Saturday in the garden

Miserable morning, light mist falling, low forties temp, warmed up some by 1500, 47f, no rain, some sunshine. There is hope that spring may be just around the corner.
Put some compost in the long bed and raked it in. Cleaned out the green peas and the cabbage from one of the short beds. Will slice up the cabbage tomorrow and try to turn it into sauerkraut in a bucket. Prefer that to cooked cabbage on a regular basis. Need to clean out the other short bed and make some more mix to amend that one and ready it for planting in mid March to early April. Going to plant some ginger this year along the back fence, maybe just one joint of ginger planted. Should provide us with all the ginger we would need for a year or so. I probably will sugar and dehydrate a bunch of it if we get a crop. Otherwise the gardens will be the usual, crowder peas, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, more lettuce and whatever else strikes our fancy. We miss the Sulphur garden, spent twenty years amending that dirt and you just had to toss in some seeds and jump back. Miss the mature fruit trees too.
Just finished pinching off the blossoms on the new blueberries, gives the roots a jump in energy and should help to produce a better crop next year. The pear tree is in bud and should be opening blossoms soon. Finished picking the last kumquat today. We have been nurturing a small bed of dewberries that crept under the fence and are now climbing some string. Lots of dill weed up from last years reseed, and all the other herbs are doing well too.
Need to weed eat the darned rye grass and try to keep it from seeding. I hope the dairy farmer two miles away gives up seeding rye grass all the time as it is a pain to get rid of where it's not wanted. We're just trying to stay warm and still get things done.
George
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George Shirley wrote:

You call that miserable ? We got up to snow on the ground and low 20's , snowed all night and all morning and the roads are covered and more of the same coming our way later this evening , I told the wife to call in to work ... I grew up driving on snowy roads , but the roads in this area get icy at a glance and a slide off the road up here could end up slidin' off a mountain . My seedlings are doing great , 'maters over 6" tall now . As soon as we get a break in the weather I'll be bustin' butt to get my hot box/mini-greenhouse built . I have a growing problem <grin> .
--
Snag



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On 2/28/2015 4:30 PM, Terry Coombs wrote:

Only if the holocaust came in the night and I had to run for a cold area or die would I ever spend a winter where it freezes more than once. I learned that I don't like cold at all many, many years ago up along the Arctic ice in the North Atlantic. I was fifty odd years younger then and the old me still doesn't like it.
I should have run off to Belize when I came back from Saudi in 1986 and the wife said we had to live close to the kids. Land in Belize back then was fairly cheap and I would still be living where it never gets cold, seldom has hurricanes, and the fishing is great.
We are supposed to be getting up to about 80F this coming week and I hope, for once, that the weather heads are right.
George
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wrote:

Today was the first day that I could get to the greenhouse, what with snow 3 times in the past 2 weeks and temps ranging from 3°F to about 30°F. DH was not the most prompt about getting the steps and walks cleared. To top it off the germination on the onion and spinach seeds was poor. Got them moved to the next size tray. Tomorrow I will start some lettuce and herbs. In another week, probably tomatoes and cucumbers. I think my vegetables will be set out late, seeing as how the weather has started off so bad this year.
The garden will be small. My back is recovering but I can't predict what I will feel like in May. Things that have not prospered in the past do not get a chance this year. Got to go see what the rhubarb is doing if anything.
Here's hoping this year will be successful for everyone.
--
USA
North Carolina Foothills
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On 1/03/2015 11:24 AM, The Cook wrote:

It has been so far but then we get ANOTHER summer before the end of the year.
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Once upon a time on usenet Terry Coombs wrote:

You call that miserable? Here just south of Auckland New Zealand it's over 30?C both outside and inside my house and very humid. It's too hot to do any gardening other than the 'must do' things in this weather like water the newly-grafted, newly sprouted citrus grafts (on Flying Dragon rootstock to dwarf the trees).
I'll water the tomatoes etc. after midnight when it's cool enough to move a bit without sweating so much I have to shower every other hour.
I'd really like to be gardening, instead I'm sat here in front of a fan. It's too hot to even finishing up my LED growlight that I'm making. I've soldered the emitters onto 'star' bases, marked, drilled and tapped the hestsink they'll be screwed to - I just need to solder all the wires to each emitter and back to a connector and do final assembly with heat transfer paste. However I don't want to be weilding a 400?C soldering iron in this weather.
I've finally decided I have to have a decent energy efficient grow light. Not so much for starting seedlings but for rooting cuttings. With these hotter summers of late it's very difficult to regulate the right amount of light for cuttings in a 'humidity chamber' using the sun as a source without them getting far too hot.
I've wasted a lot of time this season taking (mainly tree) cuttings and trying to get them to root only to have them wilt and/or rot. It never used to be like this! Next season I'm going to use the growlight for some and air-layer others. Air-layering works really well but it's far more work than cut, snip, dip and pot. :-/
--
Shaun.

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On 2/28/2015 9:04 PM, ~misfit~ wrote:

You poor soul, I've been walking around all day in long sweat pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a sweater on. While working on the blueberry blossoms I was also wearing a nice coat and my Peruvian beret, knitted from llama wool, and was still cold. I miss the Arabian Peninsula and the 125F days and 90F nights.
I was grafting rose bushes in the growing field when I was twelve, that was enough for me, haven't done a lot of grafting since except for a couple of pear trees a few years ago. I generally air layer for various rosemary plants.
Your LED grow light sounds handy for what you need. I am slowly moving to LED everywhere on the property for better efficiency, longer life, and lower electric bills.
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Once upon a time on usenet George Shirley wrote:

I'll take too cold over too hot (for comfort) any day of the week. It's easier (and legal!) to keep putting clothes on than keep taking them off. It's can sometimes afford a bit of heat in my home - there's no AC.

A few pleasant years of my youth were spent working in vineyards and wineries and I spent many a day at the grafting benches, bench-grafting wine grape varieties onto phyloxera resistant rootstocks. That was over 30 years ago and I haven't grafted since. Bud grafting is a whole other ball-game to bench grafting.

Every source of light in my home is LED and has been for a couple of years now. The council even replaced the old sodium-vapour street light outside my place with an LED street light a few weeks back. It's amazing, instead of there being a circular pool of orange light that shone as much onto my bedroom curtains as anywhere there's directed white light onto the road and footpaths. I asked to see the light as they were replacing it because I'm nosy. <g>
It has a very clever system of TIR optics that directs the light evenly below the light and up and down the street, there's almost no spill-over off-road on either side. Also, as there's no light shining upwards (or even horizontally, the LEDs are recessed) I get to see the stars again! The lamp they removed was an 80w unit, dull and ugly. The replacement LED lamp is 32w (16 x 2w emmiters powered by a Philips potted 32w driver) and it lights the areas that need to be lit so much better. There isn't the large pools of darkness between lamps any more. Brilliant!
--
Shaun.

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On 3/2/2015 5:02 PM, ~misfit~ wrote:

That's exactly why the family friend who owned the rose farm hired young boys, eleven to thirteen years old. Older boys in their late teens carried a two by twelve board down the rows, bent the bushes over, young guys did the bud graft and wrapped a powdered rubber band above and below the graft. I got 25 cents an hour US plus room and board. Big meal of the day was noon, called "dinner." Came back to the farm house around noon, all kinds of home grown, home cooked with care, food. Hams, chickens, turkey's, all sorts of vegetables and desserts. After dinner we laid under the shade trees and rested for two hours then back to the field. Big breakfast in the morning, small supper when work stopped for the day. I grew two inches taller and twenty lbs heavier that summer. Put some muscle on too. Folks that owned the rose farm had been friends with my parents since they were very young. Good people, long gone.

We still have mercury vapor lights along our streets. The only progress they made with them was to put detectors at street level so if you walked or drove by the street light goes on and then turns off three minutes later. Since our subdivision has to pay the light bill we like it that way.
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Once upon a time on usenet George Shirley wrote:

Sounds like one of those summers that that go a long way to defining a developing young person. :)

I live on a cul-de-sac in the 'bad' part of town (read; cheapest rents). I needed somewhere to rent after my injury when I lost my business and the house I'd been paying a mortgage on for a couple of years. The Invalid's Benefit is quite low and really I should have moved into a flat but I wanted a garden and space between me and neighbours so moved here.
When I moved into this house there was a mercury vapour street light outside. The Streetlight is right outside my gate, about 15 - 20m from my bedroom window. That wasn't so bad, it was a 50w unit and threw out a white light. It illuminated my curtains a little but wasn't enough to upset my sleep.
When it went out about seven years ago I rang the local council and told them the lamp need replacing. However they replaced the whole 'head' and it was an 80w High Pressure Sodium lamp. Yuk! Orange light that lit up my bedroom and forced me to buy thicker curtains.
Now, with the LED lamp there is almost no light hitting my curtains but the street and footpath are lit with bright white light, it's a massive improvement. The light is directed so that it shines up the roiad ~50m either side. The gateway at the end of my drive is also illuminated so I can see it but, progressing across my front lawn it goes from bright to dark in ~5m. Such a difference compared with the previous lamps that had a bright bulb hanging below them surrounded by a clear pastic 'bubble' and which shone light randomly everywhere and left big dark areas between lamps.
I was given the install spec sheet from the council guy and this lamp is made by a New Zealand company. They are very good indeed. I couldn't find a website for them however.
Hmmm, I just Googled again only this time using the lamp model number as well as their name and found this page; http://www.betacom.co.nz/assets/GL520_0314.pdf this lamp outside my place has optic 7032. I was wrong about the number of LEDs too, I thought it was 16 but the pdf says 24. (It was early morning when I saw it, I was only half-awake and the workmen didn't exactly hold the lamp still for me to examine for long.)
They use high-quality components (Cree and Philips) so the lamps should have a working life of decades, using about half the power of previous lights but providing twice the brightness and spreading it sideways towards the next light so there is less of a light / dark effect that the old lamps gave.

We don't pay for the lighting directly but it comes out of rates, and ultimately in my case rent. I wouldn't like it if the lights were going on and off all night. As someone who's struggled with insomnia all my life that would drive me to distraction rather than sleep. Also, as I live in a.... 'low socio-economic area' there is a lot of crime it's great to be able to look out the window (or at the CCTV monitor) if you hear a noise. From what you say above it sounds like you live in a 'better' area, maybe a gated community?
Most of this town has had its streetlights replaced with LED lamps now and it's a startling improvement whether you live in a street or drive around at night. Of all of the things I like about these lamps the fact that they don't spill light sideways / upwards so that I can stand on my front deck and see the stars now.
(I remember hearing a while back that the New Zealand government had decided they were going to combat light pollution. Being an island nation we mostly have very clear skies and the night sky is really a sight to behold. Most visitors to NZ mention it.)
Gosh, I wrote more than I inteded. Time to go to the pharmacy and get my pain meds. They are so tightly controlled so as to try to avoid misuse / diversion that the maximum anyone can pick up at one time is 10 days supply. That got old five years ago!
--
Shaun.

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On 3/3/2015 6:40 PM, ~misfit~ wrote:

Particularly since we had Sunday off, went to church with the family, came home, ate a big lunch, about 2 pm we began the baseball game, went on until oh dark thirty. The boss's son made it to the minor leagues as a pitcher but came home after two years, said he knew he would never make the majors and he would just as soon raise roses. He did raise roses until in his early sixties he fell over dead with a heart attack. I guess it went to his kids after that. That area of Texas used to be well known for growing rose bushes.

Our son-in-law was injured in a fork truck accident over ten years ago, the only thing that helps with the pain is oxycodone, think he has a permanent prescription for that. Plus he has had multiple operations on both feet and lower legs. I try to steer away from anything stronger than aspirin, was addicted to nicotine for 42 years and finally got off the cigarettes and want to stay that way. I think I'm getting addicted to diet cola though. Naw, not really, about half a liter a day.
Late afternoon temperature was 81F, startled me as the house temp was still about 72F, reckon this house is better insulated than I thought.

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Once upon a time on usenet George Shirley wrote: [snipped again]

We *finally* have some rain forecast for the next few days after not having rain to speak of since just before Christmas. I hope the forecasters have it right this time. It annoys me how the forecasters think that 'hot and dry' is a good forecast and rain is a bad one - even when most of the country's experiencing extra-dry conditions and large parts are in drought!
The soil here is rich - but only 4" deep. Below that it's a hard clay pan that takes a crowbar to break up (I know from when I mistakenly planted trees in the ground). My using raised beds isn't so much because there's no soil, rather because there's not enough of it. (I used to wonder why I'd always get blossom end rot on my tomatoes, despite regular watering before I put the raised beds in.)
I made my own 'dirt' originally, with the first raised bed (peat and my own compost mixed with pumice sand and vermiculite). However that got very expensive and it was at a time that my back got worse so that now I no longer have significant amounts of compost coming on. These days I buy 'compost' when it's cheap. In early spring the big chains usually compete with each other and I can get four 40l bags of it for under $20. It's largely pine bark from our forestry industry and hardly composted at all so isn't high-grade. However I try to leave it in the (perforated) bags in contact with the soil in a cool and shady part of the section for a year before I use it. Then it's a much better product, black. rich and crawling with critters.
I also add used (cheap) potting mix - which I tend to have lots of due to my growing dwarf trees in containers and having to pot them up regularly and my constant experiments with cuttings put into pot mix, only a small fraction of which have taken this year.
--
Shaun.

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On 3/4/2015 5:24 PM, ~misfit~ wrote:

Sounds just like our "dirt" here but nothing rich about it as the builders put sand on top of the hard clay pan. I wondered why my first blueberry plants weren't doing well. Turned out they were drowning in their pot holes.

We used the "Square Foot Gardening" soil mix, one third rich compost, one third peat moss, and one third vermiculite. Lots of fun putting five-gallon buckets of each on a ten by ten foot tarp and then tossing the stuff around. We both developed nice biceps doing that. The high dollar stuff here is the vermiculite followed closely by the peat moss. Lots of beef lots here in Texas and the droppings get composted with grass cuttings, hay, and whatever dry stuff is available. We buy the "Black Cow" brand as it seems to have more good stuff in it. This year we bought some earthworms to put in the beds, hoping they will help. When we gardened in another state we lived on an ancient sand dune that had a rich loam topping about three feet deep, toss a seed in the ground and jump back. I miss that but it is a challenge to see your garden produce food from that which was nothing but bags of "stuff."

I wish I had the room to do that again. Very small property with a big house on it, lots of concrete sidewalks,driveways, etc. We do have a composter barrel and it takes a good bit of time to make a decent compost as we're not allowed to have heaps. Tut, tut, neighbors might not like the earthy smell of a compost heap. Nothing here gets wasted, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, whatever comes our way gets composted or dug into a virgin bed for later use.
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Once upon a time on usenet George Shirley wrote:

I did a similar thing. Yes, the vermiculite is also the most expensive part here too, hence swapping it out for pumice sand (on the advice of a commercial grower) after the first bed. The peat moss is also hugely expensive - at least relative to my income (welfare, an Invalid's Benefit) so I couldn't continue using that method.
With the last couple of rasied beds I used soil that had been removed from ground at my neighbours place when he had a large four-car garage built. It's very poor soil though, a high clay content with a lot of gravel too. I amend it in spring with the cheap composted pine bark I mentioned earlier, further composted and mixed with the small amount of composted household waste that I still produce.
My raised beds are only 4" high and I've been thinking about adding another 4" board to them one by one, as I can afford it. I wish that I'd coated the existing (lower) boards with pitch or asphalt now though, I'm not sure how long they'll last. Originally I had weedmatting bottoms on the beds as most of the lawn here is a very invasive strain of grass, kikuyu. It can run several metres undergound before coming up again and can establish from an inch of 'runner' left in soil. However for the second season I removed the bottoms as they were a very effective moisture barrier which stopped the plants from tapping into moisture below.
(In my youth I worked for a year as a contract groundsman and gardener for absentee landownwers on Norfolk Island. Kikuyu grows even more vigourously and invasively there than it does here. There we'd use and old wire-woven double bed base as a giant sieve and process all the soil in flower borders and gardens though that to remove Kikuyu, then not only raise them 4" but put another 4 to 6" of boards underground surrounding them to stop subterranean runners from getting in. These days you'd buy materials and make a purpose-built sieve but back then we often re-purposed things.)

The cattle manure based compost sounds like it would be better than the pine waste compost that's commercially available here.

I grow my dwarf trees in ~100l tubs on my deck and by the side of my driveway. It's easier to give them good soil and to control their watering that way without 'wasting' water. Every three years or so in winter I remove them from the pots and prune the roots back. I then tease as much of the old soil as I can from the roots with my fingers and re-pot them, teasing the new soil back between the roots and spreading them evenly. They get about 60% new soil each time. If they're citrus, I also take the opportunity to prune the top - to shape the tree and also so the reduced root area doesn't struggle too much to support the foliage. After six months they're growing like crazy again.
--
Shaun.

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On 3/6/2015 8:26 PM, ~misfit~ wrote:

Working with fruit trees is often a calming affect on me. I have several sizes of "limb spreaders." Found a place online that had them and they last longer than my old scrap wood ones. The pear tree in front of the house will get it's first open pruning this fall. Will open up the top to allow sunshine inside. Have already pruned the "rain limbs," those annoying branches that shoot up on limbs already trained.
The late frost was not that bad so the blooms are opening now. There is the hope of fruit this year. Will pick the few kumquats left on that tree later today. Took a peak at the fig tree this morning and leaf buds are appearing. Ma Nature is doing her job well here. The bay tree cutting we brought with us from Louisiana is growing well in it's second year in the ground so we will always have bay available. I do miss my sassafras tree in Louisiana, now I have to buy gumbo file. We grow a lot of herbs and dehydrate them. All the members of our very large extended family and friends get containers of home grown, organic, dried herbs for Christmas every year and all seem happy to get them, so far.
Was going to get another lemon tree but found out our ex-son-in-law has a Bears lemon in his yard and is willing to give me large bags of them. I may yet learn to like him after 35 years of being around him. <G> We freeze lemon juice in ice trays and bag them for fresh lemon juice year around. Back to work in the garden.
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Once upon a time on usenet Derald wrote:

I was born in England and spent my childhood there. Even in winter I was very warm. Long after it was necessary my mother would hold my hand when she walked us to school because my hands were always warm. Then my parents bought me to a fairly hot climate and I've never been comfortable in summers since - I used to love them! Now I like autumn for the temperature but alas, the plants are all dying back then.

I met a guy on-line who's in FL. He works outside all day removing old fronds from palm trees and the like for the council and is brown as a nut!

Yeah, I can do that too but, being an invalid with linited mobility, I prefer to do most of my propogating close to the house and at bench level. I put them in the ground when they have enough roots so thay can manage without me keeping them moist too regularly.
--
Shaun.

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