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Friday, November 30, 2012

Creative Gardeners Wanted: A Poem about Simplicity

Now I am not saying creativity breeds anything more than well... something creative. One of the reason I enjoy gardening is because I am creating. I view it as a form of art. All our effort and energy, as gardeners, gets transformed and carried into something living. That is very cool when you think about it.

I believe gardeners hold a common theme that binds us together in life philosophy and points of view. So yeah, I am saying we are a creative bunch. What we create is done through enjoying the process and not worrying about the outcomes and critics (snails and slugs). In short, we do what we do because we enjoy creating in our plot of earth..

There is a beauty and an innate pleasure in turning the earth and planting a seed that you only get if  you get it.

I also know gardener's creativity extend beyond the garden. I hope to give you a forum to display your creative sides. I enjoy writing poetry, taking pictures and creating garden videos. I also paint abstractly.

The new Rusted Vegetable Garden Discussion Forum will hold a place for any gardener to show off their creative side. Feel free to show off your garden or other sides of your creativity. The link is below.

Here is a poem I wrote about simplicity.

You can find more about this poem in the discussion forum. I break down what each stanza means. Why not visit the link and post some of your creativity? The Rusted Vegetable Garden Forum: Creative Gardeners

A Worn Shovel

Of old and new
Against modern colors
I’ll take the taint of black
Edges so dull
Rusted blades
Carvings in solid stone

Breath of sunlight
In sightless shades
I’ll take mine pure and deep
Choking weeds
Unturned ground
Growing slowly tangled

Of showers and storms
Drowning with benevolence
I’ll take the purest fall
Soaking earth
Swelling seeds
A purpose to be enjoyed 

Copyright September 2006 Gary Pilarchik

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Introducing The Rusted Vegetable Garden Discussion Forum

I apologize for the 2nd entry about the discussion forum. I am linking up multiple pieces of the blog and need to run tests. December is the beta test for the discussion forum. I now have a link attached to each blog entry. I have created the sub forums to organize questions and answers and added a Daily Gardener section just for discussion.

Please help me beta test it and check it out. Feel free to post anything as this is a test. Real questions or pretend questions.

You don't have to register or supply any information. You can just test run the fourm.

Thanks and Have a Great Holiday


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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Rusted Garden Blog Now Has a Garden Forum to Talk

One of the changes I am making for the new year is that I am adding a FORUM to the BLOG. So the Rusted Vegetable Garden Blog now has a Gardening Forum at the bottom of the page.

It works like all other forums. It has topics and places to ask questions, share information, show off your garden pictures and help other gardener's in need.

Please help me test it out and iron out the wrinkle by visiting the forum. I really need help beta testing it for December.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Sandy Soil for Great Radishes: Winter Planning for 2013

The words 'sandy loam' come up over and over again when researching radishes. One thing to do during the winter, before the new season starts, is to review what went well and what went poorly or could have gone better in your garden. I think I can get more out my radishes. So winter time, is research and planning time. A radish plan of attack next year is being created.

I've done fairly well at growing radishes but not nearly as great as I want. What is radish greatness? Every radish, when given the right spacing, develops a root size that would challenge the Guinness Book of  World Records. Too often I have too many small or distorted radish roots. The problem... my clay soil (I think). Though it has been amended over the last 10 years, I believe it is not sandy enough for my root crops. I plan to make a raised bed that is sandy, sandy and more sandy. A good mix of my soil, bags of sand and organic matter should do the trick.

Looking forward to 2013, I plan to make a super sandy loam that won't clump when squeezed in my hand. If what I have read is true, I should have huge radishes and bigger root crops. I found this information at an extension on-line. I cover 2 of  the 3 bold topics when planting radishes. I need some of that Utah light soil to hit the 3rd topic.

How to Grow  Radishes

Soils: Radishes prefer fertile, well-drained, deep, sandy soils rich in organic matter for best growth. Most light soils in Utah are well suited for radish production. Heavy soils need to be amended with plenty of compost to allow good root development.

Soil Preparation: Before planting, incorporate up to 2-4 inches of well composted organic matter and apply 2-4 cups of all-purpose fertilizer (16-16-8 or 10-10-10) per 100 square feet. Work this into the top 6 inches of soil.

Plants: Radishes are always grown from seed. Radishes can be sown after soils reach 40ºF. Seeds germinate best at 55-75ºF and require 5-10 days to emerge. Seeds should be planted ½-1 inch deep. Maintain a uniform and moist soil surface to ensure good plant stands.Thin closely spaced plants to encourage good root size. Radishes should be thinned to 1-2 inches.

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Free Tomato and Vegetable Seed Catalogs: Part Four

Here is the final blog entry for free seed catalogs. I will be reviewing the catalogs as the come in. It can be a bit overwhelming having 1000's of seeds to chose from. It is important to know the size of your garden and as well as the size of your budget. First thing first... enjoy the catalogs and imagine. I will be discussing budgets and garden plot planning later in the winter. Enjoy!

Richters Herb Plant and Seed Catalog
Seed Savers Exchange Heirloom Seed Catalog
Seeds of Change Organic Seed Catalog
Select Seeds Seed Catalog
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Catalog
The Online Greenhouse Seed Catalog
Thompson and Morgan Seed Catalog
Urban Farmer Seed and Plant Catalog

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Garden Seed Catalog Review: Dixondale Farms - ONIONS

Reviewing the Dixon Dale Onion Catalog - The Rusted Garden Blog
What I love about this catalog is they have 100 years of experience growing onions and that is all they focus on, aside from leeks.  They break everything down as if they have a 100 years of specialty experience. Which of course they do. They tell you when to order based on your zip code and break the USA into 3 planting zones: Long-Day, Intermediate-Day, Short-Day. Each zone gets its own varieties of onions for your growing pleasure. You can order without being overwhelmed and get exactly the onions you need for your area.

They sell their onion in bunches, not bulbs, and you get 50-75 onion per bunch. The prices are the same for all onion types. They are expensive for 1 bunch at $11 but you quickly get discounts for ordering more than 1 bunch that makes the price reasonable. Plus the shipping is free. If you order multiple bunches, I consider the price extremely fair.

Here are some pictures of the catalog pages. I highly recommended getting the catalog, if not to order, to get some really great information on growing and planting onions.  I will be ordering my onion bunches from them this year.

Dixondale Farms Seed Catalog (Onions) - The Rusted Garden Blog
Onion Planting Zones
I learned more information from this catalog in 10 minutes than I learned over last 5 years trying to read about onion planting and harvesting on-line. They also give you a bunch of growing tips. You can also find more information at their web-site to help you grow onions perfectly.

Onion Growing Tips - The Rusted Garden Blog

The catalog also sells products to maintain your onions which include fertilizers, disease products and storing stockings. I really recommend ordering the catalog. You can find link on my Free Catalog Blog entries for Nov 2013. I can check onions off my 2013 vegetable garden planning list.

Happy Holiday!

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Free Tomato and Vegetable Seed Catalogs: Part Three

 I have ordered catalogs from all the sites I am linking. Don't hesitate to order your seed catalogs, book mark them or download their PDF files. November and December are great months to plan your garden and order seeds that will need to be started indoors. I start most of my seeds in February but some slow growing perennials and herbs can be started in January. Lavender and Rosemary are two herbs that can use extra time indoors. I will be blogging and vlogging all aspects of vegetable gardening this year for 2013. Let's see how organized I can be and how interesting I can make it. The first step... seed catalogs.

Harris Seeds Catalog
Henry Field's Seed Catalog
High Mowing Organic Seeds Catalog
Kitazawa Seed Co. Catalog
NESeed Seed Catalog
Park Seed Co. Catalog

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Digging Up and Transplanting Asparagus: Now is the Time!

Asparagus is a perennial crop that sends up shoots every year. The plant dies back in the fall and the root system can manage cold and freezing weather. Come spring, the root crowns send up new shoots. We eat the shoots that are tastefully known as asparagus.

I have clay soil and my asparagus grows fairly well. I planted it over 5 years ago and I get asparagus every year. Looking back, I should have prepared the soil a bit better as to make it more loose.  A few bags of cheap soil would have been a nice addition.

I decided to move my large plots of asparagus over to my raised beds. Fall is the best time to transplant asparagus. The roots will have time to heal and grow and establish themselves before the spring. They will get about 120 days to rest before growing shoots in the spring.

The process is pretty simple. Dig out as much of the asparagus root system as you can. That will be a good 12 inch depth if you can manage. Prepare the transplant site by providing a good loose growing soil. Nothing fancy is needed. Double dig the spot. Take out 12 inches of soil and then dig the area another 12 inches deep to loosen the soil. The roots will enjoy growing down into the garden.

Asparagus Come Fall - The Rusted Garden Blog
Asparagus will brown and die back in the fall. Cut it down to about 6 inches before digging it up for transplant. You want to cut it back but leave enough of the stems so you know where to dig.

Asparagus Cut Back - The Rusted Garden Blog
Asparagus Division for Transplanting - The Rusted Garden Blog
Dig it to a depth of about 12 inches. Break the main clump up into 2 or 3 smaller clumps. Double dig the transplant site and drop in the asparagus.

Double Dug Asparagus Transplant Site - The Rusted Garden Blog
A Large Asparagus Clump Divided into Three - The Rusted Garden Blog
Dig out your spots and fill in the earth firmly around the clumps. You can keep the tops of the transplants level to the new planting area. That is,  you don't want over bury the tops of the root crown. You can drop it down about 2-3 inches if you want or mound some soil over the top of the transplant clump.  

Asparagus Transplanted into My Raised Bed - The Rusted Garden
 This is what the old spot now looks like.

The Old Asparagus Plot - The Rusted Garden Blog

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Winter Greens and Greenhouse Update

We have been hit with multiple nights of frost. The days are in the 50's and it is mid November. The mini greenhouse I made out of plastic painters cloth and PVC pipe is working perfectly. I had to punch a few holes in the top so water would drain but besides that it is very effective. If you look closely you can see ice in the first photo.

I found that it is a good idea to open the greenhouse up when you have nice days. I had a little infestation of insects that were promptly dispersed when the wind blew threw.

The greenhouse video can be found at my YouTube site. It will be using it to get greens out earlier in the spring and to harden-off my plants I will be starting indoors come January and February.

November Greens Grown in My Mini Greenhouse - The Rusted Garden Blog

Greens in a PVC Greenhouse - The Rusted Garden Blog
I am letting these greens grow to full size and I will be cutting them off as to leave the roots in the ground. The roots will send up more leaves!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Free Tomato and Vegetable Garden Seed Catalogs: Part Two

 I ordered my catalogs from the last five catalogs. Here are a few more seed catalogs that are free. You can often get a PDF version if you want to save paper.

Dixondale Farms Catalog
Dixondale focuses primarily on onions and leeks. It is a great catalog for expanding your onion varieties. The website also provides great planting tips for these vegetables.

Gardens Alive Seed Catalog
Gurney's Seed Catalog

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Free Tomato and Vegetable Garden Seed Catalogs: Part One

As winter approaches, our gardens close but our anticipation for next year's garden grows. What better way to feed your anticipation but through free seed catalogs. Seed catalogs are a great way to find tomato varieties that you wouldn't normally find on the store shelves. That holds true for just about every type of vegetable. Here are a few free tomato and vegetable seed catalogs you can request while winter hangs around. I'll put a few catalogs out each week.

You can find seed catalogs, digital PDF and regularly catalogs at the following sites.

Abundant Life Seeds Catalog/Territorial Seed Company
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog/Rare Seeds
Botanical Interests Seed Catalog
Bountiful Gardens Seed Catalog
Burpee Seed Catalog

I just ordered all the catalogs. It is free and it will give you something fun to do on that cold winter day.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Storing Tomato Seeds: Heirloom Seeds Packed for 2013

On the cold days when there is little to do in the garden, it becomes time to work on inside projects. I saved a lot of tomato seeds this year for the 2013 season. This morning, I packed them away for the winter.

Tomato seeds can maintain their viability for years. I have had tomato seeds last 4 years. The key is to make sure you store them in a cool place and keep them in air tight containers. Here are the pictures of how I store my seeds. The seeds are kept in pill type containers I bought at a craft store. The individual containers then go into another large container that closes tightly. You want to keep the air out. Seeds have a bit of moisture in them. If that dries out. The seeds won't be viable.

My 2013 Seeds Stored After Fermentation - The Rusted Garden Blog
Tomato Seeds in Air Tight Containers -The Rusted Garden Blog
Tomato Seeds Stored Until 2013 - The Rusted Garden Blog

For the curious that is a bag of Stevia seeds. I grew that this year for the first time. The original seed pack was $3.50 or so for about 10 seeds. I hope to save a little money and sell Stevia plants at my plant sale next year.

Here is the video of how you ferment tomato seeds and why this process is needed.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

A Gardener's Perspective: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You - The Fiscal Cliff

What exactly is the fiscal cliff? In short, it is the compromise the politicians made in 2011 that would go into effect in 2013, if they failed to address the deficit via spending cuts and taxes during 2012. Yes strangely it is a party compromise. My perspective, as a humble tomato and vegetable gardener, is that they knew they could not reach an agreement and had other issues they felt were more important. The main issues being their own self interests and re-election.  I don't think that is good or bad but just a way of political business. I am saying that they unconsciously solved the issue of the deficit and did it right under our noses. And they should get credit, for they did it together!

What happens January 1st 2013? Basically a 2% payroll reduction ends. Other taxes go up. A 10% spending reduction occurs over 100's of government programs and what you get is what they have been gridlocked on for years... a solution. Taxes go up and spending goes down. They solved it. Why is the fiscal cliff a bad thing? Ah... although the deficit is greatly reduced, fear mongers say the economy will go into a double dug recession. Will it? It seems like markets seem to manage themselves nicely months ahead of time with respect to what they know is coming.

If I know anything - it is humans are greedy. The stock market will drop only to be gobbled up by others to increase the market later that week or following month. People like their money and they like even more money more. Let's save the theatrical news trailers that the end is near. The economy will never collapse as long as money can be made.

So I offer the politicians a solution from a gardener's perspective. Rather than plant a whole garden at once, recognize you have cool weather and warm weather planting crops. Different seeds go in the ground at different times. While some plants are maturing in the garden, you can have others growing in seed trays or transplant pots. This process allows you to save time and address several issues at once. Divide the garden into raised bed plots. This way everyone can walk around the bed and see what the issues are with a specific bed.

Does the soil need to be amended in this bed or that bed? Is weeding necessary in certain beds? Are these vegetables companion crops? Will certain vegetables, at maturity, shade out other vegetables and inhibit their growth?  The pondering and planning can be done from the edge of the frame without disturbing the garden and the roots of planted growing vegetables. Look into the garden bed from the outside like a group of gardener's deciding how to best use their time and resources for the best production of produce. There is no need to stand in the bed and compact the soil and reduce growing conditions only to have to dig it again. Why make more work than is needed?

Agree to plant or manage what you agree on. A 4x8 bed holds a lot of vegetables. Compare your list and plant what you agree on. Don't discard the radishes you all like because someone is opposed to leeks. If everyone agrees that not taxing people with incomes under (let's say 100k) is agreeable, then pass the law or plant the dang radishes. Address the leeks and 250k taxes once the majority of the bed is planted, tended and GROWING. Once you go down your planting lists and address all the areas of similar interests you can move on to the more difficult issues.

Would I or any gardener really not plant early spring peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes, onions, kale, collards and herbs because we can't decide if that particular bed is going to hold peppers or tomatoes come June? The fiscal cliff is a solution like a garden plot that doesn't get planted with a plan. Something always grows but you get a lot of weeds and empty space, along with weak and wasted production. But you do get a garden. Just not what you wanted. A lot more effort will now have to go into weeding and preparing that bed for the future late summer and fall plantings. All because you didn't take care of the basics and agree to plant the common crops you both like in early spring. 

A Gardener's Perspective

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Letttuce, Spinach and Greens Can Freeze and Survive!

Did you know that lettuce, spinach, cilantro, arugula, endive and many other greens can actually freeze and frost and they won't be killed off. When lettuce and other greens freeze they have plant cells that aren't destroyed by the ice crystals that form. Their cells aren't disrupted and damaged by a freeze. When they thaw, they are good to grow and eat. Now this only works for light frosts. Once extended periods of freezing temperatures come, the plants often die. Spinach and kales can often live through a winter and start growing again once spring arrives.

The video is proof. See my frozen morning greens and living thawed afternoon greens!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Gardener's Perspective: Florida's Politicians are an Embarrassment to America

How can we possibly allow Florida and it's politicians, create a modern version of oppression in the streets of America? Have we not fought  wars under our flag for democracy and freedom? Do we not let our children die and risk death to fight for our freedoms? How is it that I can vote in 20 minutes standing behind a group of over 200 people and fellow Americans have to stand in line for 7 hours to exercise their right to vote? Where is the outrage that should rain down on all the players that not only orchestrated the plan to cause this to happen in Florida, but also on those that stood quietly and allowed it to happen?

Don't be fooled by the intellectual tricks and tired argument for an ID. Burden of proof should not rest upon the voter but on those that challenge an individuals' right to vote. There is no reason for anyone to stand in line for 7 hours to vote but to create an atmosphere of oppression against others. If for any reason, but to purposely make an American stand in line for more than 1 hour to vote and deter them from voting, is Florida not helping it's citizens vote. I would like an explanation. It defies logic and all that is good in humanity. What does the Governor of Florida have to say to this question - Why have you not made it easier for the people you serve to vote? It defies all that we stand for as Americans. It makes me sick and angry.

Throw away the conspiracy theories. Toss out spite and political gain and simply look to logic. Why would any politician or practical human being not make voting easier on it's citizens? I have a garden. When my hose won't reach a newly dug garden bed, I buy a new hose to attach to the old one. I don't stretch the hose as far as it goes and then fill buckets to carry water to my furthest bed. I spend money to make my life easier. Why is this not being done in Florida? Open more areas for voting! Simple. I don't move delivered compost and earth from my front yard one shovel at a time, I use a wheelbarrow. I make adjustments to taking care of my garden so it is easier on me. Simplify your voting mechanism. Isn't that the responsibility of politicians and Florida? To make it easier for human beings of any race, age, affiliation or religion to exercise their right to vote?

You are witnessing modern oppression. What are you going to do about it? Please speak out and send your outrage out to others. Win or lose, Americans have the right to easily vote.

A Gardener's Perspective

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