Nailing Vinyl Siding

How to nail down vinyl siding.

Removing a Peice of Vinyl Siding

Need to remove a peice of damaged vinyl siding?

How to Get Started Installing Vinyl Siding

Getting ready to install vinyl siding? Quick step-by-step for getting started.

Growing Cucumbers in Your New Garden

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Growing cucumbers in your own garden can be easy and nutritious for your family. The rules for planting cucumbers are easy to follow and easy to do. Once your garden is prepared and ready for planting, (refer to past posts) you can follow these simple steps:

  1. Chose the seeds from your local gardening supply store. Different seeds are used for different things. Like for eating you might want the Burpless plants but for pickling you may use a Carolina cucumber.
  2. Plant as a seed in late Spring or early Summer, after the threat of frost. The cucumber seeds need warm earth to germinate.
  3. Stick them in about 1″ deep and 12″ apart
  4. They will take between 50 and 70 days till harvest, depending on the type of plant and climate.

Some of the natural enemies of the cucumber are beetles, aphids and bacteria. So watch out for these. Apparently, Pandas and Guinea Pigs are also natural enemies of the cucumber as shown in these videos:

 

When storing cucumbers, remember to always put them on the top shelf of the refrigerator, not on the bottom shelf or in the crisper drawer. It is the warmest part of the fridge. If they are put in the crisper, it is possible for ice crystals to form on the inside of the cucumber. Then when it thaws it may be mushy and wet. Makes sense!

Growing Tomato’s: Is Upside Down Better?

topsy turvy

topsy turvy

I was thinking of buying one of those upside down tomato systems that I see all over the place. So I looked up the reviews and I am not sure if that is the way to go right now. The reviews were mixed and a lot of people had trouble keeping water in the dirt, or the container was wearing out. There was a lot of problems with these systems. Others raved about the product and the system as being free of weeds and insects with good production as well. I can’t help thinking the latter was a situation of “Justification of Effort”. If you don’t know what that means, it is a psychological effect that when we spend a lot of money on something or put a lot time into it, we tend to enjoy it more. It takes our objectivity away when our effort is higher. It’s not Quantum Physics, but it is a little complicated.

So I am reading about the good things and the bad things and I am thinking, the only consistent thing people did was to plant in the dirt along side of the hanging plants to gauge the progress. If we are basing everything on the plants in the dirt, why not just plant them in the dirt? Anyway, I did find some interesting information for growing tomato’s that can be very useful:

Epsom Salts – “…add about two tablespoons of Epsom salts every other week and water it in. It will make your crop stay beautifully green and grow like a weed! There is no best way to apply as long as it is watered in. You can dissolve it in water, sprinkle it on, bury it, whatever—just get it to the roots. The advantage of Epsom salts over other soil enhancing chemicals, such as dolomite lime is that is has high solubility. Epsom salts are not salt, but Magnesium sulfate, Magnesium is a secondary macro-nutrient. Magnesium is the central atom of the chlorophyll molecule and is important in photosynthesis. Magnesium is also important in protein synthesis and enzyme processes, and it helps plants to absorb and use phosphorous and nitrogen. Epsom salts basically contain the essential growth minerals of Magnesium, Sulphur and Oxygen. Epsom salts are used to correct Magnesium deficiency in

home made hanging tomato system

home made hanging tomato system

potted plants, but it’s almost always useful—especially in tomatoes (and peppers) as they are considered a “magnesium hungry” crop…”

Less Water? – If your tomato’s are cracking, it may be that you are watering them too much. Having blossom end rot? “This generally stems from watering, and either too much or too little can cause it. Either too little or too much water and the plant is not able to draw the right quantities to compensate for what is list through the leaves to the atmosphere, or transpiration. As a result, the plant will draw moisture from the fruit, causing the bottom of the fruit to desiccate (dry out) and turn dark. That is blossom end rot. In an upside down plant, if the soil is too sandy, it will not hold moisture. If too much like clay, it will hold too much, the soil should be loamy and friable. Additionally, it is bad practice to water mid day. If you must, be very careful not to wet the foliage. If you do, you can damage the plant. Blossom end rot or fruit cracking is almost caused by poor watering techniques or soil moisture, but it is also attributable to calcium.” John Cook in Texas

Sunlight – If there is any three things that tomatoes need, it is sunlight, more sunlight, and still much more sunlight. It’s difficult to get a bumper crop with less than six hours a day.

I hope these tips help this year!

Starting a Garden Part 3

Step 7

healthy seedlings

healthy seedlings

Start seedlings from the store unless you are an experienced gardener. These plants tend to do better when set out in the garden as seedlings: eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

Step 8

Buy seeds at nurseries or by mail order starting just after the New Year, when the selection is freshest. Look for seed packets marked as having been packed for the current year. I like to shop at ‘ or Home Depot for seeds and gardening supplies.

Step 9

Shop for seedlings when your garden is prepared and ready to plant. Keep them moist and don’t let them sit around. Buy healthy and vigorous seedlings. They should stand up straight with no yellow leaves or bug holes.

dead seedlings
dead seedlings

Unless you are E.T. these dead seedlings have been sitting around too long and cannot be revived. Make sure to plant the right away!

Check back later for the last of the instructions!

Starting a Garden Part 2

Instructions for starting a garden part 2

Step 4

bell-pepper
bell-pepper

Choose crops that require less room if you have a small vegetable garden or grow vegetables in a container. Lettuce is a great pot plant, and ‘Patio’ or ‘Tumbler’ tomatoes will grow well in a hanging basket. Plants that climb and vine, such as cucumbers and pole beans, can be trained up a trellis to take up less room horizontally.

Step 5

Schedule plantings around the two main growing seasons which vary by region: cool (spring and fall) and warm (summer). Common cool-season vegetables include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips. Warm-season crops include beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash and tomatoes.

Step 6

flat of seeds

flat of seeds

Sow some seeds directly in the ground as they grow best that way: beans, beets, carrots, chard, corn, lettuce, melons, peas, pumpkins, squash and turnips. Starting seeds is, of course, much less expensive than planting seedlings sold in flats, packs and pots.

Stay tuned for more tips!

Starting a Garden Part 1… and a Half

Compost Pile

Compost Pile

Composting for Dummies…

To get the good dirt in our garden, we need to have some way of getting the good dirt into the garden. When you start turning the soil over, the dirt is hard and usually pretty light colored. One way of getting more nutrients into the soil is by adding compost. What compost is, is vegetables and weeds, grass and leaves. Stuff that we don’t want and usually the city won’t take away. It is very hard for me to bag up these type of things for the garbage to eventually fill landfills. I am taking all of the nutrients out of the soil and sending them somewhere else. Why can’t I harness this goodness and put it to use? Well, we can. What I started doing, several years ago, is storing leaves and grass behind my shed. This way, I can let it rot and not have to look at it. Every once in a while I will go back there and rake it and turn it over. By now it is a nice dark, moist soil that will make everything in the garden wonderful! Some people use left over vegetables and stuff from dinner. I wouldn’t recommend using meat products though, may attract animals and other undesirables…

To get a good compost you will need materials and time and effort. It needs to be compact, but not so much that there is no air. It should be able to get air to start decomposing. Then you turn it over and mix it up to get more air into the mix. Bacteria, fungus and worms will work their magic on this pile of refuse until it is ready to make your garden green. Mulching the larger stuff will also help speed up the process.

Steps for a good compost:

  1. get a lot of yard waste and dinner leftovers and put them in a pile. (mulch the larger stuff)
  2. Keep it wet and dark
  3. Turn frequently to add air
  4. mix up and spread on garden!

It’s that easy. You can buy compost machines or build bins, but I like to just make a pile.

Remember though, if you pile is next to a neighbors house, ask permission before starting. They may not appreciate the smell and look of a compost pile as much as you do! Thanks to the www.KitchenGardeners.org for this video. It is not like watching NASCAR, but it has a lot of good information! (It looks like he is talking at the beginning, but bear with it!)

Starting a Garden Part 1

Many have not enjoyed the benefits of eating vegetables right out of the garden. Not mass produced and weak, but the real stuff, full of flavor and nature! If you are like me, there is no other way. The next several entries will be all about making your home garden the best and most productive for your family!

Instructions for starting a garden part 1

  1. Step 1

    Lettuce Garden

    Lettuce Garden

Grow only those vegetables you enjoy eating. Give priority to those prized for incredible flavor when eaten fresh from the garden: sweet corn, beans and peas, tomatoes and young spinach, among others.

  1. Step 2

Prepare a plot of flat ground that gets full sun nearly all day. Break up and turn the soil and add compost or other organic material (See How to Buy Soil Amendments). A full day of blazing sunshine is especially important if you grow vegetables in the cool weather of early spring, early fall or winter.

  1. Step 3

Figure out how much growing space you have and plant accordingly. Lettuce, for example, can be grown in a solid mat, but tomatoes need to be spaced about 2 feet (60 cm) apart.

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Give pumpkins at least 4 feet (120 cm) of growing room. Growing requirements are provided on seed packets, in catalogs, and on nursery tags, as well as in books on growing vegetables.

Check back later for more steps!

Read more: How to Start a Vegetable Garden | eHow.com

Thanks eHow!

Planting Sunflower Seeds: The do’s and dont’s

1st thru 6th Grade helping to plant

1st thru 6th Grade helping to plant

I was lucky enough to be helping our kids class at church on a Thursday night when we were showing them how to plant sunflower seeds. This went along with a discussion about planting seeds in people about the gospel of Jesus Christ. But then we are not only just to plant the seeds but we need to cultivate them and then harvest them. During this lesson we were going to plant the seeds and then only water two of the three rows. Hopefully they would see the difference it makes to cultivate and water and weed.

Children digging and turning over the soil

Children preparing the soil for planting

The seeds that germinated and were taken care of should grow healthier than the ones that were left alone. I found several tips evident after helping with this lesson:

Don’t, willy-nilly, hand out sharp pointy farming equipment to children who have been looking forward to the last day of school for weeks. They might not be as safe as we would expect them to be. I am surprised I didn’t make a trip to the hospital…

Do where good shoes for digging with shovels and such. Many of us had flip-flops and sandals and the ground was very hard. It made it tricky to get the dirt loosened up without getting hurt or falling down. If anyone has worked with kids, as an adult, that is the wrong thing to do. You never, never want to fall down in front of the kids!

Do have enough tools and jobs for all the kids. It is very important that everyone have something to do. Otherwise there is a lot of girls chasing boys and stuff and more opportunity for kids to get hurt. Most of the boys wanted to throw dirt clods and the girls wanted to stand around and talk, but we were able to get them all involved.

Watering the two good rows

Watering the two good rows

Sunflower Seed Package

Sunflower Seed Package

Don’t forget what you planted and where. It makes it easier for mowing and stuff if you remember where it was. Especially if someone else mows the yard or area.

Swamp Seeds

Swamp Seeds

Do always scope out the area you will be planting in to make sure that it will hold up well to the weather. You don’t want too much water to gather when it rains and you also don’t want it to dry out too quickly and leave the seeds too dry. As you can see in the picture we did not choose wisely. It will be a miracle if the seeds survive the huge amounts of rain that we have been getting lately!