Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Surprised By Tomato Sprouts!


Surprised by Sprouts!
It all started when I decided to learn how to save tomato seeds. I even photographed several of the steps to show the process on GrandBob's Garden.
After several successful attempts of preparing the seeds and finally putting them in small plastic bottles to keep till about February - When to start Tomato's here in Southern Kansas for safe Mid-May transplanting into the garden - I forgot the largest batch of "Pinks" I had prepared yet. There they sat on my bookshelf happily (I assume) fermenting in their little plastic juice bottles I had specially prepared. This process should take about 4 days or so. The fermentation process not only cleans the pulp from the seeds, it also allows them to sprout easily when You plant them. And then a Senior Moment. Or maybe a Senior Week! I forgot all about them. When I finally happened to glance at the bookshelf I had set them on, safely away up high so my cat Squeek couldn't accidentally knock them over; I remembered them. I jumped up and grabbed the bottle and there they were. Probably 300 plus seeds sprouting like crazy in the fermentation water.
What to do. What to do. Even though I had saved about 100 Pink seeds successfully so far which were safely packed away (Now where did I put them...);
I just couldn't flush them down the drain. Could you? It seemed like plant murder to me! So, I decided to try to get them to grow in a small tv tray of light soil mix and treat them as if it was February. Soon they were coming up all over in the little tray. Some only Millimeters apart. I had to get them space to grow. Quickly!
It was then that I got a plastic Dollar Store shoebox, burned some drain holes in the bottom with a hot nail, put about 2 inches of prepared soil that I had carefully dampened and started the transplant process of about 250 (by now) tiny tomato seedlings about 1-1/2 inch tall.
As you probably know, tomato seedlings of this are are very delicate but believe it or not pretty strong. These were just putting out their first false leaves - or Dicotyledons. The first leaves to help give the tiny plants their growing boost. They are just 2 simple shaped leaves and are just about the first thing out of the ground. Later on, when their job is finished, they will fall off and a real leaf will replace it. In the picture above you are mostly seeing Dicotyledons, and you might also be able to discern a few with real leaves forming.
Anyway, I poked holes about 1 inch apart in the shoebox. Then using an old spoon, I dumped out about 4 or 5 tiny plants on a sheet of paper. carefully separated the tangled roots from each other with a toothpick. I shaved one end like a tiny shovel and carefully grabbed a plant by one ear (dicotyledon) and moved it over to the shoebox then carefully let the root down into the hole previously prepared for it. Using a Bick Pen cap, I gently pushed the soil over the root and tamped it down with a lead pencil. Blunt end down. While still holding the plant by one "Ear". A tedious process. I put them under my desk lamp for about 12 to 16 hours a day, and let them "sleep" in the closet underneath my wife's favorite camouflage pants about 8 hours a day. They seemed to like it there.
They have prospered so far. Maybe a little leggy -as you see in the picture today. It's transplant time again. I'm down to about 200 tomatoes as of now. They are getting their second leaves and I will put them in small Dixie cups with holes to provide drainage and a more denser soil. With about 1/3 perlite, 1/3 composted plant matter - finely sifted, and 1/3 cheap potting soil. I will bury as much of the stem as possible perhaps leaving only an inch sticking out. Will tiny seedlings grow roots from the stem like larger plants? We'll find out, I guess. The plan is to then put them in a small slatted tray I can carry around. Maybe 2 trays that I still need to make. Then set them in my cool garage -to slow down their growth (and perhaps strengthen them and give them plenty of overhead light for several hours a day.
Will that Work?
I found that a large 2ft x 2ft x 2ft heavy cardboard box can be turned into a cold garage greenhouse. I provided heat through the night by filling 4 -2 liter water bottles with Hot Water and inserting them along with the plants. During the day, I set them outside for daylight and fresh air in the same box. Even in frigid weather. I used just the water bottles, the cardboard box (front cut to an angle, plus some old, unused window plastic and the secrets of Solar Heating. I have pictures showing it setting outside in the sun on a table with snow around its feet. I couldn't believe it myself. A cardboard greenhouse. How cheap can you get! And it actually worked!
The attached garage was never heated directly. A few times it fell below freezing but the tomato plants survived in the cardboard box and were successfully planted in May last year flourishing to production. If there is any interest, I will post that story as well as how to save tomato seeds later - with pictures on how to do it. Readers. If you would like that. Let me know!
As to the Surprise Seedling Tomatoes. Will they make it to May set-out time? Stay tuned to this station...
GrandBob


Saturday, December 13, 2008

MYSTERY PLANT IDENTITY - REVEALED!

The Mystery Plant was positively identified by the Wichita -Sedgwick County Extension Office as POKE WEED! Remember the hit song about a hundred years ago called "Poke Salad Annie"?

Well, this is the the weed he was singing about. It is my understanding that the juice from the berries was used to sign the US Constitution. Many people, especially from the South, wrote to tell me that eventhough every part of Poke Weed is poisionous to humans and all other mammals; when prepared properly - at just the right stage, the young leaves can be eaten like spinach. Thus the name of the song. I guess Annie was a conniseur of Poke Weed. Birds also can eat the berries without ill effect because the seeds are so hard that they just pass through their innards without even a howdy do! So. Saying all that. Please folks - Don't try this at home! It could kill you! Or at least look up Annie to show you how it's done. I have heard but I'm not about to tell you! One nice guy on my Garden Messanger asked me to save some seeds for him with the next crop. I'm hoping for a complete crop-failure with this weed!

The plants are pretty hard to eradicate. Just cutting them off or such won't do it. [All you Organic Gardening Purists cover your ears now] Different harsh herbicides must be used depending on the season that you try to do battle with it! Consult your local Extension Office for details.

In order for you to identify this noxious weed at all stages, I delayed in doing a recap of theMystery Weed. Here is the complete sequence from young plant to maturity. The picture you won't see, to avoid making Poke Salad fans cry, is where I viciously chopped it down and got it out of my garden. I'm sure next spring it will return from the roots with a vengence. But Now I know what needs to be done to erradicate it. Here goes:








Very young Poke Weeds only a week or two old


Young Poke Weed near Blooming stage.
Notice the white blooms.











Mature Poke Weed Flower












Close-up of Maturing Berries and Flowers


Nearly mature leaves,
flowers and berries












Mature Berry Bunch




















A very prolific and productive Poke Weed Plant!




















































































































































































































































































































Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weird Berry Plant-What is it?






Folks, I've run on to a plant that is bewildering me. It kinda looks like a berry bush but since I've never seen it before and I've never seen a squirrel or bird eat the berries, I am a little leery of it.







So I am putting it up here to let you take a look at it. It's rather a pretty plant. This is about 3 foot tall, but I have seen it a few years back about 6 foot tall.









Here we see the tiny white flowers that will become berries within a few days. The flower stem is about 5 inches long as well as will be the berries that will form from it.





The leaves as you can see are broad and fairly big.





When the "berries" are completely formed and "ripe" they have turned a deep reddish wine color.


This is what it looks like before it's finished.

So there you have it folks. This thing looks rather alien. Hope it's not some kind of "Pod" plant!

GrandBob

Friday, August 15, 2008

Charlotte Comes to Visit - Permanently?




A few weeks ago a visitor came to our door one evening and decided to make it home. Just out on the porch steps a large "Orb" garden spider weaves an enormous web every evening about an hour after sundown. Early in the morning just before the glow of early morning she quickly gathers up her web full of small insects and takes them home. Home is a hanging gismo like spider decoration hanging down over the porch eve.

It's kinda like a short windchime - without the chimes. Its legs and feet hang down about 4 inches from the body and its feet are little bell shaped metal things that are about the size and shape of hershey kisses.
This is where "Charlotte" lives during the day and I presume eats her breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is also where she goes if it starts to storm in the middle of the night. I found it very hard to get a good picture of her but I will keep trying.
I'm also not sure of her identity. Can anyone help me here?.

Charlotte is about the size of a quarter over all. My wife is very solitisus of her and makes sure people going in and out the door avoid disturbing her or her web. Charlotte has been around now for about 3 weeks. And ate a lot of mosquetoes. I can deal with that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When Your Tomatoes Get 6 Foot Tall and Climbing!


A few days ago, I realized I was going to have to put a tall stake in my Tomato Derricks (TM). So I ripped some sturdy stakes from a red cedar fence board and stained it with green stain. The plants are already reaching the top of the stakes.
And I'm dreaming up some kind of extension that can be bolted to the 6 foot stake!
And the plants are loaded with green tomatoes. I think I'm going to need to rig something up fast.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Old Dodge City Victorian Fence is Finished At Last


This project started last winter on a drawing board. I've always wanted an Old Dodge City Garden Fence. I seen lots of them on "Gunsmoke" and I even visited "Boot Hill" when I was about 6 years old - They done a different kind of "planting" behind That fence. I still remember the pair of boots sticking out of the dirt - where an unknown "varmint" had been buried with his boots on. So they said....
Dodge City is almost straight west of Wichita, Kansas about 70 miles. Boot Hill is still there too I'll bet. Hopefully, I'll have some plans made up for folks in the not to distant future on how to build your own Old West Victorian Garden Fence. Now if I can just get MGM or Paramount to rent my Garden!
You can see my tomato guards in the background. I found several nice sized new tomatoes, "Pinks" on the tomato plants located out of this picture. However, I did find amazingly enough a few tiny tomatoes setting on the plants in the main tomato patch that you see in the background here. They were only put in a few weeks ago. Because of the constant rains in Central Kansas this year - and the Central Midwest in general -I was beginning to think I would never get my main crop of tomatoes in this at all this year! I will be showing you how I planted my tomatoes in grass (sod) this year. At the same time, I am removing the sod (and nearly pure clay "fill") and replacing it gradually with a mixture of good topsoil, compost and organic fertilizer. Next year I plan to move the tomato towers slightly and break-out a little more sod. Maybe. I do love mowing the grass between the derricks! I can't wait until a few weeks from now when the tomato plants are mature, tall, and filled out. What a site! I,ll post some pictures here.
If you like the fence please leave a comment here on the blog and if you want to keep up with this old guys musings, subscribe. It only takes a moment. Is easy, and I'll send you an e-mail to let you know when I have something new to say. Your address is safe with me. Noone else will be using it to send you Spam.
Now that most of my Big projects are finished including planting my garden which had to be worked in Edgewise, I have a whole list of interesting and useful articles to work up. Let me know how your garden is doing. If you have a funny garden story to tell, let me know and I will try to fit it in for everyone to enjoy. And give you the Byline. Pictures to.
Bye for Now!
Bob
GrandBobs Garden

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tomato Cages Don't Have to be Ugly

Copyright © Robert Mader 2008
All Rights Reserved



Some people have been wandering what my Tomato Cages look like when the plants are more mature. Well, take a look. I call them Tomato Derricks (tm) because they look like Oil Derricks Without the Christmas Tree lights! They do a wonderful job of supporting my tomatoes. I developed these myself over a three year period of testing and revising. I hated the looks of fence wire cages, Upside Down Wire thingys, and tomatoes left to sprawl all around - many rotting on the ground. These not only look good, but will last several years with care - Some of mine are over 10 years old!  You will find that they do a wonderful job of protecting the tomato plants and beautifying your garden too. Each comes with 2 ground stakes that I've seen keep the Tomato Derricks (TM) secure in near hurricane force winds.

A lot of people would like to have these in their garden and "How-To plans for personal use are Available . If you would like to build them for resale, Please contact me.  The design of the Tomato Derricks (TM) and the plans as well are copyrighted.      Home use (built for your garden) plans are only $12 Postpaid.. We use PayPal for your Safe Ordering.  We never give your name to anyone else.  

 Contact RobertLee97@gmail.com for Order Form

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wow! My Tomato Patch is Finally Finished!



Lets see. Today is July 8. I finally got my last tomato plant in my Tomato Patch. If it takes 80 days to get a mature tomato, I should be able to pick my first ripe tomato about [insert DrumRoll here] Tuesday of September 25! Our first real freeze is generally right on time - Halloween - October 31. I don't usually raise "Determinate" tomatoes but that's what their going to be this year. They have about 30 days to Make it or Bust! As I placed my last tomato today. I could hear the rumbling. The rains started in April and as you know, they hardly stopped in the Central MidWest states. I did manage to get two "back-up" tomato plants in fairly early and they have a few small tomatoes started. And the days are turning hot - tomatoes don't like to set in hot weather once the nights reach close to 80 degrees. But tonight is 71 degrees. Perfect night temperature (when they set on)for tomato plants. A cold-front has moved in and a line of storms reach from down in the Baja area of Mexico stretch across the midwest all the way up into Minnesota. And it raining again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A VERY TRUE BUNNY TALE

Okay, so the baby bunnies are still eating my
flowers ... I bought and planted 1/2 pound of clover seeds
in the lawn to distract them ... $8.00
... and waited patiently for the clover to germinate -
as my husband raised an eyebrow and the baby bunnies
continued munching my flowers.

So I went to the pet store and bought a bale of timothy hay and
gourmet rabbit food to distract them ...$27.00
... and while my husband shook his head in dismay,
the bunnies joyfully added my new bunny buffet
to their favorite flower diet.

So I went to the nursery and bought yarrow, asters,
coreopsis, and lamb's ear ... $42.00
... because these were on the internet
list of rabbit proof plants.
My husband was less than amused-
but the baby bunnies were delighted!

The bunnies love me now, (my husband is questionable),
and as they sidled up to me in the garden last week; I noticed
that they were covered in nasty ticks. So I went back to the
pet store and purchased flea and tick spray
made just for rabbits ... $12.99.
And they sat contentedly eating my rose bushes as
I sprayed each bunny one by one ...
I didn't tell my husband.

Today, they hopped happily into my bee balm,
(another so- called "rabbit-proof" plant)...
but they are tick-free!

Rabbit supplies ... $89.99
Marital status ... shaky
Peace of mind ... priceless

Gracefully Contributed by Susi Gifford

Sunday, June 8, 2008

HOW TO GROW GREAT TOMATOES - 10 TIPS



  1. Determinate Tomatoes are tomatoes that bloom and bear in a very narrow time window. 2 or 3 weeks only in a growing season.

  2. Indeterminate Tomatoes - the ones most of us grow, have a long blooming season. Indeterminate Tomatoes, once the start blooming, bloom all summer up until the bitter end and the First Freeze. Here in Central Kansas, last year, mine bloomed and bore right into the last of October. I had to bring in several buckets full to avoid them being frozen on the vine. Anything smaller than a golf ball; I told my grandkids to let on the vine.

  3. At all costs, do not plant your tomatoes in the same spot as last year. The fungus that got your tomato plants last year, may well get them again this year. It lives in the soil. This year, plant somewhere different.

  4. Always plant in full sun. Tomatoes like at least 10 full hours of sunlight a day. 12 is ideal. Also, Tomatoes blossoms set fruit on at night. You may have tons of blooms but if the nights are not at least 55 degrees - no cooler and not over 75 degrees, tomatoes will not set. And you wont see any little tomatoes until those conditions are met. That's why tomatoes will set in the warm spring. Not in hot summer, then they will start bearing like crazy again in the fall when it cools down - just before the freeze. Now you know.

  5. Do your tomatoes have tons of luscious green leaves and not much else? To much Nitrogen. Cut back on the fertilizer. If the leaves soon turn yellow after first opening, you probably need to add fertilizer. Once production is started. Stop fertilizing. If tomatoes think they are starving to death, they start bearing like crazy. "Got to Save the Family. Quick -have more kids!" Tomatoes are funny like that. In this case, a little stress is good for them even if they don't like it.

  6. Don't use a herky-jerky method of watering. Water regularly. Never let your tomato plants dry out. If you reach down into the soil with your finger - one inch, and it doesn't feel damp, you need to water. If you placed a large coffee can around your new tomato plants when they were first planted Your cans embeded at least one inch in the soil - you will not only protect your young plants from cutworms, you have a handy watering container. Depending on your climate, fill these cans up with water as often as necessary. I paint mine with a cheap green enamel paint inside and outside. They last several seasons with cleaning and care. But note again. Erratic watering produces misshapen and especially Cracked tomato skins and flesh. So, to avoid ugly tomatoes, water regularly. Drying out also causes "Blossom End Rot" -Ugly, leathery, black circular spots on the blossom end. These get thrown away.

  7. For best tasting tomatoes, pick fully ripe on the vine. Picking early and letting ripen atop your refrigerator is O.K. but you will loose flavor. This is what you buy in most grocery stores. Nice, vine ripened tomatoes you get at your local Saturday Afternoon Farmers Market. Also, I suspect; tomatoes are like grapes. The longer on the vine they are left to ripen, the sweeter they are! Let me know if you find this to be true. I'm also going to experiment with this.

  8. Don't let tomatoes sprawl on the ground. A lot of tomatoes will be wasted do to high winds and bugs. Always use a stake to tie them to as a minimum and also a wire or wood cage, or derrick like I designed if you want to snazzy up your garden a little. (See Page 1 ). Tie the main stem loosely to a stake set within a few inches of the plant. Years ago people used old strips of torn cloth. Now you can buy green twine or plastic (bread tie) stuff at any store that sells plants etc. Bread ties are probably too short. Trash sack ties work great! Do they still include those with the bags? I don't do trash anymore... Also, I hope to have How-To plans available soon for my Tomato Derricks. Be watching for them.

  9. Do not mulch around your tomatoes until the soil is thoroughly warm. Mid -June for here in Central Kansas. Mulching early, usually when you first put the plants in, will slow the growth of your tomatoes by a couple weeks at least. But Do Mulch. It keeps the ground cool and holds moister in longer and more evenly.

  10. Never Spray Your Tomatoes When Watering. This promotes fungus growth. Always water close to the ground. If you use coffee cans around your tomatoes you can just stick the hose in them. I found that one minute of watering this way for each can is just about right . Since it will be hard to see through the foliage later on. You might want to add a little fertilizer again near Fall.

I hope this article has been helpful. Have a great gardening day!


Bob


PS: Don't forget to check back often . Or check on the Atom reader below. You'll get notices of my new articles automatically in your e-mail.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

BLACK SPOT ON ROSES

Black Spot is caused by a fungus that remains in the soil from year to year. The only solution is to spray with a fungicide specifically formulated for this purpose. However, in order to prevent your roses from getting the disease, you must spray them before the signs of black spot appear. Once the characteristic yellow leaves with black spots appear, it is too late to get rid of it, and the leaves will eventually; fall off.

This disease is spread and carried to other roses by the leaves of infected roses coming in contact with soil and water that splashes onto them.

Infected leaves should be removed and not composted. If your roses have symptoms of the disease, spray them with fungicide for Black Spot to protect the canes and any new growth that may occur during the season.

For next year, I would recommend spraying roses with fungicide as soon as new growth appears, and then again during the growing season according to label directions. Black Spot will not kill your roses...it just defoliates them, and affects their ability to perform photosynthesis, which in turn affects their ability to produce flowers. Good luck...

Article By Melissa Medina
Gracefully Contributed To GrandBobsGarden on June 4, 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

How to Make Custom Garden Seed Markers Easy

INTRODUCTION

Probably the quickest Garden Seed Marker of all is to pound a stick in the ground next to your seeds, slip the seed package over the stick right side up, (unless you already ripped the top side off the seed package when you opened it - in which case all bets are off ); then drop a fruit jar over it. It works!




a little class in our gardens, even if it's just nice Seed Markers. I checked in the garden catalogs and at the plant nurseries and I just couldn't find markers that I wanted to use. I finally designed my own.

Things You Need

  • All you need is some common pine - Cut your own- 0r "1 x 2" wood strips from any builders supply (Lowes, Home Depot, Sutherland, etc) for stakes.




  • Small nails ( "3- penny" finish nails are nice) about an inch long.




  • And a saw. The type of saw is optional. You Could use a simple handsaw. A coping saw, an electric saber saw, or if your a real woodworker, a table saw. Use what you have or what you can afford. If this was rocket science I wouldn't be doing this.


    A hammer thats easy for you to handle. Even a small tack hammer would work.


    White enamel paint. Regular spray can paint from the discount store will work.




    Lets Get Started!


    Rip Marker Stakes


    Rip Marker Stakes out of 1" (actually 3/4 inch - Don't ask) thick lumber or just cut 12 inch lengths of "1 x 2" lumber and avoid the "ripping" step. In any case you need some skinny little boards about 1-1/2 inch wide, cut into 12 inches long stake pieces.











    Make a Point on Bottom of Stake

    Miter (cut at an angle) one end of each stake. This end will now go easily into the ground.

    If your a Boy Scout, you could shape the points with an ax. Do they still do that? I sure hope so.
















    Make the Plaque Pieces.

    You can "resaw" 2 X 4 studding into 1/2 inch lumber like I did (not recommended for amatures), Cut out 3" X 4" pieces from 1/2 inch plywood; or just buy 1 X 4lumber from your Builders Supply Store and cut into 4 inch lengths

    giving you quick little Plaques that are 3/4 thick instead of 1/2" You could then cut the corners off at a 45 degree angle just for good looks. Or not.




    Here is Your Parts

    The glass of iced tea is optional.




















    ATTACH THE PLAQUE
    Here you will notice that the plaque is set about 1/4 inch down from the top of the stake instead of flush with it. This is so when you tap it in, you won't hit the plaque. Just center the plaque over the stake and nail it down as shown with 2 nails.



    If your Really serious about these markers, you could slip a little waterproof glue on the stake before nailing it.

    Your Assemble Marker Looks Like This

    Not Bad. You might even be able to take these to the local Farmers Market. Be My guest. But were not quite done.











    PAINT YOUR GARDEN MARKER
    I like to use a White Enamel. Regular spray paint is fine. You might want to experiment with other colors but I find White easy to use with a permanent marker. If you are a little bit of an artist, you could put some nifty border designs or even "Plant Characters".







    You Could Write Directly on the Plaque
    I used a large Permanent Marker here. However,

    you could do it a differant way. See below.

















    Use a Replaceable Card
    Print your information on a plain 3 X 6
    notecard. Thumbtack it to the plaque.












    Protection From Wind and Rain


    Slip a sturdy zip-lock sandwich bag over the


    Plaque and tack it down too. Walla - A Garden


    Marker with a rain coat!









    Hope you try these out. I use them in my own garden.


    Bye!


    GrandBob


    PS: Many, Many more projects and articles are coming. Don't miss a one!




































    Friday, May 30, 2008

    HOW TO CHECK YOU SOIL COMPOSITION

    Today I picked my first green onions. I was cleaning out the small bed of onions on the South Side of the Patio Deck and decided that now was the time to pull a few. I pulled about 10 nice ones that were about 1/2 inch across. It was late April when I got these at the local "Atwoods" store. A great place for farm type stuff. I found things I hadn't seen since I was a Western Kansas farm boy! Bale hooks, Hog rings, Chicken Wire, and would you believe real cow hides and alfalfa pellets? I understand that alfalfa pellets make a great Nitrogen additive to garden soil and I plan to try them out.

    Anyway, shortly after that I put the little onions in the ground. The soil was terrible in this spot but I didn't have time to work it over. It was typical "Fill" soil often used around new housing to provide proper run-off. A little subsoil and chunks of clay as big as your fist. It was put in years ago, about 1960 when the house was built and was never amended with good topsoil or something to lighten the soil to compensate for the clay. The only thing growing in it this spring was a few weeds and grass. I dug the bermuda grass out of the bed, plunked in the little onion bulbs worked a little dry fertilizer in and hoped for the best.

    As soon as most of the onions are pulled, I will dig some of the old subsoil out, add some topsoil and a little compost, old leafs etc, and maybe a little fertilizer in preparation for a fall crop that should be good until December and even early next spring when any onions left will probably come up again. Previous onion plantings have survived here in zone 6; especially if a little dry leaf or straw cover is layed over the plot. You can do it too. It took me three years to learn how to grow big onions in Central Kansas where I live now. I will have an article on how to do that later on for you people who want to try it yourself. You can grow an enormous amount of onions in a small space! And maybe it won't take 3 years to learn how to do it!

    But first you need to get a better idea of your soils composition if you want to grow anything. This is how to go about checking to see just what your soil is made up of. In a later article, I will tell you how to check your soils PH etc.

    Things You Need to Check-Out Your Soil's Composition:
    1. An old quart fruit jar - or any clear container that you can put about a quart of water in.
    2. Water to fill the container about two-thirds full.
    3. 1 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent used as a "wetting agent".

    Now What?

    Start adding soil alittle at a time until the jar is just about full. Shake it up ( I would recommend a lid here) and let the mixture settle out for a few hours. First you will see the sand and other heavy particles settle to the bottom of the jar and (after several hours) fine silt and clay will settle out last at the top. You might want to compare this with soil from a good growing plot. If you aren't able to grow anything in your soil, find a friend or neighbor who can. Compare his soil with yours. You may be surprised at the difference. And you may learn a lot from this experiment!

    Will your plants thrive in your soil?

    The Early pioneers had 2 things that they used to check for good soil. First they looked for weeds. If the weeds were growing proliferously, there crops would probably grow well too!

    Second, they tasted the soil. If it tasted "sour" - it was too alkaline. If it was "sweet" it was acid inclined and was probably good farming soil for their crops. If you want to avoid paying for a ph test kit for about $20 dollars, you could try the old fashioned method I suppose, (I can't recommend it) or you could take soil samples to your local county extension office. They'll check it out at a nominal price. Sometimes, you can even mail in test samples of your soil and in a week or so they will mail you the results of the tests. There is usually a small fee for this service. Look for them under your government-county listings in the phone book.

    That's all for today.

    Have a great Gardening Day and stop-by again Soon!

    Bob

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    How to get new plants from Lilac Cuttings

    New Growth From Lilac Cuttings
    This is a new shoot coming off of a 2 inch cutting. It took approximately 2 weeks to see new growth and the beginning of roots. With about 30 cuttings, I am seeing a 75% success rate at this point. Cuttings were all made with a sharp "box knife" at a 45-degree angle and the cut ends tipped into a "rooting compound" called SCHULTZ Take Root. A rooting hormone. I then made an appropriately sized hole in the rooting soil and pushed the cutting (hormone side down) into the soil. Make sure the top of the cutting is upright. Leave a leaf on it so you know which side is UP!



    Soil Mixture
    I mixed equal portions of Potting Soil (The Cheapest I could find ), Kiddies Play Sand (once referred to as "Sharp Sand", (fine), Peralite, and Top Soil purchased from the local True Value store. I then added a little water. Just enough that the soil was well moistened but still slightly crumbly in the hand after making a ball in your fist.

    You will want to keep the soil just about this moist throughout the process.
    The photo below gives you an idea how your soil should look.

    VERY IMPORTANT POINTS

    1. Best water from the bottom when possible.


    2. Keep a cover over container-save moisture.

    3. Mist cuttings at least once a day. More is better.

    4. Allow a little fresh air every day for an hour or so every day.

    5. If you tug on the new plants and they resist, they probably have a good root system started.

    NOW WHAT?

    When they have good roots, repot into small pots for further growth. This is when I add a half/strength of Miracle Grow. It may not be politically correct but it works fast and doesn't stink. Fish Emulsion anyone? I try to stay as Organic as possible - but I'm not a purist.

    PLANTS IN A SHOEBOX

    I also use a plastic shoebox from the Dollar Store. They come with a nice lid, are stackable, and cost around a dollar here. I then use an 8th inch bit in my electric drill and punch several holes in the lid and several more in the bottom. The lid for some air circulation, and the bottom to allow watering if needed. In the time it took for my cuttings to produce new growth, I didn't have to water once. I did mist every day. Sunlight? My cuttings were outside on a table in constant shade. Now that I have new growth, I will gradually introduce them to more and more sunlight over a 2 or 3 week period. Be careful. New cuttings sunburn easily and also will quickly die from to much sun - to soon.

    A shoebox full of new growth cuttings off my wifes Lilac bush.

    Ever wander what a clone looked like?

    Note: The date on these pictures is the default for my digital camera. Everytime I replace the batteries, I need to reset the date. I forgot. I hope you don't mind. And I hope you have gained from my first article.

    Bye, and thanks for stopping by!
    GrandBob