TIPS ON ORGANIC GARDENING AS WE GROW OLDER
I didn’t realize how many definitions of ‘tips’ there are until I looked it up on the internet. I am using it here as a ‘helpful hint’. The last blog I wrote was on the limitations of organic gardening in my late 70s. Delightfully, my garden here in late March, is not affected by the corona virus. My corn is 4” high, the bush beans have the third and fourth leaves, the pole beans are vining, the squash and cucumbers are up and need thinning, the purple hull peas and okra are sprouting, the 6 new tomato plants are over two’ high and need cages, the pepper plants are about 8” high and need Bt daily to discourage the worms, and the red and yellow onions are starting to bulb. The second planting of lettuce and spinach are producing large leaves. The 5 Celebrity and Typhon tomatoes planted in November are loaded with green tomatoes from marble to baseball size. I spray the Spray-N-Grow combo to all my vegetables and fruit trees weekly.
My first tip comes from having bought tomato and pepper plants in 2”x 6 packs which I graduated twice to larger pots before planting them in the garden. I mixed a tablespoon each of fish emulsion, kelp liquid, and molasses with a pinch of mycorrhizal in a shaken gallon of rainwater (I have 7 rain barrels). I watered the plants daily. They changed from a medium green to a dark green color and grew rapidly on my potting bench. I took them into my shed at night because the raccoons like the smell of the fish emulsion. When I planted them, the root systems were massive. This recipe is basically the same one I use in making aerated Liquid Microbial Concentrate (LMC) with bagged worm casings. I drench the garden plants with deluded LMC by adding 2 gallons of rainwater to every 1 gallon of aerated LMC. My soil already has various dry organic fertilizers added such as bone meal, cotton meal, composted chicken manure, dry molasses, trace minerals and my aged compost of kitchen and garden waste.
The second tip is that there are a large variety of Grow Bags, made of various aeration materials, and in various gallon sizes such as 5, 7, and 10 up to 30. Enriched potting soil is added to the bags along with either young plants or seeds of various vegetables. Flowers and herbs could also be grown in them.
I have a friend who uses the Grow Bags because of the root-knot nematodes we have here in the sugar sand of the Coastal Bend of Texas. He uses a timed watering system supplied to each bag. He has bought panels of 4”x4” Hog Fencing and bent the ends down 4” to 8” to support the bags and keep them off the ground. He has raised a wide variety of vegetables in them. Indeterminate tomatoes don’t do well because of their need for a deep and wide root system. Corn would need many large bags along with support. On the other hand, there are specially designed potato bags with side doors on the bottom which use Velcro to open and close so that potatoes can be harvested while the plant continues to grow. More soil is added as the plant grows.
Some of the drawbacks of using Grow Bags are: the soil has to be replenished every year, they tend to dry out quickly like potted flowers in the heat and drought of summer, they limit how many vegetables like beans or peas can be grown, and they aren’t as aesthetically as pleasing to the eyes as seven 50’ garden rows filled with numerous and various garden vegetables. The used soil can be put into a compost bin. I don’t think it would be wise to mix the used soil of tomatoes and potatoes together because of the diseases they have in common.