Posts Tagged ‘lessons learned’

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned from 2019

February 16, 2020

Lessons Learned from 2019

1. Don’t plant any yellow tomatoes. Don’t plant any purple tomatoes. No horticultural reason, we find we just don’t like them as much. We prefer the plain vanilla …er…tomatoes.

2. Fertilize Fall and Spring.

3. Give up on cherry tomatoes and hanging tomatoes.

4. Weed a couple of times a couple of weeks before planting.

5. Use bigger plant signs, particularly for the squash.

6. Photograph and label the initial planting.

Results of 2018 Lessons Learned:

1. Don’t plant: Carolina Gold, any purple tomato. Planted Cherokee Purples in the garden. Didn’t work out

2. Some versions of Champion and Big Boy and Brandywine are determinates. Try staggering the planting. Not sure if staggering the seedling purchase will work. Did not do this. Big Boy did well

3. Process the dirt —  turn over the fallow, fertilize early. Did not process the dirt but did fertilize early (Fall and Spring). Worked well.

4. Until you’ve done (3), don’t use the fallow dirt. Did not use fallow dirt. Used part of it on the front lawn.

5. Try using seed tapes on the carrots and lettuce, et al. Container lettuce worked well. Some of the garden spots worked also, others overcome with weeds. Carrots worked well

6. Be sure you check your plan so you don’t use last year’s planting pattern. I checked.

7. Don’t bother trying to grow plants indoors next winter. Soil temps in the so-called Sun Room never got over 58F. I may try it with lettucoi.

Here’s the results of the 2019 planting pattern:

Section 1
Peas, squash, melons. Plant the peas early, so they gain some height over the squash. Squash worked out well. Did not plant peas

Section 2
Tomatoes. Tomatoes did exceptionally well.

Section 3
Peas, chard, lettuce, carrots maybe cabbage. Not much luck here. Overcome with weeds. Carrots worked well. We are somewhat disillusioned with peas.

Section 4
Asparagus, maybe amaranth. As with Section 3, the weeds did me in. Even the second planting of lettuce didn’t work.

Deck Containers
The usual tomatoes. Early peas. Maybe try some shallow container lettuce and radish. Tomatoes fair. I’m going to give up on cherries. Cucumber gave one cuke.

House Containers (Eastside)
Tomatoes, cucumbers. Tomatoes did well. Long beans did OK, but MJ doesn’t like them. Cukes did nothing.

Southside
Try some container tomatoes with new dirt. Plant more Boston Ivy. Ivy is growing slowly. Put in some Amaranth, which looks nice. Abandoning Southside as a food source.

Gantt Chart for 2019

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned and Plans for 2019

January 29, 2019

Lessons Learned from 2018 and plans for 2019

Lessons Learned:

1. Don’t plant: Carolina Gold, any purple tomato

2. Some versions of Champion and Big Boy and Brandywine are determinates. Try staggering the planting. Not sure if staggering the seedling purchase will work.

3. Process the dirt —  turn over the fallow, fertilize early.

4. Until you’ve done (3), don’t use the fallow dirt.

5. Try using seed tapes on the carrots and lettuce, et al.

6. Be sure you check your plan so you don’t use last year’s planting pattern.

7. Don’t bother trying to grow plants indoors next winter. Soil temps in the so-called Sun Room never got over 58F, and three months after planting my indoor cabbage had six leaves.

8. However, here’s some hints on starting seeds indoors

Here’s the preliminary 2019 planting pattern:*

Section 1
Peas, squash, melons. Plant the peas early, so they gain some height over the squash.

Section 2
Tomatoes. Start seeds indoors early March, transplant early May. Depending on what’s at the nursery, put out seedlings in early May.

Section 3
Peas, chard, lettuce, carrots maybe cabbage. Start planting chard, lettuce, and carrots in early April. Plant more every three weeks.

Section 4
Asparagus, maybe amaranth. Looking for something permanent, that can take a fair amount of shade.

Deck Containers
The usual tomatoes. Early peas. Maybe try some shallow container lettuce and radish

House Containers (Eastside)
Tomatoes, cucumbers.

Southside
Try some container tomatoes with new dirt. Plant more Boston Ivy.

*which is mostly the 2018 plan, because I didn’t do (6.)

This is looking to be an El Nino year, so I think I can get started early on the planting.

Gantt Chart for 2019

My third trip to Japan: Lessons Learned and Recommendations

October 1, 2017

Not much that is new this trip. Mostly a reaffirmation of what the previous two trips had taught me.

  1. Japan Rail Pass is your friend. As I write this, it’s $250 for a 7-day pass, or $35 per day. Given that a two-hour trip across the width of the country is about $100, you can see that it’s a bargain. You have to order it while in the US, and they FedEx an authorization you can use to get the pass at your first major JR station.
  2. You don’t have to activate your JR Pass when when you pick it up. I spent the first part of the trip upcountry, where the pass was invaluable in getting around. It ran out on the last two days, but by then I was in Tokyo, and could use the PASMO. PASMO or Suica don’t save you any money, but sure save hassle. On the other hand, if I was going to spend the first part of the trip in Tokyo, and leave from Kansai or somewhere, then I’d hold off on activating the pass
  3. In Tokyo, use a PASMO, or Suica card to get around. They are cash cards — you put cash on them at any kombini, and then just flash the card to ride the metro or buy lunch. This keeps you from having to fumble with the JR ticket machines or ending up with pockets full of change.
  4. Bring money. As in, cash. All my hotel charges were paid for through online booking, and my major purchases in Tokyo were on the credit card, but almost everything else was at places where it was easier to pay cash (or put cash on your PASMO card). I left home with $1000 in yen and a PASMO with $18 on it, and came home with $30 in yen and $14 on the PASMO.
  5. Get a pocket wifi hotspot. The same company that does the JR Pass will rent you a hotspot for for less than $10 a day. Turn it on, stick it in a pocket of your cargo pants, and hook up your tablet. You have on-line map and translation service all day, if you pay attention to your batteries. Send it back before you go through outbound security at the airport, because there are no mailboxes past them.
  6. Smaller hotels are nice. And they’re cheap. All my hotel rooms were smaller than cruise ship staterooms. There was room for the bed and the desk and the TV, but you couldn’t do your radio taiso exercises in them. This is fine, assuming you don’t plan to spend a lot of time in the room, and since you are in Japan, why would you?
  7. In Tokyo, you don’t have to stay in the center of town, but you should stay next to a train station. Off-rush hour prices were only about $3 per trip to get three stops away from Tokyo Station, and it did wonders for hotel pricing. Of course, in the provinces, the train station is the center of town.
  8. Early September is still too hot to walk around most of Japan. Say, anything south of Sendai. And the humidity numbers match the temperature. My next trip I’m going to shoot for early October.
  9. My experience is that ramen restaurants are usually the take-a-ticket kind, that what we would call family style restaurants expect you to pay the cashier, and that real, formal, sit-down restaurants expect you to call for the check.
  10. Here’s a link to portable trash bags

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned – 2015

November 22, 2015

Looks like the garden is done for the year. I don’t think the peas will survive 18hrs of frost, dipping to 18F, three days after the 18th.  Here’s a commentary on this year’s plans:

General
1. Hit hard by powdery mildew this summer. Garden plants, ground cover plants, and plants in the front yard were infected. Go for mildew resistant strains of everything.

PM wasn’t a problem this year. Maybe it was drier. I put up a shield so my neighbor’s sprinkler wouldn’t dampen the squash, and that helped.

2. The small greenhouse worked well to get the plants through a variable Spring. Was positively humid inside, which attracted mosquitoes. Try hanging flypaper.

Didn’t need the greenhouse much, and never got to try the flypaper.

Yard Crops
1. Can’t do much with the area that’s in deep shade. Avoid next year (although part of that might have been the mildew).

I didn’t avoid, and it didn’t go well. Just don’t, OK?

2. Hops netting worked well, but was too narrow at the top. Need to reposition the hooks, or add new ones.

Added hooks, but it hourglassed in the middle. Gonna hafta build a full sized frame

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

Long beans tended to go from freshripe to dry and crumbly in a couple of days. Had more lemon cukes than we could eat.

2. Try more miniatures

Couldn’t find any

3. Work even harder on getting the labeling right

Yeah, right

4. Daikon are not container plants, not even in big containers.

Or, as far as I can tell, not even in KHG’s. Give up.

Keyhole Garden
1. Abandon Section 4 as a berry farm. Too much work for too little return. Plant to peas and beans this year.

Got one good crop of beans, but the second planting didn’t make it

2. First pick of one pea plant last Summer gave about five pods, with four or five peas each — call it twenty peas per plant. One serving seems to be about 80-100 peas (I’ll confirm next dinner time), so we need 4 or 5 plants per person per meal. Which means I plant at least 20 plants next time. Six lima bean plants made two small servings.

Peas do not do well in deep shade, which is what we had behind the Santa Maria beans. Keep that in mind for next year. Beans and peas and tomatoes should go on the north end, and lower plants should go on the south end of each KHG section. In other news, we like limas better than green beans.

3. Replace all the covers with the redesigned versions.

Didn’t need them

4. Re-do all of the irrigation hose. Set it so each section can be watered individually.

Done, except the individually part

5. In early Spring, rebuild the SW corner of Section 1. Consider re-coring the center basket as well.

Done.

6. Plastic bottle cloche covers worked well.

Didn’t need them.

What didn’t work:
Pumpkins in the shade.
Amaranth. Planted too late, wrong varietal.
Brassicae. Any kind. Any where.
Santa Maria beans (pinquitos).

What did work:
Peppers out front.
Lemon cukes.
Hanging Zebras.
Wire shelving as an anti-squirrel measure.
Last minute summer-squash-inna-box.

Next week: next year

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned – 2014

December 1, 2014

So this is really, truly, 本当に the last garden report of the year. Our first hard freeze hit on November 11th, and the second one this weekend. Temperature 18″ down in the KHG on a 28F December 1st noon, after a 10F weekend, was 42F. Used up the last of the lettuce last week, and will use up the last of the tomatoes this week. Last year we had a smaller harvest, but we still had tomatoes ripening indoors in mid-December.

General
1. Hit hard by powdery mildew this summer. Garden plants, ground cover plants, and plants in the front yard were infected. Go for mildew resistant strains of everything.

2. The small greenhouse worked well to get the plants through a variable Spring. Was positively humid inside, which attracted mosquitoes. Try hanging flypaper.

Yard Crops
1. Can’t do much with the area that’s in deep shade. Avoid next year (although part of that might have been the mildew).
2. Hops netting worked well, but was too narrow at the top. Need to reposition the hooks, or add new ones.

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

2. Try more miniatures

3. Work even harder on getting the labeling right

4. Daikon are not container plants, not even in big containers.

Keyhole Garden
1. Abandon Section 4 as a berry farm. Too much work for too little return. Plant to peas and beans this year.

2. First pick of one pea plant last Summer gave about five pods, with four or five peas each — call it twenty peas per plant. One serving seems to be about 80-100 peas (I’ll confirm next dinner time), so we need 4 or 5 plants per person per meal. Which means I plant at least 20 plants next time. Six lima bean plants made two small servings.

3. Replace all the covers with the redesigned versions.

4. Re-do all of the irrigation hose. Set it so each section can be watered individually.

5. In early Spring, rebuild the SW corner of Section 1. Consider re-coring the center basket as well.

6. Plastic bottle cloche covers worked well.

Review of Last Year’s Plans
1. Early fertilization helped. We don’t generate enough kitchen waste to support four KHGs. However, watch the nitrogen.
2. We did better on tracking dates, but not good enough.
3. Did not have as much of a blossom-end rot problem, but specific cultivars did poorly. More Ca.
4. Hops did well. Don’t think I’ll need any more plantings.
5. Planting squash in the ground cover zone didn’t work. Mildew was at least as much of a problem as location.
6. Didn’t plant long beans, and the lemon cucumbers got mildew.
7. The big cherries did well in the containers. Next year will try them in the hanging baskets. Also try some additional cherry varietals, to get a wide range of colors.
8. Removing the keyhole kneeholes worked, but one does need steps to get up on the dirt.
9. Labeling still needs work
10. Slugs not as much of a problem this year
11. Moving from 2×4 to 1×1 helped lighten the KHG covers. I think I need to separate the chickenwire from the plastic as well — second plantings need chickenwire.

Next Year’s Plan
Section 1
Tomatoes and squash. Try beefsteaks again, but with a different watering plan. Seriously look for mildew resistant varieties of everything.

Section 2
Brassicae. Cabbage, mostly. Make one last effort to grow daikon

Section 3
Peas and beans and greens (oh my). Plant lots earlier. Deb Tolman says to try amaranth, since some of those have a 30-day to harvest cycle.

Section 4
Not quite sure what to put in here. Maybe just a cover crop. Figure out the best way to fit it into the rotation.

The Schedule

Move everything up about a week
early Feb – Start seeds indoors
early April (60 days later) – move to greenhouse

early May — transplant
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned 2013

October 20, 2013

General
1. Think about the fertilization schedule. I may have done too much too late, and promoted too much foliage growth at the expense of vegetables
2. Better date tracking. Put harvest dates in as well as planting dates. Too much stuff was lost because I didn’t pay attention
3. Get more Ca into the soil, everybody needed it

Yard Crops
1. Happy with the hops. Get six more to fill in and extend. Buy early and bring along in an indoor container for a month before planting out

2. Make better use of the ground cover zone for squash. This year I did squash in containers, and they didn’t do well, due to crimping of the vine going over the edge. The ones planted directly in the soil did better. Have to cut way back on the ground cover, and remember to move the planting spots around each year.

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

2. Happy with the miniature cucumbers. Nothing else worked out

3. Look for a bigger cherry tomato for the hanging containers. S-100s are OK but we’d like something more substantive

4. Better labeling. This year the labels were buried by the supplemental potting soil. Write on the container. By the time it’s covered with writing it will be time to dump it

Keyhole Garden
1. Take out the KHG kneeholes. Don’t really need them, and it makes watering awkward — too much stuff runs down the steps. Plus, I lose some planting real estate

2. Better slug control. I didn’t find any at night, but I would early in the morning. Diatomaceous earth only works on dry soil. Consider some form of slugbane.

3. Redesign the covers. They work, but they’re heavy

Review of Last Year’s Plans (keyed to original numbers)
1. squash numbers about right, but production was poor
2. Squash/tomato pairing worked
3. Planted lots instead of fewer. Production was poor
4. Early start helped, but I think the weather didn’t cooperate. Try again even earlier
5. Still getting blossom-end rot
6. No fix so far. Even big tomatoes were in the 2oz range
7. Still need a more formal watering plan

8. MJ doesn’t like the wrinkly heirlooms ’cause they’re so hard to cut
9. labeling still needs work
10. giving up on corn
11. greenhouse covers worked well
12. no change

This Year’s Plan
Section 1
Peas and beans and greens

Section 2
Tomatoes and Squash. Plant bigger varietals of tomatoes. Plant mostly summer squash and 8-ball squash. Maybe a Delicata. Rest of the winter squash go in the yard

Section 3
Brassicae. Plant lots earlier.

The Schedule

Move everything up about two weeks
mid Feb – Start seeds indoors
mid April (60 days later) – Transplant
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned 2012

November 18, 2012

So this was my first summer with a keyhole garden. Mistakes were made and lessons learned. Herewith some lessons, and a concept plan for next year:

SQUASH
1. Don’t oversquash. I had half of each of two sections in squash, and then I had two whole sections in squash, and then I had part of my backyard in squash. The only thing that could compete was the tomatoes.
2. Don’t plant anything but tomatoes alongside squash. The greens were overwhelmed, the onions stagnated, the blueberries died, the dill died. The beans barely survived.

TOMATOES
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