September 25, 2008
Okay, if you're really serious about having a greenhouse, you're probably resigned to the fact that you'll have to fork over $1,200 or more to get something decent. If you don't want to suffer through buying a used one that you dismantle, transport home and reconstruct (like GardenSnob did), do yourself a favor and buy one from Farmtek. They have great stuff for farm, garden and home.
September 24, 2008
Here's another greenhouse option for indoor use. What? Indoor use? That's what they say but there are no suggestions as to what type of plant would do well in it. It's also odor-proof so there's a big clue. An expensive little recreational item at $195.25 through Amazon and I don't recommend buying one. Just like to keep people informed about what's out there. If you are foolish enough to buy one, make sure you don't have it delivered to your home - this is one sale that could trigger an investigation!
September 22, 2008
If you usually make a cold frame for spring time or cover your beloved tomato plants in the fall for a few weeks, you might want to consider something like this portable greenhouse.
The set up is similar to a camping tent and it's plenty big for most backyard gardeners. Invest in this and save money in the spring by starting your own plants from seed. Available from Amazon for $189.05.
September 20, 2008
Row covers are great for growing mustard greens and other veggies that get chowed by bugs. Now that you've eaten all those greens, pull the row covers over the tomatoes or basil to get a few more days or weeks (you never know around here) out of the summer garden. We will be covering our basil, carrots, beets and tomatoes until we get enough sauce and pesto made or until we are so sick of it that we just let the plants perish in the cold.
These row covers are available from Johnny's Seeds for as little as $16.00 for 83' x 50'. Make sure you buy the heavy grade for maximum warming.
The beets will be pulled up before they get mushy and the carrots will be covered with 2' of hay and left in the ground all winter. We hope to shovel back the snow, roll away the hay and dig carrots all winter. The farmer from whom we bought Spicy, one of the pigs, does this every year and says it works much better than pulling them and storing them in sawdust. We'll see about that and we will of course be documenting it over the winter. But for now we will steal a few more days from summer.
September 19, 2008
As we were gathering the last of the tomatoes for canning, we went at it with gusto, confident that all the worms, bugs and caterpillars had taken wing in their new forms and gone on to greener pastures. But, soon enough, we were rubbing shoulders (no horns - I checked both ends) with this one.
Could be a late season hornworm since there can be two generations of them in a single year. And, there must be more than one in the GardenSnob garden because many tomatoes had that characteristic, quarter-sized bite shaved off of them. This one is a purple/brown/grey color, though, not the typical green, so we'll keep searching for its proper identity. We decided to leave this little guy on the tomato so it can mature into a moth. We have enough tomatoes and it would be really cool to see the giant 5-6" moth.
One way to stave off next year's hornworms is to till your garden this fall, keeping an eye out for the cocoons which are reddish brown. Make sure you crush, destroy, pulverize them. The Mantis tiller might be just the thing for this job. It's light and maneuverable and uses a dependable Honda engine.
I've only heard good things about them and am tempted to get one myself. Although it's more expensive, I recommend the one with the 4-cycle engine because it's easier to start and a lot quieter. On sale at Amazon for $448.82.
And now for the fun stuff. How could we mention something as disgusting as a tobacco worm without giving a visual? Here's a really gross video for all the worm lovers but especially my 7 & 8 year old nephews. It shows a pretty girl eating a large tobacco hornworm on a dare. This is as gross as it gets! Don't say I didn't warn you.
Hot Chick Eating Juicy Tomato Worm - The most popular videos are here
The hornworm has taken quite a beating this season so let's see it in its hummingbird moth form. Looks graceful enough and the flower sure is pretty.
(Photo courtesy of Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota)
September 17, 2008
The birds are starting to pack it up and head south. When their singing becomes less frequent, I pay more attention to my windchimes. We have some in the back and some on the front porch. The Woodstock Alto Chime has been hanging outside all year round for several years and it still looks and sounds beautiful. Even with a slight breeze, it chimes. When it is very windy, it never gets annoying because it sounds like an instrument, not a tinny dime store trinket. It might seem expensive at $39.99 (from Amazon), but when you hear it, you won't think so.
September 13, 2008
I've walked past that 50 lb bag of pelletized lime in the barn for several months now. It belongs on the grass, yes, the grass with the 5.2 pH! I just couldn't bear the thought of one more contraption taking up room in the tiny garden shed so I never bought a spreader. Also, it's hard to get motivated to grow "lawn" when there are so many other more interesting things to grow. Now I'm faced with looking at that bag of lime all winter or forking over the dough to get the job done.
This hand-operated spreader from Earthway seems like a good solution. At 4 lbs, it won't wear me out and it has a shoulder strap as well. I'll use it for the lime pellets and also for broadcasting a cover crop on the garden. Best of all, it doesn't have a motor (no maintenance) or long handles to tangle with all the other long handles in the shed. At $29.91, this spreader/seeder seems like the best choice. For more information on lawns, lawn care and liming, check out this bulletin from Virginia Tech Extension, LIMING - The Why's And How To's.
September 9, 2008
Even if you have a small garden, 10' x 20' or even smaller, you might want to consider planting a green manure in the fall. This practice helps to prevent erosion and adds valuable nutrients to your garden soil.
There are many types of grains and legumes that can serve this purpose such as crimson clover, red clover, white clover, field peas, alfalfa, rye, oilseed radish and hairy vetch (pictured above). Sow cover crop seeds in the fall after you've pulled all the dead vegetable and flower plants out. Rake lightly to slightly cover the seeds. Come spring, till this crop into the soil before you plant your spring veggies such as lettuce, carrots, peas and other cold crops. Lots of options are available at Johnny's Seeds.
September 8, 2008
Canning is very satisfying, especially when you rest your eyes on many jars full of food from your garden. However, and this is a major however, it takes way too long. Who has time to preserve their harvest when we have to spend so much time working? It's hard enough just getting a garden going.
The Sauce Master is one item I wish I had had this summer. It's not too late to benefit from it, though, given all the foraging still to be done.
This contraption promises to cut my canning time in half by eliminating coring and peeling of fruits and vegetables. If I didn't have to dip the tomatoes in boiling water for 60 seconds, then peel them, then get the seeds out, then crush them with a potato masher while they heated up, I could can five times as much sauce, go into business and quit my day job. And, I don't have to plug the Sauce Master in so, if the power goes out, the canning will go on. Great name and reasonable price considering what it helps you accomplish. At Johnny's Seeds for $52.00.
September 5, 2008
This is what I have been looking for - work gloves that won't disintegrate when they get wet. Last year, I bought a pair of Carhartt's women's leather work gloves (for $20, too!) and they busted out at the thumbs the 3rd time I brought in firewood. Needless to say, I was not happy and reverted back to my 1/4" thick felt mittens. Still, it would be nice to have grippy gloves for picking up firewood that would truly be my size. These have a synthetic suede palms and reinforced fingertips so they just might last through the season. And the sniffle circle (they call it a brow wipe but, really, we all know it is for wiping your nose) is an added bonus. A bargain at $19.95, if they live up to their advertising.