Time to Grow More and Work Less

Tops Down, Dig Up

OnionsThe rule of thumb for harvesting onions is to dig them when the tops have fallen over. However as long as the tops are green, the bulbs will continue to plump up. So when is the ideal time to harvest them. That partly depends on the weather, as do so many things in the garden.

Rainy Seasons

If you’re having a rainy season, onions can re-sprout, even after most of the tops have started turning brown. That may sound like a good thing, but re-sprouting will shorten their storage life.

Of course, that doesn’t really matter if your growing a variety that doesn’t store well to begin with, like a Sweet Spanish. But if you’re growing a lot of onions to keep throughout the winter, don’t wait for the tops to brown. Get them out of the ground when the leaves have fallen over.

H3 – Hot, Hazy, and Humid

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Should You Plant or Remove the Peat Pot?

Peat-PotsAlthough I’m leery of using peat, I still love the convenience of pots that can be plunked in the ground and left to decay. Last year I was sent some seedlings in pots that were labeled biodegradable. I tossed them in the compost heap, where they remain to this day, totally in tact.

Peat pots don’t dissolve immediately, but they do eventually break down. Even so, it’s better to loosen or remove the bottom of the pots, before sinking them in the ground, so that the roots of the tender seedling don’t have to work so hard to branch out.

Another thing to consider is that peat has a tendency to wick water. Since the top of the pot is usually above the surface of the soil within it, part of the pot remains above ground when you plant it in the garden. That slight lip will try out fast and then it will pull water up from the buried portion – away from the plant’s roots.

The pot on the left is decomposing, but it's still wicking water while it does so. You can't even see the pot on the right, with the rim removed.

The pot on the left is decomposing, but it’s still wicking water while it does so. You can’t even see the pot on the right, with the rim removed.

On the Other HandContinue Reading

Round = More Space

Raised-BedI’ve long been a proponent of raised beds in the garden. They’re easy to work in, you never have to step on the soil so you never have to till, and they keep things tidy. Ideally I’d like them raised enough so that I don’t even have to bend, but that will have to wait.

The soil in raised beds tends to sink each year. Replenishing it in the spring is not my favorite job, but it is something I do try to get to at least every other year. Now I have even more reason to do it.Continue Reading

Are My Vegetables Hungry?

Fertilizer-BagI’m not big on fertilizing plants. For one thing, it’s a time consuming, messy task. But my real reason is that I agree with those who say to feed the soil and let the soil feed your plants. When my plants look ill, I know it’s time to add some organic matter. Of course, I try not to wait that long, but time can get away from you in the summer.

So when I was asked how often vegetables need fertilizer, I really had to think. These are my suggestions, for a garden that has good soil. If your garden does not have good soil, start by beefing it up, rather than adding supplemental food. You’ll be amazed at the difference. Continue Reading

Have You Seen this Monster?

Ladybug-NymphIn my years on Master Gardener hot lines, I saw a lot of creepy insects. This little gal made an appearance every few years. She would have been a more frequent visitor, but she’s a fast mover. The first time I saw her, I was a bit put off. But it didn’t take long to find out that she’s one of the good guys. This is the nymph stage of the lady beetle or ladybug. It’s a wonder we don’t see them more often.

Where do the Lady Beetles Go?Continue Reading