Category Archives: Gardening

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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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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ENTERING THE TWILIGHT ZONE

Bigger Garden, Same Size

Over the years I’ve greatly expanded my vegetable garden, for bigger harvests, without making it any bigger. How? By what I have called (in my book Weedless Gardening) multidimensional gardening.

I thought about this today as I looked upon a bed from which I had pulled snow peas and had just planted cauliflower, cabbage, and lettuce. Let’s compare this bed with the more traditional planting of single rows of plants, each row separated by wide spaces for walking in for hoeing weeds, harvesting, and other activities. No foot ever sets foot in my beds, which are 3 feet wide. Rather than the traditional one dimensional planting, I add a dimension — width — by planting 3 rows up that bed. Or more, if I’m planting smaller plant such as carrots or onions.

Let’s backtrack in time to when the bed was home to peas. Oregon Sugar Pod peas …

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BAD SEEDS? NO SEEDS?

Edamame Scare

Got a couple of scares in the garden this season. No, not some woodchuck making its way past the dogs and then through some openings in the fences to chomp down a row of peas (which look especially vibrant this year, thank you). And no late frost that wiped out my carefully tended tomato transplants. 

The first scare came last week as I looked down on the bed where I had planted edamame a couple of weeks previously. No green showed in the bed, a stark contrast to the nearby bed planted at the same time with snap beans, the small plants enjoying the warm sunshine and neatly lined up four inches apart in two rows down the bed.

Testing edamame seeds

Scratching gingerly into the soil of the edamame bed did not reveal any seeds germinating but not yet above ground. In fact, I couldn’t find any seeds at …

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ALL FOR THE FUTURE

Seeding Transplants? Again.

Only a couple of weeks ago I finished planting out tomato, pepper, melon, and the last of other spring transplants, and here I am today, sowing seeds again for more transplants. No, that first batch of transplants weren’t snuffed out from the last, late frost when the thermometer dropped to 28°F on May 13th.

And no, those transplants were not clipped off at ground level, toppled and left lying on the ground, by cutworms. Neither were they chomped from the top down to ground level by rabbits.

I’m planting seed flats today to keep the harvest rolling along right through late autumn.

Future Further

Looking farthest ahead, I have in hand two packets of cabbage seed, Early Jersey Wakefield and  Bartolo. Early Jersey Wakefield is a hundred year old variety with very good flavor and pointy heads, due to mature a couple of months after transplanting. Once those heads firm up, they …

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HOT KNOWLEDGE

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

More knowledge makes for a better gardener. That’s what I had in mind with my most recent book, The Ever Curious Gardener, excerpted here:

With hot weather here today, and soon to be a regular occurance, I pity my plants. While I can jump into some cool water, sit in front of a fan, or at least duck into the shade, my plants are tethered in place no matter what the weather. And don’t think that plants enjoy searing sunlight. High temperatures cause plants to dry out and consume stored energy faster than it can be replenished. Stress begins at about 86 degrees Fahrenheit, with leaves beginning to cook at about 20 degrees above that.

One recourse plants have in hot weather is to cool themselves by transpiring water. Transpiration, which is the loss of water from leaves, can cool a plant by about 5 …

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LIBERATED, AT LAST

Exposée

My garden was liberated yesterday, the soil freed at last. That’s when I peeled back and folded up the black tarps that had been covering some of the vegetable beds since early April. My beautiful soil finally popped into view.

Covering the ground was for the garden’s own good. “Tarping,” as this technique is called, gets the growing season off to a weed-less start. The black cover warms the ground to awaken weed seeds. They sprout, then die as they use up their energy reserves which, without light, can’t be replenished and built up. (I first learned of this technique in J. M. Fortier’s book The Market Gardener.)

Tarping is very different from the much more common way of growing plants in holes in black plastic film, even if one purpose of the soil covering, in both cases, is to snuff out weeds. Black plastic film is left in place all season …

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I MAKE TREES

Here are 3 Easy, Fun Grafts I Made Yesterday

Finally, the weather cooperated and I got around to doing some grafting. I could have done it a couple of weeks ago, as I had planned, but I’m blaming cooler weather for the delay. Not that I couldn’t have done it back then, but things chug along more quickly in warmer weather, so I waited.

Apple tree on very dwarfing rootstock

I’m going to describe 3 easy grafts I did yesterday. Which one I chose to do depended on the size of the rootstock on which I was grafting. The scions, which are the varieties I’m grafting on the rootstocks, are all one-year-old stems 6 to 12 inches long and more or less pencil-thick (remember what pencils are?). They have been stored, wrapped to prevent drying out, in the refrigerator so that they are more asleep than the awakening rootstocks.

The principles that …

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