Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

Not sure those seeds from last year are still good? Do a quick germination test to find out for sure.

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

If you are like most gardeners, you probably have tons of seeds from last year (and from years before!). Since different varieties have different “shelf lives”, you may want to do a quick germination test before you toss and reorder.

Wet a paper towel (moistened thoroughly but not sopping) and place 10 seeds on the top half. Fold the bottom over the top to cover the seeds and seal in a zip-lock baggy. Blow a little air into the bag so the seeds have a bit of oxygen, then put the bags in a dark place where you won’t forget to check them (I chose a kitchen cabinet).

Wait about a week (different varieties have different germination times — check the seed packet), peel off the top paper towel and count how many seeds have germinated. Fewer than 50% and you will probably want to re-order, 50% to 70% you would plant more thickly than usual, and over 70% and the seeds are as good as new!

Ruth Stout’s Extreme Organic Gardening

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Last fall when Linda Witt wrote ”A Garden Bedtime Story” about putting gardens to bed for the winter, she described her protagonist Ruth Stout as “a stubborn old Connecticut gardener…who believed that mulch was the cure to just about everything in the garden,  as well as a great preventer of aching backs and repetitive motion disorders in the gardener.”

“Ruth Stout’s Garden” is a lively film journey into the life of a woman who, from a perspective of more than ninety years, shows how easy it is to grow vegetables. This video gives insights into the early history of the organic gardening movement, and Ruth Stout’s advice is as timely today as when she was writing and lecturing back in the 1950′s.

HINT: If the video keeps stopping to rebuffer, just let it play thru while you do something else, then hit “replay” to watch without interruption.

The Great Corn Gluten Meal Experiment: A Memo by Linda Witt

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

There are several NON-organic “weed and feed” products on the market – but not for this garden, thank you. Instead we’ve found a totally organic pre-emergent that is so non-toxic it can even be used in pet food. Developed by Nick Christians at Iowa State University, corn gluten meal is the starchy protein-rich part of the corn kernel leftover after corn starch and corn syrup are removed. It works as a pre-emergent, by keeping newly sprouting seeds from developing a root system, yet it poses no harm to perennials, bulbs, or transplants such as tomatoes. We are hoping that using it will reduce the time we all spend trying to eradicate weeds.

The yellow powder – of which there are now two 40 bags in the shed — is perfect for using on paths and other common areas where weed seeds are abundant. As a pre-emergent, CGM is works for 5-6 weeks, but it feeds established plants for several months. The N-P-K ratio is 9-1-0 or 10 per cent nitrogen by weight.

How to use it:

• Weed out any obvious weeds that have overwintered or already spouted, and sprinkle CGM in their place. Most annual and perennials weed seeds sprout in spring or early summer, but some winter weeds may already be in existence.

• Sprinkle CGM along paths and fences, in the orchard, and in established flower gardens — EXCEPT where you will be planting seeds. Supposedly CMG can prevent bindweed (field morning glory), tradescantia (spiderwort), and various grasses and other weeds from establishing themselves.

• If it does not rain within five days of applying, water it in with approximately .25 inches of water.

• If you miss some weeds in pathways or along the fences, pull them when you see them and then reapply CMG. Be aggressive and we may not have to be aggressive next year.

• Reapply CMG in late summer as needed.

– Linda W