Forum Replies Created
As I get older, I appreciate techniques that allow me to back off on the heavy physical labor.
To get new raised beds started, you can set down a foot or more of good compost or materials to compost such as leaves, vegetable waste, manure, etc. Keep an eye on it. Plant cover crops on it or mulch it if it needs weed suppression as time passes.
In a year, in most soils, the invertebrates and microorganisms will have done most of the soil conditioning for you, and you should be ready to plant in a rich, friable soil. Still need to check results of a soil test to know for sure that you have everything you need. Soil pH in particular is important. Plant needs (for optimum pH) will vary based on what you plan to grow.
Drip irrigation. Depending upon your water source, I also recommend a water filter. Grit can stop up your drip lines. I recommend spending more and buying professional grade line and fittings that lock rather than push on. My system has lasted almost 10 years with minimal maintenance. My biggest problem is keeping track of the lines in the beds so that I do not damage them while cultivating and digging.
Natural woods vary in rot resistance during ground contact. You may find an inexpensive source of local wood. Here are a couple of links:
see page 14-5
In general, the heartwood of all of these trees is more rot resistant than the sapwood. We got our black locust from a local farmer and it has done well in general, but I do see variation in longevity among individual pieces.
In my experience, if establishing new beds today, I would add vole protection to all my beds. Over time, animals find the food plants and extend their range to include them.
Know the source of your manure, what were the animals fed? Persistent herbicides can persist in your garden soil for years.
I grow C.sinensis in USDA zone 7 in sun and shade, in protected and unprotected sites. Bytesmiths are you in the UK? UK zone 8 is similar to USDA zone 7 I believe.
It does quite well here once established. It may benefit from winter protection on the coldest nights in open sites in zone 7 while getting established.. I have not tried to grow it from seed, although the birds have established a few additional bushes for me!
I have been at my site long enough to see multiple crop failures. My personal strategy is to plant a variety of annual crops. If one crop fails, I have others to back fill. I do save enough seeds to last multiple years of starts.
For perennials, I increasingly see erratic weather in winter and spring. I plant multiple varieties of each perennial crop. For example, both early fruiting and late fruiting peach varieties. If a late cold period kills my early peach blossoms, the late bloomer may still bear.
I bracket my growing zone. I am in zone 7, so I make sure all my perennials can tolerate both zone 6 and zone 8 conditions to provide a hedge against unusual weather conditions.
Re: 'Squash and pumpkins are notoriously heavy feeders!'
I let them grow in my compost pile. Once they have finished fruiting, the vines do not have far to go!
Pinecarr, snakes need to moved daily just like owls. The birds figure out they are not real if they remain stationary.
The shade cloth is a fine mesh. The finer the mesh, the higher the shade value. I used a different vendor about 12 years ago that fabricated custom widths and sizes for me to cover different types of plants. I do not remember the vendor.
When you research a source, the important aspect is expected and / or guaranteed lifetime. Higher UV resistance is associated with longer life. Mine has lasted with no problems for a dozen years, but I bring it indoors, dry, clean, folded and protect it from rodents (in storage lockers) after each harvest for the winter months.
I have heard others hang small plastic beads colored and shaped like the fruit you are trying to protect on trees – leave them there year round. The birds habituate to the fake fruit and do not go after your real fruit when it emerges. I have not tried this, but it may be worth a try.
This is a little divergence from the topic thread, because it is not about keeping critters away from vegetable gardens, but it is kind of related. But if anyone has a tried-and-true method for keeping birds from eating all the cherries from your cherry trees, I'm all ears!
I am getting my first real crop of cherries from one of my dwarf sour cherry trees this year, which I am very excited about. However, when I was checking it out the other night, I noticed that the number of cherries (even though still green) seemed significantly reduced already! So I suspect (and and on-line search confirmed) that I already have a bird-problem.
I had bought some bird netting and struggled today to get that to cover as much of the tree as possible. But I may have let the tree grow too tall; I couldn't come close to covering the top or upper branches, and was only able to drape netting on the branches from about 8 or 10 feet down. One of my books suggested a PVC frame which you then cover with the bird netting…that may actually be an easier approach.
The other thing about the netting I'm using is that I am concerned I am going to have birds getting tangled in it, which would bother me.
Next, I'm going to try putting my garden owl out on a tall bean pole by the tree. It seemed to help with my apples trees last year, maybe it will help with birds and cherries.
Do you guys have any other suggestions that have worked for you?
I have had a bad experience with bird netting. I have accidentally trapped and killed birds and snakes in the net.
However, I found a product that excludes animals safely (including some insects) without killing wildlife. It is shadecloth. It comes in multiple densities. I use the lowest density (30% shade) to cover my blueberry, blackberry and cherry trees after fruit has set, but before it ripens.Yes, pruning to keep the fruit within reach is a useful technique if you want to cover the plants.
See an example of shadecloth here: http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/30-percent-black-shade-cloth/shade-cloth_1
Artificial owls are somewhat useful. Be sure to move it around, take it out of the garden some days. If you leave it in one place, they learn that it is not real within days to weeks.
Gnitabor, the .pdf link from your first post is inactive; here is the new active link: http://www.eweb.org/public/documents/energy/typical_res_cost.pdf
…I have found good manure from boarding stables, ones where they clean the stalls and pile it up to sell or give away. That source will likely have wood shavings in with it. The safest thing to do on any manure source is to let it sit and compost for at least 6 months if not a full year. Add other organic matter to the pile as it comes available. I add the hay and manure that we get cleaning out our chicken coop and under the rabbit cages and add this to the compost pile.
I strongly agree with Pinecarr's original post above. Unfortunately, especially horse manure (in some areas) can be toxic to your veggies even after composting, as the offending herbicides are active for over 5 years. Horses are exposed to the herbicide from contaminated hay or pasture. Some of the offending herbicides are marketed directly to horse owners (e.g. Grazon, Tordon), as they are very effective against woody weeds such as 'horse nettles' (Solanum carolinense) which infest pastures and are hard to control.
One solution is to get manure from horses fed 100% alfalfa hay, no pasture. The herbicide is deadly to legumes such as alfalfa, so you know that alfalfa hay is clean. Or buy manure from someone who knows about the issue and uses their manure in their own garden.
Note on page 6 of this guide, they describe how to perform the bean bioassay. This trick can save you heartache. Briefly, get a sample of your composted manure of interest, plant beans in some pots with the compost, some with just potting mix. If the compost is toxic, the maturing beans will appear deformed (wait until 2nd 'true' leaf to see effect). It takes some time and thought, but is a cheap insurance if thinking about getting a load of manure of unknown quality.
Be careful out there!
Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are showing a startling increase
Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have spiked more in the period from February 2015 to February 2016 than in any other comparable period dating back to 1959, according to a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory.
I put dates on my freezer bags too, but I find it harder to organize and rotate stock in a freezer, than to rotate jars on a shelf. Things seem to fall and shift when frozen bags of interest are removed….