Lauren Ritz

pollinator
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since Aug 18, 2018
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Recent posts by Lauren Ritz

Consider going on a predator hunt. If you have soldier bugs in your area, or late season ladybugs, or dragonflies, set up a tiny habitat for them and see if you can find any to transfer into your greenhouse. Probably easier to find are various spiders, although I'm not sure they would thrive.

If you can get the aphid populations under control during the growing season you're probably better off, as their major expansion requires higher temperatures. If they have a continuing source of food the predators may never choose to leave, although in a greenhouse that would be a massive infestation. Insect predators will eat a LOT of aphids.

Adult ladybugs will overwinter under their favorite plants, then emerge in the spring with a good source of food to lay their eggs. If you have blooming plants inside (they prefer flat flowers, like dill or yarrow) they may choose to overwinter there.
4 days ago
This is why many roof water systems have what is called a "first flush diverter." That first rush of water off the roof contains leaves, bird droppings, dirt, and all the other stuff that collects on roofs. That water should be just fine to be used on plants, however.

After a few days it might start to stink because of all the stuff that's in it. Over time the debris and contaminants will settle out and you can dip the cleaner water off the top if you want to. Probably better to use a lid if you can because you don't want mosquitoes and such.
5 days ago
What is the water distribution? Long, hot, dry summer? Or does most of the rain come in the summer? Current water retention? If you dig down in the driest part of the year, how far down is the soil still damp?

If the soil remains even slightly damp, with 31 inches of rain I wouldn't be concerned about a well as long as you can keep the water on the land. You may need to focus on trees and varieties that deal well with periodic drought, but you get plenty of water. I get less than half of the water you get, but under deep woodchip mulch I can grow many crop annuals without supplemental water in a desert summer (30-40c, 85-105f). This also depends on the water holding capacity of your soil. Mine is almost straight sand, so with any amount of water retention you can probably do better. Dry gardening is a learning curve, so if you don't have the time or the inclination you may want to go for the well anyway. However, I would suggest that you not make the well a long term part of your plan. You don't want your whole project to die if something interferes with your well.

Soil clay? Sand? Loam? Your soil is going to largely determine what you can do and in what order. If you need to do a lot of soil remediation your herbals and annuals are probably going to go in first, as they will have the easiest time adjusting.  If you're planning to seed the trees in place, that also makes a difference as the plants won't have to adjust to your conditions. Or rather, only those that can deal with those conditions will survive their first year.

Earthworks, water, soil remediation. After that depends on your goals.
5 days ago
Just marker. It lasts through washing and I reuse the same socks for the same product the next time.
1 week ago

Pearl Sutton wrote:

Christopher Shepherd wrote:When the best gun wipe down cleaner you ever had is an old used sock.


Old socks are great for greasy jobs on my tractor too! I have a bagful, the local thrift store tossed a pile of unmatched socks. I don't feel bad if I decide to just toss it when I'm done.


I cut the heel and toe out of the socks and use them for labeled wraps for my quart and pint bottles. Not only do I not have to mark the lids (I reuse them as well) but they cushion the bottles.
1 week ago
Keeping track of temperatures is going to be important. I have kept track of temperatures in my greenhouse since I built it, so I know I have an approximate March 1 last frost date inside, or at least it has never gotten below freezing after that date. First frost is less predictable. The first two years I had tomatoes in December, then last year we got a mid-September freeze that killed everything (got down to 8 degrees outside, 24 in the greenhouse) and this year we got the mid-September freeze but it didn't completely kill everything. One tomato came back from the root, one cucumber is still alive but only producing male blossoms. I have not had success with curcubits in the greenhouse, but I keep trying. I grow everything in-ground, so that makes a difference.

If you have something that really thrives in the greenhouse environment, keep seeds. Volunteers will save you, particularly multi-generational volunteers. Keep flowers or some kind of flowering perennial in the greenhouse at all times to draw in the pollinators. Make sure they have water in there as well. I have several herbs in-ground that flower every year, but I also have two doors which helps with the temperature problems as well as the pollinators.

Another thing you may want to consider is predators. A few years ago I was having an aphid problem in the greenhouse. I found ladybugs that had just emerged in the spring and soon had no aphids and pupating ladybugs on every surface. Now I'm seeing dragonflies and other predators in the greenhouse as well. Make it an environment they appreciate, and they will come. Many adult predator bugs also need pollen, so flowers for them as well.

Make each year a test. Try new things, and if something works well build on that.
1 week ago
2020 hydroponics update:

The hydroponics project is Kratky hydroponics (no pumps) with natural (non-chemical) nutrients. I use primarily ash and eggshell (dissolved in vinegar), with a penny, a dime and a rusty nail in each bucket. Your choice of nitrogen supplement. Phosphorus additives will likely be needed when plants fruit, but I don’t have the details worked out yet. The phosphorus additive I have used (almond shell ferment) is way too strong. Even half a cup in a 5 gallon bucket caused an algae bloom and killed the plants.

It appears (tentatively) that the initial “dose” of nutrients works season-long for everything except phosphorus, nitrogen, and sulfur.

I learned this spring that garlic WILL provide sufficient sulfur–too much. So more tests need to be done. A garlic clove growing in with the main plant created sulfur toxicity, which was worse with the beans. I tried later using water that garlic had been growing in, but the results were inconclusive as the plants didn’t have a sulfur deficiency at the time.

At this point my main focus is trying to figure out a way to keep the water level up. When Kratky is used with greens it’s not such a big deal, as the plants die long before the water level falls. To keep the plants healthy the water level needs to maintain a constant level once the roots are established, but since each bucket is separate and wrapped in black plastic I have no real way of measuring the water level. I opened up one of the buckets and the water was almost gone, but when I refilled it the roots drowned.

So more tests next year, likely. Progress is being made.
4 weeks ago
Anything that will root from the stem should thrive, which includes many nightshades. Raspberries, currants, and everything in that family will also root from the stem. Mint as well. Anything that returns from underground in the spring should have no problem with it, such as asparagus. I covered yarrow and sage like this and they came back in the spring without a problem. I think it would be more of an issue in the spring or summer, when the plants are actively growing.
1 month ago
I shouldn't think so. If you're concerned, put a collar around the trees so the woodchips won't touch the trunk itself. I used milk bottles and soda bottles for this, but once the trees were established I took them off. Raspberries, currants, asparagus, yarrow, mint and sage should have no problem. I have no experience with the others. As long as the roots are well established, most plants can take a lot of abuse without dying.
1 month ago
I used milk bottle tops in my greenhouse to secure the plastic. The metal washers kept tearing through the plastic.
1 month ago