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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hydroponics Ouch

Well my hydroponic experiment failed. The stone and solution buckets quickly turned green with algae and the plants rotted.

However, I also used a double bucket with a stone 3 inch resovior (bucket 1) and soil (bucket 2 placed in bucket 1). That one seems to be growing. I think the strategy is to have a water resovior in the container.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pruning Tomatoes

Now is the time to stake your tomatoes if you haven't. They should have some good size to them. The will be growing like weeds now.

Start pruning. I suggest cutting back branches to give your tomatoes at least 12 inches of clearance from the ground. It will stop disease. I even to 18 inches if when the tomato is large enough.

If your not pruning suckers it,s time to make decision. Your plants are about to get out of control.

Keeping the tomato plant to one or two vine branches will make for a better year. Less disease. Larger fruit.

Hows the Hydroponics? Beans and more Beans

The plants aren't thriving in the pure stone and solution hyrdro-buckets. Looks like they are over fed. I think it will take time to find the right solution for them to grow in. Standard Miracle Grow, 1 scoop per gallon appears to be to much fertiziler. Next step, 1/4 solution.

If you like green beans now is the time to get them in the ground. If you soak the green beans 24 hours before planting they will germinate in the half the time.

If you havent planted a second round of annual herbs it is time to get them in the ground. More basil and cilantro please! They should be planted as seeds at this point in the season.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finished Planting Tomatoes & Tried Hydroponics

I finished tucking away the last of my tomatoes. As always, I have extra each year. I decided to try and create 2 hydroponic buckets. One with just stone and water. The other... a double 5 gallon bucket with 3 inch reservoir. Ill get pictures up at some point.

With container gardening the biggest problem is maintaining the moisture. Tomatoes, on the hottest days, need to be watered 2 or 3 times when in containers. I figured... hydroponics.

Now is the time to start spraying preventatively for blights and mildews. 1 or 2 times weekly depending on the amount of rain.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dead Heading Flowers

A link to the article: Deadheading Flowers

Deadheading Flowers: How to Keep Your Plants Flowering

The process of deadheading can be time consuming but it is well worth the effort. A plant has basically three stages.

Seed Setting

We spend a lot of time ensuring our plants grow well in our gardens. Many hours are spent finding the right plant for our garden schemes. Our reward is the bloom of flowers. We get to enjoy the beauty of their shape, the brilliance of their colors and the sweetness of their fragrance. Deadheading will allow you to enjoy the flowering stage of your plants for an extended period of time. I think that is worth the extra time it takes to deadhead a flowering plant.

It is important to know what type of flowering plants you have in your garden. Do you have annuals, perennials or did you plant bulbs? The type of flower your planted or inherited will give you some idea about how effective deadheading will be for that plant.

Annuals: Most annuals will greatly benefit from deadheading
Perennials: Many perennials will benefit from deadheading but some won't
Bulbs: They will not benefit

What is the benefit? Well it is really our benefit. They will continue to flower for a longer period of time. You won't harm a plant by deadheading it. If in doubt, deadhead and see how the experiment goes. Sometimes we inherit flowers that were planted by the previous owners of our homes. See what happens if you deadhead them.

Strictly speaking, you deadhead by removing the spent flower. If you leave the head, the plant begins to produce seeds. If the plant believes it has enough seed heads it will slow or stop flower production. Deadheading interupts this process. If you remove the spent flower heads the plant will respond by producing more flowers. Many flowering plants 'panic' when deadheaded and produce even more flowers. The goal of the plant is to reproduce. The goal of the gardener is to enjoy the flowers.

There are four basic ways to deadhead.

Pinch or cut the flower off the plant right where the flower meets the stem (Petunia)
Pinch or cut the stem of the flower off all the way down to the base of the plant (Daisies)
Shear the plant back when dealing with small flowers (Moonbeam Coreopsis)
Pinch or cut the flower back to the first set of leaves (Marigolds)

They all involve removing the flower. If the plant has a long stem, cut it back to the base of the plant. If it has a short stocky stem cut it back to the first set of leaves. Plants that get hundreds of little flowers like 'Moonbean Coreopsis' are best sheared back an inch or two (like a hair cut). Plants like petunias that are sort of bushy can just have the flower head pinched off. The reason you cut back flowers on stems differntly is so you don't have the eye-sore of the stem with no flower sitting there.

Some plants may not easily fall into one of the above categories. Mums for instance have a ton of flowers and you could snip each flower off if you don't want to cut back foliage. I find this too time consuming and shear the whole plant back just enough to remove all the blooms when most of the flowers are spent.

Deadheading = More Flowers

Also keep in mind deadheading works for garden vegetable plants. Pea and bean plants are good examples of deadheading. Instead of removing the flower, you are removing the seed pod. By harvesting pea pods and beans, you will get more production out of your vegetable plants. If you left the pods on the plants they would mature and brown. The seeds would be set and the plant will stop producing.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pruning Your Tomatoes

The tomatoes in my garden are growing nicely. With nice growth comes the chore of pruning. I wrote a Knol that details how to prune tomatoes. Below is a bit of the article. Here is the link.

The Three Finger Method to Pruning Tomatoes

Why Prune Tomatoes?

You don't have too but I recommend you do. You will get tomatoes if you just let them sprawl across the ground. That is what they are designed to do. If you let your tomatoes sprawl, they will be more susceptible to disease and mildews. You will also need more garden space for a sprawling tomato and probably won't get any more tomatoes then a well pruned and tended tomato.

You prune a tomato plant to greatly reduce the risk of disease and mildews such as blights and powdery mildew. A pruned plant creates a gap between the soil and leaves. It is harder for spores to splash to the leaves and take hold. A pruned tomato plant has less leaves which allows air to circulate all through the plant. This circulation quickly drys leaves. Dry leaves are a good strategy in reducing the spread of disease and mildews.

You prune a tomato plant because you will still get a large harvest of tomatoes without sacrificing space in your garden. A tomato that grows up a stake and has its growth managed, allows you to plant more plants. In my book of a gardening the more space the better. You prune to have healthier tomatoes and more garden space.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June: Warm Season Plants Now Available

There are some tomatoes and peppers left. Not many. You still have time to get them in the ground.

The next wave of herbs are ready.

Squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, heirloom squash and sunflowers are ready.

Give me a call or send me an email if you need plants.