Thursday, 13 July 2017

July Greenhouse Ramblings

#greenhouseramblings #inmybcgreenhouse #greenhousegrowing

I am starting something new and exciting this month. Have been mulling this around for a bit, and so, in addition to the monthly Garden Ramblings post, will also be writing up a monthly Ramblings for all you greenhouse growers, or potential future greenhouse growers.

As with the 'Garden Ramblings', will be all about what to do each month, how and why I am doing it, plus any concerns, issues or problems that arise, joys and successes. Whatever is going on at the time, I will let you know about it.  

Therefore, without further ado... this is what is going on in my greenhouse this month.

Summer has finally arrived on the island, plants are starting to grow and thrive in the heat and sunshine. I think my peppers and tomatoes shot up several inches in just the last few days. Amazing! 

Tomatoes are forming, pepper plants are flowering and making lovely wee peppers. 

Tomatoes and cucumbers are strung up to the rafters. The strings support the plants, and their fruits, keeping them off the ground and easy to harvest.    

The melons are lounging on tables so that the fruits can simply grow on the tabletops without worrying about supports. This is my first year trying it this way, usually they, too, are strung up.

July tasks...

Watering. Container grown tomatoes and peppers are more prone to BER (Blossom End Rot) than garden grown ones. BER is not a disease, is a calcium deficiency caused by inconsistent watering.  

If you do get some BER, not to worry, just remove the affected fruits, toss into the compost bin, and adjust your watering schedule. Most people are over watering rather than under watering, so cut back a bit, get more consistent, and the problem will soon correct itself.

My peppers and eggplants are grown in three gallon pots, and watered once a week. Tomatoes and cucumbers are in 5 gallon pots and watered every two to three days. When you do water, make sure to thoroughly soak them, go over them several times.  

For more information on how to water and successfully grow really great peppers, check out last month's blog post HERE!  

The melons seem to require more water and dry out faster. I want big, fat melons, so I water them every second day. Sweet potatoes are in huge pots and watered only when dry, they prefer to kept on the dry side.

#pepperslikeepsomsalts #epsomsaltinthegarden 

Feeding. Both tomatoes and peppers benefit from a tablespoon of Epsom salts every 4 to 6 weeks. This is less important for garden grown plants, but potted ones soon use up most all the nutrients in the potting soil, and thus need to be fed more often. Epsom salts are a source of minerals, mainly magnesium and sulphur, which help keep the foliage dark green and healthy, aid in preventing BER, and best of all, increase yields.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so should be fertilised every week or two with an organic liquid feed, manure tea, or liquid seaweed. Peppers, once a month or as needed.

You can also top dress the pots with a scoop of manure, so they are fed each time you water.  

Eggplants receive the same care as peppers.

#soakyourfloors #cooldownthegreenhouse #toohotistoohot

Care and maintenance. You absolutely need good ventilation and air movement in a greenhouse. Most greenhouse packages come with vents that open automatically as the greenhouse warms up, they are fantastic for easily letting out all that excess heat. If you built your own, leave all the windows open, on both sides, for a cross breeze. Ideally, you have a door in both front and back that can be left open all summer long for a cross draft. Easy and cost effective ventilation.

This time of year it is super important to let out that excess heat and move the air around. Most plants will not be happy if it is too hot, and tomatoes will actually go sterile. I use both an oscillating fan than hangs down from a beam, plus a built in exhaust fan with programmable thermostat. The smaller one is turned on to move the air around, as needed, while the exhaust fan kicks in when it hits whatever temp I have set it at. I like to keep it at 80°F but sometimes that means the fan runs all day, so then I bump it up to 90°F.

#shadecloth #bcgreenhousebuilders

To help conserve energy, water your floors once or twice a day on smoking hot days. This will help a bit, so that your fan does not run non-stop.

If you would like to conserve on both power and water, invest in shade cloth.. dark mesh fabric panels that go on the outside of the greenhouse to provide relief from the blazing hot sun. This will keep your fan from going off constantly and keep your tomatoes from over-heating.

Yes, I have seen the pictures on Pinterest of sheer white curtains hanging romantically in greenhouses. While they won't actually cool down the greenhouse or create any shade, they sure do look pretty. Use them for the look, the ambiance, but please get shades if you actually need shade ; )  
*Shade cloth can be ordered through most greenhouse companies. I ordered mine from BC Greenhouse Builders.

   Clay pots not only look good, plants love them. 

Flowers and such... Flowers and herbs will likely require near daily water and flowers should be fed every week or two to keep them blossoming. Use a fertiliser with a higher middle number to promote blooms, like a 15-30-15.

Pot up olives and citrus trees into pots that breathe, like these super inexpensive natural terra cotta (clay) ones. Keep olives, lemons, limes, all citrus fruits, on the drier side, watering twice a week.

A clean greenhouse is a healthy greenhouse. 

Pest/disease control. Keep things clean! If you keep your greenhouse clean, you will have a whole lot less issues with bugs or diseases. Sweep regularly, hose down walls for dust and debris, scrub/disinfect areas where fungal spores or bugs might live and multiply.   

Remove yellow, brown, or spotted foliage. Most of the time it will just be the older, bottom leaves dying off, a natural process. However, leaf issues may also indicate bugs or fungal diseases. By removing those leaves right away, you may prevent a small issue from becoming a big one.  

Do NOT use yellow stick strips in the greenhouse in summer while you have hummingbirds, bees, ladybugs, and other critters coming and going. They trap anything that gets too close, not just the bad guys.

Aphids and whitefly are generally the most common summertime greenhouse pests. For aphids, I will first try a strong jet of water to blast them off the plants. If that does not work, if they are persistent, I resort to Safer's Insect Soap spray. Whitefly is much harder to eradicate. If you get them, just try to keep your greenhouse really clean and use the Safer's Soap once a week. Do a really thorough clean up in fall... empty out the greenhouse, clean and sanitise everything, then put out the yellow sticky strips.

As always, I had too much to share and the post ended up longer than intended ; )

Happy greenhouse growing! 
Hope you enjoyed the first Greenhouse Ramblings post! 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

July Garden Ramblings

Summer has arrived on the island, and with it comes the annual drought season.

So... what are we doing this month? Watering and watering some more, of course ; ) 

 Grow Great Garlic
Watering everything ... except the garlic, that is. These last few weeks before you lift your garlic, let them go dry, do not water. Too wet soil and too wet garlic may mean rotten or mouldy bulbs, and garlic that does not cure well. 

For more information about garlic, when to harvest, and how to know when it is ready to go, see HERE!   

Watering the garden

Do not water from above! This promotes diseases and fungal issues, keep your foliage dry. Water slow and deep with drip tubes or weeping hoses.

Deep watering promotes deep roots, which means healthier, sturdier plants that can withstand the hot, dry summers we have.

Deep water slowly once or twice a week, depending on the veggie. 

Once a week... potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, peppers, eggplants, corn, herbs, cabbage, kale, leeks, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips...
Twice a week ... tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, strawberries, peas, beans, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and greens ...

Tomatoes in the back and broccoli going to seed in the front. 

What else to do this month? 

Pull your weeds. Everything is growing nicely in all this sunshine, including the weeds! Do not till them under or you perpetuate the problem. Water them first to make it easier to get the entire root out, and pull, pull, pull. Do not put flowering weeds into the compost bin.

As you lift bolting veggies and harvest ready crops, fill empty spaces with new seeds or transplants. Seeds are easy to sow and easily found, whereas transplants can be pretty hard to find this time of year. Try your local farmers market for time appropriate veggie starts. They know what they are talking about! If they are not selling them now, then this is not the time to be planting them ; )

Planted these seeds today. 

I am currently harvesting turnips, peas, broccoli, and the garlic, little by little. Cauliflower is just about ready for harvest, too. I have not yet pulled the sprouting broccoli even though the tops are flowering, as they are still making more yummy sprouts down below. Soon though, very soon. 

In place of what I harvested, I have planted more beans, bush scallops, zucchini, and 3 types of broccoli (to see which one likes the summer heat best). Sprouting broccoli (rapini, broccoli raab, calabrese) has a short maturity date so can be sown at almost any time of year.

I also tossed in the last of the carrots for this year. Hope I have enough, fingers crossed. We go through a lot of carrots. This is your last week to sow carrot seeds, so if you need more, hurry to get them in. Choose a short season maturity date to make sure they are mature enough, big enough before fall gets here. They will stop growing when the soil gets too cool, so aim for the shortest maturity date you can. Baby Nantes, Little Fingers, Chantenay, Red Atomic, and Nantes are 60 day, or less, carrots.

As I continue to harvest the garlic, I will also add a few cucumber varieties, cabbage, and more beans. Bush beans have a much shorter maturity date than pole beans, so are a safer bet. Pick the varieties of veggies with the shortest maturity date, ideally ranging between 50 and 65 days.

So, in a nut shell, what you can sow from seed this month... 
- Beans (bush, ideally)
- Beets
- Broccoli ~ sprouting, raab, rapini types
- Carrots ~ under 70 days till maturity.
- Cabbage ~ ball head types, 50 to 60 days. (winter cabbage is the best!)
- Chard
- Cucumbers ~ pickling, Armenian, and Straight 8. Look for 50 day maturity, ideally.
- Summer Squash ~ zucchini, pattypans, spaghetti. Again, look for fast maturity dates.
- Turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, lettuces and spinach, if and when you have the space for them. These can be planted later in the month as they like the cooler fall weather.

Fruits and berries.. 

Pink Champagne Currants

Fruits and berries are crazily ripening, all at the same time. Pick your currants, gooseberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Clean them up, eat them, freeze them, stew them, juice them, or jam them.

Pick your cherries before the birds get them! We have two cherry trees, not yet very big or old yet, but each branch is simply loaded with cherries.

Pick the last of your rhubarb now, too.

Mulch fruit trees and shrubs to help retain moisture.

To keep sweet peas blooming, water them well, pick and enjoy the blooms, remove any seed pods as they form.

Deadhead annuals to keep them blooming instead of setting seed. Harvest calendula for making homemade soaps and salves.

Poseidon Rose. #poseidon

Deadhead roses to keep them blooming. Water well, feed with a bit of manure, and a tablespoon of Epsom salt to keep foliage green and healthy.

If you have powdery mildew, spray foliage with a half water, half low fat milk mixture. This will choke out the mildew. If you think you have it real bad, spray again in three days time.

There is no remedy to fix black spot once you have it. Remove the spotty foliage and let it make new leaves. If you want/need roses with no black spot, you need to prevent it rather than fix it. Safer's has an effective spray, called Defender, which can be applied once a week. It will not get rid of any spots you already have, but will prevent you from getting more.

Mulch roses and flower beds to help retain moisture.

Harvest your lavender for making wands, sachets, potpourri... as Christmas gifting is not that far off ; )

Water all pots, planters and hanging baskets once or twice a day. Feed every week or two to keep them full, lush, and blooming. For more information on how to keep them happy, healthy, and blossoming, see HERE!

Stay tuned for my new posts all about greenhouse growing.... 

Happy gardening! 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

It's Okay To Buy Those Half Priced Annuals

Long weekend plant sales are everywhere, half-priced at the grocery stores, nurseries, and box stores. Everyone is trying to offload their lanky, limey, sad looking annuals and bedding plants.

Go ahead to buy them! Be not afraid. There is nothing wrong with most of those plants that a wee bit of tlc will not fix. 

This week, I found myself needing to a few more flowers to add a little something something to the greenhouse. So I ventured forth to see what I could find ...

Geraniums are always a safe bet, even if they are lopsided, yellowing, lanky, and/or not flowering. They also happen to be one of my favourite annuals for pots and planters.

Both ivy and zonal geraniums can quickly be cleaned up, made to look good. Having a party in a couple weeks? No problem. They will be ready to rock your party.    

A pinch here and there, they will pop right back as if nothing ever happened. 

Other sun loving plants that I might look at ... verbena, scaevola, lobularia, and perhaps those short dahlias. If you have a soft spot for petunias or calibrachoa, go ahead and pick them up, too.

For shady spots, I search out fuchsias, begonias, lobelia, and new guinea impatiens. They are easy to clean up and make look good as new.

Pinch back lanky growth by half to promote new branching and bushy growth. This works on everything, but is really important for trailing plants.

Remove all yellowing leaves, dead or brown bits, snap off tired looking blossoms.  

Pot up into fresh potting soil with a pinch of slow release fertiliser. Water well with plain water or a mild liquid seaweed/water solution. Do not give them any other fertilisers at this time, you want them to root out and start making new growth before you feed them.

Cleaned up and looking fine already. In two weeks time, these half-priced babies will be bushy, flowering, thriving, so glad to have been rescued from the compost bin.

Love geraniums, and really, really love white...

#geraniums #pelargoniums #makethemhappyagain #savethemfromthecompostbin

Happy growing! 

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