“BTW, it sure would be nice to have some kind of comment alert function to notify of followup/additional comments here. (Unless there’s something already that I’ve overlooked.)
Totally your choice, of course. It’s just that in order to engage in a discussion I have to leave the window open in order to remember to come back to it and see if anything further has been said. And that never works well.
Just a thought.”
I looked into it and found a good plugin. You can now follow a post you comment on, which should really help improve discussion.
Thank you, Duke. Great idea.
And, from the “my kids find ridiculous things” file, this computer game trailer my son discovered made me laugh out loud:
Cooking Simulator - Greenlight Trailer - YouTube
At first I thought “a cooking simulator – that’s ridiculous!”
And then I watched the whole trailer. Okay, that’s funny.
“All those white blooming trees you see everywhere… do you think they are pretty? If you knew what they actually represent, you would choke on your morning coffee and gag on your scrambled eggs. All those white blooming trees you see now are an environmental disaster happening right before your very eyes.
I’m talking about every white blooming tree right now, with only the exception of wild plums, which is a short multi-flora tree that seldom reaches over eight feet in height. All the other white flowering trees in today’s environment are an ecological nightmare, getting worse and worse every year and obliterating our wonderful native trees from the rural landscape.
If it’s blooming white right now, it’s a curse. This dictum especially applies to that “charming” Bradford pear your dimwitted landscaper planted in the middle of your front yard. Indeed, lack of smarts is what has led to this disaster. Bradford pear is worse than kudzu, and the ill-conceived progeny of Bradford pear will be cursing our environment for decades or possibly centuries yet to come.
When Bradford pear was introduced as an ornamental in 1964 by the US Department of Agriculture, it was known then that this tree possessed the weakest branch structure in nature. Also, the tree was assumed to be sterile. Bradford pears will seldom last more than 20 years before they bust themselves apart at the seams. That’s actually the good news… (read the rest)”
The good thing is that if you have a Bradford pear tree, it accepts grafts from better pears. Cut it down, then when shoots grow back from the stump, graft good pears onto them!
The blooms on fruiting pear trees are just as beautiful as Bradford pear blooms – and they’re followed by fruit. Using the root system of an existing Bradford pear will give the scions you add a great advance on production.
I decided to try something different on YouTube this week. Since my previous video on how to germinate a peach pit has been popular, I thought “hey, wouldn’t it be fun to animate the process with stop-motion?”
And so I did:
How To Germinate a Peach Pit & Grow a Peach Tree from Seed (Animated!) - YouTube
It’s really kind of a mess but this video will help me work some kinks out. I need to work on lighting, background and focus. The camera’s autofocus was not reliable and neither was the exposure, as you can see from frame to frame. I adjusted as best as I could in Final Cut after the fact but it’s not as good as getting sharp, well-lit shots at the beginning.
My YouTube viewers liked it, though, with the exception of one guy who wasn’t happy I didn’t animate all the way through to planting orchards and harvesting fruit:
It’s always the potheads or the vegans…
If you are interested in seeing the results of growing peaches from seed, I’ve shared my successes both here and on YouTube:
Peach Trees - Grown From Seed! - YouTube
I’d like to create more “Animated Gardener” videos. It’s fun to do and so long as I keep the videos short it doesn’t eat up too much time.
I’m sold on using seaweed fertilizer, whether fresh or purchased – and as people try it for themselves, they’re also learning its benefits.
As commenter Guian Millares writes:
“Dude it worked!!! My plants have grown very well with washed seaweeds! I use or twice everyweek and it is working awesome! Ive never had such growth before!! wow! Thanks man! God bless you….never listen to those who say negative things on you…You are doing great! God bless you.”
Thank you! God has blessed me and continues to do so. And I count the abundance of free local seaweed as one of those blessings.
A year ago I posted this video on making and using seaweed fertilizer in the garden:
Three Easy Ways to Use Seaweed in Your Garden - YouTube
Which reminds me: I have some new garden beds that could really benefit from some seaweed application. I’ll have to take a couple sacks with me next time I hit the beach with the family.
If you live far from the beach or don’t feel like hauling bags of seaweed, you can get good seaweed fertilizers on Amazon. Neptune’s Harvest is a popular one and is really rich since it’s a mix of both seaweed and fish. Fish emulsion is like magic in the garden – and when you mix it with seaweed, you’re really adding the bounty of the ocean to your plants. They go crazy. In fact, my friend Jo the Master Gardener once told me that fish emulsion is the way to grow truly awesome organic strawberries in Florida. It greens them up and makes them fruit without encouraging leaf growth over fruit.
Another option that I used to use on my beds in North/Central Florida was kelp meal. It’s loaded with minerals and a little goes a long way. I don’t know if kelp is totally safe post-Fukushima, but I haven’t heard anything really scary lately.
I used kelp meal as part of the fertilizer mix I used to grow these amazing cabbages:
I followed the directions for making COF (Complete Organic Fertilizer) which Steve Solomon writes about in Gardening When it Counts. Once I had my mix, I sprinkled it all down the beds, raked it in, put down a weed barrier, punched holes, then planted cabbage seedlings. They did better than any I’ve grown before or since. Absolutely beautiful heads.
Seaweed was part of that. Consider it a multivitamin for your garden, loaded with micronutrients. The big three – NPK – are the main course – and seaweed has those, but not in huge amounts – but seaweed is really rich in the little things which add to the overall health of your plants.
How to Make and Use Seaweed Fertilizer
So, you have some seaweed and want to try it out? Here are three good options.
Option #1: Seaweed as Mulch
Take the seaweed, rinse it out, then use it as mulch. That works nicely and breaks down over time. Maritime Gardening agrees:
Seaweed Makes A Fantastic Mulch! - YouTube
Option #2: Compost it!
Put seaweed directly into the compost pile. Consider it a “green” layer. I don’t bother rinsing it when I do this, figuring the salt on it will work its way through.
Option #3: Make Liquid Seaweed Fertilizer
You’ve seen me do this before with weeds, manure, kitchen scraps, etc.:
Creating a New Batch of Fermented Plant Juice AKA "Dave's Fetid Swamp Water (TM)" - YouTube
But you can do it with seaweed as well. It’s a great additive – or it can be used all by itself.
This is a very good video where a man does the same method I do, but with comfrey and other northern leaves, along with seaweed:
How To Make Liquid Fertiliser & Black Gold - YouTube
Hey, that guy looks way more pro than me. I should send him a T-shirt.
I watched The Godfather for the first time this last week.
As a gardener, this was what impressed me the most:
Look at the height of those tomatoes!
When I used to live in Tennessee one of my neighbors had a permanent location for tomatoes. They sunk tall posts into the ground in a grid, then planted tomatoes in the same spot every year. They would grow taller and taller until they were higher than me by the end of the year.
With “indeterminate” tomatoes, the plants tend to keep growing and producing so long as the bugs don’t get them.
“That’s George Mustakas and his Belgium Giants growing in containers behind his store, East Fishkill Provisions in Hopewell Junction. His son, Gus, said his father, who has been the owner of the store for some 21 years, has been growing this variety of tomatoes for about four years. He loves the taste of them and uses the tomatoes, some of which are 3 pounds or more, in the store’s deli to make sandwiches. Customers really seem to appreciate them, according to his son. George starts the seeds each year and also gives seedlings to friends and family to grow their own. He uses apple barrels to grow the plants in and fertilizes them with a seaweed product, according to his son.”
This is the best video I found on the “Russian Miracle Shovel” broadfork modification:
Чудо лопата своими руками. - YouTube
As you can see, the tines break the ground, then the welder re-bar pieces act as a comb to shatter the clods.
Basically, this is a man-powered tiller.
Here’s what appears to be a commercially made Russian Home Shopping Network version of the tool:
Рыхлитель «СУПЕР-ЗЕМЛЕКОП-7» - YouTube
On the downside, this style of broadfork doesn’t look like it could handle the really tough conditions I’ve been able to handle with the Meadow Creature.
That said, in sandy or loose soil it would be a time saver as it makes a nice seedbed as you till your way along.
Here’s a thought: what if you added one of these sifter/comb attachements to the Meadow Creature?
It could work. Maybe on the lighter 12″ tine model?
The open holes are there to add the pivoting grill so you wouldn’t have to do anything to the broadfork itself.
I dunno, I’m not an engineer, but I’m sure one of you could figure out how to reinvent one as a “Russian miracle shovel.” It would probably be too heavy, though. Maybe the grill could be made of titanium!
I love tools which don’t require gasoline or expensive parts. The broadfork is already head and shoulders above digging with a spading fork. The “Russian miracle shovel” style of sifting broadfork would probably work well as a second pass after the Meadow Creature did the really hard work.
I’ve bought from Woodlanders nursery in the past and appreciated some of the rare plants they offer.
I just got this email and am passing it on:
Midnight on Sunday, April 29 is the deadline to order plants for guaranteed spring shipment.
An incredible array of desirable plants is available at www.woodlanders.net. Order now by clicking on “Shop Our Plants” when you get to the website.
Our 2018 Open House & Plant Sale is scheduled for May 19-26.
Please note that plants may be picked up at the nursery year-round if ordered through woodlanders.net.
Thank you for your past patronage of our nursery. In the coming weeks we look forward to your continued support and hope you will tell your gardening friends about Woodlanders. It is an honor to provide you with these special plants.
Here’s the promo letter I got from The Grow Network this afternoon:
What if I told you a secret that you could double the life of your existing emergency food stores?
Does that sound too good to be true?
Think about it… 6 months of stored food would last a whole year. That alone could mean the difference between life and death.
And what if I told you that this secret is entirely unaffected by grid-down conditions?
That’s right. No electricity required.
And it gets better.
What if I told you that this secret never runs out? A perpetual, reliable, off-grid food source.
Sounds impossible, right?
Wrong! If this sounds impossible to you, then you need to see the FREE 72-Hour viewingof this simple new system from gardening guru Marjory Wildcraft.
With this new system, Marjory takes all the guesswork out of developing a sustainable off-grid food supply. Literally anyone can set this system up. And the best part is…
… you can do this right in your own back yard, in less than 1 hour per day.
If you’re a busy person who can’t spend hours working in a garden every day – but you want to have a reliable off-grid food source for the worst of times – this system was designed especially for you.
Here’s how it works. Marjory broke down the nutritional needs of the average person for a healthy survival diet.
She projected those needs out for an entire year…
… and she identified 3 core components that, together, can supply as much nutrition as you need to produce.
She recommends starting on a small scale, but even on a very small scale, this system is capable of supplying half of the nutrition you need. And the entire system is inherently scalable – so it can be expanded and contracted on the fly to accommodate any number of dependents.
And let me be clear. I’m not talking about seed packages.
Lots of preppers have seed packages. But very few have the knowledge and experience required to grow their own meat and vegetables reliably when there are no other options.
And that’s what I’m talking about – the ability to produce as much food as you need, off-grid, in a fully sustainable, fully scalable, closed loop system.
For decades, Marjory Wildcraft has helped thousands of people to start growing their own food. Her books and videos are used by governments and universities all around the world.
She condensed all her experience into this simple new system – to eliminate the research and trial-and-error that would slow you down – so you can have a safe and reliable food source right when you need it.
This is a brand-new system, and it has already become a huge success. It’s called How to Grow Half Your Own Food (in your own back yard in less than an hour per day). But, remember, the system is entirely scalable and can easily be adapted on the fly to grow all your food, if necessary.
And Marjory Wildcraft is making it available to you…for free…on March 20 – 22.
The knowledge and insights that are compiled in these materials would take you years to learn on your own. But they are presented here as a neatly packaged system that eliminates the time-consuming research and trial-and-error that stand in the way of quick, reliable food production.
Just imagine the profound impact of having a functional food production system before SHTF! This system can quickly scale to accommodate additional dependents, meaning you could theoretically incorporate as many people as you want. This is a system that anyone can learn! Marjory Wildcraft has taught thousands of people to do this successfully… and I know you can do it too. Register here for the 72-Hour FREE Viewing
I like these “watch online for free” things. It’s a good chance to binge on gardening inspiration. Also, if anyone buys the full presentation after signing up via the links here, I make a few bucks. Win win.
When you think of “easy raised beds,” you probably think of using pressure treated wood and a miter saw. That’s the way I used to make my garden beds in spring. A hurried trip to Home Depot or Lowes, then a few hours of measuring and cutting and nailing and placing beds. It’s fun, and it looks cool when you’re done.
But then people tell you, “wait! Pressure treated lumber is bad for you!” So you start looking around and you find a good supply of cinder blocks. Hey, they may not look classy, but why not? They’ll last forever!
Or maybe the cinder block raised beds look too ugly for you. Then you use solid blocks to make it look nice:
So you say, “okay, I’m going with cedar next time!”
And you take a trip to the store and discover that buying cedar for your garden beds is roughly equivalent to burning stacks of $100 bills to keep warm.
It’s expensive! And you also need to deal with building the beds.
So the spring gardens wait for you to get around to making your beds. Or maybe you’re waiting on your husband to make them. Or for your brother to lend you his saw.
Meanwhile, if you go with my favorite easy raised bed style, you could have been all planted long ago.
Easy Raised Beds the Biointensive Way
I have built beds with wood, cinder blocks, stones, bricks, bamboo and even bottles.
Generally, though, I now stick to a modified version of the easy raised bed design recommended by John Jeavons.
No borders, just a nice section of well-dug earth which you DON’T step on after digging. That ground will stay loose for a long time. I’ve planted on year-old double-dug beds and they were still nice and loose.
Jeavons recommends double-digging 5′ wide beds with a fork and a spade, like this:
Session 3 Part 1: GROW BIOINTENSIVE: A Beginner's Guide -- Garden Bed Preparation - YouTube
Session 3, Part 2: GROW BIOINTENSIVE: A Beginner's Guide -- Garden Bed Preparation - YouTube
This system works well, but there are a few things I changed for my own gardening.
First, the spacing!
I prefer wide spacing to tight spacing, especially in situations where I need to haul water.
Give them some room and they’ll compete less. Tighter spacing creates a need for more water and much higher soil fertility. Widely spaced plants are better at taking care of themselves.
Second, the width.
The theory with 5′ wide beds is that they create a microclimate as the plants grow together and the leaves touch. I don’t know about that as I haven’t tested it; however, 4′ beds have worked fine for me. Even 3′ beds are great. 5′ is too much to reach over and just feels clunky.
Here are some small ones:
And some wider ones:
Those might be nearing 5′ wide, actually, but 4′ is easier to handle.
Third, the tools!
Instead of double digging with a spade and fork, I now do most of my digging with my Meadow Creature broadfork:
The broadfork doesn’t break ground as thoroughly as a fork and spade but you can go a lot faster and cover much larger gardens without breaking your back.
Using a Meadow Creature broadfork to break new ground - off-grid tilling! - YouTube
It’s a much easier tool to use and is rather like rowing. It feels good to broadfork – much more so than digging with a spade.
Once I have my bed loosened, I shape it up with the triangular hoe. If I want it really neat, I’ll also use a rake to level the seedbed.
In between beds I like 3′ paths. Less than that and you’re always crowded. Our old homestead had beds with less than 2′ between beds.
That saves on space but it’s harder to work and feels claustrophobic. Spread out!
I’ve found that a simple 4′ x 8′ raised bed mound like these can be built in perhaps a half-hour. The ones I’m making now are taking longer as I’m pulling out rocks and roots, but if you were working in a lawn they’d be done in no time flat.
Here’s my new video looking at this method so you can really get a look at what I’m doing:
Super Easy Raised Beds with only TWO Tools - YouTube
The plants love these beds just as much as beds with borders. Why make cedar raised beds or square foot garden beds with pressure treated lumber when you can just dig mounded beds like these? It’s so easy – and I find these easy raised beds are better when it comes to weeding as well. There’s no wood for the weeds to work themselves in around.
If you’re looking to try something new in your spring gardening and haven’t built this style of mounded bed before, I encourage you to give it a try. This is about the easiest garden you can make and it’s free. I don’t see the need to spend money on borders anymore. I just make neat mound gardens and plant them up. The vegetables make them beautiful.
I’ll be digging more over the coming weeks as we get ready for spring. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you can follow along as I post new videos.
I need to take some more pictures, but we’ve started working on the land we’re borrowing.
I’m digging the beds with my Meadow Creature, then smashing up the heavy clay clods and planting transplants.
Thus far we’ve planted lettuce, cabbage, Tabasco peppers, tobacco, celosia and cauliflower.
Breaking the ground has been very difficult due to the abundance of roots and rocks – but the soil itself is beautiful, black and rich.
I’m using a modified John Jeavons method here, just loosening the ground and making mounded beds, then planting. I’m using much wider spacing, however, as I don’t want to haul water over here every day. Space widely and you need less water. Space tightly and you’d better have irrigation.
The next thing we need to do is start planting pumpkins. I need to get some more land cleared first, then I’ll start digging melon pits and planting. I think it’s time to try Hubbards again, plus I need to get my Seminole pumpkins going.
On the topic of land clearing, I wish I could make something like this happen:
Can you turn your weedeater into a tree eater? Let's find out! - YouTube
That’s awesome but I don’t think I can find the parts here. A buzz saw on a pole!
I’ll shoot some more pictures soon. We got a good heavy rain the day after I transplanted so the seedlings are already past the wilting stage and looking like they’ll all take.
I also need to dig some more yam beds. One thing at a time…