UPCOMING COMPOSTING WEBINAR/WORKSHOP

Presentation by Lee Reich (MS, PhD, researcher in soil and plants for the USDA and Cornell University, decade-long composter, and farmdener*):

Learn the why and the how of making a compost that grows healthy and nutritious plants, everything from designing an enclosure to what to add (and what not to add) to what can go wrong (and how to right it). Don’t bother stuffing old tomato stalks, grass clippings, and leaves into plastic bags; just compost them! The same goes for kitchen waste. Learn what free materials are available for composting. “Bring” your questions about this important topic.

Also covered will be the best ways to use your “gourmet compost.” Good compost is fundamental to good gardening; it put the “organic” into organic gardening, making healthy soil and healthy plants.

Whether your interest is to produce a material that’s good for your garden or to recycle kitchen and garden waste, this workshop will teach …

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SICKNESS, MY CORN NOT ME

An Interesting Puzzle Unfolds

Sudoko and Scrabble and other games and puzzles offer endless hours of entertainment and stimulation. Or so I hear.  I get those challenges and rewards from my garden. Case in point is a bed of sweet corn which has been stunted all season long and then last week, almost suddenly, all the plants’ leaves turn sickly as well. Needless to say, ears are developing poorly or not at all. Why, I asked?

I have to backtrack. Each year I plant 4 beds of corn, each about 20 feet long, which supplies plenty of ears for fresh eating and freezing. I spread out the harvest season by planting a new bed every two weeks after the previous planting. Each bed, like other beds in my vegetable gardens, is spread each year with a one-inch depth of compost to maintain fertility (as well as other benefits).

At first I thought perhaps …

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READY FOR 2021

Why Now?

For the past week or so I’ve been getting parts of the garden ready for next year. Too soon, you say? No, says I.

Pole beans

A bed of corn and a bed of bush beans are finished for the season. Not that that’s the end of either vegetable. I planted four beds of corn, each two weeks after the previous, and the two remaining beds will be providing ears of fresh Golden Bantam — a hundred year old variety with rich, corny flavor — well into September.

The bed of bush beans will be superseded by a bed of pole beans, planted at the same time. Bush beans start bearing early but peter out after a couple of harvests. Pole beans are slower to get going, but once they do, they keep up a quickening pace until slowed, then stopped, by cold weather.

Why, you may ask, ready those beds …

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BLUEBERRY GROWING WEBINAR REDUX

•For anyone who missed my recent 90 minute webinar on Growing Blueberries, the webinar has been recorded and is available soon for a limited time period on-demand for $35. The webinar covers everything from plant selection to planting to maintenance to pests to harvest and preservation. Including, of course, the all important getting the soil right and dealing with birds.

•After this webinar, you will be really good at growing blueberries! 

Contact me before 9 am EST August 20, 2020 if you’d like to view the webinar.

SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT, IN FRUIT

(Adapted from my book Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, now out of print but very soon available as online version. Stay tuned. Information is also available in my books Grow Fruit Naturally and Landscaping with Fruit, available from my website and the usual sources.)

I always know when my hardy kiwifruits are ripe because my dogs and ducks start grubbing around beneath the vines for drops. The fruits, for those unfamiliar with them, are similar to the fuzzy kiwifruits (Actinidia deliciosa) of our markets, only much better for a number of reasons.

Obviously, from the name, hardiness is one reason. Hardy kiwifruits will laugh off cold below even minus twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit, while market kiwis are injured below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Another difference is in the fruit itself. Hardy kiwifruits are grape-size, with smooth, edible skins. Pop them into you mouth just as with grapes. Within the skin, hardy kiwifruits look …

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FINAL REMINDER FOR BLUEBERRY GROWING WORKSHOP WEBINAR ON AUG. 12, 2020, FROM 7-8:30 PM

Final reminder for my zoom Blueberry Growing Workshop/Webinar on August 12, 2020 from 7-8:30 pm EST. I’ll cover everything from planting right through harvest and preservation. If you’re new to growing blueberries, you’ll learn how to grow this fruit successfully. If you already grow blueberries, you’ll be able to grow them better. If you’re an expert on growing blueberries, you don’t need this workshop/webinar. Registration ($35) at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NSTrunuTRkOcRfS-frQuYg. For more information, go to http://www.leereich.com/workshops.

BLUEBERRIES AND ASPARAGUS (SEPARATELY)

All Good

I’ve never met a blueberry I didn’t like. Then again, I have yet to taste a rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium asheii), native to southeastern U.S. and highly acclaimed there. I also have yet to taste Cascades blueberry (V. deliciosum), native to the Pacific northwest. With “deliciosum” as its species name, how could it not taste great? And those are just two of the many species of blueberry that I’ve never tasted that are found throughout the world.

The blueberries with which I am most familiar are those that I grow, which are highbush blueberry and lowbush blueberry. I grow blueberries because they are beautiful plants, because they are relatively pest free, because they are delicious, and because they fruit reliably for me year after year. 

I have to admit that highbush blueberries, at least to me, all taste pretty much the same. They have nowhere the broad flavor spectrum of apples. Tasting …

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OF COMPOST, MICROWAVES, AND BLUEBERRIES

Manure Unnecessary

Manure or not, it’s compost time. I like to make enough compost through summer so that it can get cooking before autumn’s cold weather sets in. Come spring, I give the pile one turn and by the midsummer the black gold is ready to slather onto vegetable beds or beneath choice trees and shrubs.

I haven’t gotten around to getting some manure for awhile so I just went ahead this morning and started building a new pile without manure. It’s true: You do not need manure to make compost. Any pile of organic materials will decompose into compost given enough time.

My piles are a little more deliberate than mere heaps of organic materials. For one thing, everything goes into square bins each about 4′ on a side and built up, along with the materials within, Lincoln-log style from notched 1 x 6 manufactured wood decking. Another nice feature of this …

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DRIP WORK

Many Benefits of Drip

I’m a big fan of drip irrigation, an irrigation system by which water is frequently, but slowly, applied to the soil. It’s better for plants because soil moisture is replenished closer to the rate at which they drink it up. With a sprinkler, soil moisture levels vacillate between feast and famine.

Because of the efficient use of water, drip is also better for the environment, typically using 60 percent less water than sprinkling.

And drip is better for me — and you, if your garden or farmden is dripped. By pinpointing water to garden plants, large spaces between plants stay dry so there’s less weeds for us to pull. And best of all, with an inexpensive timer at the hose spigot, I turn on the system in April and then pretty much forget about watering until the end of the growing season.

Troubleshooting

Today I was reminded about the “pretty much” …

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