About Me

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Writing about the things I love. My writing work has appeared in hard copy magazines including Green Prints, Twins Magazine, Practical Parenting Magazine, Good Old Days Magazine, The Journal of Court Reporting, and more as well as hundreds of articles in Sunset Hosta Farm's Hosta blog and The Homesteading Village blog.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Why Canning Jars Break





Why Canning Jars Break



There are many reasons why canning jars break. The good news is that it is rare that they do, and most common reasons for breakage can be easily avoided keeping the following things in mind.  

Azomite for the Home Garden




Azomite for the Home Garden



One of the most important things a gardener can do to have a successful harvest season is to make sure your soil is full of every nutrient your plants will need.


Gardeners seem to be much more familiar with N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) than they are micro nutrients and trace minerals. Micro nutrients and trace minerals are very important to build soil to attain healthier crops.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Causes of Canning Jar or Contents Darkening

 



Four Reasons Canning Jar Contents Darken



First, how pressure canners work to keep food safe.


Pressure Canners basically heat the jars to a temperature high enough to destroy the microorganisms that could cause food spoliage and or foodborne illness.    The heating process also removes air from the product and creates a vacuum which helps to prevent recontamination by harmful microorganisms.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Common Reasons for Winter Sowing Failures

 




Winter Sowing Failures and Reasons


Winter sowing has become one of my favorite ways to grow plants.  It's also becoming more and more popular because it's easy and it works!


But, if you’ve read the Winter Sowing 101 guide and tried the winter sowing method but had some failures, the reasons for your lackluster results are probably listed below, along with ways to help ensure future success.


Further Reading:  Winter Sowing 101





Seeds Didn't Germinate



A common reason is bad seeds. Simple enough, right?


If you had very little or no germination at all, it could be as simple as old seeds.


Different types of seeds have different shelf lives. For instance, onion seeds are only viable for one to two years and should be used the year after they’re harvested, ifpossible; whereas seeds of collards and cucumbers can be viable for up to and even after five years when stored properly in cool, dry conditions.

Click to View



A Little Bit About Traded Seeds


For years I tried to save money by trading seeds on the internet and locally. Trading seeds will save you money, but you really don’t know that those seeds are actually the type of seed marked on the packet, how old the seeds are or how the package of seeds has been stored.



If you’re growing flowers from seed, having a germination failure from old or traded seeds is not a really big issue as you probably have time to reseed.  But if you’re trying to grow a food crop from bad/old seed, you could lose an entire growing season of that crop by the time you realize there's a problem.   


I recommend that you spend the money and buy your food crop seeds from a reputable seed supplier. There are several big names that will pop up on an internet search.


Click to View



A Bit about Sow Times



There’s really only a few things to remember about when to sow the seeds and put them outside in their winter sowing containers.



Seeds of annual warm-season plants are generally sown four weeks before your average last frost date. Sowing them a lot earlier increases your odds of the seeds sitting in the containers longer than they need to and rotting from excessive moisture.



Some seeds, like most hardy perennials and cold weather crops,  need a period of cold stratification, and that's why these seeds are sown and placed outside a few months earlier than the others.  This "cold stratification" helps the seeds to slowly break dormancy and initiate the germination process when the weather is right.



Conditions Aren't Right For Germination Yet


It's important to remember that different seeds of plant types will germinate at different times as the seeds are waiting for the right conditions.



For instance, seeds of cold hardy plants need the cooler temperatures and will generally germinate before seeds of warm weather plants.



If the seeds haven't  germinated when you expected, it may just be a case of waiting a few weeks longer for the seed to get the right conditions to germinate.  Don't give up too soon.  Many winter sowers, including myself, have chucked a winter sown container only to find out that the seeds did germinate later.



Click to View



 Seedlings Germinated then Died



Excess Water


Excess water not only can rot the seeds as they wait to germinate, but can kill seedlings once they’re up.  Having an adequate amount of drainage holes in the bottom of the winter sown container is very important.



For a milk jug container, I put at least five to six drainage holes in the bottom. If you’re using a knife to cut slits for drainage, I would double that. More is better.



If the containers were placed for the winter in an area where excessive rainfall has fallen on them, like under house eves, (I've done that), that extra rain could rot what's inside.




Also, if the containers were placed directly on soil, the soil underneath may have eventually clogged the drainage holes.  I place my winter sown containers on top of a graveled area for extra drainage.



Late Frosts


If there's a late frost after the seedlings are up,
throw a blanket or like item over the containers and take it off in the morning. Winter sown seedlings are relatively hardy since they are already somewhat acclimated to the outside weather, however, they are still only seedlings, and big swings in temperature will necessitate the extra care.


Click to View



Excess Heat


The same winter sown enclosures that keep the soil and seedlings warmer in cold weather will also allow the containers to keep in the sun's warmth, and an unusually hot, sunny day can literally fry young seedlings.



Placing the containers facing south will give the containers a bit of an edge against really harsh winters.  Once the weather begins to warm and the sun becomes stronger,  moving the containers to an area with less direct sun is recommended.


As late spring approaches, I like to cut "windows" into the sides of the containers for even more airflow.



Soil Dried Out



The lids of the containers are left off for the sole purpose of letting moisture in during the winter or colder weather.  But once the seedlings are up and the weather warms and rainfall decreases,  it’s necessary to check on the soil every few days just to make sure it hasn’t completely dried out. A good spritz of water on the top of the soil may be enough.  


In drier conditions you may need to water the soil well, and  bottom watering the containers is the best way to do that. Just set the containers in a tub of a few inches of water, maybe a kids' pool, and let the soil drink up what it needs. Make sure you take the containers out once the soil is saturated.



Click to View




Lack of Nutrition


Spring is a very busy time in the garden, and sometimes my winter sown seedlings or plants don't get planted as early as I would like.


If you notice that some leaves on the seedlings are yellowing, a shot of diluted balanced fertilizer at  1/4 strength can give them the shot they need to remain healthy.  This is even more important if you had used a soil mix in the containers that did not contain any fertilizer.


I use a regular potting soil that contains a small amount of fertilizer, and that is usually enough to sustain the seedlings until transplant.



Click toView 




Seedlings Die After Transplanting


Even though winter sown seedlings are already much hardier than those grown inside under grow lights which need to be hardened off, they will still need more care until they are well established in their final destination.


Further Reading:  How to Harden Off Seedlings


If in doubt that the seedlings are strong enough to transplant out into the garden, let them grow in the container a bit longer.  And when you do transplant the seedlings, shade them for a few days with a tented piece of cardboard or the like as you would with any transplant.



Transplanting Tip

If you have more seedlings than you really need and they've grown together in a hunk, instead of disturbing the roots and planting them separately, you can transplant a hunk of seedlings together and let the hardiest survive. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


So there’s my top reasons for why you may have gotten less than stellar results from your winter sowing attempt. 


Paying extra attention to those pitfalls at the critical stage of germination and early growth can ensure you future success.


And once that success comes, you'll want to winter sow every year!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where to go next!

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Greenhouse? High Tunnel? Hoophouse?

 





Greenhouse?  Glasshouse?  Coolhouse? Hoophouse?  High Tunnel? Coldframe?
 

 What's the Difference?

  

Although many people use the term "greenhouse" for most of the other terms listed above, they are technically separate things.


Part of the confusion comes from the fact that most sellers of greenhouse-like structures will call any structure they're selling a "greenhouse" because that's the term customers are usually using as they search.


Glasshouses


Glass was once one of the only materials thought suitable for constructing a greenhouse-like structure.  For some time, "glasshouse" and "greenhouse" were pretty much used synonymously.


Glasshouse structures were built out of glass, both the walls and the roof, because glass is transparent and allows an optimal amount of light for plant growth.  Glass could capture the sunlight so that the area under the glass heated up.









Greenhouses


A basic definition of a greenhouse is a permanent structure; a building, room, or area in which the temperature is maintained within a desired range.  A true greenhouse stays warm, even during the winter.  


A "cold" or "unheated" greenhouse is a greenhouse without  any heating device other than the sun.  More on those germs below.


Greenhouses are used for cultivating tender plants, growing plants out of season, and  protecting plants from wind, rain and animals.  


They generally have some type of shelving system, and the plants are grown in pots on a table, not in the ground.  Most greenhouse growing is done in trays, flats or pots where the grower can assure that the plants have the right amount of moisture, optimum soil and air temperatures in which to thrive.



Click to View


After a while, greenhouses began to be constructed out of polycarbonate panels.  This material helps to diffuse light more evenly than glass, which helps plants thrive and even grow faster.


Polycarbonate panels also protect plants from excessive sunlight or radiation as it naturally offers UV protection.  



Click to View
 

Click to View



Unheated Greenhouses

Many hobby greenhouses are unheated by choice, but can be upgraded to include heat, electricity or water.


There are a multitude of choices of styles and sizes of unheated greenhouses on the market today.


An unheated greenhouse is commonly used to grow greens during winter months, to start warm-season annuals, to propagate perennials, and to shelter frost-tender plants through the winter. 


Besides greens like spinach and lettuce, you can grow cold-tolerant veggies such as cabbage and broccoli in an unheated greenhouse.


Unheated greenhouses are not the same as Cool Houses.

Click to View


Cool Houses


A cool house is a greenhouse which is maintained at a relatively low temperature.  It's commonly used for the forcing of hardy plants or the winter storage of dormant plants.



Among the plants suited to cool greenhouses are azaleas, cinerarias, cyclamens, carnations, fuchsias.


Click to View
 


Hoop Houses


The hoop house has found its home with commerical growers, small farmers as well as hobby growers.


Click to View


As the name suggests, a hoop house is constructed from hoops made of flexible yet rigid material, typically PVC or metal fencing as pictured above.  Recently cattle panel fencing is also used in place of actual hoops for more stability.


The hoop house frame is covered with an agricultural plastic, polyfilm or greenhouse plastic that protect plants from rain, wind and cold temperatures through passive solar heat.  It allows growers to cultivate healthier crops through an extended growing season. 



An extended growing season means growers with a hoop house can plant sooner in the spring, harvest later into the fall, and depending on the location, even harvest cold-loving crops through an entire winter.


Click to View



One of the main differences between a greenhouse and a hoop house is that a hoop house is not considered a permanent structure.   Hoop houses are generally taller than greenhouses with higher posts.


In greenhouses, heat control is done artificially to maintain a consistent temperature; while in hoop houses, temperature control is done naturally through doors and window openings.  That is why a hoop house is a seasonal system and, therefore, considered a temporary structure.



Crops in a hoop house are mostly grown directly in the soil, whereas plants are grown on shelving in a greenhouse . With no artificial lighting or temperature controls, a hoop house is relatively inexpensive to buy and operate.

Click to View




High Tunnels


High tunnels are typically a type of hoop house which is built with extra headspace, tall enough to accommodate the entrance of large equipment such as tractors, tillers, and other tall farm machinery.



Crops can be grown by either using conventional tillage in the natural soil or by installing permanent raised beds under the tunnel.


Click to View
 



Cold Frames


A cold frame generally is a simple structure; a bottomless four-sided frame of boards with a removable glass or plastic top. 



The back of the box is typically taller than the front which lets the top of the cold frame sit at an angle. This slope allows maximum sunlight to enter the structure and will help it shed rain and snow.


The frame is placed on the ground and is used to house, protect, and harden off seedlings and small plants 
utilizing solar energy and insulation to create a microclimate within the frame.


Cold frames are easy and inexpensive to build. They can be constructed from recycled materials including scrap wood, straw bales, bricks, and old windows.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are many different types of all of the above structures, but they are all built for the same general purpose -- growing plants!



Follow us on Pinterest!

Hit the "Follow" Button on our Home Page



This post may contain Amazon affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases without costing you anything extra.









 



 





Greenhouse?  Glasshouse?  Coolhouse? Hoophouse?  High Tunnel? Coldframe?
 

 What's the Difference?

  

Although many people use the term "greenhouse" for most of the other terms listed above, they are technically separate things.


Part of the confusion comes from the fact that most sellers of greenhouse-like structures will call any structure they're selling a "greenhouse" because that's the term customers are usually using as they search.


Glasshouses


Glass was once one of the only materials thought suitable for constructing a greenhouse-like structure.  For some time, "glasshouse" and "greenhouse" were pretty much used synonymously.


Glasshouse structures were built out of glass, both the walls and the roof, because glass is transparent and allows an optimal amount of light for plant growth.  Glass could capture the sunlight so that the area under the glass heated up.









Greenhouses


A basic definition of a greenhouse is a permanent structure; a building, room, or area in which the temperature is maintained within a desired range.  A true greenhouse stays warm, even during the winter.  


A "cold" or "unheated" greenhouse is a greenhouse without  any heating device other than the sun.  More on those germs below.


Greenhouses are used for cultivating tender plants, growing plants out of season, and  protecting plants from wind, rain and animals.  


They generally have some type of shelving system, and the plants are grown in pots on a table, not in the ground.  Most greenhouse growing is done in trays, flats or pots where the grower can assure that the plants have the right amount of moisture, optimum soil and air temperatures in which to thrive.



Click to View



After a while, greenhouses began to be constructed out of polycarbonate panels.  This material 
helps to diffuse light more evenly than glass, which helps plants thrive and even grow faster.


Polycarbonate panels also protect plants from excessive sunlight or radiation as it naturally offers UV protection.  



Click to View
 

Click to View



Unheated Greenhouses

Many hobby greenhouses are unheated by choice, but can be upgraded to include heat, electricity or water.


There are a multitude of choices of styles and sizes of unheated greenhouses on the market today.


An unheated greenhouse is commonly used to grow greens during winter months, to start warm-season annuals, to propagate perennials, and to shelter frost-tender plants through the winter. 


Besides greens like spinach and lettuce, you can grow cold-tolerant veggies such as cabbage and broccoli in an unheated greenhouse.


Unheated greenhouses are not the same as Cool Houses.

Click to View

Cool Houses


A cool house is a greenhouse which is maintained at a relatively low temperature.  It's commonly used for the forcing of hardy plants or the winter storage of dormant plants.



Among the plants suited to cool greenhouses are azaleas, cinerarias, cyclamens, carnations, fuchsias.


Click to View
 


Hoop Houses


The hoop house has found its home with commerical growers, small farmers as well as hobby growers.


Click to View


As the name suggests, a hoop house is constructed from hoops made of flexible yet rigid material, typically PVC or metal fencing as pictured above.  Recently cattle panel fencing is also used in place of actual hoops for more stability.


The hoop house frame is covered with an agricultural plastic, polyfilm or greenhouse plastic that protect plants from rain, wind and cold temperatures through passive solar heat.  It allows growers to cultivate healthier crops through an extended growing season. 



An extended growing season means growers with a hoop house can plant sooner in the spring, harvest later into the fall, and depending on the location, even harvest cold-loving crops through an entire winter.


Click to View



One of the main differences between a greenhouse and a hoop house is that a hoop house is not considered a permanent structure.   


Hoop houses are generally taller than greenhouses with higher posts.


In greenhouses, heat control is done artificially to maintain a consistent temperature; while in hoop houses, temperature control is done naturally through doors and window openings.  That is why a hoop house is a seasonal system and, therefore, considered a temporary structure.



Crops in a hoop house are mostly grown directly in the soil, whereas plants are grown on shelving in a greenhouse . With no artificial lighting or temperature controls, a hoop house is relatively inexpensive to buy and operate.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


High Tunnels


High tunnels are typically a type of hoop house which is built with extra headspace, tall enough to accommodate the entrance of large equipment such as tractors, tillers, and other tall farm machinery.



Crops can be grown by either using conventional tillage in the natural soil or by installing permanent raised beds under the tunnel.


Click to View
 



Cold Frames


A cold frame generally is a simple structure; a bottomless four-sided frame of boards with a removable glass or plastic top. 



The back of the box is typically taller than the front which lets the top of the cold frame sit at an angle. This slope allows maximum sunlight to enter the structure and will help it shed rain and snow.


The frame is placed on the ground and is used to house, protect, and harden off seedlings and small plants 
utilizing solar energy and insulation to create a microclimate within the frame.


Cold frames are easy and inexpensive to build. They can be constructed from recycled materials including scrap wood, straw bales, bricks, and old windows.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are many different types of all of the above structures, but they are all built for the same general purpose -- growing plants!



Follow us on Pinterest!

Hit the "Follow" Button on our Home Page



This post may contain Amazon affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases without costing you anything extra.









 



 





Greenhouse?  Glasshouse?  Coolhouse? Hoophouse?  High Tunnel? Coldframe?
 

 What's the Difference?

  

Although many people use the term "greenhouse" for most of the other terms listed above, they are technically separate things.


Part of the confusion comes from the fact that most sellers of greenhouse-like structures will call any structure they're selling a "greenhouse" because that's the term customers are usually using as they search.


Glasshouses


Glass was once one of the only materials thought suitable for constructing a greenhouse-like structure.  For some time, "glasshouse" and "greenhouse" were pretty much used synonymously.


Glasshouse structures were built out of glass, both the walls and the roof, because glass is transparent and allows an optimal amount of light for plant growth.  Glass could capture the sunlight so that the area under the glass heated up.









Greenhouses


A basic definition of a greenhouse is a permanent structure; a building, room, or area in which the temperature is maintained within a desired range.  A true greenhouse stays warm, even during the winter.  


A "cold" or "unheated" greenhouse is a greenhouse without  any heating device other than the sun.  More on those germs below.


Greenhouses are used for cultivating tender plants, growing plants out of season, and  protecting plants from wind, rain and animals.  


They generally have some type of shelving system, and the plants are grown in pots on a table, not in the ground.  Most greenhouse growing is done in trays, flats or pots where the grower can assure that the plants have the right amount of moisture, optimum soil and air temperatures in which to thrive.



Click to View



After a while, greenhouses began to be constructed out of polycarbonate panels.  This material 
helps to diffuse light more evenly than glass, which helps plants thrive and even grow faster.


Polycarbonate panels also protect plants from excessive sunlight or radiation as it naturally offers UV protection.  



Click to View
 

Click to View



Unheated Greenhouses

Many hobby greenhouses are unheated by choice, but can be upgraded to include heat, electricity or water.


There are a multitude of choices of styles and sizes of unheated greenhouses on the market today.


An unheated greenhouse is commonly used to grow greens during winter months, to start warm-season annuals, to propagate perennials, and to shelter frost-tender plants through the winter. 


Besides greens like spinach and lettuce, you can grow cold-tolerant veggies such as cabbage and broccoli in an unheated greenhouse.


Unheated greenhouses are not the same as Cool Houses.

Click to View

Cool Houses


A cool house is a greenhouse which is maintained at a relatively low temperature.  It's commonly used for the forcing of hardy plants or the winter storage of dormant plants.



Among the plants suited to cool greenhouses are azaleas, cinerarias, cyclamens, carnations, fuchsias.


Click to View
 


Hoop Houses


The hoop house has found its home with commerical growers, small farmers as well as hobby growers.


Click to View


As the name suggests, a hoop house is constructed from hoops made of flexible yet rigid material, typically PVC or metal fencing as pictured above.  Recently cattle panel fencing is also used in place of actual hoops for more stability.


The hoop house frame is covered with an agricultural plastic, polyfilm or greenhouse plastic that protect plants from rain, wind and cold temperatures through passive solar heat.  It allows growers to cultivate healthier crops through an extended growing season. 



An extended growing season means growers with a hoop house can plant sooner in the spring, harvest later into the fall, and depending on the location, even harvest cold-loving crops through an entire winter.


Click to View



One of the main differences between a greenhouse and a hoop house is that a hoop house is not considered a permanent structure.   


Hoop houses are generally taller than greenhouses with higher posts.


In greenhouses, heat control is done artificially to maintain a consistent temperature; while in hoop houses, temperature control is done naturally through doors and window openings.  That is why a hoop house is a seasonal system and, therefore, considered a temporary structure.



Crops in a hoop house are mostly grown directly in the soil, whereas plants are grown on shelving in a greenhouse . With no artificial lighting or temperature controls, a hoop house is relatively inexpensive to buy and operate.


zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz




High Tunnels


High tunnels are typically a type of hoop house which is built with extra headspace, tall enough to accommodate the entrance of large equipment such as tractors, tillers, and other tall farm machinery.



Crops can be grown by either using conventional tillage in the natural soil or by installing permanent raised beds under the tunnel.


Click to View
 



Cold Frames


A cold frame generally is a simple structure; a bottomless four-sided frame of boards with a removable glass or plastic top. 



The back of the box is typically taller than the front which lets the top of the cold frame sit at an angle. This slope allows maximum sunlight to enter the structure and will help it shed rain and snow.


The frame is placed on the ground and is used to house, protect, and harden off seedlings and small plants 
utilizing solar energy and insulation to create a microclimate within the frame.


Cold frames are easy and inexpensive to build. They can be constructed from recycled materials including scrap wood, straw bales, bricks, and old windows.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are many different types of all of the above structures, but they are all built for the same general purpose -- growing plants!



Follow us on Pinterest!

Hit the "Follow" Button on our Home Page



This post may contain Amazon affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases without costing you anything extra.









 



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