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Day 17: Still Time to Plant Summer Squash Posted on 03 Jun 12:05 , 1 comment

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June 3, 2018
It's true!!!  Depending on your region of the US, there's still time to plant Zucchini and other summer squash.

As we mentioned earlier this week in a fb post, our Black Beauty Zucchini seeds germinated in as few as 3 days. We also harvested quite a few Caserta Zucchini and those were planted 65-70 days ago. Ronde De Nice Squash and Round Zucchini are ready in a few as 50 days!

If you have 55-80 days until your first frost, Zucchini is a prolific option

SQUASH is a favorite among backyard vegetable gardeners.  It's easy to grow and usually produces more than enough to eat with plenty left over to share.
Zucchini harvested this morning over 3 pounds!
  
What's the difference between Summer Squash and Winter Squash?

 The physical characteristics between summer and winter squash are stark. Summer squash tend to have very thin skins that are edible and easily damaged. The seeds of summer squash are present in the flesh and are edible raw. The flesh of the summer squash is very tender and very perishable. The skins of winter squash varieties are thick, inedible and tough. Winter squash have hollow cavities in the center where hard seeds are located. The flesh of the winter squash is very dense

Summer squash are usually harvested when the squash is immature.  Winter squash takes much longer to ripen. Winter squash is one of the last items to come out of the garden.  Summer Squash is usually ready to harvest in 50-80 days depending on the variety while Winter Squash usually takes 80-110 days. 
(Also called Pattypan Squash)
Preferred Growing Conditions
Vegetables tend to all like the same growing conditions: full sun, and well drained soil full of organic matter. Organic matter, organic matter, organic matter... Are you sick of hearing about it yet? Organic matter contributes to the health of the soil: gives soil nutrients, aerates soil for better root growth, helps soil retain moisture, while at the same times allows soil to drain better.
 
The easiest way to add organic matter is to just work a little compost into your soil. Get a composter and make your own by recycling kitchen and yard waste. Or, buy compost or a soil amendment will do the same thing. But, it's cheaper just to go ahead and buy a compost bin (or recycle a large bin) and make your own.  Coconut Coir can be added to your garden soil for moisture retention.
 
How to Plant Squash Seeds
Plant extra SQUASH seeds to ensure a bountiful harvest.  It just takes a few plants to feed a family. Plant squash in a container, or a garden.  
 
Here's how:
For planting squash in containers, make sure your pot is at least 12 inches wide, that's about a 5 gallon pot. Pots will dry out fast. That will be your biggest container gardening obstacle. Consider using a fabric pot or a self watering planter, to help control the soil moisture level.  

Soil temperature should be about 70 degrees Fahrenheit before you plant your squash seeds. Plant seeds ½ inches deep and six inches apart. Thin out after seedlings after they emerge, but will need at least two leaves to keep growing. Mature bush summer squash plants should be 20 inches apart in rows that are spaced 2 feet apart. If growing a vine variety, planting in hills works well. Plant about 5 seeds per hill. After seedlings emerge and are established, thin to three plants. Stake or provide a trellis for vining varieties.
 
Seed starting in containers or Coconut Coir Pellets and then transplanting is a good idea with squash. You can start seeds indoors about four weeks prior to the last frost date. Don't forget to harden off your seedlings, meaning slowly adjust them to the outdoor climate and sun.
 
Consider staggering you plantings of summer squash. Planting two weeks apart can keep you harvesting summer squash a little longer. And, don't forget you get a lot of summer squash from one plant. I think that is why sometimes squash gets a bad wrap. It's a great tasting vegetable, and easy to grow.  Since Winter Squash takes longer to grow, plan ahead and stagger Winter Squash planting.


Companion Plants for Squash
Beans, corn, cucumbers, icicle radishes, melon, mint, onions and pumpkin. Helpers: Borage deters worms. Marigolds deters beetle. Nasturtium deters squash bugs and beetles.
Oregano provides general pest protection. Dill may repel the squash bug that will kill your squash vines. Generously scatter the dill leaves on your squash plants. Keep squash away from potatoes.
 
Maintaining Your Squash Plants
Consistent watering is key with squash. Mulch helps a lot with maintaining soil moisture. So, put a good layer of mulch down around summer squash plants. Provide a trellis for support for vining summer & winter squashes to grow.
 
You might need to assist with pollination. If you are growing just a few plants, you might have to help. Here's how to do it, and no, you probably didn't learn this in school. The first flowers that bloom are males. These appear about 40-50 days after planting. A week later the female flowers develop, which will produce the fruit after fertilized by the male flowers. So, to help: pick the first male blooms and brush them against the female bloom. This will help increase the output of summer squash.

 
 
When to Use Organic Fertilizer
Use an organic fertilizer on summer & winter squash at the time of transplanting.  
Fertilize again, in 3-4 weeks.

Harvesting Summer Squash
Harvest summer squash early. They will taste better when tender, and you'll want to keep the fruit off the plant so it keeps producing. So, pick when the summer squash is about 2 inches in diameter, or 6-8 inches long. Pattypan squash is best when it reaches 3 inches in diameter, and is still a little pale. If your Pattypan squash gets a little larger, those are great to stuff.  

 
 
In case you needed a better scale, this is our 7 pound kitty compared  Black Beauty Zucchini harvest. Lucy wasn't sure what to do about this green goodness!


Squash Pests and Diseases
Don't forget to check summer squash plants for pests often. Squash bugs will set in pretty quickly. They will be your biggest pest problems. Cucumber beetles like summer squash plants, too.
If you have additional questions please feel free to ask. 

 

Happy Planting,

 

Mary's Heirloom Seeds, P. O. Box 3763, Ramona, CA 92065

DAY 16: Using Calcium in the Garden Posted on 03 Jun 10:01 , 1 comment

Have you ever added Oyster Shell Fertilizer to your soil? Wondering WHY we add calcium? Well here ya go!

Calcium is a component of plant cell walls, and it’s needed for enzyme formation and nitrate uptake. Oyster Shell is ground up into a powder and used as a natural and organic source of Calcium! Organic calcium can also be used to help neutralize excessively acidic soils, which is especially important when you’re growing green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, or cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
KALE in the garden

Calcium carbonate is used to help prevent the spread of various diseases, such as powdery mildew, black spot, and blossom end rot. Other benefits of calcium include, protection from heat stress, increases metabolic functions in plant cells, leading to a greater intake of other nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Natural, organic source of calcium is used to correct Ca deficiencies and raise pH in acidic soils.


RADISH! If you grew spindly radish or your radish did not form a "bulb," that usually means that your soil in calcium deficient. This is an indicator that other plants might be suffering as well.

Organic calcium sources include dolomite lime, calcite, ground oyster shell (oyster shell flour), and crushed eggshells.

We eat eggs here but not near enough to supply our gardens with calcium. So we substitute with Ground Oyster Shell.
TOMATOES
If you experienced issues with "Blossom End Rot" then adding calcium to your soil might greatly improve your harvest! Blossom End Rot: "This funky-sounding plague is a disease in tomatoes due to a calcium deficiency (or a watering issue). It manifests itself as a watery spot near the blossom end (the bottom, the butt, etc) when the tomato has begun to develop. Eventually, the spot will spread like a cancer. And it will be game over for that fruit."
The black spot will spread, eventually rotting the entire tomato
SQUASH can also be affected by calcium deficiency.
PEPPERS

Calcium plays a pivotal role in the development of cells in plants. Bell pepper plants need calcium to produce fruits that have thick, sturdy walls. The thick walls are good for the health of the plant, as they are better able to resist rot and other diseases. Well developed peppers are also good for you, as the fruit has a better taste and flavor.
Blossom End Rot is a sign of calcium deficiency in Peppers as well.
Are you seeing the pattern here? Instead of waiting until you see a sign of distress in your plants, Plan ahead and boost your soil health.

Oyster Shell flour
Applying Oyster Shell Flour to you soil
For new container gardens, add 1 tablespoon per gallon of soil.
For new gardens:

2 lbs /100 sq ft, depending on soil analysis and crop. Repeated applications may be needed to fully adjust pH and Ca levels.
Adjust down if you have already applied calcium to soil or if you are using additional amendments with calcium included.
How to Apply
Mix into top 4-6" of soil for planting preparation
Side-dress around single plants or along plant row for established plants, 2-4" from plant stem; lightly scratch in to soil (maximum soil contact)
Water in after application


I hope you have enjoyed another educational article and video. Please share so that we may help more people grow their own organic food!



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Day 15: Identifying Common "Good Bugs" in the Garden Posted on 03 Jun 07:50 , 2 comments

In case you missed it, we already posted about Identifying Common Garden Pests. Now, we need to identify "Good Bugs" or insects in the garden and what they can help. This isn't a complete list but it's a great place to start.



BEE

Honey bees can often be identified by the balls of yellow pollen they carry on the backs of their legs. Grow flowering plants. Encourage wild honey bees. Because the spread of mites and the increase in pesticide usage has seriously reduced honey bee populations, the wild honey bees that are left are even more important.


BUTTERFLY
Butterflies are attracted to brightly colored, fragrant flowers and feed on nectar produced by the flowers. As the butterflies travel from one flower to another, they pollinate the plants, resulting in further development of plant species. Numerous plants rely on pollinators, such as butterflies, for reproduction.


DAMSEL BUG

Damsel bugs use thickened front legs to grab their prey, which includes aphids, caterpillars, thrips, leafhoppers, and other soft-bodied insects. Nymphs, too, are predators, and will feast both small insects and their eggs.


DRAGONFLY

There are more than 80 species of dragonflies. They can be identified by their long narrow body, their large compound eyes and the four transparent wings. There is variation in color. Sizes range from one to two inches. The larvae are found in water. They eat mosquitoes, aphids and other pest bugs



EARTHWORM
Earthworms are natural tillers of garden soil. Earthworms naturally aerate the soil, an important component of any healthy loam. The air that is held by worm tunnels helps breakdown bacteria in the soil. Earthworm excrement, called “castings,” acts as a soil conditioner, improving the porosity, moisture retention and overall quality of the soil. Castings also help bind important nutrients to plant roots and can deter pests and soil-borne diseases.



GREEN LACEWING

Lacewing feed mainly on flower nectar. Lacewing larvae, however, are voracious predators that feed on aphids, thrips, scales, moth eggs, small caterpillars and mites.


LADYBUGS (actually a beetle)

Most ladybug adults and larvae feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Adults are attracted to flower nectar and pollen, which they must eat before they can reproduce.

NEMATODE
(yes, there are "good" and "bad" nematodes)
(too small to see with the naked eye)

Beneficial Nematodes can be used anywhere developing pests exist including backyards, flower and vegetable gardens, lawns, fruit and nut trees, vines, greenhouses, row crops, pastures and more


SPIDERS


All spiders feed on insects and are very important in preventing pest outbreaks. The spiders normally found in gardens do not move indoors, nor are they poisonous. Permanent perennial plantings and straw mulches will provide shelter and dramatically increase spider populations in vegetable gardens.

 

BUTTERFLY CATERPILLARS!

A great source for identification is Gardens With Wings

Monarch

 

American Painted Lady

 

Black Swallowtail


Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less.  If you have additional questions please send an email to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

Happy Planting!

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Day 14: Let's talk About Poop Posted on 28 May 15:48 , 2 comments

Sometimes it's fun talking about poop.  Seriously, just saying Poop makes some people laugh.  Thank you for joining us for day 14 of our series Grow Your Own Food in 100 days or Less.



As a homesteader or farmer, it's important to plan ahead for poop management and storage if you plan to have animals.  We currently have chickens and one of our neighbors has horses so we have plenty of manure to work with.


Here's our Day 14 Video





To simplify for this post, different manures are either "hot" or "cold."  Hot manures should be composted or aged prior to using in your garden or they can burn you plants.  Cold manures can be tilled directly in your garden.


Cold manures include Rabbit and Goat poop.  Hot Manures include Chicken and pig. Right in the middle are horse, sheep and cow.  Bunny poop is garden gold so if you raise rabbits or you know someone who raises rabbit, this would be a very inexpensive way to add nutrients to your soil right away.

Approximate carbon to nitrogen ratio of some manures
Cow: 25-1
Horse: 20-1
Sheep: 15-1
Swine: 12-1
People: 10-1
Poultry: 7-1


We briefly mentioned humanure in our video.  This is a touchy subject for some people.  We are certainly NOT experts on humanure so we recommend doing your own research before using humanure as fertilizer for your garden.

 

We've already posted 2 different videos on manure.
The first was one 




And the second one is




We mentioned in our first video not to splash your plants.  This is an important precaution to take.  ALL of the manure we use has been composted or aged.  We also add layers of manure then soil to our beds so the manure does not touch our plants.  Splashing manure water on leaves can burn them but can also spread bacteria and we definitely don't want that.

Using manure in your garden is not a necessity.  There are plenty of non-animal alternatives to feed your plants and boost soil health.  This part of our series is important as it shoes that there are ways to feed your plants using "free" options that might otherwise be thrown away. 

However you choose to feed your plants and build your soil, we've shown that there are quite a few options.

Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less.  If you have additional questions please send an email to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

Happy Planting!

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Day 12 & 13: Identifying Common Garden Pests Posted on 28 May 06:15 , 2 comments

Have you enjoyed our series Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less?  Today we're going to talk about "bad bugs" that can infect your garden.

 

It's that time of year again. It's SPRING and we're working in the garden. We've had quite a few requests for organic pest control methods so we're about to share our Organic Pest Control series once again. First, let's identify common garden pests

APHIDS
From Garden.org
Aphids are found throughout the United States. These small, soft-bodied insects may be pale green, pink, black, or yellow, depending on the species. Some stages of the life cycle are winged, others wingless. Aphids feed on a wide variety of plants, including most edible and ornamental plants. Clustering on tips of new growth and leaf undersides, they suck plant juices causing leaves to become distorted and yellow.
Aphids secrete a sugary fluid called honeydew that attracts ants and may cause the growth of a sooty black fungus on leaves. In small numbers aphids do little damage, but they reproduce rapidly. They can also spread diseases among plants.
COMPANION PLANTS to deter APHIDS:
Garlic, onions, Mint, coriander, dill, oregano, Rue, Sunflowers and nasturtiums

CABBAGE WORM
From Garden.org
Found throughout the U.S., the cabbageworm is the larva of a common white butterfly with three to four black spots on its wings. The damage done by these caterpillars is similar to that of the cabbage looper -- the pests chew large, ragged holes in the leaves of cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, and may bore into the heads, leaving trails of dark green frass (droppings). There are several generations per year.
COMPANION PLANTS to deter CABBAGE WORMS:
Plant tomatoes, onions, garlic, and sage around cabbage to deter the worm

CORN EARWORM
From Garden.org
This pest is common throughout North America. The adult is an inch-long tan moth that lays yellow eggs on leaf undersides in the spring. The caterpillar larva has alternating light and dark stripes that may be green, pink, or brown. This first generation of caterpillars feeds on the leaves. Eggs of later generations are laid on corn silk; the emerging caterpillars feed on the silk and the kernels at the tip of the ear just inside the husk. In some cases this same caterpillar feeds on a variety of plants and hence has many common names: tomato fruitworm, cotton bollworm, geranium budworm. It also is know to feed on beans, peas, peppers, potatoes, and squash.

CUCUMBER BEETLE
There are two forms of cucumber beetle -- one striped and the other sporting a dozen black spots.
Cucumber beetles are pests of far more plants than their name indicates. In addition to cucumbers and their relatives (squashes, gourds, and melons), these beetles are known to feed on beans, peas, corn and blossoms of several wild and cultivated plants. The spotted cucumber beetle feeds on an even wider array of cultivated plants, adding potatoes, beets, tomatoes, eggplants, and cabbage to its menu. The larva of the spotted cucumber beetle is also known as the southern corn rootworm. In addition to corn roots, it infests peanuts, small grains and many wild grasses. You may find them feasting on your roses and dahlias, as well.
Cucumber beetles are more dangerous to their cucumber-family hosts than many pests, because they transmit deadly diseases -- mosaic and bacterial wilts.
The adults overwinter in weeds and plant debris. They emerge in spring after the last frost and enter gardens once the growing season is underway. You may first notice them inside squash flowers. They lay orange eggs at the base of host plants; white larva with legs and brown heads emerge to chew on roots. Short northern seasons allow just one generation a year, but in the South and milder parts of the West, two or more generations are typical.
COMPANION PLANTS to deter CUCUMBER BEETLE:
Sow two or three radish seeds in cucumber or squash hills to repel cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Nasturtiums are edible annual flowers that are easy to grow and make good companions for cucumber and squash

CUTWORMS
Several kinds of surface-feeding caterpillars are known as cutworms. Their name reflects their feeding habit, which is to chew plant stalks until they are cut through. They feed on many garden plants, and are especially fond of seedlings. Cutworms emerge at night, curling themselves around plant stalks to feed. Cutworms hide during the day, usually an inch or so below ground and near the scene of the crime.
There are three types of cutworms, each characterized the site of feeding: on plant roots; on seedlings at ground level; on buds above ground level. Adult cutworms are dark-colored, night-flying moths.

LEAFMINER
Though many different insects are known as leafminers the most common are the larvae of tiny black flies. They tunnel between the upper and lower layers of leaf tissue creating visible random trails, or mines, in the process.
Adult flies lay eggs on the undersides of leaves. After hatching, larvae tunnel into leaves to feed, gaining some protection from predators there. They are pests to beets, chard, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, and spinach.

NEMATODES
(too small to show a picture)
Below is the damage done by nematodes
Various species of these microscopic worms are found all over North America, but they are a more severe problem in the South. They feed on the roots of a wide variety of plants, including tomatoes, celery, beans, and spinach. Infected plants are stunted and yellow, may wilt in hot, dry weather, and can die if badly infested. Other symptoms include roots with many small, round nodules on them, and taproots that develop many small side roots such as in the image at left. Nematodes are spread via infected soil, water, tools, and plants. Damage is similar to that caused by other stresses that injure roots; have your soil tested for nematodes to verify that they are the culprit.

PICKLE WORM
From Garden.org
This caterpillar is mainly a problem in the southeastern United States. It feeds on the blossoms, stems, and developing fruits of summer squash, and occasionally cucumbers and muskmelons. The adult moths emerge in spring after overwintering as pupae in semitropical areas such as southern Florida. They migrate northward to lay eggs on leaves, buds, stems, and fruits of susceptible plants. There may be four or more generations per year depending on the climate.

SQUASH VINE BORERS
From Garden.org
Squash vine borers are pests of crops east of the Rockies. The adult is a moth that lays its eggs on the stems near the base of the plant in late spring to early summer. Fat, white caterpillars with brown heads hatch out and tunnel into the stems to feed, causing sudden wilting of all or part of a squash vine. If you cut open the stem of the wilted vine lengthwise, you'll find it filled with sawdustlike frass (droppings) and one or more caterpillars. The borer prefers squashes but will occasionally infest cucumbers and melons as well. In the Deep South there can be two generations per year; in the North, only one.
COMPANION PLANTS to deter SQUASH BORER:
Sow two or three radish seeds in cucumber or squash hills to repel cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Nasturtiums are edible annual flowers that are easy to grow and make good companions for cucumber and squash

THRIPS
(too small to see)
Below is damage done by Thrips
Unless you have a magnifying glass, you probably won't see these tiny pests on your plants, but you may notice signs of their presence, including black, shiny speckles (droppings), silvery stippling (masses of tiny discolored scars on plant parts), or, in severe cases, deformed growth.
Magnification shows thrips to be shiny, elongated blackish or yellowish insects. Adults have feathery, fringed wings, and nymphs lack wings. There are many generations per year. Thrips prefer to feed on new, rapidly growing plant tissue where it is easy to hide. Most feeding by thrips causes only slight damage, but high populations can be quite destructive. Feeding thrips can prevent rose buds from opening, and results in deformed petals. Certain species spread viruses to tomatoes and impatiens. Thrips also attack asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, onions, peas, flowers, and fruit and shade trees.

TOMATO HORNWORM
(My arch nemesis before I learned about planting BORAGE)
From Garden.org
Tomato hornworms can grow as large as 5 inches long.
Found throughout the United States, these large, fat caterpillars feed voraciously on the leaves and fruits of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. Adults are rather spectacular sphinx moths: grayish-brown with orange spots on the body and a 4- to 5-inch wing span. After overwintering in the soil in 2-inch brown spindle-shaped pupal cases, moths emerge in late spring to early summer to lay greenish-yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves. Caterpillars feed for about a month, then enter the soil to pupate. There is one generation per year in the North; two or more in the South.

WHITEFLY
From Garden.org
This pest is found throughout the United States. The tiny insects feed in large numbers by sucking plant juices from the leaves and stems of many plants, including tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, flowers, trees, and shrubs.
Whiteflies secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew that may cause the growth of a sooty black fungus on leaves. Eggs laid on leaf undersides hatch into tiny larvae that look like flat, oval, semitransparent scales. The larvae reach adulthood within a about a month of hatching.
Quick COMPANION PLANT list:

Basil

Plant near: most garden crops
Keep away from: rue
Comments: improves the flavor and growth of garden crops, especially tomatoes and lettuce. Repels mosquitoes

Borage

Plant near: squash, strawberries, tomatoes
Keep away from:
Comments: repels tomato worms. Improves flavor and growth of companions.

Marigolds

Plant near: all garden crops
Keep away from:
Comments: stimulates vegetable growth and deters bean beetles, aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, nematodes, and maggots.

Nasturtiums

Plant near: apples, beans, cabbage family, greenhouse crops, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, squash
Keep away from:
Comments: repels aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetles, and Mexican bean beetles and destroys white flies in greenhouses.

Radishes

Plant near: chervil, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peas, nasturtiums, root crops
Keep away from: hyssop
Comments: radishes deter cucumber beetles. Chervil makes radishes hot. Lettuce helps make radishes tender. Nasturtiums improve radishes' flavor.

Sage

Plant near: cabbage family, carrots, tomatoes
Keep away from: cucumbers
Comments: deters cabbage moths and carrot flies. Invigorates tomato plants.
See our detailed Companion Planting list


Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less.  If you have additional questions please send an email to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

Happy Planting!


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JUNE PLANTING GUIDE FOR THE US Posted on 25 May 08:36 , 0 comments

JUNE is time to plant PUMPKIN 
in time for OCTOBER - NOVEMBER

If you're looking to plant this month and SAVE on seeds,

SAN DIEGO 

Arugula, Bush & Pole Beans, Lima Beans, Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Chard, Sweet Corn, Cucumber, Dwarf Cabbage, Endive, Gourds (Louffa), Kale, Lettuce, Melons, Mustard, Okra, Onions, Peas, Peppers,  Pumpkin, Radish, Radicchio, Rutabaga, Scallion, Sorrel, Summer Squash & Winter Squash, Tomato and Watermelon.
Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY  Herb!! Don't forget the   Wildflowers!

 

Arugula, Bush & Pole Beans, Lima Beans, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Sweet Corn, Cucumber, Endive, Gourds (Louffa), Lettuce, Melons, Okra, Southern Peas, Peppers, Sweet Potato, Radish, Radicchio and Watermelon.
Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY  Herb!! Don't forget the   Wildflowers!

 
Arugula, Beans, Beets, Dwarf Cabbage, Corn, Cucumber, Endive, Eggplant, Gourds (louffa),  Lettuce, Kale, Melons, Okra, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkin, Radish, Radicchio, Rutabaga, Scallions, SorrelSummer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon. 
 Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow 
Pretty much EVERY Herb!!
Don't forget the  Wildflowers!  
  

Arugula, Beans, Collards, Corn, Cucumber, Gourds (Louffa), Endive, Leeks, Lettuce, Melons, Mustard, Okra, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkin, Radish, Radicchio, Rutabaga, Scallions, Sorrel, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon. 
Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY  Herb!!
Don't forget the  Wildflowers


Arugula, Beans, Beets, Collards, Corn, Cucumber, Gourds (Louffa), Leeks, Lettuce, Melons, Mustard, Okra, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkin, Radish, Radicchio, Rutabaga, Scallions, Sorrel, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Cherry Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon. 
Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow.
Pretty much EVERY Herb!!
Don't forget the  Wildflowers!    


Arugula, Beans, Beets, Calabrese Broccoli,
Dwarf Cabbage, Carrots, Corn, Cucumber,
Eggplant (transplant), Endive, Gourds (louffa), Lettuce, Kale, Melons, Mustard, Okra, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Radish, Radicchio, Rutabaga, Scallions, Sorrel, Spinach, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watemelon.
 Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY  Herb!
Don't forget the   Wildflowers!  
 


Arugula, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Endive, Gourds (Louffa), Leeks, Lettuce, Kale, Kohlrabi, Melons, Mustard, Okra, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkin, Radish, Radicchio, Rutabaga, Scallions, Sorrel, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon. 
Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY  Herb!!
Don't forget the  Wildflowers!    


Arugula, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn, Cucumber, Gourds (Louffa), Endive, Eggplant (transplant), Leeks, Lettuce, Kale, Melons, Mustard, Okra, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Radish, Scallions, Sorrel, Spinach, Summer Squash,
 Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Turnips 
Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY Herb!!
Don't forget the   Wildflowers!   

 
Arugula, Beans, Collards, Corn, Cucumber, Endive, Lettuce, Melons, Mustard, OKRA, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkins, Radish, Radicchio, Rutabaga, Scallion, Sorrel, Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon. 
  Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY  Herb!!!
Don't forget the  Wildflowers


Arugula,  Beans, Collards, Corn, Endive, Melon, Mustard, Okra, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Radish, Radicchio, Rutabaga, Sorrel, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon. 
Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY  Herb!!! 
Don't forget  WILDFLOWERS!  
  


Arugula, Beans, Beets, Calabrese Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Corn, Endive, Lettuce, Kale, Melon, Mustard, Okra, Peas, Peppers, Radish, Scallions, Sorrel, Spinach, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

Herbs: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Comfrey, Dill, Echinacea, Lavender,  Lemon Bee Balm, Lemonbalm, Lemongrass, Mugwort, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Toothache Plant, Thyme and Yarrow
Pretty much EVERY Herb!!
Don't forget the    Wildflowers
   


Sow Outdoors: Arugula, Basil, Beans, Beets, Calendula flowerCarrots, Celery, Chard, Cilantro, Corn, Cucumbers, Dill, Eggplant, Endive, Kale, Lettuce, Melons, Okra, Onion, Peas, transplant Peppers, Pumpkins, Radish, Scallions, Spinach, Squash (summer & winter), transplant Tomatoes and Watermelon 


NEW MEXICO
Arugula, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Calendula flower, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Cucumber, Lettuce, Melon, Okra, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radish, Spinach, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon
Plant Herbs and Wildflowers


 
Sow Outdoors: Arugula, Basil, Beans, Beets, Calendula flowerCarrots, Celery, Chard, Cilantro, Corn, Cucumbers, Dill, Eggplant, Endive, Kale, Lettuce, Melons, Okra, Onion, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkins, Radish, Scallions, Spinach, Squash (summer & winter), Tomatoes and Watermelon




Arugula, OKRA, Southern Peas, Peppers, Radish and Swiss Chard. Heat loving herbs such as Basil, Tarragon, Summer Savory Cumin and Rosemary.
 
Arugula, OKRA, Southern Peas, Peppers, Radish and Swiss Chard. Heat loving herbs such as Basil, Tarragon, Summer Savory Cumin and Rosemary.
 
Arugula, OKRA, Southern Peas, Peppers, Radish and Swiss Chard. Heat loving herbs such as Basil, Tarragon, Summer Savory Cumin and Rosemary.
 


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Day 10 & 11 Using Coconut Coir in the Garden Posted on 23 May 07:30 , 0 comments

Unfortunately, We were not able to post yesterday so today we're sharing our Coconut Coir info for day 10 & 11.  Thank you for joining us for another post in our series, Grow Your Own Food in 100 days or less with Mary's Heirloom Seeds  

We've mentioned a few times about using coconut coir in the garden so today we;re sharing about the WHY and the HOW.  Here's our video we posted yesterday
 

 
 
We use Coconut Coir Pellets sometimes when we start seeds.
 

We use Coconut Coir Bricks when we plant in containers or seed-starter pots.
 
 

From Using Coconut Coir in the Garden
"Coconut coir growing medium comes from the coconut's fibrous husk (known as coir) that is bound together by lignin (known as pith). After the husk is immersed in water for 6 weeks, the fiber is extracted mechanically, and the pith is left behind as a waste product and stored in heaps to age. Since the pith comes from the fruit, it is quite naturally rich in nutrients. Coconut coir growing mediums are dehydrated and compressed into a compact form for easy handling. With the addition of water, coir expands to an easy to work with growing medium. 

The addition of water increases the volume 3 to 9 times, depending on the packaging of products. This process results in a 100% organic, biodegradable growing medium, making it a natural and safe growth medium of choice for growers.
1.5 pounds compressed brick
Add water to increase volume 3 to 9 times!
"  Use Coconut Coir in compost or worm bins About Coconut Coir

 

-Coir improves soil drainage in the bed while also helping to retain moisture in quick-draining soils. Since coir breaks down slowly, much like peat, it creates air pockets in the soil that allow excess moisture to drain away from plant roots. The coir itself holds onto some moisture so the drainage doesn't occur too quickly and the soil doesn't dry out completely. These dual drainage and retention properties allow coir to improve moisture management in both heavy clay soils and dry, sandy beds.  

 

From Seed Starting With Coconut Coir


Common Seed-Starting Issues

GERMINATION

-Incorrect Temperature. Different seeds have different needs.

-Old Seeds. When properly stored seeds can have a very long shelf life. But the older they get, your germination rate will begin to reduce

-Incorrect Watering. Water in a necessity for all plants. In the germination stage you need to make sure you keep the soil evenly moist. If you water too much, you run the risk of your seeds rotting before they germinate. If you let them dry out, they will either never germinate or die trying!

-Planting Depth/Light. When you plant your seeds pay attention to your planting depth. This is important because if planted too deep you plants could run out of energy before reaching sunlight. Planting too shallow can lead to drying out. Some seeds actually need some light to germinate, so instead of digging them down you just press them into your soil.

MOLD or ROTTING
Dampening off, is probably the most common disease when starting seeds. It’s a fungus that can attack the seeds as soon as they germinate or after the seedling has emerged. You will know this is what killed your seedlings when you notice dark spots on the stem right at the soil level and the seedling topples over and withers away.

-Don't over water

-Provide air movement. A small fan will work

-Nutrients: Use a half-strength, organic fertilizer with tiny seedling. Our DIY Kelp Meal Tea is a great option for tiny seedling. You can use this as a foliar feed as well.

 

OVERCROWDING
For coconut coir pellets, plant no more than 2 seeds per pellet for small seeds and only one per pellet for larger seeds. If both seeds germinate, do not pull one out.

Pinch off one of the seedlings at the base to remove. This will give the remaining seedling a chance to survive and thrive.

Once your seedlings are strong and roots start to grow out of the mesh, it's time to transplant them into the garden or into your containers.

 


Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less.  If you have additional questions please send an email to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

Happy Planting!


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Day 9: Nitrogen in the Garden Posted on 21 May 16:27 , 0 comments

Welcome to another day of our series Grow Your own Food in 100 Days or Less at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.


On DAY 5 we discussed basic Nutrient Requirements for veggie garden.  Nitrogen was the first macronutrient we mentioned and is the "N" in fertilizer NPK listings.


Nitrogen deficiency in plants can be easy to detect.  Symptoms of nitrogen deficiency are yellowing, pale leaves and/or stunted growth.

Here's our Day 9 Video making Mountain Flower Compost Tea




Before planting or re-planting, it's a good idea to amend your soil.  Homemade compost and aged manure are both great options for free amendments.  We have several videos to help you get started.


  



There is no homemade way how to test nitrogen of soil. If your want to test your soil, you can take a sample to be tested or purchase an at-home tester.
If you don't have access to compost or manure, we have a few organic approved options.
*NEW FORMULA* this month Mary's Organic Plant Food 4-6-2
 
A well-balanced organic fertilizer and a good all-around blend. It is easy to use and ready to apply. pH balanced to counteract acidic soil conditions and formulated to deliver a steady supply of organic nutrients to enhance soil fertility and produce vigorous plants.
  • Use at any stage of plant's life.
  • Boosts Microbial Activity
  • Contains Fish Bone Meal, Blood Meal, Rock Phosphate, Greensand, Langbeinite, Kelp Meal, and Humic Shale Ore
For transplants add 1-2 Tbs. per hole


Derived from leguminous perennial alfalfa plant used for pasture and cover crop. Primary benefit of this pleasant smelling meal is increasing organic matter, although it is also a valuable plant-derived fertilizer.

  • NPK analysis is 2.8-0.29-2.4
  • Contains trace minerals and triaconatol
  • Excellent addition to the compost pile for nitrogen content and absorbency
As a garden fertilizer, alfalfa meal is used to increase organic matter in the soil and makes an excellent fast and effective soil conditioner. The high amounts of carbohydrates and protein encourage beneficial soil microbes and earthworms that are responsible for quickly breaking down the nutrients and making them available for use by the plants.  For more info, read
Benefits of Using Alfalfa Meal




Kelp is derived from sea plants and is sustainable.  Kelp Meal contains only small amount of N, P, and K (highest in Potash) but adds valuable micronutrients.  Kelp Meal also contains vitamins that help increase yields, improve soil structure, reduce plant stress from drought, and increase frost tolerance.

From our website,
Organic Kelp Meal (1-0-2) is dried and ground Rock Weed (Ascophyllum Nodosum), which grows in the cold clean waters along the New England coast, and is known as the best marine plant available for agriculture today

Full of trace Minerals, Carbohydrates and Amino Acids, helping create a strong root systems and makes a very healthy plant

It should be tilled in the soil before planting or can be top dressed, incorporated into potting soils, seed beds and composting material.
Organic kelp meal is ascophyllum nodosum, which is widely recognized as one of the finest marine plants available for agriculture today
It is a natural and cost effective enhancement to any soil fertilization and conditioning program
It is suitable for all crops and applications, and can be mixed with most soil conditioners and fertilizers

BONUS:  Sprinkle a small handful of kelp meal early in the growing season around and on the base of squash plants to help deter squash bugs.  Do this every 10 days where squash bugs are a problem.



Organic Blood Meal 12-0-0
Depending upon the crops you grow, soil that has been too often planted can start to lose its growing potential. Over time, the minerals and nutrients that plants need to grow and stay healthy become depleted. Blood meal helps restore these lost nutrients and revitalize depleted gardening beds.
Blood meal is an all natural powdered fertilizer that contains one of the highest, non-synthetic nitrogen counts (12-0-0) available.

  • Easy to use  
  • Works in gardens, yards, lawns, and soil beds
  • Perfect for revitalizing soils that have been heavily worked
  • Scent serves as a deterrent to common garden pests such as rabbits and deer
  • Also helps accelerate composting breakdown of carbon based composts such as leaves and straw



Easy to use instant Compost Tea.
Each packet of powdered mix makes a gallon of full strength compost tea or 2 gallons of diluted compost tea
Use:
Foliar feed
All purpose fertilizer
Pre-Soak for seeds
NPK is 6-5-5 plus Calcium and Trace Minerals.
Sourced from organic material. Contains no synthetic ingredients



5-4-2 Fertilizer
Ideal for all plant types, use Mountain Flower Root Boost to encourage expansive root systems, increased crop yields and superior quality flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables.
Boosts Microbial Activity
Vegetable and Flowers -  1-2 Tbs per planting hole for new transplants
Ingredients: Fish Bone Meal, Fish Meal, Alfalfa Meal, Crab Meal, Shrimp Meal, Langbeinite, Basalt, Kelp Meal, Humic Acid, Mycorrhizal Fungi, and Beneficial Bacteria


Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less.  If you have additional questions please send an email to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

Happy Planting!


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Day 8 Transplanting Seedlings Posted on 20 May 08:20 , 0 comments

We're so excited to be Transplanting Seedlings today into our garden. 

Thank you for joining us for Day 8 of our series Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.

Today we have a 4x8 raised bed that has already been filled with aged manure and soil.  We're transplanting Dakota Black Popcorn, Blue Lake Bush Beans and Yellow Scallop Squash.  **Once we finished filming we also planted Genovese basil**

Here's our video to get started




Transplanting Seedlings
Since our seedlings were grown outside 100% of the time, we did not need to harden off before transplanting.  If you are transplanting seedlings that were grown indoors, I recommend starting with our article Day 7 Hardening Off Seedlings

First, whether you're planting in-ground, in containers or raised beds,water the garden area BEFORE you transplant seedlings.  I like to give it a good soaking.

Plan out what seedlings you want to transplant and where they're going.

When we transplant I use 2 soil amendments, Mountain Flower Root Boost (5-4-2) and Micronized Azomite.  Another option would be to feed and Organic Liquid fertilizer or Kelp Tea.  We do this to cut down on shock to the plants.

For this, I used approximately 1 tablespoon Mountain Flower Root Boost and 2 tablespoons Azomite in each hole before transplanting.  Prior to transplanting I did not add fertilizer to the bed.  You'll need to adjust your own garden accordingly

Gently squeeze the bottom of the cup/container to loosen soil and roots.

Do not pull on the stem to remove the seedling from the container.  I prefer to tip over in my hand and loosen the seedling from the base of the container

If you are transplanting seedlings in Coconut Coir Pellets, do not remove the outer mesh.  Transplant the entire pellet into the soil and cover completely.

Once you've placed the seedling in the hole, gently cover with soil and water very well.


All of our starter cups and containers are washed and re-used for our next planting.  You can use almost any recycled container to start seedlings.


Stay tuned for more info on growing your own food!
Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less.  If you have additional questions please send an email to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

Happy Planting!


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Day 7: Hardening Off Seedlings Posted on 20 May 07:34 , 0 comments

Welcome to Day 7 of our series Grow Your Own Food in 100 days or Less at Mary's Heirloom Seeds!


These are the extra Heirloom Corn seedlings that didn't make it into our Mother's Day Garden

So far we have planted heirloom seeds in our raised bed, planned out our garden, watered our seeds and applied cayenne pepper to deter gophers.  If you start seeds indoors and plan to transplant seedling into the garden, it is important to harden off your seedlings.

No video today but we have pictures!

What does it mean to "Harden Off" seedlings?
From our article Hardening Off Seedlings before Transplanting

Hardening off gradually exposes the tender plants to wind, sun and rain and toughens them up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so that the leaves lose less water. This helps prevent transplant shock; seedlings that languish, become stunted or die from sudden changes in temperature.

Hardening off times depend on the type of plants you are growing and the temperature and temperature fluctuations. So be flexible when hardening off your seedlings and be prepared to whisk them indoors if there's a late freeze and snow.
 

Jarrhadale Pumpkin Seedlings happily growing outside



If you're growing seedlings indoors, they might have been pampered all winter/spring.  Aside from the random cat attack or possibly too much watering, they have been relatively safe compared to the dangers that await them in the great outdoors.

 

This was taken at one of our school garden volunteer days
How to Harden Off Seedlings
Start by putting your seedlings outside 7-10 days prior to transplanting.  In the beginning, give them shelter and plenty of water.  You can strengthen stem of indoor seedling by adding a fan while they're indoor.  This will help to prepare them for windy days outside.

Start by leaving them outdoors for 3 - 4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1 - 2 hours per day.  Bring the plants back indoors, or somewhere warm like a heated garage or porch, each night.
If temperatures remain warm both day and night,  the plants should be able to handle the sun all day and stay out at night after about 7 days, Keep an eye out that the soil doesn't dry in their small pots and bake the plants if the weather should suddenly turn warmer.
If you've planted in Cococut Coir pellets, pay extra attention to moisture levels.  Coconut coir can dry out faster and might need to be watered daily when outdoors.
If you opt to gradually expose your plants to longer periods of time outdoors, the moving in and out process can be made easier by putting your plants on a wagon or wheelbarrow and simply wheel them into the garage for the night.
Hardening off is an important step is you choose to grow seedlings indoors.  It's a bit of work but can be worth it if you want to get a head start on planting if you live in cool/cold climates.
All of my seedling this year are grown outside on a covered patio.  That means I don't have to harden them off before transplanting. Unfortunately, we lost a few to earwigs.  Fortunately, I planned a head and planted more than I thought I would need so there are extras to make up for any eaten seedlings.

Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less.  If you have additional questions please send an email to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

Happy Planting!


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