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According to the hummingbird migration maps, the Ruby-throated hummingbirds have been making their presence known throughout Michigan, thanks to all of the gorgeous flowers attracting them with their showy blooms.
You can help matters by placing your feeder near nectar bearing plants or trees. Some good choices include delphinium, columbine, hollyhock, honeysuckle, salvia, daylillies and canna lillies, but if you do a little research, you can find a favorite that works for you.
This fellow has taken it to a whole other level. Something to aspire to, for sure:
If you’ve seen any of these amazing little creatures this season, please share!
I wanted to report on how the garden is progressing thus far, specifically, on our tomato plant incident. I’ll go over where things went wrong and why, and share what I have learned from it all, in the hopes that you can also learn from my experience.
Let’s talk about our beloved little tomato plants. After trying, unsuccessfully, to grow tomato plants from seed (I didn’t start early enough) I purchased and planted five small tomato plants in large containers. In those containers I used a mixture of topsoil, manure, perlite and peat moss, plus some Osmocote for good measure. I also tried some new tips to prevent issues with water consistency and calcium depletion.
I found the below gardening video that instructs you on how to create a container garden, and it instructs you to place a baby diaper in the bottom of the container instead of the product Soil Moist. The diaper contains polymers that release the water over several days, keeping the moisture levels constant. So, I took the advice, adding a diaper to the bottom of each container.
I also had a problem with blossom end rot in the container tomato plants last year – what happens in the container tomato plants is when you water them, and the water drains out, it takes the much needed calcium along with it, making the plants more susceptible to this fungal disease.
A friend of mine told me that I could add a few Tums into the soil mixture. She had done this in the past and it helped matters, so I did that as well., figuring it couldn’t really hurt, so why not? Since the containers are so large, I didn’t want to fill them entirely with the soil mixture, as that would have been quite costly, so another trick I used was to add a few water bottles to the bottom of the containers and I poured the soil mixture on top of them, filling the pots the rest of the way (you can also do this to heavy large ceramic pots, to make them less heavy in your container gardens).
Unfortunately, we had a late frost hit around late May, and the frost nearly demolished the tomatoes. They shriveled up, lost their leaves, turned yellow – it was a mess. But I nurtured them and babied them and they slowly but surely came back, sending tiny green shoots and leaves up to replace the frost damaged ones. Whew, crisis averted. Then, about a month or so later, we had torrential downpours for a good week. I was thinking, “Oh this is fantastic, they are getting their much needed water.” Then, one evening my husband says, ” Something crazy is happening to your tomato plants.” I turn to look and find what looks like Mount Vesuvius erupting out of each pot – or as the nice lady in the video said, “a floating garden”. Apparently, thanks to all the rain, the stupid diapers expanded so much that they forced the soil, and plants along with it, up and nearly out of the pots. The only way I could rectify this was to lean the pots over to pour out the excess water surrounding the soil. While attempting this, things went from bad to worse, each one of the water bottles I had placed at the bottom of the containers started popping out of the pots like evil jack-in-the boxes. An utter and complete mess! As it turns out, that the drainage holes on the bottom of the containers weren’t nearly large enough to allow the excess rain water to drain, so it had no place to go but up and out.
After all was said and done, I had tomato plants in containers that looked like they were only half filled with soil, so I had to purchase potting mix to backfill the mix and volume that we lost with the water and bottles. These poor plants had been through the wringer, with the late Michigan frost and what I lovingly refer to as the “diaper incident”.
Alas, my plants are stunted, and just didn’t produce many of the cherished yellow flowers that eventually turn into tomatoes. At present, there are a few small green tomatoes on each plant. I believe they are a bit behind schedule for Zone 5.
- Make sure you have adequate drainage holes when using containers, if you are going to use diapers in place of Soil Moist – maybe use only half a diaper
- Partially fill the containers with something that doesn’t float!
- Use the Tums. Happily, that tip seems to have worked quite well, as there are no signs of of blossom end rot.
We’ll shall see how many more tomatoes actually grow, after what these poor plants have been through. Do you have any tomatow growing tips or ideas you’d like to share?
I am so glad it has stopped raining, as now I can get to work in my raised bed garden. We’ve certainly got a stretch of great weather right now, breezy, sunny and bright. Now’s the time to pull weeds, cut back ornamental grasses and turn the soil and plant cold-tolerant seeds and plants. I see lots of earthworms, so that’s a great sign!
I use the square foot gardening approach in our 8′ x 4′ raised bed, since I enjoy growing several different things in our small area. It works out really well, since there are certain things we always like to grow (carrots, green beans, eggplant, beets, radishes, lettuce, spinach, broccoli and herbs). Tomatoes are definitely a staple, but I plan to grow them in large containers this year, since they shade the other items when they grow in the raised bed.
I am going to plant some seeds (lettuce, spinach and broccoli are cold tolerant candidates). Unfortunately, I discovered that I overbought some seeds this year – forgetting I had lots left over from last summer. Every year, when the seed packets and plant bulbs are on display I go a little crazy – especially when they’re on sale.
It’s really fun to try a few new things every year, just to learn whether it has certain tolerances and is easy to grow inthis climate. It allows me to learn from the experience, and add new favorites to the lineup. This year, I am thinking about bulb fennel – simply because it can be kind of expensive around here and it can be used in hot and cold dishes. I also purchased some Delicata squash seeds to try out, but those will get planted outside of the raised bed, since squash will take over the entire bed if given the opportunity. I’ve got Edamame (soybean) seeds I may try, as well. It should yield interesting results.
I am relatively new at vegetable gardening, and am just getting used to the timing of everything, so I haven’t yet ventured into starting seeds indoors. I never seem to think of doing so until it is too late in the season. I may try starting some seeds in containers that I can cover with plastic sheeting to create a greenhouse effect. I will likely try this for Jalapeno and Poblano peppers, Black Beauty eggplant, and Roma tomatoes. It would certainly save lots of cash, since buying the plants can really add up. We had an overload of Cayenne one year and Jalapenos last year, so I threaded the Cayenne and hung them to dry out. I let the Jalapenos ripen until they turned red, put them in the smoker, let them dry out, as well. I then blasted both batches of dried out peppers in the processor, one year we had a nice sized jar of home grown Cayenne, and this year we have a jar of ground chipotle on hand.
Let me know about any cool new things you may have tried to grow and how they turned out.
Well, I’m off to dig in the dirt, happy gardening!
Ok, so I haven’t posted in a while, since work and life, in general, have been extremely busy.
I wanted to share this picture of our cat, Quincy, the tape addict. He’s a nine year old seal point, mitted ragdoll, and is obviously as guilty as heck, since the evidence is stuck to his chest for all the world to see.
The routine is, we hide all adhesive related products in the house, since Quincy hunts them down and finds them, no matter how large (like a shipping box with all sorts of packing tape on it) or small (like a post it note with an important reminder on it, or an entire book of stamps that cost you $8.40 .)
If he happens to stumble upon anything remotely adhesive in nature, he is on it like a crack head, chewing away until he becomes sick to his stomach and makes a mess on our floor. In scientific explanation, I have read that certain adhesives may call out to him because they make them with – errr – animal connective tissue. Gross, I know, but alas, there it is.
Some other things Quincy enjoys: the tasty cotton end of a Q-tip, coming into the shower and waiting until I drip water out of my freshly shampooed hair onto his fur. Yes, he is most definitely whacked.
I would love to know what strange things your pets may be addicted to, or strange behaviors they might exhibit. Oh, and if you know of any 12 step programs for the adhesive addicted cat…
I recently stumbled across this very cool Google video, The School for Knives, where Alton Brown discusses the anatomy of a knife, the proper knife to use for the job, how to properly and safely hold a knife and various slicing techniques. He is doing this for Shun, the king of knives, but it is highly educational in his major geeky, fun way. I learned that my grip is “rude” and that what I should be doing is “pinching.” Enjoy!