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.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor


My Grandfathers brother died that day on the USS Arizona

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Growing 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

Practice Your Survival Skills


The subject of survival is a big topic and the beginner, as well as the more experienced, may sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material that one can learn.

I always recommend frequenting the several excellent survival forums and message boards that are on the Internet. These are run by friendly experienced people well versed in the field of survival. Participants in these survival forums are skilled in everything from bushcraft to firecraft to handicraft. They take great pride and pleasure in helping anyone. Often the survival discussions are lively and informative. If you are interested in learning more about survival, you will be welcomed with open arms into the survival community.

In addition there are a number of excellent books and magazines that cover the topic of survival. The basic ways of surviving have not always changed much over hundreds of years, and very old outdoor survival books contain nuggets of wisdom that even modern day survivors can use.

But it is not enough to read survival books and visit online survival forums. You have to get out there and practice your survival skills and survival gear. Set up a lean-to, build a debris hut, build a fire, find water. Test your skills in a variety of conditions and with a variety of materials. Make sure you would be able to do these very same things while injured or when it is wet or cold or blazingly hot.

The more you learn about survival techniques the more you realize how much there is to learn. When faced with a large task it is often easier to break it down into bite sized chunks. Survival experts have found through experience that the foundation of survival rests on five basic survival skills. Master these 5 basic survival skills and you are well on your way to being an expert survivor yourself.

So discuss, read, and practice. That is the way of becoming a survival expert.
5 Basic Survival Skills
Acquiring survival skills is an ongoing process that will last for your entire life. There is always more to learn and experience, which is part of the fun of being a survivor.

As your survival expertise grows the knowledge and abilities you gain are often useful in other areas. For example survivors prepare ahead of time, and they are experts in the art of ingenuity and inventiveness. Excellent attributes for anyone.

The possible environments and situations you could find yourself in are innumerable. Although each situation has its particular requirements for successfully surviving, in the final analysis it is mastery of five basic survival skills that are essential. Proficiency and preparedness in these 5 basic skills will give you the edge and put you on your way toward becoming a talented survivor.

First Basic Survival Skill - Fire

Knowing how to build a fire is the best survival skill you can have. Fire provides warmth, light, and comfort so you get on with the business of survival. Even if you do not have adequate clothing a good fire can allow you to survive in the coldest of environments.

Fire keeps away the creatures that go bump in the night and so you can have the peace of mind and rest you need. And that is not all. Fire will cook your food and purify your water, both excellent attributes when you want to stay healthy when potential disease causing organisms are lurking about. Fire will dry your clothing and even aid in the making of tools and keeping pesky insects at bay.

But even that is not all. Fire and smoke can be used for signaling very long distances.

Always have at least two, and preferably three, ways of making a fire at you immediate disposal. With waterproof matches, a butane lighter, and a magnesium fire starter or firesteel you should be able to create a fire anytime anywhere no matter how adverse the condtions.

So the lesson here is to learn the art of fire craft. Practice and become an expert. Your ability to create a fire is perhaps the most visible mark of an experienced survivor.

Second Basic Survival Skill - Shelter

Shelter protects your body from the outside elements. This includes heat, cold, rain, snow, the sun, and wind. It also protects you from insects and other creatures that seek to do you harm.

The survival expert has several layers of shelter to think about. The first layer of shelter is the clothing you choose to wear. Your clothing is of vital importance and must be wisely chosen according to the environment you are likely to find yourself in. Be sure to dress in layers in order to maximize your ability to adapt to changing conditions.

The next layer of shelter is the one you may have to build yourself, a lean-to or debris hut perhaps. This is only limited by your inventiveness and ingenuity. If the situation requires, your shelter can be insulated with whatever is at hand for the purpose. Being prepared, you may have a space blanket or tarp with you, in which case creating a shelter should be relatively easy.

Before you are in need of making a survival shelter, be sure to practice and experiment with a variety of materials and survival scenarios on a regular basis. Should the need arise you will be glad you did.

Third Basic Survival Skill - Signaling

Signaling allows you to make contact with people who can rescue you without having to be in actual physical contact with them. There are a variety of ways to signal for help. These include using fire and smoke, flashlights, bright colored clothing and other markers, reflective mirrors, whistles, and Personal Locator Beacons. Three of anything is considered a signal for help: 3 gunshots, 3 blows on a whistle, three sticks in the shape of a triangle.

In a pinch, your ingenuity in devising a way to signal potential help could very well save your life.

Fourth Basic Survival Skill - Food and Water