Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category
How do you properly prune a tomato plant?
I’ve read some but I don’t know what ‘suckers’ are and such. I would like to have a plant that produces as many average size tomatoes as possible. I am planting in a 6 gallon pot. Pictures or even videos would be a HUGE asset. Thanks!
Martin Boyle answers:
The only reason to ‘prune’ a tomato is to keep the lower branches away from the soil -so as to avoid any plant disease that may reside there.
As far as suckers go, you want to pinch those back so the plants focus their energy on what YOU want – tomatoes.
The suckers are little tiny ‘mini branches’ that pop up at the ‘V’ where branches split – from each other or from the main trunk. You just pinch them as close to the V as you can. .
You may want to toss down some crushed eggshells (in the hole when planting is best), and watch out for bugs, little tiny aphids, and fat green hornworm(?) caterpillars. Keep them in the sun and don’t be afraid to fertilize.
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Container gardening with my calla lilies?
Container gardening in zone 7. I planted 3 calla lily bulbs, and only one is producing. Same with one of the cannas–lots of roots, but after many weeks, that’s it. The ones that made it are flourishing. Should I dig up the others and store them until next year, wait until the end of the season, or what?
Martin Boyle answers: Container gardening with my calla lilies
If they have roots and also have leaves but no flowers?
Sometimes they will grow but not bloom for a year or two in a new site.
Calla’s are picky about their temperature wanting a minimum day temp of 65 and 55 degree nights. They like morning light but need afternoon protection in warmer areas.
They like a pH of 6-6.5 in a rich, organic heavy soil.
They like a steady supply of water. The tuber should always be damp. Once the leaves unfurl water uptake is greatly increased. Water should not be diminished until the plants foliage begins to fail in fall.
Calcium is needed to prevent soft rot. Because they grow in wet soil they are susceptible to fungal diseases.
Tubers need to be at least 2 inches up to 4 inches deep.
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Choosing and Protecting Your Rose Bushes
When planting roses do you go with what you love, or what coordinates?
Here is the thing. I love roses. At my former house I had some gorgeous roses. At this current house I have tried planting roses, but my Dogs keep eating them. I am now going to rip out 3 large bushes in the flower bed by the house to plant the roses there. (I have a gorgeous flower bed, but there are no roses in it. I know they hired someone to design that flower bed, but for me it isn’t complete without roses).
Now my favorite rose is the first prize rose. It isn’t the most fragrant, but for me those large pink flowers cannot be touched. Now that is funny, because pink is not my favorite color, but I just love that rose. I also am partial to the Chicago peace. What would you put? I have room for 4-5 rose bushes. I will admit, over the years, I have had a hard time finding a first prize rose. I am going to try really hard this year. I may need to try more than 2 nurseries, but I am willing to try. Do I give up on my favorite.? What would you plant if you had the chance?
Martin Boyle answers: Choosing and Protecting your rose bushes!
I go with what I love, whether it is color or fragrance. Next, I go for disease, pest resistance and hardiness. Many years ago, I put down some stuff I got from Jackson and Perkins that is supposed to keep dogs away.You could also erect a fence to keep out the dogs.
I have many favorites. Roses are my favorite flower. For pink, I love Fragrant Memory. Double Delight is beautiful for it’s reddish pink and ivory blooms, and the fragrance is delightful!! For a climber, I love New Dawn. Not very fragrant, though, but very hardy. I love Mr. Lincoln because it’s extremely hardy, the blooms last forever and it’s very fragrant as well. Princess Diana is a beautiful rose, but mine died the first year, so it depends on where you live. I live in the Midwest. Gee, I better stop. There are so many I love.
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What things are needed to run a greenhouse?
I have a picture of an empty greenhouse and I must fill it in with pictures and explanations of the things needed to run it. Can someone help me by suggesting things I need and their uses. For example an ac heating system, I know one is needed but I don’t exactly know how to explain what it would do. The same goes for solar panels, I know they could help power the greenhouse, but how can I explain that in a more comprehensible way?
Martin Boyle answers: Greenhouses Explained !
I have just finished building a solar room addition. When I put plants in it I will call it a greenhouse.
Greenhouses of any style are an attempt to modify the environment. Glass or plastic walls and roof are often used because they allow sunlight to enter. Inside it becomes heat. There are a number of ways that heat is transferred. One way (radiant heat) is blocked by the glazing. This causes a greenhouse to heat up and even without plants an attached solar room can help heat the house it is attached to.
The things needed to “run” a greenhouse are those things that are first necessary to maintain the environment and secondly are convenient for gardening. My uncle had a commercial greenhouse business. It had a huge boiler that used coal to create heat and send it to the greenhouses. They let most of the heat escape into the air. There was no air conditioning.
Solar greenhouses will sometimes have double glazing to keep heat inside them. As an alternative they may have insulation that is put in place at night to help keep the heat inside them during cold months. The other important thing solar greenhouses will have are a lot of “thermal mass.” This is often brick or stone walls inside of the insulated outer walls or lots of water in containers. The thermal mass soaks up extra heat and when the greenhouse is cool it releases heat to the inside. The effect is to keep the greenhouse from getting too hot or too cold.
There are also designs for greenhouses that use compost that is mixed in a way to heat up. This adds not only heat but can change the air mixture to something that plants will like even more than normal air.
Most greenhouses will not have air conditioning to cool the air. Plants can usually tolerate a bigger range of temperatures than people can. Often there is a way to ventilate the greenhouse in the summer that may be sufficient to keep it cool enough. This is especially true if there is enough thermal mass.
Plants and the ground around them give up a lot of water. If it gets too humid the structure may suffer. Again ventilation may be good enough. Additionally, there are ways to make the heat of the sun create a draft in a kind of solar chimney that will pull air like a fan through the rooms. Ventilation can be aided with vents that open automatically without the use of electricity.
Greenhouses are not all the same. If they are commercial they may be designed for a particular crop. Also the environment where they are built will make a difference. In a cold environment the growing season will be shorter and heating concerns will be greater. In a warm environment ventilation will be more important. In a dry environment keeping water vapor inside may also be a consideration. In a dark environment some consideration might be made about lighting.
Once the inside environment is stable and sustainable some attention may be made to planting concerns: growing beds, soil, water supply and irrigation.
In my greenhouse I just finished I have put a couple of potted plants but it is still freezing outside some nights. My next concern is to get some accurate idea of how the room is heating up compared to the outside temperatures. I have a thermostat for inside and outside but I have ordered one that I can hook up to the computer to log the temperature changes.
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Rid midges from your garden?
We’ve moved into a new house, and lo and behold, there seems to be a permanent midge mist over our lawn. Is there anyway to dispel this annoying nimbus of biting insect pain? I thought for a while that an ultra violet style electric zap-trap might do the job, but having bought a cheap version, they don’t seem to care about the light.
Martin Boyle answers:Eliminating midges from your garden area!
Knowing why type midges would help. If the lawn is the culprit, could be a robust thatch layer (dead grass parts on the soil surface) could be providing a breeding or at least resting spot. Cleaning out the thatch might help.
Also try insecticidal soap. It is harmless to people and plants unless misapplied (read label) but rather nasty on soft bodied insects.
Here’s a site from Australia that might help:
The Midge Fact File
Biting Midges are not sand flies;
They are present on all continents except Antarctica;
The adults are about 1 – 2 mm long, much smaller than the related mosquito;
Generation time – ie life cycle from egg to adult, is probably not less than eight weeks;
Estuarine Midges do not breed in the grass, trees or in soil or sand in the garden. They only harbour in these areas;
They are not known to be vectors of any human disease in Australia;
In overcast humid weather, they are known to bite all day and night.
Only the female bites: She needs a blood meal to fertilise her eggs. They are known as pool feeders because they use their proboscis like a saw to create a tiny hole in the skin into which a pool of blood can flow. Saliva is injected into the pool to help the flow of blood. It is this saliva that causes the allergic reaction and itching.
You should remember that Biting Midge numbers increase around the time of the full and new moons. It is advisable not to plan outdoor functions that coincide with these times.
Biting Midges can penetrate ordinary fly screens.
Personal reaction to bites varies from a slight redness which disappears in half an hour or less, to severe inflammation. If you react rapidly and the swellings are small, you are reasonably immune so treatment may not be needed. Swilling and itch will soon go away.
For these less severe cases, the following tips may help reduce the effects of bites:
A hot bath may provide temporary relief;
Anti itching creams or lotions from the chemist are quite effective. Do not apply them when the skin is broken;
Some insect repellents also give relief to the bite, providing the individual’s skin is not sensitive to the repellent.
It has been observed that Vitamin B1 (Thiamine Hydrochloride) taken over a period of more than 30 days before exposure to midges, can reduce the severity of some people’s reaction to bites. (This is not true of everyone and consult your doctor before taking any vitamins)
However, if you react hours or days later to a bite, whether you felt it or not, your immunity is poor and you are likely to be more severely affected. If your reaction is very severe, see your doctor.
How you can protect yourself?
Anything you can do to reduce humidity, increase light and air movement will make your house and garden less attractive to midges.
Closely mown lawns, sparse vegetation around your house and minimal surface water in the garden will decrease humidity, increase air movement so as to minimise the resting places for midges.
Avoid gardening or watering in the afternoon and early morning.
Increase air movement in the house by using electric fans can effectively create an area unsuitable for Biting Midges as their activity reduces in wind speeds over 6-8km/hr.
Spraying residual (surface) insecticide on your flyscreens will help deter midges from entering your home.
Burning mosquito coils inside can also reduce numbers.
Most insect repellents are effective against midges and should be used whenever you are outside the house, alternatively an equal part mixture of baby oil, Dettol and Eucalyptus oil is useful.
Long sleeve shorts and long trousers made of closely woven materials give good protection. When gardening, a hat and gloves are also a big help.
Reducing Midge Activity in your Yard
To avoid the heat of the day, midges hide underneath the leaves of the plants and shrubs in your garden. These areas can be treated by applying a fine mist of insecticide on the leaves.
Reminder: Re-apply the insecticide after heavy rain or when midge activity increases.
Chemical Control Tips:
Natural Insecticides (ie. Pyrethrum) are available from most plant nurseries and hardware stores. Pyrethrum has little residual capacity, so applications may be needed on a regular (weekly) basis during problem periods.
Chemical Insecticides (Common garden sprays- Diazinon, Fenthion and, for a longer lasting effect, Permethrin) are effective.
Organic InsecticidesIf you are reluctant to use chemicals in your garden, organic insecticides can be made up and applied. These will be capable of killing the adult midges, however repeated applications may be necessary.
Some Useful organic insecticide formulations are:
85g unpeeled garlic
2 tablespoons mineral oil
600ml water and 7g of soap dissolved in solution
mix solution and place in trigger sprayer.
120g soap in 4.5 litres of water solution
mix in 60g of derris powder (from garden suppliers) mix additional 4.5 litres of water
dilute entire mixture in 12 litres of water and place in trigger sprayer.
Out Door Repellents
Gardening or hosting a barbecue?- Parrafin oil or perfumed lamp oil can be mixed with either Citronella or Lavender oil and burned in ‘Polynesian’ bamboo lamp burners placed upwind of your activity.
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