The constant challenges of an everyday vegetable gardener and dealing with all the aspects of planting as an amateur.

It is an awareness that helps to achieve Garden perfection.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Planting pots

I attended a class today from an Instructor who is a Master Gardener. It is interesting what you can learn. He said that if you plant veggies in black containers, the heat can get as high as 120 degrees. His suggested was to spray paint the black pots a white color before using them. He also spoke about using a fertilizer that should always start with a 10 - for example - 10/10/10 because the Nitrogen is the first 10 and it will release the quickest and therefor a fertilizer starting with a number 10 first, is the best.
Don't know if this is useful or not but here are a few other tips:

To make your own soil for starterseeds, include the following:
1) 2 parts compost
2) 2-4 parts Sphagnum Peat Moss
3) 1 part sand
4) s part Perlite
5) 1 part Vermiculite

Fertilizing annuals such as tomatoes, peppers,corn etc... (every two weeks) only use a water soluble fertilizer and for perennials - (every 4-6 weeks) only use a slow release in conjunction with a water soluble.

You might want to follow this guys link at

Saturday, July 30, 2011


 After deciding to go with seeds and grow veggies from starter boxes, I had trouble with developing a good hot house effect with the saran wrap that the directions suggested. So I discovered a great alternative that is better and easier to maintain and created quite a mositure buildup with the container - I bought "clear" kitchen trash bags and they are so easy to use and work great. Try them next time!

Friday, July 29, 2011


After a disastrous time with tomatoes because of the heat (Lost most of them), I found a way to make use of the green tomatoes anyway. There are several recipes to be found on Internet sites that provide great recipes for several uses of green tomatoes. Recently tried a green tomato sauce on pasta that was excellent. So next time you think about getting rid of those green tomatoes, check out some great recipes first.

Garden insect bites that itch

I work a lot in the garden area. One day I was explaining to another Gardener how many times I get a bite that itches like crazy. This was a Vietnamese woman who said, "ah, you don't know"? I thought, know what - she said "how to stop an insect bite itch". Obviously I did not but I had two that were driving me crazy. Her simple solution was - take some salt, wet it and rub it onto the entire bite area.

Wow did it work, I couldn't believe it!! Try it next time you get an itchy bite that drives you crazy.And many thanks to that gardener for such a simple solution.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Risk Reward - Tomatoes

We have purchased, planted, replanted and LOST every tomato in our garden in South Carolina. We have finally given up.
The cost to purchase tomatoes at a store or market stand is much cheaper!

Most folks in the neighborhood have done the same. They say it is just the pure heat in South Carolina.
While I am not totally convinced that is all it is, I am beginning to be a believer.

After attempting several different growing methods: in raised beds; in round plastic containers; in separate soil areas - nothing works. They will grow and mature to a point and then suddenly, they just start to deteriorate and never look back. There is no saving a tomato plant once it starts to deteriorate.

Reluctantly, I have attempted one final option - the earth boxes that I refer to in my other blog comments. So far, so good, BUT , it is too early to call. Every one I have spoken with in the South swears by these earth boxes - - but as I said, the jury is still out for me. I will keep you posted on my results. Until then, here I come grocery store.

I could have bought tomatoes for the entire summer already on what I have spent to attempt to produce my own in SC.

Growing Avocados from Pits

Interesting, good friend taught me this method: take the pit from the avocado, placing three toothpicks in  the sides of the avocado that will support itself over a container with water. Place it over container so the base of the pit sits in the water. Store this in a cool, dark spot and keep the water level up so that it covers the pit base. Eventually the top will crack, the germination begins and (when the seed cracks and you will notice roots on the bottom) and then, when the avocado starts to grow a few inches - plant it. See link below.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Waiting to Harvest - too late

I had this beautiful red/golden tomato ready to harvest and thought I would let it go just one more sunny day. Sure enough, one of those stinking little critters, probablya squirrel had it on the ground gnawing away at it the next morning. Learned my lesson here - when they look good, pull them!!

Garden boxes - I'm trying it!

This is the basic plastic storage box I started with after reading directions on the link below which I have attached. This process is totally experimental but a few folks I have spoken with, love and swear by this method. The final pictures indicate the growth of the peppers after one week and the two tomoato plants after five days.

To the right is the support system which consists of various one gallon used plant pots available free at almost any nursery or big box garden retailers who recycle these containers or just getting rid of them. These containers will support the base (the lid of the storage box) which is cut out to fit inside and hold the potting mix.
I have now placed the storage top (after cutting it to fit) into the box itself (atop the one gallon pots). I then drilled several holes atop the storage lid to allow for some drainage AND cut out two holes at both opposite ends of the storage box over the two pots. This will allow for potting soil to be placed into these two pots only. I then used duck tape (yes, duck tape) to seal the edges of the lid onto the the inner sides of the container box. This prevents any potting mix from falling into the base of the container.

The picture below is the PVC pipe (1 3/4 or 2 inch) is then installed for watering but FIRST drill about 6-8 small holes at the bottom of the PVC pipe about 4-6 inches up the pipe. This will allow for the water to fill the container at the bottom from the water coming from the top of the PVC pipe. Next, cut a hole in the storage lid just large enough to allow the PVC to be lowered to the bottom of the container and about a foot "above" the top rim of the container. Then secure this with duck tape to the sides of the container if there is any opening from the cut you made. You are now ready to place potting mix to in the container.
Fill the container and the two end pots (on both ends where you made a cut out above the two pots). Fill with potting mix to within 2-3 inches from the top of the rim (as shown). Now. lightly soak the potting mix with water to allow it to settle a bit. This will be THE ONLY TIME that you water the soil. Now fill the container to the top rim with potting soil as shown below.
You are now ready to add some type of slow release vegetable plant food. I originally looked for Dolomite but settled on a similar Vigoro ganular mix. Spread the soil from side to side with about a 2 inch depth to allow for 2 cups of plant food. See below, then cover the plant mix with the soil from the 2 inch spread that you did. Now drill three holes on both 'ends' of the container just about an inch below the "container support lid" that the soil is resting upon. This will allow drainage and keep the water at that level.

Then cover the entire container with a heavy black plastic trash bag and secure it with either string, clips or something similar. The next step is planting. Lets assume you are planting 4 pepper plants as I have done and is shown below. Cut out four (x shapes) in the plastic, one for each plant (just enough to get the plants inside the X that you cut out). See the picture below and place the plants in the soil where you have cut out the plastic with an X . Then add any additional needed soil around the plant but under the plastic. You are now ready to fill the container with water through the PVC above the top of the container box. 

Below is my finished product and a picture a week later. They are growing! I know this sounds like a lot but IT IS SIMPLE, doesn't cost much and appears to have excellent results. As you water through the top of the PVC pipe, you will notice water draining from the side holes you drilled on both ends of the container just below the "container lid support". This is normal and will keep the water at the proper level. Never water directly into the plant, just through the PVC pipe. Soon you will notice the moisture in the soil which is what is suppose to happen. It becomes a green house type effect.

Best of luck. The picture below is the latest update from both containers and the plant growth.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beautiful. delicious and abundant Egg Plant

The best producing veggie in our garden is clearly egg plant. If you haven't tried it, you are missing out on a great nutritious food that is not only good for you but can be used in many dishes. When several of our other veggies had problems with either disease and/or the soil, the egg plant had absolutely no problems. We have so many and they continue to produce an abundant crop.
I would just recommend placing egg plant to the back of your garden because they do get quite large and may over crowd the small veggie plants. Can't wait to plant them again next year.
For a pleasant and rewarding planting season, next time try some egg plant.

Basil going wild

If you love Pesto, grow your own basil and look at some great sites (blogs) with great recipes. It is so easy to make pesto at home. After reviewing a blog called " Vegetarian Food Quest", I made some of my own and it was excellent on many different dishes, including fish, burgers, pasta etc... Thanks to that blogger.
What really caught my attention was the price I noticed in the store for the same Pesto that I can now make at home with my own basil.. It is so simple and so cheap to. Basil grows and just seems to thrive like wild fire.
You have to give this a try.

Fuji Apples

When we purchased mature fruit trees, one in particular we wanted was a delicious Fuji Apple. The nursery advised us that we would have fruit bearing the first year. Well, I have since found out that this is not the case at all.
As we observed the tree grow this Spring and into the early Summer, we noticed that there wasn't a hint of fruit. After questioning the nursery, we are now being advised that it takes 3-4 years for a Fuji to bear fruit AND only if the limbs are hanging downward (pointed towards the ground). Story changes quickly once the sale is made!
Furthermore, we are now being advised that in order to get the branches of a Fuji to hang downward, we have to place some device (string and a weight, or similar) to the branches to force the downward growth of the limb., which will then allow fruit (in a few years).
I am an amateur and don't know this to be totally true but maybe some one reading this is educated about Fuji's.. If you are, comments are appreciated.
Thanks and happy growing.

Netting, not sure it works

I mentioned previously that "netting", sold at most big box gardening centers, was the best protection I could find to keep wildlife from eating our Asian pears. Well, I can no longer say that. After being away a few days, those little critters (squirrels) found their way into the netting  and ate every last pear! I'm not sure what the answer is. Every one I speak with has a different method and NONE of them seem to work. The latest mention is a squirrel trap but I hate to think of doing that. Maybe I am better off buying these pears (which we love) at the store until the tree and  fruit-bearing pears get so large that the squirrels will choke on them!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trying to grow tomatoes in SC

I have gone from tomato plants in a raised bed with fertilizer and soil from a nursery (planting in various locations) to placing tomato plants in different size pots - yet they all continue to die off or are terribly diseased. I am beginning to think that the heat is so intense in SC (regardless of how much watering I do), that it is simply too much for tomatoes. I have tried all varieties, including disease resistent, mature plants and have purchased them from a variety of sellers.

Is anyone in this region (I think it is 9), experiencing similar problems??

On the other hand, Egg Plant is thriving like a wildfire out of control. So are the squash and certain peppers. especially the sweet italian banana types. Squash does fairly well also.

I would appreciate comments regarding the tomatoes. Maybe I am just doing something wrong but NEVER had this problem up North.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grow Boxes - excellent find

This was an excellent find if you are struggling with living vegetable plants and diseases.

Found this site through a friend and it appears to be an excellent idea and a cheap way to
ensure good growth and boxes can be used for years. I have already gone out and bought the
materials. This may be 1) cheaper than the conventional method and 2) provide much better results!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Volunteers - a Beauty and Hardy as can be

In gardening and botanical terminology, a volunteer is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a human farmer or gardener. Volunteers often grow from seeds that float in on the wind, are dropped by birds, or are inadvertently mixed into compost before it is used.
Unlike weeds, which are unwanted plants, a volunteer may be encouraged once it appears, being watered, fertilized, or otherwise cared for.
Volunteers that grow from the seeds of specific cultivars do not reliably "come true", and often differ significantly from the parent. Such open pollinated plants, if they show desirable characteristics, may be selected to become new cultivar
This Volunteer was growing from under my neighbors fence, so I dug it out, cut the root in half and decided to plant it anyway, Wow, what a surprise and beautiful addition to the garden. I have so many roots now ascending from the base that I will split those and have many more beautiful red plants next year AND - THE BEST PART - it is free!!

What are these critters?

This bug is all over my veggies, especially the eggplant. Can any one identify this creature and is it a good or bad critter for the garden? Nothing seems to effect him either, tried all types of insect sprays!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vine split tomatoes

Tomatoes can  over-ripe or, in this case, probably had too much watering, if not a fungus.  Pick them a little on the early side and let them ripen further on a windowsill.

 If the plants get really dried out and then soggy with water and then dried out again, this may cause the tomatoes to split.

Or, you may have a case of sour rot. This is a fungus that leads to wide, deep cracks in tomatoes near the stem end. This can be correctred with a standard fungicide found in your local garden centers. Spray it on the plant according to the manufacturer's directions and tomatoes should be fine. To avoid fungal problems in the future, do  not water the tops of the plants.

Good luck.