Author: Loralie

Grow a Little Fruit Tree- Book Review

Grow a Little Fruit Tree- Book Review

I just finished reading Grow a Little Fruit Tree by Ann Ralph.  Around our home we have a pear tree, two apple trees, and a plum tree.  Last year I cut down the peach tree (the second one in that spot) that was probably 10 years…

Bird Song and Battles Round Two-What Would You Do?

Bird Song and Battles Round Two-What Would You Do?

A bird is building a nest in my green house.  Here we go again! Last Spring I battled a moma robin building a nest on my back porch light.  If my shades are up, I can see through one of the house windows into my 4…

Something From My Grapevines, Finally!

Something From My Grapevines, Finally!

Before you start celebrating with me I have to confess, I don’t have any grapes!  I think this is the fifth year I’ve had my grapes and I still have never savored the sweet victory of  a ripe grape bursting in my mouth.  I have had a few sour grapes burst in my mouth, yeah, not much of a victory.  It is a good way to see if they are ready yet. The first year I had a real crop (you know, more than a token cluster of grapes here and there) they disappeared magically overnight when they achieved the perfect (I assume) degree of ripeness.  I blame the possums that I could sometimes hear hissing under my window in the early morning darkness while I sipped coffee and read the bible.  I tried various methods to keep the critters away from my grapes and other crops, to no avail.

The next year was so wet that the grapes developed brown rot.  For 5 years I have tended these grape vines, watering, weeding and pruning?

Here is a picture before this year’s pruning:

grapes before prune

Yes, every year I have to go back to the extension publication and read what I am supposed to do, prune 90 percent of canes, prune off the cordons at 3 to 4 feet or when they touch a neighbor grape vine’s cordons, etc. I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing but I do something!

grapes after prune

Maybe I can volunteer at a winery and they can teach me more about pruning grapes and pay me with wine.  In any  case, what is this benefit I’ve finally received for my efforts?

grapevine wreath

Isn’t this a lovely wreath?  Maybe this is my year for grapes, hope springs eternal!

Phenology: The Garden Helper You Might Not Know About

Phenology: The Garden Helper You Might Not Know About

I have a forsythia bush in my yard.  It is always the first plant in my yard to bloom in the spring, followed by the Bradford Pear and then the Red Bud tree. The date of blooming can vary wildly, anywhere from late February to early April.…

Cinder Block Herb Tower-Six blocks

Cinder Block Herb Tower-Six blocks

I’m always looking for more space.  I planted a small herb garden a few years ago and now it’s full.  We have small side yard between our deck and fence that I’ve been using for container gardening.  I can’t dig there because of buried utility lines. …

Grow Your Earliest Garden Ever!

Grow Your Earliest Garden Ever!

One spring like day in Kansas and we are all ready to get out in the garden.  The only problem is that it is February.  With a simple and inexpensive low tunnel, you could be planting weeks earlier than you normally do without worrying about what the weather is going to do.  All you need is  a roll of plastic sheeting (I got a roll of 4 ml thick plastic sheeting for about $9 at Walmart) and several lengths of pvc pipe (around 1/2 inch is good and easy to bend but it could be slightly larger).  The amount of pvc you need depends on how large a bed you plan to cover.  Just cut the pvc into a length that will give you an arch over your garden bed.  I have a raised bed but this can be used on an in ground bed as well.

hoops for low tunnel

Last year the ground was still frozen in early March so I just spread out the plastic sheeting over the bed and anchored it with rocks.  This will speed up the thawing of that particular piece of ground.  Then you can press the ends of the pvc pipe right into the ground and spread the plastic sheeting over the arches.  I usually use large binder clips to clip the plastic onto the arches and also anchor it with what ever wood and rocks I have available.  We have a lot of wind in Kansas.

low tunnel

The plastic helps warm up the air and the soil, keeps soil from getting soggy with too much rain or snow and protects any plants inside from wind (and squirrels digging).  Transplants can go out earlier and with less hardening.

Much to my surprise, the soil was not only not frozen in this third week of February but was already 50 degrees.  Last year around this time, we had lows in the single digits! There are a lot of plants that will germinate in 50 degree soil, some varieties of peas will germinate in 40 degree soils.  So I set up my low tunnel and proceeded to plant radishes and green onions.

As the weather warms and the sun’s rays become stronger you will need to keep an eye on your low tunnel so that it doesn’t overheat.  It’s easy to vent the sides by just lifting the plastic or remove it all together during a warm stretch.  You will need to water since the plastic keeps out rain and snow.  You could also replace the plastic sheeting with a row cover fabric that is more breathable, is permeable to rain but still provides frost protection.

I think it might be an early spring or we might have spring, Indian winter (you know, like Indian summer only cold) and then spring again.  So, I’m starting now, knowing that the low tunnel will bring spring to that particular piece of ground several weeks earlier.

Who Can Afford to Eat Organic?- update

Who Can Afford to Eat Organic?- update

It’s that time of year when people are thinking about getting healthy and saving money and asking if those two desires are mutually exclusive.  Two years ago I wrote a series of posts about the affordability of organic food.  Do you feel like food prices have increased…

Surgery for the Worst Garden Pest

Surgery for the Worst Garden Pest

Everything is going along well in your garden.  Your zucchini and pumpkin plants look like they could take over the world and then one day you look out the window and see the plants wilting a bit in the mid day heat.  You quickly water…

Best Way to Remove Squash Bugs-Chemical Free

Best Way to Remove Squash Bugs-Chemical Free

Stories abound about how prolific zucchini can be in the summer garden.  Last year was a good zucchini year for me as I got 240 pounds out of 6 plants.  Most years, though it is a three way competition between me, the squash bugs and the squash vine borer to see if I can get any zucchini before they get the plants.  Squash bugs and vine borers will attack all kinds of squash and pumpkins.  They look like this:

and they lay a cluster of copper colored eggs on leaves (usually the underside) or stems of squash plants.

squash bugs on plant

 

Removing these eggs will go a long way in reducing the squash bugs in your garden.  I used to cut them out but I have found a better way thanks to friends in a gardening facebook group.  Duct Tape!  Yes, you can add one more use to the endless list of uses for duct tape.  You just lay a piece of tape on top of the eggs.

duct tape on plant

You may have to press down a bit over the spot with the eggs.  Peal back the duct tape and the eggs will be removed with little or no damage to the plant.  Repeat if necessary.

bugs removed with duct tape

 

I have also found that the duct tape is great for catching almost any unwanted bug I come across in the garden, even the baby squash bug beasties after they hatch.  You will need to check almost daily, although it takes about 10 days for the eggs to hatch.  This site has some great photos of the newly hatched nymphs and additional tips on controlling them.

I really like having a chemical free way to reduce the squash bug population in my garden.  From now on duct tape is part of my garden tool bag.

Bone Broth-How to Make Beef Broth

Bone Broth-How to Make Beef Broth

If you haven’t heard about bone broth yet, you probably will soon.  It is one of those very old nutritional ideas that is enjoying fresh attention. The terms broth and stock are often used interchangeably and you can find different definitions depending on where you…