- Wednesday, March 12, 2014
- Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I decided to wait to start my tomato seeds this year until after I came back from the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association conference at the beginning of February. It seems like starting them in early February makes them too big when it comes time to sell them and they need so much attention when they are growing, especially when they are tiny, I did not want to be out of town at that crucial stage. I planted them on February 16th. I made a seed starter mix from 10 parts Coconut Coir, 2 parts Pearlite, 2 parts Vermiculite, and 1 part lava sand. I used my seed flats that have trays under them to hold water. The trick is to not let them get too wet or too dry. Too wet causes fungus and the attendant fungus gnats, and too dry makes them weak and can kill them. A lady at TOFGA said you should lift up on the trays several times a day to determine the moisture level. You can tell if it is somewhat heavy that it has enough water in it. If it feels light, then you need to add water. After you do this awhile you can get the feel of it and they will be happy. I also use heated seed mats which sometimes need to be turned off during the day. To heat the greenhouse I use an oil radiator heater when needed which is typically at night. The green house can also get too hot during the day. Mine has vents at the top and bottom that fan be opened to allow heat out. When it gets really hot, I hang a large box fan from the ceiling with the door open to blow out the heat. You should try and keep the temperature between 75 and 80 degrees. Not to hot or not too cold and not too wet and not too dry is the key. I also started sweet corn in the seed flats and will put them out after the last freeze. As if anyone knows when that will be. After the seedlings get 2 sets of true leaves I will step them up into individual containers and start feeding them. The tomato varieties that I planted this year are True Gold (yellow), from Seeds of Change. From totally tomatoes I planted Indigo Rose (grown in Austin and recommended by Texas Gardener Magazine), Mexico Midget (Marble sized), Tommy Toe (Australian hybrid), Sioux (Nebraska hybrid), Copia (Yellow and Red), Black Cherry, & Umberto (pink heirloom). From my seed stock I planted Cherokee Chocolate, Genovese Costoluto, and Purple Russian. I have grown all three of these for 3 years now and saved the seed. They have all done very well. I also planted eggplant, and various pepper seeds along with sweet corn that I will put out toward the middle to the end of March. The tomatoes should be ready to sell by the end of March to benefit the Greater Dallas Organic Garden club and the White Rock East Garden tour plant sale.
Submitted by Mike Schmitt
- Sunday, February 23, 2014
Here's a concept that may be new to some. It is to me.
Keyhole Gardens: A Drought Tolerant Composting Garden
By Bev Walker (Sundownr)
May 3, 2012
A Keyhole Garden is a raised bed, lasagna garden, composting, and recycling system all rolled into one.
The design creates a garden that uses recycled materials, less water and maintenance, and can be made handicap-accessible.
- Wednesday, January 22, 2014
It’s time to start planning for our annual GDOGC plant sale. This is our main fundraiser and allows us to hold such nice events as the fall field trip and the garden tour, and to donate money every year to worthwhile garden-related ventures. How can you help? Start seeds of plants to grow at the sale. The sale will be April 12th, so it is time to get cracking! Here’s a how-to link for starting your own seeds: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/seed-starting-basics.aspx?PageId=1. Sources for interesting seeds range from Burpee to Baker Creek to Seeds of Change. The key is to provide enough light so your seedlings don’t get leggy before you can put them outside in the sunshine. Grow lights are inexpensive and easy to rig up-mine are in my garage on a very simple pulley so I can raise and lower the lights as needed. Another easy thing I have found is to use a circulating fan set on low to circulate the air. This prevents damping off. A warming mat is a great investment as well-the seeds sprout much more quickly and it allows me to start my seeds in the unheated garage rather than the house, where my cats would have a field day. I have had the same mat from Gardener’s Supply Company for TWENTY years. It’s not pretty, but it works just fine. I use the mat to sprout a few flats of seeds, then rotate new flats onto the mat to sprout them. Eventually they are all uncovered and hardened off to the outdoors. I find my biggest challenge here in Texas is protecting them from the very fickle weather-one bad storm can wipe them all out. Finally, capillary matting also helps a great deal because it keeps the soil perfectly moist as long as you just keep even a little water in the reservoir. See http://www.gardeners.com/Seedstarting/Seedstarting_Dept,default,sc.html for more information. I also clean and reuse the capillary matting and it works for multiple years as well. At the sale we find vegetable transplants and herbs sell very well, in addition to annuals and perennials. Once we get a little closer to spring, consider dividing and transplanting plants and bulbs, and dig up any little “babies” that pop in your garden. I find there are always a few new Turk’s Cap, Rudbeckia, and other perennials to share from my garden. Please help us have the most successful sale ever!