grdnguru's blog

Tomato Trellis system
Posted on May 20, 2020 11:15 AM

Before I launch into the Vine crop system I recently installed, I want to make a brief comment on our weather as of late. We were supposed to have very rainy and cold weather for this current week. They projected at least 3-4 days of rains. Well, guess who was wrong? Yeah, you guessed it - the weather people. We have had cooler than normal temperatures which feel like early May if not late April. But so far this week, we have had very little rain. And, I am not complaining one bit.
Today, we are at about 55 with a high forecasted at 62. We are additionally having very strong winds of around 25 MPH with gusts to 35. Yuck! Todays high would put us about 7-10 degrees cooler than normal. I would say, that without checking the actual data, that May was cooler and wetter than average much more often than not. Last year was about the same if not slightly warmer. This has impacted my plantings a great deal. I have delayed a lot of planting but really can't put them off anymore.
So, I finally pulled out the trellis system I have been aching to implement. The system is called "GrowBiggerPlants Rollerhook Tomato and Vine crop Trellis". Or, as I call it - the Trellis. It's available on Amazon. It's intended use is for greenhouse trellising of any vine crops. But, after a little research, it can easily be adapted to the outside garden. You just have to build a trellis support system. So, about to work I went.
I already had two poles that I used last year set up in my garden. I decided to use them as the supports. I had to first stiffen them up to insure they didn't collapse during the season. So I pulled both poles and dug their holes a little deeper. Instead of filling the hole with just dirt, I used small stones I had left over from my greenhouse construction and some rocks that I had piled up throughout the years. I then backfilled the holes with dirt and compacted the area around the poles. I then ran a guidewire from each pole and attached them to sixteen inch long stakes I pounded into the ground. You can see them in the picture below. All of this may be a bit over the top but I wanted to be sure they would hold up.
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Next, I attached screw eyes to each side of the two poles at the top of the poles. Thumb of 2020-05-20/grdnguru/64f493 I bought these at Wal Mart for 97 cents. I used these to attach and hold the lines to which the rollerhooks will hang from. I didn't screw them all the way in the poles in order to allow me to tighten the lines once I had them attached. So, I then ran a wire between the poles and attached them to the screw eyes as seen below. Once attached, I spun the eyes with a screwdriver and tightened the lines. This is the wire I used. I came by the wire when the company I worked for had construction work done. The contractor left the wire at our site and I asked the operations manager if I could have it. He had no issue.
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Next, I assembled the rollerhooks that I needed to hang from the wires. It was a pretty easy process as it's a snap and go system. It consists of a metal hangar and the roller. The hangar has loops in the bottom into which the roller attaches to it by the knobs on its' side as seen below. The only thing you have to do is make sure you align the catch side of the roller to the release apparatus. This can be seen in the third and fourth pictures.
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In order to release the line, you press in on the loop and that raises the bar so it releases the catch. This will be done several times during the season in order to allow the vine to grow upwards.
So I took the assembled roller hooks and attached them to the metal line. I rolled the line down and tied the line to a earth staple that was in the ground. I spaced them evenly so that each plant has enough room to grow.
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Once plants are growing, I will attach the vines by using the clip shown below. The piece clips onto the line in the middle and the clip itself loops around the vine and locks by pushing the locking mechanism into place. I am looking forward to when I have the plants ready to go in. That
should be very soon. I plan on using this setup for cucumbers. I have enough set up in the 5ft space to grow 9 plants. I will now look to erect a similar setup for my tomato plants very soon.
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There has been a lot going on here recently. Just part and parcel of life as I get busier with the gardens. I will be relating all the activities as best as I can. So, stay tuned as the weeks progress. I hope everyone is weathering the covid madness well. Seems life may be coming back ever so slowly and a lot different. It's called adjusting to what is I guess. So, everyone please stay safe and vigilant as we move out of the various lockdowns to varying degrees. We've come too far to take a huge step backwards. Until next time everyone, Happy Gardening!

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One foot forward and.....
Posted on May 14, 2020 9:10 AM

We are looking at a beautiful weather weekend starting tomorrow. Given our May weather has been less than stellar, this weekend will be a welcomed relief. It won't make up for the wet and cool temps we have experienced thus far but it won't hurt either. This has probably been the most challenging Spring I have experienced in a long time. I don't know if it has been exasperated by the lockdowns we have been in, but I do not remember a cloudier, cooler and wetter Spring. This has caused some issues for sure.
I had been noticing very recently that my tomato plants that I bought a couple weeks ago were showing yellow leaves. I surmised that it was because they were in the greenhouse and perhaps I was overwatering them given the weather. I cut back on that and they showed no signs of improvement. Ugh...
I had my suspicions of what it was but really didn't want to admit it. Then, one of my cucumber seedlings started the same trend. I knew what was happening at that point. My plants were infected with Fusarium Wilt. This stuff is almost 100% lethal to the plant. I thought that it was because I held back transplanting them into the garden due to the weather. However, my one gardening neighbors' tomatoes were showing the same thing. Those plants were in the garden early May. So, I disposed of the plants and checked the rest of my seedlings. At this point, only a couple of Spinach plants had to be added to the pile.
Tuesday, I woke up determined to move forward with the garden. I may have to augment my planting with some store bought plants but that is still up in the air. I decided it was time to dry out my leaf mold and grass cuttings I bagged. So, I laid out a tarp and deposited the leaves and grass in my back yard. As you can see, the mold was quite wet from its' overwintering.
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I let it sit out and dry from the 20 mph winds we had. I would occasionally rake them in order to expedite the process. So, I puttered in the garden and just tended to the piles as I walked by. I did take an inventory of what I wanted to get accomplish Wednesday as It was calling for warmer temps and less wind. When I went out in the morning, the grass was showing signs of drying and the leaf mold was still a little wet. I raked the leaves and collected compost from my one unit. It was very dark and had a ton of worms in it - all good signs.
So, as the sun beat down on the piles, I set myself up to sift the compost under my tree. Here is the setup I used. Nothing fancy, just efficient.
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After taking two half 30 gallon containers of compost and sifting it, this is what I had for my efforts. About 30 or so gallons of finely sifted, earthworm laden compost. Can't buy this stuff.
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My next effort was to weed whack the now drier leaf mold. So, I took varying amounts of the leaves, threw them into a trash can and chopped them up with my Worx trimmer. After about 7 turns doing this, I had a half trash can full of leaf mold ready to use in the garden for mulch.
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I have plenty more to chop as I used only half of the dried leaves and I have another wheel barrow half full of moist leaf mold.
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I will use these in conjunction with the compost and dried grass as a multi layered mulch treatment. I will apply the compost as a base, then add the leaf mold and then top it off with the grass clippings. I will wait to use the grass once it has dried thoroughly. This should dampen the weed growth and keep the soil cooler. Once summer comes, it will then assist with moisture retention.
I will begin dressing the crops this afternoon once I get some other non gardening issues addressed. I will update on this when completed. I am currently getting ready to set up the tomato and cucumber supports that I have put off. Time is of the essence as the plants are now more than ready for transplanting.
That's all I have at this time. Happy Gardening everyone!

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Happy Mothers Day
Posted on May 10, 2020 6:03 AM

Just want to wish all the mothers out there a Very Happy Mothers' Day today. Enjoy!

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Taking stock
Posted on May 4, 2020 5:32 AM

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day in our region. We hit a high of 78 in our area with periodic clouds. Given we have had mostly unseasonably cooler weather recently, it was a nice surprise that felt really nice. As I walked to the garden with a mental list of what I was going to accomplish, I decided that it was actually going to be a day of minimal input on my part where I would just soak up the garden. Not sure what triggered the change of heart, but I just went with the flow.
So, I grabbed a garbage bag and walked the garden while gathering up the various limbs and other debris that has been deposited by my tree through all the storms we have had. Then I checked the various plants and watered those that needed it. I had a pile of cardboard that I have been working on periodically to shred for my composting. So, I finally finished that process under the shade of my tree. I put the cardboard into my one empty bin and covered that with a heaping of leaf mold. I watered that all down and went about the rest of my meanderings.
Overall, at this stage of the gardening season, I came to the conclusion that my garden is coming along quite well. I am growing many new plants that I never had. New to me are peas, onions and potatoes. While I nurse them along, I have many plants that are also coming along nicely. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely.
Despite the challenges that this Spring season has presented, the garden is doing about as well as can be expected. There will be more issues I am sure. But that is part of the allure of gardening for me - overcoming the obstacles.
Speaking of issues, our weather is on a projected downward trajectory this week. We have freeze warnings being talked about for Mother's day this Sunday. And the outlook for the rest of May is for colder weather than normal with rain. So much for Spring eh?
But I will continue to dig in and garden. Sure, I'm going to have to adapt to the circumstances but don't we all. Today is a new day and there is lots to do in the garden. And that will keep me moving along. So I'd better get going as the new week is ahead and there's plenty to do. Take care everyone. Until next time, Happy Gardening everyone

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Moving forward
Posted on May 1, 2020 4:14 PM

Yesterday was quite a wet day for most of the east coast. It started out windy with strong gusts here. I could see the approaching storm to the west but it wasn't raining when I woke up around 6AM. I waited until it got lighter and poked my head out. It was rather warm and despite the winds, really not too bad of a day. I gathered myself and went to the garden and decided it was time to transplant my onion seedlings. I did notice that a crew was delivering shingles by crane to one of my backyard neighbors. Glad it wasn't me as the winds were increasing in intensity.
So, I assembled all my tools and opened the structure where I decided to plant them. As I kept an eye on the approaching storm, I dug the holes and transplanted the 11 seedlings in about 45 minutes. I watered them down, took the picture below and closed off the structure as a little rain was starting. I then closed everything up and went inside as the winds picked up a little more and it began to rain steadily. That's what I call just in time planting. Here is the result of my endeavors.
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The storm hit way too hard for me to do much else the rest of the day. We had areas around us that flooded with over a foot of water or more. We received about an inch of rain overall but the winds and the high tides combined to push the local rivers over their banks. Not a pleasant experience for all those involved.
Wednesday, I assembled my fence garden pots in order to seed in more Spinach. I had 5 existing plants which I just cut back on Tuesday for salads. So, I planted in the remaining 7 units with Spinach seeds. I used a mixture of the Miracle Grow Organics soil, sifted compost from my composter, and some seed starting mix at the top to place the seed in. This was a unit a saw on sale last year at our local BJ's. It worked pretty well last year so I am hoping it will do the same or better this year.
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Also on Wednesday, I planted in my recycled shoe holder. Yes, I am one of those people who saves things not knowing if I'll ever use it. I just look at the item and, if it is unusual, I more than likely will keep it. In this case, both the tubing and the shoe caddy were saved from the garbage by me. You just never know.
After I hung it on the back wall of my greenhouse, I cut holes in the bottom of each pouch and inserted tubing that I had saved for future purposes probably 3 years ago. I then filled the first container with the dirt and wetted it down to see if the water would empty into the container below. The test confirmed that indeed, the water did flow through. I then proceeded to fill another 7, each time testing to be sure of the drainage. Once that was finished, I had my wife pick out the herbs she would use. She picked the 8 she thought would be used by us. No sense in growing something you won't use. Never understood folks who did that unless a neighbor or other family member were going to use it.
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I did check on my beans and cabbage plants. All seem to be coming along fine. With regards to the beans, I used some bean seeds that are probably 4 years old along with brand new beans I just recently bought locally. The older seeds are still quite viable when compared to the newer seeds. I have other seeds from 2010 that I planted early this year that gave me near 90% germination.
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I attribute that to the fact that I keep my seeds in a small "dorm" refrigerator and that I keep them in photo cases. I simply pull the proper colored container for the seeds I need and leave the others in the fridge. They are in the container that signifies the season that they are planted. For instance, the yellow and green are for spring. I have the seeds that are typically planted in that season stored in those boxes. Along with this, I have an excel spreadsheet that lists the various 265 seed packets that I have and what year they are from. And, each line is color coded to match the color of the boxes. I bought this at my wife's urging as they are really made for keeping photos. Yes, there was some upfront labor involved, but I haven't bought any seed packets that I didn't know I already had anymore. And this is so much more time efficient than my previous storage system. I say its worth every bit of time I have saved.
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Much to my delight, when I looked at the area where I planted my potato starts, there was one that already broke through the ground and evidence that another 6 were beginning to break through too. If that holds up, I will be very pleased by that. I say that because the potato is probably far and away the most caloric and nutritionally dense vegetable. They are rich in carbs, fiber, vitamin C, B6, potassium and manganese. When processed, they lose a fair portion of everything. So, I am cautiously excited as I had a little doubt about the potatoes I received. Apparently, looks are deceiving. Here is a look at my first ever potato plant. LOL!
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That's about all I have for this Friday. Much still going on in the garden so I am hoping the weather can moderate. Until next time, Happy Gardening everyone.

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