Thursday, 25 June 2015

Spectacular Hanging Baskets All Summer Long!

Baskets or planters starting to look a bit peaked in all this heat?

Here are some tips to help you keep your hanging baskets, moss baskets and planters looking fine now and all summer long.

Water well, till the water is liberally dripping from the bottom of the basket or planter.

Start by watering slowly in the centre, then water all around the inside edges of the basket.

Spray down the moss and thoroughly shower the foliage and flowers, too. This will help to wash off any bugs should you have some, plus help hydrate the basket/flowers.

Wash down all the foliage, flowers and moss, too
each time you water!

When you have watered all your baskets and planters till they are dripping, start from the beginning and do it all over again!

I might even do it a third time, especially if it starts to flow out the bottom much quicker than you think it should be.

Place into basin full of water to re-hydrate if your basket has dried out.

When peat based potting soil dries out, it shrinks up into a tight ball that the water is unable to easily penetrate. The water simply runs down the sides of the dry soil ball and out the bottom.

If your basket/planter has missed a watering or three and you now have that dry soil ball, you can re-hydrate it by placing it into a bucket or sink full of water for 3 to 12 hours.  

Most plants will pop back after a good long soak. If you have some liquid seaweed at home, add some to the water. Remove any plants that did not pop back, replace or leave that space and the others will soon fill it in.  

    This pic is in early summer this year (June 15th, 2015) ...
I fully expect them to be as good or better than the ones last year
by end summer. 
Keep in mind... The smaller your basket, the more often you are watering. Depending on the size, you may be watering every second day, every day, or it may even be twice a day!

These baskets here are 16" wide, so they are big ...  My general rule of thumb is to water every second day in spring, once a day on an average summer day, and twice a day, both morning and night if it is a 30 C day!  

This pic is last year, in early September 2014.

To keep your basket blooming, watering is not enough. Feed once a week with a bloom boosting fertiliser (higher middle number like a 15-30-15).

Never fertilise dry soil, always water your plant first. 

Spring 2015

Summer 2014

Friday, 19 June 2015

Mid-June in the Garden & Greenhouse

Here we are in the month of June but it already feels like mid-July! So much heat for so long and so many plants well ahead of schedule.

It has been so warm that my De Cicco Broccoli is going to seed... time to clip off all the yummy side shoots, blanch them, and toss them in the freezer to enjoy at a later date.
Harvest any of your veggies that are starting to bolt as it is very difficult to stop them once they have started. Better to replace them with some other veggie that likes the heat!

Now to decide what to plant in this broccoli's spot? Think maybe some lettuce and beans!

In the greenhouse, the eggplants have doubled in size and are putting on flowers. Yay! Flowers means fruits! 

Keep your eggplants and peppers on the dry side and they will really thrive!

Tomatoes in the greenhouse are well on their way... hope to have some ripe ones by the end of the month! I was late potting them up this year, but they have caught up really nicely!

Tomatoes in the greenhouse! With this heat, it is beneficial to soak down the floor of the greenhouse in the morning and also spray down the plant foliage at the same time (yep, I know, I never tell you to do this!). It helps cool things down ...without running your fan for hours on end.

Though tomatoes like sunshine and heat, they only need 6 to 8 hours of it per day. If yours are getting very wilty and the tips are curling down, they are too hot.   

Shade cloth that you can roll down or slide across is an even better idea. Saves on water and electricity.

The garlic has been lifted and is curing in the wood shed, about 3 weeks earlier than usual!

Lift yours when the bottom three leaves have gone yellow or brown. They do not get bigger if left in the ground longer!

Each leaf on the stem is also a wrapper/skin on your bulb. The more leaves you allow to yellow, the more skins your garlic will lose... until it splits wide open and thus is no longer able to be cured for storage. Can still be eaten, just will not cure.

This Italian soft neck garlic bulb was left in too long, so the skins have dried off. This bulb will not cure so cannot be kept as a storage bulb but is still totally edible! Use in the kitchen when making your fabulous Caesar salads!

Time to lift some early spuds for your Father's Day feast! Pictured here are Banana, Blue Russian, and Ama Rosa potatoes. Now, these are not your typical early spuds varieties, are in fact late spuds, but I had to lift them ... so we ate them ; )

In your garden, stick to the early varieties like Yukon Gold, Warba, and Red Norland. Lift a plant or two, as needed, for a lovely early baby potato dinner.

  Strawberries as far as the eye can see... or 40 feet, in this case ;) 

The huge Honeoye June-bearing strawberries are pretty much done for this year, but these Alpines are going strong! 

Ever bearing and day-neutral types are just starting to come into their own now, flowering and setting fruit. To keep your berries plump, juicy and producing really well, water every second or third day if possible, and/or mulch they well so that they retain moisture. 

We are so gonna be loaded for bear with berries this year ; )  

Herbs and flowers are super important in the organic kitchen garden. Not only do they add a pretty pop of colour, but are also a great draw for bees, plus the birds and beneficial insects that eat the bad bugs.

Still time to add all kinds of herbs and to sow Nasturtium seeds to your garden beds or pots. 

Borage is a terrific addition to every garden.... a real workhorse with so many applications... is a companion plant, a pop of colour, a pollinator attractor, and a cucumber flavoured, beautiful herb for drinks or salads. Plant it once and you will have it forever ; )

What seeds to sow now... 

Sprouting broccoli/broccolette/broccoli raab
Winter cabbage 

Happy gardening!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Organic Powdery Mildew Remedy

This drought has many of us facing powdery mildew on our roses already, so early in the year.

Powdery mildew on rose foliage and flower bud.

Make a milk and water solution that will choke out the mildew within a week or two.

1 part skim or low fat milk
9 parts water

Place in spray bottle and apply liberally to affected foliage. 

Thoroughly spray any affected areas with the milk solution, so that the mildew has been well coated.

Repeat in 3 or 4 days. You may need to do it yet one more time after that. Your mildew problems will be a thing of the past in just two or three applications.

This solution will work well on all plants with smooth leaves... tomatoes, peppers, shrubs, currants, and more, as it coats the spores and chokes them out.

It will not be quite as effective on hairy foliage, as it is unable to smother out the fungal spores, but will help slow down the mildew spread long enough for you to harvest your cukes and pumpkins.
Happy organic gardening! 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

June Ramblings

The first few days of June came in with grey skies, cool weather, and the hope of rain... which soon reverted back to blue skies, hot days, and no hope of rain.

One would generally think that would be reason to celebrate with much happy, happy, joy, joy... However, such is not the case here on the island. Our very dry winter and very dry spring has resulted in water restrictions a month earlier than usual, with bone dry garden beds and loads of heat!

If we can keeps things watered though, we and the gardens will thrive. All this lovely heat! My flip flop tan has been in place for weeks already ; ) 

My veggie washing station....
and the Red Ribbons tree form rose showing off it's colours.

What to do this month in the garden...

Water! .... Carefully : )
 I really like these flat weeping hoses with the canvas outer layer...
I find that the round weepers often get holes in them, very easily ... 
and then they blow huge holes into the garden beds!

Set up good drip watering system or weeping hoses and then mulch like mad to help retain moisture. These hoses/drip systems water at ground level, root level, and water deeply, thus lessening the number of times you need to water, with little to no evaporation or waste.

These slow drip methods penetrate deep into the ground, encouraging your vegetables to create great deep feeder roots. The process of watering deep and then allowing them go dry for a bit causes the roots to go in search of their own water source, while daily surface watering causes surface roots. The deeply rooted veggies will thrive, even in times of water restrictions and drought. 

How often do you need to water? Less than you think! As long as you water deeply when you do water...

Veggies like onions, carrots, beets (root crops), peas, beans, cole crops, and potatoes only need one good soak a week.
Tomatoes, cukes, kale and squash will need a good soak about every third or fourth day, but will also be fine with just once a week, if well mulched.     
Spinach, lettuce, radishes, and more, will need water every third day or so, however, may bolt if not kept shaded, cool and moist. Perhaps eliminate these guys when they bolt, and plant again in August or September instead?

Water in the morning, if you can, to further prevent evaporation, plus prevent fungal issues and risk of blight. If you must water in the evening, be very cautious to water at ground level only and not get the foliage wet. 

Water at ground level only... avoid wetting foliage.  

I actually really enjoy hand watering as I find it very peaceful and soul soothing. It also allows me to have a peek at what is going on in the garden while I water ... Radishes starting to bolt? Something being eaten by bugs? Time to pick those strawberries?! What is thriving, what is not ...

However, in times of drought like this, is best to save the hand watering for seeds and seedlings only, as they are at surface level, have no roots, and so require a daily soak to keep them moist for germination to occur. Do not let your newly sown seeds dry out during germination.   

Strawberries are ripening very quickly in this lovely heat. In order to keep them fruiting and the berries to be plump and sweet and juicy, water every second or third day, if possible. This applies to all berries when in season.

Still time to sow these seeds now ...

Veggies ...(from seed)

- Lettuce and spinach, sow new seeds often as they often bolt in the heat. If you have a part shade, shady bed, these guys will thrive in it. 
- Try another row or two of peas, esp if you have a part shade bed

- Add another row or two of beets
- Beans love this heat, plant lots
- Carrots
- Calabrese and other broccoli's

- Swede and turnips
- Corn
- Cucumbers
- Zucchini and other squashes

Herbs... (from seed)

- Basil
- Cilantro ... sow a few seeds every few weeks as they bolt in the heat.
- Dill, yum! Keep planting dill ; )
- Parsley

Flowers... (yep, also from seed)

- Cosmos
- Nasturtiums
- Sunflowers! 
- Zinnias! One can never have enough zinnias. Sow seeds till end month for a burst of colour in fall.

What else to do this month?

Lift your garlic!
I know it is a few weeks early, but check your garlic now! This year has been so warm and dry that the garlic is ready much sooner than usual.

Lift when the bottom three leaves are brown/yellow. Do not leave it longer even if you think your bulbs are too small. Leaving them in the ground too long will not make them get bigger, sadly, it will make them open and more prone to rot.

Each leaf on the garlic stem is actually a wrapper, a layer of skin on the bulb... if you allow too many to yellow, the garlic will lose all it's wrappers. An open garlic bulb will not cure for storage and must be used up within a few weeks. There is nothing wrong with the garlic, it just will not store. If you have many of these smiling bulbs, chop them up and freeze them.

For more information on garlic and how to cure it for storage, please see HERE!

Hill those spuds! Try to hill your potatoes twice each spring.

As the tops get 6 inches tall, cover them with soil, leaving just the 2" showing.
After the second time, you can leave them be, water once a week, and harvest early baby spuds for Mid-Summer! (Summer Solstice)

Feed tomatoes and peppers with Epsom salt once a month, especially if grown in pots. 
See the last post on organic feeding for more ideas on how to keep your tomatoes and other veggies thriving this summer.  

More specialised tomato and pepper growing information in a few days time... stay tuned.  

Till then, happy gardening, drink lots of water, water wisely, and harvest gleefully. 

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...