Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20th ..... Working in the yard!

Another gorgeous day at Taddiken Farm.  February 20th.   Sunshine, 68 degrees and no wind!  Bonus!  I have been home and able to take full advantage of the day.  I took out a massive planting of Sage.  Cleaned off two raised vegetable beds and added a top layer of rotted silage.  

I spaded out a bed of strawberry plants.  (That was the big job.). They were June bearing Jewell strawberry plants and had been a disappointment since I planted them years ago.  Never being very big, they reverted back to small tasteless fruit.  I have an order coming of ever bearing Ozark Beauty and Allstar June bearing berries to replace them.  I know that the ever bearing won't produce as well as June bearing but think it will be nice to have a few throughout the summer.  We'll see.  

Let's hope this nice weather lasts a few more days.  In years past, I have taken these nice winter days for granted and gotten nothing done outside.  March hits with it's bitter cold winds and again, I get nothing accomplished outside.  By April, I am overwhelmed and frustrated!  Maybe, it will be different this year?  (Heard that before!)

I know that there will be winter left to come.  This is after all, Kansas.  It's sure nice to have a break from cold weather and dig in the dirt a bit!  

Monday, September 12, 2016

The War on Squash Bugs

Squash bugs are a member of the Coreidae family which also includes bedbugs! They
have been a gardener's #1 enemy this summer!  I have always had some, but never like this year!  Everyone I know has had them.  I always battle them awhile before they finally take down my zucchini squash.  This year they destroyed my four plants before they produced even one squash!  That was not insult enough.  They started in on my sweet success cucumbers!  Little by little my beautiful vines were reduced to a pile of brown leaves.  
Hatching eggs on the underneath leaf side

Immature squash bugs

Most of us know that Seven insecticide does not phase an adult squash bug.  That heavy shell on their back protects them.  It will slow down baby squash bugs.  I was diligent in picking the adults off and destroying them.  I removed  any leaves that had eggs layed on the underneath side.  I dusted Seven to get those young ones.  I should have saved my time and energy for another chore.  The squash bugs quickly won.

A fellow Master Gardener told me about a product called Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.  It is basically ground sedimentary rock particles.  The squash bugs eat it and ..... they croak!  They don't even live long enough to lay those hundreds of eggs!  If applied early it will not come into contact with your vegetables but if it should, the dust can simply be washed off without harm. If you google the product you will see that it is safe for humans to actually eatThe harm is in breathing it.   I was very careful not to breath the dust as I applied it.  Common sense says not to inhale rock particles.  

I bought a bag of it from Amazon.  I also bought an inexpensive "duster" to apply it.  Next, I replanted my cucumbers and zucchini.  I also replanted in different locations.  Once the plants were up and going, I dusted the leaves and the dirt around them.
I am harvesting zucchini and the cucumbers are blooming without a squash bug in sight!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Plants in a Jug ..... Worked!

Earlier this Spring, I posted a blog about starting seeds in milk jugs.  I had seen this done on another blog, A Garden for the House.

I started out on the right track.  Planted four jugs and put them outside to sprout.  First the wind took them for a patio spin.  I replanted.  Next Liberty dog used them for areal toys.  I totally lost all of the lavender seeds on that deal.  I replanted. 

Now down to three jugs, I put them in a clear plastic tote on top of my patio table.  They have been there for about four weeks now.  The only attention I gave them was to bring them in twice before frosts.  You can see that they have done a great job of sprouting and growing into little plants.  The end result is that the plants are not spindly like some of the ones grown inside.  

The tall lacy plants are German Chamomile.  The plants next to them are Holyhocks.  The plants in the back are Zinnias.  The Zinnias are small yet so the lid is going back on that jug for a couple more weeks.  I am going to leave the other two jugs open and in the tote to "harden" for another week before I transplant them in the garden.  

I have learned several things.  This is a really easy and successful way to start seedlings.  Next year I won't mess around with allowing the dog access and replanting!  Also, next year I will plant a lot more jugs! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Plants in a jug.

One of the food and gardening blogs I follow is "A garden for the house" written by Kevin Lee Jacobs.  This winter (Feb), he blogged about starting seeds in milk jugs.  He has apparently been starting seeds in this manner for several years.  

I was interested.  Especially interested since I am a total failure at starting seeds indoors
The obvious savings when starting our own seeds is enough to keep me optimistic that I may one day accomplish that crop of hardy baby plants to set out in our garden.  

Kevin starts hardy early spring plants in January and February.  More tender perennials are started now and brought inside if there is a threat of frost.  I hope you will go to his blog and see the planting schedule etc...
I am trying to start Holly Hocks, Lavender, German Chamomile, and Zinnias.

This is what I am doing.....  
I started with four clean milk jugs.  You won't need the lids so throw them away.  Be sure to label each jug with a permanent marker.  Next I cut the tops nearly off.  I left the piece under the handle intact to make a 'hinge".  I used an ice pick to punch drainage holes in the bottom and lower sides of the jugs.  

I bought a $6 bag of seed planting soil at the nursery.  This soil is lighter and is a better bed for small seeds.

I filled my milk jugs about 1/3 full of soil and sprinkled in a generous amount of seeds and stirred the soil a bit.  Next, I sprinkled in water until the soil was good and moist.  I pulled the tops down and secured them with duct tape.  I first put them all in a protected area of the patio.  The next morning, Mark brought on of the jugs in.  It had blown to the north end of the yard.  The other three had scattered around the patio.  Plan B was to put them back out on the patio only this time, I put them tightly in this clear tote.  I caught a glimpse of Liberty running around the yard tossing a milk jug!  Plan C is working ..... I put the tote on a table.  I am down to three jugs.

Now I wait.  You will be getting the update in a few weeks.  Let"s hope for the best!

Monday, February 23, 2015

To prune ..... or not to prune?

A little pruning can create a beautifully shaped tree.
If you have the itch to get outside and work in the yard a bit ..... This blog is for you!  Admittedly, there is not much going on out there, in fact, we have had snow on the ground a big share of February?  

February's gardening activity is Pruning.  Pick a nice mild day.  Grab your loppers and pruning shears and get busy.  Deciduous trees can be pruned about any time of year but the time they are dormant works best.  There is less stress involved when pruning is done while they are "resting".  Also, their structures can be seen better without leaves.  

I try to keep our young trees shaped up ..... cross over limbs pruned off and main leader limbs left strong.   I keep our full grown trees trimmed up high enough that I can zip around under them on my mower.  When it comes to reshaping these large trees, I call a professional :-)

Spring flowering trees bloom on old wood so should be pruned AFTER they bloom.  Summer flowering trees bloom on new wood so can be trimmed during the winter dormant period.

While you are out there pruning away ..... This is also a great time to prune those shrubs. Some of our's have grown bigger than the space they are in so they will get a hard prune before they "wake-up"!   Our dwarf burning bush has grown to over six foot tall and six feet wide.  This project may involve a chainsaw! 

This is also the time of year that I prune our grapevines.  Those long, chopped off vines make some awesome wreaths.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January Gardening

As gardening months go, gardening in January is one of the easiest.  The ground is frozen.  It's too cold to venture out.  All that is left is a mug of tea, an easy chair and that stack of seed catalogs!

A productive garden is a well planned garden and oh what fun that planning is!  New seed catalogs began arriving last November.  As I start looking through them I have to remind myself NOT to get carried away with ordering!  

Throughout the past growing season, I keep notes about new flower and vegetable varieties that I want to try.  I add that list to this year's seed catalog "wants" and I am pretty well set.

My current garden is a typical Kitchen Garden.  With the exception of the sweet corn, which we grow bushels and bushels of for the freezer, the produce I grow is consumed fresh.  The days of canning and freezing massive amounts of vegetables are long past here at Taddiken Farm.  

That said, the Master Gardener in me wants to experiment with different varieties of vegetables.  Each year I try a few new ones.  Sensibility and experience tells me that the tomato I need to be growing out here is Celebrity.  I grow them every year and add another something new.  This year I am trying a couple of Rutgers tomato plants.  My nephew Joe is a Master Gardener in Oregon and has convinced me to give them a try.  
Also new this year will be Socrates cucumbers.  I have been reading about their ability to produce masses of dark green sweet cucumbers.  We'll see.  On the flower side, I want to plant more fall flowering periennels along our fence.   Asters, garden mums etc...

The biggest change I am making this season?  I am ordering all of my seeds from ONE catalog.  One order to keep track of.  This will be a first.  Happy planning to you!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Refrigerator Pickles 101

In the world of growing cucumbers, one of two things happens.  The vines either shrivel and die early or they flourish and produce more cucumbers than you want or need.  As a gardener, I would surely take the latter situation.

There was a time when I had big stone crocks full of pickles curing on our kitchen counter.  Dark green lime pickles. Bright red cinnamon pickles.  Dill pickles.  Anymore, Mark and I eat a ton of refrigerator pickles during the summer.  Leftover pickles can last in the freezer all winter. 

This summer, I discovered a great hint for making pickles crisp.  An old time cookbook suggested packing a few grape leaves in the jar along with the pickles.  Grape leaves contain "Tannin" which is a natural "crisper".  It works!  In a couple of days, the homemade pickles are crispy as can be!  Forget using those store bought pre mixed pickle spice mixes.  (Which do not make for such a a crispy pickle).  A couple more hints ..... keep an eye on your growing cucumbers and pick them before they are big and bitter.  Baby is better.  As you are washing them, cut off the blossom end and rinse again.  This will help keep your pickles from getting smushy too.

The following recipe is one that I have made and shared for years.  Foolproof and Fabulous!
         Martha Stewart's Refrigerator Pickles

Place in a 1/2 gallon jar with lid:
7 cups sliced cucumbers
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup sliced green peppers

Combine and pour over:
1 cup cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp celery seed
2 tsp salt

Cover and refrigerate 3 days.  Stir every day.  
After 3 days, the pickles may be packaged and frozen.
I have kept these in the refrigerator for several weeks
although they usually never last that long!