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GYG-030 Growing Hot and High!

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Gardening season is getting in full swing in most areas now so more people are out Growing Their Grub. It’s an exciting Time!

Raised bedThis week we’re growing “High & Hot”. High because I want to talk about how you can get your plants to grow Vertically or “UP”. Later we’ll be talking about growing Hot Peppers. A great addition to your homemade Salsa or cooking skills.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
— Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto)

Read a new book this past week that really opened my eyes about the Growing Problem with our Food System and the problems it is causing. We’ll talk a little about that book by Robyn O’Brien called “The UnHealthy Truth”

The “Dirty Dozen” is a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of chemical and pesticide residues. Provided by the Environmental Working Group.

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Imported Grapes
  • Pears
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes

After all this, do you still wonder if it’s worthwhile growing your own?

We discuss several of the methods out there you can use to grow vertically and save space, even with larger fruits like melons and eggplants. Less space and healthier plants.

Hot Peppers are very popular to grow and very easy as long as you have warm soil and lot of sun.

  • Jalapeno
  • Cayenne
  • Thai Hot Pepper
  • Serano
  • Anaheim
  • Habanero

A Listener asks:

I’m considering buying some drip irrigation.
I have two questions. Do you have experience with multiple brands, and if so which did you like best?

Also, do you like drip tape with the preinstalled emitters or do you like the 1/4” hose with user installed emitters?

I just mowed the lawn for the first time this year and I’m planning on using the clippings for mulch in the garden. Mulching around plants like tomatoes and peppers seems simple enough, but what do you do for closely spaced plants like carrots, bush snap peas, and spinach? Wait until they are larger? My snap peas are only about 4 inches tall right now, my spinach just has it’s first true leaves.

I learned these next tips the hard way.

As for brands, I haven’t really kept a lot of records, but I do buy almost all my needs from Dripworks at http://www.dripworksusa.com.  They have all sorts of useful items including some online videos.  They carry most product lines, but I like them because anything that hasn’t worked well, they don’t carry – unlike many of the Big box stores.  I really like this company.

Judging from the number you supplied,I’m guessing your beds are about 8ft x 4ft or so.  Since you are using beds, the drip hose is a better way to go.  The drip tape doesn’t become cost efficient until you get into very long runs, I believe 50 ft or more.  And they need to be replaced every few years.  Drip tape is designed and intended for long rows of row crops.  So I have stuck with 1/2 and 1/4 inch drip hose as I run all raised beds.  I have two separate runs on two different timers  supplying the beds with water.

On the other hand, I don’t use a lot of 1/4 inch tubing either.  I do use some in certain situations, but for the most part I use 1/4 inch drip tubing with holes every 6 inches, and 1/2 GPH drip rate. (http://www.dripworksusa.com/store/soakdrp.php)   Depending on water needs, I’ll run one row and sometimes two rows ( one on each side of the plant) of the drip tubing.

I run 1/2 inch black tubing down the box row, and then cut in with a T connector to create a header in each box.  From that header I run my 1/4 inch line.  Each header at the box is a special on/off valve, allowing me to selectively turn beds on or off as needed, as I harvest crops or prep for end of season, leaving other beds on the timer.

If I had one recommendation to make, it would be to go with Easy-Loc connectors on your 1/2 or 3/4 pipe. (http://www.dripworksusa.com/store/easyloc12.php)  They do cost a little bit more than the standard compression fittings, but they are EASILY removed for reconfiguring or re-arranging your system later.  With the normal connectors all you can do is cut the tubing and splice in.  Love those Easy-locs.  It’s all I use now.

Secondly, Buy yourself a small plastic toolbox, or plastic craft box.  Use it to store all the barbs, T’s, connectors, etc,  When working in the garden, it makes it very easy to move stuff around without losing all the small connectors.

My favorite book on Drip Irrigation is “Drip Irrigation” by Robert Kourick.

As for mulch.  I don’t have any sort of science behind it but what I do but it’s worked well for me.  For the smaller plants is I do wait until they have come up a bit and look pretty sturdy.  Until then, and sometimes longer, I keep them under a thin row cover of “Agribon”.  This lets light and rain in, yet also keeps pests like moths and other flying insects off the plants and soil while unprotected.  The cover has really helped reduce some of the problems I used to have with caterpillars like hornworms and swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars.

Sounds like your snap peas are ready for mulch, but Spinach might need some more time.

And before using that grass, be sure you dry it out – otherwise it tends to get gooey as it decomposes.  I will sometimes mix it with straw do make a safer mulch when the grass isn’t quite dry yet.

When I mow, I have a drying pile for the grass to  compost where I dump my clippings.  I turn every once in a while for drying

Till Next week!

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