Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Test Time...

I finally got around to testing my soil pH and fertility.  It's only been 8 years since putting in my first beds and 5 months since I received my tester as a gift. When I first read the directions it seemed a bit daunting.  Now that I have done it once, it is actually pretty easy.

Burpee Electronic Soil Tester

Make sure to use clean tools.

First remove the top 2" from the area you are testing.  Next, dig down about 6" in several locations.  My beds are 4x4's so I decided on 4 evenly spaced areas.  

Break-up soil and remove stones, twigs etc.

Evenly collect and combine the dirt from the different locations until you have between 2" and 4".

Add distilled, spring or rain water to your container of dirt, turning it into a mud like consistency. 

Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes, and then drain of excess water. 

Place the meter into the mud and select either pH or fertility.

Wait two minutes before taking a reading.  

I discovered the my pH was just shy of 7 or neutral.  The soil fertility was on the "too little" side, which makes sense since I just got done growing green beans in this area.  Now that I have my readings, I can amend the soil accordingly.

Soil pH and fertility, along with sun exposure and moisture levels are important factors in providing the best growing environment for a successful garden

Follow the link below to learn more about soil testing with the Burpee Electronic Soil Tester....


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Butterfly Garden in the Making.....

Some requirements for a Butterfly Garden are sun, a variety of butterfly attracting plants that bloom throughout the season,  providing food and a place to lay eggs, natural or organic pest control and shelter,
You can have your Butterfly Garden certified through the  NABA's Butterfly Garden Certification Program

Learn about attracting Buterflies to your garden.... 
Gardens with Wings

Fallow this link for information on the North American Butterfly Association

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


Spicebush Swallowtail


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This Is not good....

Squash Vine Borer Damage

I came out to the garden this morning to find one of my squash plants wilting.  From past experience, I new that this was not due to a lack of water.  Besides, we are having one of the rainiest summers on record.  The culprit, SQUASH VINE BORERS. ugh!!!

These moths primarily attack squash, zucchini, pumpkins, and guards, (hallow stemmed cucurbits) with less likelihood of attacking cucumbers and melons.  They lay eggs which produce a caterpillar larva that bores into the main stem of the plant.  Inside, they feed off the plant, causing wilting at first, but then the eventual demise of the plant.  Once these nasty things have done their damage, they crawl back out of the plant and overwinter in the soil (where they pupate), only to return the next year and start the cycle all over again.

If your garden is attacked, then go on the defensive.  Remove the infected plants, slit open the stem, find the borer(s), and destroy, thus breaking the cycle.  (I do not compost infected plants, just in case I miss a borer).  Plant solid stem vines or rotate out hallow stemmed vines to a different area of the garden where they have not been grown for a few years.  If you do grow hollow stem vines then plant in succession, every two to three weak's, harvesting what you can before removing the damaged plants.  When plants first sprout, you can try to protect the stem/base with foil or nylon stockings, floating row covers or some other type of barrier.  Encourage additional rooting at various points along vining plants by covering with soil.  By doing so, you may be able to cut off the infected part of the plant, saving the remaining healthy stems.  Tilling the soil in the fall, after removing damaged plants and/or early spring may help to kill the borer cocoons.