Garden Log

What skills to learn, what tools to get
George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

Crapola!

My onion starts arrived 4 days early, so the garden hasn't even thawed from the past week of extreme cold (extreme for here) and snow. Forecast is light rain for a couple days, one day of heavy rain, and then a bit of sunshine & clouds interspersed with rain. Guess I'll be planting them tomorrow during the light rain... glad the ground is mostly prepped.

George the original one
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Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

Pacific Northwest Pest Management Handbook (for weeds, diseases, & insects)
https://pnwhandbooks.org/

This is a guide to pest management once you know what the problem is. You'll need to identify the problem before you can look up the proper management.

enigmaT120
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Location: Falls City, OR

Re: Garden Log

Post by enigmaT120 »

Our Daphne is blooming. Such a sweet smell, it's spring to me.

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

Measuring the Garden
"A man with one thermometer knows what the temperature is. A man with two thermometers is never sure."
Since I live where the population density is very low, I can't just copy my neighbors' gardening practices and have to figure things out on my own. Thus understanding how soil temperature at different depths correlates to air temperature and how much difference there is compared to the greenhouse is a lot of work, so automating the data collection as much as possible seems worthwhile.

Searching online for suitable thermometers led me to a company called Ambient Weather, where I found this wireless 8-channel console (https://www.ambientweather.com/amws09c.html) and these wireless wet temperature probes (https://www.ambientweather.com/amf007tp.html). I opted for 4 probes, with 2 to go inside the greenhouse (soil & air temps) and 2 to go outdoors (soil & air temps). Ideally, the unit would also report to my computer and/or the cloud, but, alas, the unit they list as doing that (https://www.ambientweather.com/amws8482.html) never seems to be in stock -- not to mention it doesn't seem to have wet probes. Having a current/hi/lo temperature display with independent reset for each probe is better than nothing!

Reading the specifications, one notices that the accuracy is listed as +/- 2F. Which, frankly, suggests these units are worthless crap. So what can we do about that? For starters, understanding that the sensors are thermistors powered by batteries tells us that they should be fairly repeatable in a narrow range, specificaly the narrow range of our normal climate, provided the battery voltage holds stable. To keep the battery voltage stable over both the temperature range and the battery lifespan, then lithium batteries are the obvious choice. Alkaline batteries are fine only if you can keep the temperature above freezing... below freezing makes readings read significantly low compared to a mercury thermometer; lithium batteries do not have this drawback until the temperature is tens of degrees below freezing.

The second thing to notice about the console is that you can adjust the display readings, which means you can calibrate the probes. Doesn't change the display built into each remote sender, but you're going to read the main console display from inside the comfort of the house rather than walk around to each probe location, right?

Calibration then becomes a matter of locating all the probes next to each other, comparing to a trusted thermometer, and adjusting the display to read correctly for each probe. Ideally, I'd probably drop the probes into an icewater bath with the sending units kept just above freezing on a cold night. Instead, being eager to use the units, I set them outside in a rain-sheltered location with the probes next to each other on a cool, rainy, overcast day to eliminate drift in the air temperature.

After calibration, the console display shows the temperature spread among the probes to be no more than 0.6F, usually within 0.3F of each other, and they're tracking my trusty outdoor wall thermometer within 1F. I can live with that!

Since the senders aren't weatherproof, they'll need shelter. My quick solution is an upside down container (flower pots from the dollar store) attached to a stake pounded into the ground. The stake keeps the units from flying around in stormy weather yet allows me to move them around.

Positives
- Wireless range is adequate for my house and garden, tested good for 150 ft
- Repeatability is sufficient once calibrated and using lithium batteries
- Remote units are low cost

Drawbacks
- Uploading data to a computer or internet connection is not available
- Maximum temperature of 140F is too low for use as a compost thermometer, where 180F is desired
- Each time you add a remote probe, you have to remove/replace the batteries from the console and recalibrate

7Wannabe5
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Re: Garden Log

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@GTOO: Maybe this article would prove useful? What purpose do you want the system to serve? Do you want Alexa to wake you up at 2 am to go out and put frost blanket on seedlings, or do you wish to implement some degree of automation? I think the greenhouse ventilation fans that are triggered by temperature sensitive switches are kind of cool.

https://rayshobby.net/reverse-engineer- ... rs-part-1/

Very cold March in my neck of the woods. I am currently working full-time within couple mile hike to my garden, but not much can be done yet.

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

Thanks for the link! It will be useful when I get motivated.
7Wannabe5 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:29 am
Do you want Alexa to wake you up at 2 am to go out and put frost blanket on seedlings
Oh, hell no! LOL

For gardening, I prefer set & forget. With the greenhouse, the vents open automatically using the wax cylinder vent openers (no electricity required), but if the temps are too high, then I need to manually open the sides. I have to use the greenhouse all summer to produce tomatoes, bell peppers(*), cucumbers, and watermelon because nights are otherwise too cool. I can pretty much predict when we'll frost in spring/fall: any time there's a clear night!


Plus, long term, I just like to know how much the greenhouse helps tweak the climate. I haven't been using poly tunnels yet, but can now see how much earlier I can direct sow seeds if I had one or two tunnels... we don't have a particularly cold winter here (1-2 weeks total of 20-25F), but the spring drags on & on & on trying to get to the average last frost date (about May 1) and our mild summers (rarely above 80F).

*If I didn't want the bell peppers, I could possibly skip opening the sides of the greenhouse.
Last edited by George the original one on Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Garden Log

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@GTOO:

Gotcha. Pretty much opposite situation in my neck of the woods. Goes right from winter to summer with almost no time to plant and harvest spring crops unless you protect on one or the other or both sides of the seasons. For instance, apply plastic covering to pitch black compost in late March to bed situated to be under deciduous tree that will offer shade by early June. I used to be confused about why peas were so inexpensive to buy, although virtually impossible to grow in any quantity, until I learned to do cross-Atlantic translation of gardening books.

OTOH, summer crops are pretty easy to grow to maturity if started from transplants in May, and constant moderate level of precipitation limits need for either irrigation or serious slug problems. The soil is generally very good, but the weather is so variable, and becoming more so due to that which shall remain unspoken, it's kind of like you have to garden with the resilient optimistic frugal philosophy that something is bound due to do well any given year, and whatever that is will be what you will eat. I have even experienced years when the zucchini failed.

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:21 pm
I used to be confused about why peas were so inexpensive to buy, although virtually impossible to grow in any quantity, until I learned to do cross-Atlantic translation of gardening books.
And here I sit eating fresh peas (indeterminate) from June through August from seeds directly sowed mid-February through April. I'm thinking about trying a later planting for fall harvest.

In borderline situations, choosing the right variety helps. I can get away with growing sweet corn by selecting the varieties with the shortest time to maturity which make small ears (<8" long) and cross my fingers that May is warm enough to germinate them. They're never "knee-high-by-the-fourth-of-July", but they do mature by early September. On the other hand, the sickly feed corn they grow for Tillamook dairies an hour's drive south of me makes me shudder because they plant it May 1, whether the weather is ready or not!

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

Wireworm Infestation

Here on the wet coast, wireworms (click beetle larvae) are a fact of life. A few holes in your potato are reasonable to deal with, but last year there was an infestation of the things and my potatoes were ugly like a teenager with bad acne. To get rid of damage this bad and produce an edible potato, one has to essentially peel it twice or thrice.

The infestation may have been my fault for ignoring the possibility or it may be a consequence of hot summers. Consequently, controlling the wireworm population is a priority this year (and in the future). The bad news is that this is difficult, partly because the critters move up & down in the soil depending on temperature & moisture and partly because they can spend many years as larvae before turning into the adult beetle.

Leave them no food (bare soil through the winter), tilling the soil 6" deep a couple times prior to planting, using traps (potato slices skewered with a stick & buried), a final tilling of 2" before planting, and applying the proper beneficial nematode species are the steps.

I've taken two passes at the tilling immediately prior to frosty nights, so have some hope that they either froze to death or the birds feasted on them in the morning. Today I've added traps to the garden and will check them in 3 days.

The traps:
Image


The traps in position:
Image

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

Motivation pictures for those who haven't been able to start their gardening yet this season.

Onion plants planted a couple weeks ago and the pea trellises beyond:
Image


Strawberries in a temporary holding bed before (hopefully) moving into strawberry barrels:
Image


And the obligatory picture proving that spring is beginning even if there isn't much you can plant now:
Image

7Wannabe5
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Re: Garden Log

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@GTOO:

Did you trap any wireworms?

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:59 am
Did you trap any wireworms?
Not yet, though there was one lying on the soil underneath a trap. It has been raining, so I think the ground is too waterlogged & cool for the wireworms to move up. We're drying out now until maybe Friday, so maybe a better chance?

7Wannabe5
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Re: Garden Log

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I was curious, so I did a bit of reading. Seems like a very difficult problem. Using their own tendency towards gluttony and laziness (they don't travel far in search of food) to trap them seems like the best plan besides maybe getting some chickens to eat them?

The easiest way to apply the permaculture principle of "let the problem be its own solution" would generally be to simply eat whatever is eating your food, but I doubt that wire worms or click beetles are very tasty.

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Sclass
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Re: Garden Log

Post by Sclass »

I built this pond. 27 gallon tote from Home Depot. Harbor Freight Fountain pump. Filter made from a disposable water bottle and some poly fill from a cheap pillow. Free rocks from the local creek and beach. Ten feeder goldfish from Petco.

cost less than $20 to set up.

Image

Mikeallison
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Re: Garden Log

Post by Mikeallison »

That is a cool idea! I wonder if it would work with one of those galvanized stock tanks from the feed store? Do you plan to put any pond plants in it?

Do you have any pics of how the filter setup works?

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Sclass
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Re: Garden Log

Post by Sclass »

I’ve seen people use stock tanks. I live in the suburbs and there aren’t any feed lots nearby. The totes are really cheap at Home Depot. I think it was $9 but I later saw it at Costco for $6.50.

I tried some free duckweed but I didn’t like it swirling around...made me nervous. I went down to the garden shop and they had lily pads but they wanted $39 for them. I decided to find some free sources of aquatic plants.

Out here in the SoCal suburbs we don’t have much living in our streams. Too much herbicide use to keep the sidewalks pretty. It’s pretty much destroyed amphibians and plants in the creek beds. I was hoping to kind of set this up with free plants but I’m having trouble locating them. The idea was to have a mini water garden in there.

I bought some pond lily seeds on eBay for $0.99.

The pump is really simple. It is a submersible fountain pump from Harbor Freight ($7 with coupon) that shoots up into a water bottle with the bottom cut off. I stuffed some polyester fiber and a piece of open cell foam into it to act as a filter. The water just rises up out of the top of the bottle. I’ve had really good results making fishtank filters with polyester pillow stuffing in the past. Gets the water really crystal clear.

I found this. Mine kinda looks like this.
http://www.dramaticaquascapes.com/diywa ... cap01.html

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:59 am
@GTOO:

Did you trap any wireworms?
And... yes, but not in the traps I intentionally set up, LOL! There were some stray potatoes I rototilled under and then I rediscovered the chunks while rooting out any weeds that survived the tilling. About 50% of the scraps had 1-5 wireworms and there were loose wireworms in the tilled soil.

MegaRigger
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Re: Garden Log

Post by MegaRigger »

Congrats to all of you with your lovely gardens. I see that many of you grow your own vegetables. How do you store them? I'm asking because in the future I would like to grow vegetables myself but our house doesn't have a cellar. I'm not sure if it's feasable to build a garden cellar. I should check with some experts. Any (frugal) alternatives?

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

Storage depends on your climate and goals. If you want long term storage (more than 6 months), nothing really beats canning/freezing. Drying/smoking is good, but generally doesn't have FDA-approved longevity unless it is vacuum-sealed.

My climate is ideal for storing use-through-the-winter moist root crops in the garage (potatoes) and is okay for storing dried root crops (onions, garlic). Excess blueberries, corn, & carrots are frozen. Excess tomatoes are dried and stored in baggies in the fridge. Potatoes & carrots (& beets?) can be left in the ground or put into a "clamp" provided you can keep the bugs & vermin out; moist construction sand in a container is an indoor method that I haven't tried yet.

Apart from the above, though, we eat the garden produce fresh. The gardening game then switches from "storage" to "extending the growing season". Around here, lettuce/spinach/kale started in August will be somewhat mature before available before sunlight drops to the point nothing grows, so sheltering them in hoophouses from the frost/snow is all that is required to continue harvesting fresh greens.

George the original one
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Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

First round of direct sowing lettuce, radish, spinach, beets, broccoli, & carrots have been carried out in the past week. Transplanting celery & broccoli started indoors has been done, too... didn't want to move the celery outdoors yet (to avoid bolting), but the broccoli wouldn't let go of the cell while all the celery fell out. Carrot seed germinated indoors in a jar & transferred to an outdoor pot is doing okay, with about half the seeds having tops.

Local stores have had tomato & pepper plants in stock since April 1. Guess it's time to get them whether the greenhouse is ready or not.

Neighbor who gardens in containers because of a small lot is now using an overturned pick-up canopy for peas & carrots. He couldn't give away the canopy, so put it to work!

The thermometers have told me that greenhouse or cold frame soil temps aren't stable for warm weather crops here until the last week of March. And automatic ventilation is a necessity for cold frames otherwise things will cook. It might be possible to move that date earlier with a thermal mass. I don't know how early cold weather crops could begin... minimum 40F soil temps were already obtained in mid-March when I began the measuring, so it's a matter of whether the crop will bolt if the temp swings are too great (I'm looking at you, spinach).

Experiments with very old seed stored in fridge: 10-yr old lettuce seed germinated, but did not survive. 7-yr old carrot seed did not germinate.

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