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Discouraged First-timer in PNW

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Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  Warbler on 5/13/2012, 3:38 pm

Hi,
This is my second post - still learning about posting, and definitely learning about vegetable gardening.

I've had a real battle with cutworms (verified identity at my favorite nursery). Put that together with not thinking about weather (wind, cold, etc) I think I have killed off quite a few seedlings.

Last week I planted some starts (bought at the nursery) of Early Girl tomatoes (1) and Sweet Million Tomatoes (1) and a bell pepper and vining zucchini. The two tomatoes are alive, but ragged looking - we had quite a bit of wind, and cold right after planting. The Pepper died almost immediately, and the zucchini looks headed that way - pretty bad. Should I have "hardened them off?" They were in a large green house, and I just assumed they were ready to plop into MM. Sad

Want to buy more tomorrow - but want them to live. We live near Centralia - so we are currently in a heat wave (it's all the way up to 79! - Whew! Way too hot!!) Laughing The nursery is far from home - as is grocery - so I usually go there first. But then the plants will be sitting in my hot car while I grocery shop, then 45 minutes to home. Advice?? Could I take them out of the car and slide them under the car while in the grocery store?? And hope no one rips them off??

Also - should I be misting the squares with new seeds?? I read that somewhere on the forum. The MM has been so wet - we had tons of rain that ended about a week ago. When it ended I watered it by hand nightly until we got the drip system installed Friday. Each square has a drip in the middle of it coming from soaker hose with holes every 12 inches. I'm running that every day for 1/2 hour. Is that enough? Too much? Would every other day be okay?

Yeah - I'm new!!! Embarassed

Any help appreciated....

Warbler

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  stripesmom on 5/13/2012, 4:59 pm

Hi Welcome to the forum! Not sure what your doing for your cut worm problem. I know with larger plants, you can put a paper collar around them, this may work with your babies now. You may want to treat your soil with BT ( Bacillus thuringiensis) a week before you plant. It's a bacteria that will kill catepillars and is organic. However, it's also toxic to all catepillars, so use it with caution. Take the BT and mix it with bran or cream of wheat and spread it over the soil. I'd also do this on the area surrounding the box. Cut worms live in the soil and come out at night to feed on plants.

The plants do need to harden off. Take them out for an hour or so a day for a few days, then increase that, but take your cue from your weather. If it's miserably hot and sunny, then keep an eye on them so they don't bake, you may need to put them in a shady area. On the other hand, if it's cold and windy, provide a little protection from the wind by placing them on the side of a building that is the opposite of the wind. Increase their time outside daily and when they are out all day/night, then plant them.

If your concerned about leaving them in the car and it's too hot, do you have a cooler? You could put an ice pack or a small bag of ice in the cooler, then put the plants in and put a lid on it. That should keep them reasonable cool for 45 min. till you get back to the car. Also , make sure they have been watered.

I would not worry about misting your plants, especially with the wet weather you have. You will know if the amount of water your giving your plants is right by the MM. If you put your finger in it and it's damp all the way to the bottom, then it's just right. If it is starting to look dry on top, then it's needing more water. If it's coming out of the box bottom, then back off on the water. You will have to adjust the amount of water you provide by how much rain, heat and sun you get through the year. Time and observation will be a good teacher.

Good luck and remember, this is a learning experience and it's fun!

stripesmom

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  happycamper on 5/13/2012, 5:43 pm

I battle cutworms and slugs every year. The paper collars (paper towel or toilet paper rolls cut) will help protect seedlings. Now that the rain has stopped I have spread DE around all my newly emerging plants and that also seems to work well. I have chickens so I have a supply of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (50 lb sack for $20) on hand, if you have some I would try that also. Good luck and welcome!

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  gwennifer on 5/13/2012, 6:39 pm

Hi Eldena and welcome to the forum! I saw your first post in MusicallyMotivated's thread. I'm so glad someone else's questions caused you to come out and post your own. That's what forum's are here for - we can help each other and offer moral support!

stripesmom and happycamper have given you some excellent advice! I don't have a drip system, so I'm not sure how well they hydrate the whole square - especially the surface where many of the smaller seeds are planted (in the top 1/8" - 1/2"). When I have new seeds in a square, I keep the top of that square moist by misting a few times a day (depending on the weather). There are plenty of users on here with automatic watering systems though, so hopefully some of them will pipe in and let you know if they do anything differently with a newly seeded square.

Good luck getting some new plants home. The hot car thing is always a problem, isn't it? I'm sorry about your greenhouse ones not making it. Hopefully your wind ravaged ones will at least recover - I have a brandywine that took a real beating with a recent windstorm and it's putting on new growth now. Hope to hear about your progress and see some pictures!

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  rod champion on 5/13/2012, 8:40 pm

cooler is na good idea... definetly wet seeds after planting.. it helps them come up so much quicker

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  quiltbea on 5/14/2012, 11:01 am

I just saw your post today. You live in a different area than me, but we have some of the same probs.

Defeat cutworms: I use 2 toothpicks pushed in about halfway deep on either side of any new seedling I plant. Have the toothpicks right up against the sides of the stem. This foils cutworms since they can't wrap around the soft stems.

Always harden off your plants. You want them acclimated to your particular area, sun, wind, etc, which can differ from the nursery. At least cover them with some lightweight row cover or cheesecloth for a few days against the hot sun and the winds. You can do this with a couple of old wire clothes hangars and a few clothes pins.



above: cheesecloth over wire hangars with clothes pins holding it on.



above: some tomatoes under cheesecloth that's just draped over a few bamboo posts.

Don't be discouraged. Try again. Its like falling off a horse, if you don't get back on you'll regret it later. Buy a few more seedlings and try again.

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  rod champion on 5/14/2012, 11:13 am

@rod champion wrote:cooler is na good idea... definetly wet seeds after planting.. it helps them come up so much quicker

Cooler is a GOOD Idea.. my fat fingers hit a n .. but it is a good idea

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:) I was wondering!

Post  Warbler on 5/14/2012, 11:21 am

I was trying to figure out if "na" was some texting code that this old lady didn't know!! Laughing

Warbler

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Re: watering too much?

Post  Sandie777 on 5/14/2012, 11:25 am

Hi Eldena,

Just signed up to the square foot garden site and this is my first time posting anything, anywhere. Hope this helps. Last year was my first year with two 4x4 boxes, with very little success. Living in the high desert I thought I would need to water a lot, so I watered in the morning and evening. Recently attended a SFG workshop and found out I was watering too much and loosing all the nutrients in the soil. It was recommended to only water each square for 3 seconds each.

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  gwennifer on 5/14/2012, 12:16 pm

Hi Sandie and welcome to the fourm! How cool that you got to go to a workshop!

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  boffer on 5/14/2012, 12:43 pm

Eldena Colon wrote:... I'm running that every day for 1/2 hour. Is that enough? Too much? Would every other day be okay?....

Organic gardeners have a saying: Feed the soil, not the plants.

I take the same approach with water: Water the MM, not the plants.

You want to keep the MM moist so water is easily available to the roots all the time, and so the mix doesn't dry out because it's really time consuming trying to get it re-hydrated. Sticking your finger in the top isn't good enough; you need to reach to the bottom to make sure it's all damp. It can be good practice to leave one square empty, water it the same as the rest of the box, then dig down in the empty square to check your watering effectiveness. It has to be a trial and error thing because everyones' variables are different.

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  walshevak on 5/14/2012, 1:34 pm

And remember as the plants get bigger they may be using more water to sustain. My full jungles need more than the recent small plants. So keep checking that MM. If you don't trust the finger in the soil method, moisture meters are available at the box store.

Kay

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

Post  Lindacol on 5/14/2012, 1:47 pm

@Sandie777 wrote:Hi Eldena,

Just signed up to the square foot garden site and this is my first time posting anything, anywhere. Hope this helps. Last year was my first year with two 4x4 boxes, with very little success. Living in the high desert I thought I would need to water a lot, so I watered in the morning and evening. Recently attended a SFG workshop and found out I was watering too much and loosing all the nutrients in the soil. It was recommended to only water each square for 3 seconds each.



Hi Sandie and . I am only about 45 miles from you, just down in the San Bernardino area. How great that you were able to attend a SFG workshop. Where was it?



3 seconds per square would not work with a drip watering system like the OP mentioned. Depending on the weather mine needs to be on anywheres from 10 mins every 2-3 days to 10-15 mins twice a day when it is hot & dry. Newly planted seeds need to have the surface kept damp often till they get their true leaves. For them and for new transplants I use a watering can 2-3 times a day in addition to the drip watering.

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Re: Discouraged First-timer in PNW

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