General gardening advice

02 Nov

parsley
Getting minerals to the right place at the right time is the subject of this article: How Minerals Move in the Soil

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12 May
Floating row cover tunnels for summer production

floating row cover tunnels in spring-1
We live where it is windy in the afternoon, with intense sun, cool at night, foggy until late some mornings and did I mention the rampaging deer? Our native plants love it — oak trees grow like weeds here. But some of the veggies are tender and they prefer to live a more moderate lifestyle.

Enter the floating row cover tunnel. These are small hoop houses for the garden, but instead of covering them with plastic, Erica covers them with floating row cover, brand name Agribon to be exact.

Cukes under tunnel-2To construct them she buys 10 foot long sections of plastic electrical conduit — the cheapest kind. Assembly of the tunnel is better as a two person job the first time. We have soft soil so we can just insert the ends of the conduit into the ground. If the soil was hard we might need to pound in a piece of rebar to slide the conduit over. Once one side is inserted, bend the conduit in a hoop and insert it on the other side of the bed. Hoops are placed about every 4 feet along the bed. A straight piece of conduit tied in place along the top will help to stiffen the structure and hold the floating row cover fabric.

Erica buys the 10 foot wide rolls of floating row cover fabric, Agribon AG-19 (http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8418-agribon-ag-19-row-cover-10-x-50.aspx), which is expensive but worth it to us for the increase in yield. The only fabric available now is spun bonded and it does not last more than two seasons. There was a time when woven row cover fabric was available and it was much more durable, but alas, those days are gone. She cuts off a length of fabric long enough to cover the tunnel and the ends. The fabric is held on by giant metal clips from the office store, the largest size they make. These are much cheaper than the clips from the garden store.

Tomatoes in tunnel-2Tomatoes bursting out of tunnelSince the local deer have grown so fond of tomato vines she always grows her tomatoes under tunnels. The tunnels are large enough to hold the plants even when caged. In extreme deer years, the row cover needs to stay on throughout the season. As soon as a tomato vine pokes through a hole in the fabric, it gets pruned back.

Cucumbers love it under the tunnels and we now get bumper crops in a small area. Since the tunnels provide some frost protection, they are also good for early zucchini until the plant outgrows it.

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