Jump to content

Janet Macunovich

Member Since 02 Jan 2012
Offline Last Active May 22 2020 07:40 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Planting under Norway Maple by Spruce

16 May 2020 - 10:44 PM

You can build the area up - no soil against the tree trunks and I hope you caught Chapter 5 of our Earthwise Soil Prep webinar for the explanation of determining how much of the tree's root zone you will be affecting. If you add soil over an area that's 1/3 or less of the tree's root zone and you guard the other 2/3 from damage you can transform a garden. But you might have unrealistic expectations of the area. With large trees overhead your garden has to be considered the junior partner. That is, plant with the expectation that your  garden will NOT be lush and jam packed. But that doesn't mean it must look thin and poor. Choose your places under the trees to add up to maybe 40% of the space and plant that 40% heavily and with impact. Maybe one central spot has a mass of Japanese painted fern -- good in dryish areas and in some varieties so gray-white in leaf color it looks from a distance like a spotlight in a shady area. And places to right and left of the fern have huge leaf yellow-and-green variegated hostas. Between planted spots leave graceful space in curving-edged chunks or in actual paths with benches or wood sculptures along the way.

I hope this helps!


In Topic: Need fertilizer recommended by soil test report

07 May 2020 - 09:15 AM

So sorry we were so slow to get here but brava for your research and solution!


You don't need this, then, but for others who might not find such good guidance as you received:


Basically what your soil analysis indicated was a need for some nitrogen (about half the plant's annual needs), no phosphorus and between 3 and 4 times as much potassium as nitrogen. 1-0-3.5  Any fertilizer with that ratio, including 2-0-7, 4-0-14 or 12-0-40, will do the same. However, those good people you talked to are right on - you usually have to create your own mix.


Use the ingredients label and the math most of us gardeners would like to avoid to figure this way:


An average amount of nitrogen (N) in garden soil is 2 pounds in 1,000 square feet.


The numbers on a fertilizer label are percent of a nutrient by weight. N is first, then phosphorus (P) then potassium (K).


So a 500 square foot garden needs about 1 pound of nitrogen (N).


10 pounds of blood meal 13-0-0 supplies 1.3 pounds of nitrogen - 10 pounds x 13% = 1.3.


Since the soil test says your garden has half its needs - needs only a 1% N fertilizer - 500 square feet of your garden needs only 1/2 pound of N. 1.3 pounds of N is enough for about 500 square feet of garden for a year.  5 pounds of blood meal per 500 square feet is good for your garden: 5 x 13% = 0.65. More is not a problem if it is an organic fertilizer like blood meal (carbon-based compounds like blood meal don't "burn" like a water soluble form such as a blue powder).


Since your garden needs 3 times as much potassium as nitrogen, you need 1.5 pounds of potassium for 500 square feet. 5 pounds of muriate of potash 0-0-60 supplies 3 pounds of potassium - 5 x 60% = 3. So 5 pounds of muriate of potash will last you two years.

In Topic: Need strawberry eggplant tips

04 May 2020 - 10:06 AM

They are right: Anyone growing strawberries must plan for invasiveness because it is strawberry plants' nature. More importantly, honoring that invasive nature is how you harvest the best crop year after year. Young strawberry plants bear fruit but 2nd year plants bear best. So:

A) Plant your starter plants with room to spread about 8" to all sides.


Attached File  StrawberriesAP373_9s.jpg   107.67K   5 downloads

Straw mulch helps keep weeds down and fruit clean. This is what a springtime strawberry patch should look like, with room between plants so that after bloom season the new runners can set down roots.


B.) Let those year 1 babies set fruit if you like. (Or not; books often say not, better to let new plants direct all energy into creating daughter plants. I find it makes no difference to the home grower. A farmer will see a difference that may make the yield from first-year harvest not worth the cost but that does not apply on backyard scale.)


C) Let the plants send their runners into adjacent free space, where they will set down roots and bulk up in year one. They will produce in year 2.


D) In early spring of year 2, remove at least some of the original plants and any plants that are beyond bounds and small because they got a very late start in year 1.


E) Topdress the resulting bare spots with compost or soil plus slow release natural carbon based fertilizer such as mixtures of fish meal, blood meal, feather meal, etc. The objective is too create fertile bare space once again so the year 2 plants have room to spread. It is the Year 2 offspring that will be the most productive in year 3 of the planting.


You can keep this up nearly forever if you make sure to complete E. In the

doing, you contain wanton spread.


Another option is to grow the strawberries in a barrel or box with holes cut in the sides. The plants are tucked into the holes and their runners and fruited stems just hang into space.


Barrels can look good and only the lowest level of plants that can reach the ground must be curtailed. But the arrangement is too demanding of intricate work, for me. To keep the plating young and bearing well the gardener must clip off husky runners, pull original plants and keep replanting the little windows in the barrel sides. Otherwise the whole colony becomes decrepit.


That's too limiting for me, to have only those windows to plant and no easy way to mix in new soil and nutrients except in a very limited spot; unless you use water soluble fertilizer which does not encourage crumbly great soil.



Pretty simple to grow. Susceptible to all of the tomato's/nightshade family's pests so should not be grown where tomatoes (or potatoes or peppers or petunias or flowering tobacco) were grown during the past couple of years.


Water the soil around the plant, not the leaves unless there has been no rain for a couple of weeks then shower the plant including leaf undersides early in the day. Dry foliage - less leaf disease. Occasional hard rain - insect eggs knocked off.


Thrives only in warm soil so don't set out plants until crabgrass germinates (Ma Nature's soil thermometer) or a manufactured soil thermometer says 60F. 


Patrol daily and pluck off/clip off every discolored leaf. Do not agonize over the loss just do it. Keeps fungal problems way down.


Attached File  eggplant_0408s.jpg   169.78K   5 downloads

This plant would be far larger and bear larger fruit if it had been groomed along the way to remove discolored leaves.


Attached File  eggplantLf_0408s.jpg   84.45K   5 downloads

The small yellowed areas are where fungus is at work, draining the plant's nutrients. Little dead dots are from sucking insect damage, probably thrips that could have been curtailed with occasional showering and removal of first-infested leaves.


Hope this helps. I am posting it on our Forum to perhaps nab other tips.

In Topic: Lilac borer

30 April 2020 - 01:43 PM

Lilacs are born to survive! Yours will. You and a pruning saw can help it along.


Cut the borer-inhabited stems now - every cane bigger around than a shovel handle, cut it off at ground level. Then get all that wood out of the yard or burn it so the borer caterpillars inside cannot emerge, turn into borer moths and lay eggs on some other lilac to start all over.


Cut now! Those borers are about to emerge.


Attached File  LilacBorerCrotchR8881s.jpg   93.25K   5 downloads


The borers need decent-sized wood to have enough cambium to sustain them, once they gnaw their way in. So there will not be enough sustenance in the young shoots that are there now or will sprout from your cut-down roots and stem base. New canes won't bloom for two or three years and after that they will have another 2 or 3 years of being small enough in diameter to be pretty safe from borers.


If a lilac is pruned regularly to renew the wood - that means taking an old cane or two out every year, right to the ground - and you let new replacement shoots come up, it will stay ahead of borers. So cut yours all the way back now -- all the canes that are bigger in diameter than a shovel handle - and mark your calendar for 2 years from now to begin taking a shovel-handle-sized cane or two out every year. Those you do not cut will bloom and the borer-free life the shrub has been leading can continue.

In Topic: How to grow pine from a cone

30 April 2020 - 11:35 AM

Most of the pines sprout pretty readly from seed. Separate the seed from the cones as soon as this year's cones have dried and popped open -- pull on a scale of an opened-up cone, the seed is at  the base of the scale. Then plant them right away, just barely coverd with moist potting mix. Some species of pine need a cold resting period before they sprout. Either let the cone sit outside all winter (and hope no squirrel comes along and pilfers the seed, or the whole cone!) or put the separated seed on a moist paper towel, put the towel-plus-seed in the refrigerator and let it wait 60 days at 40F there. Then sow it.