Friday, May 16, 2008

Better Living Thru Biology

The cilantro in my garden is taking over. The edges of one bed must have about 5 plants per square inch. I’m going to slowly pick/thin it. Yesterday I picked some for lunch. The plants only have 2 or 3 true leaves, but still I picked about ¼ cup from a tiny little spot. I had some left over Chinese chicken from last night and some left over Korean beef from the night before. Add some bok choi, some cilantro, lime, fresh ginger and garlic (always add more garlic) and I called it Thai leftovers.

Today I planted my squash and cucumber seedlings. Though I guess I shouldn’t call them seedlings. They are huge even though they are only about three weeks old. They were grown in newspaper pots, so their roots wouldn’t be disturbed when they were planted out. I’m trying Chappy’s Power Organics Root Booster this year on my transplants, and since it just showed up in the mail yesterday, the cucurbits are the first ones to use it. It is beneficial mycorrhizae fungi. It is supposed to make the roots take up nutrients and water more easily. This is definitely my year to try biological aids as preventatives for my plants. I’m also trying Serenade which is a bacterium that is sprayed onto plants and prevents fungal diseases; and also a more traditional one - worm casting tea. These products were a recommendation from Love Apple Farm’s web page on how to grow better tomatoes. I’ll probably follow most of her suggestions and see if my tomatoes are more vigorous; quite a few of them I already do, but some, like the biohelpers I hadn’t heard of. Tomatoes usually grow well for me, but do end up with blights by the end of the year; not enough to kill them, but it does slow them down. My cucumbers always get mildews in August so maybe it will help with that too.

Yesterday I picked up my tomatoes from Verrill Farms. The plants look healthy. They were in nice 3” pots and about 6” tall. I did prepare their beds today. Basically it was mounding up soil to create spots for the plants. But I didn’t use my hoe. It is perfect for moving and mounding soil. I like to have my hands in the dirt. What fun is gardening without getting dirt under your nails? So I played in my sandbox making sandcastles and roads… err I worked in my garden making trenches and holes for the plants.

The tomatoes will be placed 2’ apart along the back of the bed. In the front will be the peppers spaced 1’ apart (small chili peppers). The bed is about 3 ½ - 4’ wide so they will have a little more room in that direction. Each plant has a little bowl in the soil. They are being grown under black plastic and the problem with that is the rain doesn’t get in as well. So I’m directing it to the plant and to a ditch between the tomatoes and the peppers. I want to make sure it doesn’t drain off the sides of the plastic and away from the plants. The plastic has little holes in it, but I’ll end up cutting a few more when I find where it pools the most. I didn’t yet plant my tomatoes. They need a little hardening off. They have been grown in a greenhouse, so they have had full sun, but their stalks aren’t quite used to the wind. That being said they won’t really be in the full wind. I have a clear plastic cover with open ends that will be over them until the weather really heats up. In addition they will be planted deeply so they won’t have much of them above the soil. Still I figure they could use at least two days hardening off. Maybe tomorrow they will go in.

On the flee beetle front, I seem to be winning. There were lots of little flee beetles in the traps and appreciably less on the plants. Hallelujah. I may not get rid of them all, but I’m hoping to keep the population to reasonable limits.

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