Thursday, August 22, 2013

How to save your rotting squash or zucchini crop

Every year something new happens in one of my garden beds... Last year it was the cucumber beetle, this year it's rotting zucchini and squash plants. When my plants got nice and big I was looking for first signs of female parts on the plants. I found actually plenty of them and got very excited. When I checked back in two days later, all the tiny zucchini and squash were rotting away. 

(sorry I don't have a picture of that - who wants to remember disaster stage right?)

So what do you do when this happens in your garden? (Also read below pictures how to prevent it) Sprinkle dry egg shells and mulch all over the plants base and water throughly. Yes, it's that easy. It worked miracles. See, what the plant is lacking, is some calcium and the egg shells will fix just that!

The next zucchini that showed up after I sprinkled the egg shells looked like this and went all the way. So did the next dozen zucchini and squash!

So how can you prevent this from happening? My grandpa used to collect dry egg shells and kept them in the freezer at all times. Then when he was ready to plant the squash seeds, he would sprinkle the shells in the hole directly with the seed. This way the seed would have plenty of calcium supply right away from the start!
Hope this helps! 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

My organic fertilizer

This is a picture of nicely brewing organic fertilizer I use in my garden. 

What it really is, is some chicken poop that I put in plastic bucket and poured water over it. It was about  quarter of a bucket of poop and rest water. I covered it and let sit for 2 weeks in shade behind our chicken coup. When I opened it, I was amazed because the solution was literally boiling. I pour a little bit into a watering can and add more water to it. The smell is... ehm... interesting, but it works nicely. One more thing - I use it in the evening so it settles in over night and doesn't stress the plants in the hot sun.

Monday, August 05, 2013

My way to stake up the tomatoes and why

Another garden bed that is simply thriving this year! You might remember a picture of my experimental garden bed, where I used Tomatoes, Carrots, and Basil for companion planting.

This was only few weeks ago.

And here is the bed now. You can't even see the carrots (luckily they don't need a whole lot of sun do mature... they are just comfortably growing between the tomato plants)

Here is my giant basil.

Since the tomatoes grew rapidly, I didn't quite keep up with trimming them and getting rid of the suckers. Well, really I was busy at work and with the kids so I didn't actively go into my garden for about a week and it was done... Those plants were massive.

So I asked my lovely and handy husband to make me a trellis. I am not a fan of cages... First of all this is more appealing to my eye and looks more natural than a piece of metal in my garden bed (just my opinion, many people successfully use them and they work great for them - no judgement here)

He got some wooden sticks (maybe there is a better name for it... I wouldn't know it ;-) and some nails and he went according to my tomato plant setting. I think it looks great! And since our garden beds are the same size, we will be able to move it to the next year's tomato bed.

First of all the reason why you want to stake up your tomatoes is to keep them off the ground so they don't start rotting. The structure is close to 6 feet high on 3 sides (I have three rows of tomatoes). I took a string and tied it around the stem of each tomato plant that needed support. Make sure you don't tighten it too much because the stem will thicken as the plant matures. Then tie it to the top but don't pull too hard so the plant doesn't get pulled out of the ground. Here is a detail.

There is no wrong way to support your tomato plants. It is your garden and you decide what your method should be :-) Happy Staking!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Why Marigolds are beneficial for your garden

Early in the season I had some major problems with some of my plants getting eaten by bugs ( I haven't found out what the bug was :-( ) Since I am strictly an organic gardener, I refuse to use any toxic sprays to solve the problem. So what is the best way to maintain your garden organically? 

Companion Planting!

If you haven't heard yet, Marigolds are one of the best flowers to plant in your garden for that purpose. They are very easy to grow and they look pretty ;-)

Marigolds take care of:
- Aphids
- Mexican bean beetles
- Squash bugs
- Tomato hornworms
- White flies
- Thrips
- Root rot nematodes (attack roots of strawberries, potatoes and tomatoes)

Look at my bean trellis now!

And when the season is over, don't remove the Marigolds. Just simply leave them in and turn them over. They will rot and kill anything harmful that might have entered your garden. Next year I will plant them everywhere!