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Soil Question

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Soil Question

Post  jenjehle on 8/1/2010, 3:43 pm

I pulled a few tomato plants out (they were done and not looking so hot) and plan on planting some fall crops. As you know, tomatoes can have larger hairy root type bunches. So it left quite a "hole" ther in the area where the plant was.

To make up for this empty area, I thougth about adding some of my own compost from my bin and maybe a few cups each of verm (Lowe's has smaller bags). Mix it well and replant new seeds. Does it sound ok to do that?


Also, I dug up my two 20 gallon potato bins today. I had checked in there before and was pretty sure there wasn't going to be much. I was right. About 6-8 little goft ball size taters. Which in my family of SEVEN, won't go far! But enjoyed the experience and will probably try again next year. Would like to know where everyone got their seed potatoes from - who has had good results ? On-line or a local nursery?

And last but not least, can I reuse that soil/straw mixture from the potato bins. Before I put the seed potatoes down, I layered about 3-4 inches of compost, put the seed pot in and covered it all with straw. The compost in the bottom looks and smells healthy and clean. And naturally, there's straw mixed in with it now. Can I add some of that to my garden?

Thanks for everyone!

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Re: Soil Question

Post  Megan on 8/1/2010, 4:43 pm

Jen, Mel's book suggests adding a trowel of compost when replanting a square, so I don't see why what you suggest could hurt anything.

I haven't pulled my potatoes yet. Despite being a kid on a farm growing taters, I don't have much practical knowledge about them -- weird bits of memory come to the fore at odd moments is all. I do know that there are short, mid, and long-season potatoes. Mine are long season and I am going to let them go until late in the fall or the tops completely die, whichever comes first. I got my seed taters from a feed store (certified seed potato Kennebecs).

As for your straw.... my taters have straw in their high-rise box, too. For better or worse I intend to mix it into my MM, too, once the taters are pulled.

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Re: Soil Question

Post  jenjehle on 8/1/2010, 10:49 pm

Thanks, Megan. I'm sure I could have left my potatoes in to grow much longer but I was confident that there wasn't much going on in those tubs. And we were getting tired of mowing around them Smile

I bought my seed potatoes at a big box/feed store, Rural King. I wasn't happy with how they did and would like to start off on a better foot next year. But the compost in the tubs still looks great. Don't want to waste it if there's no reason to do it.

I know what the SFG book suggests about adding a trowel of compost when replanting. But in this case, a trowel would not be enough. With the way it's settled after time and removing the large, rooted plants out, there's much more of a empty area.

Thank you!!

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Re: Soil Question

Post  Chopper on 8/1/2010, 10:52 pm

As all of my beds have settled, I will be adding much more than a trowel also. I plan to get a 1/2 yard of compost to have on hand and go from there. I was much encouraged when I heard that the recommendation for third world countries is to use straight compost as buying materials is too burdensome. Just shoot for good soil, as that is the secret to crowding.

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Re: Soil Question

Post  jenjehle on 8/1/2010, 11:36 pm

@Chopper wrote:Just shoot for good soil, as that is the secret to crowding.

What do you mean by that? Sorry, I'm confused. I'm interested in the "crowding" comment b/c this is my second year having a consistent, serious problem with Powdery Mildew on my pickling cuks. Even though I'm following the "2 per square" guidelines". It's so bad and dissappointing this year, that I'm thinking about skipping the cuks next year; which will bring my kids to tears.

They are still producing, a little. This time last year, even though the PM was bad, I still had lots of cuks. The PM got into (airborn, I assume) my other beds with squash and zucc too. Got so bad there, I just last week pulled out every one of them and pitched them. I have to wonder about crowding.

Thanks, Chopper!

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Re: Soil Question

Post  Chopper on 8/1/2010, 11:51 pm

If you have a problem with powdery mildew, I would treat it. Once it is present, then actually not having a problem with it is rare.

Crowding is part of the SFG method. Good soil allows enough nutrients to plant items closer together therefore maximizing space. I would assume every year that PM will be a problem for you and were it I, I would treat accordingly.

Good soil is soil with adequate nutrients, moisture retention, and drainage. Mel addresses that in his book and I believe on this website. Short the perfect nutrient mix, you can always add as the season progresses.

Found this on PM:
Organic Sprays (for PM)
Sulfur is highly effective against powdery mildew if used in a
protectant program with a minimum of 7 to 14 days between applications.
Garlic naturally contains high levels of sulfur and a few cloves
crushed in water can be used to make a homemade spray. Apply a
sulfur-based fungicide at first evidence of mildew and repeat
applications as necessary. Proper timing of fungicide applications is
critical to successful control so make sure to begin at the first sign
of the disease.


Another option is to spray once a week with a solution of baking soda.
Baking soda increases the surface pH of the leaf making it unsuitable
for the growth of powdery mildew spores. Be sure to spray the
undersides of leaves as well as the upper surfaces when using any of
these sprays.


Here's a recipe to make your own spray:
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 quart water
A few drops of liquid soap
Before treating your plants, test the spray on a few leaves to make sure they are not too sensitive.



At: http://www.gardenscure.com/420/plant-nursery/118561-powdery-mildew-info-cause-treatment.html

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Re: Soil Question

Post  camprn on 8/2/2010, 8:31 am

Jen, sorry about your low yield of potatoes. I also have long growing potatoes and I have no idea how they are producing but the tops appear healthy. I have them planted in compost & dirt in large burlap bags that originally held green coffee beans I will be reusing all that organic matter in the garden.

As I've been pulling out expired plants, I have been adding about a quart of compost to each square as the Mel's mix has settled quite a bit. I'm really hoping that all that organic matter will bring on the worms.

My cukes have also been less than stelar this year. It might just be one of those years. I agree with Chopper in that I think the key to Powdery mildew is prevention in the small garden. PM is airborne is my understanding.

I treated my squash last week with a similar homemade spray. 1tsp baking soda, 1tsp olive oil, 1 quart of water. I used the olive oil as I do not have horticultural oil. The results so far so good. I am going to spray again today as a preventive.


camprn

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Re: Soil Question

Post  Lavender Debs on 8/2/2010, 9:13 am

Hi Jen
My "volunteer" potatoes that I moved to a bio-bin did not do quite as well as yours did. The few I got were very good. I still have fingerlings (peanut and red) with uber healthy tops. I'm almost afraid to look and see what I do or don't have. Got the red fingerlings from a local nursery without any information of length of season. The peanuts (more like a yellow) came from a health food co-op and were also lacking in season length information. I see them both at farmers markets. If the farmers were not so busy I would ask them about how long to wait.

On the compost question: I have good living compost in my bins that I put right into the hole left from pulling plants. I put the plants into the compost to keep the cycle going. I had some extra ingredients for MM after making a new strawberry bed in an old wheelbarrow. I did bring up the level in my 1st box (just pulled peas). From the start it was low. I have large tubs for tomatoes and vines. At the end of the season I plan to use the soil in those to bring up the level in the other gardens (settling has been surprising). I also do not want to replant tomatoes and squash in the same soil that they were planted in before.

Sorry about the Powdery Mildew. I like choppers post on that. Question: did you let your cucumbers sprawl or climb? I have mine in tubs by the extra tomatoes. I was not ready this year (my first SFG) to make trellises so they are sprawling in the "bad lawn" area of the garden.

Deborah... thinking the garden nearly takes care of itself this time of year ....so why does my putzing out there take so long?

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Re: Soil Question

Post  Odd Duck on 8/2/2010, 10:15 am

I always top up my beds/squares with compost any time I pull or replant anything. It takes quite a bit more than a trowel-full per square each time. I just added about a shovelfull per square to prep for fall replanting this year.

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Re: Soil Question

Post  Lavender Debs on 8/2/2010, 10:38 am

That is my plan duck. I wrote about this on my last post to the toy box, but in a nutshell, I plan to remove the grids and top the MM with wormy-compost, cornmeal (worm candy), and some grass clippings in the boxes that will not have winter crops. The winter box is being refreshed with compost as often as there is room (after each harvest).

Deborah... who is learning a whole lot from this thread Jen

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Re: Soil Question

Post  jenjehle on 8/2/2010, 1:22 pm

Hi all~

At the first sign of PM, I made up a Organic mixture of garlic bulbs, veg oil, dishsoap and baking soda. Sprayed the entire leaves, top and bottom, with this mixture. Says to do it again every two weeks.

I also bought some Neem Oil and gave the really bad leaves a good coating of that. Hopefully that wasn't overkill. The only thing I'm going to do now is give them some extra nutrients for a boost. A good watering with some fish emulsion.

Thanks everyone! Will read and write more later. But for now I'd better get out there and do some gardening stuff before it gets any hotter!

jenjehle

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