April 7, 2013 – Rake, rake rake! I like to rake the lawn in the Spring, as much for cleaning the remaining dead leaves as thatching the dead grass. The instant gratification is that the lawn startes looking green! My scheme is to rake out the lawn, then spread lime pellets to adjust the pH and then spread some grass seed, hopefully getting a few days of rain between the lime and the seeding. The raking should clear out some of the dead grass as well as scrape the soil underneath making it more receptive to the lime and seeding. Plan to spend hours raking though on a sunny spring day, the work will go fast!
Step 2: Adjusting the pH
Pelletized Lime and garden spreader
All lawns in Northern New jersey are acidic, remember acid rain? Well acid rain plus other environmental factors cause the soil to be acidic which is great for roses or tomatoes, not so much for you lawn. I don’t use any pesticides or herbicides on my lawn, just a springtime addition of lime which seems to do wonders in making the lawn full and green, the bunnies seem to like the “organic” dandelions, a natural weed control. I set the broadcast spreader at about 9 1/2 for the pellet lime, this covered less than 1000 sq. ft.. I looked for another bag or two of palletized lime and no place in the area had it so I bought two bags of pulverized kime. The pelletized lime is easier to apply, but the pulverized white powder is harder to work with. So I filled my spreader about halfway with the white powder-like lime and changed the setting to 3 for the smaller particle size. A white cloud followed me and the spreader around the front lawn making white paths. That finished the front lawn and later in the day, thunderstorm and rain, perfect, ready for step 3: seeding!
Well , many of the seeds I planted germinated, but were now becoming spindly, so I found a lighted plant cart I made a few years back and reassembled it. I keep it unassembled to save space. Its easy to put together, its made out of pvc pipe, elbows and tees commonly found in hardware stores. I added two dual 36 inch fluorescent light fixtures with four Philips full spectrum fluorescent bulbs. I am planning to run the lights from about 11 am until 8 pm, the room gets some morning light.
March 15, 2013 – I like to plant tomatoes before March 17 and i have succeeded with a day or two to spare! I tried using Jiffy Greenhouse with space for 36 seedlings using Jiffy-7 Peat Pellets. I followed the instructions on the package though adjusting the amount of water from 5- 1/4 cups to 4 cups. the pellets expanded as described and absorbed the four cups without any additional water which would have to be drained from the tray. I tried these pellets several years ago and I think that excess water leads to problems. The pellets are more damp then saturated with four cups of water, I can add more in a few days if needed, these Greenhouse kits include a transparent cover which retains moisture. After carefully washing my hands before handling seeds, I used the handle end of a fork to make holes in the top of the expanded pellet and added seeds to each pellet . Tomato seed packs as a rule do not contain many seeds, the Better boy Hybrid had 50 mg of seed and the Super Beefsteak had 400 mg of seed which translates to about 25 seeds in the 50 mg pack and around 100 seeds in the 400 mg pack. The Better Boy hybrid filled one Greenhouse container with a few seeds in each pellet whereas the Super Beefsteak filled about 2/3 of the Greenhouse container with one seed to a pellet. the remainder of the Supper Beefsteak Greenhouse container I planted Crimson Sweet Watermelon with 2 -3 seeds per pellet and have some extra seed for direct planting outdoors just in case.
Super Beefsteak seedlings
Super Beefsteak seedlings
March 23, 2013 – Super beefsteak seedlings!
March 24, 2013 – Eggplant seeds were pretty difficult to find. I found Black Knight Eggplant seeds and again used the Jiffy pellet Greenhouse tray to starrt them. I started by adding 4 cups of lukewarm water to the tray, replacing pellets in the tray locks if they floated up with the water. I waited about 30 minutes until the pellets expanded absorbing the water in the tray. I used the blunt end of a pen to pol=ke holes for teh seeds in teach pellet and carefully sprinkled one eggplant seed per pellet. I covered the tray with the clear plastic top and set aside.
preparing pellet trays
Greenhouse tray with water
Using a pen to make holes in expanded pellets
Sprinkling eggplant seeds into pellets
Eggplant tray covered and set aside
March 31, 2013 – I saved some dead head marigold flowers from the previous year in a paper bag. Today I spoiled out the flower heads from the bg and opened them revealing the seeds and planted them in the jiffy greenhouses. i also planted some Burpee 30957 Impatiens Flavours Hybrid Mix Seed Packet. These seeds were tiny packaged in a foil packets, there were only maybe 20 seeds in a package which were difficult to work with because of the small size of the seed. I managed to plant one Jiffy 5049 Professional Greenhouse 36-Plant Starter Kit with two packages of seeds.
Marigold seeds from flower heads
Marigold seeds planted!
April 6, 2013 – I think mice got to my Better Boy Hybrids and ate the cotyledons from the stem, so damage done, not sure if they will sprout scondary leaves from the stems. A few of the Better Boys survived and the Super Beefsteaks were unharmed.But the tomato and watermelon seedlings are getting spindly, probably from inadequate sunlight.
Plant Cart Plans 1/22/1995
So i assembled my Plant Cart and light stand. I built irt feom PVC pipe, tees and elbows, which I never glued together, so I can assemble and disassemble it as needed, it was now needed. the room has morning sunlight and i will augement with the artificial full spectrum fluorescent bulbs
Plant cart with lights mounted.
April 7, 2013 – Photo Update
Best Boy Hybrids
Super Beefsteak Tray
Transplanting Tomato Seedlings
Transfer seedling pellets to a larger container to promote growth.
1. poke holes in bottom of paper cup for drainage.
Fill bottom of cup with potting soil
2. fill cup about 1/4 with potting soil.
3. tear mesh of tomato plant pellet carefully and plc firmly in cup. 4. use trowel to fill remaining space in cup with potting soil.
5. tamp down soil and add water.
Although we are getting a bit of a snowstorm, March is when I start planning my garden. I received my seed catalogue and I noticed a Burpee seed display at my local supermarket. I like to have my seed trays planted by Saint Patricks Day (March 17), which means early in March I start taking stock of my supplies of seed trays and potting soil. This year i will be renting a roto-tiller from my local Ace Hardware store, but first I will need to clean the winter debris.
Now that the snow is melted, I have stopped by the grocery store to buy some seed packets. I like to start tomatoes before St. Patricks Day (March 17) so I can harvest tomatoes early in the Summer. Last year I planted watermelon but it was late June and I got nothing, so this year I am starting the watermelon indoors.
I have grown tomatoes for many years, usually from seeds; Big boy and Big Girl hybrids. This year since I started planning my garden late, I went to an heirloom tomato sale at Old layfayette Village and purchased nearly mature plants of different heirloom varieties.
July 23, 2012, only two tomatoes harvested; a small Early Girl and small Roma, each about two inch diameter.Normally I would make a tomato sandwich with the first tomato, but these weren’t large enough. But I cut them in wedges sprinkled crushed basil, salt and pepper, both tomatoes were tasty and sweet, can’t wait for more. There was a Husky Red that looked ready to pick but disappeared from the plant, thinking I am getting “critters”. Otherwise the Sweet Chelsea (extra large cherry tomato variety) and the Ramapos have quite a bit of fruit growing. Wait and see!
July 27, 2012 – Its been a hot summer so far, hot and humid is good for tomato plants as they are tropical origin. Eighty to ninety degrees is optimal for tomato growth, above ninety-five degrees, thought should be given to protection from the heat with a cheesecloth sunshade or mulch the base of teh plant to protect the roots from heat. Temperatures have ben averaging eighty-five in my garden, so I won’t be taking any action for extreme heat.
August 12, 2012 – Been picking tomatoes regularly. Sweet Chelsea’s are picked daily. Ramapo tomatoes have started ripening and are very tasty. The Czech Bush tomato was very sweet, more to come.
2012 Tomato Harvest
2012 Tomato Yield
After a late start, the tomato yield was pretty good from the 8 plants I bought. The cherry tomato plant, Sweet Chelsea, was a good producer of flavorful, sweet cherry tomatoes. the patio tomatoes purchased from Walmart were also very productive, although I feel the Ramapo and other heirloom tomatoes had better flavor. when the two Ramapo plants were totaled together were about halF as productive as the Patio tomatoes. The Patio tomatoes were grwon in terracotta pots with generic potting soil while the Ramapo tomatoes were planted in the garden.
After last year’s failure in my shady yard, I had a landscaper clear some trees and bushes away, fencing a new area for my garden where there would be more sunlight. So far I planted “Silver Queen” and “Peaches and Cream” (bi-color) sweet corns alternating the rows of each. I also planted Cucumber, Watermelon and Pumpkin seeds. After a little over a week, the corn, cucumber, sunflower and pumpkin seeds germinated and could be seen breaking the soil surface. There has been quite a bit of rain lately, but when it doesn’t rain, I have been watering the garden with an osciillating sprinkler
for 30 minutes in the morning.
I also bought eggplant and pepper plants from a garden center and heirloom tomato plants from a farm plant sale. The heirlooms included Ramapo, Husky Red, Sweet Chelsea, Czech Bush and Early Girl. I bought one Roma Tomato plant from Walmart. I planted them approximately 24 inches apart and immediately put them in tomato cages.
July 22, 2012 – So far I picked a few small tomatoes and everything is growing pretty well. The peppers are kinda small and the eggplants have many flowers but no fruit as of yet. I noticed some missing tomatoes so I think there may be an animal getting into the garden. I checked the fence and found some places where the fence had some openings and closed them. I am going to install a wildlife camera to monitor the situation.
After installing the camera, I didn’t find any large animals in the garden, but mostly the damage was from squirrels and groundhogs or rabbits.
Bread and Butter hybrid Corn
Plan for 2012 Garden
2012 Garden with rail fence
Tomato plants on right with eggplant and pepper plants in the wagon
i bought an Amaryllis plant from Home Depot a few year back and it is still flowering biannually. It was getting crowded in the original pot adn I decided to break it up into a few new containers. I bought some regular potting soil, large clay pots. I began by turning the original pot containing the Amaryllis bulbs upside down over some newspaper and gently removing and separating the bulbs. I then partially filled the new pots with soil, made an indentation in the midle of the pot and set one or two bulbs in each pot adding soil but not completely covering the bulb’s crown where new growth occurs. I watered the pots which were in aluminum pans and left outside in rainy weather before bringing them inside the house. Once green shoots appear, start watering again!
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs in original pot
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs in original pot ready to be repotted
Removing bulbs from container
Amaryllis removed from container.
Prepared bulb container
Amaryllis set in new container
Repotted Amaryllis with Stem
Newly replanted Amaryllis containers in aluminum pans ready to be watered. Avoid getting water in center of srown.
New growth from tranplants
green showing on a few bulbs after about 5 months
apparently once green shoots appear, start watering again
start watering bulbs after green shoots appear!
6 months after replanting!
Repotted Amaryllis during the summer
Repotted Amaryllis during the summer
March 15,2013 – getting productive plants this year!
2012 season: All repotted bulbs are growing and have been placed outdoors for the warm summer months.
November 11, 2012
It’s been a year since I repotted my Amaryllis, and during the summer months all the bulbs sprouted leaves but no blooms. Some of the bulbs which did not sprout leaves during the preceding Winter, sprouted outdoors in the Summer. I had believed that these bulbs were dead, but they surprised me! I brought the Amaryllis plants back in the house near an eastely facing window for the winter in late September. The summer growth seems to be wilting. They are now on limited water for the winter till the summer growth browns and new green sprouts.
March 15,2013 - getting productive plants this year!
I have a building on my property that was used as a pony barn/stall. It was built using particle board. I installed a workbench inside and a peg board for tools. This was fine until the particle board doors rotted off and a hole appeared in the particle board back wall. The roof was made of shingles and looked okay, but to get through the winter, I needed to fix the doors as well as the hole in the wall. As most of the wood panel was rotten, the existing doors needed to be removed and replaced. I thought about replacing the entire shed with a prefab building, but since i like working with wood and a new shed would be costly, i thought that I would give remodeling the old shed a try as a less expensive alternative to replacement.
First i needed a front barn type door and to fix the back wall before winter. I was a little apprehensive about building doors from scratch, so I went to the local Library and borrowed a book about building sheds. In the book, I found a plan for a Z type door. This door is pretty simple consisting of wood planks side by side with a Z shaped brace to hold it together. To repair the back wall, I decided to create a doorway to go into the wooded area of my property, the shed acts as part of my fence around my back lawn, i used the same plan as for the front barn doors except i split the doror in two parts like a dutch door, so I could just open the top for ventilation. For both doors I used 1×6 pine planks (which actually are 5 1/2 inchs) to make two 36 inch doors for a 71 inch opening. 6 1×6 pieces gave me 33 inches, so i usd a 1×4(3.5 inches) which gave me 36.5 inch doors. I used 1×4 for the zbracing securing with 1 1-4 screws, two screws per brace per panel. Surprisingly the door was very rigid.
Hints for making doors:
1. When selecting wood for the doors, lay out boards on floor of lumberyard to check if they fit tightly against one another.
2. if possible, use waterproof finish before hanging doors on shed.
UPDATE: December 1, 2012
The windstorm resulting from Hurricane sandy toppled a large pine tree atop of my shed, totally destroying it. This ends the debate of whether to renovate the old shed or to build a new one has evolved into whether to build it myself or buy/install a prebuilt shed. I have looked through a couple books from the library which is how i found the door building technique for the old shed. I also looked online at local shed builders and I was looking at tinyhouse plans. I visited my local Home Depot and Lowes. Lowes had many display models onsite and Home Depot had a nice “build your own” application on its website. So far all I am sur about is the size 12 feet by 10 feet.