Gardening in Sand

Till a 6-inch layer of compost tnto your soil several weeks before planting to greatly improve its fertility. Or, build a raised bed and fill it with a combination of purchased topsoil and compost. Mulch plants with organic matter, such as compost, shredded bark, grass clippings, or straw. Continue to add lots of organic matter each year, which over time will not only improve your soil's fertility and drainage, but will also increase its ability to retain moisture and nutrients. Organic matter also provides food for earthworms and microorganisms that help build the soil.


Reduce Garden Cultivation

During the dog days of August, and especially if it's dry, reduce cultivation of flower and vegetable beds. Loosening the soil causes it to dry out faster and you may also unintentionally harm the plants' feeder roots.


Herbs Die after Harvest

You may be removing too much foliage when you harvest. It's always best to harvest sparingly the first year, to give the plant time to become established. Here are some general guidelines to harvesting herbs: Begin harvesting the herb when the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth. Up to 75% of the current season's growth can be harvested at one time. Harvest early in the morning, after the dew dries, but before the heat of the day. Harvest herbs before flowering, otherwise, leaf production declines. Herb leaves have their most intense oil concentration and flavor when harvested after flower buds appear but before they open. Herb flowers harvested to dry for craft purposes should be picked just before they are fully opened. Annual herbs can be harvested until frost. Perennial herbs can be clipped until late August. Stop harvesting about one month before the frost date. Late pruning could encourage tender growth that cannot harden-off before winter. Harvest tarragon or lavender flowers in early summer and then shear the plants to half their height to encourage a second flowering period in the fall. Hope your next attempt is more successful!


Planting a Fall/Winter Garden

With a cold frame, you can grow many different cool-season vegetables--plus get a head start on early spring crops. Concentrate on root crops and green leafy veggies during the fall and winter months. Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, turnips and chard are good choices for the low light and cooler temperatures of fall and winter. You may want to do a planting right in the garden in late August, and save the cold frame for a second planting in a month or so, for an extended harvest. You can cover the garden plants with row covers during chilly nights to help extend the season up until a hard freeze.


Nut Drop on Pecans

Dropping pecan nuts may be due to inadequate water, zinc deficiency, or insects. If you still have a good supply in the tree, don't worry, you'll have nuts this fall. If not, next year keep trees well watered, fertilized, and control insects.


Using Pepperment

Peppermint is a type of mint. Normally one simply uses the leaves, either fresh or dried. The leaves have the best flavor if harvested just before the plant blooms. Fresh leaves are good in iced teas, lemonade, fruit salad, cucumber salad and so on. Dried leaves can be used in Middle Eastern recipes and tea as well as in baking.

To dry, cut the mint near the base of each stem, tie the stems into bundles using rubber bands at the cut ends. Then hook the rubber bands on bent paper clips and use those as hooks to hang the bundles--hook them onto an ordinary coat hanger, for instance. Hang them in a cool, dark, dry, well ventilated spot until crispy. Then remove the leaves from the stems and store in airtight packages such as jars or zipper bags, again in a cool, dark, dry location. Make sure there is no condensation in the container--that means it is not dry enough yet.


Soak Plants Thoroughly

Be wise when watering. Most plants grow best with a thorough soaking and then allowed to dry out before watering again. If you keep the soil too wet, plant roots will be starved for oxygen and die.


Whiteflies on Tomatoes

It sounds as if you have whiteflies, which often show up late summer or early fall. They multiply rapidly when temperatures are warm, but will die off as cold approaches. They such the juices out of foliage, leaving behind tiny yellow spots, called stippling, which can weaken the plant. The best way to keep whiteflies at bay is to start early. Next year, monitor your plants carefully and when you first notice the whiteflies, start the following control methods. You can still apply these methods this year, as well.

Start with the simplest method first, and if that isn't successful, move on from there. A strong blast of water from the hose often works. Spray underneath leaves where the whiteflies tend to cluster. Do this daily if you notice insects.

Whiteflies are attracted to the color yellow. You can purchase or make yellow "sticky" traps from yellow cardboard smeared with petroleum jelly. They fly to it and get stuck.

Soapy water sprays are another possibility. Use 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of liquid soap per gallon of water. Use regular, not concentrated soap. Don't use soaps with lemon, as the citric acid can burn plants. Start with the lower amount and work up as needed. Spray as often as needed. As with any spray you might wish to test it on a few leaves first before you treat all your plants. Spray early in the morning before the sun heats up.

Next on my list would be an insecticidal soap spray. The insecticidal soaps are made from plant-derived fatty acids and target soft-bodied insects. Unfortunately, there's really no way you can target the bad guys without at least some effect on the good guys. If you can regularly monitor and tolerate some damage to your plants, over time Mother Nature strikes a balance, with the beneficials coming in to control the bad guys. Healthy, vigorous plants will withstand insect attacks better than weakly growing ones.


Fertilize Sweet Corn

When sweet corn plants are about one foot tall, it's time to hill them. Mounding the soil around the plants or "hilling" helps support the stalk and prevents them from blowing over, especially during summer storms.

Image Credit: http://www.charyproduce.com


Peppers Spoil Before Ripening

It sounds like there may be some cultural problems with the peppers, as well as a bacterial soft rot. Peppers need a long, warm growing season to mature. If yours are not maturing by the end of summer you need to either find a shorter season variety, or help them along by enhancing the heat in the garden. Try using a dark colored mulch to absorb heat during the daytime and radiate it back toward the plants at night (black plastic will work). Make sure the plants are receiving 8-10 hours of direct sunlight earh day. Peppers have shallow roots, so make sure the plants get ample water during the growing season.To guard against bacterial soft rot, avoid overcrowding of plants, try not to water from above, and promply remove infected plant material and debris from the garden.


Pruning New Canes On Brambles

In general, branched canes that have borne fruit already can be cut out once the berries have been picked. Any dead canes should also be pruned out. Then thin the plants leaving only the biggest new canes. They will be the most productive next year. Try to end up with about 6 or 8 canes per clump with the canes spaced about 6 inches apart.

You might also refer to the diagrams at the following website because different types of brambles (blackberries, raspberries, etc.) require different methods of pruning for optimum production. http://muextension.missouri.edu/xplor/agguides/hort/g06000.htm Finally, no matter which kind(s) you are growing, be sure to remove and destroy the prunings when you are done.


Big Mushrooms

I found them under the pine tree in our front yard. Are they safe to eat?

Don't worry I didn't picked them.

I leave them alone, but they sure look appetizing.


A lot of them...


Harvest Sunflowers

To collect sunflower seeds after the flowers fade cover the head with cheesecloth to keep birds away. When you can rub seeds off with your hand, cut the head, remove the seeds, dry them in a warm, airy indoor location.

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Wormy Pecans

There are two common pecan pests that fit the description -- the pecan weevil and the pecan shuckworm (also called hickory shuckworm). Your pecans may be infested by one or the other, or both. In any case, you can reduce the extent of the problem if you pick up and destroy fallen nuts at the end of the season, since that's where the shuckworm overwinters. It also helps to cultivate the soil under the tree to a depth of about 3 inches during late February or early March. Weevils are more difficult to control. If it's practical, you can shake the adults from the tree. Place tarps under the branches and shake them to dislodge the feeding, breeding weevils, and destroy them. These pests overwinter in the soil at a depth of up to 12 inches, making cultivation impractical and likely to damage tree roots. Fortunately, weevil infestations tend to come in cycles, becoming a problem every two or three years.


Storing Potatoes For Winter Use

For maximum harvest and good keeping quality, potatoes need time to fully mature. Potatoes should be dug 2 to 3 weeks after the tops die down. This will give the skins time to toughen up and become thick enough to protect them during storage. Once dug, potatoes need time to cure before storage. Don't wash them, but gently brush the excess dirt off, then allow them to cure for about 2 weeks at temperatures of about 45F, with good air circulation. Then you can store them all winter in a cool, dark location, with plenty of air circulation.


Update On Philippine Corn

Like what I said with this post here are the pictures of my weird looking corn from Philippines. Have you seen anything like this. Five corns in one thing (what you call it).

There are 6 total corn in corn stalk. That would be some kind of record, is it? I just don't know if they have any kernels. Weird, would you eat it?


Harvesting Blueberries

For best flavor and sugar content, leave blueberries on the bush an extra 2 to 3 days after they turn blue. Remove small, gray, hard, and shriveled berries. These characteristics suggest the presence of mummy berry disease.


Philippine Corn

Finally my Philippine corn fruited. I'm not sure if I will be able to let it matured for next year seeds. This was taken a few weeks ago and even now I don't think they have any kernels yet. One of them have 4 ears in one husk. I will take a picture of it and show you what I am talking about. And by the way this corn is about 12 feet tall.


Protect Basil

To get the best basil crop wait until the soil has warmed to 65F to plant. Basil is very susceptible to chilling; if the weather's too cool, the leaves will brown and the plants wilt.


Cooking with Broccoli Raab and Relatives

There are many variations of these members of the Brassica, or cabbage, family, and various names are sometimes used interchangeably. It can get pretty confusing. The different types may or may not be interchangeable in recipes, depending upon the plant part that's called for in the recipe. You'll have to experiment by growing your own and tasting each in different stages of growth. Broccoli raab is a Brassica, but it is not a true broccoli. It is also known as rapini and rapine, and has a flavor similar to broccoli, but is usually more bitter. Rather than forming a large central head, it is grown for its leaves, shoots, and small florets. There are several different types of rape, another Brassica. Some are grown as a vegetable, including some which are similar to broccoli raab and are called flowering rape. (This may be what you are referring to by Chinese rape.) Some types are grown for their high oil content--the term canola oil is used to describe oil pressed from edible oilseed rape.


Bean Pests

It sounds as though you're dealing with an infestation of Mexican bean beetles. Adults are round beetles with 16 black spots on their wings, and can be mistaken for orange colored ladybugs. They can be formidable foes. Inspect plants frequently; handpick adult beetles from the plants and squish their yellow-orange eggs (found on the undersides of leaves). You may be able to manage the pest population at acceptable level simply by interplanting beans with garlic, nasturtiums, marigolds, or potatoes, which help repel the beetles.

Be sure to clean up bean plant debris right after harvest so adults won't have a place to hide. Plant beans early to avoid attack, and try growing a variety of plants to attract predacious wasps and assassin bugs, both of which eat Mexican bean beetles. Since beans are self-pollinating, you can cover the plants with fabric row cover to create a barrier agains the beetles.

As a last resort, spray plants weekly with an organic pesticide such as neem. Make sure to spray the undersides of leaves as well.


Gourd (Upo)

This is the only thing I can show about my gourd so far. I don't think I'll be posting any fruits this year. But I saw about 3 little ones sprouting today. But I'm not sure if they will bigger or just fall off.

Anyway, this is what gourd (Upo) flowers looks like.


Roma/Plum Tomatoes

I will try to can some of these tomatoes this year. This would be my first time doing it. I went to WalMart yesterday trying to find some preserve jars but no luck. Not only that but they moved everything around and I don't know where everything are. Will try BJ's tomorrow for the jars.

Most of the leaves are getting dry. You know its getting cold at night by the look of it. This is only one of them. I have at least five tomato bush.


Long/Yard Beans (Sitaw)

I am very lucky with my sitaw this year. I already freeze a lot of it already. You can see my process under "Too Much" post In My Kitchen. Right now the greens ones are changing color because we are having some cold nights.

This is my purple sitaw and actually behind it you can see an Albino sitaw. Makes me wonder why they are white well actually its very light yellow green in color. I already have some seed for next year. A lot more than I had this year, and I will be putting patches of vegetable garden along my property too next year.


Squash (Kalabasa)

Sguash flowers.

This one had been like this forever. Never gotten big since it become a fruit.

I think I will pick this one next weekend. I'm not sure how to tell if they are ready to be pick. I just have to take my chances then.

I edited this post because I was waiting for the gourd to change color. At first I thought this was pumpkins but DH and I keep waiting for it to change color but never did. So we figure this is actually a squash. I can't tell by the seeds. They all look the same, the pumpkins and gourd/squash.



This corn brought by my parents from the Philippines is over 8 feet tall. I guessed when they are planted here in the US they grow very tall. I wonder if the same goes with children. I am not tall and I was born in the boondocks of Philippines. Is that mean that my children will grow very tall (laugh). Anyway most of the corn in the farm around my house are ready to be pick, but this one is only starting to have some cobs. I don't think I'm able to harvest any corn this year. I missed Philippines corns.



Here are my okra this year. The leaves got attacked by Japanese beetles this year. I could not spray it with anything because I'm scared of chemicals getting in them. I was also surprised because this kind of okra got branches. The one I planted last year is straight. I guess my seeds is not the original from Philippines. I should ask my parents to send me some before spring next year.


Bell Peppers

I don't think that I will be harvesting any bell peppers this year. Our warm season is very short and we are having such cool nights since the beginning of August.

Root Crops

Root crops need a deep, loose, well-drained soil to grow well. Is the soil in your garden compacted, or heavy and blocky? If so, work in some organic matter. As organic matter decays, it releases compounds that make soil more "workable," as well as promoting good moisture retention and providing nutrients to plants. You may find that building a raised bed makes a difference for your root crops, since they'll have a looser soil to grow in. As long as you thin the seedlings and water your crop regularly throughout the growing season. Another thing that comes to mind is fertilization. If you feed root crops too much nitrogen, they'll produce a lot of top growth and little in the way of roots. Have your soil tested to see if you need to balance your soil's nutrients -- that may make the difference.


Harvesting Tomatillos

Harvest your tomatillos when the light-brown papery husk has folded back to reveal the golden berry. Very ripe fruits will begin dropping to the ground. Check your plant frequently--when you see fruits with the husk folded back or you see fallen fruit, it's time to harvest!


Blight on Pole Beans

Those are classic symptoms of a common bacterial disease called halo blight. This disease thrives in high humidity with temperatures in the low 70s. It's mostly a problem east of the Rocky Mountains and is spread primarily by infected seed or plant debris left on the soil. Infection usually begins with small, brown, angular, water-soaked spots on the lower leaves. The spots later expand and the leaves turn yellow, sometimes producing the characteristic halos around the spots. The disease can eventually defoliate the plant and infect the bean pods. If you notice the disease on young plants, pull them up, destroy them and replant. Consider growing less-susceptible varieties such as Blue Lake. If the plants are already producing beans when the disease strikes, harvest what you can, then destroy the plants as soon as production begins to decline. In the future, try the following preventive steps. Buy disease-free seed from a reputable company. Plant beans in the same ground only once every three years. Choose a spot where they'll get morning sun so foliage dries quickly. Use a wider spacing between plants for air circulation. And don't work in the bean patch when it's wet.


Growing Decorative Gourds

Gourds are both fun and practical to grow. Gourds are divided into two categories - -hard-shelled and thin-shelled varieties. Hard-shelled fruits are produced by white-flowered plants (Lagenaria siceraria). Thin-shelled gourds are produced by yellow-flowered Cucurbita pepo cultivars. Provide a deeply worked, well drained soil to which you've added one heaping shovelful of compost per plant. Large gourds can take up to 140 days to mature. You may have to start the seeds indoors so they're ready to plant when the weather warms. Direct seed the smaller types. Place about 5 seeds in each hill and thin to one strong plant. Gourds will flatten on the side in contact with the ground; avoid this by training the plants up a fence or trellis. To harvest, let the gourds ripen on the vine until the stems turn brown. Then allow them to dry fully on a rack with good air circulation. You can wax, varnish, or shellac them when they're completely dry.

Travel To 7 Continents

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Avoid Bug Zappers

Summer nights are filled with flying insects, but these zappers cause more harm than good. They destroy more beneficial insects than mosquitoes and attract more insects to your yard. Eliminate standing water in pots and ditches for insect control.


Removing Suckers on Tomato Plants

Removing the suckers, called suckering, encourages earlier, larger tomatoes, and it keeps the number of fruits low in relation to foliage, which improves the flavor of the fruits.

Suckering is the process of removing the side shoots that grow from the node where a leaf attaches to the tomato vine. There are many different techniques. One method is to allow three suckers to develop into strong stems. Then keep pinching new suckers that form to encourage the plant to put its energy into fruit production.


Control Brown Rot on Peaches

As peaches mature look for brown, rotten areas. The fungus starts on immature fruit as a small circular brown spot, later enlarging, and ultimately rotting the fruit. Remove and destroy infected fruits and spray a fungicide such as sulfur.


Something Eating Beet Roots

You're probably seeing the work of voles, also known as meadow mice or meadow voles. They grow to about 7 inches and nest in shallow underground burrows, sometimes taking over abandoned mole tunnels. They usually feed at or just below ground level. Their favorite foods include bulbs, tender veggies, flowers, grass and bark.


Trellis Peas

Pea varieties growing higher than 3 feet need a trellis. Place chicken wire between rows and stake every 4 feet or stick 4 foot tall small tree branches in the ground every 6 inches to form a fence.


Planting Between Corn Rows

It is a traditional Native American practice to plant corn, squash (including pumpkins), and beans together. The pumpkin vines cover the soil to make a living mulch, maintaining moisture and smothering weeds, and beans supply nitrogen to both other crops, and climb the cornstalks for support.

Both corn and pumpkins are heavy feeders, so you may want to add extra compost and/or a slow-release fertilizer at planting time.


Cage Tomatoes

Vigorous tomato varieties need to be supported to keep plants and fruit off the ground. For the simplest support construct a 6-foot-high, 3-foot-diameter cylindrical wire cage around the plants and anchor it to the ground.


Thin Fruits

Deciduous fruits trees such as peaches, apricots, plums and cherries that have flowered and set fruit need to have some of those fruits removed or thinned. Many fruits trees will set more fruits than they can mature. By thinning some fruits now, you'll get larger and tastier mature fruits later. Thin these fruits to about 4 to 6 inches apart on the branch as soon as the fruits are as large as a quarter.


Control Citrus Thrips

Feeding by thrips cause curled leaves on your citrus trees. To keep them in check hang yellow sticky traps on the trees to trap the thrips and spray trees with insecticidal soap to kill them.


Dettering Rabbits

Rabbits will nibble most tender seedlings, so if you want to keep them away from your plants your best bet is to fence your garden. A fence of 1-inch chicken wire should be 2 feet high and buried at least 6 inches deep. Inter planting your flowers with garlic, onions, Mexican marigold or dusty miller deters bunnies. Another option is to spray plants with repellents. Read the label to be sure the repellent is labeled for the plants in your garden. For example, you may not want to spray something foul-tasting on your lettuce!


Vegetables For Shade

In general, leafy vegetables and herbs such as chives and parsley are the most shade-tolerant. Shade tolerant vegetables include lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, endive and radiccio. Broccoli (and its relatives-kale, kohlrabi, turnips, mustard and cabbage-also grow in partial shade.

Leafy vegetables display another advantage: they can be picked and enjoyed at any stage of maturity, unlike sun-loving vegetables that must ripen. Yet another advantage to these shade-tolerant plants is their conduciveness to successive plantings. Planted early in the spring, they are ready to enjoy before the intense heat of mid-summer. Planted in mid-to-late summer, they thrive in the cooler days of early fall. Accordingly, they can be used to fill in gaps where summer-harvested vegetables have been picked, or even planted to take advantage of shade created by adjacent larger plants. One leafy vegetable, spinach, can be planted in mid-September, allowed to overwinter, and harvested earlier in the spring than if it were spring-seeded.


Start Sweet Peas

I borrowed picture from here.

Before planting nick sweet pea seeds with a nail file, soak them in warm water overnight, and then plant seeds five inches deep. As seedlings grow, hill up soil around them for support.

From ArnaMax Publishing.


Companion Flowers to Attract Beneficial Insects

Besides making the garden more attractive, flowers also attract beneficial insects and bees. Just about any flower will do, as long as it doesn't grow so tall as to shade other plants. Dill, caraway, anise, and alyssum have flowers that attract many beneficial insects. Marigolds are reputed to repel certain insects, and make a nice border plant. Other good choices include zinnias, calendula, and nasturtium. Whatever you plant, be sure that you are very cautious with pesticide use on your crops. You don't want to attract all those beneficial insects and bees, only to kill them off with a pesticide spray.


Nutrients For Tomatoes

Phosphate and potash increase fruit yield on tomatoes?

It really depends on the state of your soil. If the pH is off, the plants don't get the right amount of moisture, or the soil is compact or low in organic matter, extra fertilizer may increase yields, but then, it might not. The only way to know for sure is to have your soil tested once a year before you add fertilizer. That way you can avoid nutrient imbalances that can interfere with growth and yields, and can actually save yourself the trouble of buying, hauling, and applying fertilizer that your plants already have plenty of in the soil.

Generally, though, tomatoes require quite a large food supply over the season. You are on the right track thinking that potassium and phosphorous will help with fruit set and fruit health; steer clear of fertilizers with a very high nitrogen content. Too much nitrogen results in tall, dark green plants with few tomatoes. Tomatoes can benefit from a side dressing of fertilizer a few times throughout the growing season.

Generally, this side dressing is applied when the first tomatoes have just formed and every three weeks after that. When side dressing apply the fertilizer by making a circular furrow approximately 5 to 6 inches away from the main stem of the tomato, or in a trough alongside a row of plants. Work the fertilizer into the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil. The next rain or watering will carry the fertilizer to the root zone of the tomatoes. Consult your soil test and the fertilizer label to determine how much to apply.

From ArcaMax Publishing Home and Garden.


Spring of 2007

Yard Beans/Long Beans/Sitaw


Pumpkin & Cantaloupe

Plum Tomatoes


I have so much Okra and tomatoes this year. My sitaw, eggplant and bell pepper fruits very little. I had a good harvest with Philippines corns too. They are not very long but they still taste like home. I planted yams/sweet potato/camote and enjoyed the green tops very well. They fruited but it didn't get as big because the cold weather came so fast.

Spring of 2006

My Dad making my garden bigger, getting it ready for 2007. Can you see the gourds, this was my good year for gourd, 2006.

Gourd or Upo

Gourd or Upo

Sitaw/Long Beans/Yard Beans

Sitaw/Long or Yard Beans

Okra I planted them so close to each other, lol.