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Gardening: 2002-2009 Seasons


Hopleaf
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Snow Angel,

The comment is so true regarding mint. I have mine in a pot and it "jumped out." Really, a runner touched down that I did not see and it is taking everything over. Found a 2" sprig of mint, dug down and started uprooting it. Found an underground stem that was over 3 feet long that was sprouting about 20 additional springs. I think I will have to resort to roundup to control things or else turn all my neighbors into mojito addicts, lol.

The best way to remove the grass is to kill it.  My prefered method is to anchor cut open black plastic lawn and leaf bags on it.  In a few days, it is dead, and very easy to till in.  You could also use round-up, but I tend to avoid chemicals in the garden and on the lawn.

I actually plant herbs in with my flowers, not in a separate plot.  They provide nice visual interest in a flower garden.  Anything you plant that is a perennial should be noted on a "garden map" you should create.  If someone needs a gift idea for you, suggest a gardening diary.  You'd be surprised at how much you forget from year to you, and it's nice to have a record of what worked especially well, tasted great, was a disaster, was yucky, etc.

Depending on how many of particular plants you want, it may be more economical to just buy a plant.  If you want one tarragon plant, let's say, the packet of seeds may be more expensive than a single plant.  And, you will need lights if you want to start plants indoors or else they (especially tomatos) become too leggy.

Whatever you do with herbs, DO NOT (yes, I am shouting) plant anything in the mint family in your garden.  It will take over.  It will move out into the yard, taking over the grass, too.  You will be sorry because the stuff is really, really, really hard to get rid of.  Mint is best off in a pot.

Tom Gengo

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Hi everyone! Been a while since I checked in here. Our garden finally looks like it's going to be a really good one this year. Last year, due to weather and soil quality problems, wasn't a very good year.

I have growing:

1 cucumber

20 peppers--jalapeno, bell, banana and anaheim

45 tomatoes (I'm going to be a canning fool in a few weeks

3 watermelon

3 cantaloupe

1 squash

3 basil

3 dill

onions, asparagus and garlic

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This is my first time growing tomatoes, and I had a couple of questions about growing them in containers:

1) At the bottom of the container, there's a hole for water to drain out. How do you keep the soil from draining out as well? I've heard about using shards of broken pots at the bottom of an intact container, but I recall there was some controversy about this method.

2) What's the best way to keep them upright? I've seen some tomatoe cages at Home Depot, but is that any better than just using a stake in the ground?

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I am not aware of the broken pots controversy but you can also use small rocks or those little clay balls used in hydroponic systems.

For pots, I think a stake is best. A cage never looks nice. That being said, at the end of the summer, when your tomato plant will be bearing fruits, it might sag a bit without support. I think the key to use a stake is to keep a single main stem by controling the lenght of the "branches" to a maximum of about one foot. This way, you can attach the main stem to the stake in a way that won't allow the branches to get too heavy and in a way that will preserve a nice appearance.

Many people not use top-down planters with great success and claim increased yields. This might be another option.

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You can use a piece of paper towel or a coffee filter to keep the soil from washing out. Yes, it will rot away, but by that time the soil will have settled and roots will be holding it in.

My asparagus is about done. This time of year it begins to have a grassy, bitter taste, so I let the ferny fronds grow.

I have most of my tomato row mulched with newspapers and cardboard. Between my bum knee and the incessant rain, the weeds have gone unfought, and they are totally winning everywhere except under the cardboard. I can protect the tomatoes, but the rest of the garden may just have to fend for itself. :shock:

And next year, when I am tilling, maybe I will listen to myself and cut the garden size in half. I really am not feeding the whole western hemisphere, just me.

I wish I could find a gardener who doesn't have space for a garden--I would happily share mine with someone who could help with the weeding and tilling.

sparrowgrass
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Well, up here in MN, I can report that one of my tomato plants actually has real blossoms, the others have buds.

But, then again, we've been praying for rain and nighttime temps above 55 degrees (F).

Oh, for the hole(s) in the bottom of pots, I just use rocks. They are cheap and abundant.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Another half-arsed edible garden for us this year: four tomato plants; three chiles; and lots of basil. I plan to sow arugula seeds in late summer. Mrs. C is growing rhubarb and delicious strawberries in a plastic horse trough. Chives in a pot, and two dwarf citrus trees indoors. Lots of brambles in the woods -- Mrs. C brought in a handful of sweet berries tonight.

Meanwhile, I am scheming to make a series of four-foot-wide raised beds for vegetables. First, I need to convince Mrs. C to tolerate my chopping down a ridiculously large Norway spruce that some, um, non-gardener planted in the dead-South corner of the back yard long before we moved in.

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Many people not use top-down planters with great success and claim increased yields. This might be another option.

For the first time this year we also planted a "topsy-turvy" hanging tomato. It is self watering with a wick running from the water container at the top, into the bag holding the potting soil. It seems to be working well. After three days, all the leaves of the plants had turned upward and were reaching for the sky and today we noticed the first small tomato. We puchased a bush style determinant tomato for this.

We have also been told that bush type determinants or cherry tomatoes do best in containers because of the issue of supporting heavy vining varieties.

As to the hole in the bottom of the container. We have an old piece of screening that we cut up to fit over the hole. It keeps the soil in while allowing easy drainage.

Living in Southern California we have a wonderful growing season. We have already been harvesting bush and runner beans and zucchini. For the first time this year i am actually tracking my yield. We share our excess with a local community garden that gives their produce to a Food Pantry.

Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.

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Can you grow fava beans in Southern California?

Absolutely! I plant mine in early September...I try to time it so they miss the Santa Ana winds that can make the climate too hot for them. They are tall and have flowers by January and are ready for harvest by March. They are great for replenishing the soil with nitrogen. Remember that once they are starting to throw flower to pinch off the tips to stimulate the bean growth and deter the nasty bug that loves the tender fava tips.

Here they are in January:

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Here are the flowers:

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Here is one harvest:

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Here was a huge bean!

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I have prepared fava beans in many ways but one of my favorite is a pureed soup with yogurt and sage.

Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In the "you win some, you lose some" category, we had a huge crop of sour cherries this year and the blueberries and black raspberries are coming on strong. On the other hand, all of the plums dropped before ripening, the birds got all of the serviceberries, the currant and gooseberry crops are small and the blackberries are struggling. I'm glad I don't farm for a living. I wouldn't enjoy the ulcers.

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How invasive is mint?

Across the road from me I have a big patch of poison ivy that dwindles with round up treatments but seems to rally back every year. It is across the road but I worry about it jumping to my yard.

I have been thinking of following up the spring treatment of roundup with a planting of an invasive "non toxic" substitute like mint.

Would I still worry about the mint jumping the road? It's a bit of a slope across the road and it is township property so no one cares about the ivy other than me.

Will mint choke out the Ivy? Will it jump the road to take over my lawn? Will it choke out the wild flowers I have been encouraging to grow there too?

I am tempted to trade the toxic for the non-toxic invasive plant but worry I am just creating a whole new problem?

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Mint and poison ivy will coexist, although the mint seems to dominate in the spring. After it dies down, the poison ivy will be more noticeable.

Mint spreads primarily through its roots so the road should be an impenetrable root barrier. I can't say for certain, however, that it doesn't spread by seed as well. If you mow your side of the road, the mint shouldn't be a problem anyway.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Edwardsboi,

Sorry for joining in so late in this thread, when the answers to you question is moot; but maybe for next year? What you asked has a number of variables:

A. WHERE you garden: lngth of your growing season: in the northern tier, you will need to keep lrge toamato plants below 5 feet, trimming them off. Despite MUCH hoopla, you may find yourself very very well served sarting off with maageable cherry tomatoes and some determinate or well-behaved F1 hybrids. Get a feel for your gardening space and conditions, your likes & dislikes, ad then move on to various other types.

Attention to POTTING MEDIUM and care will create satisfying flavor, NOT vaiety choice alone. Even EARLY GIRL, maligned by the supercilious ignorant, is capable of putting out superb fruit in capable hands.

Type of tomato chosen:

1. Indeterminate "heirloom" types with very large plants : Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Kelloggs Bkfst etc. Yields not very large in smaller containers in short season areas

Indeterminate heirloom types that are tasty but manageable in 5-7 gallon containers: STUPICE, good strain from Sandhill Preservation Center. Ditto PALLA A FUOCCO. Stupice yields are fine.

Indeterminates with short internodes

Determinate:

the plant terminates in fruit cluster after a certain number have formed. The plant remains relatively short and amenable to 5, 7, 10 gallon pots & grow bags [Peaceful Valley Supplies]

Bush Beefsteak, Bush Whopper,

http://www.tomatogrowers.com/early.htm

will give you many ideas for early sorts; a few main crop suggestions for slicers:

Bush Champion VFFA Hybrid #2768

Tomande VFFNT Hybrid #3460

Margo VFFT Hybrid #3095

Martino's Roma #6809 great paste & fresh, an heirloom introduced by a friend

Momotaro #514 not compact, manageable.

Indian Stripes not compact, an interesting Cherokee Purple, higher yielding in pots.

Sungold F1 not doterminate but very manageable, yields well & early in containers.

Sweet Baby Girl Hybrid #6233 compact & and as above

Size and type of pot :

Note that i am not an advocate for any brand. I am merely offering you ideas feasible or the gardener who wants to grow 2-8 tomatoes without too much of a hassle. Well-grown plants can yield more than 60lbs a piece, but 40lbs/plant feasible for many varieties in a 15 gal pot.

Pot

Gal Size VolCu.Yds VoCu Ft

#1 0.005 0.13

#2 0.010 0.26

#3 0.015 0.39

#5 0.025 0.69

#7 0.035 0.94

#10 0.054 1.45

#15 0.079 2.14

#20 0.098 2.64

http://www.smartpots.com/how-much-mix-or-medium-do-i-need

Type of medium:

should be PROMIX brand outdoor MIX type plus a little sterilzed manure to start your hobby, NOT soil based but a POTTING MIX. This will absorb the right amount of water and depending on the size of the plant, either an ordinary cage + 3 six fet thin bamboo canes sold in garden stores for about $2 will handle most well-behaved tomatoes such as many hybrids, many cherries, many bush types.

Feed adequately but on the spare side with weak compost+ manure tea, alfalfa pellets [horse, not rabbit], fish emulsion etc. Lush growth can lead to branches breaking in container gardening no matter the type of support or cage used, subjected to wind gusts or sudden storms when heavy with fruit. The points where the branches are tied to the cages + canes etc. become pivots for the branches, and a lot of fruit can be damaged in a single afternoon's squall.

Where the pot is situated :

1)subjected to winds: on porch, roof deck? open lawn? sudden storms can damage laden plants, topple plastic pots as cages intertwined by tomato vines behave like sails.

2) direction of sun: e.g. black plastic, west, late afternoon sun, uneven drying of medium, will create imbalances on loaded plant and type of cage used. Going with non-plastic alternatives like gro-bags or using wettable aprons on plastic in hot climates helps growth and sudden toppling over and breaking of stems that are very brittle when laden with fruit.

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MN gardening report. This summer, we, although the USDA says we're zone 5, seem to be zone 4a or maybe 3B.

I'm thinking its going to be a month before we're going to see a ripe tomato. Our "perfect sleeping weather" (think mid-50's), I think is the culprit.

A trip to S. MN today reveals that while they are ahead of us, the peas still look good, and there's maybe a thread of a bean to be found.

My beloved sweet corn (hands down, my favorite food) -- well, I'm just hoping we see it for my August 2 birthday.

It's disappointing. I've done everything right, but just can account for the spring that won't end.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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One other approach to mint - if you live in a place where summers are dry, you can contain mint with driness. I have a big wall in the back yard out of which a spring runs. It keeps a particular area constantly moist; even if the surface looks a bit dry it's always moist farther down. It's also shady there, so I can't grow much else in that area. Mint likes it, so I plant it there. It runs to the point where the soil is drier than its liking, and that's where my path is. So it's dry and also gets foot traffic, and the mint behaves. A strong word perhaps

A garden report - I didn't plant the okra in the end, because my squash did so well that there was no room! I've got three - the Marina di Chioggia mentioned above, a French heirloom called Rouge Vif d'Etampes (both C. maxima) and a Japanese C. moschata variety called Futsu. The Rouge Vif d'Etampes is also called "Cinderella" in the US. Had one big one coming on but some creature bit through the stem one night. More on the way though, and unripe winter squash are every bit as good as summe squash. I'm especially looking forward to the Futsu - both for the visual quality of the almost black, ribbed fruits, and the flavor which is reported to resemble hazelnut. I got them in quite late and they lagged a bit but are not making up for lost time and growing a foot or so a day...! It's leaves are also especially beautiful with their symmetrical white mottling.

I think I'm becoming a squash addict, if you have the space there is nothing more impressive than really robust squash vines bounding through the garden. They satisfy both the vegetable and ornamental gardener sides of me. We collect flowers every morning and either fry them, or save them for a couple days for a batch of dolma.

The favas planted in the fall did great and though I cut a lot of them down as green manure, I still got a couple kilos of beans out of what I allowed to mature. The sugarsnaps also did well, or rather two rows did, the other two hardly came up. Very strange. I still had plenty and they mostly served as snacks while I was weeding.

The corn is doing well, not blooming yet but chest-high. I won't get a lot because I didn't have enough space to really go all-out with it but will save seed for next year.

The orange amaranth is great and I'll devote a bigger well-manured space to it or another giant form next year.

The tomatoes were a problem - I gave the seeds to a friend with a greenhouse to start there. He didn't label them. :) But everyone I gave the Russian tomato seeds to said they developed very very slowly. From the same friend I got seeds of a local pink one, and it's really productive and the fruits are great, intense and tangy. The "grape" cherry tomatoes are growing well too, though they aren't really heavy croppers and they say they're better in a greenhouse.

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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I'm going to have access to a garden for the first time in a long time this summer. I'm putting in herbs for sure, although I can never seem to get basil to grow happily. And I'm death to rosemary.

I also want to get some Japanese greens going, like mizuna, perilla or mitsuba. Hopefully I can find a seed source in Canada.

Were you able to find some seed for the Japanese greens? If not, you could try Westcoast Seeds in Vancouver, BC. Depending upon your location, you may need to wait until September to try planting. Unless, of course, you have a shady, cool-ish spot for planting. The greens may over-winter, as well, if you are in a gentle climate, and especially if you have access to row covers. My spinach and romaine fared well over the past winter, in Vancouver.

Edited by KarenDW (log)

Karen Dar Woon

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I don't think I've posted here before -- I have checked in many times for encouragement and info. I'm with Mayhaw Man on this:

I'm not sure why I didn't figure this out years earlier, but they are just a vine and, when placed through the sides of hanging baskets, they look cool and make like crazy.

I'm in a zone 5a/5b and the garden is around 100 metres from the Atlantic Ocean, which means lots of fog. That's why we put up a greenhouse this spring for tomatoes and peppers. It's starting to pay off:

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Outside, we're lucky to have a place where poultry was raised for fifty years. A half century of chicken sh*t = very, very nice black soil. In the ground we've got plenty of other stuff including potatoes, beets, radish, peas, beans, chard, mesclun mix, rhubarb, herbs, etc. Leeks do well here, maybe next year.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Nakji,

For the greens you mention, STOKES SEEDS, St. Catherine's, Ontario, has stocks. They are a large mailorder concern. And you may know of Kitazawa Seed of Oakland, California, who may advise you of Canadian sources of even more types of Japanese seeds.

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I also want to get some Japanese greens going, like mizuna, perilla or mitsuba. Hopefully I can find a seed source in Canada.

Veseys has mizuna.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 2 months later...

We had enough frost last night to virtually kill the tomato plants. So, having checked the weather yesterday afternoon, I harvested what looked good (I'm glad I visited my back-door neighbor and harvested some basil; some of which is sitting in a vase, some of which got tied to a clothes hanger and is drying). So, the plants went today.

Time to rake leaves, compost, and wait for the seed catalogues, and perhaps to put the gardening books on the bedside.

It was a long summer, in terms of days, but a short one for us in what was probably one of the coolest summers in recorded history. Accompany what with very little rain (once a month, and several inches when it did finally rain) did not make for a very happy garden.

Edited to add: I'm going to miss my dirt manicure, as I do miss early daylight.

(HOST'S NOTE: Because of the popularity of gardening here, and the growing size of this single topic, we've switched to a yearly gardening topic. 2010 can be found here.)

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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