Organically Prepare Peat Moss for Use in Container and Raised Bed Gardens

How to Organically Prepare Peat Moss 
for Use in Container and Raised Bed Gardens

It is always nice to have compost for organic matter but sometimes you run out or as in my garden... always run out. I use peat moss to add structure to my raised bed gardens and for my container gardens. It really adds to the ability of your soil to retain water. 

I use it in my containers at nearly 50% peat moss to 50% of some sort of earth. Making your own container soil with peat moss is a great cheap alternative to paying top dollar for bagged products that are fertilized with chemicals you may not want.

Peat moss is on the acidic side of the pH scale and it falls somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5. This video shows you how I prepare 10-12 gallons of dried peat moss (at a time) for my raised beds and container vegetable gardens.




Peat moss comes in 3 foot cubic bails and it is bone dry. The cost is about $10. You really have to pre-moisten peat moss when you use it. It actually initially resists absorbing water and it will just sit there and float on water. You always want to mix a wet product into your garden soil.

I am focusing more on the life and structure of my soil for 2014 and have switched to a lot of organic products that won't harm good micro-organisms. Again, the video highlights all the products I am using to amend the peat moss for use in my garden. Peat moss really has no nutritional value to plants. You want to add in some sort of fertilizer when preparing it. You should also add in some lime to help manage the natural acidity, depending on your garden's needs.
 

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Double Digging Raised Beds, Using Organic Amendments & Green Manure/Cover Crops: My Winterizing Process

Double Digging Raised Beds, Using Organic Amendments & Green Manure/Cover Crops: 
My Winterizing Process


Double digging your raised beds loosens the soil to a depth of about 24 inches. If you don't walk on your beds, you really only need to do this about every 3 years. 

Double digging lets root systems go deeper into the soil. This creates less competition for root space and therefore you can plant your vegetable plants more closely together. It allows your plants to manage moisture betters as well as lets water go deeper into your garden bed. And finally it helps the structure of your garden soil develop and become more alive. This means happier, healthier and bigger plants.

This process of double digging can be done anytime. This happens to be how I am winterizing my beds for the year. I added organic fertilizers with the belief they will help improve the 'life' of my soil. That is, good bacteria and fungi and other living organisms. I 100% agree that synthetic fertilizers can act like salt and pull moisture out of living bacteria. Over use of these types of fertilizer will harm the organisms in your soil. Think of salt on cucumber slices... water gets pulled out of them and the same thing happens to good bacteria.





I am using bone meal and blood meal which is a slow acting fertilizer. It will slowly break down and release over time. I am also using a product called Garden Tone. It is a 3-4-4 fertilizers that boost the addictions of living organisms that will increase the life and health of your soil, so it says.  I also planted a green manure or cover crop of red clover. The roots of this cover crop fix nitrogen and loosen up soil. The greenery will be dug into the garden come spring, to increase the soil's biomass.

You don't have to fertilizer your double dug beds in this manner. It is up to you. I used peat moss because I don't have compost or that would have also been added into the trenches. 


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Friday, October 18, 2013

What is a Vegetable Garden pH Level and How Do You Measure It?

What is a Vegetable Garden pH Level and How Do You Measure It?

The pH level of your garden soil measures the degree of acidity and alkalinity. A lower number means it is more acidic. A higher number means it is more alkaline. Vinegar is acidic. Acidic soil is sometimes called sour. Baking soda is alkaline. Alkaline soil is sometimes called sweet. The pH actually stands for the Power of Hydrogen and it measure the hydrogen ion activity of your soil. That is the very very basic description of how pH is measured. 


Remember, the lower the number the more acidic it is and the higher the number the more alkaline the vegetable garden soil. Most vegetables prefer a general range between 6 and 7. You can look on-line for specific levels for every vegetable you can think of. If you can nail a 6.5 pH then your are doing great. Generally speaking pH levels outside 6-7 can inhibit growth. I will detail these issues in future blog and video entries.

How do you use this pH tool? Remove the top 2 inches of soil and loosen 5 inches of soil. Add distilled water to make it muddy. Insert meter 5 inches and wait 60 seconds. The pH level will show digitally.

A Digital pH Meter - The Rusted Garden 2013
I plan on doing a whole series on Vegetable Garden pH. I will be Instagraming pictures of measuring devices. I will detail how to manage pH levels in your garden, how to measure it and finally discuss what pH levels vegetables prefer.  I will talk about this information on my blog and in my YouTube videos. Follow me on Instragram for weekly updates on what is going on at The Rusted Vegetable Garden . 

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The pH Meter Tip and Scouring Pad - The Rusted Garden 2013

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Follow The Rusted Vegetable Garden on INSTAGRAM: Learn, Share and Win the Giveaways!

Follow The Rusted Vegetable Garden on INSTAGRAM: 
Learn, Share and Win the Giveaways!

I just learned how to use INSTAGRAM for The Rusted Garden and will be using it as a regular tool. My plan is to take pictures while out and about buying gardening supplies and growing the gardening. It is also going to be used for promotional giveaways come all of 2014. If you follow me on INSTAGRAM it will only be about vegetable garden related content. Here is what you can expect...

  • Snap shots of garden supplies that I use. See the cost, name of products and learn where to find them.
  • Snap shots of seeds and transplants and how to pick the right plants for your garden.
  • Snap shots of soil amendments and construction supplies.
  • Snap shots of activities in my gardens.
  • Snap shots of dishes I make from my garden produce.
  • I will send out weekly garden reminders of what to plant, spray or prepare.
  • And a lot more!

Giveaways will be launched with pictures or videos that I send to Instagram. Follow the instructions and win the seeds or other giveaways come the 2014 season. You can find the me on Instagram under The Rusted Garden. I also have a link on my blog in the right corner if this link doesn't work.

Instagram






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Saturday, October 12, 2013

All the Details for Planting Fall Garlic in Your Vegetable Garden: Using Organic Fertilizers

All the Details for Planting Fall Garlic 
in Your Vegetable Garden: Using Organic Fertilizers 

Garlic is an extremely easy plant to grow. I just use store bought garlic cloves but there are 100's of varieties you can choose from if you like garden catalogs. I am in Maryland Zone 7 and the time for planting garlic here is October or November. Garlic typically gets planted in the fall to bring you a June harvest.

The goal with a fall planting of garlic is to get the roots and single clove established. A few inches of green growth is okay. Garlic stops growing when temperatures drop below 40 degrees. It will sit and wait for the 40 plus degree weather to come early spring. This is the time you need for a single clove to turn into a full bulb of garlic for harvesting. That is about October into later June.

You want the garlic clove to be planted to a depth it will not freeze. In Maryland, that is about 3 to 4 inches deep. As you go up north add an inch of depth. As you go down south subtract and inch of depth.

Spacing for garlic should be 4 - 6 inches. This will allow for full bulb formation. A single clove will get you 6-12 cloves in a new bulb. I fertilize with bone meal and blood meal. The video will show you the details. I use bone meal for root development and I use blood meal for nitrogen and to help break down the wood mulch I use in my garden. 

Garlic is really easy to grow. I hope you give it a try. Now is the time to plant.


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Friday, October 11, 2013

My YouTube Vegetable Gardening Playlists Have Been Updated: Getting Ready for 2014

My YouTube Vegetable Gardening Playlists Have Been Updated


I just updated my YouTube Channel (The Rusted Garden) and changed up the playlists. It is all about vegetable gardening. I've added an organic gardening and home remedy playlist. I have nearly 250 YouTube garden videos. Here are links to the playlist. Let me know what should be added or changed.

Playlists from The Rusted Garden:

Growing Tomatoes, Peppers and Vegetables in the Ground and in Containers
Organic Growing Methods and Product Explanations and Home Organic Remedies
Grilling Garden Vegetables, Making Mixed Drinks and Other Garden Recipes
My 60 Seconds or Sow Garden Videos
Container Vegetable Gardening and Creating a Raised Bed Garden
Starting Seeds Indoors, Indoor Lighting Systems and Transplant Methods
Combating Garden Pests and Disease Organically and Synthetically

You can also keyword search my YouTube Channel and find information about all aspects of vegetable gardening. The playlists are just samples of the more viewed videos.

I am making plans for 2014. I will be focusing on organic products and building garden soil naturally. That includes compost tea! I think 2014 will be a great year for gardening. I invite you to check out my channel and leave me feedback.


I incorporate subscribers input... that is what brought organic gardening to The Rusted Garden. Any ideas or interests for 2014 would be greatly appreciated.


My YouTube Channel: The Rusted Garden AKA The Rusted Vegetable Garden

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Organic Fish Emulsion and Bone Meal for Your Vegetable Garden: Slow Release & Fast Acting Fertilizers

Organic Fish Emulsion and Bone Meal for Your Vegetable Garden: 
Slow Release & Fast Acting Fertilizers


Fish Emulsion and Bone Meal are organic fertilizers for gardens. They each have a specific use and it is important to understand when to use them. All fertilizers, synthetic or organic, can be slow release, fast acting, water soluble, water insoluble and they have different amounts of the main macro-nutrients; Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. These nutrients are rated as NPK on fertilizers. Fertilizers can also have micro-nutrients, vitamins, enzymes and other things. All geared for specific use in your gardens.

Fish emulsion is used to add nitrogen to your garden soils.  Nitrogen keeps your plant leaves green and growing. It is water soluble and fast acting. It comes in a liquid form and is mixed in a gallon of water. You use this product about every 2-3 weeks in your garden. It is a great product for feeding container vegetables. This video details the aspects of fish emulsion and explains how to use it in your garden.


Bone meal is derived from animal bones. The bones are steamed and crushed. Bone meal is used primarily for raising the phosphorous levels of your garden soils. Phosphorous helps plant root systems develop. It is a slow release fertilizer and should only be used about once a growing season. It is best used at the time of planting and it will slowly release phosphorous into the ground for the vegetable plants to use. It is not soluble in water and it is sprinkled into the soil. It may also have some percentage of nitrogen in it based on what type of animal bones are used.  It does not have potassium. It is also a good source of calcium which can help plants like tomatoes manage blossom end-rot. The video details the use of bone meal in your garden.


These organic fertilizers add different nutrients to soils. They are used in different ways as one is fast acting and water soluble and the other is insoluble in water and it slowly releases nutrients over a growing season. Every product, synthetic and organic, has a use. It is important to understand how and when to use any garden product. It is also important to understand the risks and benefits.

Good Luck in Your Garden!
Gary

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Using Cover Crops in Your Vegetable Garden: Crimson Clover - Try It!

Using Cover Crops in Your Vegetable Garden: 
Crimson Clover - Try It!


What is It and Why Did I Choose It?

After doing some extensive research on cover crops, I decided to order some 'Crimson Clover - Trifolium Incarnatum.' I chose crimson clover for several reasons. It is a winter cover crop in my area, Maryland Zone 7 and the timing was right.  It is best planted in September or October and it can be easily tilled into the ground come April. That is how you would most likely use it in a home garden. If let to grow to full size, it will develop beautiful crimson flowers on plants that get several feet high. It is a legume which means it will fix its own nitrogen and bring it to your soil. The lush green growth will help build the structure of your soil, once tilled into the ground. 

My goals in using this cover crop is to increase organic matter in my garden beds and to increase a more friendly form of  nitrogen in my garden beds.  Adding nitrogen in this manner will reduce the need to use fertilizers. Using cover crops, will save you money. A pound of seeds is much cheaper than purchasing organic or even synthetic fertilizers. 

I invite you to look up crimson clover on the web and even purchase some seeds. Try it out as I do this year and let us all know how it turns out. If you have used it before, please comment on your experience.

Organic matter is created essentially in two ways. Crimson clover  is a legume and it develops a nice fibrous root system. The roots fix their own nitrogen from the atmosphere. The roots loosen heavy soils and when killed, will become organic matter to feed the microbes in your soil. 

Cover crops are NOT fertilizers, they are amendments. They add to your soil structure and that is their primary purposes. The bonus is the micro and macro-nutrients that are left behind. The green growth is easily tilled and killed come April. The greenery of the plant also becomes a great source or organic matter to be enjoyed by your soil and plants. I selected crimson clover because it will produce a lot of greenery or biomass. Just lots of good green plant matter to turn into your soil. It makes worms, microbes and vegetable plants happy.

I mentioned that the plant is legume and it fixes its own nitrogen and that the turned decaying plant will bring nitrogen into garden bedsl. Crimson clover brings a significant amount of nitrogen into the soil. If you search the cover crop you will find that many studies show it reduced the total number of pounds of nitrogen fertilizer needed in farming fields by over 50%. A great cost savings. Its nitrogen contribution to 1 acre ranges from 70 - 150 pounds comparatively. 

What are the Benefits of Using Crimson Clover as a Winter Cover Crop?
  • It will add organic matter to your soil and improve the structure and life of your soil
  • It will fix or add nitrogen to your soil organically and reduce the need for fertilizers
  • It will control weeds and prevent rain erosion
  • It will attract beneficial insects to your garden (leave a patch growing so it blossoms)

How to Use Crimson Clover in Your Home Vegetable Garden?
  • It is a winter crop and best planted when the nights are below 60 degrees
  • A good planting time in Zone 7 is September or October
  • It should have 4-6 weeks of growth time before your first hard frost arrives
  • The seed should be inoculated (coated) with legume inoculate. Many seeds come pre-inoculated
  • Broadcast the seeds into your beds and rake them in to about 1/4 -1/2 inch deep and water
  • Turn the plant into the earth in April, about 2 weeks before planting your crops



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Organic Fertilizer: is it Plant, Animal or Mineral?

Organic Fertilizer: is it Plant, Animal or Mineral?

Organic fertilizers can come from plants, animals or minerals. Organic generally means that the fertilizer or pesticide is not a synthetic or chemical creation. It does not mean it is non-toxic or 100% green in its creation. What it does mean is it is processed in some minimal way from a nature source. Your 100% pure organic fertilizer may come from plants, animals, minerals or a combination of two or more these categories.

Organic Plant Based Fertilizers: Part 1 of 3


You have plant based fertilizers that, as a class, generally have lower amounts of the macro-nutrients (N)itrogen, (P)hosphorus and (K) potassium or NPK. Plant based fertilizers are often 'fast acting' as in the nutrients are quickly made available to your garden vegetable plants. Plant based fertilizer can have micro-nutrients and added benefits for soil microbes and bacteria. They not only feed your vegetable plants but they feed your soils. They help your garden in two ways. There are many different kinds of plant based organic fertilizers. But you do have to ask the question....Were synthetic chemicals used to grow the plants that are harvested to be sold as organic? Or how where the plants raised? Here are some plant based products.

Alfalfa Meal: comes from the alfalfa plant. It is typically pressed into a pellet forms. It averages about 2% of nitrogen and 2% phosphorus. Alfalfa is known to have a growth hormone called triacontanol that helps develop your soil and stimulate plant growth. It can be used to quick start you compost piles and to make your compost teas.

Compost: does not have much to offer in the way of  higher levels of NPK macro-nutrients but it does contain consistent low levels of NPK and micro-nutrients. These nutrients are released slowly over time. The biggest benefit of compost is that your are adding in high amounts of decomposed plant matter into your soil. You are feeding your soil and creating a great environment for microbes. Active happy microbes and healthy soil structures help make nutrients in your garden readily available to your vegetable plants. Just having nutrients in your garden soil is not enough. The plants need to be able to access them with their root systems. Compost creates living soil.

Corn Gluten Meal: is interesting because it is also a seed inhibitor. It is recommended for use on growing plants or you have to wait 2-4 months before planting seeds. Just because something is organic, doesn't mean it is ready to go and use without understanding how it impacts your garden. It brings about 10% nitrogen to your garden soil. It is also used as seed weed inhibitor on growing lawns.

Cottonseed Meal: is interesting because cotton crops tend to have pesticides sprayed on them. Keep in mind that the product may be organic but the way it is raised may not be. If you use cottonseed meal it is important to know the source. It is also used for adding nitrogen to your garden

Kelp Liquid: it is essentially seaweed and the benefit of this product is not NPK. It is the addition of micro-nutrients, vitamins and growth hormones. It is often used as a foliar spray to help the vigor of your plants.

Synthetic and organic products have uses in our gardens. It is important to understand the products you use and question where they come from, as well as,  understand their risks and benefits. Most importantly using the right product, in the right way and at the right time will prevent frustration and excessive garden plant loss.



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Alfalfa is a natural source of the plant growth promoter triacontanol. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Organic Blood Meal - What is It & How do You Use it on Garden Vegetables?

Using Organic Blood Meal in Your Vegetable Garden:
The Quick Basics

Blood meal is an organic product. I am not a 100% organic gardener by choice. I believe in using the right product, in the right way and at the right time. The three rights are meant to prevent getting overly frustrated and losing vegetables plants. Gardening is meant to be fun and enjoyable. There are great man-made or synthetic products and there are bad organic products and vice-versa. I recommend learning about them all.

Blood meal is derived from animal blood. While the product is organic and when processed correctly consider to be 100% certified organic, it still may not meet your standards. After all,  if you are a vegetarian or believe animals should not be used for food, this may not be the product for you. Other questions might be based on how the animals are raised and fed. Is the feed organically grown or does it come from food grown with synthetic fertilizer. My point is to not lose sight of the fact you are gardening to enjoy yourself.




Organic products have really come down in price and are now much more easily found. A good benefit of blood meal is that it does not leave behind elements like salt that can be a by product of certain synthetic fertilizers. It also nourishes microbes and bacteria in your garden soil. Even if over used, it won't burn out you plant roots. It also has the characteristic of deterring rabbits and squirrels from your garden.

The video explains the basic use of blood meal in your garden. I didn't choose this product solely based on it being organic. I took into account all of the above. I think it also a great alternative to synthetic fertilizers when planting in containers. The risk of salt build up is much higher in containers. Remember finding the right product, at the right time and using it the right way is the key to successful gardening.


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