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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Grow on That Balcony

No Sense Listening To That Box Store Jockey

You wanna grow? Anything? On that 4×11 Balcony? Free food, great greenery? How about you Townhomies? Patio and then a long narrow strip?

I got you, been growing in small spaces for years. There are so many ways to grow food, have that sweet garden surrounding you, just outside those patio doors.

…and, cheap… Lots of “things” about, that are in the “go away” part of life. We can do it. Up-cycle those things.

http://www.Kevinsgarden.com

or… email me at Kevin@Kevinsgarden.com

Ideas you never imagined. This is the time of year we connect greatly at your Community Center. Just get the neighbors, get a time, we’ll get dirty together. Some complexes actually have competitions, others grow in sun, as the others grow in shade, and the community, trades, as the season progresses.

Think about it, get that co-op together, I’ll show you too.

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!!

DSCN1356DSCN1359DSCN1362

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.

 

Apartment Balcony Gardening

Balcony Gardening Basics

So you live in an apartment and want to have a garden of some sort. I can help with the basics, and get you growing, vertical. If you can’t grow down, grow up! It’s easy after you see what you can do, simple things as daylight, racks, space, and a host of more info can be learned by hiring a Personal Garden Coach. I have helped masses of community gardeners convert their blank canvas space into a balcony oasis. Water features, veggies, and several low profile gardens.

If you are interested in hiring me, within 10 miles of Glen Allen, Va., I am available for the month of February for Balcony Gardening. If you have a few in your community who are interested, get with your community manager and let’s have a group lecture. Fees vary from one-on-one to groups of 10 or more. February is the time for Small Space Gardeners, and if you want to start your veggies indoors, we will cover all that as well.

Email me at Kevin@Kevinsgarden.com to discuss having classes.

Farmers Almanac Links

My links to the Farmers Almanac. Newest one out now about Seed Starting, there is an error in editing, but I emailed them about fixing it. Sorry!!

http://farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2014/08/25/putting-beds-bed/
http://farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2014/10/13/october-gardening-chores/
http://farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2014/11/03/rake-not-rake/
http://farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2014/12/29/garden-damage-control/
http://farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2015/01/30/seed-starting-basics/

 

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!!

How Much $$ are YOU Saving?

Composting, Leaf Mold, and Saving Seeds

Some believe that as December hits, gardening has been well done. Not me. I’m still getting ready for late Winter. I said Late Winter, that’s March. This years garden was very late because of moving. I didn’t get the plot plowed until late July and it was in a rocky, clay, first time tilled spot. But I had “debris” that the last tenant just blew aside. I found some gold, and ate for free for the most part. Next year, all free.

My compost pile is doing very nice. My roommate and I are continuing to contribute to its mass. We have a simple coffee can on the counter, and most everything we don’t use, is in there. It’s amazing how I see my compost as “The other garden” as it grows. And, It’s free. Also, as the Summer Garden dwindled, all that green litter, went into it, again, free. Towards the end of Summer, veggies were growing in it from seed, and Celery, Parsnip, Turnip end cuts were re-growing. That, lets me know it’s good stuff when it supports itself.

Compost (1)The pic doesn’t do it justice. From just a cleared out spot in the yard in July, you can now see it from the house an acre away. And it is all garbage to some, but gold to us. Funny that some folks who have been here just look at me and say, “You’re kidding right?” Nope, just a weekly trip out with that coffee can.

 

 

 

For a lot of people leaves are such a misunderstood item. I have always used mine, no matter where I’ve lived. I recently wrote an article for Farmers Almanac about Raking vs Mulching leaves. Just makes sense to re-use them, they are free too. When I’m done with what I need, I give the rest away. They are already mulched, and ready to be amended into a garden or use as mulch. So much nutrients in those free leaves. And, you can’t buy them at a box store. Think about how a tree in the woods is fed. No one goes out there and tosses Miracle Gro at them. A tree drops its leaves all around its base for the most part and the leaves naturally compost into its feeder roots. As I mulch mine when they first start falling into my lawn, I am adding a valuable amendment into my lawn.

Leaf MoldAs they start falling harder, I start bagging with my mower, and save for my beds, especially the veggie garden. In around mid February, I will add as a top dress to the garden, and turn in about mid March, when I will “Solarize” that bed. Solarizing is cool, I have an article around here somewhere.

 

 

 

Saving seeds has always been a must for me. I don’t like buying them, especially now because of the GMO debacle. Towards the end of the seasons, I collect one or two veggies off each plant and save those seeds, herbs, I let bloom a bit, and save them, Fall crops just need to bolt, and there are seeds. I have them in individual marked zip-loc bags, and I am saving also, all my dryer lint thru the year for starting those Tomatoes and Peppers in late February indoors. Search for the dryer lint article or hit this link when I was on TV about it.

So as I wait for the coming season, I am already ahead in the wallet department. All of my efforts, just simple doings, will save me money, and I will eat free. From the size of my compost, seed allotment, leaf mold, which also has free nutrients, I will be around $200 ahead with free stuff. And, I know what is in all the materials I use. No chemicals, growth hormones, mystery stuff. I know what I am eating all the time. So can you. Truly organic is what you control. Just because the bag is labeled as such, it’s really only 85% “organic”. Read the ingredients, there is mostly another 15% missing….

March in Richmond Garden Time

March In
Richmond, Va.

Here we are in March, Richmond Va. wondering… Or are
we?
Most of the “Gardeners” here know, It’s go time. Others, wait for the
media, to say “GO”.  I’m sorry if you wait, we “Dirt Folks” , are ahead of you.

For the last few weeks, we have been watching birds, plants, sky color, and
aching bones, additional 2 1/2 hours extra daylight, to see when we need to go.
It’s now. Believe us.
OK, lemme clue you in. As the sky turns more blue from
grey, we start pruning what we didn’t finish in the Fall. We always know, there
will be another snow, and we count on it. Robins showing up, and neighbors
finally taking down old Christmas decor… Garden prep time is here.
It’s
March. What needs to be done now, needs to be done ri If you haven’t pruned your
Roses, get that done. Crape Myrtles are this month as well. Last ditch effort on
those tired ornamental grasses. Lawn? Pre-Emergent, NOW!! Sorry if you don’t get
that done if you follow our Lawn Sheet.. It will cost you more in about 45 days.
Way more.
Clean out any old fruit litter you may have missed. Have Stink
Bugs? They love old decaying fruit litter, so maintenance of your beds is
important.
Let’s talk lawn tools for a second. Oil them, sharpen them, or buy
new stuff. There. That’s it. You can’t build a house with a rusty screwdriver
and half a hammer. Can’t cook, with a 2 tined fork and 3 cracked glasses. Can’t
update your Facebook without a, well, I guess you can, but you get it.

By Now, if you started seeds indoors already, you are ready to feed
those babies. In a few days, they will be ready to take out and start hardening
off. If you haven’t, it’s now. Peppers, Tomatoes, Eggplant and Onions for the
summer garden. Cold Crops? Why are you waiting. GO. NOW. They are showing up in
plant form now in nurseries, so go ahead, plant them.
Garden Prep time is
now too. Solarizing beds starts now.

Solarizing Gardens
Solarizing is
simple.First thing is to finish clearing out your old beds. Rake out old rows
and fill in furrows. Till if you must, just be careful it’s not too wet, because
you can actually cause a compaction issue.  Add more compost if you have it or
need it. Top dress with about a quarter inch of composted manure. Add a little
10-10-10 and a little lime, then water. Cover the entire bed with clear plastic
and place bricks or lumber around to hold in place. After a few weeks you will
see new gtowth from weeds and old veggie seeds, bugs will hatch as well. It’s
ok, it’s supposed to. Around early April, you should be growing and hatching the
bad stuff really good. Watch the weather and when you see the frost warnings
come out, simply take the plastic off that evening and let Ma Nature fry
everything that night. There. Done. This will give you a head start on no
chemicals for a while. That was easy.

Indoor Plants
March
is also a great time to re-pot those tired indoor tropicals. Always add new
potting mix as the old falls out when breaking up the rootballs. Go up one pot
size to get more production from them, or separate the babies sprouting out for
new pots. Time to start feeding again thru the season. Use insecticidal soap
solutions to treat for bugs. water good the first time after re-potting to help
settle the new soil.

Water Garden
Folks
I know its a hard
chore but it needs to be cleaned out too. Remove the leaf netting now and skim
out what you can. Don’t start feeding those fish until the water temp stays
above 58 degrees. If you had moved the pump closer to the water fall for Winter,
it’s time to put it back in the far end to get complete circulation now. Check
for new shoots on those plants, it’s time to propogate them as well.

In case you missed my
WWBT segment on “More bang for your buck” it’s out on their website
now.

The Waiting Is The Hardest

I’ts the 11th of March, and again, i will be in the 70’s/80’s this week. I can only assume that the numbers and superfluous data that i’m seeing, we have a big snow coming around the 23rd or so.. But I want to garden. Mostly in the big bed, but also I want to plant in some repurposed
items. I have been collecting some things since the fall, I only hope I can find them all!! I don’t usually rhyme on purpose, but I’ve been up since 4:10. No wait, it’s Daylight Savings Time, my most favorite holiday, so it’s actually right now 4:00 a.m. , instead of 5…

We’ve been starting to get some of the experimental seedlings out of the dryer lint and into some actual soil. They did great. There is a nice rolling rack that gets the harden-off-ready pots out everyday now when it’s nice out. The Chandelier is planted and manure tea is getting good. Go to my Picasa Pics entry to see more pics. We’re having some fun now…..