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    Posted on June 6th, 2011 Pam No comments

    This should take about a week to explain, but I will try to do it in a few paragraphs. First, some of you may be overwhelmed with starting a garden. Even those of you who have gardened for years may be a little stressed. So let me tell all of you to relax !!!! Your garden is to enjoy. So just slow down and enjoy it, enjoy every minute you spend in it.

    Buy seeds or plants?
    I buy seeds for things like peas, radishes, beans, corn, carrots and lettuce, they grow quite easily planted directly into the soil. I buy plants from the greenhouse for things like pumpkins, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers. I sometimes buy seeds from this last group and plant them, too. If you need a faster start, you may buy the plants to try to get a successful crop. The seeds are much cheaper, but you do take more of a risk with seeds. However, the plants that come up from the seeds you plant directly into the soil will usually be more healthy looking and will already hardened in when they come up.

    Helpful hint: When planting seeds outside it is sometimes useful to soak the seeds. I usually soak seeds like cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, squash, (I soak them for at least three days). I dig a hole about 4″ square and 2″ deep, then put about 1/4 cup of fertilizer in the hole and fill the hole with water. When the water sinks, I put the soaked seeds in the hole (5 seeds in the hole) and cover with about ½ inch of soft soil. Pretty simple huh? This way the seeds are soft and ready to germinate when you plant them, they are in damp soil and will come up about one week earlier.

    Please read the back of your seed package, before and after you buy the seeds. It has a lot of information, if the seeds can be planted inside or outside, when to plant, and lots of other valuable information.

    When to plant, (these are my suggestions for eastern Idaho).
    Guidelines for planting seeds inside for transplanting outside (after the last frost).
    Plant peppers from seeds the first of March, or even mid February, (10 to 12 weeks before the last frost) depending on the seed, as most are slow growing.
    Plant tomatoes from seeds the first of April (6 to 8 weeks before the last frost). plant seed of squash, cantaloupe, watermelon and pumpkins around April 20th (4 to 6 weeks before the last frost).
    I am GUESSING the last frost in this area is May 31. But according to my Mother, we ‘always have a first of June frost!!! So expect one more frost around June 5th, if you have planted, just cover the plants for a few nights.

    If you are planting indoors you can buy planting trays with soil disks and clear tops. You should have a light source, plants need 8 to 10 hours of light each day. If you are using artificial light, keep the light close to the plants or they will become tall and skinny. Keep the plants in a semi warm place (a constant temperature of 40 to 50 degrees is ideal). Notice I said semi-warm, why get them use to 70 degrees when they will be transplanted into a much cooler environment?
    Wow, lots of information, I hope you can understand much of what I said. Any questions so far?

    Updated from my ‘gardenyourlife’ blog, February 14, 2009


    Posted on June 4th, 2011 Pam No comments

    Pam’s Planting Plan
    Now you have your seeds and are getting ready to plant. So how do you plant seeds anyway?

    When you plan to plant your plants, planting can take some planning. Got that?

    For example, how many seeds do I plant? How close to each other? How deep and how soon.
    Always read the seed packets, there is lots of information there.

    Let’s start with how many seeds to plant. Radishes, lettuce, carrots, spinach and cress should be as thick as you would use salt or pepper. They shouldn’t be overlapping but should be about 1/4 inch apart. I like to plant all of these plants in a 18″ wide row. That will make the most of your space. Leave room to walk around the ‘rows’ or try two 10″ rows with 24″ or 36″ between the rows.

    Beets, beans and peas can be planted in a wide row too, or you can trellis the peas and beans. Plant beets and beans about 1/2 inch apart. I plant my peas much thicker, actually don’t tell anyone, but I plant my peas so thick you can’t see the ground. This year I am going to try to trellis my beans and peas. I will use a net wire fence and plant on both sides of the fence.

    Planting peppers, tomatoes, califlower and cabbage are a little different. I plant peppers about 1 foot apart, tomatoes, califlower and cabbage about 2 feet apart.

    A rule of thumb is plant the seed at a depth of three times the size of the seed. So if you are planting carrots or lettuce that is 1/8 of an inch thick, only cover it with 3/8 of an inch of soil. Peas are 1/4 of an inch, so plant them 3/4 of an inch deep. A note about peas, plant them thicker than it recommends on the packet. Peas are self fertilizing so they can be planted much thicker.

    Cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and watermelon can be planted in rows about 36″ apart. They should be planted in groups called hills. I plant 3 to 4 seeds per hill and then when the plants are about 3 inches tall, thin to the best 2 plants. A note about thinning, don’t pull the plants up, pinch them off or trim with sissors. Then the roots of the remaining plants won’t be disturbed.

    Now the million dollar question, when to plant. You can plant by the moon, middle of May, after Memorial Day, or the first of June. Your guess is as good as mine. I usually plant all of my garden around the 20 of May, in 2009 I planted around the 29th of May, in 2010 I planted around the 14 of June, this year I will plant most of my garden from the 6 to the 15th. If we have a late Fall, I should be okay. The Spring’s have been so late the last few years, plants will grow slowly when planted too early.

    Some plants do like the cool weather, and they will do fine. Things like radishes, cabbage, cress, onions will grow in the early Spring, but they will grow slow.

    This Spring has been a cool wet one and if a garden is planted too early it won’t grow too quickly. The ground needs to be warm before the seeds and plants can grow with vigor. Plant early if you want, but notice the same plants planted later usually mature just as fast. I can remember planting potatoes in March, (once) and they did just fine, but with a wet Spring you take the chance of seeds rotting in the cold wet ground.

    Updated from ‘gardenyourlife’ blog April 25, 2009


    Posted on June 3rd, 2011 Pam No comments

    I sometimes use gallon cans around or next to some of my plants. I learned this method from my Parents, and I also found this example in an old garden book printed in the 1930’s. It is a very simple method and I recommend it to everyone.

    Plan ahead to get cans from a local school cafeteria. Ask them to cut both ends off.

    This is how it works. After you plant tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, eggplant, artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower from the plants you raised or purchased from the nursery, place a gallon can over the top. Push it in the soil about two inches. Make sure both ends are removed.

    Using a can AROUND a new transplant will do several things:
    1. Protect it from wind damage.
    2. Keep in the moisture.
    3. Keep in the heat, for a more consistent temperature.
    4. It allows you to fertilize by putting the fertilizer directly in the can and watering it in.
    5. It is easy to water the plant and gives the plant more water. I fill the can full, but not running over.
    6. Keeps the weeds outside the can from growing as much, because they don’t receive as much water.

    How to use a can NEXT to other plants. When planting cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, squash and pumpkins, place the gallon can NEXT to the plant. I put it on the south side of the plant, to protect the delicate plant from the cold Spring winds. Sometimes I put one can between two plants.

    I create a large bowl with soil, two to three inches high and one to two feet around the plants. I water these plants in the cans also. I just let the can overflow with water and fill the large bowl. This system insures that the plant will get at least one gallon of water each time you water it. It will stay moist longer and its roots will move to the water.

    Watering in the can will also keep the weeds around the plant from growing. This is the biggest advantage of this system. You will have to hand water the plants, but the reduction of weeds will be worth it.

    Updated blog from my blog, gardenyourlife, Saturday, March 28, 2009


    Posted on June 2nd, 2011 Pam No comments

    Notice, I didn’t say killing weeds, I said controlling. Controlling is a better, more realistic word. I found out the hard way, killing weeds doesn’t always work. Did you know there are about 20 years of weed seeds in your soil? If weeds aren’t prevented from going to seed, there will be thousands more weed seeds added to the weed seeds already in the garden.

    So try not to let the weeds get out of hand, weed them when they are small, when they are easy to control. Don’t get me wrong, I have had lots of large weeds and sometimes my garden doesn’t look as good as I would like. So I try to prevent weeds from coming up in the first place.

    My Mother used to say ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. This is so true when it comes to weeds. Below is a list of several products I have good luck with.

    1. Caserone
    Caserone is a granule, it can be found at most Greenhouses or Home Improvement Stores. It is $25 to $30 for an 8 pound bag. It is a pre-emergent, meaning that it prevents germination so nothing can come up through the ground. It can be used around woody plants, such as trees, raspberries, currants and shrubs (read the label carefully). NOTE: Raspberries have new starts coming in the early Spring. Caserone DOES allow the raspberries, currants to come up through the barrier it makes. In fact, it is a raspberry garden’s miracle. I use it around my trees and in my raspberries, currants and down some rows of my garden. I also use it on ditch banks, pathways and around plants after they have come up, but it is very strong stuff, so I wouldn’t get it too close to the plants. It works best when applied in the Fall after everything has died back, or in the Spring before anything begins to turn green. I sometimes apply it in a walk-behind fertilizer spreader, on the smallest setting. Or it can be spread by hand, spread it about as thick as you would use pepper. Sometimes I use a hand held fertilizer spreader (this works good for ditch banks). It is best if you water it in, or have a rain storm to soak it in. Don’t put it on too thick, for best results rake all weeds off first, so it goes on bare ground. Still, I have had good results even if some dry grass or dead weeds are present.

    2. Preen
    Preen is a granule, it is easy to find in any store that sells garden supplies. Use it around flowers or vegetables that are already up. Mix it in the ground around the plants, it will prevent anything from coming up. If you want the plants to spread, don’t put it too close to the plants. I usually put it on in the early Spring to prevent weeds from coming around the flower beds or by the driveway. It only lasts about 6 to 8 weeks, so you will have to reapply it. It is less expensive than Caserone, but in some ways it is less effective.

    3. Hi Yield Grass Killer
    Hi Yield Grass Killer is a miracle worker, it actually kills quack grass, lawn grass or any other kind of grass in flower beds without killing the flowers. Yes, that’s right, it doesn’t kill the flowers. My cousin Debbie told me about it four or five years ago, and I have used it every year since. My Mother had some flowers along the driveway, about 100 feet long, the quack grass had gotten out of hand there and was about four feet tall. It was so bad that some flowers were choked out completely. More than 15 Lilies hadn’t grown above ground or bloomed in years, but came back and are blooming now. I spray this area at least twice a year and am controlling it very nicely. One or two areas are still quite grassy, but the grass has gone from four feet to about 6″ so I feel much better about it. It is best to spray it in the early Spring, when the grass is about 3″ to 6″ tall and tender, then repeat in about 6 weeks. Always use a spreader sticker with the spray, mix 1-to-1. Read the labels carefully!

    4. Round up
    Most of you have heard of Round up, and I use it sparingly. I sometimes use a small hand sprayer and spray the weed directly. I usually spray thistle and morning glory, with Round up, I have had good results spot spraying. I spot spray about once a month. Don’t spray too close to your plants and vegetables, Round up will drift to other plants. Make sure to read the label directions carefully. Time of year and temperature can make a big difference in the results.

    Always use a mask, rubber gloves, long sleeves and boots when applying sprays or granules, read the labels carefully!!!! If you are spraying, consider early morning, the winds are calmer and the weather is cooler.

    Updated from my blog, gardenyourlife, Monday, March 2, 2009


    Posted on June 1st, 2011 Pam No comments

    Above is a link for information about saving seeds in a seed bank in the Arctic. Also, a little about the huge variety of beans and rice. It has a very interesting information about screening seeds and seed banking in the Arctic. It made me realize the importance of saving seeds.

    Did you know that if you save your own seeds, (peas for example), that they will become acclimated to this area and will become tougher (more resistant to frost) and earlier (have a shorter growing season)? Pretty interesting huh?

    So after learning about the Arctic seed bank and how the seeds you save will be acclimated to this area, I decided to learn more about saving seeds. This is what I know so far:
    1. Don’t save seeds from Hybrid plants. More about this in a later post.
    2. Save seed from Heirloom plants only if they are pollinated from the exact type of plant or self pollinating. More about this later too.
    3. Decide before planting which seeds to save. This will determine how much to plant and the location. For example, to save bean seed, plant the seed to save far away from any other bean plants. Mark the plants to save and choose not to pick any of the produce until it is time to harvest the seed.
    4. Some seed saving is a two year process. For example, carrots are harvested the first year and then re-planted the second year. The second year the carrot will go to seed.
    5. Lots of useful information about seed saving is available on the Internet. Search for more information about particular plants there.
    6. Seed saving is exciting and learning to be self-reliant is a relief to me.
    7. Heirloom plants may not be as attractive as Hybrids.
    8. Heirlooms may not be as disease resistant as Hybrids.
    9. Heirlooms usually taste better than Hybrids.
    10. I have saved Cress seed for about 20 years, and it hasn’t failed me yet.

    So, consider saving some seeds this year. It will be interesting, plus save money too.

    Updated from my blog, gardenyourlife, Thursday, April 9, 2009


    Posted on May 31st, 2011 Pam No comments

    Okay, so it is getting closer and closer to the time to plant. Are you ready for my secret planting system? After gathering information from my Parents, neighbors, friends and books, I came up with this system. It is pretty simple and I use it for almost everything I plant.

    First, make sure the soil isn’t too wet to work and plant. Planting in wet soil will pack it down, making it hard and forming clods.

    When planting in a wide or regular row, rake or hoe away the dirt to prepare the bed for planting. Remove all rocks and clods. Prepare a furrow, which is a row deep enough to plant the seeds. The depth of the row depends on the type of seed. For example, potatoes are planted about 8″ deep, peas 3-4″ deep, radishes & carrots 1/4″ deep. Next, if you are using a fertilizer, sprinkle it in the prepared bed. Then water the bed, be generous with the water, allow it to soak in. Next, plant the seeds and cover with soft soil or compost, usually three times the thickness of the seeds.


    If you are planting single plants, such as peppers or tomatoes, dig a hole about 8 to 12″ deep. Put in about 2 tablespoons of garden fertilizer and then fill the hole with water. Next, plant the plant and give it a good drink of water.

    When I plant, I work on several rows at a time. First I make my rows, a section at a time, then fertilize all of them, next water them and so forth.

    Updated from my blog, gardenyourlife, Thursday, April 30, 2009


    Posted on May 30th, 2011 Pam No comments

    I love peas, they are about my favorite vegetable. I plant lots of peas, most for eating right out of the garden, and some to freeze. Little Marvel Peas and Green Arrow Peas are some of my favorites. I plant them in a wide row. About 12″ to 18″ wide, this year I am trying a new method. I planted two 12″ rows on each side of a ‘net wire’ fence. I’ll keep you posted on how this works.

    Peas can be hard to come up through a hard crust. So here is a solution, my Mother told me about ten years ago. At that time I told her I couldn’t get my peas to come up, some years they were fine and some years they wouldn’t come up. So this is what she said: Dig a furrow for the peas, (I dig one anywhere from 4″ to 18″ wide), then flood the row with water. After the water sinks, plant a generous amount of peas. (We used to say ‘plant them thick’). Then cover the peas with at least 2″ of dirt that is on one side of the row. (Here comes the biggest hint !!) Do not water or sprinkle peas after you have planted them. No matter what !!!! As my Mother told me “Do not water them, you’ll want to. But don’t water them and they will come up on their own.” Even if you check them a week or ten days later and they seem to be lying in dry dirt – they have soaked up enough moisture from the water in the furrow for them to sprout. Give them a few more days and they will begin to come up — honest.

    You can also soak them first, but I never have soaked my peas. Peas can rot easily if they have too much moisture. If you soak them first, then water the furrow, then it rains you will have a good chance to have rotting peas. I recommend watering the row first and waiting.

    Do not water your peas during the heat of the day, or late evening. If you water peas during a hot day, the will scald and die. They are very sensitive to water when they are hot. If you water them during the evening they will have a greater chance of having fungus or mold problems. I water my peas during the morning, that way they are cool and will have all day for the leaves to dry off.

    Did you know that peas have nodules full of nitrogen on their roots? The plant produces nodules on the roots and much of their energy is used to build these nodules. So they have their own built in fertilizer. When the pods are filling, the plant reduces the building and filling of nodules and spends its energy filling pods. Because the peas have built in nitrogen doesn’t mean they do not need fertilizer, they can become low in nitrogen. If the colors of your peas are yellow that may mean, they need a fertilizer supplement.

    You can plant them thick and replant a second crop in the same place. But watch for nitrogen diffencency. I have replanted a second crop in the same place around July 24th or August 1st for a few years now, and have had good results.

    Something else I have learned about peas, they will grow best if using saved seed from the year before. I saved seeds from Lincoln and Green Arrow peas I planted two years ago. Then planted those seeds last year, they came up better and I had a great crop. Make sure to save seeds from Heirloom plants, they sure worked for me.

    I have planted a 40 feet row of peas this year from seeds I saved last year. They are about 3″ tall and look terrific. It looks like I get about 95% germination, much better than seeds from the store. It seems they are used to the weather here in COLD IDAHO.

    Updated from my blog, gardenyourlife, Sunday, June 14, 2009