Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Advantages of Starting Vegetables From Seed After the Summer Solstice

Many of us have been there. We start out with great intentions. We're going to grow our own food. We have plans and tools and seed catalogs. We can almost taste the luscious vegetables we are going to harvest from our gardens.

And then stuff happens. Other things come up that require our attention. The weather is too something - hot, cold, wet, dry - and we don't get the garden planted. Or maybe we do get it planted, but our crops  "bolt," start going to seed too early, resulting in disappointing flavors and textures. So here it is, the end of June, it seems too late to start a garden and we give up on our dream of growing vegetables.

But according to Ryan, the Garden Coach at Botanical Interests (a Seattle Garden Ideas affiliate), many vegetables do better when planted now, after the summer solstice. These include: vegetables in the Brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.), vegetables that form heads (lettuce, radicchio and others), and vegetables that like cooler conditions (carrots, beets, spinach, etc.)

Ryan explains why this is a good time to be sowing vegetable seeds in this article, "Second Chances." There are several factors, including day length and soil temperature, that make it likely that planting now will result in a better harvest than was possible earlier in the year. And of  course, if you need seed, Botanical Interests is an excellent source. They carry many organic and heirloom varieties. Absolutely NO GMOs.

Friday, May 18, 2012

3 Ways to Deal with Root Weevils

You know you have root weevils when you see these distinctive notches on your rhododendron leaves.

Like slugs, root weevils are nocturnal creatures. To catch them chewing on your plants, you will have to go out at night with a flashlight. In fact, some gardeners do just that. They put on rubber gloves, grab a bucket and a flashlight, and go patroling the garden, picking weevils off their rhodies.

Personally, I'm not a fan of picking bugs off of anything at any time of day. I'm also not a fan of using pesticides. So what are the alternatives?

One, do nothing. Root weevils will not kill your rhododendrons. The worst that will happen is that you will have a lot of notched leaves.

Two, do something to prevent the weevils from climbing up the branches of the plant. Root weevils can't fly. The only way they can reach the leaves is to walk up the branches. Try coating the base of the plant with something sticky like Tanglefoot. The weevils can't get past that sticky barrier and your leaves will be safe from harm.

Three, plant rhododendrons that root weevils don't like. They won't bother any rhodie with fuzz, or indumentum, under the leaves, such as members of the Rh. yakushimanum family.

Need more ideas on ways to de-bug your garden? Check out Eartheasy's article on natural garden pest control.