Thursday, December 31, 2009

Strawberries


Growing strawberries in your garden has to be one of the more rewarding gardening efforts, because there is just no comparison between store bought strawberries and those picked fresh from the garden. So let’s take a look at how to grow strawberries in your garden.

The traditional way to grow strawberries is to nurture them as perennials, that is you plant them one year and expect them to peak in later years. But some places in the South where the summers are quite hot it is not uncommon to grow them as an annual, and replant the following year.

Based on how you might want to grow them you can pick the one of the strawberry varieties that will work for you.

Where to Plant Strawberries

Strawberries are very versatile, and can be planted in a variety of ways. Many people will plant strawberries in containers. Hanging strawberry planters are a favorite, and let you grow strawberries on the balcony or a patio. For this its common to plant them as annuals so you don’t have to overwinter the container. Strawberries should not be planted where peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes have been grown since these plants can harbor verticillium wilt, a seriously bad disease for strawberries. If in doubt you may think of using the square foot gardening approach which uses a soilless mix in raised beds.

The most common way of growing strawberries is in a bed. Since they are most often grown as perennials, you want a location for the bed that is out of the way, as it will be mulched and scraggly looking for part of the year. You may want a raised garden bed as this will help control the week population, since in perennial beds you can’t just go in and till it up once a year. Like most garden vegetables or fruits, strawberries like full sun, at least six hours of sun a day.

Strawberries need at least one to two inches of rain a week, so if your climate won’t provide that factor in the need for irrigation like the proximity to a hose when choosing a location.

Soil Preparation

Drainage must be good (another advantage of a raised bed) and they do best in a sandy loamy soil. For any garden bed it’s good to prepare the soil with a healthy addition of organic matter like compost, but it’s particularly good for perennial plantings as they chance to work that in again could be several years away.

There are several popular approaches to creating a strawberry bed, which vary a little based on the varieties that you want to grow.

Matted Rows

Matted rows are good for June-bearing strawberries. The plants should be planted about eighteen to thirty inches apart in rows, with the rows being 3 to 4 feet apart. Daughter plants are allowed to spread and root freely. This should result in a matted row about 24 inches wide.

Spaced Rows

With spaced rows to goal is to limit the number of daughter plants spreading out from the mother plant. Once again the mother plants are set eighteen to thirty inches apart with rows spaced 3 to 4 feet apart. The daughter plants are spaced out so they root at least four inches apart. All other runners are cut from the mother plants. This is somewhat higher maintenance approach, but the payoff is in higher yields, larger strawberries and reduced disease problems.

Hills

Hills are recommended for growing everbearing and day-neutral strawberries. For this approach all runners are removed, leaving only the original strawberry plant, forcing the mother plant to develop more crowns and stalks for fruiting. Start by arranging multiple rows of two to four plants with a walkway between each group of rows about two feet wide. The plants are staggered about one foot apart in the rows. After the first two or three weeks of growth add mulch to the bed.

Planting Strawberries

Plant in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant the new plants where the crown is at soil level. The buds can be harmed by frost, so for new plantings you may want to wait til after the last frost.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Great Gathering


We are in a unique time on the planet; humanity is now facing a crossroad. The choices we make today will affect our children for generations to come.

By coming together in our hearts, we can and will create the change we want to see in the world. Every day more people are awakening to understand that we must act responsibly and act now to create this change.

How do we begin to make this change with our world facing crisis on so many fronts: financial woes, famine, homelessness, perpetual wars, food shortages, exploitation and disease (to name only a few)? We do have a choice.

We are in the time of choice and human beings around the world are feeling a call to unite and make our voices heard and our actions count. People from the indigenous world to the political are beginning to step forward and speak of this change through action and choice.

There are many indigenous groups, as well as different faiths and beliefs, now sharing prophecies regarding information about this special time on the planet. Within all beliefs there is a similar thread that gives us the same message: we must unite in our hearts in order to overcome the challenges we are now facing on the earth.

What is The Great Gathering? It is the same message of many beliefs from around the world. The message is simple: now is the time for humanity to unite to create the one voice for the people of Earth.

This Great Gathering will be in every country around the world; we will stand together and join our hands, our hearts and our voices. This will create the spark that brings light to the rest of the world and to humanity.

All groups from all directions will join in this celebration of life, of nature, of humanity and all that is.

Neighborhood groups, churches, friends, coworkers, families, corporations that are trying to be responsible, politicians trying to create change, religious leaders, eco-villages, farm associations, truckers, health care workers, humanitarian organizations, educators, laborers, dishwashers, peacekeepers, all races, religions and economic backgrounds (the list is endless) will come together as one in our hearts. Together we will be one voice and change will happen.

In order to begin The Great Gathering we must lay the foundation for this event through our networks of friends and associates. Change starts with the individual taking responsibility. Please send this message to your friends and networks around the world so that once The Great Gathering becomes known around the globe we can then act and call on humanity to join us.

Change and true unity comes from the heart and being humble in our service to the earth and others. We are all connected; this gathering is to remind us that our lives on this earth are a gift to be honored.


We are all equal and we deserve to be heard. The Great Gathering gives us all a voice to say we want change and support change for our children. Through our hearts and unity we can make a difference. Let’s work on making this a reality in 2010—the year of change—by sharing this one idea. Together we will decide when The Great Gathering takes place.

This is how it begins.... with you.......

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Try Pole Beans


Beans are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. They should be planted after all danger of frost is past in the spring. If the soil has warmed before the average last-frost date, an early planting may be made a week to 10 days before this date. You can assure yourself a continuous supply of snap beans by planting every 2 to 4 weeks until early August.
Plant seeds of all varieties one inch deep. Plant seeds of pole beans 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart along trellis, netting, fence, or poles; or in hills (four to six seeds per hill) 30 inches apart, with 30 inches between rows.
Seeds of most varieties tend to crack and germinate poorly if the soil's moisture content is too high. For this reason, never soak bean seed before planting. Instead water just after planting or plant right before a heavy rain.
Beans have shallow roots and frequent shallow cultivation and hoeing are necessary to control small weeds and grasses. Because bean plants have fairly weak root systems, deep, close cultivation injures the plant roots, delays harvest and reduces yields.
Harvest when the pods are firm, crisp and fully elongated, but before the seed within the pod has developed significantly. Pick beans after the dew is off the plants, and they are thoroughly dry. Picking beans from wet plants can spread bean bacterial blight, a disease that seriously damages the plants. Be careful not to break the stems or branches, which are brittle on most bean varieties. The bean plant continues to form new flowers and produces more beans if pods are continually removed before the seeds mature.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor


Somehow I feel it is time to get serious.
My Grandfathers brother died that day on the USS Arizona

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cucumbers


Cucumber is a tender, warm-season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.
When to Plant
Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra-early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost-free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.


Spacing & Depth
Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.


Care
Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with nitrogen fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.


Harvesting
Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How Long do you Boil Water for it to be safe

I frequently come upon bad advice about boiling water to make it safe to drink. Having enough safe drinking water is of utmost importance to any survivor. Proper information is very important and for that reason I am writing this is to set the record straight.

Boiling Water is the Best Method
As some of us know, boiling water is surest and most effective method of destroying microorganisms including disease causing bacteria, viruses, protozoan’s, and parasites.

Modern filtering devices and the chemical treatment of water come in a poor distant second to the ancient and almost foolproof method of boiling water to make it safe to drink. And importantly to the survivor, the boiling of water requires no special apparatus, training, or difficult to find chemicals. The means to boil water for safe drinking are usually close at hand:
•A source of heat
•A vessel to hold the water.
Boil Water Advisory Couldn’t be simpler. Or is it?
Commonly Stated Water Boiling Times
How Long Should Water be boiled
I am always hearing different amounts of time that water needs to be boiled to kill disease organisms. Recently I perused various publications put out by the government and trusted health organizations. What is glaringly obvious is they disagree on the length of time water should be boiled to make it safe to drink.
Common water boiling times that are stated include:

•“Boil water for 10 minutes” is a common statement
•“5-minutes of boiling” is also frequently heard
•“Boil the water for 20 minutes”. Would there be any left?
•“A rolling boil for 1 minute”. Is it enough?
•“When at high altitudes you need to boil water for twice as long”
Modern filtering devices and the chemical treatment of water come in a poor distant second to the ancient and almost foolproof method of boiling water to make it safe to drink. Which of the above statements are true? None. That’s right. Following any of the above advice for the boiling times of water is a big waste of fuel (and a waste of water if you are short on water cannot afford to lose any to evaporation).

Throughout the world whole forests have been cut down for firewood in order to boil drinking water. Hikers and mountaineers have used up precious fuel boiling water for inordinate amounts of time. In a survival situation you cannot afford to waste valuable resources and energy. With all the bad advice around, many thousands of trees and other fuels and a huge amount of effort have been wasted.

Correct Water Boiling Time
The correct amount of time to boil water is 0 minutes. Thats right, zero minutes.

"According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude."

What is not well known is that contaminated water can be pasteurized at temperatures well below boiling. The fact is, with a water temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F (74 C) it takes just half an hour for all disease causing organisms to be inactivated. At 185 degrees this is cut to just a few minutes. By the time water hits its boiling point of 212 F (100 C) - plus or minus depending upon pressure or altitude - the water is safe. Even at high altitudes the time it takes for the water to reach a rolling boil and then cool means you can safely drink it.

Lacking a thermometer to measure water temperature, you only need to get your water to a rolling boil. By that point you know the water is hot enough and that the disease organisms in your water were destroyed quite some time earlier. End of story, turn off the heat. Stop wasting fuel. Let the water cool down. Your water is safe to drink!