Gardening Presentation

on Thursday, March 25, 2010

Here's the outline for the presentation

Print it out to bring with you to the presentation, or just for gardening tips any time!

An advantage to starting your own seeds

Look at just a small percentage of the varieties of tomatoes you can grow - and each often has it's own distinctive flavor and appearance. How can you resist when there are named varieties such as these!?

  • Aunt Gertie's Gold
  • Aunt Ruby's German Green
  • Ball's Beefsteak
  • Beefmaster Hybrid
  • Beefy Boy
  • Big Raspberry
  • Black Cherry
  • Black from Tula
  • Black Krim
  • Black Prince
  • Black Zebra
  • Bloody Butcher
  • Brandywine, Black
  • Brandywine, Red
  • Brandywine, Red (Potato Leaf)
  • Brandywine, Yellow
  • Caspian Pink
  • Chocolate Cherry
  • Dagma's Perfection
  • Early Wonder
  • Giant Belgium
  • Giant Tree
  • Glory
  • Green Giant
  • Green Grape
  • Green Zebra
  • Hard Rock
  • Horizon
  • Ildi
  • Isis Candy
  • Italian Sweet
  • Japanese Trifele Black
  • Juliet
  • Lemon Drop
  • Lucky Cross
  • Marianna's Peace
  • Opalka
  • Parks Whopper
  • Persimmon
  • Persimmon Orange
  • Razzleberry
  • Red Alert
  • San Marzano
  • Snow White
  • Sugary
  • Sun Sugar
  • Sungella
  • Supersteak
  • Sweet Baby Girl
  • Sweet Gold
  • Tobolsk
  • Wayahead
  • Yellow Pear

Get some help planning when to start your seeds!

Johnny's Selected Seeds offers a free seed-starting calculator. Just download the spreadsheet, enter your last average frost date in each of the spreadsheet pages, and it'll tell you when and how (indoors or out) you want to start many popular seeds. Here's where to go on Johnny's site, or just click here for the download! (And just FYI, if you're wondering about any of the info for various plant varieties, Johnny's site offers amazingly detailed information for just about every veggie!)

Here's a preview of the calculator spreadsheet in action. As you can see, I've entered May 21st as our last average frost date. Hard to believe, isn't it!?

When starting seeds in flats, you might find it's helpful to have a reference chart for which seeds are where such as the one below. Go to the gallery of charts/grids I've set up to see if there's one already made for your seed starting needs!

From Seed Starting Charts

Some plants appreciate vertical support

Snow peas climbing twigs collected from the woods:

Tomatoes do really well when they have vertical cages, either pre-made ones purchased at the store, or ones made at home from concrete support mesh like these, which are extra sturdy and taller.

And here are gourds and cucumbers sharing a vertical trellis with nasturtiums - I had bumper crops of the cucumbers and gourds, plus the nasturtiums were beautiful and might help deter pests. There's even basil tucked in on the corners of the bed.

It's okay to crowd AND mix your veggies!

These kale and swiss chard plants don't fact, they're creating a micro-environment that retains humidity and helps choke out weeds.

If you think these little lettuce plants look crowded... about lettuce interplanted with broccoli? Since lettuce hates heat and will bolt when the weather gets too warm, the larger broccoli plants will help shade them and help prevent them from bolting too soon. The floating row cover supported over this bed also helps keep things cool PLUS keeps out pests, such as the cabbage moth that lays eggs on broccoli, which will then hatch into little green caterpillars. Extra protein, sure - but not very appetizing!

Here's snow peas (barely visible on the left), lettuce, onions and swiss chard, all playing nice with each other. It's believed onions might help deter some pests. And since most of these veggies like (or don't mind) cool weather, you'll notice the tube-support for floating row cover over the bed to help shade them while the peas and lettuce are still in the bed.

Your plants need to drink!

And setting up a drip irrigation system sure does help. You can either have this permanently plumbed and use a timer, or just hook a hose up to it when you need to water and check back when you think the soil's sufficiently soaked. This type of watering has benefits over the usual overhead watering with a hose or watering can - such as no splashing of the soil means less likelihood of scattering soil-borne disease.

Let's get it on...

It doesn't take long before you learn which critters you do NOT want to see in your garden. And the ones you're least likely to want to see seem to be those that don't you seeing them, no matter what they're doing. Here Cucumber beetles (which come in both spotted and striped varieties) are having a party on a squash blossom. My trick? If it's a male blossom (which I can more easily spare), I'll fold the blossom shut around all of those bugs, pick it off, and either step on it or throw it in the pond...that way I don't have to squish them directly, nor do they get as much a chance to fly away. Cucumber beetles are fast fliers!

And here's evidence that squash bugs have been in your garden - most often on the underside of pumpkin and squash leaves. My first year of gardening I convinced myself these might be the eggs of beneficial insects - and left them. There were HUUUNDREDS of squash bugs killing all my zucchini, summer squash and pumpkins. Never again! Tear off this piece of leaf and stomp on it, burn it, squish it between your fingers, or send it off-site somehow! Trust me - you'll never get them all!

Cool gardening gadgets:

I've found many markers fade in the sun and rain. Paint markers work better than Sharpies. I've geeked it up and like printing my own labels with more detailed information - partly because I enjoy planting so many different varieties of a vegetable each season. If I have 25+ varieties of pepper or tomato, I may not remember some of the main characteristics of each variety by the time they're fruiting. Thankfully with my label printer, which can be hooked up to a computer and pull the data from a spreadsheet, I can cram lots of info onto a UV-resistant label, which I then stick on recycled miniblinds. For a blog entry on how I do this, see here... And here's a video of the label printer in action (although I wasn't putting as much information on the labels at the time I recorded this video).

Here's an example of one of my more detailed labels in the garden right now:

You can buy a weather station to track the temperature, dew point, rain, wind speed and direction and more in your yard - and then have that submitted to online services such as Wunderground. You can even set some weather stations to then send you email alerts if there's a frost, if the temperatures drop or rise in great amounts, if there's a lot of rain, etc...

Additional Online Resources

Here's a list of great blogs and podcasts for gardening tips:

Some favorite online resources for seed ordering:


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