Can’t Just Toss Out

OK, so for years I have been lecturing about “Re-purposing, Up-cycling” things.. So here’s an idea, saved from the trash. I need to start some seeds, Paw Paw, Hardy Hibiscus, and Flying Dragon Citrus. All have hard outer shells, and need to either be scarified, or soaked to germinate. I found this “thing” in the trash. And, I am using it as a “mini greenhouse” to see if I can get anyone to sprout. We’ll see..

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A nice zip up bag, a couple of old hair curlers, also new in the bag, and wet soil. So we’ll see. Stop tossing growing stuff out!! This is Solarization as you want it to work?

Kevin@Kevinsgardden.com

 

Japanese Beetles Have Evolved?

Yes, I Think Japanese Beetles Have Evolved

So as the Summer progressed into some crazy heat, rain, cool, heat, more heat, rain, etc., the current waning El Nino has some last surprises for us. This is just a quick observation, from the last few weeks, of you all’s emails to me.

I have seen probably several hundred pics, cuttings in zip loc bags, descriptions, of “laced out leaves” on Roses and several other shrubs, over and over, with your explanations (and some expletives ), of how these plants were so healthy when you left on vacation. Now, the longest was about 10 days, the shortest, was 2. I heard about how you watered thoroughly, set a timer, had the neighbor, water, and yet, you came home to laced our plants, and not a sign of any insect. Some in only 2 days now..

So, I think these Japanese Beetles have evolved. I believe, and you can comment if you want, but I know, they know, when you are leaving. They watch you pack your vehicle, and the word goes out. The hoards are mating somewhere else, driven by the females, and they wait. When your vehicle is out of sight, the radar goes full, and they ascend on your property with a vengeance. Now, what kind of “thing” is so coordinated in an attack, that we succumb to their cunning ways?

I saw this last year first hand, as I was enlisted by one of my clients to water her gardens while she was in Maine for 3 weeks. First week, all OK.. Watered all in, pulled some weeds, and left. The next week she texted me and had been watching the weather, said their was a few storms that week, and I should wait until the following week to water again. OK, was a 30 mile round trip for me anyway, with 2 hours on her property. So the 3rd week, I went out, and couldn’t recognize the place. So I texted her about 15 pics, of the total destruction. So, are these infidels actually intercepting, texts?

I know it’s not a funny subject, but it is funny that this year, maybe because more are going on vacation, that maybe, we should recognize, time frames of the cycles of insects, before we plan our trips…. No Personal Garden Coach wants you to fail, and you don’t want to quit, we won’t let you. This is a cool link to get your Phenology butt in gear, things to watch for, to time your treatments. Just remember, the best timeto treat for Grubs, is Labor Day, and treat first, where the Japanese Beetles were the most destructive. That’s where the eggs are. Then spread outward from there. Don’t contaminate your “edibles” with any chemical. Treat around the beds, not in.

Look at them in the active state now if you have Japanese Beetles. Several “clumps’ of them. They are mating, and as that clump hits the ground, the Males crawl off and die, and she lays 7 eggs, over and over again. Then they hatch in September, move out towards your tender lawn roots, and there ya go, looks like fungus, but not!!

Anyway, have a safe vacation, get me a t shirt or a bumper sticker, since I’m not going anywhere this year.. Watching for the Beetles!!!

Hay Bale Gardening, Sounds Great, But…

A few years ago I wrote an article for passing on info about using free composted manure and issues about crop failure in gardens. Got a lot of emails about it. So here it is again, but a little further.

I had some folks, who were Horse Farm folks, trying to do the Organic thing, by using their horses manure in their beds, flowering, shrubs, veggies, and all of them had the same failures, damages. They were thinking about selling it to the public as well, which was also why I was there, to help them get started. So I was at one of the farms, and a few of the friends were their, hammering me with questions, had to wait until I had an opening to ask this…

“Where do you get your hay”. They all looked at me like I was just trying to change the subject, a few disputed my gardening knowledge, kinda got heckled a bit so I asked again… Crickets…. Then one blurted out, “We all get our hay from the same guy, what’s that got to do with our dead gardens”?

Now there was some wine drinking going on, and if any of you other writers have tried to get in a word with this type of group, then you feel my pain. Took several times of me just asking the same question.

So then I started on chemicals, how they work, what they attack, their break down times, lingering effects, and more wine was opened, then when I saw I was finally losing them, I grabbed a bottle of wine, and as I walked amongst them, refilling their glasses, now they are quiet, I stated, “These chemicals are in the hay, absorbed through the plant, and then eaten by your horses, and is eliminated through their urine and fecal matter…. It’s in the manure for up to four years, and killing your plants”. Hmm. I was looking for the door now, seemed it was all of a sudden my fault. So I suggested someone call this “Hay Guy” and ask if there were chemicals used in his crops. You can say you are “Organically Grown“, but if anyone asks specifically, by Federal Law, you have to disclose what chemicals if any. So you folks that have a lawn service, you have the right to know what the chemical is when they hang that thing on your door, “Treated for weeds…”. Also you Water Gardening people, if you use baled Barley Straw in your pond to control Algae, same thing. Ask…… I have heard of retention ponds, sterile, devoid of life a few feet up into the marginals, except for grassy weeds.

So, back to the manure, one of them called, asked, got kinda verbally abusive, hung up, looked at me and asked, “OK, so now what do we do”? “Make new Veggie gardens, the chemicals are splashing onto the leaves when it rains, killing all your Broad Leaf Veggies”. That’s when I pointed across the room, yelled out, “LOOK, something shiny!”, and left.

So you see where I’m going with the Hay Bale thing? Your plants are above the hay, so no worries about killing them from the chemicals used during the producing the hay crop, Oh, did I say chemicals in the hay crop? Your plants are absorbing these chemicals, also leaching thru to the soil they are on, contaminating your surroundings, and you are eating them. Doesn’t sound very Organic to me. Same thing with Pallet Gardening, unless it’s a heat treated pallet with an HT branded on it, well you’re eating that chemical too.

If you want more info, here is one of the articles I had already read a few years before I stepped foot on this horse farm, yes, I came packin’! Kinda knew what the outcome was from the concerns from their original complaint. When I arrived there, saw the dead gardens, I knew. I even made a small bucket of Manure Tea from the soil in the Veggie Garden, poured it on some weeds, and said wait a week, see if they die. They did. So if you are doing the Hay Bale thing, make some “Hay Tea” first, try it on some weeds, if they die, well…

Just a side note of concern, If you are doing the Organic Thing, and you use Corn Gluten to suppress weeds, you need to think about your veggies absorbing it as well. Make sure your family or guests know you use it, in case they have Celiac Disease, it can trigger health problems, they can’t ingest Corn Gluten. It’s in the plant. I know a few folks that this happened to, as they tried to be Organic. Just think about it.

Is Manure Tea, The Right Way?

Making Manure Tea, The Safe Way

There are hundreds of recipes out there for making Manure Tea. The last decade or so, some issues are arising, and I have been caught up in the middle several times by readers, clients, audiences.. My recipe is included below, but here’s the seemingly abundant issue coming in large with those who are trying to stay on the Organic side.

“My garden dies off after a few weeks of planting. I top dress with old horse manure (or cow),in the Winter, and everything dies except my Onions, Dill, Celery, or any other “stalky” types, seems that anything like Tomato, Squash, Cucumber, Pepper, Melons, Herbs, etc., just die an early death”…

Well here’s the deal. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in someones kitchen as they make the call to their manure supplier, to call their hay supplier, to get back to them, about this. “Do you use 2-4d on your hay to kill Broad leaf Weeds, to make it a more pure crop?”
“Yes”…… Federal law, they have to tell you, they don’t need to disclose it, but they have to tell you if asked, now ain’t that something?

Now, I’ve seen a few, go just super ballistic after they tell me the outcome. My issue is, I’ve tested manure in several composted piles at several ranches, and made Manure Tea, applied it to several different plants, and if all the broad leaf plants that died, well, the answer from the hay farmer was right, they used the chemical. That chemical, can be eliminated by the animal in their waste, and can linger in their waste, for four years, if there is no broad leaf plant (Tomato, Vinca, etc.) to consume it. It’s in the garden bed, in the manure, and as it rains, or watered, it splashes onto the leaf of the plant, and kills it…… Same as Weed and Feed, in your lawn, FOUR YEARS. Barefoot in the lawn is not so attractive anymore is it? Stop using it, you can get better results by “spot treating” with a spray, or feed at the right times. You won’t promote weeds, there’s always another chemical in the next AD to counter, what was promoted wrong.

Just educate yourself folks, ask!!! All you have to say to privately owned is “are there any chemicals in the product”? And they have to disclose. Some actually use Glyphosate (Round-Up) to kill the whole crop at the same time so it’s more “pure”, no greens left.

Now, here’s the twist, bagged goods labeled “Organic”. Look at the label, adds up to what, about 85%? On the flip side, by Federal Law, these Vendors only have to claim as 85% Organic, the other 15%, they don’t have to tell you, they can add what ever they want, to stay ahead of the other guy. And don’t have to tell you. Money thing, Monsanto stockholders, most of our Government owns this stock, all the way to the White House, and placing the outcome on our dinner tables, recreational areas, water.. What do they care, they are making millions.

My recipe.

Black Cow Manure or Chicken Manure

A little Milorganite

Bio-Tone

Bt Israeli

Lavender Leaf

4″ Drainage Pipe cover and coffee can.

I take a piece of the “sock” and tie one end off, place it in a coffee can, cut it so it drapes over the side. Pack full with the manure, add 1/4 cup of Bio-tone, a little Milorganite, 5 or 6 pieces of Lavender leaf, and sprinkle a little Bt. Tie the open end with a longer string, about 18″, and pull out the “Tea Bag”.

This bag will treat a 5 gallon bucket about 5 times refilled. Let it steep about a week each refill.

TEST it on a weed at first batch!! You never know if there may have been a chemical introduced in your products. If the weed grows, good batch, if it dies, spray your driveway or wherever you have weeds.

The Milorganite will supply Iron, as well as a critter deterrent, as well as the Lavender. Bt, will keep Mosquito Females from being able to coagulate blood, for her eggs, Bio-tone, promotes root strength and growth.
Free Manure can kill your broad leaf live goods. They don’t want it, they want it gone, and then the deciphering about the non-success you had is buried way back in the conception of you wanting to be “Organic” . Test a batch first, make the decision after.

Ask questions.

That Solarize Thing

So how did your Solarized bed do? Mine fried like I wanted it to. If you missed the Frost last week, I believe you will have another chance on April 3rd on the Eastern Seaboard, just watch your weather, and remember when the weatherman says, “Cover your tenders” then uncover your Solarized bed.

Uncovered the evening before Frost

Uncovered the evening before Frost

 

Next afternoon after Frost

Next afternoon after Frost. And will Continue to die off.

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Wait! Don’t Throw That Out!! Part XXVI ?

For over two decades I have been trying to get folks, either in the Water Gardening realm, to the Grow it Yourself people, NOT to toss out things that could be a sustainable “Growing Medium”. See my events about Seed Starting in Dryer Lint, shoes, pocketbooks, etc., if you forget. Even the “never before now always” composters are finding out about the gold they had been tossing out for ever. So now, again, the mysterious “Grow Bags”. I go to clients homes, and sometimes on trash or re-cycle days, and right there, right there, in their trash are the very things they are going to buy, the very thing, I am there to talk with them about. Growing stuff.

So here’s some of the things, I save, to grow in. Balcony Gardening, starting seeds, whatever. If I find it, I’ll grow in it. So should you!

First is an up-cycled store rack. Great for balcony Gardening. Balcony Garden 5

Ask your grocery store, if they are tossing any racks. Grow in it.

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Next is the “Grow Bags“. But FREE bags. Grocery Store wine bags, the ones they give you. There’s even a hanging Tomato Plant there. It is inside a pot with a slit and hole cut in it inside the bag for support. Just picture it upside down in the bag. Fill with soil. Same material the expensive bags are made of.

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Then we get to some other things like Onion Bags with Okra growing in it, Old water jugs with Tulips, some kind of canvas bags I found with Herbs, used clear salad containers, water bottles for cuttings, those clear zip up things that quilts, sheets come in make great Cold Frames or Hardening Off containers… Well, the list is very long. I even use my old spice containers for seed starting. Different spices, different holes, different seeds. And of course, there’s Dryer Lint for starting seeds.

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So what happens when I show up at a clients home anyway? First is the issues they contacted me about, and seasonal timing. A plan is made, instructions and education. After that, any concerns about future projects. Of course, if it can be re-used, it will be. Don’t go to the dump just yet. I may see the very thing in the pile you would need. Balcony Garden People can find a host of items everyday to up-cycle. Either with other tenants, or in the community trash. Everything will look like a container. If you think you need a Personal Garden Coach, then get one. Most, like myself, even do community groups like Apartments, Clubs, and Cul-de-sac classes.

Don’t forget to sign up for my Monthly Newsletter at http://www.Kevinsgarden.com. Email me your pics of your projects as well at Kevin@Kevinsgarden.com. You can also find me on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf-TfudVKyD56l_F77dH01A. Somewhere on my website I still have Outtakes if you need a laugh.

Solarizing a Garden Bed, Part II

If you have been following the articles of mine about weed and insect abatement, you may like this. A few weeks ago, I posted an article about Solarizing a bed. I had pics of mine, and we had some cold weather, a random 70 degree day weekly, and lots of sunny days. In the time from the last article, things grew and hatched under the plastic. I checked the soil temp a few times, and found outside the bed was hovering around 52 degrees at 4 inches, but in the bed, a nice 61 degrees at 4 inches. Yep, things were happening under there. I could even see bug trails on the underside of the plastic in the moisture. We had here in Richmond, a hard freeze late Sunday night/early Monday morning, and I uncovered my “horizontal greenhouse” Sunday evening. The temp got down to 21 degrees that morning, and Ma Nature didn’t let me down. Lots of things got fried. Hopefully the coming season will be kinder, weed and bug wise. Simple steps most times can help alleviate bad things later, or at least get me ahead of the game. Even the new compost volunteers fried, there were some in the middle about 2 weeks ago, saw them thru the plastic!!

DSCN1416First Day around March 3rd.

005Pulled off plastic around March 28th, then had hard freeze/frost.

009Looking pretty special now. Cooked!! and getting worse.

Usually I would leave on for about 6 weeks, but watching the weather, looks like a good while of lows only in the 40’s here, so I wanted to fry what was there. Notice the thicker weed ring around most of the bed, where the plastic overhang the bed. It will finish up dead in a few more days too. Stuff really works. Now it’s easier to lessen any chemical useage, and hopefully the companion plantings are gonna work as well for the future months. Next article is about Companion Planting.

As always you can visit http://www.Kevinsgarden.com and sign up for the monthly newsletter and keep up with my antics, and what you should be doing now.

 

 

February Is Cold, But How Warm?

February Solar Temps Compared To Ambient?

Here in Richmond, Va., we have finally gotten a Winter Blast that reminds us it’s still, Winter. But, we have also achieved about an hour and 20 minutes of daylight. Check your gained time here at the USNO website, just fill in the blanks. What’s that mean to a gardener? Well, it’s like this. The angle of the Sun is rocketing from low in the South, back to East, basically. The soil temps from this angle is warming up. By the time Forsythia blooms in March, we will have 2 hours gained. But the ambient temp now is around 11, and the real feel is about 0 to -4. Was worse the other day, and tonight, worse yet. But the Sun is helping in this February blast.

Last week I had pipes freeze. No way to get anything to the well house and tank to apply heat. so, I took a digital thermometer and placed in the shade a few minutes, and as it got down to 50 degrees or so, I then put it in the direct Sun. It jumped up to 75 degrees. Now, I have done this next thing before, and it works. I took 3 large mirrors, and pointed them all at the inlet pipe and accumulator tank under the house. Had to readjust every 45 minutes or so, but from around 11:30 to 2:30, the water came back. The well house is on the North side of this old house. I could feel the heat every time I stepped in front of the mirrors, and it was warm inside that pump house. Pic below is of my endeavors. The pipe is behind tank.

Frozen

The next thing I had to try after the snow, was to see if on the same North side, if I could use the same method melting an ice dam. Here’s the pics of that chore. Before and after, about 3 hours time. Just an experiment, wasn’t going to do them all!!

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What’s this have to do with Gardening? Everything. For Hoop Houses, Green Houses, Cold Frames, Solarizing your beds, if you can’t get heat to them in an untimely cold blast, find a mirror and use the Sun to your advantage. Place a few jugs of water inside, and point the mirrors at the jugs. They will get to 75 degrees this time of year. There, that’s it. A little work, but save the crops and your work if you get caught in the ice.

 

Growing in Strange Things, Still a Garden, Right?

So the last polling of a few social groups, and again, out in town from just plain folks I caught in the “Gardening Mood”, I have compiled yet another list. This time it was “What is the weirdest thing you have ever planted in?” They range from things to stuff, and a few were actually done by many. Here is the responses.

A mixture of compost, native dirt, egg shells, kitchen waste and beard when shaved off,  grew hens n chicks in a pair of Victorian high top ladies shoes, the kitchen sponge (and there were many replies), dryer lint, bean plant growing up out of the drain after a camping trip, Parrot food caught in the drain, sprouted, gave back to Parrots. Is that “up-cycle or re-cycle?” Newspaper strips and a hat, Baby Carriage, sand box as a kid with nice corn, 55 gallon plastic barrel and burlap bag full of elephant poop, a commode (several replies, and all in the front yard), old sinks, a maple tree sapling growing out of a joint in a bike, Marijuana around a police station, this was an answer I swear, wash rag after cleaning up salad counter, wheel barrows, old garden carts, and 2 used old grills so they didn’t have to bend over. A “Bagster”, cinder blocks, light bulbs, birds nest, Wasp nest, abandoned of course, Conch Shells, and remember that “Talking Bass” years ago? Well, someone used that too. A few tree stumps, forgotten culled bulbs that grew next season every which way in the bag and another in the box, shot glasses, jeans, socks, onion bags, bones, jars, purses, spike heels, tires, and disposable diapers. Holes and cruxes in trees, old fountains, fire pits, lamp shades, steer manure bags, straight coffee grounds, with success. Then there was, “Children”… But then this explanation, which I had completely forgotten about, which went… “But, then again, you could read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle who used the Radish Cure for getting a child to bathe … she planted radish seeds on the kiddo and they sprouted!” I never did that with mine, but would have bet it would work sometimes.

The way I see it, if Ma nature can grow a Maple tree in a bicycle joint, then everything is open game to plant in.

Garden Center Clearance Time?

Seed Catalogs are in the mail, compost is cooking, dreams and plans for the coming seasons are dancing in gardeners heads. All consuming our thoughts and making us just a bit distant to our friends. I myself have been out to the spent paradise, overlooking it’s new abilities. It’s Winter demise is actually picturesque to me, and I still get that Horticultural Therapy. I have my phone with me, looking at the pictures from last year as I am out there, planing.

But the big picture, the leftover products at box stores. The items in the overheads and last 3 things on a shelf, prices falling because they are discontinued from the new seasons product lines. Vendors don’t want them back, most times, and the store receives no credit. They get what they can, as the price tumbles, then toss in the compactor when the price is low enough to take the hit. Where does this leave you?

If you go to a big box store, and see the clearance items that are on the, let’s say, “Pot Wall”, the yellow “was/now” stickers, maybe there is a deal, or just the thing you were looking for. Same as the Hose Aisle, Bird Seed, Tools, and bagged goods, maybe even the Hard Scape Aisle. But in any case, with a little detective work, you can find some better deals. These aisles haven’t been as high maintained since late October, because of the Christmas Crash, and most of those other spots are considered “out of season”… Are ya seein’ it yet? OK, then here’s more. Most all of the merchandise for those aisles have been consolidated to the overhead where they belong on the racks. MOST box stores have been thru an inventory lately, so all the boxed freight in the overhead is plainly marked. Write down the SKU  or item number you see on a weathered box, search for it on the shelves, if you don’t see it, find an employee with one of those fancy phones and ask what the price is for that number. Maybe it’s not exactly what you want, maybe it will do, maybe, it’s a heck of a find.

On the fertilizer aisles, either large bags or the smaller boxed, check there too. Most, again, most of those stores can’t toss hazmat items away, and if it has gone to $.01, they most likely give it to you, it costs them a huge amount to send in a hazmat truck, away… Check the Chemical Wall too, same thing. Look in the overhead for anything that says, “Promo” anything. Then find that kid with that crazy phone.

It’s Gardening Deal time at the box stores. Right now, Christmas is on final clearance, there are Storage Events happening along with Vanities, etc, so no Gardening stuff is coming in yet. They aren’t even thinking about March. So give it a try, on the down-lo, see if you find some real deal goodies. You may even find some cheap racks in Flooring, and Light Fixtures in the Light Cloud. It’s time for deals folks!!