Extreme Compost Bin

Doodle:

Is this cool or what? When I get ready to build a “permanent” compost bin, it will probably have a concrete paver floor…but this bin is the most awesome I’ve seen so far!

Originally posted on Backyard Feast:

Step 1: Beg Explain patiently to professional carpenter husband over several months that current compost bins are old and too small and in the wrong place.  Paint dazzling word pictures of abundant food and rich soil that would result from beautiful new compost bins.

Step 2: Research.  Turns out it’s not easy to find a good set of plans!  Most of the compost bin instructions out there are for recycled pallet bins or a couple of other common designs that were dismissed by said husband as either too ugly, too expensive to build on our budget, or lacking in lateral or other significant supports.  We did end up finding these useful plans from the City of Vancouver, and this became our base idea.  I figured that if these plans would keep Vancouver compost dry in the winter monsoons and safe from raccoons and other city critters, they were good…

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Growing Cilantro

Cilantro

Long time no blog y’all! I would say I was sorry, but I’ve been too busy for that to be true, so I won’t.

I just posted a very lengthy comment in response to a podcast I listened to today. Specifically, The Survival Podcast by Jack Spirko.

Jack was complaining about not having cilantro when his tomatoes and tomatillos were ready for processing…he also mentioned something regarding a substitute. I thought it was a fairly helpful comment, and thought that I should post it here too:

Jack,

I have a few suggestions regarding your cilantro bolt issue…although I cannot understand why anyone would want to be able to smell the stuff, let alone put it in their mouth…I understand some people do. So, here goes…

Don’t start your cilantro in the spring if you want to use it in your tomato or tomatillo salsa recipes.

Cilantro can take two weeks to sprout, so you’ll want to wait to sow some seed until around 4-5 weeks before you plan on having tomatoes and tomatillos to turn into salsa. Then start some more a week later, and continue weekly succession planting to insure a good supply of only stinky, not vilely reeking cilantro for your recipes.

In super hot climates, it may be necessary to grow cilantro in large deep pots indoors. Apparently it’s not as flavorful as cilantro grown outdoors…but to my view, that would be a good thing.

Part sun is fine for cilantro…especially if you live in a hot climate. Cilantro would love dappled eastern sun, and heavy western shade…oh, and lots of regular watering.

The substitutes are: Vietnamese Cilantro, aka Vietnamese Coriander and Rau Ram – Polygonum odoratum (note: odor). Vietnamese Cilantro doesn’t taste exactly like cilantro…but it’s real close. It is a warm weather tender perennial that’s easily grown.

And, Culantro, aka Thorny Cilantro and Stink Weed – Eryngium foetidum (the Latin foetidum meaning stink or bad odor), which is native to Mexico…it is a hot weather tender perennial and grows just dandy in heat. It is said to taste just like cilantro, supposed to be hard to grow, and has medicinal properties.

P.S. – Never buy Burpee seed when it matters! Last year I planted what was supposed to be Chocolate Cherry, but turned out to be Purple Russian or something that looks like it (and my husband hated them), and this year (when it mattered because I sold starter plants) the plants that were supposed to be Orange Habaneros (all three that I kept) are looking like some kind of pepper that IS NOT even thinking of being a Habanero. Very embarrassing and very disappointing.

CHEAP & EASY HOOPHOUSE

This weekend I got a phone call from someone who saw my Craig’s List ad. Sadly, he didn’t want to buy plants. He wanted to know how to build the hoop houses that are protecting the plants I have for sale. I did the best I could to explain over the phone, which isn’t saying a whole lot. So, I promised that I would post pictures and instructions on my blog today (Monday 6/11/12).

So, while my tomatoes are in desperate need of staking (started and not finished yesterday), and it is nice a cool and a great time to be working on all the squeaky wheels outdoors…I’m going to keep my promise.

We started with a 4X8 foot (empty) raised bed.

6 pieces of re-bar and 4 – 10 foot pieces of ¾ inch PVC pipe…oh, and some black electrical tape.

Then we drove 2 foot re-bar at each corner…

My son Kevin driving in first 2′ piece of rebar

Driving in the 2nd

…and the center of each 8 foot side.

and finally, the last one!

Next, we bent the 10 foot long ¾ inch schedule 40 PVC pipe to the re-bar that was just driven into to the ground…

One down, two to go!

…until there were three hoops over the bed.

On the earlier beds I did mark center on the pvc I was going to use as ribs..but due to the unevenness of the land outside of the beds, what was center by measurement when straight wasn’t necessarily center when bent over the bed.

So, for our one and only purline, we centered the PVC pipe as best we could by sight. We secured it with black electrical tape…

…we continued taping the purline to the ribs until we had the purline attached to each of the three ribs. We finished this part up, just in time for the rain, and continued the project the following day.

For the skinning, first I got all my stuff together – 10 Foot wide plastic sheeting, large binder clips, tape measure, duct tape, scissors, 2-10 Foot ½ inch pieces of electrical conduit, and a square (not pictured here).

I measured out 11.5 feet of plastic sheeting.

Drew a straight line…

…And cut it.

I Folded the cut piece in half and Marked middle to help center later.

Then opened it up so I could attach the 10 foot ½ inch electrical conduit to what will be the bottom of the sides.

I got the ends fairly secured to the conduit…

And rolled it up…

…to make getting it over the hoops easy.

Using the marks, I centered the sheet.

I attached the binder clips to hold sheet in place.

Then I got to work on finishing up the sides.

NOTE: Over time, the duct tape lost its sticky. If I were to do this over again I would have made a hole (I would use a soldering iron, but anything that would make a hole would work) through the center of the tape, so I could thread a string or bread-tie-type-something-or-other through the hole and secure it around the conduit.

I had some used landscape fabric staples from last year that were almost the perfect thing to use to hold the sides up.

This is a piece of an old destroyed tomato cage that I bent in half. They are longer than the landscape fabric staples and there’s a little hook on the end which keeps the wind from working them loose.

The sides can be rolled all the way up to completely open the hoop house…

…or they can just be raised half way (providing a little shade for the plants) by just picking up the conduit and fastening to the purline with the staple or whatever you’ve made to do that job.

I found that two binder clips securing the plastic to the purline was sufficient. However, I did find it necessary to have the ends secured with two clips, one close to the bottom, and the second mid-way to keep the plastic secure during heavy winds.

Now, that I’ve kept my promise…I have to add my comments.

These hoop houses were made due to sheer necessity. The unseasonably warm spring caused my plants to outgrow my greenhouse quickly and I had to do something.

I was not in a position to pay for, nor was I in the market, for a more sustainable solution. So, because I only needed something very temporary, the fact that the plastic sheeting and the PVC pipe will degrade and become brittle from UV exposure was not an issue for me this year.

Let me repeat that last part: PLASTIC SHEETING AND PVC PIPE WILL DEGRADE AND BECOME BRITTLE FROM THE UV RAYS OF THE SUN. The plastic will not last a full summer. The PVC pipe will more than likely shatter if left in place through the Minnesota winter, and will more than likely break when re-bent if stored to use the next year.

However, due to the short Mid-Western growing season and the fact that it can get hotter here than it ever thought about being in Baton Rouge, I will most certainly employ a structure over my kitchen garden raised beds (when we finally own dirt that’s not in a pot).

The structure(s) will more than likely be made from wood…but I may use metal…whatever I use will last a lot longer than PVC pipe for sure. It will be shaped like a little house with a pitched roof instead of a hoop.

I want the roof covering to be permanent, and have rain gutters that feed a water barrel. The roof will more than likely be made of the same type of twin walled polycarbonate panels that I used for my greenhouse (purchased from Menards), because they are incredibly inexpensive…but I would much prefer to use sliding glass door glass, I just don’t know how feasible that would be.

For the sides (all 4), I will use greenhouse plastic that has UV protection. The sides will be able to be rolled up and will also be able to be removed completely. I will also use shade cloth to protect the plants in the height of summer.

DIRECT SEEDED SUMMER FRUITS & VEGGIES FOR THE MIDWEST

Way back in February and March, I started seeds for plants that require a long growing season and need protection from the danger of frosts like tomato, pepper, and eggplant.

Many folks that came to buy plants from me also wanted things like spinach, cucumber, beans, and peas. I had to explain that I only started plants for transplant of those warm season types that needed to be started early to produce a good yield of fruit. Some of what was requested was either far too late or far too early to be set out in the garden, which are the cool season veggies like broccoli, spinach, and peas. The other requested plants, were fast growing summer crops that should be direct seeded like okra, cucumber and green beans. These should be sown now.

The key to growing summer vegetables in the Midwest is to look for a fast maturing time. Anything that takes more than 90 days to begin producing fruit should be left for more southern growers.

Don’t worry though…there are plenty of things that will grow just fine in the Midwest’s Zone 3 to 5 hardiness zone, and (in no particular order) some of them are:

OKRA PLANT WITH BLOSSOM AND POD

OKRA CAN PROVIDE SUMMER SHADE FOR OTHER PLANTS

~OKRA~

There are lots of cultivators of okra to choose from, all mature rather quickly. They are heat loving and drought resistant. They provide nice summer shade for plants that appreciate a break from the noon day sun…and who doesn’t?

POLE BEANS

POLE TYPE LEGUMES HAVE HIGHER YIELDS THAN BUSH TYPES

~GREEN BEANS, CROWDER PEAS, & COWPEAS~

When choosing to grow a member of the legume family, I urge you to grow a pole variety. The bush type are determinate, which means they grow to a certain size, bear fruit and prepare to meet their maker. The pole type seem to continue to grow and produce fruit until the days get short. You will need less horizontal space and fewer plants if you grow pole type.

I would advise against growing them in an intensive gardening raised bed arrangement. I believe these would be best grown in a long one foot (or so) wide row, be it a raised bed or something in the ground…curvy or straight. In this way, I bet you could still get away with growing 4 plants per square foot…it’s just that it’s necessary to get to each side for harvesting and that was difficult in the 4X8 foot raised beds I grew them in last year.

HANGING CUCUMBER

GROW CUCUMBERS ON A TRELLIS FOR STRAIGHT, UNIFORMLY GREEN FRUIT

~CUCUMBER~

Cucumber is a fast maturing plant. Different cultivators taking anywhere from
50 to 70 days to begin bearing fruit. I had the most success with the Straight Eight of the three varieties I grew last year. They are said to mature in 58 days…I could not keep up with the fruit! Plant only a few vines (I’d say one for every cucumber lover in your family), find out who else you know that loves cucumber too, and pick the fruit every day once it gets just big enough. Mature cucumbers have tough skin and huge hard seeds.

MELON

WHILE EARLY MELONS NEED LOTS OF SPACE, THEY DON’T NEED QUITE AS MUCH SPACE AS THE LONGER SEASON MELONS

~WATERMELON & MELON~

I found a few early ones. A quick search on the internet should lead you to where you can purchase the seeds of each of the mostly heirloom variety listed below. The Sugar Baby and the Minnesota Midget can be found at just about any retail store that sells seeds around here…and of course there’s always the hybrids.

I have read, recently, that cross pollination of squash or pumpkin can cause a foul tasting watermelon. I’ve never heard this before, but I’m certain it would affect the genetics of the seed and create some freak hybrid if you grew the seeds next summer. I have heard true stories of using seeds of pumpkins that were accidentally cross pollinated with squash…the seeds did not make for a tasty pumpkin. To be safe, plant your watermelon as far away from your other gourd type plants as possible.

Smaller melons can grow on a trellis. I have also seen Sugar Baby Watermelon and Cantaloupe grown on a trellis. People who do this sling the fruit, or grow it in a net bag like the kind they package onions in.

Blacktail Mountain Watermelon – 70 days
Golden Midget Watermelon – 70 days
Stone Mountain Watermelon – 60 to 80 days
Sugar Baby Watermelon – 75 to 80 days
Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon – 80 days
Sweet Siberian Watermelon – 80 days
Jenny Lind Melon -70 days.
Green Nutmeg Melon – 80 days.
Minnesota Midget Melon – 75 days
Emerald Gem Melon – 80 days

~CORN~

Corn takes a lot of space, and is prone to pest infestation (the popcorn varieties – not so much). The sweet kind is nutrient demanding, and there are other things to consider when planting corn. So much so, I could do a two page blog post just on corn. I may well do such a post, but not today.

Thanks to Monsanto, most of our corn seed selections has some GMO contamination. I’m not as afraid of the GMO corn as I am the RoundUp that our corn supply is soaked with. My advice is, if you’ve got to have sweet corn, better to grow it yourself.

Start with a small 4X4 corn bed and learn from growing this year.
Sew a variety that is Sugar Enhanced (SE), not Super Sweet (SH2)…stay tuned to find out why.

~ SUMMER SQUASH~

Just about all summer squash cultivators mature quickly. You’ll find some that take only 45 days to reach maturity, some that take 65 days…and many others that fall somewhere in between. Squash is another type of vine vegetable that grow well on a trellis.

Sweet potato, pumpkin, and soybean may also be started now.

One quick tip: To speed germination, soak seeds over night. I use one cup filtered water to which I add 1 1/2 teaspoons of 3% hydrogen Peroxide.

HOMEMADE POTTING SOIL…ON THE CHEAP

My Homemade Potting Soil

There are at least three qualities that your vegetable growing soil must possess.

1. Soil must drain well and allow for oxygen to permeate.
2. Soil must hold moisture.
3. Soil must contain nutrients.

The first two seem to contradict each other…but if you think of how a sponge works, maybe it will seem a little less contradictive. You basically want your soil to behave like a sponge holding both air and water.

For my raised beds, we used a mixture of 1 part peat moss, 1 part coarse sand, and one part compost. The compost I used was ‘composted cow manure’ from Menards. This compost had quite a bit of clay in it…which wasn’t a bad thing, because clay contains lots of minerals. If I had it to do over again, I would have used two different kinds of compost…like the mushroom compost they sell at Home Depot along with the composted cow manure from Menards.

Because compost, which was the nutrient component of my soil mix, also helps retain moisture, I would have added more of it to my mix. In the future, when I am mixing new soil for raised beds or pots, I will use 2 parts compost, 1 part peat, and 1 part sand.

The year before, I used a mixture of 1 part top soil, and 1 part composted cow manure. It made a very heavy soil, one that I would NEVER use in a pot…but it grew absolutely huge bell pepper plants in a raised bed box.

I added a little organic fertilizer to the mix for potting up the plants I sold this year.

Soil Nutrient Boosters

If I could have done that over again, I would have left out the bone meal entirely. The potatoes my son and I planted in the long bed seem to love the bone meal, but the seedlings would have been better off without it. I too could have done without my greenhouse smelling like I buried my enemies in there. YUCK!

My advice regarding bone meal is to use sparingly and mix into the soil very well.

I found lots of recipes for potting soils on the internet that get specific in regard to ingredients and additives based on what you intend on growing in it. I suppose anything can be complicated if you want it to be.

If you just want to make lots of inexpensive soil for a raised bed garden, my mix will work just fine. I urge you to use a 5 gallon bucket to measure, and peat moss fluffs up quite a bit so the 2 cubic foot bale makes a lot more than you’ll think it will.

Dump the 5 gallon buckets of each ingredient on a tarp, and use the tarp to mix by pulling the mix over on itself. Lay thin layers of the mix into the bed and water as you go. Peat moss has this way about it…and if you don’t water as you go, you’ll have a heck of a time getting the soil uniformly and completely wet.

Soon, I will need soil for my rain gutter grow system . We will be moving before harvest, so mobility will be a factor. Since I need the soil for the grow system bucket to be lighter than what is/was in my raised beds (or my smaller pots that I don’t want to blow over in the wind), I will use vermiculite and/or perlite instead of sand.

I’ll keep you posted how all that goes!

THE REAL PROBLEM WITH MONSANTO GM CORN

Monsanto Image with text found on Facebook

Monsanto Image with text found on Facebook

This photo is misleading. First of all, the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is not toxic to humans, or animals, or even many insects. Bt toxin is particularly toxic to Butterfly and Moth type insects…the REAL problem with Monsanto GMOs is they are unnatural mutations that were never meant to exist in nature. Having a plant enabled to produce a bacteria that is meant to protect it from a ‘pest’ that feeds upon it will…not can, but WILL…create super bugs that are not affected by Bt. Which will really tick me off, because that is the only organic way I have found to successfully control cabbage worms, besides netting, and netting is not always possible or practical. Also, as with any intervention, should be used ONLY when necessary…which is around one month out of the year where I live.

GM corn fed live stock have definitely shown signs of disease of internal organs compared to the same breed/species fed organic corn…but this is not because of the Bt toxin. It’s not even because of the GM corn. I believe it’s because Monsanto GM crops are “Round-Up Ready” meaning they can be, and therefore, are SOAKED in the herbicide Roundup.

According to an article I read at Scientific America’s website: “Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells”, which can be read here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=weed-whacking-herbicide-p, it’s not the glyphosate which is the active ingredient in the herbicide, it was one of the inert ingredients, specifically the surfactant polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), that is toxic to humans…and other wild life including tadpoles. The article says Monsanto claims that Roundup has sold since the 1970s.

I know Wikipedia isn’t necessarily the be all end all for factual information…but according to the article I read there: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundup_%28herbicide%29), Monsanto patented the active ingredient in 1970, and Roundup was put on the market in 1976 (so says the “Manufacturing Status” Under the Roundup logo in the cell to the right of the article)…however, the body of the article states Monsanto began marketing the product in 1973.

Regardless of the actual year that Roundup was first used on our food crops, and lawns…I am certain that it began sometime in the 70s and its use has increased each and every year since.

Monsanto held the patent until it’s expiration in 2000, and then the herbicide began to be produced by all other manufactures inclined to do so. And no doubt this has done more to increase its use.

Take a look at the graph below:

Graph of reported autism diagnoses from 1970 to 2009

SOURCE: Nature.com – ORIGINAL SOURCE : Autism Speaks

I found this at http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111102/full/479022a/box/1.html, who sites the source for the image as Autism Speaks. I could not quickly find this at Autism Speaks.org, but I did find that “Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys” (http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/facts-about-autism).

I know several people who have children that suffer from some form of autism, some of these people are personal friends. Incidentally I have taken an interest in the malady and have been looking for an environmental factor that changed sometime in the 70s.

According to a California Study (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080107181551.htm), eliminating thimerosal from most vaccines did not reduce the reported cases of autism…they, in fact, continued to rise…so if it’s not the thimerosal in the vaccines that is to blame, then what is…what has changed since the 70s?

After doing the initial research only to refute the text in the Corn Grenade photo, I found it extremely interesting that Roundup began being sold in the U.S. in the 70s. I found it so interesting, that I was compelled to do even more research…and this is what I found:

Glyphosate Usage to Autism Diagnoses

Graph created by Divinia “doodle” Featherly with data from the sources noted in the image.

I have received permission from AutismSpeaks.org to use the new “Autism Prevalence On The Rise” graphic they emailed to me, you may view it here>> AS_12 Autism Prevalence Graph

I cannot say that Roundup is responsible for the rise of autism…but I would be really interested to see what would happen to the number of reported cases of autism if the world quit using herbicides containing POEA.

Monsanto is, in my humble opinion, evil. Monsanto and the FDA are so in bed with each other that the affiliation has gone far past being comparable to the fox guarding the hen house…and mutated into something more like the police running, and working the meth lab. Monsanto has won court cases for patent infringement against innocent farmers whose non-GMO crops have been raped by the pollen from a neighboring farm that used Monsanto’s freak seed…and I’m sure this is just the tip of the ice burg of the evil that is Monsanto.

Like so many things evil, so many negative facts can be reported to bring to light just how black they are. However, care must be taken to not report misinformation. Misinformation creates noise that dilutes and detracts from the truth that needs to be presented to the public.

PING TUNG EGGPLANT

PING TUNG EGGPLANT

PING TUNG EGGPLANT

~PING TUNG EGGPLANT~

The Ping Tung is the most bragged about eggplant that I have researched…I cannot wait to taste it.

From what I’ve read, this is an extremely high yielding disease resistant plant with beautiful snow-white flesh and very few, small seeds. You can use the entire eggplant and not have to remove areas with pockets of seeds or the tender skin.

It grows about 2 feet tall by 2 feet wide. Some people report having to steak or cage this plant because of its heavy fruit production.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

~BRUSSELS SPROUTS~

Sprouts are tolerant of almost all soil conditions…except for acidic soils which can encourage club root, a fungus that thrives in acidic soil. Also, Brussels sprouts are a top heavy crop that would benefit from staking or caging to keep them from falling over in windy weather. They will grow equally well in sun or part shade…but prefer part shade.
The key thing when growing Brussels sprouts is to make sure they do not run shy of water. They also have shallow roots, so you’ll want to hand weed if necessary. Unless the soil is poor, you won’t want to fertilize after they start making sprouts, this will cause sprouts to become loose and leafy…also called “blown” sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are a long season vegetable. They can take anywhere from 80 to 120 days to reach maturity. So you plant these in spring and harvest in the fall. A hard frost always improves the eating quality of sprouts, and I have read that you’ll want to wait until the first frost to start harvesting. When harvesting, sever the Brussels sprouts from the main stem using a knife – breaking them off will injure the main stem. Take the lowest sprouts first and work up the stem as they ready, the lower sprouts mature earlier than the higher ones.

I have also read you can pull them up by the root, just before our Minnesota winter turns ugly and hang them upside down in the basement and continue to harvest from them.

I found a site that has a ton of information on growing Brussels sprouts and the bugs and diseases to look out for. Click here to have a look.

I have several yummy sounding recipes on file for sprouts that I will post later…but from what I’ve read…the trick to having delicious sprouts that are as far removed from those you were forced to eat as a kid as the east is from the west, is to not overcook them.

How to Grow Tomatos and Peppers

I’ve been selling lots tomato and pepper plants lately, I feel it’s past time that I post some planting/growing tips for these two plants.

Tomato and pepper plants grow best with 8 to 10 hours of sunlight per day. In addition, peppers and tomatoes have trouble setting fruit when temperatures drop too low or get too high. The average hottest part of the day in the USA is between 2 and 6 PM (of course the actual time will vary a bit according to where you live).

Your tomato and peppers plants would do well with afternoon shade. The best possible place would be one that gets 100% of the eastern rising sun, and begins getting dappled shade between 12 noon and 3ish. Then gets full shade from 3ish to around 5 PM (at least this is so where I live in Minnesota).

The tomato’s optimal temperature range for fruit set is between 65° and 80° F. Tomato fruit becomes small or misshapen if night time temps drop below 55° F, and will set poorly at lows of 50° F or less and highs of 95° F or greater.

The sweet pepper’s optimal temperature range for fruit set is between 60° and 80° F, and up to 85° F for most hot peppers. Fruit sets poorly if night time temps drop below 60° F, or are greater than 75° F and pepper plants may suffer bud drop. At daytime temps greater than 90° pollen can become sterile and pepper plants may, again, suffer bud drop.

When planting your tomato plant be sure to bury your plant deeply, allowing just the top 4 branches to be above the surface of the soil. I remove all the leaves that would be below the soil line. All members of the night shade family will sprout roots along the stem. This will help your plant develop a large, strong root system that will promote and support growth and fruit production.

I have read that you should not bury a pepper plant, but I contend they can be planted just like a tomato. The difference is, most tomatoes grow much bigger than peppers plants and really need the extra roots. If you purchased my pepper plants in the ½ gallon bags…they are already planted deeply enough. One thing that should be done to your pepper plants that needn’t be done to tomatoes is removing the blossoms. You should remove the blossom buds from your pepper plant as soon as you can safely pinch them off without damaging the rest of the plant. Do this until your pepper has been transplanted and has started to grow again (I’ve found this can take up to two weeks), or until night time temperatures stay above 60° F…which ever takes longer. The reason for this is the fact that peppers grow quite slowly, pinching the buds keeps the plant from wasting its energy producing useless flowers and, instead, allows it to use that energy to recover from transplant shock quicker and be bigger when it’s time to start letting it blossom and set fruit.

A major problem with the tomato plant is its tendency to develop fungal infections. Taking a few precautions will greatly reduce the risk that your tomato plants will succumb to blight. They are as follows (and apply to other plants susceptible to fungus infections as well): Only water in the morning. Water only at the base of the plant. Be careful not to let water splash up on the plant. Do not use a sprinkler. Do not get the foliage wet.

Rain is another issue…and moist stretches in the weather cause lots of problems for tomato plants no matter how careful you are with watering so….

…as promised, here is my recipe for a fungus preventative:

To 1 Gallon of water add:
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
2 1/2 Tablespoons Mineral Oil
1/2 teaspoon Castle, Insecticidal, or Murphy’s Oil Soap
1 Cup 3% Hydrogen Peroxide

Shake solution constantly while spraying, because the oil needs to stay mixed. I use a pressure sprayer I bought at Menards…two for $8.

Spray your tomato plants EVERY single time it rains…Now, there are times when it just rains and rains, for days and days. You can’t spray, and even if you did, you’d be doing it in the rain, and the rain would just wash the concoction into the ground, so you don’t. Then the first sunny day you find your tomato plants are in trouble. This is when you need an actual fungicide…not a preventative.

When my plants…any of them, show any sign of fungus I use ORTHO Disease B Gon Copper Fungicide. I follow the instructions except that I also add 1 cup of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide to the gallon of water (more is not better, H2O2 can burn your plants if it’s too concentrated). First, pick ALL of the affected leaves from the plant (it does not matter that you remove most of them…leaves will grow back), put these in the fire pit or throw them in the garbage, DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE COMPOST. Next, wash any instrument used to remove the affected leaves and wash your hands with soap. Then, last, spray the entire plant until it’s completely saturated and dripping. Repeat on other affected plants from the first step to the last until you’re completely finished treating one plant including washing up before moving on to the next. Do this every 7 days or after rain washes away the fungicide until the plant looks healthy again, then you can resume using the preventative.

A word to the wise: Go ahead and buy the copper fungicide now. You can get it locally at Ace Hardware.

HABANERO

HABANERO

~HABANERO~

I’m excited to grow The legendary 10-alarm pepper originating from the Caribbean. Famous for being the hottest of all peppers, its name means ‘from Havana.’

Long ago, the Habanero and its family migrated from the Caribbean Islands to Central America where they remain extremely popular today. This pepper is a close relative of the Jamaican Scotch Bonnet…which I will not be growing, at least not this year.

Height:
18-24 in.

Spacing:
18-24 in.

(spread):
16 in.

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Heat (Pungency):
Extremely Hot (above 30,000 Scoville Units)

Fruit Shape:
Oblong

Fruit Size:
Small (under 2″ in length)

Days to Maturity:
95-100 days

Fruit Colors:
Green changing to orange

Seed Type:
Open-pollinated